Getting Schooled by Uber
LA Innovation Week(s)
October 1-22, 2015
Various locations across Los Angeles County
Two fireside chats, one with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and the other with Troy Carter, CEO of Atom Factory
Kalanick’s return to his alma mater was marked by a daytime visit to the Anderson School of Management, where he sat in on a class led by UCLA VC Fund Executive Chair Michael Silton. Kalanick offered substantive feedback to entrepreneurs who were pitching their respective businesses. Later that evening, Kalanick was presented with the Entrepreneurial Achievement Award from the UCLA Venture Capital Fund, followed by a conversation with fellow UCLA alum Susan Feldman, co-founder of One Kings Lane. Answering questions culled from previous input from students, an animated Kalanick held court in the packed Royce Hall auditorium and was surrounded by a throng of adoring entrepreneurial devotees at the conclusion of the fireside chat. Other events included “The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) Bringing Diversity to Tech,” “Girls Build LA Challenge,” “Hack the Gender GAP,” “thinkLA Young Stars.”
Gearing Up for New Ventures
LA Startup Week
Nov. 16-20, 2015
Opening party at Cross Campus; Santa Monica Place
Digital LA’s Kevin Winston and eight others
A smaller, more intimate affair, LA Startup Week 2015 followed right on the heels of Techweek. At Santa Monica Place, attendees gathered for such panels as “Expert DOJO 12 Step Program to Start, Expand and Exit Your Business Successfully” and “LA Startup Demo Day.”
Shark Tank on the Beach
What LA Tech Summit
When November 17, 2015
Where Hosted by Cornerstone OnDemand at Fairmont Miramar Hotel (Santa Monica)
Speakers Andrew Jarecki (Moviefone), Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures), Tony Pritzker (Pritzker Group), Dana Settle (Greycroft), Andrew Blackmon (The Black Tux), Nick Green (Thrive Market), Josh Entman (Jukin Media), Joanna McFarland (HopSkipDrive), Mike Armstrong (ZestFinance), Corey Brundage (HONK)
Notable Jason Nazar moderated a version of Shark Tank in which four local startups pitched ideas to judges Baron Davis (former NBA star), Scott Marlette (GoodRx), and Chris Ovitz (Workpop). MakieLab, a 2015 Disney Accelerator startup that allows users to download and print 3-D toys, won the $5,000 prize. The LA Dodgers Accelerator was featured in a session on sports and technology, with emphasis on the convergence of the two in Los Angeles. Panelists included Tucker Kain (CFO of the LA Dodgers), Jonathan Bradley (partner at R/GA Ventures and director of LA Dodgers Accelerator), Kai Soto (FieldLevel Inc.), Cavan Canavan (FocusMotion). Other speakers throughout the day included Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures, Joanna McFarland of HopSkipDrive Tony Pritzker of the Pritzker Group, Corey Brundage of HONK, Nick Green of Thrive Market, and Mike Armstrong of ZestFinance.
Traveling Tech Tour
Nov. 9-14, 2015
Santa Monica Pier
Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin spoke on “Disruptive Innovation: Insights from the Dollar Shave Club.” Other speakers included Nick Desai of Heal, Jason Feinber of Pandora, Douglas Merrill of ZestFinance, Mike Gammarino of The Black Tux, and Amos Pizzey of Talenthouse.
With similar programming in Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, New York, and Miami, Techweek LA attracts a loyal contingent to the Santa Monica Pier every year. Pick My Solar won the festival’s People’s Choice and Launch competition. More than 80 startups competed for $50,000 in prizes and a chance to compete at Techweek Miami at the Launch National Championship for a $50,000 investment. Rachel McCrary of Jewel Toned and Sophia Rossi of hellogiggles participated in the panel “Successful, Innovative and Glamorous: Insights from Female Entrepreneurs.”
Being There and Being Square
VR Expo (The Virtual Reality Los Angeles Summer Expo)
August 29, 2015
LA Convention Center
Nancy Bennett (Two Bit Circus), Jim Geduldick (GoPro), Noah Falstein (Google), Cosmo Scharf (VRLA), Neville Spiteri (WEVR)
What started as a meetup group spawned from a Reddit post in April 2014 has quickly grown into a tech expo that is gathering major buzz. Last year’s expo featured demos from Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung GearVR, among others.
Founded by former USC student Cosmo Scharf, VRLA has grown from a meetup of LA-area VR enthusiasts to an event attended by thousands. “A lot of the content is entertainment focused,” says the 20-year-old, self-professed tech addict. “The types of people that are attending are VR enthusiasts, but a lot are visual-effects people, producers, directors,” and others involved in the motion picture industry.
Scharf expects up to 70 exhibitors at the VRLA Winter Expo, which returns to the LA Convention Center on January 23.
Down the Road
Where does Scharf see VR in the cultural landscape in the next 10 years? “I expect it to be a part of many Americans’ daily lives,” he predicts. The visual fidelity of the experience will be “pretty close to real life,” he adds, pointing out that what seems to be pure indulgent gimmickry will evolve into truly useful technology with many practical applications.