Nicole McMackin is currently the CEO of Irvine Technology Corporation, an award-winning Information Technology Solutions and Staffing provider with roots in Southern California. For over 20 years they have helped local and national companies with technology personnel needs, provided through their seasoned technologists, recruiters and support team.  Consistently ranked as one of Orange County’s Best Places to Work, ITC focuses on the quality of our people, commitment to customer service, and exceptional performance. ITC is also a Women Owned and Certified (WBENC).

Nicole is a leader who loves to develop others on her team and help them achieve their goals. We’re kindred spirits as we both started our careers in sales. She quickly became a top performer in her first company, and was a leader in providing staffing to a group of larger clients, as well as managing a team of account managers. Many of her clients are Fortune 300 companies.

She is also active in promoting women in technology roles, even starting a Women in Leadership CIO development program at UCLA last year. We talked about it during our conversation.

She is a SoCal native and is a graduate of the UC Irvine, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. 

Nicole is a great example of a world-class leader here in our community, accelerating things in her industry, business and in Orange County. It was great to have her on Accelerate OC!


Dr. Wallace Walrod is currently the Chief Economic Adviser for the Orange County Business Council and he’s led research there for over 20 years. During that time he has done strategic projects with most of the biggest companies and cities here, such as Toshiba America, Irvine Company, First American, as well as the cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana.

Wallace is also the Founding President of the Center for a New California, which plays a key role in shaping the state’s economic future by focusing on Workforce Development, Economic Development, Infrastructure, and emerging trends in corporate social responsibility.  He develops programs, strategies, and policies across companies, government and foundations, and we talked about some of that work.

He is at the forefront of the demographic and economic changes underway in Orange County, and publishes regular reports that highlight those changes, as well as ideas for positively addressing challenges the changes pose.

Wallace is also one of the smart guys educated right here in OC. He earned his Ph.D. in Regional Economics from UC Irvine.


Steve Pfrenzinger is a successful multi-time entrepreneur, hall of fame angel investor and long-time executive coach specializing in self-awareness and how it can become your X-Factor for success.  Currently he is the head coach of the self-awareness mastery series that he’s developed, as well as his own mastermind to work with executives and entrepreneurs.  Steve has been coaching for over 3 decades with hundreds of successful clients at companies like Sony, Disney, Broadcom, Oracle and beyond.  

Along with that he was also the founder of 2 very successful technology services companies.  He’s built and sold these firms, so he’s been there in the humble and risky beginnings all the way through to growth phases.  He’s also written and spoken extensively in areas around coaching, as well as personal branding, personality type, and how to better manage your mindset.

Steve is also a long-time angel investor as part of Tech Coast Angels and was even named to their hall of fame, with his amazing track record of investing.  His super power, he says, it starts with picking the right jockey.

I also spoke with Steve about personality typing, an area I’ve had great interest in for a long time, and one that he has a lot of experience and expertise in, such as Myers Briggs and DISC. We covered a lot of ground and he shared the feedback that changed his life, as well as some great stories and wisdom.


Niall McSheffrey is currently Managing Partner at Elementz Ventures, a new VC fund here in SoCal. He is a successful entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in startup investment, product management, application development, and creating digital product strategies and solutions. He moved to Orange County in 2019 and is in the process of raising capital for his first fund.  Hear how he's navigating this current environment.

Niall excels in developing digital product strategies with clients, leading sales and marketing efforts, and defining the vision and direction of a company. He is an expert in creating long lasting relationships and thoroughly supporting his clients throughout the design and development process. He's been at the forefront of leveraging new technologies for Elementz, including mobile and web apps to better serve his clients’ business needs.

He graduated from the Thunderbird School of Management with a global MBA. He brings his expertise and experience around the world by engaging with different audiences regarding mobile app technologies, agile processes, and team development. It's great to have Niall here to help Accelerate OC!


Dean Kline is the Co-Founder and Senior Managing Director of a newer group at USC called Rossier EdVentures, which is an education ecosystem at USC. We talked a fair bit about it and the exciting things they're doing to support innovation across the education landscape.  He’s also Co-Founder and Managing Director for Penn Venture Partners, a VC fund for primarily for early-stage tech companies in business services, edtech, life sciences, media, specialty manufacturing, and workplace learning. He’s been a venture investor for over 20 years and has had IPOs and many other acquisitions among his investments.

Previously he was an executive of an organization which setup children’s hospitals in developing countries. Dean was also Assistant to the Executive Director at the World Bank, focusing on project quality, education and health sector policy, Africa, and Asia. He began his professional career as an International Economist at the U.S. Treasury Department.  He has led several efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly as it relates to learning; and he’s been a lecturer at several universities as well.

Dean and I met last year shortly after he relocated out here from the East Coast, and he’s spending a fair bit of his time in Orange County.  I know he’s found some interesting Education Technology or EdTech startups down here, too, which we discussed.  And he believes Orange County has a lot going for it to be a world leader in education innovation going forward as well.


It was very timely to have my friend, Carson Lappetito, on the show. He is currently the President of Sunwest Bank, an OC-based business bank started 50 years ago by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Sunwest is active in Orange County and works with businesses from startups to multi-national corporations.  Carson is also innovative in how he thinks about technology in the banking industry and even rolled out an online application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ahead of almost every other bank in the country.  We discussed that as well as how the bank is responding to the current COVID19 crisis.

Carson is a banker, and also an entrepreneur, and I laugh since often those 2 things seem to run counter to each other.  He’s worked in a variety of roles with numerous financial institutions. He is also an investor in other businesses and was part of a hedge fund focused on investment opportunities in the financial services industry.  We’re both transplants to Orange County with our Economics degrees, so we’re kindred spirits there, but he’s way smarter - he also studied Political Science and got a minor in Mandarin.

We covered a lot of ground around fintech innovation, banking, the economy and the current stimulus program.  Enjoy!


Bill Carpou, CEO of Octane joined me again on Accelerate OC for a special show, to discuss what Octane is doing to help businesses here navigate the challenges presented by COVID19, updating us on how the Octane team is doing at this time, and what he's seeing and hearing from our business community.  Bill sits in the middle of innovative startups, many of the professional services providers, and a number of large life sciences and technology companies here, as well as investors locally and around the country.  So he gets perspective from a number of places.

Octane holds several prominent events each year for the innovation community - Technology Innovation Forum, Ophthalmology Technology Summit, and High Tech Awards, to name a few.  Those will all be squeezed into the late summertime this year in a schedule adjustment, and we should all look to support them. 

Bill also shared the good news of the 2019 Impact Report, which showed the jobs and economic impact that Octane is helping to drive here through its innovative programs like LaunchPad.  Octane plays a key role in our community as we all continue to strengthen support for innovation here and build bridges between the many initiatives underway.


Mike Gentile is the founder and CEO of CISO Share, which provides on-demand professional services in the information security space, including their unique “security program as a service.”  He has been a leader in the infosec (as it’s known) space for a long time.  Mike has been doing security research and program development for all kinds of organizations, from bootstrapped startups to globally recognized billion-dollar companies. He holds patents and has written books on the subject, and he has successfully founded, funded, grown, and sold multiple businesses in the service and technology industries.

Mike has delivered more than 100 presentations on information technology and information security. He's served on the program committee and advisory boards for multiple technology companies, including the RSA conference.  He’s active with our local community in Orange County, including a unique job skills training program on cybersecurity that he and his team deliver in partnership with Orange County United Way. We discussed that, as well as the future of jobs and innovation in Orange County. It was a fun chat!


Matt Case joined me on Accelerate OC to talk about his company, Bionatus, where he is President. It functions as a venture studio here in Irvine, so we had a lot to discuss.  Matt, his partner and team have worked with innovators to launch several companies, with a focus on leveraging futuristic science into next-generation businesses that benefit the planet. I have seen their approach and companies firsthand and have always been super impressed. They have launched companies such as Bluon and Luminas, which we talked about on the show.

Matt is native of Kentucky and moved out here several years ago to help launch a company for another local private equity firm. His background in chemical engineering has served him and the companies as they develop early IP and work to commercialize it.  He's active in our innovation and startup community as well - they're doing big things and expect to see more of them in the months ahead!


Dawn Reese, CEO of The Wooden Floor, joined Paul and me for a special virtual and distributed episode of Accelerate OC.  We had a great conversation about leadership during a crisis, how she is collaborating with her fellow non-profit CEOs during this time to support, encourage and innovate together, and how we'll see long-term benefits from that here.  She also reminded me of her experiences (like my own) in prior economic or other disruptions.  

She has some great perspective for anyone to reflect on their current situation, how we can all grow and contribute at a time like this, and still be reminded to be grateful and community-minded.  Thanks, Dawn!



« Newer Episodes - Older Episodes »