Here’s the recap of the second tech crawl through Venice!
We here at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. would like to extend a huge thank you to TechZulu for the fabulous tech crawl they organized last Thursday. They deftly transmogrified the traditional pub crawl into what was dubbed a “tech crawl” through Santa Monica, an area becoming known as “Silicon Beach“. Of course we were only too happy to attend the festivities to meet the featured start-ups as well as budding entrepreneurs.
The world of tech is fairly new to me. An English major by training and computer hardware doodler by hobby, I’m fairly unfamiliar with the ins and outs of coding, be it C++, Java, PHP or any other clever acronym for that matter. Writing fiction has, however, instilled within me an appreciation for new ideas, especially those bubbling with ingenuity; whether they re-imagine an old process or create something wholly new is an insignificant differentiation. In my opinion, both require the creator(s) to think in ways theretofore unthinkable.
Our team, consisting of a staff writer (myself), videographer, Stephen Shirk, Head of Engineering, Shailen Mistry, HR Generalist, Lesley Baughman, and lead by our bodacious and loquacious marketing coordinator Catherine Mangan, toured through four of the seven available tech open houses meeting, networking, and enjoying the refreshments proffered.
The crawl started at Coloft, a business that provides entrepreneurs with the office space and utilities to grow their own ideas. Studio style, the main room is filled with chair-crowded tables topped with modems. Part of the allure of Coloft is the open layout of the work space: you’re constantly around other people working on new, interesting projects. Thin white curtains can be used to screen sections of the rooms from each other, but curtains do not mute sound, which is what the two meeting/presentation rooms – located along the back walls – can be used for. The space also features a small games room in case your brain needs a break, or you want to socialize with other entrepreneurs in a different, possibly more relaxed way.
We arrived a little after 6pm, the room already abuzz with entrepreneurs networking amidst tables piled with healthy snacks and cold beverages. After grabbing our name tags and taking in the room, Stephen whipped out his camera and Catherine covered the stop with her usual introductions, smiles and giggles.
The next stop was Goodreads, a social site that allows users to rate and review books they’ve read, and recommends new reads based on those they have rated. They were the only company on the list that I had heard of before, but then an English major being a member of a website that suggests to them new books to read should be an easy group of dots to connect.
A small bookshelf of free books met tourists at the top of the stairs, and a Happy Potter stood on another bookshelf just inside the door, hand devoid of wand but raised as if in greeting. Books, still wrapped in shipping tape, lay on desks beneath monolithic mounted monitors. An interesting snippet about the employees: their name tags said “Hello, I’m currently reading ________”, a space that some filled with books names (City of Theives, etc.)
Once more it was out with the camera, this time for an interview with Chris Parcel, an iOS engineer and one of the many people scouting around Silicon Beach to see the landscape being created there.
On to GumGum, the in-image ad platform and winner of the most amusing name to repeat quietly to oneself. Upon exiting the elevator, the unmistakable smell of churros engulfed us (there were tacos, but they were gone by the time we got there). Churros in hand, we waded in to socialize and network. GumGum was chockablock with people ranging from employees to mobile app developers to patent lawyers to investors to entrepreneurial hopefuls that our team ended up wedged between a coffee table and a couch with no room to pull out a camera. Thus, unfortunately, the conversations we did have were unrecorded.
Glossi, a company that makes it possible for any person to create their own virtual magazine without requiring in-depth knowledge of all the programs required to do so, was our last stop. Lack of transportation between locations proved our greatest hindrance, so much so that we failed to hit every company. Unbeknownst to me, Uber provided credit for transportation between the businesses, which would have significantly reduced our travel time between companies (we walked). We should have known – nobody walks in LA!
My iPhone read roughly 9:30pm when we knocked on Glossi’s door with other latecomers seeking entrance. Upstairs, the room was fairly empty, but Glossi’s employees were only too happy to accommodate us with additional refreshments and a presentation of their product. Their product is still in beta, invite only stage, but their ultimate goal is pretty lofty: allow users to create virtual magazines, and even give the option to make them into physical copies.
Though the quieter atmosphere would have been perfect for an interview, we did not want to detract from the presentation; and, around 10pm, we moseyed out and back to our respective vehicles. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity for the tech community to come together and experience the innovation taking root in Silicon Beach.
Did you participate in the tech crawl, or have a question about it? Share your stories and thoughts with us!