Ep29: Gary Benitt (Social Leverage) Successful Exit as a Founder, Stays in the Ecosystem as an Investor

Gary Benitt is a General Partner at Social Leverage LLC, an established early stage venture capital firm specializing in web-scaled startups. Gary works with their portfolio companies to help them operationalize the business and find ways to scale faster and higher. Prior to his time at Social Leverage, Gary was the founder and COO of Assistly, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011.

Ep28: Dr. Devora Rossi (UC San Diego) Catalyzing & Anchoring a Regional Startup Ecosystem

Who accelerates innovation and entrepreneurship activity across industries in the San Diego region? Dr. Rossi shouts out two dozen organizations (Federal, Regional, Local, Academic, and Corporate) that do. Also, the Office of Innovation & Commercialization at University of California, San Diego is a nexus of startup activity – she explains why.

Dr. Devora Rossi is Senior Manager of Innovation & Commercialization at the University of California, San Diego. Previously, she was responsible for sales and distribution in Latin America for Affymetrix. Prior to that Dr. Rossi was Vice President for Business Development at eBioscience, an Affymetrix company where she was responsible for most corporate/business development transactions.

Ep27: Laura Brenner Kimes (Fresh Coast Capital) Business School Project –> Successful Women Owned Social Enterprise

What is an impact-driven investment and real estate development firm with an environmental and social mission? That’s Fresh Coast Capital, explains Laura Brenner Kimes, Co-Founder and Director of Ecosystem Services at FCC. Laura’s career has focused on strategy and market creation for environment and energy firms. She has previously worked at Southern California Edison, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)’s Biomass Coordinating Council.

Ep26: Dr. Iana Castro (SDSU & BrightSide Produce) Attained Academic Tenure & Launched a Social Venture in 2017? That’s Legit!

Young marketing professor earns tenure at San Diego State University AND launches a revenue-generating, SDSU student-run social venture the same year (2017)!! What? #FemaleFounders #Socialimpact #Inspiration

Dr. Iana Castro is both an entrepreneur and an educator. She is currently an associate professor of marketing at San Diego State University, researching and teaching in areas that include consumer behavior, retailing and strategic marketing. She was awarded Outstanding Faculty Contribution Awards in 2015 and 2016 for Professional Development and Service, and in 2017 she earned the Teaching Excellence Award in SDSU’s Fowler College of Business. She is co-principal investigator for a project entitled, “Factors Influencing Food Selection” that was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Thus, it’s not surprising that Prof. Castro is also the co-founder and faculty director of BrightSide Produce San Diego, which is a sustainable, SDSU, student-run, social venture that makes affordable, fresh produce more available and accessible in San Diego communities.

Ep25: Rasto Ivanic (GroupSolver) Insights to a Successful Seed Stage Analytics Deal

  • Peek behind the curtain of a successful, recent $1 million funding round, led by Tech Coast Angels San Diego, from the perspectives of the deal co-lead and the entrepreneur. If you’re raising seed to series A money in Southern California, then you should definitely check out Rasto Ivanic’s story on Startup Talk with Millard & Andrew.


  • Rasto talks about the long game and building relationships during a founder’s journey. In 2015, he was a finalist in The  John G. Watson Quick Pitch Competition, which put him on TCASD’s radar. GroupSolver also went though the EvoNexus incubator and CONNECT accelerator programs, which helped them to develop a deep network in San Diego.


  • Rasto Ivanic is a co-founder and CEO of GroupSolver – an innovative online platform for customer research and collaborative problem solving. Before GroupSolver, he was a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company and later he led business development at Mendel Biotechnology. During his career, he helped companies make strategic decisions on developing and managing new businesses, pursuing market opportunities, and developing partnerships and collaborations. Rasto is a trained economist with a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, where he also received his MBA.

Ep24: Jeremy Glaser (Mintz Levin) Experience Matters in Startups: Entrepreneur—>Attorney—>Tech Exec—>Attorney

An attorney who is approachable and will take your call – gratis – on a Saturday morning? #who’dathunkit
Jeremy D. Glaser is a member of the law firm of Mintz, Levin, where he serves as Co-chair of the firm’s Venture Capital & Emerging Companies Practice. For more than 30 years Jeremy has helped companies raise angel and venture financing and achieve successful liquidity events, such as IPOs and sales in software, mobile applications, biotechnology, medical devices, and clean energy.

Ep23: Real Talk on Startups, Funding, and San Diego Ecosystem Resources w/Brittany Meiling (San Diego Business Journal) & Ashok Kamal (Tech Coast Angels)

We sat down with Brittany and Ashok, two previous STMAP guests, to get an update on what they see happening in the San Diego Startup Ecosystem.

Brittany Meiling is the Biotech & Startup Reporter for the San Diego Business Journal and has been working at that local business magazine since 2014. You can catch her words of wisdom about “How to be Ready When the Press Calls” on episode 6 of Startup Talk.

Ashok Kamal is Executive Director of Tech Coast Angels – San Diego. You can hear all about Ashok’s origins as a hip hop label founder, social entrepreneur and investor, on Episode 10 of Startup Talk.

Ep22: Guillermo Mejía Duclaud (Mexico Innovation and Development Hub)-Building Cross-Border Technology Bridges, NOT Walls!

What happens in Mexico, shouldn’t stay in Mexico! Get  up.

Guillermo Mejía Duclaud is Managing Director at Mexico Innovation Development Hub aka “MindHub”. MindHub is a collaborative space for development, innovation and creativity for tech entrepreneurs that create products and services in the Cali-Baja mega region. Guillermo is also CTO And Co-Founder of Pointman Magazine. Pointman Magazine en español es la Guía interactiva para el hombre de acción, atrevido, seguro, emprendedor, audaz, líder. Yes, that just happened.

Ep21: Tom Walpole (StockTwits)-Getting in Tune with Blues Musician and Journeyman Internet Entrepreneur

Tom was a founding member and guitarist for the San Diego based blues band: West Of Memphis. The band won Best Blues Band in San Diego in 2009 at the SDMAs, released 2 award nominated albums, traveled internationally and held tenure as the house band for the House of Blues, San Diego for 5 years.

When not playing the Blues, Tom Walpole is Lead Engineer at StockTwits, which is a social media platform designed for sharing ideas among investors, traders, and entrepreneurs. Previously, he was the CTO at SparkFin, which was acquired by StockTwits in January 2017.

Ep20: Carlos McCray (The DOJO Cafe) – “Sometimes you have to break it down to build it back up!” // community engagement via social enterprise

This week we’re taking a journey away from the glass and steel boxes that house San Diego’s tech founders, investors, and supporters and going deep into a racially diverse and underserved community in City Heights. Our tour guide is social entrepreneur and community beacon, Carlos McCray.

Carlos McCray is Co-Founder & CEO of The DOJO, a more-than-coffee spot where young people and underserved communities can go to express themselves, improve themselves, and buy culturally reflective drinks, food, and fresh DOJO apparel that they can call their own. Even more awesome, they will do this with a 85% solar powered vintage travel trailer completely retrofitted as a Coffee Trailer! Prior to The DOJO, he created The Fresh, a mobile food truck that serves hot meals to homeless while accepting CalFresh. The Fresh continues to run and is making profit, and two more have launched serving the aging population. In order to pursue The DOJO, Carlos currently teaches Social Work at Cuyamaca Community College part-time.