Experts in Residence: Dipak Shah, Kirsten Mangers, Richard Henson

Experts in Residence Spotlight
August 15, 2016 By Applied Innovation

Dipak Shah

Kirsten Mangers

Richard Henson

 

Dipak Shah

Dipak is the Founder and CEO of Reliant Solutions, based in Orange County, California. A former investment banker, Dipak routinely observed accountants exiting companies as a result of audit-related issues that surfaced during due diligence. Recognizing that company executives, including the Chief Audit Executive, lacked real-time visibility into audit results and associated risks, he founded Reliant Solutions. Dipak developed the vision and strategy of Reliant to provide complete and continuous transparency on the effectiveness of internal controls to executives, enabling them to better identify and manage risk. Dipak received his MBA in Finance from UC Irvine, CA, as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in Electrical Engineering from Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas. Dipak is a Board Member of OCTANe, an organization that drives technology innovation in Orange County.

Dipak is a Board Advisor of Beall Center, an organization that provides education and hands-on opportunities for students to learn about the process of entrepreneurship and innovation first hand. Dipak is a founder of Laguna Niguel Connector and also serves as an advisor to multiple start-up companies in the area.

Who or has been your greatest inspiration in life?

I have been a servant leader as far back as I can remember. So the people that have inspired me are my parents, my family members and public figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela. I believe in selfless giving, contributing to the growth of others and building better communities. You can bring value to others by being an empathetic listener, being able to see the big picture, including historical facts and current status to help plan and predict the future and instead of using personal authority one should be able to persuade or influence someone towards better decision making.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a new entrepreneur?

Have passion for what you’re doing and believe in it, visualize, dream it and live it. If you don’t believe in your business vision then you will have a hard time getting others to believe in it. Build a dynamic team of people who are smarter than you, and know how to evolve. A team that stays stagnant will not get to the finish line, a team capable of evolving will be far more successful.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence?

I became an EiR because as a serial entrepreneur I have a great deal of wisdom I can share with young and first time entrepreneurs to help them avoid making obvious mistakes. I have always made time to mentor young entrepreneurs, now I’m doing it in a more formal role as an EiR. I get tremendous pleasure out of helping others succeed, and feel that all of us should find time to help others in whatever way we can. I’m happy to provide insights and help from a business perspective.

If anyone could play you in a movie, who would it be and why?

I think it comes down to the actors that I admire the most as well as their skillsets. One such actor that comes to mind is Kevin Spacey. I just love his versatility and the various roles that he plays. I think he truly brings his characters to life.

Kirsten Mangers

A self-proclaimed small business & entrepreneur advocate, Kirsten was an early innovator behind the localization of online advertising for small-tomedium sized businesses. The company she founded, WebVisible, was one of the leading names in local online advertising, utilizing a SaaS platform to help local businesses acquire new customers across a vast network of media options. Kirsten led the expansion of the company via diverse partnerships across 14 countries, raising over $35 million in venture backing and growing the company from 8 employees to over 350. WebVisible’s domestic and international reseller partnerships included AT&T, British Telecom, Intuit, European Directories, Microsoft, and The New York Times Company, among others. Mangers has now created Chicklabs, an incubator for female led, entrepreneurial companies making a difference in our new economy. Additionally, Kirsten is past Chairman of the Board for the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County and serves on several private company Boards. She is an internationally renowned industry speaker and lobbyist, frequently recognized by the media as among a prestigious list of “women innovating technology”.

Who or has been your greatest inspiration in life?

From an inspirational standpoint, I would have to say family. It may sound a bit cheesy or trite, but at the end of the day, my grandparents were self-employed. They started a company in construction in the early days in South Bay and Redondo Beach. My grandmother ran a group of 50 men and handled all of the payroll, operations, and planning. She was the first female entrepreneur that I ever knew. She was incredibly strong-willed. It gave me a sense about myself, she always told me I could do anything. My mom was an early-stage achiever. She had a full ride scholarship in journalism and was one of the first female journalists hired outside of just doing the wedding columns. She eventually became an expert in school policy for public school education. So I have always had these strong females in my life. I became an entrepreneur out of necessity. My first company was born out of my first child being born. So i wasn’t like that “ah-ha” light bulb moment that many entrepreneurs have in the midst of the 2 a.m. call. My thought process was really I want to spend more time being a good and available mother, but I have more I want to accomplish. So my first company was started at the ripe age of 25 and I sold that by the time I was 30. So I would say my family is what put me in my position today.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a new entrepreneur?

Again, when you talk about entrepreneurship, there is a multitude of motivations. If you are in a position to impart advice as the older, senior member of the entrepreneurship community around here at the university, one piece of advice I would give is just don’t give up. You get beat up. I’ve been through so many circumstances while asking for investment or soliciting investment to grow my companies where people look you in the eye and say “your baby is ugly.” Something that you’re impassioned about, that you’ve worked so hard for. Years and years of your sweat equity have gone into it. Years and years of you taking your 401K out, liquidating your children’s college fund, pillaging your retirement accounts all to feed this dream that you have. It really gets hard when people look at you and continually state “I don’t like it. I don’t think you’re going to succeed” or “I like your company but I don’t like you” or “I like you but I hate your company” or “I hate your products” and literally getting personal. I have found myself in the parking lot many a day changing a powerpoint presentation and talking to myself saying, “Don’t let them beat you up. Just get back out there and get back on the horse again.” So, the energy level, the fervor, the passion, the compassion, the empathy for yourself and those around you are all the things that are a good traits of an entrepreneur. The second biggest piece of advice is that as you steadily grow, one of the largest downfalls in leadership is ironically people. You might not just make a mistake of “that was the wrong product” or “I have the wrong pricing strategy or the wrong go-to market strategy”, but sometimes you just make mistakes with people. So I think it is good for entrepreneurs to really get to know an individual who is coming in to join that passion project. If they are not a founder, really get to know them and vet them. Try before you buy if you can, because I know the largest mistakes I have made have been being a little too expeditious in the hiring process and not understanding the chemistry or culture with that new person coming in. So, be careful with the people.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence?

You get to a certain point in your career where you don’t need to work a 70 hour work week for somebody else. You like doing that 70 hour work week for yourself. What I love more than anything, and what I think I’m good at, is being a good mom. I have a nurturing personality, that is probably why they call me the mother hen of Chicklabs. I would make a really bad consultant because consultants are supposed to remain emotionally detached from the project they are working on. There’s a beginning and an end and then you’re gone. I can’t help but get emotionally attached to the projects I’m working on and the people I’m working with. I can’t help but be passionate about it. I can’t help but be emotionally invested in the agenda we’re working on and I find it’s very easy to do that here. There are a myriad of companies, student teams, and entrepreneurs with these extraordinary ideas. If the only thing they are lacking is some direction in a couple key areas, who would we be if we didn’t say yes to that and help the next generation get off on the right foot? There weren’t things like this when I was growing up, and if there were, perhaps I would have made a lot less mistakes. It’s a really easy decision to be here to help the next group come up.

If anyone could play you in a movie, who would it be and why?

How funny to even contemplate the fact that someone might actually make a movie about you one day because that’s just unfathomable to me. If they were going to make a movie, first of all, it would be incredibly boring. I would probably hope that I could be a Ken Burns documentary someday so I could hopefully be revisited cerebrally. But if I couldn’t get it that serious, I would probably pick Sandra Bullock because she strikes me as an intellectual that doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s approachable and a bit smart-alecky, a little irreverent, I think all of those adjectives seem to sum me up. So, if I were ever to have a movie done, I probably wouldn’t give it five stars or two thumbs up. I think the script would probably not read real quickly but I would hope Sandra would spice it up for me.

Richard Henson

Richard Henson is the CEO of PhageTech, LLC, a firm that is developing novel technology for immunodiagnostics. He is a medical device executive with over 30 years of experience in medical device development and manufacturing. He is also a board member of OCTANe and a member of the Chancellor’s CEO Roundtable at UCI. He is an investor in several other medical firms.

He is also the co-founder of Source Scientific, LLC, a medical instrument and device development firm that was ranked in 2012 as one of the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in the US. He served as CEO until December 2012. An experienced CEO with public and private companies, Richard has worked with many high-tech firms in biomedical, consumer and critical power industries. He has worked for several Fortune 500 firms including CBS and GE and spent several years in Europe with Swiss-based manufacturers of critical power equipment for heavy industrial markets including nuclear, power generation, oil & gas, petrochemical and transportation. He has also served as President of Clary Corporation, a public company (CLRY) that manufactures harsh environment power systems for medical, military and transportation applications. He has a strong combination of technical, sales, marketing and managerial experience. He is an alumnus of the Anderson School of Business at UCLA. He also attended California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). He has 4 children and lives in San Clemente, California.

Who or has been your greatest inspiration in life?

My greatest inspirations are members of my family. My father, my kids, and my wife. They’re clearly inspirations because they’re constantly positive and always trying something new. They’re never afraid of anything, they’re fearless. I think you have to be a little fearless at times. Some people say you’re ignorant of the facts, but I think it’s being fearless. You have to push the envelope a bit. If you are always pushing, you are testing the limits and finding what is possible.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a new entrepreneur?

The biggest thing new entrepreneurs need to do is network and get connected with the investment community, other people in the industry, support groups including UCI and UCI Applied Innovation. It is really important not to be closed in. You have to reach out all the time. You don’t get where you are going all by yourself. It takes the support of many people to do that and the only way to get that support is if you connect with them all the time.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence?

It was an easy decision after being asked by Richard Sudek. I have been involved with the University for a number of years. I have been involved with the business plan competition. I’ve been an advisor for the engineering school. I’ve worked with the business school on their own projects. So when the Cove was created, I was really excited. I already had experience with ITG licensing my technology so it was a natural fit for me. I am a very big supporter in connecting the private sector with the university.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence? You’re not just an EiR, you’re also the CEO of PhageTech which has worked with UCI Applied Innovation. Could you tell us about that experience?

The experience has been very positive the entire time. I’m really impressed with all of the programs that the Cove has put together and is offering. I think it is just the tip of the iceberg and it will continue to grow. It has been very positive. My personal involvement has been positive. We are a licensee of technology from the university system and that is one of the functions here at the Cove, to manage the licensing operations. I can’t believe how supportive everyone has been here for me personally, for PhageTech, and for the school itself that actually created this technology.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence? Could you tell us about some of the federally-funded research that has resulted in PhageTech technology and UCI Applied Innovation’s role in that?

The NSA and the NIH both have funded the research that eventually resulted in the PhageTech technology. That funding came over a period of ten years actually that the project track was on. That funding was absolutely critical. It is the type of research that a lot of companies would never do in their own because of the risks involved. The federally-funded programs have really benefitted some of these high risks projects that have been going on in the school. So we’ve definitely benefitted from that.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence? If anyone could play you in a movie, who would it be and why?

Undoubtedly it would be Wile E. Coyote. He never gives up.