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!
Super connector and entrepreneur Sinan Kanatsiz joined me on Accelerate OC recently. He is currently the CEO of KCOMM, a PR and marketing agency he started over 20 years ago. He’s worked with many of the largest and most prominent companies in Orange County, as well as some of fastest growing and innovative ones. Sinan also founded and is currently Chairman of the Internet Marketing Association, a global organization that connects and supports marketing professionals with leading experts, ideas and insights.
Sinan recently spun off a senior executive and leader group called International Executive Council, which brings together growth-minded leaders to learn and connect as well.
He has been awarded for many of his efforts - named 40 under 40 and a Featured Entrepreneur of the Year by OC Metro Magazine. A couple years ago as recognition for his philanthropic involvement, he was knighted and invited to become a member of the Royal House of Savoy by the prince. Last year he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his work in non-profits, PR and marketing, an award that's also been given to folks like Dr. Oz and former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt.
He’s active at both Chapman University here in Orange County, and the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.
Sinan is also a kindred spirit – like me he’s a huge cheerleader for Orange County and inspiring others to get involved and give back here. We always have great conversations about the amazing people here in our community and what big impact they and we can have on the world.
My partner, Kyle Kamrooz, and I broke in our new studio at OC4 and shared some thoughts on why we started OC4 Venture Studio, our excitement for the future of building great companies in SoCal, and working with amazing founders, our studio team, investors and partners in the community. We got real and raw - and we welcome feedback and follow up conversation.
As we think about the time that we're in right now, a lot of uncertainty is in front of us, yet we know that most of us will make it to the other side, there will be many problems to solve, and opportunities to solve them. Many of the best companies are started and built during times of economic challenge - we've met some great founders since starting OC4 and know there are many more here. We're excited to help shape the future culture of innovative technology companies starting and growing here.
Matt Hayden joined me on Accelerate OC and we covered a lot of ground. He is currently the Chairman of MZ Group, a leading corporate communications and investor relations firm globally. Matt has been in the industry of company investing for a long time and I believe it provides him with such an amazing perspective on how investors think, the importance of positioning and story, and how markets work.
He is also the founder and owner of Sea Purity Investments, an investment firm that emphasizes socially responsible businesses and founders or operators with strong alignment to both doing well (winning) and doing good. He’s an amazingly generous guy with his time, money and relationships as well. For the last several years Matt has hosted an amazing event series that brings together investors and exciting companies. We talked a bit about his Big Ideas Dinners in this show.
Matt is also a kindred spirit – he’s a huge cheerleader for Orange County, new ideas and the need we have to inspire more folks here to invest their time, energy and money into the local innovation economy. Enjoy the conversation I had with Matt like I did - he's a great storyteller!
Hicham Semaan was a great guest on Accelerate OC. He had such actionable advice and insights for startup company founders with regard to fundraising and investment, among much additional wisdom he shared.
He is currently the President of the Orange County chapter of Tech Coast Angels (TCA), one of the largest affiliated groups of angel investors in the country, with 5 chapters from Santa Barbara to San Diego. We talked a lot about angel investing and how TCA works.
Prior to becoming a member of TCA, Hicham was CEO of QuickStart Intelligence, an e-learning company for IT Skills. He led it through rapid growth and several M&A transactions. He’s also been a General Manager, senior executive and senior adviser to other CEOs, management teams, private equity, and sits on several private company boards.
He is respected for his strong vision, value creation, turn around, and acquisition expertise, and has successfully exited businesses. He is considered an expert in the technology, education, and real estate industries and has been a featured speaker at several industry events.
Hicham has an MBA from UC Irvine and is very active with UCI and other local business groups, so has a long-standing personal investment in and commitment to Orange County.
Jeff Bocan is currently a Partner at Okapi Venture Capital, which is his second stint in Venture Capital. Prior to Okapi, he joined one of his investments, Mophie, here in Orange County, and helped lead it from $10MM to over $250MM in revenue and an eventual strategic sale in 2016 to a publicly listed company, ZAGG.
Before Mophie he was a VC for 13 years at a firm in Michigan called Beringea, where he sourced, led or managed the investments across their large portfolio.
Jeff has invested in over 40 companies and sat on over 30 boards. He was also a contributing blogger to The Huffington Post, so he understands the value of sharing knowledge with his community. He’s been active in the OC startup community for the last several years and I’ve enjoyed getting to know him. We’ve even gotten to coach youth basketball against each other, which is always fun!
Doug Wilson is the founder, and currently the Chairman, of the CEO Leadership Alliance of Orange County, formed as a group of CEOs from some of the biggest companies here, working together to “build a thriving Orange County for all.” We talked a lot about the formation and work of CLA (as it’s known today).
Doug is also an Executive Fellow at The Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, an honor he’s received as a thought leader on the topic. He’s also been the CEO of Next Solutions for over 30 years. It is a consulting firm focused on significant value-add opportunities to the homebuilding industry.
Doug and I both share a passion for assessments to aid personal development and team building. He actually created one, authoring one called Your Style of Influence, an assessment instrument used to build high performing teams. It is used in many Fortune 500 companies and around the world.
Doug is well educated, with multiple degrees in psychology and theology, and even a Ph.D in psychology. He’s taught, written extensively, and worked in and consulted in a variety of industries. He’s so well-rounded and curious. Our conversations are always deep and productive, and you'll see that in our conversation on here.
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.