At the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, graduate student Heather Hochrein was tasked with writing a thesis with a business-forward sustainability solution. Drawing on previous experience that included directing energy efficiency programs, she explained, “My focus was still on applying sustainable technology to mitigate climate change, but now from a business perspective.”
Upon meeting Roy Clark, one senses an open inquisitiveness in his nature that is more than general curiosity. After talking to Roy for a while, it’s clear that his curiosity might be better described as a deep seeking.
It is precisely this seeking that compelled him to leave his full-time job at ONTRAPORT and start his own digital marketing business, Driply Automation. He says he learned a lot during his time with the company, but had come to a point when he felt ready to start his own consulting business. It was the renewed sense of energy and creativity that entrepreneurialism offered, which also inspired him to pick up the paintbrush again after nearly a decade. He has since created an impressive collection of oil paintings and prints and had numerous sales.
Like many creatives today, Roy splits his time between his art and his bread and butter work with Driply Automation. Digital marketing certainly gets Roy excited, because he knows his services help others grow, but it’s clear that his heart is in his artwork…and the canvas doesn’t lie.
“many arTisTs speak of The powerful force ThaT comes Through Them when immersed in a creative underTaking; The Trick, roy explains, is To give oneself over To it.”
Waxing philosophic with Roy
So what is it that compels someone with a comfortable job in a thriving company to strike out on his own and take a big risk like Roy did? As Roy tells it, he’d reached a point in his life when he started to ask some bigger questions about where his life was headed and whether or not he was happy with the work he was doing. His conclusion, ultimately, was that he was not satisfied and needed to shift away from the 9-to-5 grind. Once he left his job, Roy says he found the time to reflect more deeply on where his life was headed, while simultaneously rediscovering his art.
Roy shares that he was also strongly influenced by a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which talks about the artist’s internal resistance to creating his art, and all of the convincing excuses that hinder success. “The author tells the reader to give resistance the finger and to get work,” Roy explains with a smile. The tough-love talk from the author was a wake-up call for Roy and allowed him to see more clearly his self-imposed creative roadblocks.
Many artists speak of the powerful force that comes through them when immersed in a creative undertaking; the trick, Roy explains, is to give oneself over to it. He shares that, “there is a powerful and mysterious force that we can all tap into as humans, and one way to do that is through art.”
An unlikely debut
The story of Roy’s first public show is a good one. Over a year ago he began looking into public venues around Santa Barbara to show his work. He knew of a popular bar in the Funk Zone that regularly hung work on their walls, so he called up a friend who worked there, only to learn that they had a very long waitlist.
Months later, after he’d all but forgotten about the bar, he got a call one night at 12:30 a.m. from that same friend. She told him that if he could get down there with his work within the next hour he could hang his show that night. Evidently, the artist who had been showing got worked up over a comment someone made about his art, and in throes of emotion, took all of his art off the walls and left with it that evening.
Roy, full of surprise and excitement, loaded his truck with his paintings, and had the show hung that same night. It was a bit of luck, coupled with his immense talent that got Roy Clark his first public show in Santa Barbara.
Now that his art business is growing, Roy is beginning to move into producing and selling prints. A lot of his sales are online, primarily through social media sites, such as Instagram and Facebook. “Instagram is where I sell most of my art. It has become the platform for art collectors to discover new artists,” he explains.
He’s also spending more time in Los Angeles, because he says the art scene is exploding there. “It’s growing faster than almost anywhere in the world right now. Artists are moving there and art buyers are going there to purchase.”
We may eventually lose Roy to the City of Angels, but his Santa Barbara connections will travel with him in spirit, and perhaps make their way onto a canvas or two.
For More Information Visit: driplyautomation.com
As the second most traded food commodity in the world, the ethical and sustainable procurement of seafood is a hot topic these days. The practices of the fishing industry have a considerable effect on the health of our oceans, and significantly affect the biology of marine ecosystems.
One Santa Barbara-based company, founded by two marine scientists, is positioned to make a positive, lasting impact in the seafood industry. Salty Girl Seafood is a startup that offers traceable, sustainable seafood. The company is just over two years old, but founders Norah Eddy and Laura Johnson started working on the business concept while still in grad school at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB.
The pair met the first day of class at Bren, forming an instant camaraderie based on their similar academic paths, both studying Coastal Marine Resource Management. They say Bren School was instrumental in getting Salty Girl Seafood off the ground, offering them early encouragement and support from the get-go.
“parT of whaT makes The company inTeresTing and inspiring is ThaT seafood is an old indusTry rife wiTh problems and There’s a significanT barrier for women in The indusTry.”
Formation of the power team
Once Norah and Laura realized they had a viable business idea, they grew their team quickly, bringing in Gina Auriemma as their first employee, and Craig Cummings as their founding CEO. Craig has since taken on the role of Chairman of the Board, and Vanessa Tang, who comes to Salty Girl with 16+ years of consumer retail experience, now serves as CEO. Tang moved with her husband from Los Angeles to work with Salty Girl because she saw the immense potential of the company.
Salty Girl Seafood sells a line of products nationally. Utilizing their biology degrees to properly vet various fisheries, all fish are sustainably sourced. The company buys primarily from the North Pacific and Alaska and retailers include natural food stores like Whole Foods and Lazy Acres.
In order to aid customers in making informed buying choices, the story of where the fish comes from and how it was caught is actually displayed on the packaging itself. This information often includes the specific vessel it was caught on and even the name of the fisherman who caught it.
“Buyers need to be purchasing sustainably,” Norah asserts, “and they also need to communicate their process effectively to consumers in order to empower them to make good decisions.” It’s clear that in the case of seafood, the consumer really can “vote with her dollar,” and that the vote cast is one for the future health of our fisheries.
“salTy girl seafood has already become a flagship model of TraceabiliTy and sustain Ability in The seafood industry, helping educate consumers about The importance of informed choices.”
Santa Barbara for start-ups
Many will tell you that Santa Barbara is a hard place to start a business and “make it”. The women of Salty Girl Seafood have thus far found the opposite to be true. They say they’re glad to be in the area because there’s so much expertise, wealth and knowledge here. For Salty Girl, being based in this beachy paradise, surrounded by smart, accomplished people has given them access to great advisors. Norah says that they’ve had a number of people excited to mentor them and that those relationships have been invaluable. “I think people are inspired to see young people chasing a dream and climbing a really big hill.”
Part of what makes the company inspiring is that seafood is an old industry, rife with problems and there is a significant barrier for women. Salty Girl Seafood combats these challenges with a great business model, a strong desire to improve the planet, and perhaps most importantly, an exceptional work ethic. Also unique is that their founders have actually spent time working on fishing boats and in fishing communities and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
The Salty Girl team understands the immensity of the challenges they are undertaking, but are confident in their ability to provide practical solutions. “It’s important not to fear monger and to instead bring out the positive cases, and to empower people to make a good choice,” Norah explains. “Like, here is what you can do today to address this problem if it’s meaningful to you.”
Dreams as big as the oceans
Salty Girl Seafood has already become a flagship model of traceability and sustainability in the seafood industry, helping educate consumers about the importance of informed choices. Their goal is to become large enough to positively influence the health of entire fishing communities and their biology. The team reports that they have exciting partnerships in the pipeline with large NGOs and new clients that may help them realize that dream sooner than they had imagined. Let’s hope they keep dreaming big.
For More Information Visit: saltygirlseafood.com
Drew Cuddy is well acquainted with both the science and the art of farming. Having grown up on a large farm in Canada, Drew draws upon his vast knowledge-base in his role as a wine professional and creator of Impact Hub’s much-anticipated café and wine bar Satellite Santa Barbara.
As an undergraduate student, Drew moved to Vancouver to study geography, and since then, he has entered the world of wine through the London-based Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) program, which he is expecting to graduate from this year.
Throughout college, Drew helped his father establish a wine importing company, producing much of the marketing material, including video and photography content. He was the lucky one who got to spend his summers in Europe working for the winemakers with whom they partnered and quite literally, he began his wine career trimming vines and picking grapes.
After college, Drew worked for a stint with distributor The Henry Wine Group, followed by a harvest season with Sonoma County winery Medlock Ames. It was just after his time in Sonoma that Drew was asked to put together a concept for Satellite Santa Barbara.
The intent of Satellite is to stand as a nexus for the education and exploration of excellent wine, and be a place to enjoy bites from a well crafted, locally sourced food menu. Satellite is teaming up with the much-loved restaurant Scarlett Begonia to provide a simple menu that pairs well with wine and beer and is comprised of sustainable, organic foods. A catering service for Impact Hub events will also be established by this same collaboration through Satellite.
As the mastermind behind all of this, Drew can talk at length about any wine, region, or soil type. With a deep understanding of growing wine grapes, he views wine and its impact on the earth and our societies from a wider lens. “Wine is an expression of place, of history, of culture, and of individuality,” he explains. “But it’s also a product that requires really good farming.”
“The goal of saTelliTe is To sTand as a nexus for The educaTion and exploraTion of excellenT wine.”
From farm to table…and tasting room
Cuddy’s goal for Satellite’s wine menu is to offer patrons high-quality wines from all over the world at great value. Local wine lovers will be in good hands as well. Satellite plans to pay tribute to small, independent, local wines via weekly ‘flight night’ parties. During these parties, there will be a set wine tasting menu from a winery that will be showcased by a representative, who will pour and talk about the wines.
Drew plans to rotate through thematic menus that expose people to wines ranging from just $6-$14, and to alternate those wines every week or so. Satellite will also offer a wine club membership to encourage members to learn all they can about new wines on a regular basis.
Impact Hub is enthusiastic to have Cuddy in town. Drew moved to Santa Barbara in June specifically to launch Satellite and says that Impact Hub has been a great base for him. “I’m getting to know my clientele on a day-to-day basis. I’m making friends and coming to understand what people are looking for.” He talks about the environment at Impact Hub as comfortable and inspiring, because everyone is working toward his/her goals and supports one another in that growth.
As passionate about food and wine as he is about entrepreneurship, with Drew’s vision, Satellite customers and Impact Hub members are in for a unique experience full of variety and high-quality product. (PS – Impact Hub members will happily benefit from a discount!)
For More Information Visit: satellitesb.com
The college years are a time for gaining new perspectives, expanding the mind and ideally coming to understand more about what the rest of the world is really like. Many of us get emboldened with passionate new ideas we come across in our studies, and perhaps for the first time, become convinced of how we can make great change in our world. It’s an exciting time.
Then we graduate. For many, the need to get a job and enter the workforce takes top priority. It’s at that point that some of those yearnings to continuously explore begin to fade. Most will accept this fate to some degree and satisfy themselves by staying connected to their passions at a loose distance.
But Caleigh Hernandez is an exception to the rule. Having graduated from college in 2015, she’s taken her experience studying International Development and African Studies and amplified it, making direct use of her education by creating a business that addresses important social issues; namely, high unemployment rates faced by many Africans today. This has become the basis of her business, Best Foot Forward.
The power of a sandal
Best Foot Forward (BFF) imports beaded leather sandals made on the Kenyan Coast by local artisans. Currently, the company sells the sandals here in the U.S. at festivals and home shows, and eventually, a number of boutiques. The business employs 36 Kenyan women who do the intricate bead working and six Kenyan men who cut the leather and rubber that make up the upper and the sole. Caleigh explains that on average it takes a woman artisan half a day to make one pair of sandals.
The artisans themselves live in the Kenyan town of Malindi, which is about 100 kilometers north of the larger city of Mombasa. Unemployment in Malindi is around 50 percent and has been on the rise since the tourist industry took a hit under the threat of the Al Shabab, a terrorist group that’s been wreaking havoc and consequently disrupting local economies.
Caleigh’s idea for her impact-driven business was ignited while studying abroad in Uganda, when she lived in a rural village with a host family and worked for a local NGO. On the weekends she would venture into larger nearby cities to visit craft bazaars, where people sold all variety of African-made products. She kept coming across beautiful beaded sandals at the bazaars, and through her curiosity, learned about the regional sandal industry from local shopkeepers and artisans.
Her interest in local goods and incessant desire to be of service drove her to return the following summer to Uganda to do research for her thesis on women entrepreneurs and their access to aid programs. It was during this period that she developed the idea for her business, while learning the ins and outs of the anything-but-linear industry.
After graduating from college, she received a fellowship through Princeton University that brought her again back to Africa, and it was at this time that she started Best Foot Forward. Immediately, the shoe gained traction in the U.S. through festivals and home shows. This is how Caleigh raised a bit of startup funding to get rolling.
100 percent committed to creating a social good enterprise
In addition to creating jobs, Best Foot Forward is committed to giving 10 percent of profits back to people of Malindi, Kenya, which it does by channeling money through a Community Development Fund. The artisans themselves determine the allocation of funds, as the locals know what their community needs most. Caleigh notes that empowering artisans to become change-makers in their own communities is a vastly different model from how many international aid-based programs work.
Best Foot Forward also offers “fair wages for fair work,” so that the artisans who work for the company are paid higher wages than the industry standard. Caleigh says that long-term goals also include being able to offer employees health care and daycare.
Customers can now purchase BFF sandals online at bffshoes.com. The company is interested in collaborating with local residents who want to host home shows, to which Caleigh herself will come and present information about the issues that BFF is addressing. BFF is also looking to expand by creating more products, with the larger goal of positioning Best Foot Forward as a hub for ethical fashion.
“I wrote The business plan for TerriTory ahead on The sTeering wheel of my saab, while driving back and forTh To los angeles”
Coworking: from Kenya to California
Caleigh has been a global Impact Hub member for a while now, having first learned about it while living in Kenya and attending Nairobi Impact Hub events. “Being an entrepreneur is really isolating when you’re working alone,” explains Caleigh. She says that Impact Hub is very popular in Nairobi among the entrepreneurial Kenyan crowd and that it even became a source of inspiration as she started her business there. When she moved back to Santa Barbara in the beginning of August 2016, she already knew that Impact Hub Santa Barbara would be her U.S.-based home.
Any entrepreneur can tell you that the life of an entrepreneur is not for everyone; the inconsistency of the highs and the lows often weed out the faint of heart. Caleigh talks about the peaks and valleys of entrepreneurship and how working at the Hub has helped her keep her sanity as she weathers the storms.
She says she likes to know that people around her are going through some of the same things. She adds, “It’s nice to be in a space where you are surrounded by like-minded people who are interested in doing social good, while also having a successful business.”
Caleigh travelled back to Kenya again in January 2017. Always on the go, she is learning to expect the unexpected. “One day, it’s that the Pope came to Nairobi, so the shoe shipment is a week late. The next day, I’m sanding wood for a shoe display,” she says. “It’s empowering and humbling at the same time.”
For More Information Visit: bffshoes.com
Phil Strong is a guy that you want on your team. However, you may not know you need him until you understand what he does, how good he is at it, and that it’s people like him who keep the digital world going ‘round.
A life-long successful entrepreneur, Phil has built and sold a handful of tech companies. “I’m comfortably scared all the time,” he says. “I know that it can be really good, or really bad [he chuckles]. I think being an entrepreneur is about being pretty honest with yourself about what your customers do and don’t want.”
Several years ago, after clocking about 1.5 million miles of air travel, Phil decided he wanted to spend more time with his family, and direct his talents to the vibrant tech startup community in Santa Barbara. So, after a stint consulting for some great innovators in town, he was ready to start his newest company Zymbit, with the aim to create value in the emerging field of the Internet of Things (IoT). “I’ve spent much of my career automating factories, and now it is time to automate our planet for the betterment of mankind,” Phil says.
Securing a cool future.
Phil started his new venture by tackling the global challenge of making machines more energy and operationally efficient. He chose commercial refrigeration systems to start with, because, as he explains, “The largest single consumer of electrical energy on our planet is cooling, in the form of refrigeration and air conditioning. Together that accounts for about 30 percent of electricity consumption.”
Interestingly, what began as an effort to save resources has also migrated into the realm of cyber security, which may seem like a pivot, but in fact follows a very natural and logical trajectory.
“i’ve spenT much of my career auTomaTing facTories, and now iT is Time To auTomaTe our planeT for The beTTermenT of mankind”
What does Zymbit do?
Zymbit is comprised of a talented team of five innovators who started out with the goal of providing “healthcare” for machines in the form of data and services. The technology they have developed acts like an EKG for key parts of a machine. (Just so we’re all on the same page, an EKG is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart.) Zymbit technology monitors the health of a machine over time, building a record of what a healthy machine looks like. Using that information, the technology can then look for anomalies and predict hiccups in the system, and automatically call for a service tech before catastrophe strikes.
Here’s a hypothetical example of one such catastrophe using one of Zymbit’s actual local clients and the kind of fiasco anyone with a sweet tooth will certainly relate to: think full meltdown of Rori’s ice cream refrigerators due to an unforeseen glitch. Beyond devastation among the customer base, this could very likely mean a loss of tens of thousands of dollars. Zymbit technology can prevent such costly calamities.
The second thing that Zymbit does is make things secure. The Zymbit team understands that the data their technology produces needs to be kept secure and private, so they build security right into their products. Phil says, “With 50 billion things predicted to be connected to the Internet by 2020, each one of those things is a potential security threat when they are connected to the Internet.”
Things and connected devices become access points into one’s business or home and can easily become hosts for malware. For the IoT to really flourish, operators need to be able to trust the devices and the data they generate. “It’s critical to build trust into the system,” says Phil, “and it’s really hard to do that well.”
To make it easy for other developers to make their things secure, Zymbit is now selling its security technology as a standalone product in the form of a ‘trust module’ and security monitoring services. Phil says they’ve already shipped this technology out to a few big companies who are trying it on for size.
Part of the reason Zymbit has been able to produce this effective technology in a relatively short amount of time is thanks to its relationship with local hardware company and Impact Hub sponsor Laritech, which designs and builds hardware for Zymbit’s software. Laritech put the coworking space on Phil’s radar.
Being at Impact Hub has provided Zymbit further opportunities for collaboration, which they are excited about. For example, he plans to work with Drew Cuddy at Satellite, Impact Hub’s forthcoming café and wine bar, for which Zymbit’s technology could be utilized to monitor and maintain optimal refrigeration temperatures for Satellite’s wine selection.
Whatever Phil’s collaborations and future projects may be, we can count on Zymbit to keep our most treasured technological devices secure and growing smarter every day.
For More Information Visit : zymbit.com
Santa Barbara is fortunate to have people who financially embrace organizations committed to positive social impact. Marlys and Ron Boehm are two such individuals who, for over 10 years, have supported businesses imparting social and environmental change.
The Boehms created Boma Investments, a for-profit social impact investing company, to finance and support entrepreneurs with sound business models who are looking to affect social change.
Early on with Boma, the husband and wife team made the deliberate decision to use their capital and time to primarily invest in, rather than donate to, for-profit social businesses. The Boehms strongly believe that businesses often create more sustainable solutions than non-profits.
Savvy business people themselves, the Boehms ran ABC-CLIO, an international publishing company in Santa Barbara, from 1982 to 2008 after Ron Boehm’s family moved the business here from Europe in 1960. Ron learned the business from an early age and went on to run it with great success.
Upon the creation of Boma Investments, the Boehms already had some familiarity with the social enterprise space thanks to their involvement with the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), which Ron joined in the early 1990’s. YPO is an international organization of business leaders who share the mission of “becoming better leaders through education and idea exchange.” Now an organization of nearly 24,000 CEOs in over 85 countries, YPO has many chapters and many different initiatives that they focus on.
In 2008, the Boehms became interested in a group of YPO networks operating under the umbrella name of the Social Engagement Networks (SEN). SEN members focus on working with people and organizations in the social impact space. Marlys explains that they have always been drawn to programs that focus on education, early intervention, and job creation. It was through YPO that they made many of their initial connections for Boma Investments.
“They have always been drawn To programs ThaT focus on education, early intervention, and job creation.”
Why the social impact space?
Marlys explains that their interest in social impact comes from the simple, but powerful, commitment to wanting to do good in the world. She says that the task of figuring out how best to do good, without doing harm, while keeping in mind all the stakeholders involved, is a challenging but fulfilling one.
Unlike other businesses with similar investment models, Boma Investments’ interests are not exclusive to a particular sector or country. They explain that what they care about most is simple and direct: helping entrepreneurs create sustainable positive change. Sustainable for them means business models that make sense, and can become financially self-sustaining.
Talk to any number of people who have been in the NGO or philanthropic world, especially those who work overseas, and a great majority of them will likely tell you that traditional aid models have proven to be ineffective, often creating more harm than good in the long-run. There are many reasons for this, but largely it is because aid money creates dependency and offers the recipients neither dignity nor means to stand independently after the aid monies, with all of their contingencies, have been distributed.
Indeed, as the Boehms began to travel more for Boma Investments, they witnessed the more adverse effects of international aid. With this realization, they decided to work with for-profit models, as their success could more accurately be measured. “The better model,” as Marlys asserts, “was to give people a hand up and get them started on businesses that could eventually become self-sustaining. It doesn’t require a lot of money, but more often, some mentorship and connections.”
The work of Boma Investments
For a number of reasons, Boma Investments focuses on making smaller working capital investments rather than large equity investments. Working capital loans, they explain, allow the investees an affordable way of repayment, rather than forcing entrepreneurs to plan for a kind of exit that traditional Venture Capitalists expect.
Most social impact entrepreneurs care deeply about their businesses and are not necessarily looking to sell their ventures, which is often the only way to provide the return the VCs are seeking. As Ron explains, “Expecting an unlikely and significantly delayed return, is not a good practice.”
In addition to providing capital, the Boehms often become involved in their investees’ business strategy and operations, using their business experience and connections to advance their investee’s chances to succeed.
Marlys explains that most people who start an organization or social impact business do so because they want to solve social problems, not because they want to start a business. “They have passion and an idea, but don’t necessarily approach it like a business. Whereas, people who go about starting a business in an effort to solve a social problem, look at it in a very different way.” This is why Boma provides other forms of support including helping investees develop their business systems and sales models, managerial accounting, marketing, and clarifying their messaging. To date, Boma Investments has worked with over 45 companies and made approximately 100 investments.
The Boehm’s dedication to their business and greater mission in life is a clear reflection of their genuine desire to make impactful change in the world. Boma Investments is an inspiring example of the way one family’s life’s work can create a multiplier effect of indelible social good.
For More Information Visit: bomainvests.com
Mike Tognotti’s decision to start his own company proved to be the best choice for not only his career, but for many others’ as well. Raindance Partners is a national recruitment company that is a genuine reflection of both Mike’s personal expertise and his desire to help others reach their own career goals.
Tognotti is a former Vice President Sales of a biotech company based in Seattle and prior to that, he worked for Illumina, one of the largest DNA sequencing companies in the world. But in 2008, he saw a unique opportunity in which he could combine his industry knowledge with that of his technical scientific background and decided start Raindance Partners.
At the time, Mike and his wife had three kids in diapers, and while it was risky to make such a bold move in that economic climate, he says he had the full support of his wife, and that together they believed in his vision. Thankfully, he did well in his first year and was able to grow his team, proving that he had a solid model and that the need for his service was substantial.
The focus of Raindance Partners, as Mike explains, is nationwide executive placement. They work for companies that are looking for qualified individuals for specific positions, often in the technology and biotechnology industries. Mike says he thinks of the bulk of the work they do as conducting “career consultations” with people. With corporate headquarters in Santa Barbara and offices in the Bay Area, they plan to expand to Asia and Europe in 2017-18.
Coming from an academic background in molecular and cell biology, he gravitated toward biotech and research early on, but eventually evolved his career into selling and marketing biotech products. He realized that he really loved finding rare and exceptional talent for companies that result in gainful, long-term fits. Mike says that helping people is a great passion of his, and nothing gives him more gratification than making these connections for both the employee and employer.
The desire to be of service extends to his team as well. Mike explains that Raindance Partners is built upon three core values that drive decisions and create the company culture: family, health, and helping others. “Almost all of our employees are family people with kids. They have technical degrees and backgrounds, but many have stopped to have a family. They still want to contribute, so they work on their own time from wherever they are.” Mike says he is committed to his team being able to live their lives and take care of their families first, while still making a good living.
“he Talks abouT The west Coast as being one of The hoT spoTs for innovation. sanTa barbara in parTicular, is a hub for experienced execuTives and highly educaTed people”
Repurposing the scientific method
Today, Mike explains that he utilizes his background in science in his recruiting business. Because many of the positions he recruits for are technical, he uses a scientific approach to finding the right people and vetting them appropriately. The formula he’s developed for matching people to companies is repeatable and is in fact based on the scientific method’s approach to finding solutions. The team builds relational mapping between candidates and the positions that employers are looking for. Mike explains, “It’s not about the transaction – it’s really about the equilibrium, the fit on both sides. We are thorough and specific, and we have good intentions throughout the entire process.”
Mike sees the California coast as “one big Silicon Valley” in regard to the talent pool from which he draws on his clients’ behalf. Over the years, they’ve built their own proprietary database that they combine with other resources, such as LinkedIn. He talks about the West Coast as being one of the hot spots for innovation. Santa Barbara in particular, is a hub for experienced executives and highly educated people. All this makes Santa Barbara a great central location for Raindance Partners.
Lighting up Social Impact
Mike Tognotti has larger visions for his company, and he’s particularly excited about getting to the point where the company can grow its philanthropic capacity to make an impact in the larger community.
One example already underway involves a collaboration with Impact Hub member, Megan Birney, the president of local nonprofit Unite to Light, which makes small solar-powered portable lights and phone chargers intended for developing nations and those in need. While feeding the homeless with his church, Mike learned that many homeless women feel insecure when they’re unable to charge their cell phones, or don’t have access to light at night. So Mike and Megan decided to figure out how to distribute Unite To Light’s solar powered phone charging devices to homeless women in Santa Barbara. They are currently in the planning phases and want to expand this effort in 2017.
For More Information Visit :raindancepartners.com
The beautiful irony about Rita Tate of Flame Design Studio is that if you had to describe her effervescent personality and smiling face to someone, you might end up comparing her to a big, colorful flower.
Flame Design Studio is an event floral design company that sources its product locally. Rita, a Templeton, California native who recently moved back to the area after a long stint on the East Coast, has been in the floral business for over a decade. She started as a flower buyer for Whole Foods, where she learned the retail side of the business, but which also made her privy to the unsustainable nature of the industry, including its massive carbon footprint. In many cases flowers are flown overnight from across the world to meet consumer demands. Since most of the growing industry is concentrated in a few key areas, an immense amount of fuel is used to get a bouquet of flowers to your table centerpiece.
Rita also discovered the amount of waste big events generate; almost everything, including fresh floral arrangements, is thrown away after large events like parties and weddings. Rita thought there had to be a better way to make events more sustainable without sacrificing beauty and creativity.
The strong desire to affect change in the flower industry became the catalyst of Rita’s plan to start her own floral design business. The fact that she is an entrepreneur and artist at heart made the choice even easier.
“IT’s important for designers To Think outside The box and To consider what’s available locally”
The land of flower children
After a lot of research, Rita decided to set up shop in a place that has a year-round growing season and is the epicenter of ecologically-minded business: Southern California. Coming from the floral design business on the East Coast, and having spent time working on a flower farm in Connecticut, she knows how stressful it can be to grow flowers in a place where the season is short and farmers are at the mercy of frosts, mold, and other natural calamities.
However, life as a Southern California flower farmer isn’t easy either, Rita explains. Current trade policies have made it even cheaper to import flowers from places around the world. She also notes that with the recent legalization of marijuana, many of the local greenhouses may be tempted to join that industry because of the increased opportunity for profit.
Despite all of these challenges, Rita’s goal at Flame Design Studio is to source locally as much as possible, which achieves the dual objective of providing income to local flower farmers, and helping decrease the global carbon footprint of the floral industry. Additionally, there is the importance of quality control: “The local product is so much better,” Rita explains, “because it’s fresher and there’s more variety.” For example, when flower breeders select rose species for increased petal count, it’s often at the expense of fragrance. Flowers can be bred to look nice, but in the process often lose sensual complexity. “People want cheap flowers,” says Rita, “but often it’s because they don’t understand the true value of locally grown flowers.”
Rita says that it’s important for designers to think outside the box and to consider what’s available locally. “We should be supporting each other,” she adds. “It’s more than just a flower; it’s a farmer who lives in the area, and it’s another local business.”
A Space for Creatives
While still living on the East Coast, Rita began looking into office space in the Santa Barbara area and after a call to Dan Ferrick, she got the upstairs office she’s in now at Impact Hub, sight unseen. She also uses a designer workspace in Carpinteria, where much of her inventory is housed. The new Funk Zone location that will open soon is appealing to Rita too, as she looking forward to doing a modular floral wall installation there. She hopes that projects like these will help attract more artists and creatives to the Funk Zone.
For More Information Visit: flamedesignstudio.com
As a fifth-generation entrepreneur, Jack Voorheis knows the highs and the lows that the entrepreneurial rollercoaster can, and usually does, take a person through. An early adopter and a risk taker, he’s risen to the top, fallen to the bottom, and gone right back up again over the course of his career. Now a seasoned entrepreneur, he understands that the ups and downs are all part of the process.
Jack learned early that being someone’s employee wasn’t for him. He had his first taste of entrepreneurialism while still in high school, and by the age of 20, had started a sign-making business in his hometown in Michigan.
After a successful decade in the industry, Jack sold his thriving sign company and took a leap into uncharted territory. Back before most people had ever even spoken on a cell phone and despite discouragement from friends and family, Jack got into the wireless communications industry. Why, they asked him, would I ever want to carry a telephone around with me all the time? But Jack’s instincts told him that cell phones would take off and eventually become mainstream. Indeed, Jack went on to become one of the top marketers in the industry.
“his service is builT To help address The many challenges enTrepreneurs face ThaT can derail Their success”
Champion for WordPress
While still living in Michigan in 2005, Jack served as president of the Michigan Home-Based Business Association. At the time, many of the members were in need of websites for their small businesses, but website building required tedious technical coding. Observing the growing need, and always ahead of the curve, Jack taught himself how to build WordPress websites. His intuition again told him that WordPress was going to be the future platform for website building, and so he committed himself to finding the most user-friendly ways to do so. Needless to say, when the association members learned that Jack had acquired this skill, he became a very busy guy.
His current business venture, WP Managed Secure, offers premium WordPress management/optimization web hosting and state-of-the-art website security. His service is built to help address the many challenges entrepreneurs face that can derail their success. As he puts it, websites done right can empower entrepreneurs with the ability to leverage their business efforts. Helping people share their messages and gifts with the world is what excites him most about his work.
An additional foresight Jack had, which has since enabled him to greatly increase the efficiency and growth of his own business, was the implementation of virtual teams. At the time, this form of collaboration was still viewed with skepticism, but he says he has had nothing but success with his virtual partnerships. His current team consists of both domestic and international team members, allowing him to offer high-touch service 24 hours a day for every customer.
Ever curious about innovative tools that can help people gain advantages in the marketplace, Jack’s most recent undertaking is in the world of podcasting. He says that once he became a member at Impact Hub, he saw a great opportunity for podcasting in its community. He’s now gearing up to start the official Impact Hub podcast series, envisioning a weekly podcast highlighting member stories and topics relevant to the community.
“Podcasts are an excellent content creation tool that can help people grow their businesses,” he explains. To demonstrate his earnestness, he’s furnished all the equipment for the Audio Studio at the Impact Hub, which is available to members and non-members alike for rent.
Born with entrepreneurship in his very DNA, Jack Voorheis is the kind of guy who’s always forward-facing and excited to embrace whatever the future brings.
For More Information Visit : wpmanagedsecure.com