ESS Past Events
2022-2023 Speaker Series
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Good Sports: Finding and Involving Professional Athletes in your Startup
LetzChat is a messaging platform that aims to revolutionize the way we communicate and connect with each other. In their presentation, the founders will discuss how they have worked with professional athletes to improve the platform and make it more accessible and user-friendly for sports fans and athletes alike.
This is a rare opportunity to learn firsthand from the creators of LetzChat and hear about their innovative approach to involving professional athletes in their startup. We encourage you to attend and bring any questions you may have for the founders.
One of 10 startups selected to be part of the Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Accelerator, with Comcast now as an investor in LetzChat. One of eight startups selected to be part of the AARP Foundation Accelerator. Winners of the Pacific Coast Business Times Startup Superstar Award in 2018 representing California Lutheran University over UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly SLO, California State University of Channel Islands, and Ventura College.
Monday, October 17, 2022
Everything Ventured: Petra Griffith Shares Her Venture Capitalist Journey
Petra Griffith is a Managing Director for Wedbush Ventures which invests in visionary problem solvers who are passionate about meaningfully changing the way we live and do business. They focus on early stage venture investments (pre-seed and seed stage companies) across a variety of sectors with a particular focus on Southern California and areas where we can add value.
2021-2022 Speaker Series
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Steven D. Dorfman Dedication Ceremony
Guest Speaker: Laura Moreno, Founder & CEO, Pandocap
Watch the dedication ceremony honoring Steven D. Dorfman’s generous gift to the Steven Dorfman Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship followed by our host entrepreneur Laura Moreno, founder and CEO of Pandocap, who shared her journey as a Latina business owner in a keynote address. Laura Moreno's keynote also kicked off Women Entrepreneurship Week 2021.
The event was held at Hub101, 31416 Agoura Road #105, Westlake Village.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Creator Economy 2.0: Design, Content Strategy and Emerging Market Dynamics
Learn key design and content strategy principles and their critical impact on the success of new business in the next era of the creator economy.
Robbie will share:
- Insights from his career in photography, new media and startups
- Design and content strategies needed for startup and new business growth
- Emerging market opportunities for new products and services in the creator economy
Robbie Nock is an entrepreneur and educator dedicated to inspiring creative innovation. As the Director of Entrepreneurship and Professional Practice at ArtCenter, he connects art and design to business and technology, fostering startup teams, collaboration and partnerships. Over his career, he has worked as a founder and consultant across industries including photography, music, media production and emerging technology. Working on behalf of a wide range of communities spanning art, entertainment, design, science and venture capital, Robbie advises businesses and partners that strive to improve the human condition. He believes that solutions to the most challenging problems can be found in unlikely places and is drawn to the edges and intersections of established fields. Robbie serves on the Executive Committee for the Caltech Entrepreneurs Forum, the Board of Directors for Innovate Pasadena and as the Co-chair for the Creative Advisory Board for the Mayor of Los Angeles. He received an MA in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and an MFA in Art and Technology from the California Institute of the Arts. Robbie is a practicing visual artist and lover of the outdoors where he surfs, skis and runs whenever possible.
WATCH speakers from our 2020-2021 series
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
NADA is impossible! In Tech Entrepreneurship
Guest Speaker: Jesse Martinez from Latino Start Alliance
We are excited to invite the founder of Latinx Startup Alliance, Jesse Martinez, who not only created a global community of Latinx founders but is also a 4X Silicon Valley founder whose journey started in early 1997.
Join in to hear:
- From an engineer major in Houston to a Silicon Valley startup
- Catching the "start-up" bug
- Creating from a personal need to a global community
- Tools and resources for founders
- Pathways from a founder into venture capital
Jesse is a serial tech entrepreneur, educator, philanthropist, investor, advisor, mentor, and a passionate evangelist for the global Latinx tech community. He was recently honored to attend the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos as a delegate for the 1st U.S. Hispanic Delegation led by the We Are All Human Foundation.
He has spent over 20+ years in San Francisco/Silicon Valley and is originally from Houston, Texas along with being a proud Texas A&M Aggie. Jesse found his way to San Francisco in March 1997 where he first experienced what it meant to work for a startup. As employee 27, he got to see firsthand the building of a Silicon Valley company (funded by Sequoia Capital) that ultimately grew into a thousand employee corporation all in less than a year as it was acquired for $180 million by Frontier Communications.
As a serial entrepreneur, Jesse was the cofounder of Picosito.com (Bilingual Latino portal pioneer), Giggo (Spanish only Groupon-like pioneer), Media Relevance (Contextual media advertising for video), and Founder of CareerForce (Workforce development for the Salesforce economy) where he was incubated at the Salesforce Incubator (Now Accelerate) and was their first Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR). In 1999, Jesse was honored with a U.S. Congressional Record by the House of Representatives for their work around Picosito.com.
He is the cofounder of Latino Startup Alliance (LSA, 2011) whose mission is to empower Latino tech founders and has grown organically to over 1K+ members globally. He has been honored with multiple visits to the White House (Tech Inclusion), two visits to the Clinton Global Initiative and co-chaired a delegation of twelve Latinos in Tech to Israel (Startup Nation).
In 2016, LSA fostered a strategic partnership with Republic (Equity crowdfunding) and coleads the LSA Republic Community of 500+ member investors. Recently, he has been a capital advisor for multiple cohorts for the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative.
He was also the cofounder of Avion – the first pre-accelerator supporting Latina tech founders.
Jesse is a startup advisor to Opt Health, LaDaDa (exit), madeBOS, Athletix, DiveIn, Traiilo, Pitch Genius, DentiDesk & Bedrock Analytics and honored to mentor many. He was also an advisor to Hackers/Founders Co-op, the S XSW 2016 & 2018 Pitch Accelerator, a UN Delegatefor Blockchain for Impact, and a TechCrunch’s 9th & 10th Annual Crunchies Board Member.
Jesse is currently the VP of Sales & Business Development for Ennube Solutions and part of the founding team, providing Salesforce solutions and training both in the U.S. and LATAM.
He is also a venture partner at VamosVentures, a fund focused on U.S. Latino-led and diverse founder startups, a venture partner at Republic - a crowdfunding platform, a member/speaker of We Are All Human: Hispanic Promise & Leadership Summits and a co-founder for the Titan Institute.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
How to Find the Right Market for Your Idea/Innovation
Every now and then, we come up with a fantastic idea or invent a super cool technology that could become the next big thing, but it's very difficult to figure out who will pay for it and how to monetize your innovation. In this presentation, Ade talked about how to commercialize your innovation, sharing lessons and frameworks from his time commercializing research projects at USC and building his own startup.
In this talk, you'll learn:
- The art of customer discovery
- How to use the business model canvas in customer discovery
- How to get over the fear of talking to customers about your idea
Ade Adesanya, is the Co-founder & President of Moving Analytics Inc, a telehealth company that is increasing access to cardiac rehab and helping patients recover faster at home through an innovative app-based virtual cardiac rehab program, Movn. Moving Analytics’ programs are developed in partnership with Stanford University, and are based on more than 30 years of published research. Ade is also a lecturer of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California. Prior to launching Moving Analytics, Ade helped researchers at the University of Southern California to commercialize their research into startup ventures. Ade grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the US to study electrical engineering at the University of Houston, he later got a master’s in engineering management from the University of Southern California and a certificate in Finance from UCLA. He was recently recognized as a top 30 under 30 in healthcare by Forbes magazine.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Listening to that 'Little Voice': Your Guide to Success
Guest Speaker: Ayinde Alakoye, Founder and CEO, nēdl
We were excited to invite the founder of nēdl (as in, in 'the haystack': Find Voices. Be Heard.), who created the original iheartradio app for Clear Channel, was a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, and is now competing with Clubhouse in his new audio start-up that transcribes your words as you speak.
Watch to learn...
- Which inner Voice to listen to and which one(s) to ignore
- How he heard the words he gave to the 44th President
- The best ways to listen to your inner speech and intuition
- Unfiltered takes and real-talk about what is required to go from ideation to raising venture capital to revenue
Ayinde's the CEO of nēdl (as in, 'the haystack'), served as an Executive Board Member of the Developers Alliance, and created iheartradio's original app. Appearances include, CNBC Powerlunch, CBS TV & Radio, Clear Channel Radio, BravoTV, as well as panels for the National Association of Broadcasters, Marshall School of Business, Anderson School of Management, and delivered a keynote speech for the Virginia Association of Broadcasters. In addition to the above, Ayinde served as a Speechwriter, Staffer, and Message Advisor for Presidential Candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Startups: The Year That Wasn't
Guest Speaker: Ben Kuo, Editor and Founder, socalTECH.com
We were excited to invite back Benjamin Kuo, editor and founder of socalTECH.com, for another year in review. He talked about some of the noteworthy funding deals, acquisitions, exits and trends of 2020, and talked about what might be in store for the future.
- What's going on in Southern California's entrepreneurial environment, and what were the noteworthy things that happened this year
- What were the big exits this year along the Central Coast (IPOs, acquisitions)
- What gained the attention of investors in 2020
- What were the big successes, and what were the big failures
Benjamin F. Kuo is the founder of SOCALTECH LLC, and the publisher of socalTECH.com. socalTECH.com provides an online resource with real time news updates on high tech companies across the entire Southern California region, with interviews with entrepreneurs, updates on venture capital funding, major business deals, and much more. The site also features the region's most extensive calendar of high tech events and conferences, job postings, and an extensive database of venture capital sources, high tech companies, and other resources for high tech entrepreneurs.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
An Energizing Story from Eat Your Coffee
We were excited to invite the co-founder of Eat Your Coffee, Johnny Fayad, who shared his story from day one in their dorm room making 10 bars/hour to graduating college having sold over a million of the original naturally caffeinated snack bar. He'll also shared a bit on how they've had to remain nimble over the years and how they've adapted during the current pandemic.
Watch to learn:
- Their story from initial concept to manufacturing at scale
- How to plan for working capital and get your business off the ground
- Executing a fundraise at various stages of your business and how to work with your investors
- Effectively managing a remote team
Eat Your Coffee began when founders Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari, then freshmen at Northeastern University, were tired of waking up late for their 8AM classes without the time for breakfast or, more importantly, coffee. They quickly asked themselves, “Why can’t we just eat our coffee?” The answer? Eat Your Coffee - the first organic, vegan, and gluten-free energy bar infused with a full cup of real coffee (no synthetic caffeine). There are currently three delicious Eat Your Coffee Bar flavors including Mocha Latte, Coconut Mocha, and Caramel Macchiato and are available on Amazon, and at over 1000 retail locations throughout the U.S.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
How Discomfort Drives You Forward; Solving Pain Points & Finding Resiliency in Entrepreneurship
We are excited to have invited the founder of Pashion Footwear, Haley Pavone, who created the world’s first fully convertible high heels and an accompanying brand that strives to empower women, one step at a time.
In this event, Haley shared how she turned a personal pain point into a successful product and business while being a full-time college student. Pashion Footwear’s patented convertible heel technology allows for quick and easy transformation from a comfortable and stylish high heel to a flexible and practical flat. Haley also shared how she created this “impossible” product and the corresponding supply chain and disrupted a highly competitive, male-dominated space with very little disruption historically. Finally, Haley discussed the realities of entrepreneurship, smashing the “highlight reel” mentality with a dose of realness and resilience.
About the Speaker
Haley Pavone (Founder & CEO at Pashion Footwear) is an entrepreneur whose ambition & passion for innovation led her to create the largest disruptive advancement women’s footwear has ever seen – the world’s first fully convertible heel. She has invented, developed, and brought to production what was once thought to be an “impossible” shoe…and she’s done it all by 24, and with no background in footwear.
Pavone founded the company as a junior in college and in the 4 years since she has developed her innovative & massively disruptive product’s technology, built out an all-star team of hustlers & shoe dogs, secured patent-pending status in 30 countries, built out and trained a full supply chain on a completely new production method, executed the first six rounds of production with phenomenal customer satisfaction ratings, developed & launched a comprehensive eCommerce site/model/funnel and raised over $2.5 million dollars in seed funding. Hard-working & efficient, Pavone built the company while still graduating on-time with her Business Entrepreneurship degree from California Polytechnic State University, SLO.
Pashion Footwear formally launched online in June of 2019. Since launching, Pavone has managed to lead her team to greatness in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic – posting 80% growth Q2/Q1 of 2020. The company has hosted over 1.8 million site visitors as brand awareness continues to skyrocket under Pavone’s guidance.
Pavone’s true talent comes from her ability to rally people behind her vision. A charismatic & persuasive public speaker, Pavone has become both the visionary and face behind this up-and-coming fashion tech brand. Her wins at several startup competitions as well as appearances on a variety of TV shows, radio shows and in print publications have earned her a reputation as an exciting and effective company spokesperson.
Pashion Footwear formally launched online in June of 2019. For more information, please visit: www.pashionfootwear.com
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Disrupting the Industry Technology Left Behind
Preston Geeting (Cal Lutheran Alumnus '02) and Philip Weinman, Cofounders, Packform
We invite the cofounders of Packform, Philip Weinman and Preston Geeting (Cal Lu Alumnus ’02), who created an online marketplace that is revolutionizing the distribution industry.
In this moderated event, Weinman and Geeting shared how they developed and successfully implemented technology in an industry left behind by technology. Packform was designed to change and disrupt the current landscape by consolidating all suppliers and customers into a single marketplace with the distributors forming part of the supply chain, rather than controlling it. Within 12 months, Packform took the industry heavyweight competitors head on with a superior business model and scaled the business to become the Global Technology Startup of the Year. Weinman and Geeting also shared their ultimate vision of creating a marketplace that changes how distribution is done for all products, not just packaging.
Preston Geeting is the co-founder and director of Packform and a Cal Lutheran Alumnus from the Business Administration program '02. Preston began his packaging career as a sales representative, working his way to the top, which helped him understand all parts of the business and industry of packaging.
Philip Weinman is a self-made businessman and entrepreneur with an impressive track record in starting and developing his own companies as well as investing in start-ups. He has led the way in disruptive innovation for more than 30 years across a wide range of industries.
Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020
Mother of Invention: Finding Opportunity in Life's Everyday Challenges
Cara Armstrong, CEO, founder and inventor, Baby Barista
We kick off Women Entrepreneurship Week 2020 with Cara Armstrong, CEO, founder and inventor of Baby Barista, a Nespresso-like machine that makes the perfect bottle in under 30 seconds, and an accompanying ecosystem that revolutionizes the infant formula feeding experience.
Cara Armstrong is the CEO, founder and inventor of Baby Barista, a Nespresso-like machine that makes the perfect bottle in under 30 seconds, and an accompanying eco-system that revolutionizes the infant formula feeding experience. She is a Certified Emergency Room Registered Nurse who spent 12 years working at Providence-Cedars Sinai hospital in Tarzana, California. During her career as a nurse, she was the recipient of many awards including the “Mission Spirit” award and the “Hospital Hero” award sponsored by the National Health Foundation. As the inventor of the Baby Barista machine, Cara holds 3 published patents. Baby Barista was named one of California's Top 10 Design innovations on the CBS show California by Design in July of 2020 and has been featured in Fast Company Magazine and USA Today. It won the Audience Choice Award at Angelcon, an event sponsored by Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo this summer.
Cara loves being a mom to her three kids Amber, Jack and Mia. Her youngest daughter Mia, born with Down Syndrome, has inspired her to be a passionate disability advocate who believes in the dignity of every human life. She has had the opportunity to share the importance of acceptance and inclusion with the world in unique ways. In 2018, Cara was honored on ABC television’s “The View” for being a “fearless mom”. She has appeared beside Mia (a SAG-Aftra actress) in campaigns for Walmart, Tommy Hilfiger, Teleflora, Samsung, Cheerios and Baby Born. Cara is a contributing author to the children’s book “Down on Safari” (part of the Super Captain Braveman book series) which won the Mother’s Choice Award in 2019. The book explains Down Syndrome in an age appropriate way to elementary school children. Cara enjoys spending time with her family and friends, taking long walks, gardening, cooking, traveling and practicing hot yoga. She lives in Simi Valley with her husband Jack and her two youngest children. evolved into the creation of a leading international brand with hundreds of employees and millions of customers.
2019-2020 Speaker Series
Monday, April 27, 2020
Music and Technology - An entrepreneurial journey
Susan Wolf and Marcus Ryle, Co-founders, Line 6
Susan Wolf and Marcus Ryle are the co-founders of Line 6, a company that makes musical instrument technology products for guitarists. Their journey began with a shared love of music and evolved into the creation of a leading international brand with hundreds of employees and millions of customers.
In this video you will learn:
- How they transitioned from consultants to entrepreneurs
- How they built a company culture that fostered innovation
- The pros and cons of venture funding
- How to truly listen to customers
- Acquisition of additional brands and technology
- How they sold their company to Yamaha Corporation
February 5, 2020
Mixing crawfish and cajun in building a franchise
Co-founder and Owner, The Boiling Crab
Dada Ngo, co-founder of the very popular restaurant franchise, The Boiling Crab spoke.. Earlier in our Entrepreneur Speaker Series we learned from the franchisee perspective, now we learned from a franchisers' experience about....
- How they built The Boiling Crab from startup to franchise
- What were the challenges and how were they overcome
- Lessons learned along the way
- What advice, she has to give from their years of building a franchise
Sinh Nguyen, a fisherman by trade from Seadrift, Texas met with Dada Ngo of Kansas, back in 1995. With a love for Cajun seafood boil, the couple founded The Boiling Crab in 2004. Their first location in the heart of Orange County’s Little Saigon, was decorated with kitschy fake anchors, fishing nets, photos of Mr. Nguyen’s family, who were crabbers and shrimpers for generations in Vietnam. After 15 years, The Boiling Crab has expanded to more than 21 locations across the US including California, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii and Florida. With locations in Shanghai and Manila, 2020 is marked as the year that The Boiling Crab begins to share its secret flavorful sauce, The Whole Shabang®, to the world.
December 4, 2019
Startups: The Year That Was and The Year That's Ahead
Editor and Founder, socalTECH.com
Ben Kuo, editor and founder of socalTECH.com gives his annual talk on "Startups: The year that was and the year that's ahead".
November 6, 2019
We didn't invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich.
Steven Richardson and Josh Young
Owner/Operators, Chick-fil-A Westlake Village
Josh Young and Steven Richardson are the Conejo Valley’s Chick-fil-A Owner/Operators with combined 30+ years of restaurant leadership and hospitality experience. In their talk titled, “We didn’t invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich,” Josh and Steven will explore Chick-fil-A’s entrepreneurial history, the role as an Owner/Operators, and leading, in part, of the 3rd largest U.S. restaurant chain.
People are always asking us questions about our history, food, customer service, community involvement, and even our famous cows. These are some of the cornerstones for Chick-fil-A that help us provide our guests with remarkable experiences each time they choose to dine with us. Our hope is that you’ll be able to take some of these principles back with you.Steven Richardson
October 9, 2019
Active Duty: The Inspiring Entrepreneurial Journey of a Military Spouse
Founder, Healthy Momma
Flossie is an accomplished entrepreneur specializing in e-commerce, marketing strategy, business development, growth of operations, and sales. She generated over 7-figure revenues within the first year of launching her meal prep and delivery company Healthy Momma in 2015. She went on to create over 100 Military Spouse jobs, donate over 10k meals to homeless Veterans and mentored numerous individuals.
Flossie is now known in her role for National Military Spouse advocacy and public speaking across local and national avenues such as Fox News, NBC, CBS, PBS and was invited to the White House in December 2018 on behalf of her advocacy efforts. In 2018 Flossie served for a short period on a startup called Fokcus where she was acting Chief Marketing and Development Officer. Fokcus is an accelerator, that also offers a technology platform for startup mentoring along with software solutions.
Flossie served as the National Director of Project Initiatives at The Rosie Network, which guides military spouse and veteran entrepreneurship through curriculum, education and mentoring. She helped spearhead the Nonprofits growth from a single location to seven cities in a single year projecting to serve a thousand Military Spouses and Veterans annually.
Flossie’s most recent venture, Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE) connects Military Spouse impact advocates, entrepreneurs, and freelancers with organizations who want to make an impact with their products and services and create brand awareness in the military community.
Flossie serves as a pillar in her community mentoring for numerous organizations such as SEAL Team Threes Family Readiness Group, Team RWB, Girls in Tech, Bunker Labs, various Universities and Businesses, serving as a Startup Weekend Organizer and volunteering her time for many other national community organizations and Non-Profits.
September 4, 2019
The Journey of a Serial Cereal Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur Paul Shrater is currently an owner or co-owner of 6 companies and several divisions in the areas of e-commerce, third party logistics, contract packaging in food and beauty, promotional products, foodservice distribution, private equity, compostable tableware, and supplements. His 15 year old company, Minimus.biz, is ranked in the top 1000 highest grossing e-commerce businesses in the United States. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Shrater was a film and television producer and writer, working with major studios and networks, including selling a screenplay for over $1 million. He is a graduate of the acclaimed Wharton School of Business, a speaker at national conferences in the areas of e-commerce, and has appeared in numerous national television and print media.
- "Startups and New Technology in Hospitality", Dave Berkus, hospitality industry veteran & serial entrepreneur. Watch Dave Berkus Keynote
- "Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur", Randy Adams, Chief Technology Officer of DRIAV. Watch Randy Adams Keynote
- "Hatching Brand and Success", Brad Halpern, CEO/Founder: Eggology, CMO/Partner: Be Trū Organics, Former Mayor/Current Councilman: Westlake Village. Watch Brad Halpern Keynote
- "Startups: The Year That Was and The Year That's Ahead", Ben Kuo, editor and founder of socalTECH.com. Watch Ben Kuo Keynote
- "A Path to Creative Entrepreneurship", Emily Best, CEO & founder of Seed&Spark. Watch Emily Best Keynote
- "Solving Problems or Producing Outcomes? How to Deliver Maximum Business Impact", Ginger Zumaeta, CEO of Zumaeta Group. Watch Ginger Zumaeta Keynote
- "How to define, Purpose and Impact", Jennifer Buzza, co-founder of WebClio and Work Elevation. Watch Jennifer Buzza Keynote
- "Why Storytelling Matters", Anna Redmond, CEO of Hippo Reads. Watch Anna Redmond Keynote
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