Riverside Startup Week Highlights Local Entrepreneurs


When it was time to name his company’s first product, recent University of California at Riverside graduate and Nex Move Games co-founder Mark Gilpatrick thought back to his travels abroad.

“In Middle Eastern cultures you’ll see people playing games like backgammon all day,” he said. “We wanted to reference this and we found the name Kumasi, which was a village that I backpacked through when I traveled through Ghana.”

Gilpatrick and Nex Move Games are part of ExCITE, a collaboration between business leaders, UCR, and the city and county of Riverside. ExCITE was founded to accelerate startup companies in Riverside, with the focus being on development of advanced technologies to create high technology jobs.

ExCITE is among the participants at this week’s inaugural Riverside Startup Week, a free, five-day event featuring local entrepreneurs, keynote speakers, and demonstrations. In addition to learning from CEOs, inventors, and investors of companies such as ESRI, Airbnb, Uber, and iRobot, attendees will also benefit from mentoring and networking opportunities.

“During Startup week, my interns and I will take advantage of the different modules that are available,” Gilpatrick said. “We all learn something and bring it back to help develop the company.”


According to Steve Massa, Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Riverside and one of the organizers of the event, “This regional event will allow all Inland Southern California entrepreneurs to come together and learn how to pitch to investors, build an MVP (minimal viable product), monetize their apps, and source new team members for their startup,find talent from nontraditional channels.”

Massa noted that Riverside ranked #13 in Kauffman’s Startup Activity Index in 2017, moving up five spots from the previous year. Entrepreneur Magazine also recognized Riverside as a top city for minority entrepreneurs.

“The ecosystem we are building fosters mentorship and increases investment opportunities for entrepreneurs who are committed to building and scaling businesses in our region,” he said.

Riverside Startup Week joins more than 600 other Startup Weeks around the world to foster the growth of the entrepreneurial community.

“ExCITE and Epic [Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center at UCR] are awesome and led by some talented people that have a lot of faith in the Riverside community,” Gilpatrick said. “People like Taj [Ahmad Eldridge], and Mark Leibowitz give us invaluable advice. It’s a great community to be a part of. They’ve taken a well-rounded approach to guiding me and developing my company.”

For more information on Startup Week, visit https://riverside.startupweek.co/

Day 108: Riverside Tamale Festival

imageToday was one of those great random-type days. My wife had told me about the Riverside Tamale Festival earlier this year and we promptly forgot about it. This morning she noticed a reminder on her phone about the event. After a late breakfast, we drove out to Riverside and walked into the festivities at noon.

The festival was held at White Park and there was a terrific, low-key vibe throughout the area. There were a lot of families, all chowing down on tamales. I thought there might be more fusion/experimental tamales, but most were traditional (pork, chicken, chile and cheese, beef, along with some pineapple and strawberry dessert tamales). We were too full to try the cajun fusion tamale, but we loved the vegan sweet corn and poblano from Gourmet Tamales. Pictured above is the chipotle pork BBQ tamale from Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales, which lived up to its award-winning hype. The sweet masa in this tamale paired well with the pork.

We hung out for a few hours, enjoying the mariachi performances and all of our munchies. Since one can only do so many tamales on a warm day, we were grateful for the vendors offering pepinos (cucumbers served with chile and lemon) and raspados (snow cones with various ingredients; we shared a delicious coconut and tamarind mixture).

Afterwards, in keeping with today’s randomness theme, we stumbled upon the wonderful Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties. Located next to White Park, the center is a resource for education about civil rights and social liberty in the mid to late 20th century. In a nice bit of kismet, the center is also the home of the Mine Okubo collection: Okubo was the writer and illustrator of Citizen 13660, one of my favorite books from my college days. I had no idea she was a Riverside native and the entire second floor of the center was dedicated to her artwork, which was bequeathed to Riverside City College after her death in 2001.

As we explored the exhibition, I thought about the first time I’d read Citizen 13660. My memory is a little fuzzy now, but I think it was for an Asian American history class. What I do remember, though, is how cool I thought it was that a graphic novel was being used in a college course.

I kept my copy for many years until recently, when I gave it to my stepdaughter. I hope it moves her like it did me; it’s a remarkable work and a classic of Asian-American literature.