Tag Archives: Impact Hub Santa Barbara

03 Jul 2018

Member Spotlight: Tom Quisel


When becoming an astronaut seems too lofty a goal, naturally, the next move is study computer science engineering and build a dating website….right?! For Tom Quisel, his aeronautics childhood dream evolved into making waves in the virtual dating world. On the surface, one might not easily find the common denominator between cryptocurrency, health care and OkCupid, but Tom sees it differently. His resume is varied, as his interest in computer sciences has lead him to work in many different arenas – but what has always remained the same is his drive to be a force of positive change and to improve the lives of the people who use his products. Tom explained that at OkCupid, his first job out college, their goal was to “make sure there were good opportunities for people who are not traditional heterosexual daters and it was essential to be inclusive.”  With a team of only 15 people, Tom and his coworkers were able to build OkCupid and help change the face of dating. Tom wanted “the quality of people’s dates to improve by creating algorithms to make better matches,”  and he was able to achieve that because “with programming, the computer does exactly what you tell it to do!”


After 7 years of improving the virtual dating world, Tom decided it was time for a change and he moved from NYC to Santa Barbara to escape the fast paced, overcrowded city.  Although Tom was passionate about this company, he fell victim to the feelings of isolation that many remote workers experience; “My last year with OkCupid I worked remotely.  I was lonely, and there weren’t many great coworking options available. I began working at some other coworking spaces but they just didn’t have the community feeling I was looking for.  That’s when I decided to try Impact Hub, and I immediately noticed a difference. There is such good energy here and a feeling of community that feels in alignment with my personal values. It is fun to come to work!  I just hired someone for my new project, and it was a huge selling point that they would be able to work out of this space!”


It’s been four years since Tom arrived in Santa Barbara and he continues to be driven by a mission to make imperfect systems more perfect. This time he took on the health care system at Evidation Health.  Evidation Health is a “technology and services company that helps individuals and the world’s most innovative health care companies understand and influence the everyday behaviors that create better health outcomes.”  Tom felt the health care system was in need of innovation, and at Evidation, he was able to put his passion for data science to work. While clinical trials take years to complete due to the time it takes to recruit participants, run the trials, and analyze results – the virtual approach to studies can instead be done in weeks or months, thereby speeding up the pace of medicine.


Tom’s newest project is taking on the uncharted territory of cryptocurrencies.  He has now banded together with some former OkCupid coworkers to change the way finance is done by harnessing the powers of cryptocurrency to benefit underprivileged groups. “When people hear cryptocurrency, they easily get the wrong idea, they think of day trading etc. But I am working with a nonprofit group on an app that can have a huge impact and change the way money is exchanged.” For example, an immigrant from the Philippines comes to the US to work.  They send money home to their family in the Philippines and they have to pay exorbitant bank fees due to the middlemen who make money on this exchange.   “Many families suffer because of it.  This is a situation ripe for an automated system and by working with this nonprofit I am able to create a standard for financial exchange.”


But, alas, all work and no play makes Tom a dull boy! Here in Santa Barbara Tom likes to indulge in all that the outdoors have to offer, including hiking, trail-running, mountain biking and paragliding!


His greatest passion? Tom is driven by a mission to make imperfect systems more perfect, in a way that will benefit the world.



Written by Alexis Malatesta


05 Jun 2018

Member Spotlight: Erin Fredregill


*But she knows how to keep it subtle

Jenna Tico

“I like that there are four letters: E-R-I-N, F-R-E-D.”

I’m sitting across from Erin Fredregill, previously known as Erin Min; additionally known as Erin Fred; and increasingly known as a powerhouse of marketing and content creation for a host of digital clients, some of whom might even appreciate her attention to symmetry as much as I do. Though it’s unlikely. “I like it too,” I tell her. “It’s almost like a mirror image.”

“Yeah, some people think my [full] name is hard to pronounce. And I’m like—it’s pronounced exactly like it looks! FRED-RE-GILL,” she giggles. “But I like Erin Fred.” In this, I’m suddenly aware that Erin’s attention to detail—and keen ear for a catchy title—are only a fraction of what make her a sought-after copywriter, digital marketer, and social media manager. It’s her sense of humor, the personality that shines through everything from event coverage to Instagram, that makes her stand out. In a line of work where the focus must remain on the client, Erin manages to find a delicate balance: inserting her voice whilst remaining subtle enough to let the creation speak for itself. Invisible, but integral. Trusting her voice as the vehicle for products that matter. “Clients reach out to me because they like my writing style, and they like the personality that comes through my content,” she shares. “It’s informative and professional… but still kind of fun, too.” Not to mention, fashionable. Five minutes with Erin is enough to know that writing isn’t her only source of stylishness—nor of fun. And with one year of business behind her, the fun is just beginning.

Speaking of fashion: Erin’s first foray into the world of art, an area initially deemed unacceptable by her family, was through makeup and clothes. “I’ve always wanted to do something creative,” she shares, “But my parents tried to limit that. Fashion and makeup was the closest, most accessible form of artistic expression for me.” A self-described “trailblazer” for her younger sibling, Erin reckoned with the “hopes and dreams” that her parents layered upon her, and used them to carve the path that would ultimately lay the groundwork for a successful professional—AND creative—career. Laid with a smattering of mixed attempts at eyeshadow (“I experimented with a lot of crazy makeup in high school,” she laughs. “I regret that now”); several sketchbooks gifted by well-meaning friends, and even one sewing machine, which her parents pushed her to return; the trail she blazed has been anything but boring.

Through it all, Erin’s commitment to maintaining a sense of humor—coupled with strong support from her friends, God, and husband—have given her a leading edge in creating scenarios where new clients feel at ease in communicating their stories. At their first consultation, which she always offers free-of-charge, Erin lets the client take the lead in expressing their digital marketing dreams; listening, of course, not only for WHAT they are saying, but how they are saying it. “The first meeting is me absorbing everything like a sponge,” she laughs. “[Asking] a few questions to figure out what someone wants their brand to be…which typically has a direct correlation with what they see, enjoy, and want,” which then equals her ability to translate those preferences into a tone when promoting their product.

With one client, for example—an eco-friendly line bent on empowering consumers to make conscious choices—Erin knows the products are “not as much about the way you look, but the way you feel.” An awareness, surely, that has come first through her own willingness to read between the lines; to sense what the client wants to say by the way they want to feel.

It helps, of course, that Erin is able to speak four languages: five, if you count translating the wide world of social media marketing. In navigating the first year of business ownership, Erin credits a newfound relationship with counseling—identifying what “triggers and motivates” her—with being able to assist clients in doing the same; not to mention, scaling her business to the point where she is almost ready to hire. For her array of clients—representing fashion, architecture, real estate, and more—Erin is dedicated to “creating conversation, and being part of the conversation”: using digital marketing, as well as her personal blog, as a means for making the social media sphere as authentic as it is effective. “People want to connect,” she says. “They want to feel like they are part of something bigger… and brands being more accessible on social media is a way of doing that.”

When she’s not working on projects for clients, or contributing to her list of potential blog topics (“It just keeps growing!”), Erin can be found taking photos or spending time with friends; as a major extrovert, she credits the Impact Hub’s coworking environment with helping feed her need for socialization. “There are people I have fun with, and then people who are mentor figures… who I can talk to after I’ve had a meeting, and they give me their advice. I went from having no friends to having too many friends,” she laughs. And if her dream of opening an authentic, modernized Korean restaurant in Santa Barbara ever pans out… well. She’s likely to have a few too many more.

When I ask her what her favorite Korean dish is, she looks as though I’ve asked her to list the state capitals, backwards, in some elusive sixth language. “DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE,” she begs, before opening her laptop to seek the correct translation for her perfect Korean dish. It’s a true testament to Erin’s perfectionism, a necessary and much-appreciated element of her work as a copywriter, that she is still searching for the translation a full five minutes later—and when she can’t find it, emails it to me later that night. Perfectionism and follow through. I don’t have an eco-friendly fashion line, but if I did, I know who I’d go to.

One year into her business, Erin has already come a long way in understanding what makes successful entrepreneurship. “I have learned more than ever that it is all about self-awareness,” she shares. “But I think everyone knows that.” I tell her that, in fact, most people don’t. One doesn’t need to look far into the barrage of careless media marketing out there to know that Erin’s is a true gift. “Ok, maybe not,” she grins, before going back to her search for the perfect recipe. This commitment to thoroughness comes through in everything from her photography to her blogs, which she encourages people to sign up for via email alert: something her soon-to-be intern might help to create. “I have too much I’m doing!” she fake-moans.

However, if Erin’s style of digital marketing is any indication, we will hardly know the search is happening: we will only observe, baffled, the way her subtle call for employment has snuck its way into our psyche. Which is all part of the dance of digital marketing. “There is so much noise online,” she explains. “So many people on their soapbox…it’s about figuring out how each client, in their own respective industries, can manage to stand out. Be relevant, engaging. Not just being sales-y, because no one wants that—that’s not what social media is for.

“It’s like if someone at Impact Hub came around with a press kit and details to buy a car,” she goes on. “Like, ‘hey—we’re selling this right now, it’s a huge deal.’ That’s no way to start a conversation with someone you’ve just met!”

I feign shock. It’s not? We both laugh. “I’m trying not to add fluff—[I’m trying] to add value. There are constantly new ways of connecting, and promoting without seeming like you’re promoting.”

Wise words from a wise woman, who brings joy, humor, and true insight to each project she takes on… and to each day that she spends as a member of the Hub.

Now let’s find her that intern.


Written by Jenna Tico

04 Apr 2018

Member Spotlight: Rodney Loehr

Make water, don’t take it! 

You know that impure plastic bottle of water you see people downing at the gym, or grabbing off the shelf at the supermarket, that eventually makes its way in our oceans? It takes a lot of energy to ship and manufacture that one liter of instant gratification. Rodney Loehr created a way to take water, sustainability, independence, and gratification to a whole new level.

AquaViable imitates nature by condensing humidity found in the air and produces water the same way clouds do in the atmosphere when it rains. This cutting edge technology creates water 10x more pure than premium bottled drinking water, providing freedom from chemicals, heavy metals, hormones, and other contaminants.  It also reduces the waste of plastic water bottles. These machines have the potential to produce up to 900 gallons of water a day! AquaViable not only improves our health but our environment and independence as well.

The Impact Hub opened their doors to founder Rodney Loehr before they opened to the public, so he could begin working on his prototypes for AquaViable. He thanks The Impact Hub — particularly what he called “The billion dollar table” in the communities kitchen — for all of the quick connections, help, and support, it was able to provide.

Rodney and his business partner have since turned their team of two, into a business with a sales team, a warehouse crew, and much more. He has expanded across the state of California, and is talking to people all throughout the country. AquaViable is on fire, or should I say on water, to make the world independently healthy!

Interviewed by Brooke Lyn Landon.


04 Apr 2018

Member Spotlight: Kristin Rocco

When you think about it, every month could be Women’s Month—compare “able to make life” with any job, I double dare you—however, March bears a particular sparkle in honoring the strong females in our lives: and Kristin Rocco, Impact Hub member and author of 50 Days of Grace, is the perfect reminder of all the forms that strength can take. Rocco, a New York native and graduate of the Hub’s “Mastermind” challenge, came to Santa Barbara in search of a new lifestyle; and in joining the Impact Hub, gained much more than community. She made life.

“Able to make life,” after all, suggests far more than the ability to gestate a human one; which, while unparalleled, is only one piece of the puzzle. We, the strong women in your community, are creators. We are dot connectors and we are manifestors, we are artists and we are entrepreneurs, and Kristin Rocco—one of the most sincere, exuberant, and self-described “joyous” women I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with—is one example of what can happen when a woman chooses to listen to the voice that says “yes: you are worthy.” We all know other voices exist—most notably, the one that says “GIVE UP NOW! IT’S NOT SAFE!”—and Rocco is no stranger to that voice. “[I] had all the voices, all the challenges, had the wanting to give up,” she says, listing her process in creating Grace. “But I’m so happy I stuck with it.” And in the end, that’s what truly makes the difference: the decision to listen, to weed through the voices, and to do it anyway. To heed the call. To make the thing. And, if you’re like Rocco, to do it with a remarkable amount of grace.


“Once I did decide to write a book, things just unfolded,” Rocco shares, settling down over a glass of kombucha. Mind you, I had only just discovered 50 Days of Grace; and like any good millennial, had attempted to read it in the time it took me to shovel down a salad. However, despite my best efforts to make Grace yet one more thing on an endless to-do list, the book had a mind of its own; while reading it, at least three people came up and asked, “what are you reading?”… as though the book itself serves as a lightning rod for the content it bears: that everyone, no matter our state, deserves to make time for sweetness. Not unlike its author, who—before moving to Santa Barbara—lived in New York City as a yoga teacher, holistic health practitioner, and professional actress. In fact, Rocco credits her theatrical upbringing as ushering her out of her wallflower childhood, and into the expressiveness that rings true through her text. “Something shifted in me,” she says, recalling her early days singing national anthems. “Music and acting actually got me out of my shell.” And there she remained, until a period of dark self-esteem—and subsequent stint on antidepressants—distanced her from her power. “Looking back, I was probably just going through puberty,” she recounts. But the ramifications remained. “It’s almost like the antidepressants minimize who you are,” she shares, candidly. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that Rocco recalls something yielded: “I just heard this voice, and I’d never heard a voice before… it said ‘flush all your medication down the toilet, you don’t need it. I’ve got your back.

“I’ve never looked back since.”

It’s a similar voice, in fact, that shepherded the creation of Grace, which Rocco describes as having been spoken through a presence that she channeled while walking through Manhattan. Not long after, she followed her bliss to a dream job in Silicon Valley; and in learning to live more and more from her intuitive center, began to realize the “whole world of self-expression” that she’d tapped into as a young performer. This realization gained further traction in by way of the Landmark Forum: “That was the next level of ripping me open,” she explains. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night and these passages would just flow through me.” That said, the passages that comprise the book—50 in total, speckled with hand-picked quotations from spiritual leaders, authors, creative—sat on Rocco’s computer for years before making their way into the light. “I believe in the divine timing of everything, and grace is that to me,” Rocco shares, considering the way that her creation might fit perfectly into our current culture. “This book came to life at such a perfect time, when more and more people are becoming receptive. There is a big shift happening in the world.”

 Of course, even the most fluid creations benefit from a push down the river: and Rocco received just that during her experience in Impact Hub’s Mastermind challenge, where she was coached by Valerie and Russell Bishop. “I just thought, I’m going to take advantage of this,” Rocco shares. “I’ve got these two rock star mentors supporting me, and I’ve got this supportive group—I’m going to play full out.” And play she did: utilizing the concrete guidance of her peers and mentors to free the 50 passages from her computer and take the initiative to self-publish the final product. “Why wait to get discovered when you can do it yourself?” she asks, laughing. “Self-publish and make it happen.” Which sounds easy, right here on paper. Which sounds normal, coming from the mouth of Kristin Rocco, whom I genuinely believe is as likely to spend her spare time teaching yoga to memory care patients as she is to have auditioned for American Idol. (Spoiler alert: both true.) However, the fact of the matter is that self-publishing takes dedication and drive: and while Rocco may credit a greater spirit with having provided her text—“the passages, they’re not mine”—and gush at the chance to list the women she admires, she still made the decision to follow through and do the damn thing. To make the life that needed to be made. In fact, this is one of the most profound qualities that women may bring to the projects we take on: the ability to stand strong in our efforts, while never forgetting our connectedness to the forces that aid us. To own the paradox of independence and interdependence, and see both as playing an integral role in bringing our efforts to life. “I’m excited that this book has a life of its own,” Rocco shares. And she owns the paradox. “All the depth, the highs and the lows, they just make us who we are. They’re all important.”

 50 Days of Grace has earned a spot on my bedside table, and will continue provide comfort to me whether I am on top of the world or yelling at someone as I try to parallel park: because, in reality, both are part of the bigger picture. Kristin Rocco is not afraid to own the parts of her life that, while difficult at the time, are part of the bigger picture. The gift that she brings to her practice is that of inspiration, because she herself is inspired: and best of all, she is not afraid to own that… in all its simplicity, paradox, glory, and grace.

 “I always knew I was meant to be an inspiration,” she smiles, glancing out the window. “But as a young teenage girl, I thought it was supposed to be in this way of fame and being seen… versus now I know it’s just [this]: allow your spirit to guide you to be an inspiration. There’s so much spiritual emphasis on, ‘find your gift and share it!’… but you already are your gift, and you’re sharing it just by being alive.

 “Everything else is just a cherry on top.”

Interview by Jenna Tico.
For more on Kristin Rocco and 50 Days of Grace, visit 


30 Jun 2017

Unite To Light Santa Barbara

Unite To Light Santa Barbara

Written by: Ray Estrada

Two community-minded Impact Hub members are collaborating to help bring hope to some 500 homeless children, women and men who live out of their vehicles in Santa Barbara County.


Megan Birney and Mike Tognotti met at Impact Hub on State Street not long ago and found that they share the desire to help those in need. They noticed that they both carried Patagonia backpacks; with that common ground, they began to talk about what was needed in the community and how they could help.



A long-time South Coast community activist, Megan now runs the nonprofit Unite to Light Inc., which sells solar-powered reading lamps and cell-phone chargers. When someone buys one of the devices, another goes to a person without one in a Third World country.


“We usually send them to developing countries, but this time we’re providing some for homeless in Santa Barbara,” Megan said.


In collaboration with Mike and the church he attends, the lamps and chargers are provided to people living out of their cars and vans in a “safe parking lot library.” It’s a pilot program that will determine if the devices are going to people who need them and won’t just sell them.


The nonprofit New Beginnings Safe Parking Program has provided case management and outreach to the homeless and safe overnight parking to individuals and families living in their vehicles since 2004 in cooperation with churches, governmental and non-profit agencies and businesses.


Mike said the lamps provide light after sunset for women who will feel safer with them and for children who can read at night. The phone chargers allow the homeless to communicate when their batteries run low. He said many homeless people living out of their cars have jobs, but no place to go after they finish work.


“The light provides a little hope that these people in need find very gratifying,” Mike said. He said he saw a 9-year-old girl who lives in a car with her mother. “I have a 10-year-old daughter,” he said. “Perhaps the homeless girl can read after it gets dark.”


Megan said the people who received the lights and chargers are very happy to see that someone in the community cares about them. “They are part of the community, too,” she said.


Megan and Mike said the pilot program just started after they discussed it at Impact Hub and brought other businesses and nonprofit groups in to support it. Mike said if it is successful, the program could be expanded into other cities.

01 Jun 2017

Remotely Motivated

 “When my boss asked if I could work remotely rather than leave the company, I knew exactly what I needed.”
Celine Derai has a familiar story. An incredible job opportunity presented itself to her husband and suddenly change was in the air. The opportunity meant relocating the entire family to Santa Barbara, consequentially causing Celine to make some significant life changes of her own, including in her career.
Assuming she would be leaving her job before the move, she went into work with a plan to break the news to her employers. Instead, her boss, impressed with her consistently high level of work and professionalism, asked her to stay on with the company even if it meant working remotely.
“I prefer not to work from home for a variety of reasons, so when I was asked to work remotely, I knew what I needed – a coworking space.”
For an array of different reasons, remote work has exploded across the United States with recent stats reporting 3.3 million full-time professionals, excluding volunteers and the self employed, who consider home as their primary place of work. With half of the U.S. workforce in jobs that are compatible with remote work, these numbers are surely going to grow. As the traditional sense of workplace becomes less common, unfamiliar challenges begin to arise; that is where a coworking space like Impact Hub fits.
A feeling of isolation is one of the primary challenges facing remote workers. At first, working from home can seem a fantastic break. Slowly however, remote workers start to long for the sense of community that is attached to a shared office. Community is a universal craving and is one of the leading challenges addressed by a coworking space.
Setting boundaries between home and work life is another major stress point for remote workers. When working and living in the same space, it can be difficult to fully “shut off” after hours and over the weekend. This inability to maintain boundaries can then lead to unnecessary stress and feelings of guilt for many working adults. Having a coworking space to turn to can be a huge benefit for those trying to keep work separate from their home life.
Celine recognized these challenges with remote work and thus knew that a coworking space would be the best solution. So she did what anyone in her position would do, she asked that her company help her find and pay for her membership at a coworking space in the Santa Barbara area.
Conveniently, the COO of her company has a brother utilizing coworking spaces in Santa Barbara and he recommended she take a look at two well-known spaces in town, one of which was Impact Hub.
“When I walked through the doors of Impact Hub Santa Barbara, I absolutely fell in love with the space and the community. I joined as a full time member as soon as I could and I haven’t looked back since.”
Now, Celine and her family are settled in the Santa Barbara area, her daughter is at a local school, her husband is working an excellent job and Celine is still employed by her Bay Area based employer, as a happy remote worker.
Celine now says, “Having a space like Impact Hub in the Santa Barbara community made it possible for me to keep my job. I have found that I am very productive here and I wouldn’t change a thing. This is just what I needed.”
Link to workplace statistics above HERE:
Written by: Kathryn Arthur
11 May 2017



Luscious rose petals caress one another in the display case, filling the room with a heady scent. The client’s anticipation is palpable as Rita Tate unveils several mood boards, each showing a possible design for the floor-to-ceiling floral showpiece she’s been commissioned to complete. It is time to make a decision.

As the client passionately debates the subtleties of ruby versus blood red roses, she glances up at the small chirp of Rita’s cell phone. Glancing down at the caller ID, Rita sees her daughter’s name flash across the screen and excuses herself. Her role as a mother takes precedence over any business transaction.

“Every time I say yes to one thing, I say no to something else.”

A love for the interplay of design, beauty, and nature is what initially attracted Rita to the floral design industry. With experience as a floral buyer for a high-end grocery chain and as an artist, she finds comfort and joy in using natural materials to make a space beautiful and inspiring.

Flame Floral Design Studio, Rita’s homegrown business, specializes in creative, eco-conscious events. The flowers she uses are seasonal, sustainably grown, and she recycles or reuses all packaging materials.

The process of owning and growing a business, even one she feels intense passion for, has not been easy. As a female business owner and mother of two beautiful daughters, she recognizes the very real struggles of ‘having it all’.

Rita, like millions of women worldwide, met the man of her dreams and found herself in the midst of a challenging situation: balancing the desire to both start a business and start a family.

As Rita said, “Life is scattered. It’s hard to be both a mom and a business owner. Often everything falls on the same night and you have to make a choice. You can’t be in two places at the same time. And at this point in life, my girls are my priority. Nothing comes before them, even if it may slow the growth of my business. These years are too precious to miss.”

Rita recognizes her privilege of having a husband who is working and can help support the family, but even with that blessing; she intrinsically understands just how much time and emotional energy a business can take. It’s no small task.

With societal pressure at an all-time high for women who want both a successful career and a family in the US, it is no surprise that increasing numbers of women are aiming to run their own businesses rather than work on someone else’s schedule. It seems to be one of the few ways to have both a healthy work and family life.

In Rita’s case, she’s made her decision to make her daughters her top priority. “Even if it takes more time to get to where I want to be in my business, my kids matter more.”

At Impact Hub we have a number of female entrepreneurs working to balance the home and work life. It’s not always easy, as we can see from many of our peers, but if we choose our priorities and allow ourselves, without guilt, to make decisions based on the welfare of our families we can go far in both business and life.

Flame Floral Design Studio

Written by Kathryn Arthur