Episodes

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Toby Corey joined me on Accelerate OC and we explored so many areas - his time working with Elon Musk, his passion for working on critical climate change issues, how to build a thriving startup ecosystem and inspiring people to be bold and excellent.  It was a fun conversation with so much wisdom packed into it!

Toby is the Former President of Tesla, Former President of Global Field Operations, and Former Chief Revenue Officer at Solar City, which merged into Tesla a few years ago.

He successfully managed three $1b+ businesses (one as co-founder/President), two successful IPO’s, raised over $300m in private and public financing, Toby is a former President/COO of worldwide leader in web development services with $3b+ market cap and successful IPO, managed 7,000+ employee organization, operating globally, awarded two "messaging" patents, executed 40+ M&A transactions while career path disrupted information technology, digital economy, Renewable Energy and Mobile sectors.

He currently sits on the boards and advisory boards of several companies. He gives lectures at Stanford University's Engineering Department on Management Science and Engineering.

Toby will be speaking at a TedX event here in Irvine on March 6th.  Having been to a few TedX events, I always find the speakers and topics to be amazing, and I'm certain Toby will be fantastic.

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Marinela Gombosev is currently President and CEO of Evoke Neuroscience, a medical diagnostic technology company focused on memory loss and other cognitive disorders.  They have twice been ranked in the Inc. 500|5000 fastest growing private companies. I was excited to talk with her about it and it's exciting prospects.  She described the company's initiative to create the equivalent of a "blood pressure cuff for the brain."

Previously she worked in other regulated industries outside of medicine (such as aerospace) in senior operational roles.  She’s been recognized for his leadership and achievements - named to the Hot 25 of Orange County influential leaders and innovators, and was inducted into the UCI School of Engineering Hall of Fame for her professional achievements.  She’s also been featured in a book as a renaissance woman, and is a big advocate of STEM education for today’s youth, as well as mentoring startup entrepreneurs.

Marinela is a current and future leader of the OC startup, tech and life sciences business community.

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I was happy to have Sergey Sundukovskiy on Accelerate OC.  Sergey is currently founding CTO and Chief Product Officer of Certemy, a startup here building a software platform for professional certification, licensing & compliance. Prior to Certemy he was CTO and CPO of Raken, a software company in the construction industry.  He also was CTO of a company acquired by Capital One about 5 years ago.

Sergey has been around this area for awhile and been in early stage tech and Internet companies since even the dot-com era, so he’s seen a lot.  I always appreciate his perspective and wisdom on company building, investing, teams and cultures.  He’s also very giving of his time and talents, as he mentors and advises companies and through incubators and accelerators. 

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Andy Fathollahi joined me on the show and immediately delved into the reality of being a founder and longtime entrepreneur. He’s a serial one and done it here in Orange County. He founded
Incipio here over 20 years ago and is still Chairman of its Board. He’s also founder and CEO of his latest venture, The Kanvas Company.

He is currently the founder and CEO of the Kanvas Company, a cannabis technology company. We talked a lot about how to start and build a second company after a super successful one, with different perspective, culture and lifestyle goals, as well as how to attract the right kind of people today.  As example, Andy has instituted a 4-day work week.

Prior to Kanvas he was founder and CEO of Incipio Group, which he started and grew here super successfully, until selling a majority of it to private equity in 2016.

Andy was a great guest and shared a lot about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and the different perspectives he's had as time has gone on in his journey.  I loved his views on himself and what he'd advise others, based on his 25 year old self, 35 year old self and 45 year old self.  Similarly we both have had a hard time taking off time in between adventures!

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Tom Baine joined me on the show to talk about the homebuilding industry, which he's been in for 30 years in Southern California.  That’s a lot of change he's seen in both our area and his industry!  I looked up before the show the population change over those 30 years here in Orange County - 2.4MM in 1990 vs. 3.2MM in 2020 (a nearly 33% increase in people here)

Tom is currently the division president of Southern California for Landsea Homes, where he oversees planning, development and implementation of their communities here. He previously spent a considerable amount of his 30 years in the industry at Taylor Morrison Homes throughout Orange County and other parts of the region. Orange County has been a trendsetter and leader in this industry for decades, and there is no slowing expected in that leadership. Tom is also locally educated, graduating from both UCI and Pepperdine.

Landsea came to Newport Beach in 2018 and sold out Lido Villas in Newport Beach, which was one of the last remaining coastal communities in the area.  They are just about to launch their High Performance Home Program in some other new communities in the area. 

We talked a bit on the show about how technology and other innovations have come into the homebuilding industry, as well as the changes in what people want to be able to both live and afford to own property in Orange County.  I believe there will be big innovations in homebuilding here in the next decade.

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It was so fun to have my friend, Nick Smoot, join me while traveling in from Coeur d'Alene, ID.  We discussed his amazing initiative, Innovation Collective (IC), the education and human development company he started there and is expanding to communities around the country. We also did it in front of a live audience of some of OC's most active and committed innovation community builders and everyone came away inspired.
 
About IC: Their work is driven by a belief that human potential is underactivated and through community they can inspire and cultivate innovation. It is a culture of innovation, perpetuated through connection, support and confidence, that turns ideas into reality and changes lives. 

We are experts in inclusive innovation community activation and placemaking. Our goals are to:

Activate all individuals through curated experiences: We program knowledge economy minded events, meetups, trainings, think tanks and corporate partnerships

Activate innovation spaces: We leverage physical locations as a destination for high growth innovations and rebuilding of community 

The Backstory: IC was founded by community organizer and serial entrepreneur Nick Smoot. Nick has a lifetime of experience developing community having begun his leadership activities at 10 years old organizing mentorship programs for underprivileged 5 and 6 y/o children in the social work system. 

This work continued with Nick developing mentorship programs, delivering training to thousands of high school and middle school students, implementing global leadership training, and working with NGO’s taking him across the world by the age of 21.

In his mid twenties, Nick began consulting work with for-profit investors using the human centered design thinking he developed to work with teens. This model applied seamlessly to development of corporations and lead to him co-founding and selling three mobile tech startups. During this period of his twenties and early thirties, Nick was part of the startup scene in Philadelphia, Manhattan, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. 

In 2011, when living in Los Angeles, Nick began speaking at the early “Silicon Beach” events and was invited by the economic think tank The Milken Institute to become one of the 300 global Young Leaders who gather privately to address and improve job creation, access to capital, and accelerating medical cures around the world. 

This invitation to join the institute coincided with the Occupy Movement. Growing up in small town America in a middle class family and working with disadvantaged youth was an odd backdrop to the two contrasting worlds of “haves and have nots” facing him in Los Angeles. This dichotomy was a very sobering situation for him. Through the institute, he was in presentations with heads of state and the largest private equity firms in the world while, outside the doors, picketers were ensuring their messages were heard. 

This scenario launched him into strategizing a process that has become the Innovation Collective; a grass roots system of events and mentorship that inspire and mobilize all citizens to become lifelong learners and highly motivated innovators. 

This system and mentorship has repeatedly surfaced highly valuable talent and intellectual property. It has proven to be a powerful mix of corporate social responsibility and corporate development. 

His model and experience has most importantly lead him to over 70 small communities across the United States and has been tested in China, France, Canada, and Aruba. The work has won national awards for economic development, unrestricted grants from the former CEO and Chairman of Google, and has engaged leaders and mentors from IBM, Google, SpaceX, Facebook, Boeing, Walmart, Apple, and others to do good and do well.

Nick’s background in community activation, inclusive innovation, government policy, tech investment, and startup culture has uniquely positioned him to be someone with authentic and practical insights that create an economy aware of the past, but ready for the future. 

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Sue Parks became the President and CEO of Orange County United Way in 2017, after a 15 year history of volunteering and working with the organization, including being the Chair of its Board.  Before she signed on as CEO of United Way, she was an entrepreneur and business executive.  She co-founded and was CEO of a corporate wellness company, iCount Wellness.  She also held senior roles in innovative companies like Kinkos, Gateway and USWest.  Both Kinkos and Gateway had storied founders, I’d even call “characters”, so I’m sure she has great stories! 

She has not just made impact at United Way here in Orange County.  She’s touched many other important organizations in our community – she’s on the Executive Leadership Council of UCI Diabetes Center; she is a past chair and co-chair of Women’s Wellness Day for the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UCI; former board President of Susan G. Komen Orange County Affiliate; former board member of Girl Scouts of Orange County, and the Paul Merage School at UCI.

Sue has been named an OC Business Journal Businesswoman of the year award winner as well as a Pioneer by the National Association of Women in Business Organization (NAWBO). I’m so grateful that she joined me on Accelerate OC, and shared some amazing stories of the impact that they have in the lives of nearly 1 in 4 Orange Countians every year.

Also listen to her story of walking 5 miles in each of OC's 34 cities!

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I was super excited to have Reynolds Bish on Accelerate OC. He’s had an illustrious career in the technology industry, mainly here in Southern California, and we had a lot to discuss. He is currently the CEO and a Member of the Board of Directors of Kofax, one of the largest software companies in Orange County, and he also has employees in 35 countries and over 25,000 customers.  He’s on his second tour of duty with Kofax, and we talked about that and the fun world of private equity.  In an incredibly unique story, he shared how Kofax was sold 3 times in less than 3 years - what an experience!

Reynolds is super involved in our community outside of his company. He’s on the board of OCTANe, where we serve together, and he’s also on the board of Trustees at The Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, one of my kids’ rival schools. Ha.  He’s is on and has been on other company boards as well, both public and private companies.  And before Kofax he co-founded and was CEO of Captiva Software in San Diego, and successfully grew and ran it for many years. It was a NASDAQ listed company and was eventually acquired by EMC Corporation.

He’s been an E&Y Entrepreneur of the year and a corporate director of the year. And like me, he’s a Big 10 guy (Penn State) for his university alma mater.

Another one of the things I was excited to talk with Reynolds about is the pace of change he’s seeing now vs. earlier in his career in the software industry.

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Charles Antis possesses energy and passion like few people I've ever met. It just makes me want to hang out with him more. We spoke about his leadership and life philosophies, his company and its mission and purpose, and the amazing other work he’s doing in Orange County.

He is the founder and CEO of Antis Roofing and Waterproofing, a company he founded here in Orange County over 30 years ago.  Charles describes them as "a shepherd in the community, purposed by helping healthy families to have safe, dry homes." He has firmly embraced and lives by the principle of doing well by doing good. We talked a lot about that in our conversation.

Charles is super involved in our community outside of his company. He’s on the board of Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, an advisor to OneOC, and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) For the last 10 years Antis has donated every roof installation of every home built by Habitat here in the county.

What I’ve seen from Charles as well in the innovator’s mindset. He’s constantly learning, trying and thinking about what more he can do or impact. It’s inspiring. He’s taken what many might consider a boring business and elevated it to the top of its game nationally, and been recognized for it.  He says what he thinks and shares what he believes.

One of the things that struck me when we met at his office was how cool it was.  I felt like I might be in a tech startup.  We spoke about why he did that – for most of my crowd you’d never expect that from an old school business like roofing.

He’s also embraced social media to share his impact with the community, we discussed the open, authentic life and sharing it with others.

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Ike Kavas joined me on Accelerate OC to share his story, leadership philosophy and current company, Ephesoft, where he is the founder and CEO.  It's a company he founded here in Orange County nearly 10 years ago.  They have built the first document capture platform for the cloud and serve global customers in areas of automated data entry, compliance and document processing.  

Before Ephesoft he was a senior technical architect and professional services manager at Kofax, a longtime technology company based here as well.  Ike is a technologist through and through and has committed to becoming a great entrepreneur, CEO and people leader as well, which I greatly admire about him.

To me Ike epitomizes the modern entrepreneur and leader – he has great passion and deeply cares for all the constituents around a company – customers, employees, investors and his broader community.  We discussed that during our conversation. 

Ike has won awards like the High Tech Innovation Awards, a “Best Place to Work” for 2019, Top Workplace for 2018 and he was an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 2019.  Ephesoft was even in the INC 500 fastest growing companies a few years ago.

He’s a super busy guy, traveling the world for his company, so I felt fortunate to have him on Accelerate OC to share his story.

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