Intellectual Property: The Fuel of Creativity


A conversation with Santa Cruz patent attorney Patrick Reilly

By Eric Johnson

Pat Reilly, patent attorney and founder of IP Society, took an interesting path through a couple of careers and many countries before launching his private practice in Santa Cruz 20 years ago. He began his professional life as a Russian linguist. Fascinated by the technological revolution then underway, he then pursued and received a “double-E” (electronic engineering degree). That led to a marketing and global sales gig, working for Tektronix selling test equipment in Japan, Korea, and Western Europe. “I even sold to Hewlett Packard at one point,” he says, “which is ironic, because Tektronix and HP are competitors in their original lines of business—so it was like Ford selling to Chrysler.”

In that capacity Reilly met a patent law student who encouraged him to become a certified translator, working on Russian patents, “and also German and Japanese—I can do written translations in those languages with a dictionary in one hand.” Riley found he enjoyed patent work, went to law school, and has not looked back. (This Q&A has been edited for space and clarity.)

Everyone has heard Stewart Brand’s line that “information wants to be free,” and some folks take that to mean they can just steal other people’s stuff. Are we living in a time when intellectual property is under grave threat?

Well, let me give you the big picture. The reason we have intellectual property law is to encourage the development of the arts and sciences. And if you don't allow creators to have any proprietary interest in the creation, then you discourage them from disclosing their creations. If you can't reward writers and singers and actors and scientists and technologists by giving them some limited rights over their creations, then you shut down creativity as a business, which means, to paraphrase Lincoln, you remove the fuel of commerce from the fire of creativity.

I run across this all the time: software engineers who are rabidly anti-IP, until, of course their shit gets stolen. When their hard work gets ripped off by somebody, then it's a different matter.

SCW: Why would a software engineer be anti-IP?

Because they think it only restrains them. They think it keeps them from borrowing somebody else's software code, and that they should be allowed to do that.

Is there a way that intellectual-property-rights advocates and the open-source movement are in perpetual conflict, or is there some kind of détente.

Well, there's a detente now, because if you're the creator of software code, there are times when you do want to release it—it isn't like you always want to refuse to let people use it. But you want to have that option. You want to be the one to decide whether or not it's okay.

What was the most surprising thing you learned while studying intellectual property law?

The amazing range of human creativity. People come up with inventions that are based upon highly profound areas of education, and other times they just have these insights and they see something that nobody had ever noticed before, lying there in plain sight. So I learned that creativity is ever surprising.

Can you give an example of an early invention that made you feel this?

Well, the first music on the Internet was developed in Santa Cruz by group of UCSC grads. [IUMA—the IUMA: the Internet Underground Music Archive.] That was new—the idea of allowing consumers to access digitized music via the web—in fact, I'm not even sure if you'd call it the web—it was the Internet. I had a client who was interested in doing an app that would benefit from that and I introduced them. So I got to do some of the earliest patent work for commercial music online.

So—give us the copyright 101 lesson.

Almost any fixed expression almost can be copyrighted if it has creative content to it. Literary works come to mind first—poems and novels and even news reports. Then graphic works—drawings and sculptures. And then of course audio recordings. And dance moves—there's a way of annotating choreography, so a particular work of choreography can be copyrighted as well.

And how does software fit into that?

Well, that's the confusion, because software has utility to it, so you can't copyright that. You can copyright the particular expression of the utility. There are some levels of software there that are too basic to be copyrighted. A simple machine- language command—“add this sum from accumulator A to register six”—that sorta thing can't be copyrighted because it's too functional. But something like the way a an app functions in uniquely determining the price of tea in China, the software that does that is complex enough that it can be copyrighted.

Tell us some good patent stories.

One of my favorite patents was a guy who had worked with the Mercury program, the very first manned space program. And he had discovered that when they put the astronauts in a low-gravity environment, that put them in a low- pressure air-atmosphere state known as “hypobaric.” And when you do that, it turns out the human skin behaves like the kidneys. So it's not an exact replacement, but it's supportive of dialysis. If you can put in a person who has kidney failure in that environment, you can radically reduce their need for dialysis. It's still being worked on right now, but it's a proven thing and I did the first patent on it.

I've got another one for you—this was recently issued, and it’s for people who get phished on their phones. You know, you do a Google search on your phone, you end up going to a website, and there's no security protecting you from malicious code. When you step outside of the walled garden of what's under the control of Apple or the phone company, and you're just out there in wilds of the Internet, and people are getting all kinds of phishing and doxing and malicious spyware put on their phones. So I have a guy who came up with way of determining whether or not a URL is legit or not. It warns you: ‘Hey, your, your stepping into a URL that’s not certified to be secure.’

Then I have another couple patents for a guy who came out with a new way to generate energy from spinning a disc. It turns out that there's a physical property that, when you're down to very small geometries—that gravitomagnetic energy, the stuff that we think of as simply being gravity energy—at the very small geometries there are different dynamics, and you can actually get net energy from spinning a disc around a magnetic energy detector. So…that's new.

And…see what I mean? Who would've thunk it? Creativity! And the weirdest thing about it is that it's very exotic, but the hardware to do it is very straightforward. It's not much different from a hard disc drive, except instead of reading information, you put a magnetic receiver, and the interaction generates energy that goes from the magnet into batteries.

There are almost 6,000 patents held by people who live in Santa Cruz—which might be the most per-capita of any city in the country. How much of that is proximity to Silicon Valley? And how much is sort of the creative, adventurous atmosphere that we all think of as Santa Cruz?

I'd say it's one-third Santa Cruz, two-thirds Silicon Valley. And the biggest reason for that is patents cost money. So usually it's the larger companies that fund most of the patent work. It obfuscates the fact that there’s more creativity in Santa Cruz, because most creators can't afford to get a patent.


Posted on July 18, 2019 .

Mentoring Pheronym to bring the world’s first nematode pheromones to the market

They say “It takes a village to raise a child”. The same is true for startups. It takes the whole business ecosystem to make a startup succeed; incubators, accelerators, marketing, law firms, advisory/mentorship programs, and more. Accelerators and incubators provided us with infrastructure, funding, and mentorship. As we have been developing the world’s first nematode pheromones for pest control, we learned that you can never have enough mentors.

The business mentorship programs we participated in provided unique value to us. Just like the incubators and accelerators, each business mentorship program is very unique. Our first mentorship program was the Fellows of All-Star Team (FAST) Advisory program by California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI) in San Francisco, CA.


It was a 12-week structured mentorship program with two-hour bi-weekly meetings and a pitch presentation at the end of the program. Our mentors provided advice on every aspect of our business. They helped us formulate our business plan, financial projections, and pitch decks. They coached us on the most effective ways to communicate with investors. Since some of our mentors were both entrepreneurs and investors, they reviewed term sheets when we got them and gave us valuable feedback. Most importantly, our mentors introduced us to the California agribusiness network, which has given us the support we need to grow and thrive. The FAST Advisory Program created a strong mentor-mentee relationship which we really liked. Even though the program ended in December 2017, we are still in touch with our mentors.

The FAST Advisory Program came with unexpected benefits. CLSI is an affiliate of the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA), the largest life sciences industry association in California with members over 750 organizations. The FAST advisory program was associated with CLSA Fellows program which provides deeply discounted membership and discounts from other CLSA partners. For example, VWR provides discounts on consumables with free shipping and a line of credit. This allows us to accomplish more with our limited resources. Another favorite benefit is the discount on shipping because it is one of our major costs. We are also exploring other benefits CLSA has for their members such as health insurance etc.


Currently, we are participating in the Tech Futures Group (TFG) Business Advisory Program. TFG mentorship program is quite different from FAST Advisory program. It is a virtual program with a single mentor. It does not have regular meetings or a formal start date. However, this program has its own advantage. As soon as we were accepted to the program, an advisor was assigned to us and we started receiving advise. Our mentor was an experienced angel investor. She, along with our FAST mentors, gave us very insightful advice when we were evaluating deals and term sheets. Furthermore, TFG has multiple advisors in the program, if our needs require different business expertise, the program can provide additional advisors.

All of our mentors have given us invaluable advice and support. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the ones who will help us in the future.


Author: Dr. Fatma Kaplan is the CEO/CSO of Pheronym, an entrepreneur, and an accomplished scientist with experience in both biology and chemistry. She has a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology and postdoctoral training in Natural Product Chemistry with a focus on isolating biologically active compounds. Dr. Kaplan discovered the first sex pheromone of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and published in Nature. Then she discovered that pheromones regulate other behaviors in both parasitic and beneficial nematodes. She has very high impact publications and her dissertation was cited in textbooks within 5 years of publication. Dr. Kaplan worked as a scientist at NASA, the National Magnetic Field Laboratory and the US Department of Agriculture — Agricultural Research Service. Dr. Kaplan co-founded Pheronym to bring nematode pheromone technology to the market and to provide effective, non-toxic pest control for farmers and gardeners.

Source to article:

Posted on March 21, 2019 .

Sunnier Days (Possibly) Ahead for Patenting Software-Enabled Inventions


By Patrick Reilly, Esq.

Founder of IP Society

Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

March 12, 2019 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo above: Patrick Reilly is the founder of IP Society. Contributed.)

Guidance recently published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may increase the opportunity for internet-centric, artificial intelligence, and business intelligence ventures to secure patent protection. This development may further lead the venture capital community to increase their financial evaluation of both current portfolio companies and potential investment vehicles.

The US Federal Court has repeatedly handed down decisions that mystify the requirements of patenting of software-enabled inventions. These rulings have often been worded more nebulously than the abstract ideas they have been applied to. Distinguishing a software-enabled innovation from its mere abstraction is now organic to the practice of obtaining US Patents for such inventions. The good news provided in examining guidelines recently issued USPTO management clearly instructs their Examiners that a patent claim which explicitly includes a practical application of a software-enabled invented method is in the realm of patentable subject matter. The fundamental patentability requirements of inventorship, usefulness (utility), novelty and nonobviousness still apply to these inventions.

A possible hypothetical scenario of drafting an allowable patent claim under the new USPTO guidelines might go like this:

Specify an analysis of data by application of a (a.) new or newly applied and (b.) non-obvious algorithm to detect a previously undetectable and meaningful pattern; and

Specify a practical application of that yields an unexpected and/or material benefit. Imagine an innovation in medical imaging of creatively applying a novel algorithm to generate a reliable diagnosis of a disease condition of a human organ. Including in a patent claim this practical context of a medical imaging protocol might be sufficient grounds for allowability of this claim in a US Patent. This claim would be limited in scope to the methods that included the recited medical imaging element.

It is important to note that a party that applied this hypothetical innovation in, say, a seabed analysis of an aquaculture survey, would not be infringing the example claim. Thus the new guidelines might lead to claims of narrower scope individually, while encouraging inventors to more explicitly specify and disclose the scope of their inventive work. As the both ethical basis and the constitutionally defined purpose of the patent system is to encourage open disclosure of knowledge in order to advance the arts and sciences, the likely outcome of fuller disclosure can be viewed as generally consistent with the positive evolution of intellectual property law.

The article has been prepared to provide general information regarding legal issues. This writing is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact the author at This communication may be considered to be advertising under the rules of professional conduct in certain jurisdictions.


Original piece can be found here:

Posted on March 14, 2019 .

How to Market Tech Products and Services

By Rachel Rosen-Carroll

Listen to the full interview from KNCO radio above.

What's the secret to marketing and selling your new tech idea? Recently, KNCO Talk Radio did an interview with tech-selling expert Gerry Barañano on just that.

Here are just a few things Barañano discussed in the interview:

Barañano discussed that his workshop will be about businesses selling to big businesses, and how to get a really large sale. The talk will focus on new technology. Barañano related, "Selling new tech is a very different thing than selling window washing." He will cover how to do it, who to contact, how to get trials, and more.

Selling a Startup for 3.2 Billion Dollars

When asked about selling startup tech for 3.2 billion, Barañano related, "That's the kind of event that changes your life." Barañano went on to explain how he worked with his friend, who was the CEO of a tech startup. "It was a startup...(that) had technology that allowed them to control teeny tiny mirrors with great specificity, and we tried to figure out what we could do with that. We ended up developing an optical switch; telecommunications companies that had fiber-optic cables everywhere needed a switch that could deal with just light, not electronics... We sold that Nortel."

The Good Fortune to Work with Geeks

At one point, the broadcaster asked, "Do you consider yourself geeky, Gerry?"

Barañano laughed and replied, "No, absolutely not! I'm not geeky in the least. I've had the fortune of working with a lot of geeks! My background is actually psychology from Yale University. Now I do mostly sales and marketing in my professional life."

Technology Ideas are Limitless

Later in the interview, the broadcaster asked, "Is there a limitless amount of ideas out there that might make it big?"

Barañano replied, "I think there are, I really do. One of the wonderful things about my job at the Tech Futures Group is that we accept applications, eight to ten a week, and we ask people to describe what they have. We do some internet searching to see if we'll accept them into the program, and I'm always astounded by how much really cool stuff (there is) that no one's ever thought of out there."

Taking New Tech to Market

A broadcaster asked how Barañano's company, the Tech Futures Group, helps startups take products and services to market. He answered, "Mostly what we help them do is prepare for funding. We make sure they have the right team in place, they have the financial model, they know their market and who to approach... We also help them get grants from the government, and we've been very successful with that."

One of the organizations that awards government grants is Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), with grants ranging from 225-thousand to one-million dollars.

Barañano talked about the services offered by the Tech Futures Group: "We don't take equity, and we don't accept cash. It's 100% free to the startup."

The company, which is funded by the Small Business Administration and the State of California, works with about a third the of startups who apply. Barañano said, "You apply online—it's free. If we like what we see, we pair you with an entrepreneur in residence...they provide CEO-level type of advice. And then we bring in our specialty advisors, who are also free." Barañano said that one in three of their applications get grant funding.

Bring Your Ideas and Questions on Nov. 20th

Barañano closed by saying, "I always think it's a good day if I learn something new. And when I get applications and talk to new clients, it's a great day."

If you are interested and would like to learn more, please bring your ideas and questions to the Nevada County Tech Hub on November 20th. The event is free, and there will be light refreshments. For more info and to RSVP, visit the Nevada County Tech Connection's website.

And stay up-to-date with the NC Tech Connection on their LinkedIn Company Page.

KNCO interviewed Gerry Barañano on November 7th, 2018, about his event with the Nevada City Tech Connection, "Grow Your Sales: How to Land Large Corporate Customers" on November 20th, 2018. The audio clip is shared here with KNCO's permission;

KNCO reserves all rights. The original URL for the recording may be found at

Posted on November 27, 2018 .

Tech Futures Group Client, Safe Traces, gets covered by The Wall Street Journal.

Front page of Journal Report: “The Future of Food”, Oct, 3rd 2018.

“Six Technologies That Could Shake the Food World” by Annie Gasparro and Jesse Newman.

Codes to chew on

When food makes people sick, grocery stores and restaurants yank it off their shelves and menus, and regulators race to find the source. But companies and officials often struggle to determine exactly from where the tainted food came.

Now many companies are trying to improve traceability in the food-supply chain, as producers, distributors, retailers and restaurants confront costly recalls and more stringent regulation to prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses.

One possible solution: edible bar codes, a DNA-based “fingerprint” designed to make food traceable back to its source within minutes.

The technology, developed at a government-sponsored research facility, was first used to simulate a biological attack, helping officials track how pollutants might move through the New York City subway system.

A deadly listeria outbreak tied to cantaloupe in 2011 later inspired the idea to use the bar codes on food, says Anthony Zografos, who licensed the DNA technology. His company, SafeTraces, now sells the technology to farmers, packers and food processors.

“In this day and age, we should be able to find out quickly where [tainted food] came from,” says Mr. Zografos.

Applied to food, the bar codes are invisible, tasteless and safe to eat. Created by combining segments of seaweed DNA into a unique signature, the bar codes can be applied to a single food item like an apple or a silo full of wheat used in flour.

A drop of DNA can be mixed into the wax coating applied to an apple during processing, for example. Then, a specialized instrument can read the bar code on the apple, revealing information about the fruit’s origin—from the farm where it was grown to the row where it was picked.

Of course, food that is eaten completely can’t be tracked. But the technology is also aimed at managing risks. If a farmer or food processor learns there’s a problem with their product, they can trace it to a specific lot, potentially limiting the scope of a recall.

Excerpt taken from:

Posted on October 3, 2018 .

Tech Futures Group to Collaborate with StartupSac to Bring Services to Sacramento Area Startups


Due to consolidation of the Northern California Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Tech Futures Group recently expanded our service coverage area to include all of Northern California, including the burgeoning tech and innovation hub of the Greater Sacramento region.

The Sacramento region is undergoing a renaissance as civic and business leaders embrace the role of technology and innovation in transforming the community from its historic reputation as a government town into an innovation hub. To connect with the Sacramento region, we reached out to StartupSac, a Sacramento non-profit with the mission to accelerate Sacramento’s startup and innovation ecosystem by informing, educating, empowering, and connecting its startup founders and innovators.

Referred to by some as the 411 of the Sacramento startup community, StartupSac has been recognized for their outstanding regional contribution in growing the local startup ecosystem by the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and received praise for its resources for the startup community.

On a recent visit to acquaint ourselves with the Sacramento tech and startup community, we met with StartupSac co-founders Jeff Bennett and Laura Good, as well as other key players in the Sacramento startup community.

“We’re excited about the opportunities this new bridge to Silicon Valley will bring for Sacramento startups,” said StartupSac president Jeff Bennett. “Since we announced this new opportunity on the StartupSac website we’ve seen some very positive response from the local startup community, and we’re looking forward to working with Tech Futures Group, not only to refer local startups but to tap into Tech Futures Group’s pool of mentors and advisors and hopefully bring them here to Sacramento for workshops and events.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Sacramento startup scene or about StartupSac visit their website at

Posted on April 24, 2018 .

Tech Futures Group client, Lendsnap, makes it to Y Combinator.

Lendsnap Lets You Apply for a Mortgage in Under 30 Minutes

To apply for a mortgage today, you have to collect more than a dozen a documents. Lendsnap collects these documents for you automatically by connecting to your bank, payroll site, etc. Mortgage banks that use Lendsnap can boost their loan officers’ productivity by 30-50% and dramatically shorten the time to close a loan.

What YC Likes About Lendsnap:

“Lendsnap is building a set of tools for an industry that is mind-bogglingly stuck in the past. It doesn’t make sense that applying for a mortgage should involve sequentially finding, downloading, and faxing dozens of documents, but the industry is so large, and the process so deeply ingrained, that it is hard to change. That’s why I love Lendsnap’s approach of building software to help Loan Officers. They’re doing one of the things software does best - helping people do their jobs better. In the process, they’ll also save prospective home owners countless hours of wasted effort.”
-Aaron Harris, Partner at Y Combinator

YC : How did the idea for Lendsnap come about?

Orion: Mike and I have been in the real estate industry for a long time. I grew up watching my father build a portfolio of real estate investments and have been investing in real estate for the last twenty years. Together we’ve seen tens of thousands of mortgages so we know the pain points on both sides and decided to solve it.

YC : What are some of those pain points?

Orion: There are more than a dozen documents you need to submit when applying for a mortgage. You’ll need to submit bank statements from the last two months, your tax returns for the last two years, pay stubs, and a W-2 to verify your income.

Borrowers will gather all this information and email it to their loan officer. What makes this process tedious is that it takes an average of 51 days to close the loan. By the time you’re ready to close the loan, the documents you submitted earlier are no longer up-to-date, which means you have to resubmit everything. And this is if you only get a quote from one bank. If you wanted to compare loans you’d have to repeat the entire process.

Mike: Loan officers don’t have it easy either. They spend about a third of their time obtaining and managing these qualifying documents. After they get the documents from the borrower, they’ll have to do something called stacking, which means breaking a PDF into smaller parts and renaming them. The average mortgage has about 550 pieces of paper; the process is very tedious for everyone involved.

YC : Wow, 550 pages… That’s a book. How does Lendsnap change that?

Orion: When you apply for a loan, the lender will send you an invite to our platform. From there you’ll link all your bank accounts and we’ll automatically grab, section, and complete the required documents. By automating the clerical work we’re helping loan officers save time while transforming the borrower’s experience. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes.

Mike: Connecting accounts also dramatically decreases risk for a bank because documents can’t be mistakenly or fraudulently completed. In the last five years, banks have had to buy back $90 billion of mortgages, many of which were filed inaccurately. We’re going to reduce that cost by lowering risk.

YC : Have you faced any regulatory or policy issues with banks or lenders?

Orion: Not directly but banks do have face a lot of regulation because they’re responsible for whatever service providers they use. And so we have to be diligent and make sure we’ve got all our ducks in a row. We recently completed something called a SOC 1 Type II Audit. It’s a test to see how secure our services are and we passed with flying colors.

YC : Why hasn’t anyone built a product like this until now?

Orion: After the financial crisis, banks were subjected to a lot of regulatory changes that slowed down the loan process. They recently rolled out a new process for origination called TRID that makes the process easier but it took five years to write. Now that it’s complete the industry is looking for a big change that’ll help grow the market.

Mike: Consumers are also more comfortable with linking their financial accounts even since Mint and other personal finance management tools came out. That wasn’t the case several years ago. Bigger lenders like Quicken Loans and others are also starting to do this too, so that’s been driving change for everyone.

YC : Will Lendsnap provide additional services beyond mortgages in the future?

Orion: We want to simplify the process of getting any type of loan. Right now, a lot of people don’t want to apply for a mortgage or any type of loan because of how complicated it is. Once we have people’s financial information for their mortgage, we can simply reuse the same information to offer them any kind of loan.


Posted on August 17, 2016 .

Sandstone Diagnostic's Trak System gets FDA Approval

Do-it-yourself sperm-counting

It's not just women who are monitoring their reproductive systems using internet-connected gadgets — now men can get in on the fun too! Say hello to Trak, a portable centrifuge that offers an easy way to test sperm count at home. The company behind Trak, Sandstone Diagnostics, unveiled the product years ago, but last month announced FDA approval, with Trak now set to go on sale in October this year for $159.99.

Trak's system is pretty straightforward. Users just fill a disposable propellor-shaped cartridge with their semen, and place it in the centrifuge. This spins the sample, separating out the sperm cells (the densest part of semen) from the rest of the fluid. Users then get a visual estimation of their sperm count, and enter the information into a companion app that helps track lifestyle factors affect fertility. (To get an idea of the sort of advice Trak is giving out to users, you can check out the company's blog at Basically: eat healthy and avoid long trips to the sauna.)

Trak Sperm System

The company behind Trak says it's redressing an imbalance in public perceptions of infertility. Although roughly 1 in 8 couples worldwide are thought to have difficulties conceiving, infertility is commonly seen as a woman's problem. This is despite the fact that studies have shown that roughly 40 percent of infertility cases are due to a combination of male and female problems.

Sandstone says its system gives couples "the ability to conveniently measure semen quality at home" without having to bother with a doctor's appointment, and is as reliable as laboratory tests. "This FDA clearance represents a monumental milestone," said Sandstone CEO Greg Sommer in a press release. "Male infertility is a dramatically under-appreciated condition affecting millions of couples every year." Interested users can reserve the Trak system at Sandstone's website.

Posted on July 1, 2016 .

Tacolist Classifieds Begins a New Tradition at Carnaval San Francisco 2016

Tacolist Classifieds, the ‘Latin version of Craigslist’ for United States and Mexico was honored to participate in San Francisco’s Carnaval as the first ever official Carnaval Photo Zone, one of Carnavals’s largest zones. 

Carnaval San Francisco takes place in the Mission District and is the largest multi–cultural celebration on the West Coast. Now in its 38th year, this beloved Memorial Day Weekend event celebrates the vibrantly diverse Latin American and Caribbean roots of the Mission District and greater San Francisco Bay Area. It showcases music, art, dance, and culture of the Latin community, and helps the community come together and unite as one.

Tacolist founder Rafael Barragan felt strongly about stepping up & lending full support to such a great event. “It was very important for Classifieds to be involved with Carnaval SF. We see ourselves as more than a flat on-line classified site so we are very active in the community. Uniting and empowering the Latino community has always been the cornerstone of Tacolist. Whether it’s through events, our free on-line classifieds or our new banner adverting system our goal is to bring strength, recognition & success to the Latino people.” worked closely with the producers of Carnaval SF to bring this inaugural 50 foot Photo Zone to light. Besides social media, promoted the Photo Zone and Tacolist itself by having founder Rafael Barragan featured on KTVU FOX 2 ‘Bay Area People,’ which was very helpful for spreading the word. (Watch video here: )

Many people do not realize how much work goes in to being part of such a huge event. The goal is to draw people in and make sure they enjoy themselves while of course marketing Tacolist. In order to make very memorable for Carnaval visitors, they went big. Two giant customized inflatable arches emblazoned with the iconic logo graced the entrance to the Photo Zone. For the actual photo zone, Tacolist had ‘step and repeat’ backdrops featuring both their logo and the Carnaval San Francisco logo. There was a ‘red carpet’ for the visitors to stand on for their photos with velvet ropes in front. Beautiful plants on each side of the carpet, added to the décor and gave the full ‘red carpet’ effect. Visitors also had the opportunity to put on fun costumes in a costume tent before stepping onto the red carpet, including Carnaval headpieces, feather boas, wigs, silly hats, and funky sunglasses, just to name a few. In addition, Classifieds also had the ‘King of Carnaval’ and Carnaval dancers make guest appearances and pose with visitors. Adding to the experience, after the visitors took their ‘red carpet’ pictures, they were able to pose at a custom painted cutout featuring the founders of with a “Wanted” theme. The entire photo zone was extremely fun for all and very successful with more than 5,000 visitors coming through the zone.

Tacolist was honored to be a part of Carnaval San Francisco. Not only was it an excellent branding opportunity for, but it also brought something new and exciting to Carnaval. Classifieds is proud that their Photo Zone is now a new tradition of Carnaval SF and they cannot wait for next year!

Learn more about Tacolist Classifieds:

Posted on June 30, 2016 .

NY Times covers OpenRov

GLENBROOK, Nev. — A vast, largely unexplored world is being opened by hobbyists piloting robotic submarines capable of traveling hundreds of feet below the surface of lakes, rivers and oceans.

Styling themselves as citizen scientists, two young engineers, Eric Stackpole and David Lang, have created OpenROV, a small start-up based in Berkeley, Calif., that builds submarine drone kits. They hope to create a mirror image of the airborne drone craze.

This month, the OpenROV researchers took over a vacation home here and turned it into a command center for the maiden dive of a prototype of the next version of their Trident submarine. The sub explored the wreck of the Tahoe, a turn-of-the-last-century steamer that now lies less than a half-mile offshore in depths up to almost 500 feet below the surface of Lake Tahoe, which divides California and Nevada.

OpenROV has sold more than 3,000 of a first-generation submarine, which is able to navigate below the surface, connected by a thin cable and controlled by software running on a tablet or smartphone. The new Trident, which will go on sale this fall for $1,499, will travel at speeds of almost four knots underwater and will have a high-resolution camera and a lighting system as bright as car headlights. It will operate from a wirelessly connected buoy.

From a converted bedroom filled with computer displays, Charles Cross, an OpenROV software engineer, piloted the Trident down through the crystalline waters of Lake Tahoe. Within minutes the researchers could see the Tahoe as it emerged from the blue gloom on the lake floor.

The 154-ton, 170-foot-long steamer was once called the “Queen of the Lake,” carrying passengers and mail in style. Built in San Francisco in 1896, it was intentionally scuttled in 1940. The intent was to sink the ship in shallow water to make it easily visible from a glass-bottom boat, but the underwater slope was steeper than the ship’s owners realized.

The boat slid out of sight, ultimately coming to rest with its bow in 360 feet of water and its stern at a depth of 490 feet. The Tahoe was first reached in 2002 by a highly technical dive team that in the process set a record for high-altitude scuba diving. (Lake Tahoe is more than 6,200 feet above sea level.)

Now the hobbyist team hopes it can democratize the science and adventure that has previously been accessible only to someone with the resources of Robert Ballard, the oceanographer and explorer who has investigated ships like the Titanic and the Bismarck, a German battleship sunk in the early stages of World War II.

The idea also intrigued professional archaeologists as well as an official from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who joined the expedition last week.

David McKinnie, a senior adviser at the atmospheric administration’s Ocean Explorer program, met the two engineers several years ago. Last year he invited them to make a presentation at an event for ocean explorers that the administration sponsored.

“They were by and far the hit of the show,” he said. “People were captivated by the potential of citizen exploration.”

The Trident submarine, which was steered by a video game controller, was able to float gently around the shipwreck and dip into the ship through an exposed roof section that had been torn away.

In keeping with the citizen-science aspirations, the dives were broadcast live over social media platforms like Facebook and Twitch. Trailed by a thin power and networking cable, the sub glided over the length of the wreck, beaming high-resolution video back to a command center, where it was displayed on a large computer monitor in a room overlooking the lake.

The goal of the explorers is to have “a lot more eyes in the ocean,” said Mr. Lang, who worked for a start-up firm before co-founding OpenROV in 2012 with a Kickstarter campaign.

The OpenROV researchers now manage a nonprofit website,OpenExplorer, to encourage their community of drone submarine explorers to share the results of their adventures.

“We’re actually legitimately building the world’s largest ocean observation platform on a shoestring,” Mr. Lang said.

While poking around the Tahoe wreck, the OpenROV team found a plaque that had been left behind by the previous team of divers, who reached the site over a decade ago.

Navigating underwater was challenging, and the dive team had to be careful to keep from tangling their tether deep below the surface. They tracked their location in part by periodically observing a bright light that was suspended under the surface from their control boat hundreds of feet above.

They were able to easily reconstruct how the ship had come to its final resting place and trace the furrow that it created as it slid deeper into the lake.

An observer noted that one of the old myths that had been passed on to visitors to the lake by a mailman in the 1940s was that Lake Tahoe’s deep waters were so cold that drowning victims actually stood up when they came to rest on the lake bottom.

No bodies were seen by the Trident, only the occasional fish.

Source Article

Posted on June 27, 2016 .

X-Therma wins Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Award

X-Therma just won the 2015 Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Award hosted via Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the Biotech/Pharma tycoon and billionaire (#35 on Forbes, list) and LA Business Journal.

This is a prestigious annual award to recognize 5 new innovations which will have a significant and wide impact on society and industry.

"We are honored to be awarded for our innovation on creating novel non-toxic and hyperactive nano material to fight unwanted ice crystals for 5 potential global markets and save millions of lives by enabling organ bio-banks.", says Xiaoxi Wei, Ph.D. CEO of X-Therma Inc.


Posted on December 2, 2015 .

Two Tech Future Group Clients Featured at the Opening Celebration of USPTO Silicon Valley Regional Office.

BERKELEY, CA. (Oct 8, 2015)  Tech Futures Group (TFG), the complete advisory wing for select tech companies has mentored and advised two companies, Kokko and ReyLabs, which will be featured at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s opening celebration of the new Silicon Valley Regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in San Jose.  The event, to be held October 15th will highlight past, present and future technologies in an Innovators’ Showcase, including both TFG’s clients, Kokko and ReyLabs.

TFG advisor, Hon Wong assisted both companies in product positioning, market strategy, and preparation for fundraising. “Working with Hon Wong and Rebekkah Wu has been an essential part of our initial growth and success. I credit them for helping us raise our first $100K in funding. They  helped with our sales presentations and crafting our story for investors” said Reynaldo Gil, CEO and Founder of ReyLabs.  

A Hispanic immigrant entrepreneur, Mr. Gil founded Reylabs in 2013. Reylabs has developed an advanced Internet of Industrial Things (IoT) analytics platform with 11 patents pending. The software allows customers to sustainably monitor and analyze the health and efficiency of industrial equipment using sensors and low cost mobile devices.   This saves customers money and avoids unplanned down time while reducing data center and network loads.  Mr. Gil was recognized by Madam Secretary of Commerce Pritzker in 2014 as a leading immigrant innovator in Silicon Valley.  His previous 4 pioneer software patents revolutionized the use of the cloud for supply chain automation. The Department of Defense adopted his model and saved more than $2.1B.

Dr. Nina Bhatti founded Kokko in 2012 to bring accurate color matching applications to consumers.  The Kokko app enables greater consumer confidence in online shopping and enables brands and retailers to revolutionize ways to shop online – specifically when color selection matters the most.  A PhD in computer science, Dr. Bhatti has 22 issued patents, including 16 in imaging.  Dr. Bhatti was named one of top 50 Women in Computing by Corporate Board Magazine.

“Tech Futures Group has been extremely helpful in Kokko’s development as a new company.  Our primary advisor, Hon Wong provides advice and suggestions that come from years of experience.  He has helped us see opportunities and avoid pitfalls,” said Dr. Bhatti.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is a public policy business trade organization. The Leadership Group was founded in 1978 by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard and represents more than 390 of Silicon Valley’s most respected employers on issues, programs, and campaigns that affect the economic health and quality of life in Silicon Valley, including energy, transportation, education, housing, health care, tax policies, economic vitality, and the environment.

Posted on October 14, 2015 .

Tech Futures Group Adds New Financial Model Advisor To Its Free Advisory Services

Berkeley, California, Sep 4, 2015 - Daniel Blahut, CEO of Foresight AdvisoryServices Group (Foresight ASG) joined the Tech Futures Group’s (TFG)advising team as the financial modeling and projections advisor.

After a decade at Citi and Morgan Stanley, Blahut brings extensive experience in financing strategy, debt and equity structuring to TFG clients.  Last year, Blahut founded Foresight ASG, a boutique financial advisory services provider for tech companies in all stages of growth.  

Blahut will create financial modeling and projections spreadsheets for TFG clients.

“I am excited to join TFG and help clients with all their financial modeling needs,” said Daniel Blahut, TFG Financial Projections Advisor.  

“Dan Blahut has a depth of experience in all aspects of budgeting, forecasting, and business model development that is exactly what TFG’s growing companies need,” said Gerry Barañano, director of Tech Futures Group.


Posted on September 3, 2015 .

Two Tech Futures Group Clients Win SVE South Bay Pitch and Demo Event

Berkeley, California, July 20, 2015 - On July 8th, two Tech Futures Group (TFG) clients tied for first place at SVE South Bay Pitch Event. SVE is San Francisco Bay Area’s largest founder and startup community, and the largest meetup in Silicon Valley / San Francisco.

The two winners, Campusly and FacilGo competed against an international field of ten accomplished companies.   Both Campusly and FacilGo are TFG clients and worked with TFG Advisors Ashwin Gulati and Allan Young to achieve their recent growth and success.  Mr. Gulati and Mr. Young are TFG entrepreneurs in residence, the prime advisors for TFG clients.

“Working with Tech Futures Group and Ashwin Gulati has been an essential part of our success,” said Vinit Modi, founder of Campusly. “TFG has been proven to be a great recourse for any tech company and their group of advisors have amazing experience.”

Campusly is a new online off campus housing network. Campusly’s goal is to ensure students get the most out of their college or university experience. Campusly provides school administrators tools to increase student engagement, retention and graduation rates.  

FacilGo is a marketplace platform where real estate operators and their contractors/suppliers can collaborate on contracts, orders, and invoices. FacilGo will enable its users, both property managers and their suppliers and contractors, to streamline and grow their businesses.


Posted on July 16, 2015 .


In March 2015 TFG advisor, Charles Eason, spoke at a TiE Silicon Valley event about one of the best kept secrets for entrepreneurs, the ability to raise non-dilutive financing via government grants. 

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is the federal government’s largest R&D grant program targeted to the small business community. With $3 billion available annually, the programs are a source of seed capital to help fund the development of promising new technologies. SBIR/STTR funding can also serve as a pathway to equity financing. This overview will cover the following:

- Overview of the SBIR program
- Qualifications and eligibility requirements for SBIR funding
- How to determine if SBIR funding is a good fit for your company and innovation
- How to search for SBIR solicitations and topics
- And more!

Posted on July 16, 2015 .


Hon received dual B.Sc. in electrical and industrial engineering from Northwestern University, and earned his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Norcal SBDC would like to congratulate Hon Wong on being selected as the 2014 Norcal SBDC Regional Network State Star.

   Hon Wong serves as the Tech Futures Group Entrepreneur in Residence for the Silicon Valley area and has been an important top performer for Norcal this past year.

   Hon brought in over $2 million in capital infusion in 2014 and an additional $3 million in the first quarter of 2015 for a total of $5,285,000. Because of the strong bonds that Hon has built with his clients he was able to help Tech Futures Group meet the Go-Biz requirements for proof of equity investments, which is a very difficult task given the highly sensitive and confidential nature of equity investment documents.

In addition to these achievements, Hon also introduced TFG to important accelerators, such as The Indus Entrepreneurs, Citrix Startup Accelerator, Flextronic's Lab IX Accelerator, F50 and UC Santa Cruz John Baskin School of Engineering.

    America's SBDC State Stars are celebrated at America's SBDC National Conference at a special reception every year. For 2015 the conference will be held in San Francisco on September 8-11.

Posted on July 16, 2015 .


Two Tech Futures Group clients, Apakau and POC Medical, win 2015 TiE50 Award.

BERKELEY, CA. (June 02, 2015) ­­ Tech Futures Group (TFG), the complete advisory wing for select tech companies has worked with only two The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) companies since 2014, Apakau and POC Medical. Both companies won the prestigious 2015 TiE50 Award, competing against 2700 start­ups from 27 countries.

TFG advisor, Hon Wong assisted both companies in product positioning, market strategy and preparation for fund raising. Mr. Wong is a charter member at TiE. “Working with Tech Futures Group and Hon Wong, has been an essential part of our growth and success. TFG has been proven to be a great resource for any tech company and their group of advisors have amazing experience” ­ Fadel Darwish, Business Development for Apakau.

Apakau provides a service that helps enterprise around the world by achieving maximum performance and availability of their web and mobile applications. Apakau’s goal is to ensure ultra low latency of dynamic application data and APIs by eliminating delays that are often experienced on enterprise applications, desktops, and mobile devices around the world.

POC Medical Systems (“POC”) is bringing accessible, next generation diagnostics to the market. The company’s flagship device, the Pandora CDx Point­of Care System (“Pandora”), resolves the two systemic issues in modern diagnostics: geographic inaccessibility and cost prohibition. As people are becoming increasingly reluctant to spending enormous amounts of time commuting between test labs and doctor’s clinic, POC’s focus is on reducing the diagnosis time by utilizing information sharing tools that provide timely health information and analysis.

TiE50 is TiE Silicon Valley’s premier annual awards program keenly contested by thousands of technology startups worldwide. TiE is a global, not­-for-­profit network of entrepreneurs and professionals dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship. With 61 chapters located in most major North American, Asian and European countries, TiE provides a platform for mentoring, networking and education for technology entrepreneurs worldwide.

Posted on July 16, 2015 .