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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Meet Diego Lopez of Underground Technology

Diego Lopez is the president of a startup company called Underground Technology. This company mainly focuses on developing products for motorcycle riders, and one of them is the NightRage Backpack. The NightRage Backpack has integrated lights to help riders be more visible at night or in poor weather conditions. The backpacks are currently available on eBay. Visit the Underground Technology eBay store for more about their products.

1. Why did you decide to start your company, Underground Technology?

Well, ever since I can remember, I have had a passion for motorcycles. I believe that the Isle of Man TT was the event that captured my attention and has defined my life ever since. When I was a teenager I had an idea, an idea that I have fine-tuned since then, and now we call it the NightRage Backpack. I thought to myself: Why not make my passion into something useful to me and others? Just as in the same way you ride a motorcycle, starting your own business gives you a sense of freedom you don't usually get from a 9 to 5 (or a car), and that was my biggest motivation for starting the Underground Technology engine.

2. Would you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the idea for your NightRage backpack?

When I was a teenager I was very much into motorcycles, but I also was constantly reminded by everyone I knew about the dangers of riding, both motorcycles and bicycles. I began to think of ideas to make riding safer, both from a preventive standpoint and from a post-accident situation. It took me some time, but I finally decided on a design and electric layout for the NightRage Backpack.

3. What makes your backpacks so useful for motorcyclists and bicyclists?

Nations across the globe are becoming more environmentally conscious and adopting bicycles, one passenger electric vehicles, and even motorcycles as means of transportation to get to work and to run errands; these riders need something that allows them to carry all their personal items with them. Why not combine safety, functionality, and style into one multi-purpose product?

The NightRage backpack has integrated electro light panels which increase the visibility of the rider as far as a half a mile away, and it's also made out of a lightweight hard shell composite to help minimize any damage to the rider and personal items if an accident ever occurs. This backpack with lights also has a padded sleeve for 16-inch laptops, an extra sleeve for tablets, multiple pockets for smaller items, three zippered pockets inside, and enough room to fit a large watermelon in case you ever have to ride to the supermarket to buy one.

4. When it comes to designing a product, how do you make sure that safety is a priority, while also keeping functionality and the look of the product in mind?

I truly believe that functionality, safety, and looks always go hand in hand when designing a product. When designing a product with electro panels, safety is simply a byproduct of the design, or design is a byproduct of the safety element. (They are the same thing.) Another example might be aerodynamics; aerodynamics create sharp shapes and creases that are interesting to the viewer, and the design is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

5. How do you hope to grow your company over the next year or so?

There are many things in the works, from our marketing and advertising campaigns to the development of new products, things that I cannot say much about. But one of our biggest milestones at Underground Technology will be the launch of our web store. We are expecting that by the end 2015 we will have it up and running, ready for our current loyal customers and welcoming new ones. One thing is for sure: this is just the beginning.

Thanks, Diego!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meet Mike Reid, Creator of STUDTEGERY, an Educational Board Game

When Mike Reid is not working his theatre manager job, or TV/screenwriting (Pastor Greg - sitcom, Super Simple Science - TV science show, His Kids - kids talk show, BB's Bedtimes Stories with Monty - children's TV series), he is selling his educational board game STUDTEGERY. Learn more at http://www.studtegery.com, or check out STUDTEGERY on Teachers Pay Teachers.

1. How did you come up with the idea for STUDTEGERY?

During my time in college in the mid to late 80s, seldom did I go anywhere without a set of index cards with facts on them so I could study for my next test at a moment's notice. Also during that time, Trivial Pursuit became the most popular board game to sweep college campuses. When I started brainstorming the type of game I wanted to create, these two life experiences played a major contribution to the creation of STUDTEGERY.

2. What is the significance of the name of your game?

I wanted a name that represented what this board game does, which is to combine studying with strategy and makes studying fun. I remembered that Saturday Night Live skit where Will Ferrell's George W. Bush character used the made up word STRATEGERY and thought, "What if used the 'TEGERY' suffix in my game's name?" and the name STUDTEGERY was born. Furthermore, while the name still has most of "STUDYING" and a little bit of "STRATEGY" in it, well, most of the letters in "STRATEGY," it is fun to say. Go ahead and say it, STUDTEGERY.

3. Why do students--and teachers and parents!--like the game?

  • Students like STUDTEGERY because it makes studying fun.
  • Teachers like STUDTEGERY because it helps the struggling students review for tests more effectively than the ask and answer test review which the struggling students avoid partaking in for fear of being embarrassed if they answer incorrectly in front of their peers.
  • Parents like STUDTEGERY because it is a fun way for them to be involved with their children's studies.

4. How can individual students adapt the game to suit what they need to study at a particular time?

The great thing about STUDTEGERY is from 3rd grade to graduate school, it works all subjects, classes, and courses as long as the student is studying for a multiple choice type test. While STUDTEGERY has no clue what you need to study, you and/or your teacher do. You and/or your teacher create the multiple choice test preparation questions/answers from your class lectures, notes, handouts, text books, etc, and you use those questions/answers for game play.

5. What was your process like in creating the game--from designing it to having it manufactured, and then marketing it?

The thought process with my design was to replicate a multiple choice test. Just like most multiple choice tests, I went with only black and white colors. The players' pieces and answer sticks were the letters "A," "B," "C," and "D."

As for getting STUDTEGERY manufactured, I went with a company called 521 Promo. I found their manufacturing prices to be very fair. I sent them the prototype I made from an old Trivial Pursuit game, and from there, we worked together on getting the graphics just right, then got the games manufactured and safety tested.

As for marketing STUDTEGERY, I am still riding the learning curve as I just launched the game. I first set up a website (www.studetegery.com) from which to sell STUDTEGERY. I have also made STUDTEGERY available for sale on Amazon.com and TeachersPayTeachers.com. Since my budget is extremely limited and school just started back, I am focusing on teachers, schools, PTA/PTOs, and homeschools in September and October, then onto parents and students for the Christmas season. Of course, I am working hard on getting distribution into brick and mortar retail stores.

Thanks, Mike!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Meet Victoria, Creator of Money Munchkids

Money Munchkids' goal is to teach children grades K-3rd about basic financial terms and principles in order to provide a sound foundation for their lives as adults and the financial responsibilities that await them. Money Munchkids does this through their completely original after-school course, activity books, and other retail material. Learn more about their activity books and other financial literacy products by clicking here.

1. What made you realize that kids today could really use some help in developing money management skills?

Being an older sister and having experience in child care, I have a passion for kids. During a shopping trip with a family, I was doing some child care for one of the children, who was pretending to buy the whole store with their fake credit card. I watched as the child used the credit card reader exactly as an adult would. It was frightening. I think that's the moment that I finally decided to put my idea into action.

2. Growing up, did your parents influence your own ideas about money?

Definitely, my dad is an entrepreneur, and my mom is an accountant. They both taught me to use money as a tool to succeed and accomplish my goals.

3. What are some of the key lessons that kids will learn with your activity book?

Kids can learn about counting change, ways to make money, and managing a bank book, with puzzles about important terms and more. Make It, Count It, Keep It is the beginners' activity book. It brushes over a lot of the topic we cover in our class. It's important to note that the activity books are and will continue to be separate from the courses, so kids don't need to be in the class to use the activity books.

4. Where (in what geographical area) do you offer your after school courses, and what do students learn in those courses?

Thus far we've only got courses based only in Los Angeles. We'll be approaching schools in the Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, and Venice areas over the next few weeks about starting courses. If anyone, in those or other areas, would like us to bring our course to a school they can Request A Course.

5. If you could suggest just three financial lessons/ideas for parents to share with their kids, what would you say>

There are so many great tips to share but a few would be:

  • Start your kids' financial education early because they learn young and fast!
  • Teach them that things cost money and how the cost of some things compare to the cost of others.
  • Encourage them to keep track of their own money.

We also have resources for adults on helping to teach their kids about money.

Thanks, Victoria!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Meet Mayer Dahan of Prime Five Homes and Dahan Properties

Young entrepreneur Mayer Dahan is CEO of Prime Five Homes and Dahan Properties, full service real estate development companies that specialize in building modern, sustainable homes in Los Angeles. He is also the founder of The Dream Builders Project, an action based charity. The DBP hosts charitable events to fund and raise awareness for several of Los Angeles' key social issues, including child abuse and neglect, education, homelessness, and severe illness and disease.

1. How did you first become interested in sustainable building practices?

I first became interested in sustainable building practices and building eco-friendly, modern homes when I started thinking about wanting a home of my own. When you are buying a home, you want quality materials, sturdy infrastructure, and reliable and sustainable design. I realized how much LA is lacking this type of housing and decided to make it my mission to provide and educate people about the importance of building this way. At Prime Five Homes, we pride ourselves on utilizing only sustainable construction, solar energy, eco-friendly materials, and smart home technology. As the green building code becomes stricter and more apparent in the residential market, we strive to exceed these standards and make our houses even better and more beautiful.

2. In what ways do you find that being an L.A. native influences your work?

I was born and raised in LA, so this city is my home. Making LA the best that it can be is my passion, and my worldwide travels have taught me that we do live in a great city, but there are things we can improve on, such as housing and sustainability. Seeing and exploring various architectural innovations and design styles around the world is what inspires me to continue building modern homes and educating Angelinos on the future of building and housing.

3. When it comes to the homes you've built through Prime Five Homes, do you have any favorites overall?

432 S. Citrus is most definitely my favorite so far. Not only is the look of home modern, beautiful, and distinct, but the design and architecture is what I am incredibly proud of. The open floor plan completely blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor environments, establishing a style of living that some can only dream of.

Although it was one of our more challenging builds because we wanted to create an aesthetic that would stand out from the competition while still maintaining a modern and eco-friendly design, the final product was well worth the challenge. The big, luxurious windows allow so much natural light to filter into the home's interior and the refurbished wood that adorns the ceiling of the upstairs balcony, as well as the kitchen cabinetry is are why I love 432 S. Citrus so much.

A current project that we are working on right now on, N. Curson Ave, will be incomparable to anything I've ever done before. Stay tuned! It will be well worth it!

4. What inspired you to start The Dream Builders Project?

After the death of a close friend from unfortunate circumstances in 2013, I realized how important it is to offer a helping hand to those in need. I didn't just want to help on a small scale. In her name, I wanted to make a real impact on our community, and for this reason, I founded The DBP. Replicating Prime Five Homes' philosophy of making LA a better place, the goal of The DBP is to give back to the community with a focus on homelessness, child abuse and neglect, education, and human trafficking. In its history, The DBP has hosted over 12 Charity Flash Mobs, two Charity Galas, and one orphanage remodeling, and supplied more than 600 school children with school supplies.

5. For people who are reading this and nurturing their own entrepreneurial dream, what's your advice for getting started--or taking their dream to the next level?

You don't need to know everything in order to get started: you just need a good idea, passion, and a whole lot of drive! And don't be afraid to take risks. Just believe in yourself and dream big!

Thanks, Mayer!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Meet Matt Torrence, Owner of The Music Teacher Guy LLC

Matt Torrence is the owner/operator at The Music Teacher Guy LLC, established in 2008. Find The Music Teacher Guy online at both http://www.themusicteacherguy.com and http://www.musicteacherguy.com. This company provides high-quality, affordable music lessons--guitar, piano, bass, and drums--in the suburban Philadelphia region of PA. No contracts to sign. Teachers travel to students' homes, and Matt has six teachers currently working with his company. Lessons are also available online, on Skype, at http://www.privatemusiclessons.com.

1. What first inspired you to teach music, and what do you think sets you apart as a teacher?

I don't think I was initially "inspired" to teach; I just decided to give it a try after seeing a Help Wanted flyer in a local music store. Someone who was starting his own music teaching business needed guitar teachers to work for him. This was a travelling or mobile gig, meaning we teachers would be driving to the students' homes in our own cars. I was in-between jobs at the time and needed something new. But now, yes, I feel very inspired to spread knowledge to my music students, who are very important to me.

2. What are some of your favorite parts of your job teaching individual private lessons?

The best is explaining some aspect of music theory to a student who's eager to grasp it. A serious, diligent student is my favorite part of the job. It's all about the reactions of the students--I react to how they react. If they look forward to the lesson and to learning, I look forward to teaching. Otherwise, it's also nice to be able to focus solely on one student at a time and give him or her all of my attention.

3. Why did you decide to offer lessons in people's homes rather than in a studio or at a music store, etc?

That was an idea I picked up from my former boss, the guy who hung the flyer in the music store. It's a cost-saving measure. Bricks and mortar can be expensive to lease, and I'd be awfully nervous if my student roster was low--as often happens in the summertime. I should mention that I went into business for myself in 2008. I own the company and am my own boss. I also have a half-dozen teachers working for me. A studio or music store wouldn't allow me to have the full flexibility I want. Left to my own wits, I can do a much better job for my students. I give a lot of flexibility to my teachers, too, which is why they enjoy working for me more than for other outlets, i.e. studios and music stores.

4. What geographical area do you serve with your in-home lessons, and what about your lessons offered via Skype?

We’re mostly in three counties in suburban Philadelphia, PA. We’re in Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Bucks County. Those areas are slightly northwest of the city, mainly. We might go into Chester County a bit. One of my guitar guys lives in Philadelphia proper, so he handles that area. I'll teach anyone on Skype, but bear in mind, I only speak English.

5. If someone is reading this who has always wanted to learn to play an instrument but never felt "gifted" when it comes to music, what would you say to that person?

I'd say, "That makes two of us!" Persistence can often overcome a lack of "natural talent." I never felt like I was a natural--and still don’t--but I knew if I kept at it, relentlessly, I could achieve a lot. As a friend and ukulele teacher once said to me, "You have to be too stubborn to quit."

Thanks, Matt!