Gary Livingston is a UX designer who is also co-organizer of 805 Startups Meetup that helps build startup ecosystems in Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and Los Angeles County.
Wes Boudville, Inventor
I have gotten 2 big things from the SMNT monthly meetings.
The first is getting a pulse on the Los Angeles startup scene. By volunteering at many meetings, it gives me an overall sense of what is trending.
The second advantage is chatting with the audience before and after the talks. I have met numerous local entrepreneurs who are highly motivated and talented. Far better than scanning LinkedIn. The interpersonal bandwidth of the meetings is more valuable and fulfilling.
Levi Appleton, Designer and Founder of Lost and Found app Deedsofficial
Michael Lebow is a recent Berkeley graduate and the founder of CursusPublicus. Michael will present his startup at our next Pitch/Demo event #SMNT54 on Feb 7 at Cross Campus.
I’ve been attending Santa Monica New Tech meetups since August 2015. I started my startup at UC Berkeley during the summers with two of my friends. When I moved back home to LA after graduation I wanted to get connected into the LA tech scene. Santa Monica New Tech and the Open Coffee Club was on of the first groups I found and I’ve been attending almost every week since. I found the meetup group through a Google search without any referral and I think it serves an important role in the LA ecosystem.
There are many startup networks out there – schools, alumni groups, accelerator networks, VC networks. SMNT provides an environment with no prerequisites – anyone is welcome. I think there is value in all the above groups, but an open grass roots group is essential to a vibrant startup ecosystem to provide motivation and support at the earliest stages. I regularly attend mostly to keep myself in check and to have a consistent venue where outsiders ask me for updates. During the first few months, repeatedly explaining my startup to new groups of strangers drastically improved my ability to articulate both the problem I’m addressing and solution I hope will solve it.
Sam McArdle shares his experience after taking Silicon Beach Startup 101 Course in Aug 2015 and launching his own company.
What stuck with me the most were the lunches. Marina cleverly brought in current entrepreneurs who were actively working at their startups. And they just sat and chatted with us. The conversational level of learning was something I never experienced before.
And it was during these sessions that I became truly inspired. I entered Marina’s Startup 101 Course with an inkling of an idea – and hearing these people speak about their experiences and what they’re building excited me. When you ask someone about something they are truly passionate about, look at their eyes – they light up. Zeal spills out from within. And I wanted that! It was the desire to find that intensity and excitement that set me on my course to building Elegy.
Watch the video about the Startup Course.
Next story is by our Open Coffee Club LA regular Ken Scott.
I have regularly attended Santa Monica New Tech Meetups for the better of the last year.
There are 3 main factors that motivate my active participation.
1) Engaging Meetup topic: As an entrepreneurial small-business owner-living in Silicon Beach, with a limited tech network-this group has been fantastic for someone like myself who is seeking greater exposure + participation to this expanding community.
2) Quality attendees: From the first coffee club I attended to the one held earlier today, each meeting has been well-stocked with knowledgeable and interesting regulars along with a consistent body of newcomers. Over the past year, I cannot recall a single meeting with less than 10 participants and at least 1 new attendee.
3) Well-managed: Marina does a truly excellent job of creating a rich line-up of programming (monthly pitch meetings, group travel…), regularly informing SMNT members of upcoming meetings/events, attending these events and moderating while keeping costs at virtually zero. Furthermore, If she is not able to attend there has always been a regular able to fill-in.
When combined, SMNT has exposed me to numerous interesting new businesses and business persons, expanded my contacts (esp. of individuals that could be potential collaborators) and provided a friendly and “safe” environment that both challenges me to speak publicly as well as ideate with a diverse crowd of like-minded strangers.
The second story is submitted by Terence Lem, the Founder of Products into Retail SoCal Meetup. Enjoy!
With mobile technology including text messaging, social media, online content and video and the trend towards telecommuting – a person can literally work and go about their daily life for days or weeks without ever making real human contact. I personally believe this is one of the adverse byproducts and unmeasured destructive outcomes of technology. People lose their interpersonal skills, opportunities to interact with others, and we may see future generations growing up with little or no contact with the outside world.
Meetup groups like Santa Monica New Tech help to restore that lost element of human contact by drawing people together through a common purpose and interest. This is valuable for entrepreneurs or startups who probably skew higher than average as a group. To maintain a healthy work-life balance I think meetups play an increasingly important role for people in the workforce, and who work solo or for a small company – where personal interaction is low or limited.
I think I’ve witnessed Santa Monica New Tech accomplish these things in the 18+ months that I have been involved with this group. I’ve met programmers who work remotely and never speak to a real person during their day job. I meet hard working entrepreneurs who attend SMNT events to escape a lonely day at work. I meet people who are happy and fully employed who attend SMNT regularly as a way to help build their dream idea or be inspired or motivated by others. Some don’t have coworkers to share things affecting their personal life or job but they meet friendly people who are like minded they can bind with.
And I’ve met a vast number of people who are new to Los Angeles and want to make new friends and tap into the knowledge and resources SMNT provides for them. They are able to quickly get grounded in a new city like Los Angeles. People need personal interaction with others to stay strong, stay connected in the real world. The shared linkage is the energy and sense of hope and encouragement that people experience by going to SMNT meetup events. Seeing what their entrepreneur peers are doing and making new friends. So while there are business objectives that are fulfilled, I think there are personal needs that are met at the same time.
Although I am not creating or selling my own tech solution, I think attending the events regularly has helped me create clarity and focus for my own ideas. Observing the results and outcomes of this meetup group inspired me to form my own meetup group for product entrepreneurs. Since consumer products is my domain expertise I decided to launch a meetup group for product entrepreneurs to help inspire them in similar ways. I launched my own meetup Jan 02 and it is called Products Into Retail.
As I was approached by the UCLA Professor to share stories about our group for his upcoming book in the chapter on community, I reached out to some of our members asking for their feedback. Please read their stories and spread the word. Story #1 is by Felix Bustos III.
It takes a community to raise a startup.
I’ve always been a dreamer and doer. I grew up having a profound fascination with technology, so it made perfect sense to spend more than a decade working on high-technology projects at Fortune 500 and tech startup companies. Life was good until one fateful spring evening, at a Marina del Rey coffee shop, I met up with a long time friend. We talked about the startup company he recently founded, and as he gushed over his entrepreneurial vision. I thought to myself, what if I started my own company? So I asked for some advice, and I vividly remember him saying, “You just have to do it!” There I was, fueled by a burning desire to do something positive for the world. So, I took the leap of faith and started working on a side project. I quickly realized the even with more than a decade of technology and business experience, turning a project into a full-fledged company was really hard. It was during this challenging period, an African proverb came to mind, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
I reached out to the nearby tech startup community in Silicon Beach, and learned about Santa Monica New Tech (SMNT) at a pitch event. I was immediately blown away by its strong sense of community. Everyone was more than willing to spend time talking about the “growing pains” involved in a startup, and share practical advice on how to solve them. I also signed up for a SMNT Startup 101 course that covered the key steps involved in turning an idea or project into a startup company. In fact, it was during the course that I realized that it was really possible to turn my entrepreneurial dream into a reality. Most importantly, I walked away with friends who have been there during my entrepreneurial journey.
Today, the pet project has grown into Zappbuddy Technologies, Inc. We’ve launched Zappbuddy FIT and we’re actively growing our health & fitness community as well! I feel more than confident that with the SMNT and Silicon Beach tech startup community’s unwavering support, together we can keep growing. After all, it really does take a community to raise a startup!
Zappbuddy Technologies, Inc.
Achieve the impossible