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Technology and Startups: How to Network Los Angeles (and Pasadena)

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So, as a young professional in Los Angeles, one of the skills I always try to perfect  is networking.  Now, networking can often happen by chance or through colleagues, but my favorite form is finding specific events and mixers in LA where I can find people who are passionate about the same subject as me (most often startups and technology).  I find these events through friends, google searches, and pure chance, but one of the wonderful things about the internet is that it is always trying to organize itself and make information more accessible.  Through my haphazard exploration of the internet, I discovered my four favorite ways to find networking events and communities are LinkedIn, Meetup.com, Coworking spaces, and Websites.  If you have any additional website/methods to add, please comment below.  I am hoping others can use this article as a resource for their own networking efforts.

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Linkedin

LinkedIn is seriously one of my best friends.  Most people use it to keep track of their network, but it is also helpful in expanding it.  It has a series of groups that you can join for a variety of professional fields.  Your best option is to look at profiles of people similar to you and check out what groups they are following.  Be careful of groups that are just full of ads, and never feel bad for leaving one.  Most of the ones I follow are too specific to post here (such as social media), but two you might want to follow are Innovate Pasadena and Digital LA.

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Meetup.com

Meetup.com is fairly new site, but one that is quickly growing and becoming a valuable resource for all communities, not just tech and startups.  The ones I pay most attention to are LA Tech Happy Hour and Friday Morning Coffee, but you can find ones for your own tastes just by using keywords (ex. tech talks, Los Angeles).

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Coworking

Now, obviously coworking spaces (open offices filled with individuals from a number of startups working next to each other) are good for networking because that is one of their main purposes, but what is not as commonly known is that they often host a variety events open to the general public.  You can either search meetup.com for a list of events, or check each individual site, ex. Kleverdog and Coloft, or use Yelp to find more spaces.  Each site has a calendar, and the events range from simple networking, to programming, to startup advice.

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Websites

Websites are one of the hardest sources to find because they are not part of one platform like LinkedIn or Meetup, but I personally appreciate the resources they provide on top of networking events.  Some of my favorites for LA include (and you should tell me if there are any I should add to the list):

Mindshare LA: Mindshare LA holds monthly workshops, salons and movie screenings that gather hundreds of Angelenos for evenings of inspiration and interaction.

Bixelexchange: Bixel Exchange helps technology entrepreneurs thrive. We do this by combining the power of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and L.A.’s dynamic tech community with the resources of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Center.

Silicon Beach LA: Your Personal Tour Guide And The Home Of The LA Tech & Startup Community.

Innovate Pasadena: The vision of INNOVATE PASADENA is to create a vibrant ecosystem of technology and design innovation in the greater Pasadena area that supports sustainable economic growth.

Women 2.0: Women 2.0 City Meetup creates an inclusive community for anyone working, innovating, or investing in technology. Women 2.0 City Meetup is open to both women and men.

Techsparks: TECHSPARKS aims to spark innovative new ideas by providing a social forum for entrepreneurial minds. Our events include networking, games, raffles and pitch opportunities to encourage interaction and collaboration.

Silicon Beach Young Professionals: Helping tech businesses grow with local networking events

Pasadena Young Professionals: The Young Professionals of Pasadena is a social and business networking group for people ages 21-40ish who live work and thrive in the Pasadena area.

Now, this obviously is not a comprehensive list, and if you have any other suggestions on finding networking groups or websites to check out, feel free to comment below or shoot an email to alicenlewis@gmail.com. I am always looking to improve the list!

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Techsparks, Scripps Women in Technology, and Scripps Entrepreneurs

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On Wednesday evening, I drove a car full of college students from Scripps Women in Technology club and Scripps Entrepreneurs to a Techsparks mixer in Pasadena.  There, some of them experienced their first networking event ever, and passed with flying colors.  Techsparks created a comfortable and warm environment above Barney’s with plenty of food, drink, and conversation. We were the youngest group there, but the tech professionals welcomed us with open arms, and allowed us to join their conversations with ease.  I look forward to exposing more club members to events like these, and helping them discover the wonders of the tech world.

Innovation Summit Pasadena

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On October 10, 2013, Christie Kweon and I represented Scripps College at Innovation Summit Pasadena, a Technology and Business conference in Pasadena.  Our day started out with some really awful dead stop traffic from Claremont to Pasadena, meaning we unfortunately missed some of Bill Gross’s (of Idealab) opening speech, but the last part I did hear was absolutely fascinating.  There seemed to be a theme at the summit of failure not being the end, but rather if you keep going you will become stronger.  Go hard, and keep trying seemed to be what most of the speakers agreed on.

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There were a variety of speakers ranging from design to science fields, but each had something to say about the growing tech industry and how innovation is thriving.  The community was eager to learn, and the presenters were engaging, so although the event was around 8 hours, it seemed to blur by.  There was a lunch in the middle where I met the Social Media intern for Mindshare (whose events I hope to be attending in the future), as well as many other cool entrepreneurs in the tech field.  I’m glad I attended, for I learned some invaluable lessons about technology and business, as well as meet some very inspirational figures.IMG_1910

Idealab and Networking Adventure

So I decided to get on a train to go to little tokyo and do web design because I was sick and tired of my house. So I get on it, and at one stop these two dudes get on. One has sunglasses, long beard, neon green socks, and while I’m silently admiring his socks from afar I notice his shirt, and it says Mudd math on the back, and I’m like OMG.
So I’m like, ‘wait, what if it’s a diff mudd’
‘what if he thinks I’m weird for asking him about it’
‘SCREW IT I’M TALKING TO HIM HE’S A MUDDER’
So I move up to the front of the train and ask him if he goes to Mudd, and tell him I go to Scripps. He’s super friendly, so we start chatting about the college, and eventually I’m like what do you do for a living? And he’s like ‘I work for Esolar’, and I’m like, ‘I feel like I’ve heard of that, was that formed out of the idealab incubator in Pasadena?’, and he’s like ‘Yeah!’
So I tell him I’m planning on applying to intern for them next summer, and he’s like ‘here, let me give you my card, we were one of the first businesses to come out of it, I can introduce you to everyone’ and I flip out and am super excited.
Then I go home and google him, AND IT TURNS OUT HE’S FB FRIENDS WITH MY SISTER.
AND I’M LIKE WTF
and then it turns out he WENT TO MY HIGH SCHOOL.
The End c:
(Moral of the story, never be afraid to make new friends!)

Technology Explosion

This past week I attended two technology mixers, one hosted by Bixel Exchange and one hosted by Innovate Pasadena.  Both are basically movements to create a new Silicon Valley in their area, Bixel Exchange representing Los Angeles and Innovate Pasadena representing Pasadena.

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The Bixel Exchange mixer was held at Youtube Space L.A., one of the coolest places I’ve ever been.  Have you ever seen images of Google’s offices or Amazon’s?  It was kinda like that, with colors everywhere, food, a firepole, everything you could want to keep your creative juices going.  It had giant rooms with catwalks where productions (to be posted on Youtube) could be created, smaller premade sets, control rooms, and editing rooms.  I commend Youtube on its efforts to encourage its users to create and collaborate, and look forward to seeing what types of creations are produced.

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The Innovate Pasadena mixer was held in a lovely coffee shop in Old Town Pasadena, where Sean Lynch, CEO of Metacloud Inc., talked about the details of launching a start-up in Pasadena.  I pitched my idea of a single website where tech companies in Pasadena could post internships and students could submit resumes to his marketing manager, Ali, and she seemed like she liked it (we’ll see if they let me in on the project or decide to take it as their own.

Finally, I’ve started a Scripps Women in Technology club at my college.  As much as Scripps emphasizes gender gaps in the workforce, for some reason they never seem to comment on the giant gap in the tech industry.  Hopefully I’ll be able to pull something together to help create an environment where Scrippsies interested in tech can support each other.

TechSparks

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This Thursday evening I attended TechSparks, a monthly mixer for Tech Professionals in the Pasadena area.  Their focus is on the Social Spark Theory, which says that ‘when driven, smart people play games and socialize, they will spark big ideas that change the world’.  This particular event was for Pasadena interns to network with local professionals, and I got the chance to meet a bunch of cool people.

The venue was at Barney’s Beanery, a hip little bar with a nice upstairs area with a second bar, tables, and pool tables.  Interns were handed raffle tickets at the door that they could give to professionals who talked to them, so I found myself very quickly being included in conversations and asked about my own experiences.  I met a Pomona alum, a psychologist interested in researching usability, and many other IT people.  It was a great chance to hear about what was happening in the tech industry, as well as many offshoots and tangents to traditional tech businesses.

Unfortunately I am a bit young to be attending any more of these events, but I’m contacting them in the hopes of being able to volunteer or help out.  Currently Pasadena is in the middle of a tech revolution, spearheaded by the Innovate Pasadena movement.  I want to be at the top of the wave, hopefully getting my hands dirty while the movement is just budding, helping to make my hometown a hub of innovation and technology.  Wish me luck!