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Stay Classy - Steven Cox | San Diego, CA

Pictures from the 2012 Stay Classy Charity Awards, San Diego, CA.

By Politics and Social Thought No Comments

Thanks to the team at Stay Classy for their incredible work putting together a remarkable show. We had a great time hearing incredible stories from non-profits that are making a difference in the lives of millions of people. Even with all the pain, I’m encouraged by a the good that’s happening in the world!

Some of my favorites:

Girls with Sole: Using free fitness and wellness programs in order to empower the mines, bodies, and souls of girls who are at-risk or have experienced abuse of any kind.

The Trevor Project: Helping end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including a 24/7 crisis intervention hotline. Sometimes, the youth just need to hear a voice of understanding on the other end. Helped 350,000 youth last year.

Medical Teams International: Helped 2.1 million people last year by providing medical services to those people affected by disaster, conflict, and poverty.

Raven + Lily: Winner of the Philanthropic Business of the Year. They are a socially responsible brand dedicated to empowering women through design partnerships. They help women learn to make things that can be sold and now employ hundreds of women that would otherwise be ostracized.

The Stay Classy Awards recognize non-profits who have made a significant impact on the lives of people while creating sustainable business models.

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Stay Classy Awards 2012 – Are You Going?

By Fashion & Design, Politics and Social Thought No Comments

Proud to be on the Host Committee for the 2012 Stay Classy Awards with my buds and founders of Stay Classy, Scot Chisolm and Pat Walsh.

The CLASSY Awards is the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country, celebrating the greatest charitable achievements by nonprofit organizations, socially conscious businesses, and individuals worldwide. In 2011, nearly 2,000 organizations and volunteers were nominated for a CLASSY Award, and their collective efforts impacted the lives of more than 200,000,000 people in 71 countries worldwide.

If you’re in San Diego, we’d love to see you at the event.

I’m proud to be on the Host Committee for the 2012 Stay Classy Awards with my buds and founders of Stay Classy, Scot Chisolm and Pat Walsh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tuxing it Up” for the event

 

The Digital Frontier – A Showcase of San Diego’s Entrepreneurial Innovation (Clip 8 of 8)

By At Work, Start Up San Diego, Start-Ups No Comments

On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. Pleased to be with great entrepreneurs including the guys from Classy.org and Mia Tidwell, San Diego Dating Coach and Matchmaker.

Moderator: One final question, not that it’s in the near future, I would assume, because, just the passion that you all have put forward here, and I don’t want necessarily hardcore specifics on this. What’s your exit plan? Where does this go, and when do we move on to something else or deal with a change of life or whatever, alright we’ll start with you.

Scot Chisholm: I mean we definitely have though about that certainly in the context of investor discussions.

But more honestly we don’t put a whole lot of time thinking about what is our exit strategy. We focus much more on how we build a scalable and value adding company to our customers and trust that there will be an exit eventually, whether that’s being purchased by someone that may find use of our technology, or customer base source, or its IPO, or whatever it is.

We trust ourselves with that opportunity and the option’s on the table eventually. Right now what’s much more important for us is just keep our heads down and focus on our customer base and making sure that they’re getting value on their product.

Mitch Thrower: Having gone through different liquidity scenarios, Active went public of course this year.

And going through building a new company, I will definitely say that a private liquidity event would seem a little bit more appealing. But the structure that you should think about as an entrepreneur or a business owner is to think build the best business for creating the most revenue with the greatest margin that you can and liquidity events will come.

We actually had an offer for…And, it’s not, a liquidity event isn’t always selling 100% of your venture. A liquidity event could be defined as like change of control of more than 50%. Because technically you’re no longer driving. And so, you know, be aware of those dynamics too because that is also a sort of liquidity event.

Steven Cox: I think there are two or three reasons why you would consider selling early. Number one is there’s an 800 pound gorilla about to eat your lunch. That’s a good time to sell. Number two, you’re burned out and you don’t want to do it any longer, or number three, you can’t get the value proposition right for the customer and at that point you need to decide kill it or or do something else or keep going on.

But so those are kind of the avenues that we.. [break] because we are having a tank load of fun building a business. And we have two big goals. One is we want to a billion dollar business and number 2, we want to be one of America’s top 100 companies to work for. That’s our big big goals and with that you know we’re more interested in an acquiring instead of being acquired.

Jimmy Hendricks: Yeah, I guess we’re all in different stages of picking up an exit. Like I said Steven there’s two ways to exit, exit for money or exit for a job. So that, you know, so, we focus on building business that’s sustainable. It’s all you think about, is thinking about value-representation.

If you can build a model that works, some of them find value in that. Or we can atleast sustains ourselves and hire employees we love and make a good living or if we don’t figure that out we’re forced to get a job. You know one’s positive, one’s negative but if we focus one what we should be focused on, which is building a business, it will work out.

Lars Helgeson: Yeah, I have to say that we really aren’t interested in that exit. I look back at that table back there at the people that work in our company and I see some of the most incredible people I’ve met in my life. And I feel very fortunate to have met them and have them be part of our team. And to me, the idea of leaving the vision that we’ve collectively created… It would be, I don’t know, kind a sad, you know because you put so much of your life and energy in and exiting is usually if you’re failing and you feel like well it’s not going to work and you have to get a job that’s kind of out of necessity but if you exit for money I guess everyone’s different.

Yeah, I mean, some people are very motivated by that, you know, maybe the idea of making a lot of money and starting something new is an attractive thing. To me, I guess our vision has been to create really valuable software that can help any size business be successful. And if we can do that for the rest of my lifetime, I’m fulfilled.I guess it just depends on, depends on what your personal goals are.

For us, I feel like you know, we are creating value. I’ve surrounded…you know, our team is made up of some really amazing people and I would not want to lose that.

Moderator: Well said. What a fantastic panel, aren’t these guys incredible?

The Digital Frontier – A Showcase of San Diego’s Entrepreneurial Innovation (Clip 7 of 8)

By At Work, Life Lessons, Start Up San Diego, Start-Ups No Comments

On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. In this segment, the panelists talk about finding work-life balance while starting a business.

 

Question from the crowd: (barely audible) What's the [xx] business model? They're all similar because they're online. What are your additional challenges? What are you doing to raise capital in terms of raising capital for growth…?

Jimmy Hendricks: I guess being, I mean it's interesting if you look at a lot of business models, we're connecting two people. Every business model if you guys look at it, we're all different, and a lot of us are actually very similar in trying to connect two people together as most business models. It's connecting non-profits with donors, connecting customers with businesses, music lessons with students.

But always the biggest challenge is figuring out if your business model is scalable and provides value. I think that's the outcome of it, it's not about what industry it's in, it's like TakeLessons. I know it's gone through some iterations and they've really figured it out based on pricing and a bunch of other factors, but a lot of times it's that concept tweaking every single month the biggest challenge is finding sustainability because if you don't find sustainability, raising money gets you from point A to point B. But if you want point A to like N, you need to find sustainability, which is how do I provide enough value so someone pays for it.

I think Lars got that right, that when you're building your own business that it's grown organically. And we have not got to that point. Some of us have raised more capital. A lot of us haven't gotten to the point where we can one day say, we don't need another dollar, and we will grow as long as we want to do this.

So, that's always a challenge.

Scot Chisholm: Yeah, I would just add to that, finding who your target customers is a big challenge of ours and they're constantly trying to find exactly who that is. There is 1.5 million non-profits in the United States. Originally, we thought that all of them were target customers but it's not necessarily the truth.

It took years really for us to understand that certain type of segment of the non-profit industry really would get most value out of our product in the short term, and provide that ROI that we'd be able to charge for and have a sustainable scale of business. So, that took a long time and we're still tweaking it every single month we're changing our pricing say we're figuring out how can we optimize this for scale.

So, I definitely agree with something that was a continuous challenge for us.

Moderator: Let me ask a question. You guys are. It's very clear and very obvious, you all work very hard and get your companies where they are today, and for a lot of people that company becomes their life. If you don't mind, what is your outlet? What do you do when you're not at work? What is the thing that allows you to escape and lead a somewhat normal life?

Lars Helgeson: You know, it's funny because I was just talking to, I just met a gentleman, Jim, here before this.

Moderator: Well that's trouble you met Jim.

Lars Helgeson: Yeah, right there you're having problems… and he said something really funny, you know when you're an entrepreneur you get to work half days: you get to chose the twelve hours you want to work! And it's kind of true. I don't know, for me personally, I have to get myself away from the office otherwise it will suck you in and possess you for your entire life and you'll never leave your office.

True. Yeah, I think having a work-life balance is really important. It doesn't matter what you're doing, where you are in your business orientation, it's important. Especially, as an entrepreneur when you're having to deal with things that happen 24/7. You have to figure out ways to disconnect, so you'll get the spot too.

You bet. It's a lot of different things. I think it's just time to take care of yourself. I think that's what make it sustainable, because if you don't, you'll burn out.

Moderator: Good point.

Jimmy Hendricks: Yeah, I think a lot of us can probably testify, the first two years you just try to work around the clock, you figure it's going to push the needle, and then… Probably this year is the first year that I started thinking, gosh, working all the time, and what am I doing past 5 pm that's actually driving revenue or driving customers, and started putting things in place case where I'm like I work 8 to 6.

There's nights when you  work, when there's a time when you have to do a proposal or contract, to do something that really needs to be done, but it's amazing when you actually start committing to even some personal time. Let's say working out or going to the gym, run, or just going to dinner with friends.

It's amazing. Your brain will actually switch and you start to get smarter because you're not like blinders. When you get out of your office, you're exposed to new things. Maybe talking to your advisors and stuff like that. You have to put in your time, I think it's important to work a lot in the early stage when you're modeling it, but it's with the right people.

And then once you start kind of figuring things out, it's also important not to work so your brain can rest, because your brain will get tired. I think four years in is when you start getting lazy. Your brain will say, "No. I can't do it anymore." You want to get it so you've got to start feeding your body and being healthy, eating right and all this kind of things that are obvious, but that makes the business better.

Steven Cox: I have a simple motto, and that is 'incredible experiences with incredible people' and so it's kind of built within my every day daily weekly monthly calender that I have my work time and i give it full force on that and when it's play time I might give it full force on that as well. You know, in our office we have a jam room where you can come in and play music all day.

Not that that's what people do in their office. But, you know after six o'clock they do quite a bit. There's a lot of outlets like that, working out those sorts of things and you need to do that. Like I said, it helps to keep refreshed one of the best, you know we closed a big deal with Best Buy where we are physically teaching inside Best Buy stores now, that happened when I was at the gym on a a treadmill and listening to CNBC and this dude started talking about it, from Best Buy, about how they were going to do that.

So just because I'm in the gym, out working out, you can actually work on your business as well. It's a really cool thing to do and I also add that I absolutely love working. I totally admit it, I totally dig the idea of building a world class organization. I know I get excited by doing that, so my work/life balance is probably a little bit different because I just totally love coming to work everyday, I do.

Moderator: There's nothing wrong with that!

Mitch Thrower: I think we've made all the errors when it comes to work life balance probably collectively among the crew, as well as forced work life balance. I actually have an apartment in the same building as the office which sounds great for those of you who commute and it sound horrible for those of you who have done it because of the leaving part, but at the same time you have to f
orce yourself to leave. And also enable an organization and enable a culture, like our creative director, Dawn, who is actually in the audience today is also a yoga instructor, so she'll take the team up on the roof in the mornings we do yoga, which we get to do a lot more often but it's great to have you know a group of folks that help each other.

Make sure that they go out and do something that balances them. Because everyone, you know, we have been in a culture where the rewards are for the people who never sleep, theoretically. They are the push, push, push go and people don't realize that they are probably only optimally working for a certain period of that time.

and if they are applying that to other things and not to your career and your job and what you're working on then it's different. You want to make sure that when people are focused, they're focused on building the business.

Scot Chisholm: Yeah I think I'm gonna have to take some advice from these guys. Still working on the whole work life balance thing myself. I think because we're so plugged in with technology, it's really hard to stay off email and do these other things. I try to make a rule for myself to not work on at least Saturdays make it one day out of the week and then hold it to Sunday night, so at least have some sort of constraint there helps.

It definitely is a lot of work and you put in long nights. We have such a fantastic team and we're so passionate with what we're doing that, and I agree with Steven, I love to be in the office. I think, I just had a son recently, about six months ago, and that was probably the one defining moment that made me you realize, ok, I've really got to put some things in place here so I can actually leave the office but its fine if your passionate about something. You love it, and whether it's golfing or surfing or doing something else, for me, I just love being there.

 

The Digital Frontier – A Showcase of San Diego’s Entrepreneurial Innovation (Clip 6 of 8)

By At Work, Start Up San Diego, Start-Ups No Comments

On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. In this segment, the panelists talk about making connections and improving the small business community in San Diego.

 

Moderator: These guys are fantastic. Let me throw it open for you all. If you have any questions you want to bounce off these guys, they're very candid, very open. So feel free to do it. Just raise your hand, or shout out. Nobody? Okay.

From the crowd: (barely audible)Do you think the small business community in San Diego…

Moderator: Question is, what can the small business community in San Diego do to help other small businesses? Any response?

Lars Helgeson: I think events like this. Encouraging people that are starting up, to learn from other people's stories to know that their ideas can turn into something of value; that their idea can go from just an idea to fruition. I think that so much of when you first start off is inspiration, you know, feeling like, okay, there's someone else that was able to do this.

We all took different paths, but we all made it to where we are through a lot of hard work work and made some good connections and everything but none of us are so extraordinary that anyone else in this room couldn't do the exact same thing. And I think that that's an important message that can be conveyed people that are starting businesses.

And whether that's done in an environment like this where you can meet other people that are in business or you know, other types of networking type of organizations. I think 6 Degrees is a great forum to do that kind of sharing of ideas. I think that's really the most important sense of that connection, that bond, that community, that, you know, we've been talking about, and just knowing that you can do it.

And it's gonna be a lot of hard work but we can do it.

Jimmy Hendricks: I was going to say just work the green room. I don't know, I think it depends on the business. I think there's different ones that are national, like Steven works with a lot of independent musicians, or Stay Classy works with a lot more non-profits that could really be tight and local.

I think it will be helpful. A lot of us all know each other, but it's funny, when we get out into the other networking world we really don't, sometimes we don't know who all the small business leaders are, who's running the Chamber, who's running like the Gaslamp organization for restaurants, and we'd love to connect with those guys.

For example, like we think Groupon, even though we're in the daily deal space, we think Groupon takes a lot more money from small business than we think. So, we're actually launching the thing called Take Back Local, it's an anti-Groupon campaign. So, you may see some of this in June; it may get us in a lot of trouble. But we want to help those businesses control their own marketing and make more money, because we think selling gift certificates is a good business, but they need to make it profitable.

They can't just be taken advantage of by these big national companies. And so we're trying to get empowered. I think mobile's really a good model for businesses. The businesses care about actually building something of value like Lars says, I think we can add a lot of value through small businesses helping bring new customers.

And really all of us can do that in some way. So we'd love to connect with those peers if you have some ideas for us.

Steven Cox: Small business community in San Diego. So I know that the bay area seems to be a little more aggressive when it comes to that, with specifically law firms, insurance, as well as capital, including non-profits and of course more that they engender this ecosystem the more it helps their own business.

So I think that's something that can be done. So any of you folks who are out there, we'd love to attend your events when you put them on. But what it does is it helps build not only just the entire belief system around what we're doing, but there are people in this room that I specifically can talk to, where they're like, 'Wow, I don't know if I'm doing it the right way, or sometimes I feel like I'm alone, out here by myself," and events like this help people feel like you are not the only one going through this.

In fact there's a bunch of other people, and that helps build the camaraderie among them. Definitely groups and some of those professional services, I think I'd love to see even more of that. We're doing a pretty good job and pumping up even more.

Scot Chisholm: Yeah, I would just add maybe get involved with the local incubators.

So one thing for us was going through Connect. We got a lot of great advice but the advisers that we were placed with weren't the most relevant for what we were doing, and it would have been great if maybe we could've tapped into a more relevant network right away instead of the process of learning about the non-profit community, etc., in town and other areas.

So maybe just getting involved with Connect or several of the other incubators that have started, becoming a mentor, intrepreneur in residence or something like that.

Yeah, and there's a lot of good ones out there. I mentioned Connex, Sebo, Nexus, those are great programs we should explore. Next?

The Digital Frontier – A Showcase of San Diego’s Entrepreneurial Innovation (Clip 5 of 8)

By At Work, Life Lessons, Start Up San Diego, Start-Ups No Comments

On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego. In this segment, the panelists discuss their varied experiences with their mentors.

 

Moderator: When you were getting started, were there any mentors or resources that helped you achieve success?

Lars Helgeson: I'm probably an anomaly on this one because for whatever reason, I never actually had a mentor. I did a lot with what they were talking about with iteration, you know, where you try things and some of those, a lot of those, a-ha moments don't work. I guess it's a lot of hard work, at least from my perspective.

I never really had that person that I look up to and say, you know, this is someone that has so many years of experience and everything. I think that in some ways it's good, in some ways it's bad, you know? If you have a mentor, they can kind of guide you and tell you not to make the really stupid mistakes, but sometimes, without a mentor, you kind of figure those things out on your own and sometimes those mistakes end up being good things.

So, you're good and bad.

Moderator: Good point.

Jimmy Hendricks: For me, I've had several, I guess. I've been in and out of business. When I first got a job at active.com I took the job because my boss had been a manager at CitySearch. And so I knew, I'm like, if I'm gonna get on the internet, I gotta have someone to teach me about the Internet. I knew nothing about software.

I knew nothing about that. But then when we moved out here still kind of blind entrepreneurs, and actually a friend of ours Drew introduced me to Steven, he is the first person who challenged me on business modeling where instead of like, we can build it, blind success, you start with what about this and what about this, damn, damn.

What about this? What about your market? Have you thought about the challenges? Eventually, these things started to get my brain thinking out. There are some other advisers and then now we appear where we all like bounce ideas off. Mitch and I try to meet every month or two and Scot as well. Like, we get together and talk about how your business is performing.

How are you modeling it? Everything from pricing to recruiting and get all of that by and Steven's the first person that got me to actually start thinking.

Steven Cox: I'm very very big on learning. And in fact one of our company's values, core values is constant, never ending improvement. That basically means however you are today, it's just kind of a baseline for where you could be tomorrow.

So, I am constantly, probably these guys as well very curious, and always asking a lot of people a lot of information, as much as I can get my hands on. And there's been a couple key people that, specifically, even now, there's one of our investors that I look to a lot. As we continue to grow, business, and no matter what scale you're at, whether your one person moving to five, five moving to fifty, or thirty moving to a hundred like we just went through right, would consistently ask and say listen, so here's what I know, but what I'm more interested in is what questions should I be asking that I'm not even aware yet that I need to understand in order to get to the next level.

So there are people who have done that who will mentor you and will help you. And, you know, it's not about the money. They get joy out of seeing other people succeed. So I'm a big believer in finding those people and learning all you can from them.

Mitch Thrower: So, I'll take you back to when you were a kid. How many folks ever played the game Chutes and Ladders?

If you land on the number 28, you would be sort of catapulted by a ladder almost to the end of the game. Mentors really, you want to find there's two categories. There's mentors and then there's mentor catapults. People who you can get advice from and then people will open doors for you so, you know, Ken Potashner, who's was here in town is a mentor.

He took three companies to a billion and he's on a board of directors and I'll call him and we'll literally huddle around issues. And then mentor catapults are people who you can really, you know… Brian Messec, who was actually with the venture group up in L.A. picked up the phone when we were working with them on a project and make a phone call and the next thing we know we have a client with 17 million customers.

So that's a catapult and I think San Diego's a very rich, a very deep well of mentors. There's a lot of folks here that are very successful, hence they can afford be here and choose where they live, so find and seek the folks that are passionate about what you're passionate about and what your business is passionate about and then spend some time with them 'cause it's hard.

It's hard to pick up the phone because you're managing the team, you're managing financing, clients. It's hard to carve the time out and pick up the phone and call those mentors and share everything, the good, the bad and the ugly within it.

Scot Chisholm: I would definitely agree with most of what was already said. We've a couple advisers. The first group started by us going through the connect program, the springboard program. But each has helped along the way But I, now that everyone has talked about it, I'll take it from a different angle. You also have to know that not every adviser knows your business or you know your business. And you have to take things with a grain of salt.

Also you take people's advice but also come back to your team and yourself and really think it through before you make that decision. Just don't take someone's word and go implement it. That's something that we learned throughout and I think that's been something that's really helped shape our vision and our product moving forward is to take people's advice and then make it your own and really think it through and learn from the customer versus just someone's opinion.

The Digital Frontier – A Showcase of San Diego’s Entrepreneurial Innovation (Clip 4 of 8)

By At Work, Start Up San Diego, Start-Ups, TakeLessons.com, Videos, Web and Tech No Comments

On Wednesday, 4/18, a few local tech entrepreneurs spoke at the 6Degrees Breakfast Speakers series on digital startups and innovation here in San Diego.

Topic: The Digital Frontier – A Showcase of San Diego's Entrepreneurial Innovation. In this segment, the panelists discuss what makes San Diego a great place to do business.

 

Moderator: You all are running really dynamic and exciting business is right here in San Diego. You could be doing this anywhere in the world, the work you're doing you can do from anywhere. Why are you here in San Diego, and none of you are allowed to answer the question because of the weather, okay? So, Scot, obviously, you wanna talk about that.

Scot Chisolm: Well, we were working at local firms. So, it was just part we were already here and we have a phenomenal team that came out of San Diego and I think, you know, moving forward I think everyday gets more exciting to have a firm, especially in the technology and Internet space, in San Diego communities growing, so that makes it really exciting for us and to see other companies have successes around us and to have more of these type of events that we were just talking to Steven about don't have any event in their office to watch the Padres and tech community together at least to our understanding that's the type of stuff that didn't really happen two or three years ago and it's really awesome for our staff to be excited about being part of this community. So, that's part of the thing that wants, you know, that has kept us here and we are going to have a lot of fun and moving

And the second piece is we go out to San Francisco along for partnerships and investments and certainly the capitalism there for most part at least for our space, but it's very noisy out there and it's distracting and one thing down here is that we can just move forward and focus and we don't have to worry about 18 different competitors starting in the same space and then you know turning out three months later working the same.

We need to do it right and move forward and have the community support us, which is awesome. And I don't think you can find that in San Francisco.

Moderator: Good point.

Mitch Thrower: You know, what a great place San Diego. And I found myself in San Diego following the sport of triathlon in 1993 and was in the entrepreneurship space. How many folks have tried to recruit a developer? Raise your hand. So it's a tough deal. Now I would encourage try recruiting developer in the bay area and it's even more challenging.

So what I've found is that there are so many great things about San Diego and you have to really focus on providing lifestyle dollars that pay off to the people that you're working with which is create great companies with a great environment, because what makes you happy is three things: where you're working, what you're working on, and who you're working with, and that means San Diego gives you the capacity to have all three.

Steven Cox: Well this is home so I'm not going anywhere. Ok. And even when we were raising money a couple venture firms asked us, well, would we consider moving, and the answer was point-blank no. It's not in the cards, not what we're looking to do, and in essence we make the argument, the case that it's 40% cheaper to live in San Diago than it is in the bay area so that's one thing going for it.

There is less competition for instance for developers so you can find good people down here for sure. And the biggest thing is I'm committed to building an ecosystem, as all of these gentlemen and lots of folks here in the audience are. We have an opportunity here in San Diego, by pooling together and start developing something that we can all grow from. If, you know, Mitch's company grows and Jimmy's company grows, all it does is feeds everybody.

And so that's really what my personal passion is about is helping develop an ecosystem where we can all grow and develop something and put San Diego on the map for start-ups.

Jimmy Hendricks: You know, I think people just put it backwards. They say you move to San Diego to start a business. I think you move to San Diago and then start a business, it's not move to start a business.

It's like your relationship; it just starts and you grow and you don't leave. It's all who you work with. So, once you have a team and you have five or six people that believe in you and you start having ten and then, you know, hopefully get up to like ninety, like you have so many relationships.

I mean why would you just pull up your roots? I mean, it's great place to live and have a personal life. I think it's one of them places you can be really balanced because running a business probably takes the most stress on you happen in your life, most of all, and you know, quality of life outside of work makes you able to work those long hours at different times, so that's why it's fun.

Lars Helgeson: So, I moved to San Diego and started a business. I'm a liar. No, actually I grew up here. When I was in the military I was stationed in New Mexico and I wanted to come back here because my mom was here. That's family. I wanted to start a business and as it turned out, the really cool thing is as you get to know more people you realize the business community in San Diego really isn't that big.

For as large of a city as it is, I mean it was funny because I got the pamphlet about this event and I knew everybody, and I look around the room and I know a lot of people and I think if you're in a larger environment if you're in LA or San Francisco or New York that doesn't happen. Here you and a sense of impactual fluidity, like Steven was talking about.

It's a sense of we know who we are, we know who the people that make a difference are, and we want to help each other because the community is small enough that it's not this anonymous see of faces and people and businesses that are coming and going. We're all here because we want to be here and we're trying make it work for the long term.

And I don't think that I haven't run into that many people or you know, the kinds of people that start businesses and then disappear or the kinds of people that just kind of drift in and out. Because it seems like people come here because they want to be part of the community for a long time I think that's what makes this San Diego and events like this really special.