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IN SILICON VALLEY

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A CITY ON THE MOVE

COMPANIES WHO SAY ‘YES’ TO FREMONT

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Fremont the "hot new address" for startups

san-jose-mercury-news-logo-small.pngSan Jose Mercury News technology writer Michelle Quinn recently highlighted both Fremont and Berkeley as the “hot new address” for tech startups.

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Redefining What it Means to be a Silicon Valley City

business-journal.pngA supplement printed on July 31, 2015 in the Silicon Valley Business Journal. The supplement provided an overview of Fremont’s the business ecosystem.

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“With the BART expansion well underway, we’re excited to breathe new life into Silicon Valley with a projected 30,000 new jobs in Fremont by 2040.”

—Kelly Kline, Fremont Economic Development Director



Jennifer Chen
Economic Development Coordinator

As mentioned in a recent post, last week we hosted an audience of more than 60 makers, manufacturers, brokers, developers, and civic leaders at Ellison Technologies to hear Recast City’s Ilana Preuss discuss Real Estate Opportunities for Makers and Small-…

As mentioned in a recent post, last week we hosted an audience of more than 60 makers, manufacturers, brokers, developers, and civic leaders at Ellison Technologies to hear Recast City’s Ilana Preuss discuss Real Estate Opportunities for Makers and Small-Scale Manufacturers.

The resurgence of small, local producers has become a type of social amenity and is creating “connection centers” for communities. Many communities have started to allow mixed-use industrial buildings in their downtowns and have refurbished historic buildings in order to provide economic opportunities and help integrate industrial spaces into central places for gathering, meeting, and producing.

These small-scale manufacturers often utilize dedicated production spaces of less than 5,000 sq. ft. and sometimes as little as 1,000 sq. ft. They are filled with a variety of industries such as food, beverage, electronics, and fashion. Ilana shared stories about how small-scale manufacturing and makers can be a vehicle for economic resilience, community building, and image branding. She provided several examples of cities that have seized the “Maker Movement” to retrofit older industrial buildings across the country. A local example is San Francisco’s Pier 70 that’s working in collaboration with Forest City and SFMade.

To assist Ilana with her analysis of Fremont’s maker scene (currently in progress), we did some field work and took her to meet a few local small-scale manufacturers.

Zeefoods

Family-owned Zeefoods manufactures Indian-flavored exotic kulfi desserts and ice cream flavors such as pistachio, mango, malai, saffron, and lychee. The husband and wife team is passionate about creating high-quality, delicious ice creams. Find Zeefoods’ creamy and exotic sweets in the frozen aisle at Indian grocery stores in the Bay Area.

DasBrew

This German-style microbrewery and tasting room hosts daily happy hours to showcase how they craft each batch of beer with dedication, attention, and care. DasBrew’s beers have won awards at many competitions. Thirsty? Visit them at their tasting room or at next year’s Art and Wine Festival in Fremont.

SchmartBoard

SchmartBoard manufactures prototyping development boards that can be easily hand-soldered by engineers, technicians, teachers, students, and DIY enthusiasts. Each board and component fits together similarly to Lego pieces. SchmartBoard pieces are available at electronics retailers such as Fry’s.

Carole Wang

Carole Wang is a designer label with over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry. In the 90s, her clothes were sold in high-end retailers, ranging from Nordstrom to NYC boutiques. Currently, Carole sells her clothes online directly to clothing boutiques. Her clothing uses knits and fabrics made from bamboo and other natural fibers. Carole prototypes her clothing out of her 300 sq. ft. office in Fremont.

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Startup Grind Recap: Andy Pandharikar, Tall Ideas Lab



Shilpi Sharma
Director of Fremont Startup Grind

Andy Pandharikar of Tall Idea Labs wasn’t always an Angel. His successful foray in entrepreneurship includes the sale of FITIQUETTE — a technology startup allowing the fashion industry to create an online boutique with a virtual fitting room. In some ways…

Andy Pandharikar of Tall Idea Labs wasn’t always an Angel. His successful foray in entrepreneurship includes the sale of FITIQUETTE — a technology startup allowing the fashion industry to create an online boutique with a virtual fitting room. In some ways, the fitting room is an analogy for his career journey, which has included a few wardrobe changes. From a humble Mumbai childhood to corporate America techie to startup founder to sage Silicon Valley investor, here are some insights that he’s gained along the way:

  • While most of the world will pressure you into being either a tech provider or an implementer, there are advantages to pursuing both. And while you don’t need to chase the big deals, it’s nice when they come knocking!
  • Even if you can survive on friends and family funding, it is helpful to see how you are benchmarked by the VC community. This is especially true for consumer products.
  • On choosing partners — “You don’t want to be in the club that already wants you.” Pandharikar takes the position that you should always aim higher.
  • While Pandharikar acknowledged that e-commerce can be a difficult business, there are ways to improvise. For example, avoid inventory challenges by using Zappos!
  • “Startups don’t get sold, they get bought.” When you’re ready to sell, it’s up to you to architect multiple offers, and even feign indifference! Turns out that playing hard to get is quite effective.
  • Angels and VCs are two different beasts. Whereas VCs evaluate based on pattern recognition, Angels are there to support the cause. Pandharikar is driven by personal stories — “why” someone is building something.
  • Where startups are spending their money is an important indicator of success. Key question: are the spending priorities adding value?
  • Free press is better than paid press. Find the unexploited channel and maximize exposure.
  • What are the “no-no’s” in approaching angel investors? Avoid cold calls and don’t forget that Angels are motivated by emotion, not the market.
  • Competition is not the enemy. Don’t be afraid to talk to your competitors. View them as “friends who are building similar stuff.”
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On August 27, Startup Grind Fremont will be speaking with Amit Kumar, founder of Trimian. Starting at 6 p.m., you’ll find us at EFI (6700 Dumbarton Circle, Fremont, CA). Kumar is an experienced entrepreneur with a proven track record of conceiving groundbreaking ideas, building highly motivated and cross-functional teams, and delivering award-winning products. He’s also an innovator with over 15 patents. Kumar founded Lexity, a “one-stop-shop of e-commerce services,” which was acquired by Yahoo! for more than $35 million.

Kumar will share advice on what it takes to grow a company from the ground up.

Don’t miss out! Get your tickets online here.

Can’t make next week’s event? Not to worry — Startup Grind Fremont has other events scheduled through September. Stay informed by visiting www.startupgrind.com/fremont or by following us on Twitter @FremontGrind and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StartupGrindFremont/.

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Category: Startups



Ron Sha
Ohlone College Faculty

As the new lead on IT programs (CNET — Computers, Networks, and Emerging Technology) at Ohlone Community College, Ron Sha brings a wealth of CIO experience to his new role. We recently met with Ron to find out more about his plans for the program and hi…

As the new lead on IT programs (CNET — Computers, Networks, and Emerging Technology) at Ohlone Community College, Ron Sha brings a wealth of CIO experience to his new role. We recently met with Ron to find out more about his plans for the program and his thoughts on IT trends that are shaping the Silicon Valley economy.

Q: Community colleges have played an important role on the front lines when training for IT jobs in Silicon Valley. Under your leadership, what will the emphasis be at Ohlone College?

A: A major goal of the IT program is to work closely with industry to create class schedules that are relevant to and in high demand by Silicon Valley firms. In addition to preparing students to transfer to 4-year universities, Ohlone College serves working professionals who want to enhance their current skill sets. We want our programs to be flexible and tailored to industry and technology trends to better position our students to be competitive and successful in the growing economy. Ohlone has several programs to help to meet industry needs. For example:

  • The Cyber Security Certification Program focuses on protecting computers, networks, programs, and data from unauthorized access.
  • The Big Data and Business Intelligence Program focuses on analyzing data sets from existing enterprise data, external data, and unstructured big data. Students learn how to turn data into valuable information that may enable a company to make strategic and tactical decisions related to business operations and efficiencies, new revenue generation, and competition.
  • The Health IT Program focuses on the integration and management of health information systems, data security, and methods to maximize healthcare operational productivities.

Q: After 30 years of working for companies like WebMD, Sun Microsystems, and Glu Mobile, you must have a good understanding of what companies are looking for from IT recruits. What makes a candidate stand out, and how can these characteristics be honed at a community college?

A:  Staying on top of new technologies and keeping technical skills current is very important, but improving one’s soft skills is important too. In fact, I would say that having great soft skills is critical to standing out, as it demonstrates one’s ability to work well with others in a team environment, engage in creative problem-solving, take initiative, plan and prioritize well, and so on. Ohlone not only offers classes to enhance technical skills, but also classes to improve soft skills. I would encourage all students to pursue these different avenues. 

Q: You also teach classes at Ohlone. What is the typical profile of an Ohlone student? What has surprised you about your students?

A: I have students who are preparing to transfer to 4-year universities and also students who are working professionals who simply want to develop and improve their personal and professional skill sets. The benefit of having working professionals is that they can immediately relate what they are learning to a real-world context. To make classes more fun and interesting, I incorporate and explain to my students how the new skills that we discuss in the classroom can be used in a real-world environment with real-world examples. All of my students are bright and full of potential. I am impressed by the novelty and ingenuity of their ideas with regard to the applications and configurations that they consider and contribute during class discussions. Therefore, they are unsurprisingly surprising, if that makes sense.

Q: As president of the CIO Scholarship Fund, you are working across the Bay Area to help economically disadvantaged college students attend college and pursue degrees in technology-related fields. The philosophy is that individuals who are able to overcome adversity bring unique skills and value to the workplace. What do you see as the biggest barriers to entry for a college education? Any success stories to share?

A: The CIO Scholarship Fund team comprises volunteers from local Silicon Valley high tech companies. One of our goals is to help students succeed in studying technology in college. We have provided various activities for the students to participate in such as company tours, internships, and seminars with guest speakers from the high tech industry. We have also provided funding for the embedded tutoring programs at Ohlone College, which are designed to decrease attrition and improve student success in courses through an Active Learning Model of Instruction.

Computer science classes with embedded tutors, for example, have gained an astounding 10 percent increase in students successfully completing courses. Student testimonies demonstrate that they understand the material better, get their questions answered, engage their peers in learning, and ultimately gain the requisite confidence for career success. The embedded tutor program is at the heart of the “pay it forward” concept. Student tutors benefit from the program but, most importantly, they are able to help other students succeed as well.

Embedded tutors have become an integral part of Ohlone’s strategic planning. The Student Equity Plan, one of Ohlone’s major planning documents, is currently being implemented in order to increase the success of all underperforming, underrepresented students. Embedded tutors are critical to the success of this mission.

Q: We would be remiss if we didn’t ask for your opinion on major IT trends that are shaping Silicon Valley. What programs do you predict Ohlone will need five years from now? How will the Silicon Valley tech environment be different?

A: The fun part of working in a technology-related field is that you never get bored. Technology is constantly changing. In recent years, we have seen rapid technology growth in the form of cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), social networks, and smart devices — all of which fuel the growth of software-defined-everything technologies, machine learning, big data, business intelligence, and cyber security. In order for Ohlone to keep up with all of these rapidly changing technologies, we intend to work closely with our technology partners to ensure that what we teach is relevant.

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Category: Fremont General