Raymond Ealy: Adventures in STEAM

STEAM:CODERS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, teaches underrepresented and underserved K-12 students the fundamentals of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). Students engage in a variety of STEAM-related classes (i.e., Coding and Robotics) and field trips that allow students to learn directly from professionals – scientists, engineers and artists – and see technology first-hand. Our goal is to unlock each student’s potential for continued learning and future success, providing them with attainable pathways to academic and career pathways. We focus on developing their logic, creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Opportunity + Imagination = Innovation.

Listen to the podcast here or on iTunes here.


Raymond Ealy, Executive Director, founded STEAM:CODERS in July 2014. The organization was a spin-off from the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation’s award-winning L.A.M.P. Mentor Program, based in Pasadena, CA. Ealy helped create the L.A.M.P. Mentor Program (L.A.M.P. – Leadership, Achievement, Management and Professionalism) in 2007, to provide soft skill training for underserved and underrepresented high school boys who wanted to attend and graduate from college. The L.A.M.P. Mentor Program students attend and have graduated from schools across the country (i.e., Harvard, UCLA, Amherst, UC Berkeley, Morehouse College, University of Michigan, Marist College, Loyola Marymount, Hampton University, American University, among many others).

STEAM;CODERS was created to address the demand for STEM (and STEAM) training for disadvantaged K-12 youth. STEAM:CODERS has served over 2500 students, since inception. Students have been introduced to the STEAM-related fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. The program teaches logic, critical thinking and problem solving, providing attainable pathways for academic and career success. STEAM:CODERS focuses on underserved and underrepresented students of color, who attend Title 1 schools and reside in low-income households. Access to instruction, curricula and equipment, expands their skill sets and increases their exposure to industries and careers that may not be within their vision (i.e., coding, robotics, art and design).

Ealy has over 25 years of management experience in financial services, the nonprofit and retail sectors. Past positions have included management roles with Bank of America, Countrywide Financial Services, Security Pacific Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank. Ealy currently serves on the following Boards: Innovate Pasadena, La Salle High School Board of Regents (Pasadena, CA) and LA’s BEST Advisory Board (Los Angeles, CA). Previous board affiliations include the Pasadena Community Foundation and the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation. He received a B.A. from Florida State University.

Twitter: @steamcoders

Email: realy@steamcoders.org

“Who is this TED guy anyway? And what the heck is TEDx?”

The TED tagline is “ideas worth spreading,” but if you want to be one of their speakers or lead one of their events, you need to know how to make your idea stand out from the rest. As the Executive Director of TEDxPasadena, TEDxPasadenaWomen and TEDxPasadenaSalon, and as an attendee at TEDSummit in Banff, Canada, Heather Heimerl Brunold has worked with countless TEDx speakers and curators. Join this lively, interactive conversation designed to identify ways to systematically tackle this dream, step by step.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading,” TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talk videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

TEDxPasadenaWomen seeks to transform the local conversation surrounding equity and access for women and girls, providing a launch pad for the cross-pollination of ideas and expertise between industries, socio-economic groups, ages, and life experiences. We believe strongly in fostering learning, inspiration and wonder — by nurturing relationships that begin though conversations at our yearly conference, but then deepen throughout the year at our monthly TEDxPasadenaSalons. We serve, engage, and empower underserved communities, regardless of gender, including women, girls, people of color, and the LGBTQ communities. Our brand collaborates with members, speakers, and community partners from all over the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys (and beyond) to positively impact business and community relationships, cooperative partnerships, public policy, knowledge, civic structures and political systems.

The goal of our annual conference (held this year at the Huntington Library on Saturday, September 30th) is to come together as a community of bright minds with diverse interests, to share discourse inspired by live TEDx talks that are idea-focused and cover a wide range of subjects. We hope the community gathering will foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and which will provoke conversations that matter.

Listen to the podcast here or on iTunes here.


Heather Heimerl Brunold has been a thought leader in education, specializing in adolescent development and family/school dynamics, for more than two decades, but after completing her doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, Heather became passionate about utilizing her talents as an educator to impact the greater community. Feeling she could positively influence her community’s approach to how we learn, Heather established Words2Action, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage learners, leaders and educators – through spoken word and tangible action – in a united effort to change the world, one idea at a time. Heather is by her nature a helper, healer and teacher. Her passion for learning and her love of relationship building are the reasons she enjoys serving TEDxPasadenaWomen as the Executive Director/Licensee.

Twitter handle: @DrAbbottBabbott

Speaker email: Heather.TEDxPasadenaWomen@gmail.com

Stewart Easterby – Three SoCal Start-Ups With Successful Exits: Lessons Learned

Looking to grow your business? Hear some lessons learned from three SoCal start-ups with successful exits: TrueCar (IPO 2014), Overture Services (IPO 1999 and sold to Yahoo in 2003) and Hot Topic (IPO 1996 and sold to private equity firm in 2013).


Stewart Easterby has served as an executive for three $1 billion+ market cap, fast-growing, publicly-traded Internet companies. He currently is an advisor to CEOs and management teams of early stage technology companies. Previously, he was the Chief Operating Officer of TrueCar, Inc., an online car buying platform. Stewart was also responsible for North American advertising sales operations at Yahoo! Inc. and Overture Services, Inc. (paid search pioneer acquired by Yahoo for $1.8 billion in 2003). He has also served as a venture capitalist and U.S. Navy SEAL. Stewart earned a BS in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, BAS in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from UCLA Anderson.

Business Advice from the Minds Behind Blaze Pizza

The husband and wife entrepreneur team behind Blaze Pizza, Wetzel’s Pretzels and iSold It On eBay share some of the lessons they’ve learned and some of the secrets to their continued success.

From its initial location in Irvine, Blaze Pizza has grown to over 200 locations nationwide. Elise & Rick Wetzel, the husband and wife team behind not only Blaze Pizza, but Wetzel’s Pretzels and iSold It On eBay, share some of the lessons they’ve learned in their years creating and running businesses, as well as some advice on how to avoid early pitfalls with your own young businesses.

The first Blaze Pizza restaurant opened on Aug. 6, 2012, in Irvine, Calif., and quickly gained attention for its chef-driven recipes, thoughtful interior design, and a service culture that celebrates individuality. Recently named ‘#1 Brand of the Year’ in the 2017 Fast Casual Top 100, the fast-growing chain currently operates over 200 restaurants in 34 states and Canada, including the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Las Vegas, Boston, and Toronto. Recently the company signed an international development deal that will take the brand to Dubai and Kuwait in 2018. The concept is backed by private equity firm Brentwood Associates and founding investors that include LeBron James, Maria Shriver, movie producer John Davis and Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner.


Elise & Rick Wetzel are longtime Pasadena residents. After attending business school, they both worked in brand management at Nestle before embarking on their entrepreneurial careers. Blaze Pizza is their third start-up, following Wetzel’s Pretzels and iSold It on eBay.

Website: www.blazepizza.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blazepizza

Twitter: @blazepizza

Instagram: @blazepizza

Jason Robert: The New Internet – A Social Movement Disguised as Technology

A New Internet age is upon us. Fueled by blockchain technology, this shift will catalyze the greatest reallocation of value in human history.

Blockchains are a shared record keeping system. Transactions are recorded in a way that’s transparent, immutable, and decentralized. Blockchains aren’t governed by a central authority. The record is maintained by a distributed network of independent users.

The New Internet will enable the building of applications that reinvent the way in which we assign, transact, and capture value.

Listen to the podcast here or on iTunes here.


Jason Robert is Co-Founder & CEO of HelloSugoi, an event ticketing platform. His company leverages the Ethereum blockchain to reduce ticket fees, manage the secondary market, and eliminate fraud. Jason oversees the company’s operations, drives product development, and formulates marketing strategy. Jason spent 4 years as a Creative at Apple. He’s also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. Jason has composed songs at BMG Production Music for high-profile TV shows on NBC, CBS, FOX, Netflix, and Showtime. He’s also released several albums as Lost Midas on the Tru Thoughts label to critical acclaim by the BBC and NPR.



Shikhir Singh: Beyond the Password – The Future of Account Security

Most designers agree password management can be a UX nightmare – in fact, 72% of companies are planning to get rid of them in 5 to 9 years. This session will cover various innovations in passwordless authentication technology which you can use to improve the UX and account security of your applications.


Shikhir Singh currently works at TeleSign (https://www.telesign.com/) as a Director of Product Innovation. He specializes in JavaScript technologies, enterprise mobility, and cryptography. Prior to joining TeleSign, he worked at Sencha, BlackBerry, Lockheed Martin, Sun Microsystems and a couple of other startups.

Twitter handle: @shikhirsingh

Speaker email: ssingh@telesign.com

Nikhil Jain: Future of Personal AI + Pasadena as a start-up location

AI is everywhere: AI driving cars. AI replacing doctors. AI writing music. Taxing robots. AI is taking over the world. By tying our data profiles to artificial intelligence, we can breathe life into our personal information and turn them into our very own 3D avatars; avatars that depict our identical likeness and can perform tasks as our representative. ObEN (http://oben.com/) is developing Personal Artificial Intelligence (PAI), a 3D digital twin avatar that looks, talks, sings and thinks uniquely like its human counterpart. ObEN is also the leading developer for Project PAI (http://projectpai.com/), a fully decentralized block-chain based network designed to give people trackable ownership and management rights to their intelligent data profiles, or their PAI. In this talk, you will learn more about what role Personal Artificial Intelligence will play in our future lives.

Most AI companies are based out of Silicon Valley, however, ObEN decided to make Pasadena its home. One of the most common questions ObEN gets is: “Why Pasadena? Why not Silicon Valley?” In this talk, you will find out the critical role location plays in determining if a startup can build a team, raise an initial round of financing, get off the ground, compete in the marketplace, and survive.

Listen to the podcast here or on iTunes here.


Nikhil Jain is co-founder and CEO of ObEN, an artificial intelligence company based in Pasadena. Prior to ObEN, Nikhil spent five years at Kaiser Permanente after which he founded two startups, Up and Running Software and OnGreen. Nikhil has an MBA from University of Southern California and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. Learn more at www.jain.ai.

ObEN is an AI company that develops Personal Artificial Intelligence, a 3D digital avatar that looks, talks, sings and thinks uniquely like its human counterpart. ObEN was cofounded by Nikhil Jain and Adam Zheng in 2014 with the belief that every person in the world should have their own AI-driven virtual copy which can do things on behalf of the human for which he/she might not have the time or the capability. Nikhil and Adam started the company based on their personal experiences when their kids missed them as they were traveling on business and wished they could leave a virtual copy of themselves behind.

ObEN is based out of Idealab (https://www.idealab.com/) in Pasadena, CA. All technology is developed in-house and is patented. It currently has a team of 35+ of which almost 70% have PhDs and other advanced degrees from top schools such as Caltech, Berkeley, MIT, Princeton, USC and UCLA. ObEN has raised $13.8 million to date in Series A funding from top investors including Tencent, Softbank Korea and HTC.

List of other investors and partners can be found here: https://oben.me/press/

Twitter handle: nikhilrjain https://twitter.com/nikhilrjain

Email: contact@oben.com

Website: www.jain.ai

William Hung from American Idol fame: From Obscurity to Prosperity

Are you looking to make your own unique impact in the world? How do you find your unique identity? If you want to improve sales and be more successful with your business, then you are in for a treat! William’s presentation will show how you can:

– Break their mental barriers to success
– Build your business by following your true passion
– Embrace your identity and stop worrying about the perceptions of people around you

Listen to the podcast here or on iTunes here.


From his experience working in the entertainment industry and overcoming rejection, William Hung learned the importance of perseverance to make dreams become reality. After American Idol, he appeared on Extra, Ellen, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live, to name a few. He also recorded 3 albums for KOCH records and his first album, “Inspiration”, was the #1 independent album on Billboards! Also, he appeared on numerous commercials, including AT & T, AskJeeves.com, and Jack in the Box. His fans celebrate the impact he has on their lives.He now hopes to help YOU maximize your potential and wants YOU to achieve YOUR dreams as an inspirational speaker. Audiences include business groups, associations, and conferences.

Twitter handle: @wh53

Speaker email: info@williamhung.net

How to Network with Investors

How to network with investors – the right way. What does that mean? It means knowing what not to do in front of potential investors and how to maximize your potential at networking events. During this presentation you’ll learn about how investors think and how to navigate in their world. You’ll be able to identify and attend the right events for your startup and set achievable networking goals for each event. You’ll work on some good examples of elevator pitches and other strategies for making the most out of each networking event you attend. Finally, you’ll learn how to follow up after the event.


Matthew Crowley is a venture lawyer, with a practice focused on assisting entrepreneurs in creating new businesses and achieving their goals for growth. Crowley regularly represents startups, with startup clients representing at least 70% of his practice.

Crowley began his career in San Francisco at the height of the dotcom boom, practicing law with corporate finance groups including Pillsbury Madison & Sutro (now Pillsbury Winthrop) and Morrison & Foerster. After eight years of private practice, Crowley moved into senior management with Evoke Software in 2001, serving as vice president and general counsel. In 2004, Crowley joined the management team at Technicolor Home Entertainment Services in Camarillo, California, a division with revenues of $2 billion annually. In 2006, Crowley established Crowley Corporate Legal Strategy to offer corporate legal services to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses ( http://www.crowleystrategy.com/ ). Crowley is the former President of the Los Angeles Venture Association (LAVA) and an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School.

Twitter handle: @crowleystrategy

Speaker email: matt@crowleystrategy.com

Audrey Wu: Chatbots and Conversational Commerce

The bots revolution is happening because the interwebs are going through some fairly dramatic changes—users’ online habits are not what they once were. We’ve all seen that business insider chart that shows the “big 4” messaging apps trajecting past the “big 4” social apps. that chart is at least a year old and shows that messaging surpassed social in 2015!!!!!! Given that messaging is where people are spending their time, and given that ad blockers are now pervasive … bots give retailers a means to fish where the fish are, so to speak.


Audrey Wu, Co-Founder/CEO of CONVRG, is a second generation chatbot entrepreneur and emerging technology executive with experience at imperson, TechStars, JibJab Bros. Studios, iconmobile/WPP, Ketchum, Deloitte and SG Cowen. CONVRG recently launched the first marketplace chatbot in partnership with Shopify and Kik. Previously she was the Head of Studios at imperson, powering AI chatbots such as Miss Piggy, Zootopia and Power Rangers. Audrey was recently named ChatbotConf Top 25 influencers of 2016. In addition, she has spoken at SXSW, MoNage, MAU 2017 (Grow.co), Social Media Week, American Marketing Association, Silicon Beach Fest, UCLA, USC, GRAMMYs, DigitaLA, Grid110, FIDM and various technology innovation events.

Twitter handle: @mraudreywu

Speaker email: audrey@convrg.io