Military-Grade Encryption VPN Device Created by Former JPL Mechanical Engineers

Military-Grade Encryption VPN Device Created by LA Mechanical Engineers from JPL

Many savvy smartphones, tablet, and laptop users utilize a virtual private network (VPN) to surf anonymously, stay protected from malware, and avoid censorship, among others. But why stop there? There’s a new gadget that can provide these useful services, as well as allow individuals and organizations secure and remote access to their home and office networks.

The izzbie ONE is an all-in-one VPN device that offers a personal cloud, online security, and a private local area network. This means that as you access your private network at home or in the office, your online activities will be protected without encryption.  

Plus, there’s no need to go through third-party providers, such as Apple and Dropbox. These providers can encrypt files and messages but keep in mind that these can still be hacked in theory.

With izzbie ONE, you can also access geo-restricted websites and their contents, as is the case with the strict censorship laws in China. Basically, it’s a useful tool for accessing the Internet without your location determining the content you can see.  

You will then be able to enjoy complete privacy and safety online. No wonder that it’s a device gaining more acceptance among digital nomads, the entrepreneurs running their own businesses on the road.

The izzbie ONE is a small black box device with plug-and-play features. Just plug it into your router using an Ethernet connection, go to your computer’s control panel, and add the internal IP addresses of the items that will be connected.

These can be your network attached storage (NAS), IP cameras, video game devices, and wireless printers. You can connect as many local networks as you want, too. You can, for example, print a paper from your laptop while in a hotel to your printer at home.

You may also build a virtual mesh network with multiple locations provided these are all connected to izzbie ONE. Think of it as being in all or any of these locations without physically being there.

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

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15 Hacks to Get More Instagram Followers

15 Hacks to Get More Instagram Followers

Discover how easy it is to increase the number of your Instagram followers.

As of June 2018, Instagram has 1 billion active users per month. That’s obviously a lot, and many companies are quite salivating over the prospect of marketing and advertising to that many people. If you can increase your Instagram followers, you can then foster a stronger community for your brand, boost the number of views on your blog and website, and increase your sales.

But how do you get more Instagram followers in the first place? You can start with these 13 effective ways. They’re super easy, but they’re sure to work!

1. Start with Liking Other People’s Pictures in Your Niche

You need to get your name out there, and this starts with liking other people’s photos. Each night finds some accounts in your niche and like at least 5 photos. You can check hashtags and check out the profiles of the followers of the most famous Instagram accounts in your niche.You can also send a real (non-fake) comment and you can give them a follow. This ought to let other Instagram users discover your account.

2. Ask Your Followers in Other Social Platforms to Follow You in Instagram

If you’re using Instagram, chances are that you’re also using other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t assume that they’re following you on Instagram too. So when you post on Facebook or put out a quick tweet, you can sometimes just encourage your followers on those platforms to follow you on Instagram too.

3. Link to Your Instagram Account on Other Platforms

It does help to have your followers on other social networking platforms to follow you on Instagram if you make it easier for them to do so. So don’t forget to put in your Instagram username in the profile section of your other social accounts. You can also just include a handy link to your Instagram account as well. That ought to work.

4. Create a Theme for Your Instagram

With the first 3 tips, you should have a fair number of people checking out your Instagram account. So your account must be good enough to hold their attention. It helps if you set up your account with a nice theme. You should have an interesting bio section as well as a neatly organized page of photos linked to a particular subject matter. Your theme should, of course, be related to your business, so that your company can grow and profit with the growth of your Instagram account followers.

5. Be More Sociable

You’ve already learned about posting genuine comments for the photos on other accounts, so that these people may notice your own account. At some point, they may visit your account and post comments on your own photos as well. When that happens, try to respond to the comments you receive. Be more sociable and authentic, instead of just posting “Thanks” for their comments. This fosters a more engaging relationship

6. Don’t Forget Your Hashtags

Lots of Instagram leaders have long known that using hashtags is one of the surest ways to gain followers. You can use up to 30 of them in your photo description, so get to it. It does help when the hashtags you choose are actually relevant to your niche, and they get a lot of interest every day. Most users tend to search photos based on the hashtags, so they’re crucial in getting your photos discovered. With lots of hashtags, you get lots of opportunities to attract attention, and you can get more likes. This can rank your photos even higher.

7. Come Up with a Unique Hashtag

While a popular hashtag is always great, a unique hashtag has its own benefits. It should have a specific purpose, and then you can ask other people to use it. This helps you build your community. Also, you can repost the photos using that unique hashtag while giving proper credit, and that means you can easily get new content for your Instagram account.

8. Brand Your Images with Your Account Username

It’s great if your followers repost your images, but it will help you a lot of these photos also feature your account username somewhere in the small text. This can entice others who see the photos to check out your account when they really like your photo.

9. Suggest Actions for Your Followers to Generate Engagements

If it’s not clear yet, when you’re in social media you should make clear what you would like your followers to do. So ask them to “like” your photo if they appreciate it. You can also ask your followers to tag a friend.

One technique for holiday goers on Instagram is to post where they are currently, and then they ask their Instagram followers to tag a specific friend that they would like to share their vacation with if they’re where you are. This can elicit lots of comments, and the tagged friends can come in and become followers on your account.

10. Geotag Your Photos

This again helps when you’re posting photos of exotic locations in your travels. Geotag those photos, and the people who use the same geotag can then see your photos. They may follow you if they have something in common with you or your location. They may have been there too, or they may be planning an upcoming visit.

11. Keep Posting What Your Followers Like Most

You need to tweak your content so that you mostly post photos they like. You can find out which of these photos are simply checking which ones have generated the most comments, likes, and tagging of friends.

12. Partner Up with Influencers in Your Niche

You can reach out to a well-known Instagram account and work together on contests and giveaways with your followers. You can also just post a photo from each other’s account so that the followers of one can learn about the other.

13. Use Paid Posting in Top Niche Accounts

Of course, for the really big guns, you can’t work with them for free. You may have to pay for them to post a photo for you in their Instagram accounts. These people tend to ask people to email them if they have “business inquiries”, and they generally mean paid to post.

Check out these 13 tips and discover why they’re so effective. They’re actually easy, but with these, you can grow your Instagram followers from a handful to a teeming horde!

14. Don’t oversell your product or service

A visual comparison is: when you date someone, you need to generate interest in the other person before ‘converting’. Same happens in social media: Customers might take a while to trust your brand in order to end up converting. For this reason, generate great engaging content and be strategic on how often you post what we call ‘aggressive call to action posts.

15. Track your performance and pivot to your best engaging practices

Instagram gives you basic reports, but growth hackers have tools to get even more out of it. Get an expert (e.g. Go Global Agency) to help you extract valuable reports from your account. Measure results and pivot if necessary. There are many variables that can be measured: engagement, audience demographics, best performing hashtags, etc.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

How I Got a Programming Job in Los Angeles Bustling Tech Hub

Searching for a job as a software engineer is really painful. There’s a new tech company popping up every minute of the day, and it’s tough to know which one to choose from.

Obviously, I should be grateful for all the opportunities I’m afforded as a software engineer, and I do, but man is this an annoying problem.

The Problem

The software industry is getting a continuous flow of money from VC’s that are just crossing their fingers, hoping that 1/10 of their investments goes IPO or gets acquired.

So that means there’s a lot of cash being invested into all sorts of ideas. Some of these ideas are good, and most of them are crap. Ideally, you want to land at a company where there’s less crap.

Since a lot of these companies are popping up, there are tons of job opportunities. What I’ve found though is that a lot of these companies have hiring managers that simply aren’t prepared to interview software engineers.

These companies don’t know any better, so they use hiring practices that are popular amongst the top tier tech companies like Google and Facebook as a crutch. This makes the job interview process feel really unforgiving for new and existing software engineers alike.

I recently put myself back out there to find a new job. It’s through this long and grueling process that I figured out a few tactics that helped me circumvent many of the common software job search headaches.

Job Search Begins

I kicked off my job search for Senior Android Engineer positions back in June 2018 and started preparing for interviews. You can imagine that I’d have to be quite unhappy at my existing job to have to deal with the aforementioned job search process. Here comes all those fun whiteboard algorithms, yay.

I needed to leave my employer at the time because my goals were no longer lining up with what I was doing. This feeling is something that I’ve learned to pay a lot of attention to. It’s hard to stay excited about anything if you no longer see much value doing it.

My short-term goal at the time was relatively simple: be part of a product-oriented team at a company that focuses on software. Additionally, my long-term goal has been to become a better leader, so I can one day confidently lead teams of my own.

With these goals in mind, it really helped me filter out the job opportunities that were presented to me.

Finding Opportunities

Having been so disappointed with previous job search processes, I desperately looked for a better way to interview with companies. That’s when I came across this very eye-catching ad while I was perusing Quora. It said something like “skip the whiteboard interview”. I was sold.

I am thoroughly convinced that the whiteboard interview has caused more people great pain during their careers as software engineers than helped hiring managers narrow down candidates. It’s one of the most anxiety-inducing and demoralizing interview “strategies” I’ve ever experienced.

Whiteboarding is a topic I could rant about for hours. It was my main motivator for finding a new way to job hunt, and this anti-whiteboard ad I found for a company called Triplebyte, was my holy grail.

I applied for their developer exam immediately. Since I’m an Android developer, I chose their mobile specialty exam and raced through the timed questions. I soon got confirmation that I was good enough to get a follow-up interview, and went from there to schedule it.

The whole process, from initial exam through to their video call screening, and eventually to the onsite interviews was fantastic. I really felt I was getting taken care of. This is how interviewing should be!

That wasn’t the end of my interviewing journey though; it was really just the beginning. Even though Triplebyte set me up with five great companies to interview within San Francisco, they didn’t have the clientele at the time to help me search more local. Since I live in Orange County, I had to find job opportunities out here the more traditional way.

I reached out to everyone in my network that could help me out with this. Previous co-workers, friends, family, and anyone else who could point me to a company with the values I was looking for. I set my LinkedIn profile to “searching for a job”, and tidied up my resume.

I got into contact with a few different interesting companies this way. Some in LA, some in OC, and more — many more — in the Bay Area. I really didn’t want to have to go to the Bay Area.

Besides the obvious factors of the Bay Area — like it’s way too expensive — I knew that moving there would be tough for my wife. It would be much easier to be able to pack everything up and move up there with all the industry elites if I was just a single dude. I had to think about my wife’s family, my family, and the future we’re trying to build together.

That said, I knew that I wanted to get as much interview experience as possible. From previous interview experiences, I anticipated a certain ramp-up time needed to get my mind warmed up for the oncoming onslaught of interviews. The more interviews I got through, the better I felt about the next one.

I ended up narrowing down my search to seven companies: one in LA, one in OC, and the five Triplebyte had arranged for me in the Bay Area. It was time to buckle down, so I took a week off from work and got ready to dive deep into my interviews.

The Interviews

Triplebyte’s process promises that once you are through their initial screening period, you’ll skip ahead to every company’s final interview.

Every company evaluates their software engineers differently. Some throw many hypothetical and theoretical technical problems at their candidates, whilst other companies stick to more practical job-related interview questions.

One thing that really stuck out to me in my round of interviews is just how inconsistently the idea of a “Senior Developer” is defined. Some companies have a list of skills they expect from their “Senior” people, and others just want to see how many hoops you can jump through before getting to the real work.

This made me realize just how fluid job titles are from one business to another. A “Senior” developer at one company could very well be a “Junior” developer at the next one over. Title definitions all come down to the business’ needs, their existing pool of talent, and how desperate they are to hire developers.

Having caught on to this very strange phenomenon, I knew I had to problem-solve my way out of it. So I started explaining to companies what I thought was “Senior” to me. I made sure to highlight my experience leading teams, my abilities outside of programming, and of course proving this all via different code challenges and Q&A.

It actually worked. Of course, the caveat here being that my strategy only worked on companies that I could truly add value to. Meaning that I had to have already been a solid candidate; I just used my “Senior” story to help tip things in my favor.

Out of the seven companies I interviewed with, I received offer letters from five of them. It’s not a bad batting average at all, and I felt rather proud of myself for getting this far.

It wasn’t long after my interviews were over, however, that the final challenge would prove to be most difficult. I had to make a choice as to which company to go to.

Making a Decision

I was staring at a list of five incredibly impressive businesses, with similarly incredible offers. I took a tip I got from one of the recruiters and started on a spreadsheet with all the companies I was considering.

I ended up with a whopping seventeen different categories that I used to compare all of these companies. Let me say that this helped immensely. It gave me a high-level look into all the things that I cared about. Here, I’ll list them out so you can laugh at how thorough this ended up being.

The categories in no particular order: pay, equity, 401(k), relocation bonuses, benefits (like medical), extra perks (like lunch catering, cell phone allowance, etc), vacation policy, company culture, engineering culture, product pros and cons, social impact, audience size, industry, gut feeling, location, commute, and work hours.

The Winner

All things considered, I ended up at my current employer, Weedmaps! I honestly surprised myself at this one too. I’m not a cannabis user, but I was so impressed with everything they were offering that I felt like it was a no-brainer to me.

What really tipped it in Weedmaps’ favor too is that I didn’t have to move. I could stay in beautiful OC, and be close to all my family. I think that’s something that people don’t value enough when considering their next job.

So far though, I’ve been thoroughly pleased with my choice to work at Weedmaps as a Senior Android Engineer. Having been here for just a few months now, I’ve really grown to enjoy working here. I’m so impressed with just how welcoming, and collaborative of an environment Weedmaps is.

It’s the collaboration, the willingness to compromise, and the desire to be better that makes a place like Weedmaps feel like home to me. I think those three traits are what foster growth, and build great teams.

For now, I’m focused on really maxing out the value I can bring to my team at Weedmaps. It’s a place that I feel will grow with me as I continue to push towards my career goals.

Maybe next time I can talk more about those dreaded whiteboard problems. Sigh.

Check these 50 Hottest LA Startups to Work For Right Now

Ryan Simon
Author Details
Ryan Simon is a Senior Android Engineer for Weedmaps. He has taken his background in investing, his degree in business and applied to the world of a software engineer. Ryan spends his free time cooking with his wife or playing Overwatch.
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Ryan Simon
Ryan Simon is a Senior Android Engineer for Weedmaps. He has taken his background in investing, his degree in business and applied to the world of a software engineer. Ryan spends his free time cooking with his wife or playing Overwatch.
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15 Best Tech Recruiters in Los Angeles

Best Tech Recruiters in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the third largest startup hub in the world, behind Silicon Valley and New York. And it’s growing by leaps and bounds. Now home to SnapChat (a.k.a. Snap), Ring, Dollar Shave Club, The Honest Company, ZipRecruiter, GOAT, ServiceTitan, Honey, Bird, and The Boring Company, Los Angeles has become a home to the most exciting companies in the world.

All these amazing companies have one thing in common: talent, especially in engineering. No matter how much funding they may have raised, nothing happens if there’s no talent to build its idea into reality.

The best way to get into one of these awesome tech companies is to start with a recruiter who focuses on tech recruiting. So, to get you started, we have compiled a list of the BEST tech recruiters in Los Angeles. In no particular orders, here they are.

Ejento is the combination of four of the most visionary firms in the industry, coming together to redefine recruitment: Neohire South, which specialized in tech and non-tech recruiting for top VCs and technology start-ups across the U.S.; RockIT Recruiting, an industry-leading tech recruiting company; Hero.jobs, a recruiter and recruiting software company that was focused on creating systems to power tomorrow’s elite recruiting businesses; and TS2, the US growth platform for the publicly-held global HR services giant Persol Group. Connect with my buddy Josh Stomel, josh@ejento.com. Location: 300 Pacific Coast Hwy. #1018 El Segundo, CA 90245 – (310) 965-9810

StartupTap help technology companies and startups find amazing employees with end-to-end talent search rooted in data and built on long-lasting relationships. The business started as the founders were supporting a few rapidly growing tech/e-commerce startups in Southern California.  They were recruiting across the entire organization and essentially became an in-house resource.  Through the project, they realized a need in the market for a more comprehensive recruitment solution for startups that didn’t have an internal recruiting function.  StartupTAP isn’t a traditional agency.  StartupTAP provides onsite recruitment support, working closely with emerging growth companies and owning the entire process. Location: 1300 Factory Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90013 – (310) 873-8447

Prosum is a tech recruiting agency that puts people before technology. Prosum has deep experience consulting, implementing solutions, providing managed services and staffing engagements. Prosum has over 300 employees and consultants and is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA with offices in Orange County, Denver, Phoenix, and Dallas. Connect with my buddy Rick Tyner, rick.tyner@prosum.com.  Location: 2201 Park Place, Suite 102 El Segundo, CA 90245 – (310) 426-0600

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Technical Connections is Southern California’s premier recruiting firm specializing exclusively in web, software and information technology professionals. The firm, based in Los Angeles, offers a full range of services, including retained search, contingency placement, and short- and long-term consulting. Technical Connections was established in 1984 by Helen MacKinnon, an executive with extensive technical and managerial experience in the computer industry. Location: 6701 Center Drive West, Suite 825 Los Angeles, CA 90045 – (310) 479-8830

Recruiting Social is a recruiting services company based in West Hollywood. Talent teams across North America work with RecruitingSocial to source candidates, build pipelines, manage job reqs, and recruit people who will thrive on the job. Its services are designed to adapt to your needs. On-demand is flexible, hourly support for your talent team: sourcing, recruiting, and more. RecruitingSocial’s contingency searches focus on fewer, higher-quality candidates, so you aren’t inundated with unexceptional resumes. Location: 750 N San Vicente Blvd RW800, West Hollywood, CA 90069 – (800) 953-5339

Workbridge offers a unique and deep expertise in the highest demand tech skill sets, such as UI/UX, Open Source, Microsoft Development, Network Security & Infrastructure, and Mobile Development. Its high-touch, specialized and team-based recruitment model, paired with our deep networks and knowledge of our local technology markets, results in an exemplary track record. Location: 10990 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90024 – (310) 445-3300

Elite Placement Group specializes in direct hire, temporary to hire, and temporary placements in Los Angeles and Orange County. They have much success in matching companies and candidates and take pride in its personalized approach, whether you are a company hiring or a candidate seeking employment. Location: 9150 Wilshire Blvd Ste 270 Los Angeles, CA 90212 – (310) 277-2600

Founded in 1999, CyberCoders is built on a success-oriented culture. Above all – CyberCoders know both candidates and clients want quality and they want it now. No other recruiting firm can offer Cyrus, its proprietary technology built to search smarter and quicker, matching the best applicant for the right job. Connect with my pal Nitu Gulati-Pauly – she’ll take care of you – Nitu.Gulati-Pauly@CyberCoders.com. Location: 6591 Irvine Center Drive Suite 200 Irvine, CA 92618 – (949) 885-5151

Career Strategies Inc’s recruiters are experienced, knowledgeable professionals and many of its recruiters have been with CSI for 5, 10 and 20 years! Their in-depth expertise enables them to quickly target qualified candidates, simplifying the hiring process. In addition, they have access to the talent whose careers they’ve had the opportunity to follow and even assist! Career Strategies Inc’s longevity offers additional networking opportunities to uncover the right talent for you! Location: 5670 Wilshire Blvd Ste 750 Los Angeles, CA 90036 – (323) 556-5500

Cadre is a candidate focused technical staffing agency with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. They are a team of 12 industry veterans who use our intimate market knowledge, key industry relationships and a vast network of connections to introduce you to the perfect person for your needs. Cadre focuses primarily on technical roles including software engineering, software development, and product design. Connect with my buddy Jason Stomel, jason@yourcadre.com.  Location: 1750 14th St., Suite D Santa Monica, CA, 90404 – (424) 322-9960

Proven Recruiting connects talented people with meaningful careers in technology, finance, and accounting. Since its founding in 2007, Proven Recruiting has grown into a 150-person team of award-winning consultants and employees driven by one mission: to provide its clients with on-demand delivery of the best and brightest talent and to present our candidates with career choices that positively impact their lives. Location: 6430 Sunset Blvd #502, Los Angeles, CA 90028 – (310) 933-4544

Mondo is one of the largest national staffing agency specializing exclusively in high-end, niche IT, Tech, and Digital Marketing talent. Finding great talent is possible. Mondo provides best-in-class talent at unmatched speed with unparalleled collaboration. You should check out their new dig, it’s beautiful. Location: 10960 Wilshire Blvd #810, Los Angeles, CA 90024 – (310) 526-2410

Irvine Technology Corporation (ITC) is an award-winning Information Technology Solutions and Staffing provider with roots in Southern California. For over fifteen years, ITC has had the privilege of serving exceptional client organizations as both a local and national resource. ITC was recognized as one of the Orange County Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” in 2017. Its team is comprised of seasoned technologists, staffing industry thought leaders, top-notch recruiters, dedicated account executives, and a world-class support staff. ITC consistently differentiate themselves through the quality of its people, their commitment to customer service, and by focusing on exceptional performance. Location: 17900 Von Karman Ave #100, Irvine, CA 92614 – (714) 434-8877

TEKsystems is one of the largest technical recruiting agency around; with a team of 80,000 strong, across North America, Europe, and Asia. TEKsystems is an industry leader in Full-Stack Technology Services, Talent Services, and real-world application. Location: 200 N. Pacific Coast Highway Suite 1500 El Segundo, California 90245 – (310) 765-9100 (others)

Career Movement is a local boutique tech recruiting agency based in El Segundo; who specialize on Software/Web Application Architecture and Engineering, Database Engineering and Administration, Web Design and Development, and Network Engineering and Systems Administration. Career Movement moves beyond standard recruiting by providing real-life connections to the tech world. Their extensive networks and expertise bring the choices to you. Here are some of the tech stack they can connect you to: C#, VB.NET, ASP.NET, MVC, WPF, Java, J2EE, PHP, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, Python, etc. Location: 703 N. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA 90245 – (424) 225-8500

Fabric Staffing provides a unique approach and specializes in Rapid Growth Hiring for companies looking to grow their Technology & Product Teams from the top down. Unlike traditional contingent staffing services, Fabric provides retained search services for companies looking to hire multiple engineers within a short time frame, in addition to providing their own highly skilled Tech Recruiters on contract and building full internal Recruiting infrastructures. Fabric is headquartered in Marina Del Rey and owned by Rory Bebbington.

Check out 50 Hottest LA Startups to Work For Right Now

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com