Porch Swings Over to Summerland

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and the works of local artists at Porch on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and
the works of local artists at Porch
on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

“The building itself is an object of art. I feel like it was meant for us,” says Diana Dolan, owner of Porch (porchsb.com), about her shop’s new digs on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. The relocation to the larger space is her dream come true for the unique home and garden store that she has operated in Carpinteria for the past 12 years.

Featuring furnishings, kitchen goods, textiles, bedding, jewelry, candles, coffee-table books, succulents, and works by local artists, such as Pedro de la Cruz, Will Pierce, Lety Garcia, Colette Cosentino, and Michael Haber, the business is known for its thoughtfully curated space and inviting indoor/outdoor vibe, and Dolan says the new location will embrace that same spirit.

“Our soul remains true to our essence,” she says. “We’re going to continue to offer beautiful home and garden furnishings inspired by nature.”

Porch and other recent newcomers to Summerland—Sweet Wheel Produce, Field+Fort, and The Well—join businesses like The Sacred Space, Botanik, Garde, and Summerland Oriental Rugs in what is fast becoming an exciting design destination. “I think shoppers are looking for a real connection to something heartfelt and soulful,” says Dolan.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Raise a Glass to a Lost Hero

Toast local fallen Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus with a beer brewed in his honor that also gives back, courtesy photo.

Toast local fallen Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus with a beer brewed in his honor that also gives back, courtesy photo.

Tarantula Hill Brewing Co. (togothillbc.com) in Thousand Oaks created its 4S3 beer to honor Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed in the line of duty during the 2018 mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill. Brewing the blonde ale was a collaboration between the Tarantula Hill team, first responders, Helus’ wife, Karen, and son, Jordan, and other involved families, says CEO Ali Zia.

Everything about the beer, including its name, which is expressed as “four Sam three,” Helus’ radio call sign, and the ingredients, Victory malt and Warrior and Noble Saaz hops, was collaborative, says brewmaster Mike Richmond. And at least one Helus family member has helped to create the brew each time a batch is made. Jordan was even involved in designing the can, which includes the messages “where our heart lies” and “never forget.”

The special brew is available at the brewery and local liquor stores and by order for shipment. A portion of the proceeds from every 4S3 beer sold is donated to local causes.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

UPcycle Chic

Designer Kate McHale Jensen in one of her creations, photo by Steven Krebs.

Designer Kate McHale Jensen in one of her creations, photo by Steven Krebs.

Everything old really is new again in the hands of fashion designer Kate McHale Jensen. Inspired by the timeless style and comfort of men’s shirts, Jensen’s KMJ (shopkmj.com) line came about after the designer, who says she “has lived and breathed fashion and clothing since I can remember,” took a shirt from her husband’s closet and remade it into something for herself.

Each one-of-a-kind women’s style is fashioned from a vintage men’s shirt and hand cut by the designer herself in her Santa Barbara studio.

So “no two are alike,” says Jensen, who suggests that their popularity may be partly due to the fact that “sustainability is so much at the forefront of fashion these days.” Her most-sold design is the Bon Voyage, a feminine twist on the classic button down, with a three-quarter-length puff sleeve.

“I get the biggest rush,” Jensen says, “from pulling the next batch of vintage shirts to offer them another life—digging through, seeing the potential of an otherwise forgotten shirt to be repurposed in the hope of making women feel empowered and alive.” She’s also excited by special commissions, when people send her sentimental favorites—such as a father’s wedding tuxedo—to be refashioned into something new.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

This Land is Our Land

Discover local spots to explore, like Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park, at 50greatpubliclanddestinations.org. Photo by Deborah Williams.

Discover local spots to explore, like Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park,
at 50greatpubliclanddestinations.org. Photo by Deborah Williams.

Hoping to encourage her environmental studies students to get out and explore public lands within a 300-mile radius, UC Santa Barbara lecturer Deborah Williams has created a new website for all to enjoy. Great Public Land Destinations (50greatpubliclanddestinations.org) spotlights 50 parks, monuments, preserves, and open spaces, where visitors can appreciate natural beauty and historical significance.

“One of my goals in creating the site was to remind us of the rich diversity of our public lands,” Williams says.

In addition to well-known national parks, like Yosemite and Joshua Tree, her impressive compilation tallies lesser-known spots, such as Manzanar National Historic Site—a World War II Japanese internment camp in the Eastern Sierras, and the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, preserved through fundraising efforts led by conservationist Jane Pinheiro, including a 1970s “Pennies for Poppies” drive to which schoolchildren contributed. All of the sites are within a day’s drive of the 805.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Wishful Weaving

See fiber artist Regina Vorgang’s handwoven table runners in A Time to Gather at Studio Channel Islands through November 25. Photo by W. Scott Miles, the Scientific Photographer, THESCIENTIFICPHOTOGRAPHER.COM.

See fiber artist Regina Vorgang’s handwoven table runners in A Time to Gather at Studio Channel Islands through November 25. Photo by W. Scott Miles, the Scientific Photographer, THESCIENTIFICPHOTOGRAPHER.COM.

Folks are spending more time than ever in their homes these days, and with that in mind, fiber artist Regina Vorgang has turned her talents to creating functional pieces of art for the table—handwoven table runners. “I’ve been thinking a lot about family gatherings,” says Vorgang, whose Regina Design (reginadesign.com) studio is based in Camarillo. “I’m trying to focus on what can be for the end of this year, in the hope that we can gather without too much worry.”

Vorgang started her career as a graphic designer before her desire to do something more tactile led her to begin creating handwoven tapestries and rugs. “I’m inspired by nature or designs that come into my head,” she says. Her table runners are on display through November 25 in A Time to Gather, an exhibit at Studio Channel Islands (studiochannelislands.org), a former elementary school housing 40 artists’ studios and a gallery. To schedule a private viewing visit studiochannelislands.org/visit.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Tech Talk: Special Issue

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

From Start-ups to Success Stories, an In-Depth Look at Our Vast High-Tech Industry

There’s no question that technology plays an increasingly critical role in all of our lives.

Think about what it would have been like if the global pandemic had hit in 1980 instead of 2020: no cell phones (cordless phones weren’t even mainstream yet!), no internet, and no public email, let alone video calls, instant messaging, texting, and screen-sharing. Home computers, if you even had one, were clunky and slow, and, while ubiquitous, TVs only had four channels, and the whole family would have to agree on what to watch.

Fast-forward to today. With COVID forcing us to move our lives indoors and online, everyone from toddlers to grandparents have been whiplashed into relying on devices for school and business, health and wellness, to learn, communicate, connect, and be entertained. For many of us, the classroom, home, and workplace are headquartered on a single device in a tiny corner of the house.

“Organizations are fundamentally changed now,” explains Kyle Lewis, a UCSB professor and chair of its Technology Management Program. “Working in any type of organization — especially in one that is focusing on innovation, has technology products, or uses technology to do their work — the world has completely shifted.”

The shift is happening in Santa Barbara too. As technology becomes more central to all of our lives, the region’s high-tech sector is enduring big changes and enjoying sustained growth. Once dominated by the aerospace industry, which is still a prominent player, a wave of significant, broad-ranging tech companies began in this ecosystem, including Citrix Online (formerly Expert City), Software.com, Alias Wavefront, Yardi, Lynda.com, AppFolio, and Sonos, among others. Maturing startups such as Procore and Apeel Sciences continue to grow, as do the wealth of exciting new technologies and companies.

Meanwhile, our investment community is on the rise, and the already-critical UCSB just keeps getting better and better, pumping out more and more motivated-to-stay-in-town entrepreneurial energy.

Meanwhile, some of the biggest players in tech — Google, Amazon, Zoom, Apple, Microsoft — now have a presence in Santa Barbara. And then there are the increasing numbers of tech pros who can work from anywhere and have chosen to make Santa Barbara their homes.

The last time the Santa Barbara Independent addressed the tech sector in any depth was a special section called Tech-Topia in 2015, in which author Matt Kettmann described the scene as “quietly booming.” Having talked to more than 30 executives and researched more than 100 tech companies for this issue, I can attest to how much bigger, broader, and more interesting our tech sector is today.

Like a lot of the very best people and things in Santa Barbara, many of these tech companies still operate on the down-low, not interested in tooting their own horns or bragging about their accomplishments. They’d rather just do good work than talk about it.

But success begets success. As Jason Spievak, the managing partner for Entrada Ventures, put it, “Some of the biggest names in technology are waking up to Santa Barbara and are establishing themselves here through acquisition and investment.”

Read on for a hefty helping of the Santa Barbara tech scene’s players, history, innovations, and opportunities. Once quietly booming, I’d say Santa Barbara’s tech sector is now awake, ready, and raring to go.

Here is the whole package of stories:

Tech Employers Talk Balk : Observations From Central Coast Industry Leaders

The Top Five Things Investors Want (and Need) Jason Spievak of Santa Barbara’s Entrada Ventures Offers Checklist for New Companies

Mentoring, Not Just Money, For Startups: Entrada Ventures’ Julie Henley McNamara Discusses her Firm’s Specialized Strategies

Investor Insight into Tech Trends: Santa Barbara Angel Alliance Founder John Petote Analyzes the High-Tech Marketplace

A Great Place For Entrepreneurs: Veteran Executive John Greathouse Explains What Attracts Tech Companies to Town

Shades of Silicon Valley: Q&A With Michael Pfau: “Grit & Hustle” Understanding Santa Barbara’s Tech Sector Growth

ParentSquare Makes the Grade: Santa Barbara’s Anupamu Vaid Developed School Communication Platform Now Used Nationwide

Sprigeo Says Yes to School Safety: Santa Barbara’s Joe Bruzzese Founded Service to Prevent Bullying and Increase School Safety

Saving the World, One Byte at a Time: Last Call for Food, ChowMatch, EV Match and Other Companies Using Tech for Good

Apeel’s Santa Barbara Appeal: Why This Food-Preservation Tech Company Thrives on the South Coast

Insight From HG Insights’ Elizabeth Cholawsky: CEO of the Santa Barbara Tech Intelligence Company Talks Up the Central Coast Lifestyle

Invoca Applies AI and Analytics to Phone Calls: Studying the Behavior of Customers’ Customers

The Cutting Edge of Robotic Surgery: Cottage Health and the Orthopedic Institute Perform Many Surgeries Every Week

Virtual Health Care: Right Here at Home: After Acquiring Goleta’s InTouch Health, Teledoc’s Joe DeVito Discusses the Market

Communication is Key for WELL Health: Guillaume de Zwirek Moved Patient-Provider Platform Company From Silicon Valley to Santa Barbara

Thermal Imaging: Hotspot for Seeking Heat: FLIR and Seek Thermal Make Santa Barbara a Hub for Thermal-Imaging Technology Companies

How FLIR Steals Moments in Spotlight: Goleta-Based Imaging Company Stars in Movies, TV Episodes and Even Awards Shows

TMP: Practical Education for an Evolving World: Preparation Meets Opportunity in UCSB’s Technology Management Program

UCSB Technology Management Program’s Startups: A List of More Than 30 Companies Whose Founders Participated in TMP

TIA: Where Inventions Meet Industry: Research Meets the Road in UCSB’s Office of Technology & Industry Alliances

UCSB’s Technology and Research Startups: A List of More Than 40 Companies That Began on the Santa Barbara Campus

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Apeel’s Santa Barbara Appeal

Apeel's Megan Opp, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

Apeel’s Megan Opp, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

In a creation story fit for a feel-good film, the food-preservation company Apeel Sciences was founded by UCSB grad student James Rogers when he heard a radio story about global hunger while driving through California’s lush farmlands. He wondered how so many could be so hungry when there was much food around.

Upon learning that the culprit is spoilage, the materials science PhD candidate developed a product—made entirely from natural things in the food we already eat—that slowed down the rotting of various fruits and vegetables. Rogers won UCSB’s New Venture Competition, and the seeds of Apeel quickly began to sprout, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation due to the promise of fighting malnourishment around the world.

That was around 2012. Fast forward to today, and Apeel, which is headquartered in Goleta and employs nearly 200 “Apeelers,” is growing like crazy, developing products for dozens of produce categories and working with a range of partners, from small organic growers to the world’s largest food brands.

In late August, Apeel, which is currency valued at more than $1 billion, announced a partnership with the largest German retailer that will put Apeel-treated avocados and oranges in more than 11,000 EDEKA and Netto stores.

And they’re just getting started. I spoke with “Chief People Officer” Megan Opp about Apeel’s appeal.

WHY IS EVERYONE SO EXCITED ABOUT YOUR COMPANY? The technology and product are so innovative and world-changing. We are thankful for UCSB for providing a strong pipeline of incredible talent, which of course includes our founders. People have the opportunity to positively change how the world accesses and enjoys fresh produce. What’s exciting is that it all started in this beautiful community of S.B. and has grown very quickly into a global company.

Most of our R&D happens right here at headquarters, but innovations can come from any part of the world. You can be based in Santa Barbara but also have opportunities to travel and work in new places. This is one of the most globally mobile companies I’ve seen, where we’ll give these opportunities as a way of sharing our company values and culture in different locations and also as a way to grow in one’s career and skills and global mindset.

WHAT ARE SOME HIGH AND LOW POINTS OF BEING A BIG EMPLOYER HERE? We’re extremely fortunate to have great access to top tech talent who have chosen to study and live in the Santa Barbara area. We’ve also been able to attract talent from surrounding metro areas, including L.A. and the Bay Area. We always notice an uptick in applications from the East Coast and Midwest during winter months! Like any region for tech talent, Santa Barbara isn’t without its challenges. Santa Barbara’s cost of living and housing availability is one.

WHAT ARE SOME CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN SANTA BARBARA COMPARED TO OTHER TECH HUBS? Our employees are very philanthropic, connected with nature, and embrace all of the outdoor adventures and amenities this area has to offer.

DOES BEING A HUMANITARIAN-FOCUSED COMPANY LEAD TO A CERTAIN TYPE OF EMPLOYEE? We are a global company that hires talent based not only abilities but the aligned belief in our mission—enabling a world that works with nature; we use food to protect food—and wanting to be part of something that will change the world. We hire and reward people with strong alignment with our values, which include humility and teamwork. We support each other and want to see us all succeed so that Apeel produce will be available throughout the world.

HOW ARE YOU HANDLING HIRING DURING COVID? Food waste is a global crisis, and we are continuing to aggressively staff up to be able to tackle this issue head-on. Even through this challenging time of COVID, we’ve come up with creative ways to create a welcoming virtual environment for candidates and new hires. We always put people first and have created additional programs to support our working parents and caregivers and all of our employees during these challenging times.

We feel so fortunate to be based in the Santa Barbara area with so many benefits within our reach!    apeelsciences.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Saving the World, One Byte at a Time

Erin McGeoy of Last Call for Food, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

Erin McGeoy of Last Call for Food, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

An increasing number of tech companies are working to create products and applications to improve our lives and make a difference in ways both small and large. While Apeel Sciences works to end hunger on a global scale, Last Call for Food matches hungry college students with discounted end-of-night restaurant meals. Founder and CEO Erin McGeoy, a Santa Barbara High water-polo standout, developed the platform while at George Washington University.

Despite scholarships and working throughout college, she still struggled financially and developed clever ways to access more affordable food. After working on the food waste team at the World Wildlife Fund, she focused her energy on the intersection of college food insecurity and wasted restaurant food to launch Last Call in 2017.

“The technology we use allows restaurants and other food vendors to share deals they have on surplus food to the Last Call website, and it enables Last Call to communicate these deals to our subscribers,” said McGeoy, who launched on the East Coast but is now actively working in her hometown to bring the service to UCSB and SBCC students. See lastcallforfood. com.

ChowMatch is also counteracting food waste locally. The initiative was launched by the Community Environmental Council (CEC) in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Food Rescue Program and is supported by COVID-19 relief funding. Explained the CEC’s Julia Blanton, “We help build relationships between donors with surplus food and charitable organizations to prevent produce and restaurant-quality prepared food from going to the landfill and instead direct it to those facing hunger throughout the county.” See chowmatch.com.

Wildnote’s mission is to protect natural resources by empowering professionals to accurately collect, efficiently manage, and effectively report on environmental compliance. Making the world a better place is emphasized at every meeting, said founder and CEO Kristen Hazard, who is based in San Luis Obispo. “It’s often the reason employees want to come work for Wildnote, because they feel a calling for their work to have meaning around the environment,” she explained. See wildnoteapp.com.

Heather Hochrein used a grad-school group thesis idea to win third place at UCSB’s New Venture Competition, and then she founded EVmatch, a peer-to-peer network for finding electric-vehicle charging stations. The app directs drivers to privately owned charging stations, allowing apartment dwellers and travelers a flexible way to charge their vehicles. See evmatch.com.

Technology is also an excellent resource for crowdfunding and marketing innovative, eco-minded products. Frustrated with trying to eliminate waste in their everyday lives, Remaker Labs cofounders David Silverander and Sky Gilbar developed Hitch, a full-size reusable water bottle with a removable, barista-approved cup hidden inside. Through funny videos featuring familiar landmarks, Hitch raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter and is still reselling through Indiegogo. They plan to deliver in November, just in time for the holidays. See carryhitch.com.

The Final company sports a similar ethos of eliminating single-use products and also used humorous videos of mermaids to market FinalStraw, a reusable straw that folds down to keychain-size. “The idea around the mermaid is this human connection to the ocean, which has a fun fantasy aspect,” said founder Emma Rose Cohen, who was part of the Save the Mermaids activist group as a student at UCSB, dressing in mermaid costumes to encourage the City of Santa Barbara to ban plastic bags. Her Kickstarter campaign raised $1.8 million, and FinalStraw is now available at REI, as well as online, with additional products—FinalFork, FinalSpork, and FinalWipe— available for preorder. See final.co. 

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Thermal Imaging: Hotspot for Seeking Heat

Santa Barbara is a world leader in infrared technology, with a long history that dates back to the scientists at the 1960s-era Hughes Aircraft Co., which later became the Santa Barbara Research Center.

With present-day industry bigwig FLIR located here, along with defense and aerospace industry heavyweights like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin and companies such as SE-IR Corporation, Electro Optical Industries, Seek Thermal, and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging developing technology for consumer and industrial applications—from smartphones and cars to night-vision cameras and sensors—this sector of tech is definitely a hot one.

“The Santa Barbara office is really the nerve center of a lot of our cores and components,” said Vatche Arabian, director of content marketing for FLIR, whose name is an acronym for “forward-looking infrared.”

With the Central Coast as the home to approximately 450 of its 3,000 employees worldwide, FLIR is considered the global leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of thermal imaging infrared cameras.

Seek Thermal was founded in 2012 by industry pioneering scientists Bill Parrish and Tim Fitzgibbons, who spent 40 years advancing the state of military and professional-grade thermal-imaging technology. Seek is their third venture, following the successful acquisitions of their last two companies, Amber Engineering and Indigo Systems, which is now part of Raytheon and FLIR, respectively.

Their mission is to make thermal imaging a part of everyday life. “We make devices, for example, that turn your phone into a thermal imager,” explained Seek’s CEO and president Mike Muench. “We make handheld thermal imagers. We make products specifically for the fire and safety space, which are also stand-alone thermal scanning products.”

With manufacturing on-site in Goleta, the team of 100 employees at Seek Thermal was able to respond quickly to the COVID pandemic and the demand for screening measures. Said Muench, “We now make a scanning system for helping businesses to screen employees for elevated body temperature.”

thermal.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Shades of Silicon Valley: Q&A With Michael Pfau

Michael Pfau, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

Michael Pfau, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

Representing tech-sector businesses for more than 30 years, attorney Michael Pfau, who is a founding partner of Reicker, Pfau, Pyle & McRoy LLP, provides a unique vantage point of the Santa Barbara scene.

HOW HAS OUR TECH SECTOR EVOLVED? The same way it did in Silicon Valley. What happened was that the university attracted some real national quality talent to its faculty. Many of those people were entrepreneurially inclined, and they exported technology from the university and formed companies. Some of those were sold off and were successful; they put money into people’s hands.

Over time, you have a collection of technology, engineering, and management talent that has some money in its pocket and wants to do it again. One success begets two successes and four successes, which beget eight successes, and it just evolves naturally that way.

In parallel with that, we had the build-up of infrastructure to support these companies: angel investing, like the Santa Barbara Angel Alliance; venture firms like Kevin O’Connor’s ScOp Venture Capital and Entrada Ventures; and law firms and CPAs that are used to dealing with these things. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

ARE TECH ENTREPRENEURS DIFFERENT FROM PEOPLE WHO START OTHER KINDS OF BUSINESSES? Maybe, but the answer is probably no. The analysis for any opportunity is (a) what is the problem you are trying to solve? (b) how do you solve it? and (c) what is your sustainable competitive advantage? In other words, why are you different from everybody else?

You have to be solving a real-world problem. What they all have in common is they believe they can go through brick walls, and they will do it to get to their outcome.

SO ENTREPRENEURS ARE ENTREPRENEURS THEN? It’s just grit and gristle, and in the end, a disciplined approach to business always pays off. The technology guys are more successful because they’re building companies with what we call fatter revenues — lower expenses to higher net revenue — so they are more profitable, and that’s why people think that maybe there is something better about it. But no, I’m just selling something or creating something that can be sold as more valuable.

reickerpfau.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20