L.A. Marathon - Finisher

On Sunday, March 15, 2015 we ran the Los Angeles Marathon, something I never thought I would do.

I have to confess, LA isn't my favorite place. Just the thought of the town brings visions of traffic jams, smog and urban sprawl. When one of our buddies suggested we do a group weekend there and schedule it around the marathon, my vote was a solid "no way". I lost. 

Fast forward six months and it was time to head to LA. We had rented a house near Venice Beach and bit by bit everyone turned up. To orient ourselves to LA (and have some fun before the marathon) we went to Universal Studios on Friday. The weather was warm (a harbinger of what was to come) but pleasant for the time of year. A good time was had by all, however, I would personally recommend that you stay off the Minion rollercoaster -- it made me turn green.

Saturday was the day to keep our feet up, rest and hydrate. First we had to hit the expo to pick up race packets and look for fun race shirts (sponsored by asics, so they had some good ones). We had been receiving email the last few days about the potential for hot weather but the news on Saturday took everything up a few notches. Suddenly we were all being blasted with "Be careful" and "plan ahead" email from the Race director. This freaked everyone out. By the afternoon, the announcement was made that the race would still have the same start time of 7am but they were eliminating the "wave" starts. This meant that we could start earlier (good) but that it would be a complete zoo at the start with a mix of runners and walkers, all moving at different speeds (bad). 

Our Saturday night dinner was quiet instead of the usual rowdy "let's all get pumped up" vibe the group usually has during a pre-race meal. There was quite a bit of discussion about race strategy, should we run/not run and an overall feeling of ... well, impending doom. As the group got ready (you probably know this already, but never wait until the day of to prepare) we took an inventory - we had salt tablets (new for some us and I really don't like to try something new on race day), bandanas that hold ice (great for ultras apparently), plenty of fluids and a solid race plan.

Race day

The race is point to point, so we rose early, left the house at 4:30am and headed to Santa Monica to catch the bus to Dodger Stadium (as a Giants fan, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make this journey. Somewhere I was sure that I would see Kruk and Kuip there, scowling at us and yelling "We see you!")

The race started right on time at 7am and as advertised, there was only 1 wave -- everyone at once. The temperature was a warm 75F but the sun wasn't up yet. The first few miles of the course had some moderate hills but the main issue was watching your feet. Lots of people, all going at a different pace. At times, the runners in front would suddenly part like the Red Sea and you would have to quickly dodge a walker. A little crazy.

We hit Mile 7 about 8:30 and were very happy to see some of the group cheering us on with signs and words of encouragement. Funny but sometimes that makes all the difference. At this point, we were taking salt tablets once an hour and besides the initial GI feeling of ugh, everyone was feeling strong and on plan.

Miles 10 - 14 were fun - incredible crowd support, plenty of tourist attractions (Gruman's theater, Hollywood, Sunset Strip). All the while we were hitting a series of rollers; the course was never really flat. After Mile 14, we made our way down a series of hills to Beverly Hills. The sun was out in full force by this and the temperature was rising. The crowds were great, cheering everyone on and squirting the runners with water (the Fire Dept even opened some hydrants and had hoses going as well). 

Mile 20 came and I hit the wall hard. The course crossed over the 405 freeway here and there are no trees or shade to speak of -- due to the street configuration, there weren't even crowds or hoses. It got really hot; all the ice in my bandana and the cubes under my hat had melted. Time to bust out some mental toughness! 

We pushed on and ran through Brentwood, starting at Mile 22. The crowds returned, ready to keep the runners wet and cool. There were trees. The course even started to head downhill towards the Pacific Ocean. Life was good :-)

Soon we could see the final left turn onto Ocean Avenue/Highway 1. Santa Monica is such a beautiful sight and that day didn't disappoint. The coast was great, the rides on the pier were packed and the finish line half a mile ahead. At this point, your adrenaline takes over and before I knew it, I was across the finish line, standing in front of some seriously cool machines that quickly reduced my body temperature. Finishing temperature was almost 90F.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course and great support. Grade: A

Course - Didn't think I'd like it, came away loving it. Great way to see lots of different neighborhoods in LA. Grade: A

Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. This was a critical aspect of the race due to the heat. I understand they had issues in previous years but 2015 was very well done. Grade: A+

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

Joint Venture Silicon Valley - State of the Valley Conference 2015

Joint Venture Silicon Valley held the annual State of the Valley Conference today and it was, as expected, phenomenal.

I've been a board member at JVSV for the last two years and am always impressed by the excellent Russell Hancock, President/CEO of JVSV. Russ and team work hard all year for this event and it shows.

One of the most interesting parts of the day for me is the data-rich (geek heaven!) presentation that leads off the conference. JVSV issues the "Silicon Valley Index", a study of the local economy, housing, venture capital and other important aspects of Silicon Valley metrics. There is a ton of data, so much so that it doesn't all fit in the report - JVSV has launched a website to allow everyone to dig more into the numbers - you can find it at http://siliconvalleyindicators.org/

Data from the study quickly made its way into various stories in the media and will likely be quoted widely.

Kudos to everyone at JVSV - can't wait until next year

Prague Marathon - Finisher!

On Sunday, January 11, 2014 we ran the Prague Marathon, in the beautiful Czech Republic.

Prior to race day, we made sure to take in a walking tour of Old Town and the surrounding neighborhoods to make sure we had a good understanding of the many historical areas the race travels through. This was a really good idea and I highly recommend it.

Here's the official race video that shows some of the amazing sights

Race day

The race started at 9:00 am just off the Old Town Square. 9:00 is a late start for me as I usually run early so I tried to sleep a bit later than normal and worked on fueling. The latter turned out well but sleeping in on race morning didn't work -- too much adrenaline! Temps were in the low 40s with high humidity and a forecast intermittent rain.

The start was amazing - we ran west through Old Town Square and almost immediately crossed the Vltava river. A quick left turn, headed south and just past Mile 2, across the Charles Bridge. This bridge is usually full of tourists, but today it was all runners, all going the same direction. An amazing sight to see (the video above does a good job capturing it). We then crossed (again) over the Vltava and headed north along the river for the next 5 miles.

The elevation of the course was pretty consistent, a few hills but nothing of significance.

At Mile 8, we crossed the Vltava again and headed south. We ran along the river, had a quick out-and-back loop from miles 16 - 19 and kept going. I had not ventured this far south in Prague and it was neat to see the buildings and various statues along the route. Crowds were out cheering, and continued to do so even during the rain showers. The rain was nice because it would get very humid, then rain, then the temperature would drop and the cycle would start again. Things never got too wet; the lower humidity was nice.

Crossing the river two more times, we ran mostly along the water and took in sights like the colorful buildings below that are amazing to see.

Finally, we took a left turn, ran down the cobblestone Staromestske Namesti, into the Square and through the finish line. Great run!

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course (was worried I'd get lost and don't speak Czech but had no problems). Grade: A

Course - 26.2 miles of an 11th century city, most of it with a view of the river. Grade: A

Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. No Gatorade. Fun volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

Bonus - Got to run in Prague

StartX: Vynca.org

The latest class of companies officially joined Stanford's StartX incubator in late 2014. As a Lead Mentor, I am fortunate to mentor two companies, one of whom is Vynca


Vynca.org was founded on the idea that we could all benefit greatly from making early decisions about our end-of-life care. 

Working with their initial customer, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), Vynca is striving to make end-of-life care discussions part of the doctor/patient relationship. 

Vynca and OHSU are using the POLST framework ("Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment") to enable patients to specify what type of care they would want in various medical situations. Their ePOLST system enables the sharing of POLST data with state registries and other healthcare systems.

While this might not sound like the "normal" mentoring engagement, the mission of the company resonated with me immediately. Also, the team has many of the same challenges that any startup has including technical implementations with large healthcare systems, how to navigate the world of venture capital, hiring and more.


The Vynca team consists of 2 PhDs and 2 MDs, a great combination that understands both the medical and technical aspects of their business. Keep your eye on them as they continue to make progress!


Quick note - company applications for the next session must be submitted by February 1st, 2015.

StartX Teams

I’ve had more than a few asks recently about the various teams I’ve mentored at StartX (I was a mentor at the first StartX, fka SSE Labs, session in June of 2010 and continue in this role today). After a bit of sleuthing through my mail, I’ve put together what I think is a comprehensive list along with any pointers/info I have about the current status of the team.


  • Lead Mentor - my primary role at StartX
  • Board of Advisors - I occasionally serve as a Board member for companies. The BoA is comprised of entrepreneurs, VC and StartX alumni
  • Judge - Periodically I participate in the evaluation process which determines the teams that are invited to StartX/StartXMed.


  • ThinkBulbs - Led by Alvin Tse, ThinkBulbs launched the "Say Cheeze" app for iOS. Alvin is currently at FlipBoard.
  • Fresh Cookies
  • Juntos Finanzas - Led by CEO Ben Knelman, Juntos continues to be recognized for their innovative approach to providing financial products and services to cash-based households.
  • Nutrivise - Led by CEO Laura Borel, Nutrivise was acquired by Jawbone
  • Mind Sumo - A fantastic team of folks, driving hard to help college students succeed in the job market.
  • Medigram - HIPAA compliant group messaging for doctors/hospitals. 
  • Endowr - Team at the formation phase, trying to disrupt student loan lending.
  • Appfluence - Hai and team offer Priority Matrix, an award winning, multi-platform project management app.
  • Bluesora - An early company in the quadrotor space.
  • Pixelapse - GitHub for designers and their teams/customers.
  • Insynctive - Led by CEO Eric Kish, Insynctive offers a SaaS-based solution for HR, benefits and payroll.
  • arc
  • Tangible Play/Osmo - Changing education and iPad gaming with the interaction of tangible objects and software.
  • Roam Insights - Enterprise sales analytics tools.
  • Dynaoptics - True optical zoom for mobile devices
  • Script - Building a great photo/drawing app, PicCandy
  • OMG 

Crystal Springs Marathon - Finisher!

On Saturday January 11, 2014 we ran the Crystal Springs Marathon, my 20th marathon but first trail marathon. Yes, I was a bit nervous about getting lost or wiping out on a tree root.

The race started at 8:30am in Huddart Park. Temps were in the low 40s with a forecast for possible rain after 11am. Distances were 50k, marathon and 22 miles - the majority of runners were doing the 22 miler but there were a decent number of marathon and ultra runners as well.

From the start, we took a flat/downhill 1.5 mile single track to warm up our quads for what was next - 5 miles of some serious uphill! The trail, full of switchbacks, climbed approximately 1600 feet with some steep sections. We crossed the road (Skyline) and had some nice downhill then hard uphill to the aid station. 

What a welcome sight - not only was there an opportunity to refill fluids (it was still cool, but pretty humid so everyone was loading up on fluids) but since this was an ultra we had all the "good stuff" - M&Ms, peanut butter sandwiches, Coke and Reese's. Yum! We then headed to the next aid station, 6 miles away, on a single track trail, high above a canyon that made me a bit dizzy looking down. The trail was technical and required a solid level of concentration to avoid taking a fall. We reached the second aid station and loaded up on fluid and goodies.

Next came a 4 mile add-on for the marathon and ultra - 2 miles of downhill switchbacks and then 2 miles back up to the aid station. 1200 feet of elevation change in total. My quads were starting to scream so I just kept thinking about reaching the top and loading up on electrolytes and a Reese's. At the top, it started to rain intermittently, but we stayed dry under the cover of the trees.

We made it back to the first/last aid station, caught the score of the Seahawks/Saints game (3-0, first quarter) and then headed out for our last 5.7 miles. There was one incline of significance, but the rest was downhill on switchback single track through the woods - beautiful. At the finish, everyone grabbed some hot soup, assorted protein and carbs then hit the road.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course (was worried I'd get lost but had no problems). Grade: A

Course - 26.2 miles of trees, a few views of the Bay . Grade: B

Aid-stations - Four aid-stations with water that wasn't from a garden hose. No Gatorade. Fun volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

Bonus - I won the raffle and got a new pair of trail shoes. Grade A

Trigger.io - Amir and James Head to Square

Amir and James started off 3 years ago as WebMynd making web plugins and pivoting to take on mobile as Trigger.io

They've made some amazing progress during this time, launching their initial product, Trigger Forge and just recently open sourcing their native modules. Along the way they've had great support from a cast of investors.

Today they've announced they are moving to Square and putting the company in the able hands of Antoine

Congrats guys!