The Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group celebrated a diverse group of companies, firms that are operating on the cutting edge of their industries, at its 4th annual #GameChangers recognition event last week at the Firehouse Arts Center.
Companies honored ranged from an organic pet food company in Danville to a manufacturer of compostable cardboard cold storage containers in Livermore, to a Danville drug company seeking to eliminate opioid overdoses by re-engineering the compound to a San Ramon marketing firm.
Innovation Tri-Valley honored eight companies and singled out one of its original members, Sensiba San Filippo with its Founders Award.
Pleasanton honorees included 10x Genomics and Lambda School. 10x co-founders Serge Saxonov and Ben Hindson accepted the award. It's the Tri-Valley's first home-grown unicorn (a private company valued at more than $1 billion) and will move into its new headquarters next to Stoneridge Mall this year. 10x designs and manufacturers diagnostic tools that accelerate the pace of research into genetics.
Lambda School trains people to work as software engineers and does so with no upfront cost. The revolutionary model aligns the student's interests with that of the school. The 30-week intensive program is designed so graduates can start working right after graduation. The cost of the program is paid back as percentage of their income. If a student doesn't make more than $50,000 annually, there is no cost for the training. The approach is so successful that 83 percent of graduates are hired within six months with a median starting salary of $70,000.
Livermore's honoree is Vericool, a company started to eliminate Styrofoam from the United States. It's recyclable and compostable shipping coolers are designed for medicines and food products and can be re-used or composted. Company founder Darrel Jobe told the audience he grew up on the streets of Richmond, homeless at 13 and a gang member who was in and out of trouble with law enforcement. With help, he turned his life around and now offers formerly incarcerated men and women jobs. He challenged others attending to do the same thing.
Other companies recognized include:
*Coast + Range: is a Danville-based manufacturer of pet food designed to upend the $32 billion business. It's food, designed by veterinarians and scientists is organic and based on dog's natural diet as carnivores. The company's algorithms allow it to customize food for pets throughout their lives as their owners take a simple survey on the website.
*Elysium Therapeutics: of Danville is tackling the opioid crisis by designing pain relievers that protect individuals from fatal overdoses. Its founder said that the company has proved in concept its plan to include chemicals in the pain reliever that negate the effects of an overdose. For instance, if a person took eight pills, the compound would allow the body only to assimilate the equivalent of one pill.
*Amber Solutions: of Dublin is bringing next-generation smart products to homes. Their electric outlet has shrunk from the size of a 30-pack of gum to one stick with its next generation designed to be as thick as the gum paper folded up. That allows lots of room in the gang boxes for a multitude of sensors that could warn of intruders, carbon monoxide concentrations or other hazards. It plans to launch its first series of electrical products this fall.
*SABA Software: is a 20-year old company that moved its headquarters to Dublin in the last few years. It makes software designed to help employees and teams maximize their performance with continuous feedback that connects directly to the company's success. It has customers around the world.
*Creative Digital Agency: of San Ramon focuses its business on reaching the challenging mobile audiences of people 20 to 40 years of age. It's been recognized as a top firm by the Mobile Marketing Association. Its digital and other creative solutions have been supplied to clients such as Airbnb, Merck Animal Health, Alameda County and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.