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The Making of a Local Music Legend

If you listen to local music, then you’ve heard of Tim Mays. Mays is the cofounder and co-owner of San Diego’s mythic music venue The Casbah. On this episode of "I Made it in San Diego," Voice of San Diego's podcast about local businesses and the people behind them, hear how Mays went from a kid handing out concert fliers to an indie music legend. Mays started booking and producing shows in San Diego in the early 1980s as a way to make sure his favorite bands came through town. By...


When Running a Hotel Isn't Enough

Entertainment and hospitality is one of the top 10 industries in San Diego. Because hotels play such a big role in our region, their owners have some political power. In a new episode of I Made It in San Diego, a VOSD podcast about the people behind the region’s businesses, I talk to hotelier Elvin Lai about how running a hotel has led to his involvement in several business ventures, city politics and the community. After his father’s death, Lai was unexpectedly handed his family’s...


How Redhorse Became One of the Fastest Growing Companies in the Country

Last year, $9.4 billion flowed to defense contractors in San Diego. At the helm of one of those local private firms getting some of those military dollars is David Inmon, the CEO of Redhorse Corporation. In a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, a VOSD podcast about the people behind the region’s businesses, Inmon talks to Scott Lewis about how he built a fast-growing business that provides program management and technology services to the military and other clients. Almost exactly 10...


Creating a Future Through Music

For music engineer Justin Watson, music has always been a part of him. Growing up in Detroit was tough. He lived near the stretch of highway known as the 8 Mile Road, in a neighborhood where everyone and everything was about work. Watson, who goes by Jay Wat, had to grow up fast. Music kept his family tight. Wat's parents would put on basement parties that got the whole neighborhood dancing to Roy Ayers and Sly and the Family Stone. In the sixth grade, Wat's mom bought him his first...


A Place Maker Builds a Business

Ilisa Goldman thinks it should be easy for a group of neighbors to spruce up a vacant, city-owned lot with seating, shade, art and other simple amenities. Instead, they often end up having to claw through a series of bureaucratic barriers and many simply give up, or avoid the ordeal entirely. Goldman is the landscape architect and planner behind Rooted in Place, a firm she started to help clients – mostly nonprofits and community groups – create public spaces and outdoor learning...


Moving Doesn't Have to Be Terrible

Moving sucks. Mike Glanz went all in on that basic premise and ended up running an online moving business in Oceanside that now pulls in about $8 million in annual gross revenue. A decade ago, most people were either renting their own trucks or hiring full-service companies and paying them thousands of dollars to do everything. Glanz and his roommate Pete Johnson started seeing the rapid emergence of a new type of move. More and more folks were renting their own moving trucks and then...


A Grueling Game of Farmers Market Musical Chairs

Brian Beevers is the man behind the farmers markets in Clairemont, Serra Mesa and at Horton Plaza. He's also got a farmers market-inspired shop called Simply Local in North Park that sells goods made by San Diegans. Becoming one of the region's biggest purveyors of local products, though, wasn't easy. The success of a farmers market relies heavily on finding — and keeping — the right locations. That means Beevers' businesses over the years have often fallen victim to the whims of...


Chasing the Lucha Libre Dream

When Josue "Josh" Anival Salcido entered his first professional wrestling ring in 2009, it was as a last-minute fill-in for a few performers who didn't show up. His twin brother Jaime Salcido was by his side, and they tag-teamed in a Lucha Libre match. They had been training for that moment for more than two years, and even though they thought they weren't quite ready, the fans disagreed. Their careers as Lucha Libre performers, Josh as Krazy Klown and Jaime as Rasta Lion, lurched...


How a Kids Theater Program Grew Up

Back in the late 1970s, musical theater was growing rapidly from coast to coast. Semi-professional actors looking for a chance to perform on stage had several opportunities. But kids? Not so much. On a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, Voice of San Diego’s podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them, Paul Russell talks about how he filled that niche and built a kids' theater side job into what he said is now the largest youth theater program in the nation. In...


An Architect's Big Break, and the Struggle to Live Up to it

Jennifer Luce has made a name as an architect who takes an artful approach to designing buildings. Her firm, Luce et Studio, designed the Nissan offices in La Jolla, Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy and dozens of other award-winning projects in San Diego and beyond. On a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, Voice of San Diego’s podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them, Luce talks about how she got an unexpected break early in her career, and how she has...


'The Cockroaches of the Internet' on Their Online Empire

Back in 2001, the internet was a weird and wonderful place. It was devoid of the much of the online entertainment and noise of today. It was a place where a couple of Santee kids could do silly but entertaining things like bring the video game Tetris to life by running around San Diego dressed as a Tetris block – that people noticed and enjoyed. In a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, Voice of San Diego’s podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them, VOSD...


After Battling for Her Life, She Built a Successful Battling Business

Diana Ocampo is a fighter. In a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, Voice of San Diego’s podcast about the stories behind the region’s businesses and the people who made them what they are, Scott Lewis talks to Ocampo about the battles she's faced and the businesses she's built, then lost, then built again. When mixed-martial arts first started getting big, matches were illegal in California. Still, Ocampo saw an opportunity, and launched MMA matches at a venue in Tijuana. Her events...


The Battle Behind a Family's Secret Sauce

I had no choice but to try Bitchin' Sauce. It was years ago, and Ryan Smith was at the farmer's market in Hillcrest. He was so enthusiastic and wildly upbeat about his "bitchin' dips, so I stopped to give them a try. Yum. The sauces – which are sort of like hummus but made with ground-up almonds instead of garbanzo beans – are good. They're also vegan and fit other restrictive diets. And Smith had a whole charming farmers market schtick that sucked people in. It didn't take long for...


The Man Who Helped Sell San Diego on Fish Tacos

It's hard to imagine, I know, but there was a time when San Diego wasn't so sure about fish tacos. When Ralph Rubio opened the inaugural Rubio's on Mission Bay Drive in Pacific Beach, people still expected a taco to have a crunchy shell and contain some sort of beef. It took some time before Rubio's original fish taco, with its soft, yellow corn tortillas and beer-battered fish, caught on. "There was a lot of resistance. I was surprised when people would say, "What? Fish in a tortilla?...


The Theater Company That Went From a Chicken Coop to Center Stage in Carlsbad

New Village Arts started as an idea Kristianne Kurner had for a theater company back in the late 1990s. At the time, Kurner was a member of the first graduating class of The Actor’s Studio in New York – an intense program led by James Lipton. When Kurner graduated, she left New York for Los Angeles and started a family. But the theater scene in L.A. wasn’t doing so well at that time, so Kurner instead decided to make New Village Arts a reality. In the latest episode of “I Made it in San...


'The Soap of a Generation' Started With a Soapbox

There aren't any slick commercials or campaigns advertising Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. And yet, you've probably heard of the product. The soap is different – some might say a little weird. The most memorable feature isn't the soap itself; it's the labels, which are packed with over 3,000 words about “God’s Spaceship Earth,” Mohammed, Jesus, the Marxist welfare state, arctic timberwolves and more. The quasi-religious rants on the labels were written by the company's founder, Emanuel...


The Fitness Franchise That Started it All

I take three separate fitness classes a week to supplement my running workouts, including one at Barry's Bootcamp in Hillcrest, a franchise with locations across the country. San Diego has lots of similar options for the fitness-inclined: CorePower Yoga, OrangeTheory Fitness, CrossFit. One fitness franchise helped pave the way for all of them, and it started with one woman teaching classes out of rec centers in Oceanside. Judi Sheppard Missett, who is still Jazzercise's CEO and continues...


If the Shoe Fits, Build a Business Around it

Finding shoes that fit perfectly can be hard. After a particularly frustrating day of shoe shopping at a mall, Lucy Beard had a big aha moment while drinking her Starbucks latte. Beard happened to pick up an article about 3D printing technology and she thought, if these machines can create one-of-a-kind objects, couldn't they be used to make customized shoes? "I could have any kind of coffee I want from two little machines, and yet I couldn't get a pair of shoes that fit," she said. "And...


A Big Bet on Solar That Paid Off

The first time Daniel Sullivan was introduced to solar, he was hooked. He said he knew right away that it would take off, even though it was an expensive and somewhat obscure technology at the time. He was an electrician, so he brought the business opportunity to his employer. "I went to my boss and I said, look, this is something that I think is going to be a big deal," Sullivan said. His boss shut him down. And that was just the first time someone told Sullivan that his big solar bet...


Pioneering the New Frontier of Legal Pot

James Slatic is a marijuana business pioneer. One of his past business ventures set the standard for packaging medical marijuana. Another innovated vape cartridges and other products. The successful businesses he's built and his highly publicized ongoing legal battles with the district attorney’s office have made Slatic one of the most recognizable faces of the green rush that's sweeping the state as entrepreneurs jostle one another to find their place in the newly legal industry. But...