Episodes

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It was super fun to have Jenny Dinnen with me on the Accelerate Show. She is currently President, Sales & Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. For over 30 years, MacKenzie has been turning analytics into action and using data-driven insights to help companies to strengthen their customer experiences.  As businesses have turned to more of a customer focus in recent years, or ignore it at their peril, Jenny is on the front lines of that work.

Jenny has been with the business for a dozen years, which is actually a family business.  Her father started it in 1985 and now Jenny and her sister, Katie, run the company.  I can certainly relate, given my family business background, and there are a lot of great family businesses around here, which we discussed.

She is also active in the community with Team Kids, as well as both Chapman’s business school and Cal State Fullerton's.  Jenny is a dynamic, creative leader and we had a conversation that spanned topics from the importance of data, customer insights and being customer-focused, family business, and the business ecosystem of Southern California.

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Per is General Partner at Welinder Shi Capital, an investor in lifestyle, culture and technologies around it.  Why, might you ask, would Per be good at finding and seeing opportunities there?  We’ll talk more about it in a bit, but if you’ve been around awhile and followed action sports, his name might be familiar.  In a prior era, he was a really good skateboarder, a key part of the Powell Peralta skate team.

Per has been a prolific entrepreneur and executive as well, as an action sports entrepreneur – he was CEO of Blitz Distribution, in the heart of lifestyle brands, for over 25 years, and he’s an active mentor, advisor and investor in startups.

Per is also a fellow UCLA MBA, Go Bruins!

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It's been a true pleasure to get to know Tom Ferry over the last year.  We both have a passion for entrepreneurs and startups and interviewed each other for perspective and stories.  If you don't know Tom, he's a force of nature and #1 coach for real estate professionals.  He's also CEO of Ferry International, and a markeing and social media maven.

We did a podcast crossover and talked about what entrepreneurial traits and skills entrepreneurs need to succeed, the difference between a side hustle and a business, having an open mind to create new plays that work for your business and the necessary steps you have to take to promote and encourage entrepreneurship in the community.

6:47 – What makes a good founder? Listen to find out!

10:06 – These are the mistakes to avoid when giving your business pitch 

21:22 – Maybe you should start a side hustle that can ultimately create a breakthrough in the long run!

24:55 – It’s going to be really hard if you just start with $0 when starting a full-time business

29:20 – Are you clear in your customer needs and does your business have legal help? 

32:30 – Always be on the lookout for new plays to implement in your business

35:53 – How the financial crisis of 2008 impacted startups still to this day

37:55 – “I see a renaissance on the horizon.”

40:44 – Why the next big wave will be created by the collective intelligence of people

42:26 – “The education system of today is built on a manufacturing economy… we’ve been pushing manufacturing out of this country for decades.”

45:28 – Why imagining “the complete opposite” might help you resolve a challenge

53:45 – Steps being taken to promote and encourage entrepreneurship

56:44 – The importance of seeking mentors who are further down the path you want to travel

58:30 – A valuable reality Mike Vance taught Tom: It’s hard to get the lesson from an experience you’re not having

1:03:07 – “Give a huge amount of value to the world, and you’ll live a great life.”

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Jessica Oslo joined me on Accelerate to share her journey to becoming an entrepreneur with Vantis Institute.  It was a fun story to hear, and highlights how creative, driven entrepreneurs emerge.

She is a founding partner and clinical director for Vantis Institute in Newport Beach.  She explained more about Vantis and the innovative aesthetic work they do in our conversation.  For the last 10 years she’s worked alongside some of the most elite plastic surgeons in the US, and what I found fascinating is that she’s found a way to combine her passion for art and medicine at Vantis. 

Jessica is also a living kidney donor, which is an incredibly generous act.

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Tony and I spoke last year about the amazing company he was leading and building here.  He is the co-founder and CEO of Restaurant365, which he started in Orange County in 2011 and over the last 8 years has built the company into a leading back-office solution provider to restaurants.  Earlier in 2019 the company raised $88 million in a series C funding round.  His world class investors include ICONIQ Capital, Tiger Global Management and Bessemer Venture Partners.

The company won the best ERP SaaS Award in 2018 and has been recognized in a number of other industry awards as well.  Tony has been a finalist for Ernst & Young’s entrepreneur of the year, as well as received other industry and entrepreneur accolades.  He’s very humble about the company’s explosive growth and success, though.

Prior to Restaurant365 he was a key member of the team and board member at Dynamic Methods, a Microsoft-focused reseller and solutions partner. 

Tony has been in Orange County for over 15 years and is building a company of significance here.  He also has good perspective on OC vs. other tech centers as he opened an office in Austin a few years ago.  He is a great example of an innovative Orange County leader.  One of his many words of wisdom in this conversation was "fist bump the messenger."  Listen and learn what that means!

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Re-releasing one of the top-rated Accelerate Show episodes: Ray Grainger from Mavenlink.

He is the founder and CEO of Mavenlink, a fast-growing software company in the services business management and collaboration space.  

He’s also a graduate of highly distinguished school, Harvey Mudd College, where he’s been a trustee now for many years.

He was a Managing Partner at Accenture for nearly 20 years before starting Mavenlink, and that experience provided much of the idea kernels for starting the company.

Ray started Mavenlink in 2009, and over the last 10 years has had an amazing run in building Mavenlink, headquartered here in Orange County.  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ray nearly the entire time he’s been on this journey and have been so impressed with his leadership and energy, and his support of the OC tech community along the way.

Ray has built an amazing team and company, and is doing his part to Accelerate OC!

Great quote he shared from Ernest Shackleton: "By endurance we conquer."  Such a powerful message! 

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Kate Buckley joined me on the Accelerate Show to discuss premium domains, a topic not discussed nearly enough around startup and brand conversations. She is the CEO of Buckley Media where she specializes in Premium Domain Sales & Acquisitions, Domain Strategy Consulting, Naming and Branding.

We had a super engaging and exploratory conversation about why premium domains are so valuable, how a founder might want to think about their name from the earliest stages, and the many different ways to engage premium domain owners (there are several).  Her expertise is unquestionable, and she had some great stories to share.  It definitely got me to think more strategically about name, brand and domains.

We also had some fun discussion about our backgrounds as we grew up in Indiana (me) and Kentucky (her).

For additional background, Kate has personally brokered millions of dollars in both private and publicly-recorded top domains sales. She brokered three of the world's Top 25 domain sales in 2018, as well as three of the world's top domain sales in 2017. Most recently, she brokered the 7-figure sale of Chocolate.com.

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Jeff Gardner joined me on the Accelerate Show to discuss what he's been doing as the new President and CEO of CalAmp, a local company that has always been a pioneer in IoT and connecting the mobile economy. He’s been on their Board for over 5 years, so he knows the company well and has a strong vision for its future.  

 

Through their hardware and software they have enabled others to track, trace and manage their assets more effectively, such as vehicles in a fleet.  One of the brands that you may recognize that they own is LoJack, which has helped many people recover stolen cars over the years.  They have over a million customers and track over 20 million products where they are installed. We talked about their roots, innovation and solutions today and into the future.

 

Prior to CalAmp, Jeff was the President and CEO of Brinks Home Security, a well-known national company home security solutions.  He was also President and CEO at Windstream for 10 years, a multi-billion dollar telecommunications company, which had been a part of Alltel, where he was the CFO. He’s also been heavily involved in M&A and technology throughout his career.

 

I did my best not to hold it against him as Jeff graduated from my college rival, Purdue.  It's great to now have him in the area, accelerating a leading technology company!

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Maryam Rofougaran joined me on Accelerate OC and shared a great primer on 5G, for those curious to learn more about it and the many impacts and opportunities it will have.  She is at the forefront of it as the founder, Co-CEO and COO of Movandi Corporation, a local company with a mission to revolutionize 5G everywhere. They have raised over $50M for the company in the last 4 years, including $27M in April, during this pandemic.  Movandi is using a radically different approach that is yielding improvements in performance, coverage and latency, and their portfolio spans device level to systems, which they believe will drive efficiency and wider range of deployments. And they are committed to the broad economic benefits from a 5G enabled world.

Early in her career, she was a founder, board member and executive of Innovent Systems, which was acquired by Broadcom. She then spent several years at Broadcom as a senior executive before co-founding Movandi.  She talked about the journey during our conversation.  Very interestingly, she's founded both Innovent and Movandi with her brother, Reza.  They have deep ties and commitment to Orange County and Southern California.

Maryam has multiple engineering degrees from UCLA and it’s always great to connect with a fellow Bruin.

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Nicole Suydam is an inspiring leader in our community - driving forward a huge organization that meaningfully impacts thousands of people here every year, whether they work for Goodwill or are served by them.  She is currently President and CEO of Goodwill of Orange County, a role she’s been in for the last couple years.  She had previously served for nearly a decade as Goodwill of OC’s vice president of Development. Nicole was most recently CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, where she expanded its scale to over 25 million meals in a year and a top rating with Charity Navigator.

She has more than 20 years of management and leadership experience working with local and national nonprofits dedicated to meeting human service needs.

Nicole has done an amazing job of raising awareness, and empathy, about broad needs in our community, and working to provide hope to everyone here, including potential paths to self-sufficiency and independence, and purpose. Never is that more needed in our community than right now!

She was named one of 6 Women of Coast by Coast Magazine last year, was a 2018 Woman of the Year award winner by OCBJ, and one of the Top 100 Most Influential by OC Register multiple times. Nicole is a graduate from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa here, and is the past president of its Alumni Association Board and is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. Enjoy our Accelerate OC conversation.

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