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November 1, 2023  BACK


Learn what's happening tomorrow at the meeting, this month in local events, and right now with one of our startups.

This Month's Contents

1) Two Companies Presenting
2) One Company in Due Diligence 
3) Profile: Mustapha Baja 
4) PA + ASN Calendar of Events - November 2023
5) Announcements (News & External Events)

1) Startups Presenting at Breakfast
Wed Nov 1 from 7:00-9:30am

We had 6 companies present at our Wed 10/25 Screening Meeting and the following 2 companies will be presenting next Wednesday morning at the Valley Hunt Club, Pasadena and on Zoom.


COMPANY:        RayBalance

CEO/Founder:   Darrel Drinan, President/CEO - San Diego, CA


RayBalance is developing a groundbreaking, non-invasive treatment for chemotherapy and noise exposure-induced hearing loss, poised for human clinical validation, backed by robust IP and defined 510(k) De Novo FDA submission pathway. 

Hearing loss is a pervasive issue, affecting approximately 477 million people globally and ranking as the fourth leading cause of disability. In the U.S., 48 million people primarily suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. Despite its prevalence, which is comparable to that of Type 2 diabetes, there are no FDA-cleared or approved treatments specifically targeting adult hearing loss. Current interventions, such as hearing aids, are limited in scope; they amplify sound but require functioning inner ear hair and supporting cells. RayBalance is pioneering a paradigm shift in hearing loss treatment, with a focus on two critical areas: ototoxic chemotherapy and occupational noise exposure.


COMPANY:        The Revury

CEO/Founder:   Remington Fraser, San Clemente, CA


Putting secondhand, first - Leveraging technology to change HOW the secondhand apparel market operates in driving a truly sustainable future. At The Revury, we leverage technology to help folks cash-in on their closets by reselling their designer fashion online. Since inception two and a half years ago, we've

  • organically grown 50% year-on-year

  • generating over half a million in sales

  • to over +3,000 customers

  • while servicing 400 consignors

  • across 21 states

  • with over 12,000 unique products

  • 30% sell-through rate

  • and booked over $1.7M in inventory resale value

ALL with only 3 employees and $0 in paid marketing. In light of our rapid growth, we're looking for support and resources to help us scale.

2) Company Funding in November

Start conversations with your inbound prospects and nurture relationships on the channels where they spend the most time. One-liner: Enterprise Social Selling To Engage Prospects. Studies have shown that 78% of social sellers will outsell their peers who don't use social media, yet there are few solutions that make it easy to integrate social selling into a multi-channel nurturing sequence. Too many sales teams over-rely on email + phone calls to nurture prospects, and reply rates are < 1% as a result.

Round details/terms: Raise of $1.2M on a SAFE with a post-money valuation of $7M, $390K remaining in raise. Contact Larry Uhl with interest or any questions you may have.


3) Mustapha Baha 

Mustapha Baha was born and raised in North Africa, immigrated to the United States after college, and returned to Africa in 2011 as part of a U.S. government delegation. The twenty-something who landed in LA and couldn’t speak English found himself, thirty years later, as part of a mission of successful American entrepreneurs conducting outreach and spurring economic development.  


Last week I had the opportunity to ask Mustapha how that happened, and he shared the unlikely series of events. First, when he landed in the States, he had to learn English. Then, he had to get a scholarship to grad school at USC, where he earned a masters in construction management. And, he told me how he married the love of his life, whom he met at USC in the 80s. 

Bonnie Baha was a force in the fixed income industry. She became a rising star with TCW and then was brought in at the beginning to help turn DoubleLine into a $100B asset manager. After those achievements, she famously warned about Lehman Brothers just weeks before the firm collapsed, which cemented her in the annals of the bond industry. She was as close to a rock star in the field as a bond analyst can be, appearing on CNBC regularly and on CNN. She also wrote for the Financial Times, Forbes, the WSJ, the LA Times. 

Meanwhile, Mustapha’s construction management career blossomed. He worked on the Palo Verde nuclear power plant with Bechtel, Disney’s Pleasure Island Amusement Park and Boeing’s Lakewood facility. In 1995, he created his own construction management company: MDB Enterprises. A few years later, LAUSD was building 120 schools, and Mustapha’s company built several of them. It was about that time in 2005 that Bill Zimmerman invited Mustapha to join the Pasadena Angels. Since then he has been active, sitting on boards and investing in 30-40 companies. 

So, by 2011, as the Arab Spring was underway, the Obama Administration assembled a delegation of accomplished American entrepreneurs and financiers with North African backgrounds. Out of the blue, the State Department called Mustapha: “Would you like to be part of a delegation to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, meet entrepreneurs and advise startups and governments about business development?” He told me that he did, and he went, meeting officials, business leaders and entrepreneurs, thereby renewing his connections to his roots.

I asked him how this ultimately resulted in him being involved in a ride-sharing company in Africa in 2016 that I’d read about. In 2014 he had been invited by a university to speak in Algeria and was visiting family. He met his future business partner on that trip, and they started thinking through how ride-sharing could address the traffic issues that plagued Algeria. 


Mustapha in Pasadena.

As an entrepreneur himself and with 10 years of angel investing experience, Mustapha was confident he could start a company in North Africa. But, it had to be done right. First, Africans are very sensitive to “dumping,” the practice of importing foreign products and services without consideration for the African market. So, simply copying the rideshare models already in place wouldn’t work. They also hired locally for everything. For several years, they did all development and management with local talent, which created a sense of pride for the Algerian government.

There was also one key way in which the United States government played a pivotal role. Mustapha called the U.S. embassy in Algeria and asked to meet the ambassador. He pitched the startup, called Yassir, and asked for help making connections. “I’ll do better than that!” he said. “Give me a brochure, and I’ll have everyone at your launch event.” Yassir’s launch event drew 600 luminaries and triggered early contracts, giving them all the momentum they needed.

Companies like Uber and Lyft exist in part because of the ubiquity of credit cards, but they’re not commonplace in North Africa, so I had to ask: “How can you operate a ride-sharing company without them? Mustapha and the local leadership from Algeria knew Africa well enough to know that there was a way. Yes, they’d have to use cash, but they would invoice each driver monthly and ask them to come into the office and pay the ride-share app’s share of the revenue. Almost 100% did, and those who didn’t were weeded out, and the process worked and it’s still working today. People in North Africa respond to trust and respect with trust and respect, and knowing the culture makes a difference. 

Yassir has since expanded to much of North Africa, Cameroon, Senegal plus Germany and France. It raised $30M in 2021 and another $150M in 2022 as its growth plans continue to expand, with Canada and the Middle East on the drawing board. 

Mustapha’s children are grown and have launched successful careers of their own, also in finance. His daughter Miriam works in a hedge fund and in venture capital, and his son Ayman is also a member of the Pasadena Angels and he works for a market-leading index investment advisor.

4) PA Calendar of Events - November 2023 (PDT)

Regarding Last Month's PA Social
A fun social gathering was held in Sally DeWitt's backyard.  Octoberfest was the theme with excellent Octoberfest food  and beer catered by Wurstküche.  People relaxed, talked and competed in spirited trivia contests. Amazing sausages and real German beer were provided by Würstkuche, thank you Joe Pitruzzelli. See pictures below.

Upcoming in November
Wed 11/1 Company Evaluation Breakfast Meeting, Valley Hunt Club 7:00am to 9:30am,  zoom link (Last final round company pitches for 2023)
Thu 11/2 A
SN Screening, 9:00am to 11:00am - Meeting Registration
Tue 11/28 + Wed 11/29    Up to four Pre-Screening Panels, before Noon.
Thu 11/30, 10-11:30a
m    PA Fund II Quarterly Meeting, Zoom

Upcoming in December
Wed 12/6    Pasadena Angels Annual Business Meeting (No company presentations/pitches)
Wed 12/13    Screening Meeting, 8:00am to 10:00am, zoom link

Upcoming in January
Sat 1/1/24 Happy New Year!
Wed 1/3/24 Company Evaluation Breakfast Meeting, Valley Hunt Club 7:00am to 9:30am,  zoom link 

From the Sunday 10/15 PA Social 


5) Announcements (News & External Events)


Fund III

PA Fund III: Capital Call Opening November 2023
Company Investment Sizes: $100 - $150K
Existing Members: Opening November 2023
New Members: Opening November 2023
Management Fee: No management fee. There is a one time 5% Expense Charge
Carry: None
Min Unit: $10K
Contact: Co-chairs;  Kiem Tjong & Marcus Filipovich 

External Events

Wednesday November 8, 3pm - 10pm (PDT)  

SoCal Startup Day, Hangar 244 at the Irvine Great Park


Join OC's largest startup event of the year... This year's event is expected to host over 2,000 attendees, hundreds of investors and over 50 exhibitors. TCA is a sponsor! 

SoCal Startup Day is back, and TCA is a sponsor! Join us at OC's largest startup event of the year... SoCal Startup Day is on Nov 8th in Hangar 244 at the Irvine Great Park. This year's event is expected to host over 2,000 attendees, hundreds of investors and over 50 exhibitors. Entrepreneurs and other non-investor guests can use the code TCA10 for a discount when purchasing tickets on the website (see below for separate investor registration link).

The 2023 SoCal Startup Day will feature startups, VCs and Angel Investors from all over Southern California, to meet, network and help startups raise capital. Featuring new panels/speakers (including David Friedman, TCA OC and Lisa Walker, TCA OC), networking, entertainment, demos, prizes, along with AMAZING food and beverages. Oh, and a surprise keynote speaker!

Pitching companies will receive 1-on-1 coaching prior to the event with TCVN hosting a pitch workshop. After the main pitch event, the top 3 pitching companies will be selected as the SoCal Startup Day Pitch competition winners with over $100,000 worth of prizes.

TCA members will receive complimentary VIP access tickets using a special code, These tickets will include full event access PLUS a catered meal and access to the open bar cocktail party in the airplane hangar! 

REGISTER USING THE FOLLOWING LINK [Note: This is a different registration/ticket link than the one on the general website, as this one is specifically for sponsors and other partners]:    The special Code information is in email sent by Susanne on 10/31. 

Please contact the event host/coordinator, Steve Silver, directly with any questions:


November 14 + 16, 2023 - Pismo Venture’s Annual Startup Symposium 

Pizmo Ventures Startup Symposium
Tech Coast Angels is one of the sponsors of this event. TCA members will be attending and will be part of the judge's panels.
November 14, 2023 (Educational Webinars and Expert Panels) - Virtual
November 16, 2023 (Presentation Day) - Virtual Event
Free for applicants to register. Event Information: Event Website, Event Timeline, Event Registration
Pismo Ventures' Startup Symposium features some of the best and most investment-worthy startups.  This event is for B2X - B2B, B2C, B2B2B, B2B2C, B2G, C2C (not life science - the life sciences symposium is scheduled for Q2 2024). Participating in the Startup Symposium offers startups one of the biggest opportunities to raise capital:

  • Exposure to investors, investor groups and VCs from across the nation.

  • Investor exposure could lead to significant investments for your company as it has been the case with previous events.

  • Attend invaluable education webinars and expert panels.

  • Several companies in previous events have received multiple investments largely due to their exposure to their investor network.

Event Website, Event Timeline, Event Registration (Free for applicants)

Thursday, November 16, 5:30-7:30pm PST,

Startup World Cup Southern California Regional, East Los Angeles College
10 Startups Competing LIVE to Investors to be Startup World Cup SoCal Regional Winner & advance to Global Finale to compete for $1mil.


Join us for this inspiring, fast-paced event where 10 Southern California Startups will be selected to compete for the title of Startup World Cup Southern California Regionale Winner! Each startup will pitch for 2-minutes followed by a LIVE 4-minute rapid-fire Q&A by our investor panel! Join 300+ attendees composed of entrepreneurs, aspiring-entrepreneurs, corporate, service providers, nonprofits, and community support for entrepreneurship in our region!

The winner of the Southern California Regional will go on to compete at the Global Grand Finale in San Francisco from 11/29-12/1/23 for a $1 million USD investment prize


Past Issues:

  • Sept '23: Noria with Yoram Cohen

  • June: RealKey (Christopher Hussain) and Stender Sweeney 

  • May: Terry Kay

  • Apr: Irrigreen (Shane Dyer) and Mandy Wang 

  • Mar: EventHub (Michael Bleau) and Don Hall

  • Feb: Everyset (EB, Ebrahim Bhaiji) and Richard Chino

  • Nov '22: Cactivate (Wentao Xiao) and Gene Stein 

  • Oct: C360 Technologies (Evan Wimer) and Kenji Funahashi

  • Sep: Woody Sears (Autio) and Mike Krebs

  • Jul: Open Sesame (Steve Lyons) and James Schaefer 

  • Jun: HavenLock (Alex Bertelli) and Anil Jha

  • May: Discotech (Ian Chen) and Gary Awad

  • Apr: Sashee Chandran, Seatrec and Susan Marki

  • Mar: Yezin Taha, Spine Align and Jamie Bennett

  • Feb: Phoenix Gonzalez, Repurpose and Marcus Filipovich 

  • Jan: Ksenia Yudina, BeTheBeast and Larry Uhl 

  • Nov '21: Roy LaManna, TotSquad and John Keatley

  • Oct: Dr. Chorom Pak of LynxBio and former president Al Schneider

  • Sep: Luk Network, Brandon Cavalier and Nancy Dandridge

  • Jul: Electrum, Jose Gomez and Julie Pantiskas

  • Jun: Ready, Set, Food, Dr. Mirianas Chachisvilis and Joseph Pitruzzelli

  • May: MagicLinks, Christopher Hussain and Janice Orlando


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We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Pasadena Angels Monthly Newsletter. Any suggestions for future pieces, questions or comments? Please email me at

Dave de Csepel
Chairman, Pasadena Angels

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