Referring to Nick Bicanic as an accomplished Silicon Beach entrepreneur is a bit of an understatement. Beginning with his days at DeltaBravo LTD where he was both Founder and Managing Director, Nick has moved on to found several other highly dynamic companies in the tech space. However, Nick’s talents extend far beyond the technology realm. Also an accomplished writer and director for his film “Shadow Company,” Mr. Bicanic has proved the life of an entrepreneur has no bounds. Read about Nick’s most recent endeavor, FlikDate, where he serves as the company’s acting CEO.
Name: Nick Bicanic
Company/Position: flikdate, CEO
Date Founded: January 2012
Hometown: Zagreb, Croatia
Current City: Venice, CA
Entrepreneurial Icon: Nikola Tesla
Words to Live By: "Turn things you’ve always wanted to do into things you’ve done." ~ T.S. Eliot
To those of us working in the LA tech ecosystem, it is clear that the digital media revolution is well underway. The major players in digital have set up shop in our backyard in the past few years, all determined to feed off LA’s storytelling history in an attempt to radically redefine the way we consume media content.
One such company started off in a small and humble office in Venice, just off of Washington Blvd. A few passionate and creative filmmakers discovered the power of a recently launched video hosting service called YouTube. Lisa Donovan, often called one YouTube’s first ‘stars’, joined forces with her brother Ben and her boyfriend Danny Zappin to create Maker Studios, arguably the first new media studio solely dedicated to creating YouTube content. Since their incorporation, the small team has grown to some 300 staffers and a YouTube network of 10,000 channels that generate over 2.5 billion views per month. Maker has become one of the most successful and most visible YouTube networks of all time which has consequently garnered the attention of Hollywood’s power players in the form of a recently announced initial series C $36 million funding round led by Time Warner.
A big part of Maker’s success can be attributed to the dedicated staff of over 300 that reside in Maker’s three Culver City studios which equate to over 70,000 square ft. This army of startup warriors ensure that all of Maker’s business, which spans from production to merchandising, flow smoothly. This week we were lucky enough to catch up with Maker’s Director of Production, Drew Walkup.
Walkup, a graduate of USC’s famed School of Cinematic Arts, has spent the last couple of years overseeing the growing staff and scaling Maker’s production arm to epic proportions. We sat down to discuss the power of YouTube content, the pros and cons of scaling quickly, and how Maker has created a company culture that is truly unique.
Name: Drew Walkup
Education: USC School of Cinematic Arts, BA Film Production
Company/Position: Maker Studios/Director of Production
Words to Live By: Everything is possible
Guest Post by Brad Seraphin, Chief Marketing Officer of our sister company Curious Minds!
Stepping into the SXSWi 2013 convention center I found the hallways already abuzz. The 30,621 eager conference goers in attendance had shattered last year’s turnout by a whopping 24%. Happy to be amongst the throngs of attendees who had set an all-time high for conference attendance, I had but one goal in mind. My mission: pursue to the fullest any and all business development relations and networking opportunities with corporate partners for the five start-ups which I represent as Chief Marketing Officer at Curious Minds. These companies: HangPay, FixUp, ShowKit, Authorly, and the stealthy Keen, I would not disappoint.
We are excited to announce that we will be co-sponsoring TechZulu & Digital LA’s Black & Red Bash, taking place tomorrow night in Santa Monica! We will be joining Silicon Beach’s finest to celebrate the five year anniversaries of BOTH awesome organizations. Join us?
We often hear of the so-called ‘PayPal Mafia,’ the group of early employees and founders of the online payment platform that used the success of PayPal to spawn numerous successful enterprises. Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Reid Hoffman are just some of those names that now dominate Silicon Valley. We were happy to sit down with Eric Jackson, one of the early mafia members and author of the book The PayPal Wars: Battles with Ebay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth. Jackson now serves as the CEO of LA based CapLinked, a company focused on linking companies with investors. Read his in-depth interview after the jump.
Name: Eric Jackson
Company/Position: CEO/Cofounder at CapLinked
Founding Date: 2010
Education: BA Economics from Stanford Univ.
Entreprenueurial Icon: Peter Thiel
Words to Live By: “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” -C. S. Lewis
This blog originally started as a place to highlight the accomplishments of entrepreneurs we meet that inspire us. That motivate us. That don’t just come up with ideas but who have the guts and the gumption to execute them. Our work takes us all over the world, which poses the question: why can’t we highlight some of our friends who aren’t lucky enough to call Silicon Beach home? Answer: We can!
Jamie Rosen is an expert in Fun Theory, the philosophy of taking things that are tedious and making them more enjoyable by injecting them with playfulness. Fun Theory is the basic philosophy that has propelled Jamie his whole life. A Harvard alum, ex-politico, startup entrepreneur extraordinaire, Jamie’s curious nature has earned him a diverse portfolio of personal and professional experiences. He strongly believes in the old adage that if you are doing something you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. That was the main reason he started NYC based DietBet in the summer of 2011. After witnessing the fun employees were having during an office weight loss competition, Jamie saw an opportunity to monetize the healthy and often tedious act of losing weight.
DietBet allows its users to join social dieting campaigns where each user is challenged to lose four percent of their body weight in just four weeks. Each user bets a pre-determined amount and has to submit photo evidence of their starting weight and their progress. At the end of the four weeks, the players that have lost the four percent split the pot. DietBet has been growing rapidly and has especially caught on in workplaces around the country.
Jamie sat down with us to give us a more detailed look at his Fun Theory, discuss the strides his NYC based company have made in the past year, and how he did it by focusing on one thing: having fun.
Founding Date: July 2011
Education: Harvard College, Harvard Business School (dropped out)
Entrepreneurial Icon: Warren Buffett
Words to Live By: If you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
It is no secret that Los Angeles is the land of digital the media revolution. The digital media ecosystem is worth a reported $100 billion, encompassing content publishers, social media markers, next generation creative studios, and ad-tech shops. One LA based company has zoned in on one problem a lot of these companies face: lengthy payment cycles from advertisers. FastPay, founded in 2010 by CEO Jed Simon, is a tech-enabled finance platform that offers credit lines to digital media companies ranging up to $5 million. FastPay recognizes that its clients face cash-flow challenges when scaling quickly. These companies often times bear large up-front costs before receiving payments from their advertisers, which is the bread and butter for most of these companies. Rather than raising venture rounds to cover these costs, FastPay allows their clients to raise the necessary amount of capital to fund their growth while allowing founders to preserve equity in their businesses.
FastPay has raised a reported $30 million to date, a significant portion of that coming from Wells Fargo Capital Finance Group and SF Capital Group. We caught up with CEO and Founder Jed Simon to discuss his evolution from a Hollywood exec to a finance guru.
It’s rare to hear about a technology company that doesn’t care about profits. While in recent years we’ve seen a rise in the visibility of the "Hybrid-Ideal" perpetuated by such companies as Toms Shoes, the 100% percent model has been few and far between. Enter Hank Fortener. His LA based non-profit AdoptTogether is a crowd funding platform for families who are looking to adopt. Fortener explains that the adoption process can cost families in excess of thirty thousand dollars, a barrier that even some of the hardest-working, financially secure Americans cannot overcome.
AdoptTogether uses a Kickstarter like model to help families raise the funds necessary to take the adoption leap. Families are carefully vetted and funds are allocated only after the expenses have been verified. Fortener began the experiment with one family last January. To date, he has helped 160 families raise over $550,000 dollars. Inspired by his own parents, who have fostered 36 children and adopted eight from five different countries, Fortener envisions a world where there are no more orphans. We caught up with Hank to discuss the stuggles of a bootstrapping entrepreneur, why the 100% model is so important, and how breast implants played a key role in the founding of AdoptTogether. Need we say more? Check out the story below.
Name: Hank Fortener
Company/Position: Founder, AdoptTogether.org
Hometown/Current City: Waynesville, OH/Los Angeles, CA
Entrepreneurial Icon: Norman Lear
Words To Live By: Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle - Plato
For those of you in the know, StartupMinds is the sister company of technology incubator Curious Minds. Founded in 2004, the team at Curious Minds have been building early-stage companies that use innovative, accessible technologies to tackle grand-scale problems.
Today the Curious Minds development team announced the launch of Badger Rails. If you are one who dreams in code, then you NEED to know about this. Badger Rails WILL fundamentally change how developers set up and deploy servers. Check out the release below. If you are a developer who uses the Ruby on Rails web framework, be prepared to have your mind blown.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Technology Incubator Launches Platform-Agnostic Badger Rails
Open Source Project Gives Developers Easiest Way to Set Up Servers
LOS ANGELES, CA -- December 18, 2012 — Los Angeles-based technology incubator Curious Minds announced today the release of Badger Rails, a project that seeks to fundamentally change how developers set up and deploy servers. Badger Rails is a Ruby gem that delivers developers utilizing Ruby on Rails, today’s most popular web framework, the easiest available way to deploy a Rails 3 project.
“The Badger Rails deployment framework can be used easily to install, maintain, and secure all software and websites on any linux or unix based server,” explains Dr. David Gonen, co-founder of Curious Minds who developed the project.
This framework maintains the development packages, servicing them automatically while additionally securing the server with a firewall. Additional features include automatic installation, securing of databases, SSL certifications, and multiple user capabilities. Badger Rails is especially noteworthy because of its capability to deploy to any server platform, including market leaders such as Rackspace and Amazon EC2.
"We are excited to make this contribution to the Ruby developer community. We are ardent supporters of the open source movement and hope developers find this as useful as we have," says Dr. Gonen.
Curious Minds will make the Badger Rails API available via GitHub which will allow additional remote deployment and automation to be created for deployment and administration through UI or custom applications.
To learn more about Badger Rails visit their site here.