Los Angeles Underground

Los Angeles Underground

One of my best friends, the best man at my wedding in fact, is himself getting married! As such, the same friend who organized my bachelor party (see exhibits A, B, C, D, and E) is about to have his own — in Vegas (insert .gif from The Hangover).

The only setback, it starts on a Friday morning. After making some calls and pulling some strings, I struck a deal to have Friday off and make up the time next week. One of the perks of working at a start up, flexibility.

Escalator descending to Universal City Metro station

While I could drive to Las Vegas, I am not sure I want to drive 4 hours at the crack of dawn, by myself, to catch up with the guys. That’s when it occured to me, I don’t necessarily have to drive. I looked at last minute flights, too expensive. I looked at trains, too long of a journey (twice as long actually). Finally, I looked at buses, bingo!

The coach bus would leave at 7:00 AM from Union Station, which means that I would still have to make my way to Downtown LA before sunrise. Sure, I could take an Uber or Lyft, but today is about public transportation, namely, the LA Metro.

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Friday: Day 1 of the Bachelor Party

My alarm goes off at 4:30 AM for me to get ready and make my way to the underground train station I used to take every day to go to work, and make my way to Union Station — Universal City station.

Universal City Metro station

Entering the station felt like muscle memory, I remember those public transportation days vividly. I still even had my old “tap card” to enter the station. Unfortunately, it had insufficient funds on it, which forced me to take a minute to reload my card, which in turn made me miss my train.

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The next train would not arrive for another 15 minutes. I would be cutting it really close — down to the last minute, if I made my bus at all. Still, I waited patiently for the next train knowing that there was nothing I could do to make the next train arrive faster. Before I knew it, a train full of half-asleep passenger was opening its doors before me.

Los Angeles Metro Red Line Passengers

Every stop along the way felt like a roll of the dice, like a game of craps, where at any given point we could roll a 7, say encounter a train delay, and lose it all — perhaps this could be foreshadowing for what is to come. Fortunately, the train arrived at Union Station with 5 minutes to spare, I hopped onto the bus, and was on my way to Vegas through the road less traveled.

It is always interesting taking the Metro in Los Angeles, mainly because very few people utilize it as their preferred method of transportation, but also because a number of people do not even know it exists. I certainly did not know we had a subway system until I returned from New York — where I would take the subway almost exclusively to go just about anywhere. On a related note, how weird is it to navigate cities several feet below the surface?

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Tell me, have you ever taken the subway? If so, what was your experience like? Do you prefer to drive your own vehicle or take public transportation?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Experiencing the Future of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Experiencing the Future of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Imagine getting in your car to go to work, on the back seat. You open an app on your phone and press the button that will command your electric vehicle to autonomously and safely drive you to work — during which you may get a head start on emails, enjoy a massage, watch the morning news, or even resume your well-deserved sleep. This is a future only found in the pages of Sci-Fi books with the likes of Orson Scott Card, or their adaptations to the silver screen.

Historically, electric vehicles (or “EVs”) have been an unsustainable luxury primarily due to their range limitations and high prices, until now. We are quickly entering the modern electric vehicle era brought to us by the generational revolution that industry titans have been fighting for decades; and I for one, am beyond excited for the future of transportation. I have driven a Model S, and it is great! But Tesla is only the beginning. After its 5 year struggle and subsequent 10 year rocky path to success, Tesla has proven the industry that the world is ready for EVs. As such, every major player has an EV project in the pipelines. But today I want to write not of the plans of what we’ve seen before, but of what is to come: EV startups.

In the past few years there have been a number of EV startups showing up across California alone; including, but not limited to Lucid Motors, Canoo (formerly known as EVelozcity), and Faraday Future. Each of these startups promise to rethink the future of mobility the way Tesla once promised to rethink the combustion vehicle. Today, I am privileged to provide insights into one of these unreleased future vehicles. When I left my law firm job not too long ago, I had plenty of reasons to join a startup. However, the perks were not one of them. I did not even think of the perks that came with working at a startup until after I had joined. Sure, I enjoy being paid to eat pizza and drink beer while listening to the Department VP present on company updates as much as the next guy, but the ability to experience the future before anyone else, is something entirely different.

That, was exactly what happened this week. A select few of us were introduced to the latest and most complete gamma vehicle available. Then, we experienced it. First and foremost, it was fast, as in very fast. No, you’re not listening, it was a trip to the chiropractor fast. It was 0-60 in just over 2 seconds, but it felt like the blink of an eye (and it sounded like a spaceship). Then was its luxurious feel. With their premium materials and ergonomic design, the seats felt like a warm hug. Finally, there were the electronics, which reminded me of that old “Yo Dawg” meme originated from the even older MTV Pimp My Ride show with Xzibit. I could picture it clearly: “Yo Dawg, I heard you like screens, so I put screens in your screens so you can watch your stuff while you watch your stuff.” With screens in front of almost every seat, every seat was desirable, not to mention spacious. This EV will mark the end of “shotgun” and “not-in-the-middle!” There is no middle seat to begin with, only comfortable, internet-enabled, experiences. Fully inspired by the EV of tomorrow, my tour came to an end, and I sadly resigned myself to waiting at least one more year until I can purchase this EV on the market.

EVs are undoubtedly the future. They are environmentally friendly and can break our dependence on foreign oil, which incentivizes both ends of the political spectrum to embrace them. They are desirable, cost-efficient, and long-lasting, which places capitalism on their team. They are the future of autonomous, safe, ride-sharing, which is expected to reduce congestion on the streets and thus earns every Angelino’s attention. As such, everyone has a reason to look forward to the future, even if it is just to see the Sci-Fi books and movies we grew up with play out in real life before our very own eyes.

(Featured Image by: Kaique Rocha)

Reasons for Joining a Startup

Reasons for Joining a Startup

Today, much like every day, I woke up excited to go to work. It’s not a feeling I had felt since I first joined the workforce, and even then, I don’t think I ever felt this motivated. The reason? I work at a startup.

My startup, which shall currently remain unnamed, is in many ways exactly what you would imagine: ambitious youth, cutting-edge technology, exciting projects, and risk, lots of risk, an unusually high amount of risk actually. To paint an accurate picture of the level of risk, understand that I joined one week not knowing if I would have a job the next, and I would do it all over again.

Let me be clear, this is not my first job out of college, I am of sound mind and body, and I was not unemployed. In fact, I had a great job. I worked in Downtown LA (at the Deloitte building to be precise) where I had a corner office with a view of the city and earned an above-average salary. So why, then, would I leave? Why not, I ask back.

Sure, I gave up financial stability, job security, and the comfort of the familiar. But there is never truly a real guarantee that you will not lose your well-established job tomorrow (or that you’ll succeed in it). The difference is that at a startup this is not a secret. However, instead of focusing on the negatives, I chose to focus on the positives, among which are the following:

Opportunity: While your contributions at a large company may (or may not) be appreciated, they are likely to be but a drop in the bucket. At a startup you can make waves! For example, with no more than 5 years of experience in my field, I could only suggest ideas that more often than not led to nothing at my old job. Here, I am impacting processes and procedures. I am bringing about efficiencies that previous employers could only wish to accomplish. At the same time, opportunity has many faces at a startup. Specifically, there is no task too small or too large for anyone on the team, and thus you are able to wear many different hats and take on responsibilities unimaginable at an average desk job.

Excitement: I may not have been struck by lightening only to be in a coma for 9 months and wake up a speedster, but I do have some of the excitement of being the fastest man alive. I effectively work at STAR Labs, or at the very least it sure feels like it. My startup is past the handful of nerds in a garage stage and is now leasing a large R&D building that both looks and feels like the birthplace of a particle accelerator. That alone, is inspiring. The real magic however, lies just past the facade and among the rows and rows of overachieving, multicultural, ambitious peers who are literally developing the future. I cannot think of many more exciting things than, well, trying to change the world.

Happiness: This is the part where I acknowledge the fact that startups are not for everyone. I am completely aware that the same water that softens the potato also hardens the egg. Some people prefer a routine life, without challenges, without change, without risk, and that’s ok. But if you’re like me, you’re averse to the ordinary and crave the extraordinary, (to a degree) the avant-garde. If you’re in this pioneering camp, a startup will not only satisfy your needs, it will bring about something that you likely lost along the way ever since you first started paying bills: Happiness. More specifically, the happiness that comes with following your dreams.

Regret: Lastly, there is perhaps one single most important reason why I decided to join my startup, and that is regret, or in this case the lack thereof. I can say with absolute confidence that I would have always regretted not taking this opportunity, even at the cost of its almost insurmountable amount of risk. This, I believe speaks to more than just joining a startup; taking calculated risks, pertains to a way of life.

Ultimately, I would much rather live a life filled with rich experiences that may or may not work out, than look back at the end of my life longing to have done what I did not have the courage to do at the time. Thus, at the end of the day, if you’re wondering whether to take a leap of faith, be it with joining a startup or otherwise, ask yourself: What type of life do you want to live?

(Featured Image by: RawPixel)