Difference Makers and Disruptors Connect, Aim to “Reinvent Pasadena”

Mike Giardello, co-founder of Innovate Pasadena and Michael ChungPaul Little, Laurie Bollman-Little, Rochelle BranchAaron Haskal, Ray Rath, Tom SchurwuanBill Birney, David Hitchcok, Marc Kenny, and Dan WuBill Gross, CEO of IdealabBob Musselman, an angel, Kjell Kling of Eagle Star Security, and Ananth NatarajanDifference Makers and Disruptors Connect, Aim to “Reinvent Pasadena”Erik Hovanec, board member of Innovate Pasadena, and Steve Reich, Pasadena AngelGreg and Stephanie Mclemor with Andy Wilson, CEO of Rexter and Co-Chair of Innovate PasadenaHarrison Tank of Spoked and Eric Duyshart, Economic Development Manager, City of PasadenaKjell Kling and George TolomoczenkoLouis Cooke of Berkeley CommunicationsMadeline Williamson, Tom Boel, and Beth Kuchar, volunteers at the eventMarcus LoefflerMark Breitenberg, Special Assistant to the President of Art Center College of Design, MC of the evening.Matt Grazier of Nixon Peabody and Daniel Hong of Wells FargoMichelle and Mark GarrettMike Shiuas and Rob McClinton, an Idealab alumniNick and Rima KarasarkisianSasha and Randy Sinnett with Rod Wray

Story and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

7:35 am | March 14, 2014


Breaking in Art Center College of Design’s month old South Campus on Raymond Avenue, Innovate Pasadena held an inaugural event Thursday — in every sense of the word — with a Connect mixer that kicked off a weekend for “difference makers and disruptors.”

Bringing together innovators, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and angel investors, Innovate Pasadena’s Connect Weekend hopes to make real progress combining resources in a way that could rival “Silicon Beach” as a hub for innovation.

“We’re reinventing Pasadena. What happened was the technology and the science died away; people forgot how Pasadena was started. Technology and science really help Pasadena be who they are. Were going to move LA into the new technology Silicon Valley area,” attendee Louis Cooke of Berkeley Communications said. “In the next five years, Innovate Pasadena is going to make a huge impact on the Pasadena area, because of the people, the way we network.”

The event launched a weekend that creates room for the innovative process with full pallet of events including a hack-a-thon with the City of Pasadena, Big Ideas, Rails Girls, fast pitches, the opening of Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) at Pasadena City College, and workshops, ending with a GeekNight at the Ice House

“Break the rules, do some daring things and at the end of the day our community is there to support you. It’s a lot less daunting when you’re doing something extraordinary in the context of community,” co-founder of Innovate Pasadena Andy Wilson said.

Describing Innovate Pasadena as a tent, Wilson painted a clear picture of what he hopes will happen in Pasadena.

“We’re really building a tent. In that tent there’s some big poles like Art Center, Cal Tech, Idea Lab, JPL, PCC, and then there’s the smaller poles like Guidance Software, Open X, and then the smaller poles, the start-ups. Innovate Pasadena is the fabric that covers that tent and you people here are the ones in the tent to make the vibrancy and the community that makes that party under that tent happen,” Wilson said.

Beth Kuchar loved that the event took place in Pasadena. She said she will go to meet-ups in “Silicon Beach,” but she pulls her hair out in traffic and always arrives late.

“I’m thrilled to see an event like this on this side of town finally. It was such a relief to get in the car and drive one minute and be at a great event like this with other technology and designers and innovators,” Kuchar said.

In the nine months since its inception, Innovate Pasadena has hosted 75 events and already stirred difference makers and disruptors in Pasadena. Pasadena has it all from start-ups to venture capitalists to data mining to hardware, software, gaming developers, and the networking events have brought in real estate investors, angel investors.

“It’s a short version of what will come in the fall with the launch of Innovation Week with a special conference. We’re just getting started. It’s been about nine months and we’ve come a long way and we have a long way to go,” co-founder of Innovate Pasadena Mike Giardello said.

Founder of Idealab Bill Gross loves turning ideas into businesses and has more ideas than he knows what to do with. Two months ago Gross held the first Idea Day at Idealab, inviting 150 entrepreneur’s from Los Angeles and Pasadena and pitched 10 ideas that Gross had not yet had time to take forward.

In the 45 days since the Idea Day, Idealab received 29 submissions, five of which are already moving forward.

“In this new era of crowd source development and open source development, the idea of taking ideas out to the world and trying to put together teams right here in Pasadena that can take them forward, that is just so exciting to me. We would love to help in any way to move that kind of initiative forward,” Gross said during his speech at the mixer event.

The event was the first to be held at Art Center for Design’s month-old Fine Art Department and Illustration Department in the newly renovated building on South Raymond that previously housed the post office distribution center.

“It was an ugly building, inhospitable to human beings, and in 90 days Art Center worked with its department chairs and students to create this amazing space. We bought the building about four years ago, but once we started working on what it was really going to become, it went start to finish 90 days,” Special Assistant to the President of Art Center Mark Breitenberg said.

Check out the big events of the weekend:

Big Ideas – Connect Weekend Edition, Friday, March 14 at 1:30 p.m. located at Open X, 888 East Walnut St. 1st Floor, Pasadena.

Hack for Pasadena ,Saturday, March 15 & Sunday, March 16 from 9 a.m.-9p.m. located at Pasadena City College 1570 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena.

#GeekNight at the Ice House, Sunday, March 16 at 6:00 p.m. located at 24 N Mentor Ave, Pasadena.

To read more about CONNECT and how to RSVP for it, visit Innovate Pasadena’s calendar at http://www.innovatepasadena.org/resource-directory/event-calendar/.