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Startups UTC 2020

LeaseQuery CEO and UTC 2020 Speaker George Azih Secures $40 Million Investment

Plug In South LA is proud to welcome LeaseQuery founder and CEO George Azih to our growing speaker lineup for Urban Tech Connect 2020. Azih is an expert on lease accounting, and his company recently received a $40 million investment from Goldman Sachs.

Azih graduated from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia with a BS in accounting. Before founding LeaseQuery, he worked as a senior auditor at a CPA firm, and performed accounting research and technical accounting for a Fortune 500 company.

New lease accounting standards are incredibly complex, and accountants found themselves searching for purpose-built software to comply, Azih says. In response, LeaseQuery developed CPA-approved software and an implementation process to help accountants and other finance professionals eliminate the lease accounting errors that lead to material misstatements.

Azih’s company reported 708% year-over-year revenue growth in 2018, and opened a new office last year. Their client base grew from 500 companies at the end of 2018 to nearly 1,000 in late 2019. LeaseQuery also won a 2019 Pacesetter Award for its impressive expansion.

In November, the company secured Series A funding from Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. “George and his team are a prime example of an executive team that is succeeding by bringing innovation to space that is in need of disruption,” Goldman Sachs’ chief strategy officer Stephanie Cohen said at the time.

Now Azih is joining the speaker lineup for Urban Tech Connect 2020, where he’ll share fundraising insights and discuss industry-disrupting tech development. This May, Azih takes the stage at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles along with MISLA founder Cassie Betts, OPV partner Austin Clements, SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway, Squad CEO Isa Watson, Lisnr CCO Rodney Williams, and other pros.

Urban Tech Connect empowers the next generation of South Los Angeles founders and entrepreneurs. This year, the conference expanded to two days, and more than 700 attendees are expected to bridge the gap of diverse ideation in technology. Register to attend here.

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Startups

Six Crucial Steps for Founders Seeking Tech Expertise

There’s no hard rule saying that you have to be a developer or a computer programmer in order to found a tech-focused company. But knowing where to turn for expertise can make a huge difference for your startup’s trajectory.

While you’re on the lookout for a lead technologist, Plug In South LA Founder Derek Smith shared the following advice for staying on track:

Outsource as a last resort. That Ukrainian app-builder might have an affordable rate, but the risks of hiring them can be high, Smith says. You could find yourself starting over, losing precious time and potential investment. If you have no other option except to outsource, ask fellow founders in your region which third-party companies they recommend based on first-hand experience.

Attend a tech-focused conference. Plug In South LA’s can’t-miss Urban Tech Connect conference conference for emerging tech entrepreneurs from overlooked communities is expanding to two days in May 2020. Smith suggests TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF, known as the original tech startup conference, next fall. It’s also worth checking out AfroTech in Oakland to network with product engineers, he said. Gatherings like these provide valuable insights — and help you forge productive new connections.

Go to a relevant hackathon. McKinsey defines hackathons as “an event that pools eager entrepreneurs and software developers into a confined space for a day or two and challenges them to create a cool killer app.” Smith says that hackathons can be great places to meet fellow founders as well as tech talent.

Network with computer science students. Head on over to the local college or university and meet with students majoring in a technical field like computer science, Smith says. “They’re a potential intellectual capital resource that won’t break the bank.”

Look for a startup accelerator. Venture studios are an emerging type of company that provides budding entrepreneurs with expertise and services. Although this model has been praised for offering stability and solving inefficiencies, it also involves a serious cash outlay and may not be a good fit for founders, Smith cautions. Consider applying to a startup accelerator program instead.

Embrace scrappy product design. “Work hard to pool your resources and go get something done,” Smith advises. Teach yourself the basics and find a template that you can adapt or build over time, he added. That could mean choosing a Squarespace or WordPress website theme as a temporary solution until you can hire a lead product officer.

As a founder, your capital is precious so you want to spend that hard-earned money wisely. As you weigh the most pressing tech needs, keep attending relevant events, building your network, and embracing that scrappy startup mindset.