On October 4th local tech gurus, MBA students, entrepreneurs and Angelinos of all backgrounds crawled down the streets of Silicon Beach, networking with new people under the roofs of various technological startups that are spearheading an economic wave in Santa Monica.
“I’m a born and raised SoCal guy with a passion for learning and sharing entrepreneurial dreams of others,” says TechZulu CEO and Founder, Efren Toscano. “TechZulu was founded in 2008 . . . to discover, cover and connect our audience with vetted technology resources in the Southern California ecosystem and beyond.”
Toscano came up with the initial concept of blending a pub crawl with technology networking. “Everyone loves a good Pub Crawl and people like myself love to learn about awesome tech companies. Why not marry the two of them and make a Tech Crawl? Covering the Southern California Tech Scene over the years we have become very familiar with our local tech community and the tech founders of some amazing companies.”
Crawlers trekked the streets of Santa Monica with name tags, following an electronic map of the route, networking and connecting under the roofs of the following companies:
Daniel Porter is a Case Researcher at Patexia, an online network of scientists and researchers. “Our aim is to engage this community to solve problems related to intellectual property and innovation. The pace of patent filing increased dramatically in the past fifteen years, and the patent system struggles to keep up. Too few examiners are able to properly assess whether or not the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should grant a patent — whether or not the invention claimed is actually novel.”
“The result is a large number of “bad” patents, which should not have been issued . . . that place a serious financial burden on innovators in the US economy and paralyze courts with infringement cases. Patexia employs the expertise in our community of researchers to crowdsource the process of determining patent novelty. By bringing specific expertise back into the novelty assessment process, we try to bring transparency back to the patent system.”
Patexia, like many of the companies on the Tech Crawl, are small start-ups that are relatively new to the Santa Monica tech scene. The Crawl allows them the opportunity to expand their footprint in the community, grow their brands, and contribute to the economics and vibrancy of the Los Angeles community.
Ronen Olshansky and Dan Dato’s relationship goes back a few years, and collaborations on a few early stage companies. As partners in the creation of Cross Campus, “We both saw the amazing transformation of Santa Monica and Venice into a dynamic tech hub and were eager about helping to build it. I [Ronen] had tried to start a company in 2007 by myself and found the process so miserable while sitting alone in an office that I saw the value in creating an open, collaborative environment.”
“At Cross Campus, there is no such thing as “personal space.” That is by design. There are no personal offices. There is a lot of private and semi-private space that can be used by our members but as a matter of philosophy, we think a lot of the goodness is gone when people go behind a door and close it. Plus, in this world of cyber hacking and lean execution, how much privacy, security or advantage do walls and a door really offer you?”
Cross Campus has a unique approach to space design and attention to detail. It has also implemented a unique business model. After seeing an explosion in “accelerators”, “co-working spaces” and “incubators,” they decided to tailor fit parts of each business model to the unique Cross Campus approach.
Ronen says “We decided to pick and choose the parts of each business model we liked. So like an accelerator, we wanted to provide a really targeted education curriculum to help entrepreneurs acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. To become a member of Cross Campus, you don’t need to give us a stake in your company. We also liked the hands-on approach that incubators take, bringing together various people to work on interesting ideas. With our backgrounds in the startup world, both Dan and I feel we are effective in this mentor or guide role, helping entrepreneurs shape their companies. Finally, we are really attractive to the collaborative nature of shared work spaces or “coworking spaces” so we built Cross Campus around that. We are a hybrid of accelerator, incubator, and co-working space.”
The streets were vibrant with crawlers, energetic and enthusiastic about these new companies and forging relationships over beer, Bloody Marys and technology. Efren summed it up nicely: “Silicon Beach is a small part of the overall Southern California Tech scene. For me Silicon Beach specifically focuses on the beach tech hubs such as Santa Monica, Venice, etc. Los Angeles as a whole is maturing into an amazing community of talented tech folks, from developers to designers, and has always had a strong focus on revenue generating companies and products.”
Ronen of Cross Campus elaborates on their own vision as part of Silicon Beach: “We are super excited to play a major role in the growth of entrepreneurship and innovation in Santa Monica. We want to provide the space in which great companies grow. We want to organize and host unique, radical events that bring creative people from different disciplines together in new ways.”
Their long term vision for the reinvented workspace? “A vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in every city around the globe!”
The economy as a whole might not be moving at light speed, but with the energy of the startups and entrepreneurs who are plugging away each day in Southern California’s technology industry, the future looks very, very bright.
By Heather Martin
* For additional information please visit TechZulu online at http://www.techzulu.com