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Interview of Lou Pambianco Managing partner of CDP & Founder, Chairman and CEO of Startup Sandbox

Managing partner of CDP, Lou Pambianco spearheaded the development of its Exceptional Growth Model based on the successes of its Silicon Valley clients. Lou is also the founder, chairman and CEO of Startup Sandbox, a bioscience incubator affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Lou is now applying the proven practices of exceptional growth to bioscience startups at Startup Sandbox. The mission of the Sandbox is to help those early-stage companies transform their research and ideas into commercial success. In a short time, 47% of Sandbox companies have launched as independent commercial enterprises.

Lou is a competitive ocean sailboat racer and has captained Red Hawk, his ultra-light Santa Cruz 40 sailboat, and Heartbeat, his Wylie 46 boat, to victories in scores of competitions. He is also a member of the six-day club of mono hull racers. Crewing on the renowned yacht Merlin in the Pacific Cup, Merlin completed the San Francisco to Hawaii race in six days nineteen hours. And to temper his competitive edge and nourish the soul, Lou is an avid gardener and a talented cook.

This episode we talked about:

  1. What is Startup Sandbox and the reasons why one should come there.

  2. The future in Silicon Valley with the Bio Science revolution that's happening now.

  3. Discussing more about the Bioscience, Human Genome, Nano Pore technology.

  4. The reason behind why Santa Cruz is the first preference for Bio Science.

  5. Rise in Bio Science after COVID-19 and the future results of it.

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Transcripts: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer to the Transcripts:

The transcript was generated using an Artificial Intelligence program and then scanned over; we would like to thank you in advance for understanding that there might be some inaccuracies. While reading, one might also notice that there are times were the sentences are not grammatically correct and due to changes in advertisements, the time stamps do not always align with the show. We are keeping the text as true to the interview as possible and hope that the transcript can be used for a reference in conjunction with the Podcast audio. Thank you and enjoy.

Intro 0:01

This is Silicon Valley Tech, behind the scenes, a podcast hosted by Shawn Flynn and Sunil S Ranka. Here's where we talk to the real heroes, to find out how decisions are made, and how they're executed to create the thriving businesses of tomorrow.

There's an unintended consequence of COVID-19. And that is that the world eye now is on bio science. Think about that. Prior to COVID-19 bio science wasn't in the paper. But there's been times over the last 12 weeks, when then RNA based company Moderna has actually driven the stock market because they are doing an RNA based vaccine. So the attention of the world's on bio science.

About Lou Pambianco :

And that is Lou Pambianco, who is the Chairman & CEO of Startup Sandbox which is designated appealing Incubator of the University of California, Santa Cruz. The mission of the Startup Sandbox is to help these early stage companies, their research and ideas in commercial successes. And in the short time 47% of the Startup Sandbox companies have large commercial enterprises. On today we talk about what are the sorts of problems companies are tackling at startup sandbox? What is the bio science and the biotech revolution of today and what's happening? And much, much more. So let's get right in this interview with loop. All right. Enjoy!

Shawn Flynn 01:31

Lou, thank you for taking the time today to be on the Silicon Valley Tech podcast with Sunil S Ranka wand Myself. Now, Lou, you've had this amazing history in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, in digital technology working with companies in Silicon Valley, can you give us a little bit of background up to this point?

Lou Pambianco 01:48

Certainly and it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me. You know, Silicon Valley, as we know, went through so many changes. I grew up in the Valley and in the late 60s into the early 70s, the valley transitioned from this magnificent domain based orchard base Valley. And over a period of time that shifted very quickly into companies starting with Fairchild, and then spawning so many companies that became the digital revolution, I was fortunate at the time to be able to work with some of those early stage companies and I formed a consulting company in the early 80s, I formed a corporate development partners and that was in partnership with David Richards. I met David at what at that time, was the fastest growing company in the valley and David was doing architectural CAD design and he basically said, Lou, you know, I came out of McKinsey and I'd like to do a consulting company, why don't we form one. So together with, with Dave, and our third partner, Ken Verno, we formed corporate development partners. And that became the most wonderful ride and experience of my lifetime. We had a 10-10 rule when we started corporate development partners. Any company had to be 10 minutes or 10 miles form corporate

development partners, and we were on the corner of Great America Expressway, and Patrick Henry. Every company that was going to be a tremendous company someday was within reach and we had the opportunity to work with most of those companies worked with Intel during that period of time when they were transitioning from DRAM to microprocessor $4, and 25 cents a share, and everyone was shorting now, of course, the rest is history we worked with later in the in the 80s. Connor Peripherals, Connor Peripherals, became the fastest growing company in American business history grew from zero to a billion dollars in revenue in four and a half years. They were Fortune Company of the year and we built what was called the exceptional growth model. We looked at what are the success factors that enable a company to grow rapidly, and Silicon Valley and Finis Conner was the CEO of Connor Peripherals, and we said, look why don't we go out and talk to three of your customers, SUN, Apple, and Compaq. They've all grown to a billion dollars in revenue, and under 10 years, let's figure out what they did, right. And then let's look at how we incorporate that into a growth model for Connor. So we did that and we put together a research package that was probably a good 24 inches thick. We met with the executive teams and all three of those companies. We met with the original investors, we met with the folks that covered them on Wall Street and we interviewed the staff, the executive team and down through the organization and across the organization to find out what's it like here, how you achieve what you achieve so rapidly. And then we put together what we call the exceptional growth study. We shared it with Connor and then we built the roadmap for Connors growth. We also shared it with each one of the companies that we had interviewed.

Sunil Ranka 05:05

Beautiful! So you talk about the early stage, people were shorting. But those were the company came up, you talked about getting into a methodical way of addressing how the company's needs to grow. Based on your work in Silicon Valley throughout the digital revolution, what brought you to Santa Cruz, and your involvement with bioscience and biotech today?

Lou Pambianco 05:27

Sunil that's a wonderful question. And first of all, I am an ocean racer, I have a sailboat in Santa Cruz. And we've always had a home on the coast. I we lived in Saratoga, you know during the day, but I looked at the digital revolution the last half of the 20th century. And then I began just doing pro bono work at University of California, Santa Cruz, and I had the privilege of being introduced to David Haussler. David, Director of the Genomics Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz. And he and his team were the first to assemble the Human Genome, so in working with David early on, and this goes back over a decade, I've had to look at this and say, wow, I am the foundation of the digital revolution, there's now a Bio Science revolution that's defining the first half of the of the 21st century. So let's now focus on Bio Science. So that became a passion for me.

Sunil Ranka 06:23

So you talked about a transition from growth, and I keep hearing from you three domains and just correct me if I'm wrong Speed to Market Speed to Profit and speed to. So you are all about speed.

Lou Pambianco 6:38

Speed the Revenue, Speed the Profit, and now I own the URL of Speed to Commercialization

Sunil Ranka 6:44

Speed to Commercialization. So, you have seen everything from technology to bio science, but what's uniqueness in Santa Cruz? Why Santa Cruz and why made you choose Santa Cruz and invest your time and effort into Startup Sandbox?

Lou Pambianco 7:03

Well, you need to look at the history of the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1978. Provo Sinsheimer met with a group of the professors at the university and said we are going to be the pre-eminent research university in the country. And by the way, your task is to map the Human Genome that was 1978. Today, the University of California at Santa Cruz is in the top five universities in total applied research grants over $150 million a year in research grants. They're number one in the world, in publications cited. So the research that's being done at the University of California, Santa Cruz is deep, wide and incredibly rich. With that in mind when I was asked with my business partner, Judyon in March of 2017, would we start an Incubator? I said, you want us to do what? You know, I'm gardening I'm sailing my boat. I still have clients in the valley. Why would I start an Incubator? Well, we did the due diligence, and it became very apparent University of California Santa Cruz leads the world in areas of Genomics, Bioinformatics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, the molecular biology center for RNA and Nano pore technology, these are fundamental to bio science. So we did that due diligence from March until April and on April 17, we incorporated as a nonprofit.

Sunil Ranka 8:32 This is incredible because being in the valley, and we all know that there are seven UCS around Silicon

Valley, and most of them are prominent names, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara. But this was phenomenal to know that UC Santa Cruz leads in most of the research, especially in case of bioscience, it's incredible.

Shawn Flynn 8:56

Yes. So, Lou with that though, can you talk to us about maybe some of the startups in startup Sandbox and kind of what they're working on? I'm really interested to hear because it sounds like there's this undiscovered talent that's in Santa Cruz that we're learning about for the first time. And I'm sure there's some startups in your facility that are the exact same way.

Lou Pambianco 9:15

There are. And let me begin by saying that what I've done specifically at the Incubator is to provide business commercial services to each one of our member companies. And what does that mean? Well, capitalizing on the lessons we learned in the exceptional growth summit study in in the valley. We're applying those lessons to these companies, these young entrepreneurs and some of them are seasoned

Entrepreneurs, and really focusing with them on how do they grow an enterprise. How do they move quickly to the commercial markets. So in under 18 months, we graduated six companies into the commercial markets. Let me tell you a little bit about those companies to answer your question. Cruz foam is a company that is actually making biodegradable foam out of shrimp shell waste Titan, and they're now in the packaging market. So they're providing biodegradable packaging, they'll be able to, to partner with the automotive industry and be able to put biodegradable foam into automobiles. So this is a marvelous company. We have a company that came out of the research did not report on professor at the University of California Santa Cruz has done and that's Nano pore technology. David Deamer professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, invented the Nano pore technology. He licensed that technology to Oxford Nano Pore out of London and there's just a tremendous amount of capability at the university in Nano pore technology so pinpoint sciences was created. And Lisa diamond is the CEO and we worked with them to partner with Analog Devices to create a chipset that would power this wonderful medical handheld device through which you could take a saliva or other particle and you literally could bring one molecule through a opening at a time excited with an electrical charge, and it would determine whether that was in this case SARS, COV2 within 30 secs with a 98% positive rate, so this is phenomenal and we're working with him right now on on funding. We have we have a company currently in the lab with a senior scientist, Mary Noy, who is synthesizing DNA will low cost synthetization of DNA has many, many applications. One application that is critical, and you know, just well as I do, we're running out of storage space. So imagine you can now store data in DNA. So that's what she's working on and making tremendous progress. I could go on and on. But let me stop there.

Sunil Ranka 12:08

From everything what you're seeing, you talked about companies trying to store data on DNA, COVID testing, we had depth talked about Nano pore technology where on a pen drive kind of device, you can do Genome Sequencing. It's phenomenal. I mean, these are cutting edge technologies. Now, you've seen so

much last 12 weeks have changed the world upside down. What are you seeing for the future of bioscience, especially now in the age of COVID?

Lou Pambianco 12:37

You know, there's an unintended consequence of COVID-19. And that is that the world eye now is on bio science. Think about that. Prior to COVID-19 bio science wasn't in the paper. But there's been times over the last 12 weeks, when then RNA based company Moderna has actually driven the stock market because they are doing an RNA based vaccine. So the attention of the world's on bio science. At the sandbox today, I'm getting inquiries, multiple inquiries a week by companies that want to come to Startup Sandbox. Why? A couple of reasons, one bioscience meets quality of life in Santa Cruz. This is a wonderful place to be. Two proximity to the university, and the treasure trove expertise that residents at University of California. Santa Cruz is something people want to be there for, they want to engage with those professors and we make that possible. And then three, think about what drives your creativity. Creativity is driven by proximity to areas where you can have a vision of what's possible. Well think about, you know, being in Santa Cruz,

particularly at the campus and looking out from the redwoods over the vista of Monterey Bay. It really does spark the creative juices. For the people that come to the Sandbox. They work 24/7, they're in our lab, they're in a BSL one or BSL two lab and incubator and they can take a break and they can walk down natural bridges drive through the butterfly sanctuary, and onto natural bridges beach, some of them will even surf down there. They'll come back, take a shower, and they're back at the lab. So it's a very creative environment.

Shawn Flynn 14:26

Okay, I want to go on vacation right now. That sounds too great. So going to the the evolution of Silicon Valley and the digital revolution that happened in the past, how do you see the future in Silicon Valley with the Bio Science revolution that's happening now?

Lou Pambianco 14:41

Well, as I said, the bio science revolution is taking place on the foundation of the digital revolution. So if we did not have, you know, all of the the digital components from computer technology, from the ability of the software programs that have been developed, you wouldn't have a bio science revolution today. So digitization makes possible bio science. David Hauser, for instance, at the Genomics Institute, you know, has the bioinformatics labs, and they're processing massive data in order to look for pattern recognition. So how does that apply? Brca is component of breast cancer. And, you know, to be able to to have the genomic profile of women who've been diagnosed with breast cancer, and be able to do the bioinformatics on that database, you begin to see patterns. And they've already identified patterns of precision medicine treatment that in fact, would alleviate for many women who have that particular profile, their threat of breast cancer. This is the kind of work that's being done at the University of California.

Sunil Ranka 15:54 This incredible, I mean, as Shawn said, feels like going on vacation, but at the same time, we practically live

45 minutes away from Santa Cruz. But we never knew if we all we knew was boardwalk. All we knew was a place where you cannot find parking because beaches are so popular. But from your perspective, what you brought today, world class research institution, center of bioscience revolution, and you're heading that from the front by means of Startup Sandbox. Just curious, the company that grow beyond the boundaries of sandbox, what part they usually take, how does startup sandbox helps those company? And if I'm a biocides company, why would I come to Startup Sandbox?

Lou Pambianco 16:35

So if you were a bio science company, you would want to run to Startup Sandbox, for the reasons I previously gave the proximity to the university and in the knowledge base this there, but also for the ability to be mentored by top individuals, we have created what we call the founders circle. This is a group of people out of our network from the valley who have exited companies, from a quarter of a billion and beyond and in exit. They cover everything from the role of a Ceo, to marketing to finance, and we partner, these individuals with our sandbox members, our sandbox members know the science, we know the

business. So when I say speed to commercialization, our intention is to work with every company that comes to the Sandbox, and speed them to commercialization as rapidly as we can. People have said, that's a go out of business strategy, because you're losing revenue, rent money, we say no, because the world is traveling and we're getting more and more folks that want to be a part of startup sandbox because of the success. Hope that helps.

Shawn Flynn 17:47

So then what's next then for Startup Sandbox, what lies in the future?

Lou Pambianco 17:53

You know, we've, we've kicked off the sandbox venture fund this year. And Laura Oliphant, who was 15 years with Intel capital is the GP for the the fund, we have yesterday, kicked off the initial phase of that fun, which is a $5-10 million phase. And we're working with the university to coalesce a group of investors that will be first in as LPs into that fund. And the fund is very unique in that every member that I met that we admit is a member to the sandbox will get an automatic infusion of funding. And that will be you know, from $50-100,000. And that's it get started with follow on rights up to an including the a round. So this is a powerful venture fund for the companies that become members of Startup Sandbox. So that's what's happening right now. In addition to that, we're finding that the companies that come to Santa Cruz to be part of Startup Sandbox, want to stay in Santa Cruz. So we're on the cusp now really creating bio science commercial center in Santa Cruz. So we're partnering with the city, the university to create a Santa Cruz bio science and manufacturing commercial center. So that now these companies that graduate from the Sandbox can move right into a center that is fully stocked and equipped to handle both bio science in terms of lab work, and manufacturing. Coupled with that Chancellor Eve at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has dedicated property directly across the street from our incubator as the west side Research Park. And that's where David Hauser and his team are Bioinformatics, Robotics, Automation for automobiles, this

is a marvelous thing, because now, those postdocs and graduate students who are a part of those labs can begin to formulate ideas and bring them into the sandbox, simply walk across the street.

Sunil Ranka 19:39

This is incredible. So we discussed did the full circle, you started your career as somebody who wanted to learn from others, and put a growth package together did a successful exits, led the innovation from the front, biosigns, private race experience, full circle coming back by serving the community by building a startup If people want to know a little bit more about you on maybe more and more about you, and Startup Sandbox, what are the best way to reach out to you?

Lou Pambianco 20:32

Well, you can reach me at And I'll get right back to you. You can also visit our our website, And you can look at corporate development partners website And that gives you a full exposure to my background and and what we're doing.

Shawn Flynn 20:55

Lou, this has been a thrill. Thank you for your time day on the Silicon Valley Tech Podcast. Now for all listeners at home. Please Like and Share and distribute this to all your contacts. And once again, if you're in the Bay Area, and you have the opportunity to go to startup sandbox in Santa Cruz, we highly recommend you doing it. So once again, Luke, thank you for your time today on the Silicon Valley Tech Podcast.

Lou Pambianco 21:15

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Outro 21:20

Thank you for listening to Silicon Valley Tech behind the scenes. To find out more contact the team or to be a guest on the show, visit our website at We look forward to hearing from you and remember to support the show by leaving a review to encourage us to keep creating great content like this.

About Host Shawn Flynn: Sunil S Ranka: Shawn Flynn: +14159523165 or Sunil S Ranka: +14082428232 or For Interview Related Questions Contact Anjani Sharda: For Generic Questions Contact: Show Cover

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