SMNT Testimonials Part 7

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.

  • SMNT was one of the first startup groups I joined where I felt a sense of purpose associated with the events. Marina has done a fantastic job harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit and sharing it with many in the community that would have otherwise felt lost or alone while working on their ideas/dreams.

  • Over time SMNT has found more focus and expanded on the amount of activity created. This activity has bred more activity in the area and has attracted the interest and participation of investors, city officials, and traditional businesses as well. Silicon Beach, while a horrible moniker, has grown to be a truly viable alternative to Silicon Vallley for those looking to launch and grow a startup to success. Marina is one of the key leaders in this community to thank for the success of this startup ecosystem achieving that level. Many owe her for her efforts and contributions, either directly or indirectly, to their success.
    Check out his upcoming Social, Dating and Lifestyle Expo on Feb 28, 3-7PM at HUB101 in Westlake Village, CA.805startups
    Apply to exhibit:
    RSVP to attend:

SMNT Testimonials Part 6

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

Meetups are a great place to get out of the comfort zone, become a social mixer with well like minded people. My experience with SMNT starting out as an attendee on a personal quest for more information, I gained insight on how to build a pitching deck attending 5 demo and pitch events then showcasing my project my 6th time attending. The community aspect is well diverse and people come from all kinds of backgrounds, not just in programming in particular but from accounting,  law, and PR firms. I’ve gotten feedback and resources in all areas of my business attending social mixers such as my favorite Santa Monica New Tech. Thank you so much, Marina.
Deeds 🙂

SMNT Testimonials Part 5

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.


SMNT Testimonials Part 4

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.


SMNT Testimonials Part 3

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.


SMNT Testimonials

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!


Best, Felix

Zappbuddy Technologies, Inc.

Achieve the impossible