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Tacos and Tech Podcast
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Tacos and Tech Podcast

Author: Neal Bloom: San Diego, evangelist, tech ambassador

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The Tacos and Tech Podcast highlights the builders of companies, technologies, and the ecosystem of San Diego with a local flair for our lifestyle as well.
25 Episodes
Dmitry Shapiro is the co-founder & CEO of GoMeta, which provides users with Koji, a platform that aims to democratize app development. Similarly to how blogs democratized text publishing, and Instagram democratizing photography, the GoMeta team believes that the general public are at a point where they are ready to get familiar with, and create things from, code. The Russia native moved to Atlanta, GA when he was just 10 years old. In 1984, during his teen years, Dmitry watched a movie called WarGames that immediately drew him to computers, and so, he began spending his free time at his high school’s computer lab. Soon enough, Dmitry went from being a rookie to learning how to program. His parents eventually got him a computer so that he could learn skills from the comfort of his own home.  Although his activity during his teen years would suggest a future career in computer science, Dmitry decided to spend his college years studying electrical engineering instead. After graduating with a degree he was burnt out from, Dmitry explored other career paths until rediscovering programming at 25. This caused him to shift gears and find work as a Sales Engineer and later on as a web consultant. After a few years, Dmitry was recruited by an up-and-coming San Diego company called College Club, spending just under a year there. After the company tanked, DMitry decided to begin his own venture. He founded Akonix Systems, a startup that sought to build online communities for individual brands, and raised his first round of venture capital, totalling $5 million, after about a year. Although the business was doing well, Dmitry and his co-founder decided pivoting the business to a cybersecurity company would be best.  With an eventual $34 million in venture capital raised, the future of the cybersecurity venture looked promising. In late 2004, five years into his venture, Dmitry had an epiphany: he wanted to make it easy for anyone to broadcast video on the internet. An idea he came up with several months before the launch of YouTube. He felt so strongly about his idea that he ended up leaving Akonix shortly after to pursue this new venture, Veoh Networks. In the five years he pursued this new venture, Dmitry’s team raised $70 million, competing directly with YouTube and Hulu. Nearing the end of its five-year run, the company was being bombarded with lawsuits from Universal Music, leading to its subsequent liquidation. After closing down his company, Dmitry was recruited by MySpace to become the next CTO of its subsidiary, MySpace Music, where he worked for one year before leaving to become a Googler. Four years later, Dmitry left his gig at Google and moved back down to sunny San Diego, where he started working on his current venture: GoMeta.   Listen in to hear all about Dmitry’s journey as an entrepreneur, his plans for the future of GoMeta, and his local favorite eats and brews. Thanks to our partners Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem. Dmitry’s favorites Tacos - Taco Stand, The Brigantine, South Beach Beer - Stone Brewing, Karl Strauss Coffee - Achilles Keep up with GoMeta & Koji:  Facebook: @gometainc @madewithkoji Twitter: @metaverse @madewithkoji Dmitry’s Twitter: @dmitry 
Top Tech Awards 2019

Top Tech Awards 2019


Welcome to a special edition of the Tacos & Tech Podcast, where we recorded live during the annual Top Tech Awards on May 16, giving you a backstage pass to the show. Alongside our great ecosystem partners at Cox Business, we set up backstage to briefly interview each of the recipients shortly after receiving their awards.    Winners: Nathan Short - Encinitas Unified School District Keith Fernandez - Sheriff Department Matt Mowry - Point Loma Credit Union Das - CTO Family Health Centers Chris Petersen - Mark Zecca - SD Office of Education Travis Fawcett - AristaMD Mark Sulzen - SmartDraw Ali - Cali Bamboo Geoff Howard - National Funding Brian Nordman - Dudek Frederick - Xiris Pharma Mark Kohlheim - CACI Ken Kraft - Cox Business Jared Ruth - Cox Business
Brad Chisum is the co-founder & CEO of Launch Factory, an entity that creates startup companies, focusing specifically on business execution. This focus, Brad says, makes Launch Factory startups better suited to handle the business challenges in front of them. The El Paso, Texas native attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he studied electrical engineering and math. Although he went into college with aspirations to become a theoretical physicist, Brad always secretly wanted to become an entrepreneur at some point. Challenging himself to live in each of the major US time zones, Brad began searching for a post-college job on both the east and west coasts. He narrowed it down to a job in San Diego and a job in Virginia, but what really sealed the deal was the lunch he had on the east coast. The team at the Virginia-based company told him they’d be taking him out to eat Mexican food and went to Chili’s. At that moment, Brad knew he needed to live in a place where he’d be able to eat authentic tacos whenever he craved one. And so, he made his way down to sunny San Diego, working for STMicroelectronics. Several years in his career, Brad began working as an engineer at SPAWAR, where he met his now-co-founder, Richard Waters. It wasn’t long before the pair began working to build a venture of their own, all while Brad was pursuing an MBA at San Diego State University. Through the many years of Lumedyne, the duo and their team faced numerous setbacks and hardships before being acquired by Google. Brad remained part of the team post acquisition, until he left Google in 2016. It wasn’t until 2018 that Brad began working on his next venture, Launch Factory. James Hereford, a former colleague of his, had the advanced skillset that Brad desired in a potential co-founder. The duo worked on developing Launch Factory, which aims to give startups all the tools and knowledge they need to become successful. Listen in to hear all about Brad’s journey as a two-time founder, his plans for the future of Launch Factory, and his local favorite eats and brews. Thanks to our partners Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.   Brad’s favorites Tacos - Tacos el Gordo (various locations) Beer - Stone Brewing   Keep up with Launch Factory on social media: LinkedIn
Hayley Brooks is co-founder & CEO of Whooo's Reading, an EdTech company that provides a machine learning algorithm that automatically assesses students’ comprehension for elementary and middle school teachers. This tool is a viable replacement for multiple choice and encourages students to think more critically and creatively about what they’ve read. Hayley spent most of her childhood in San Diego, having moved to the area when she was just six years old. She went away to attend college at Williams College in Massachusetts for a few years before making her way back to the sunny city. Majoring in math, Hayley did not know what she wanted to do after college until she took a class during her senior year, where she learned how to write a business plan. She and her classmate, who is now her co-founder, also conducted market research for their business idea. After graduating from Williams College, Hayley and her co-founder decided to try building the business they had already created a foundation for. The duo ended up recruiting and third co-founder, their former classmate, who was able to manage the technical side of the business. Together the three of them started working on the business remotely. After getting funding months later, the Whooo’s Reading team was able to move to San Diego in order to work on the business together. Listen in to hear all about the genesis of Whooo’s Reading, Hayley’s plans for the future of the company, and her local favorite eats and brews. Thanks to our partners Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.   Hayley’s favorites: Tacos - Avocado & mushroom tacos at Tacos Libertad in Hillcrest Coffee - Better Buzz’s Hillcrest location Beer - Orange Avenue Whipped from Coronado Brewing Company   Keep up with Hayley on social media: Instagram: @hayley.marie.26 LinkedIn   Keep up with Whooo’s Reading on social media: Facebook & Twitter: @WhooosReading
Mike Glanz is the co-founder and CEO of HireAHelper, an online marketplace for shopping of moving services. The company has full-service and labor-only movers in 50 states. A San Diego native, Mike grew up in the Mission Bay area and went to school at Clairemont High. He later moved to Riverside to attend college at California Baptist University, where he studied information systems management. After college, Mike landed a “real” job in the area only to start his company a year later. As soon as he was able to afford it, Mike made his way back down to San Diego, landing in Oceanside. Mike and his co-founder struggled finding investors who believed in their startup, so they raised a family and friends round, totalling $150,000. The duo’s funds allowed them to launch HireAHelper in June 2007. Nearly 12 years later today, the company has a nationwide presence. Listen in to hear all about the challenges Mike had to overcome in the first few years of HireAHelper and his plans for the future of the company. Thanks to our partners Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.   Mike’s favorites Tacos - Beef tacos at Mexico Viejo in Carlsbad Mexican food - Santana’s Mexican Food in Pacific Beach Coffee - Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in Pacific Beach and Keurig Donut Shop K-Cups   Keep up with HireAHelper on social media: Instagram & Twitter: @HireAHelper Facebook Pinterest
Nicole Carr is the CFO of Measurabl, a software platform that enables owners and operators of real estate to measure, manage, and report non-financial ESG data, such as energy, water, and waste consumption data. Nicole grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a known beer city. She went on to attend University of Colorado Boulder, studying accounting and playing volleyball for the Buffaloes. After spending four years in Boulder, Nicole moved to Denver to begin her career working for KPMG, one of the “big four” accounting firms. A few years passed and Nicole felt burnt out in her public accounting role, so she began working for one of her best clients, Realty Income, a San Diego public company. There, she spent about six years with that company, working in financial roles.     During her time at Realty Income, Nicole became more familiar with ESG (Environmental Social Governance) and realized she wanted to make it a bigger part of her career. She stumbled upon Measurabl while flipping through a long list of San Diego companies and it happened to be the only business she dogeared, so she knew she had to get in touch with the team. A year later, Nicole is leading the company’s financial division. Listen to the rest of her story. Thanks to our partners Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem. Nicole’s favorites Tacos - Karina’s Seafood in Mission Hills Beer - Tart and sour beers at Modern Times Coffee - Influx in Golden Hill   Keep up with Measurabl on social media: Instagram & Twitter: @Measurabl Facebook LinkedIn
Craig Cecilio is the founder & CEO of DiversyFund, a fintech platform created to build wealth for anybody regardless of their net worth and socioeconomic background. Craig grew up in Connecticut. He had always wanted to venture out to the west coast and finally did so after attending college in Colorado. In his first couple of years living in sunny San Diego, Craig spent time working odd jobs and building relationships in the local community. He also immersed himself in the real estate syndication industry, soaking up as much information as he could. After the recession hit, a colleague of Craig’s came up with the idea to take advantage of the low real estate pricing, so he banded together with some investors and began to purchase real estate. In 2015, he dissolved that company to focus on DiversyFund, which he formed in August 2016. In November 2018, DiversyFund became qualified by the SEC to offer investment to anyone regardless of socioeconomic background. The fully-online platform is open to anyone in the United States, with a minimum requirement of $2.500. It is intended to help people diversify their portfolio, hence the name. In the next couple of years, Craig plans on introducing another product, like a venture fund or another alternative investment. Additionally, Craig shares what he loves about living in Downtown San Diego. He also shares his favorite local taco spot and his favorite adult beverage. Thanks to our partners Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem. Craig enjoys the many great offerings in San Diego, including: Tacos at Tacos Stand Coffee at Influx and Achilles, both downtown He also enjoys sipping on Yamazaki 18 Year Whisky Keep up with Craig on social media: LinkedIn Twitter - @CraigCecilio & @DiversyFund
Alessandra Lezama is the CEO of AbacusNext, a San Diego-based TaaS (technology-as-a-service) company. The company provides professionals at large with an ecosystem, where they are able to integrate and have access to all their applications in a private cloud. Alessandra spent most of her upbringing in Spain, but also had the opportunity to experience living in other parts of the world, including Santa Monica and Mexico City. Upon traveling to San Diego to visit family, she fell in love with the palm trees and decided to stay. Alessandra got her first gig in the tech world after meeting some people who had given her the opportunity to work on a project for a telecom company,. After doing well, she continued landing tech-centric opportunities and was later presented with the challenge of reinventing the way AbacusLaw operated. With a team, Alessandra was able to build Abacus Private Cloud, which acts as a “CIO-as-a-service,” as she calls it. Five years ago, Alessandra joined the AbacusNext team as their 29th employee and they now have over 450 people employed. When she’s not in the office, you can find Alessandra outdoors, going on hikes, enjoying the beach, and going horseback riding. The team over at AbacusNext enjoys Mexican food so much that they have it catered every Wednesday for their all-hands meetings. Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support of our tech ecosystem. Keep up with Alessandra on LinkedIn
Mike Allman is co-founder & Executive Chairman of Voterfied, an online platform that will revolutionize the way elected officials and government officials interact with their constituents. Mayors or congressional representatives can pose questions and provide information on the platform, allowing voters to take a stance on issues and express their opinions.   Mike grew up in rural western Michigan, in a small town called Spring Lake. His father was a salesman and his mother a secretary. Mike went to Michigan State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He then went on to work in Chicago for eight years and later joined a management consultancy that moved him around the world to Johannesburg, London, and Los Angeles.   It was in Mike’s time in Los Angeles that one of Mike’s clients ended up hiring him, which led him to move down to sunny San Diego in 1998 to work at Sempra Energy. He wore many different hats in his time at Sempra Energy and eventually became president of Sempra Generation, a power generation unit where they pivoted the company to green energy. Mike was one of the pioneers in the utility scale energy business -- a revolutionary industry that, in the past decade, has seen around $500 billion in investments. He later went on to become the Chairman and CEO of the Southern California Gas Company, the largest natural gas distribution business. Mike later left that role to become a tech entrepreneur, joining Bit Stew Systems, an industrial IoT startup in Vancouver, BC. After the startup sold to General Electric in 2016, Mike serendipitously stumbled upon the issue politicians who represent hundreds of thousands of people have: hearing constituents’ views issues in an organized, comprehensive manner. This inspired him to start Voterfied, which is based in Solana Beach. Mike decided to “eat his own cooking” in 2018 by running in the primary for U.S. House California District 52. Although he did not make it through the primary, he was able to test out Voterfied for the first time to get a feel for its practicality. Additionally, the mayor of Carlsbad used the app successfully in his reelection campaign, proving the value of this revolutionary tool that Mike has turned into a full fledged business.   Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support.   Mike enjoys the many great offerings Solana Beach has to offer, including: Tacos & burritos at Rubio’s Red Beer at Pizza Port in Solana Beach Coffee at Lofty Coffee in Solana Beach, which is walking distance from his   Keep up with Mike on social media: LinkedIn Twitter - @realmikeallman Facebook
Dawn Barry is President & Co-founder of LunaDNA and former executive of the $40 billion DNA sequencing leader Illumina, which also hails from San Diego. LunaDNA incentivizes the sharing of health and DNA data for research by rewarding people for sharing the data they already own while contributing to medical research and discovery that saves lives. What really sets LunaDNA apart is that people who share their data are able to get shares of ownership in the company, something that’s never been done before. What really sets LunaDNA apart is that people who share their data are able to get shares of ownership in the company, something that’s never been done before. In the last year, Dawn co-founded LunaDNA, which is backed by Illumina Ventures, among other investors. Before cofounding LunaDNA, Dawn - who was was named San Diego Business Journal’s 2017 Business Woman of the Year - rose through the ranks at Illumina, from sales specialists to Vice President of Applied Genomics. There, she integrated market development strategies with product and business model innovation to accelerate the application of genomics in medicine and personal healthcare.   Hailing from rural Berlin, Connecticut, Dawn had humble beginnings as a carpenter’s daughter. She grew up surrounded by plants and animals, which sparked her interest in nature and biology. From an early age, she had the notion that if you take care of nature, it will, in return, take care of you.   Dawn, who studied biology at the University of Vermont, became interested in genetics via her fascination with the organization and blueprint nature of it. The idea of better understanding the blueprint of all living things, and being enabled to become more predictive with that information, was something that intrigued her early on.   Dawn began her post-grad career doing working for Michael Snyder, a renowned genomics professor at the Yale Genome Analysis Center in Connecticut, and then went on to work at a startup in New Haven called Genaissance, where she learned about pharmacogenomics. From there, she earned her MBA from the University of Connecticut, marrying both her passions of business and science.   Listen in as Dawn talks about her journey from humble beginnings in rural Connecticut to helping lead an innovative genetics trailblazer in San Diego.   Dawn enjoys the great offerings near the Solana Beach-based LunaDNA office including: Tacos at Las Olas in Cardiff Craft brew, specifically the Mosaic IPA, at Culture Brewing in Solana Beach (and Carruth Cellars for wine) Coffee at Lofty Coffee in Solana Beach   Keep up with Dawn on social media: LinkedIn Twitter - @DawnBarryDNA
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