Zebediah Rice - Serena System and King River Capital

Zebediah Rice is a unique and highly accomplished investor and human. His most recent business change vehicle is King River Capital based out of Sidney Australia. However, Zebediah is not just a business man, he’s also a philosopher, deep thinker, great teacher and athlete. He shares some of his wisdom at www.serenasystem.com where you can find meditations, insights, and regular updates.

It is exciting to have some investors in the podcast mix to better understand how a community of humans evolve an idea into a reality, and how that synergy benefits all involved. In startup-world these people are financiers, business founders, and customers. Of course, there are many other ways to slice and dice the community of contributors. Tell me your mix!

In this podcast episode our topics range from what it means to invest millions in clean tech companies, how the deal-flow works for VCs and what their perspectives are in the ecology of business making. Zebediah shares some personal experiences with health, helpful tips on what a high achiever does when faced with big challenges, and how these challenges bring learnings we can share with others.

I really enjoyed our talk from August 2018 and hope you do as well.

In Health. - Zander

Bristol Baughan - Inner Astronauts

Bristol Studied at American University in Washington DC. She ran a film company called Good for several years in Los Angeles where she produced 4 films in 4 years. That’s a fast pace! Her shift to consciousness expansion has led her, like many people, to take the Journey, often called the Hero’s Journey in reference to Joseph Campbell’s human Journey map. 

She traveled around the world, exploring humans, societies, teachings, and ultimately found a path back to Los Angeles via some fellow travelers in Bali. She got her Masters in Spiritual Psychology from Santa Monica University.

Having ‘gone thru it’ as an Executive and heavy hitter in the Business world, she’s now leading Execs back to health and wellness by coaching a select few into a value-based actions. Her website is www.innerastronauts.com

She’s teamed up with IONS, the Institute Of Noetic Sciences, www.noetic.org/  to build a Virtual Reality experience of Edgar’s ‘Noetic’ Moment when he was returning from being on the Moon. 

What the Apollo Project was for outer space Noetic is for Inner-space. 

Immersive VR, David and Sandra Whelan, created the Apollo VR experience with an overflow of Kickstarter Funds.

I learned about the concept of the ‘Overview Effect.’ According to Bristol it’s a way for Humans to get a sense of responsibility to protect our Earth by seeing it from outer space. She likened it to Samadhi and called it a “Visceral Embodied experience of Truth. A deep knowing that there’s a complex interconnectedness beyond our processor’s capacity to comprehend.”

I like how in VR Artists, Technologists, Healers, and Seekers come together to create VR experiences which can really be transformative. Many people I’ve spoken with have had moments of Awe in VR. Truly transformative moments. Also, in my personal experience an experience and sense of Wonderment can really help re-frame a person’s world-view away from the problem-orientation that we often live in and into a framework of Humanity and connectedness which can have tremendously beneficial impacts on us. 

One interesting project she mentioned in our talk was the Virtual World Society, a grassroots movement bringing together creators and organizations committed to leveraging the power of virtual worlds for social and environmental good. They have brought VR into schools to give students a power of creating their own desired world, really exploring the stories one could create, and how those naratives impact our lives. 

I’m eager to follow Bristol's development as an artist, coach, and integrator of technology with story-telling. She has a Science Fiction book on the horizon, and will be releasing the VR project with IONS (Noetic) in the coming years. 

Keep an eye out for her upcoming project Campaign Science, which offers training programs that teach Cognitive, Social and Lingusitic sciences to Candidates, Campaigns, and Causes. Empowering these people who are trying to change the world by helping them embody their causes. 

Follow her at: www.innerastronauts.com


Mikey Seigel- Consciousness Hacking and Group Flow

Mikey is a Graduate of MIT Media Lab, Founder of Consciousness Hackers (A Global movement of thousands) and Lecturer at Stanford University. Mikey leads workshops, plays with emerging bio-related wellness technology and is a prolific speaker on the subject of Human-Machine impact on society. You can learn more about Mikey on his website www.mikeysiegel.com. Incidentally Mikey’s last name is pronounced like “Seagull” ;-)

Mikey’s thesis work at the MIT media lab addressed the question: How does technology influence human belief and behavior?

His question now is: What is the greatest, most profound and meaningful roll technology can have on Society? 

How can the technology we create be in harmony with the natural human rhythms? 

I was touched by Mikey’s introspection, honesty and clarity about both his personal goals and his unique ability to abstract computing use trends into larger frameworks of Humanity and Social good. 

A common thread amongst Entrepreneurs in our Western Society is they’ve ‘checked the boxes’ that Society suggests are the ‘right’ ones:

Ivey League Schools (check)
Corporate Job doing amazing things (Check)… 
Other social ladder accomplishments (check, check, check). 

And, yet, something is missing. So, a new leg of the journey emerges, where the Entrepreneur gets to take the trip inward, and learn about what makes them unique, what common threads they have with other Humans, life, and ultimately the Cosmos. We deconstruct the Human Mechanisms of thought, emotions, and biomechanics, the intersection of all these moving parts, and then reconstruct them in the framework of Society, Biology, and eventually the nature of life in the Universe as we know it. 

Our conversation primarily centered on the question:

How can we use emerging computer technologies in this current society to help Humans feel better more consistently? 

One of Mikey’s current projects is a collaboration with HeartMath www.heartmath.com, a company in the Santa Cruz area that has been very successful with their consumer-based heart monitor to assist in Human Beings’ wellbeing. 

Mikey has modified their technology to be a ‘community’ use device. In his ‘Group Flow’ experiences he’s been hosting gatherings around the Bay Area where many people gather in a circle, attach heart and respiration monitors, and see and hear their own heart and breath.

The audio and visual signals can be modified and harmonized in the group. I participated in one of these and it was super interesting, and a little edgy for me. Edgy because it was challenging for me to open up my seemingly very personal internal biological processes to others who I don’t know. It was also expansive and thrilling. 

I’m excited to witness and participate in guiding each other towards meeting our true desires, the values-based meaning underlying much of our searching. 

Programs and Tools which enable a Human to live more in harmony with life’s natural rhythms tend to involve:

  1. Deepening a Human’s relationship with their biological being.
  2. Expanding that relationship out to others in loving and connected ways.

In Mikey and my own background we see Technology and Gadgets as potential accelerators, tools, towards those goals. Tech is a tool (inside our realm of Nature) which can be used, blended and folded in our Human experience for the purpose of greater Harmony, Joy and Wellbeing. 

I was honored to have time with Mikey. He’s both a vocal thought leader and a pioneer in the use of Tech for integration of it with Human’s wellbeing. His Scientific rigor is a wonderful bridge for the much needed gap between our fast-paced evolution of computers with Humans’ wellbeing. 


Thomas Overly (founder) & Tanya Kelen (COO) - Promena VR and VRTherapy.org Clinic

Promena VR is the gold-standard for immersive Virtual Reality customized clinician guided psychotherapy.

The company's founder, Thomas Overly, is an adventurous, understated Midwestern Entrepreneur. 

It was such a pleasure to interview him and his COO, Tanya Kelen.

Thomas has done an incredible amount boot-strapping in just 3 years. A business owner and inventor, Thomas has his hands full inventing, getting to market, hiring.

I’m always impressed with technical founders. Especially those willing to go the extra distance with fire and passion. Thomas has these qualities and more. His background in Gaming, programming and clinical practice is a perfect entry into VR for healing. Its almost like he was made to build his company. 

Thomas seems to be on-fire with his combination of innovation, passion, and drive. Promena and VR Therapy clinic are the only commercially available solutions I know of both integrating Motion Capture, Facial Emotion Expression, and full-body movement into character-play for VR. There are academic solutions, and some military installations, but very few serving the commercial markets. 

Promena VR has a distinct first-mover advantage. I am interested to see how they blend their current vast storehouse of creative assets, such as scenes, models, and character sketches across their initial specific market VR therapy for clinical applications and either broaden horizontally or pivot into other applications. Seems their core competencies of integrating and innovating motion capture and emotional expression in VR alone is a great leap. The most clear market sector to drive forward is their core competency Clinician-driven evidence-based VR psychotherapy. This alone is an emerging and highly effective method of solving really debilitating psychological disorders. The increase of visualization specificity for patients, and the speed of resolving disorders will be proven out more as the technology becomes more wide-spread. Of course, there are other players, and there will be many more. For now, they appear to be at the top of this watershed. 

A question I like to surface in my interviews is: How can this technology get more distributed in modern healthcare systems? Promena is uniquely positioned technologically to push into large HMO’s and Hospitals/Clinical practices. Later, I can see their vision expanding out to more mobile-based headsets and verticalized market segments. For now, the Hospital.Clinic and B2B market seems the most promising. In a more mature market, they would have the ‘gold-standard’ commercially available software. 

For more information about their clinic please see www.vrtherapy.org and for their licensable software, please see www.promenavr.com

Chris Brickler and Shawn Wiora - Co-Founders MyndVR.com

Mynd VR - Virtual Reality for the Elderly

Chris Brickler and Shawn Wiora are businessmen addressing a large, and growing market. Its not surprising that Samsung decided to partner with them early on with a strategic alignment. Their backgrounds respectively are in Content Distribution, such as Video content from the major studios and TV syndicates, and in Nursing Home care administration. 

What strikes me is the need to address the aging population. Well, that actually includes every living being… but specifically, in the US we’re adding 10,000 people per day to the retired and aging population. When I was a student at Berkeley I remember taking a geography class with a focus on Global Population dynamics. Two terrifyingly awesome trends were burned into my brain. 1) How China completely cut its massive population boom by instituting 1 child policy 2) Seeing the ‘boom’ bell curve of baby boomers, and forecasting that out in the future 30 years. 

Many of those boomers (my parents included) are approaching retirement age, or already there. These are  often affluent, highly educated, and competent individuals who are seeking high-levels of customized care as they age. 

I’ve visited nursing homes over the years. From singing to them as an elementary student, to later in life bringing flowers to people I’d never met before as a good-deed practice. 

While the levels of care vary, and the administration and staff are doing their best to care for aging people, often the homes are lacking mental stimulation, deep community, family, and educational outlets. Can VR help with these? I believe it can. 

Specifically, VR can bring such an immersive environment to these elderly, they’re able to be transported back in time, or take a completely novel trip to some-place tropical for example. Later, I hope they can connect with like-minded people in a Virtual environment. 

A clear next-step with VR in the Nursing-home environment is integration of biometrics. It will happen. 

For Chris and Shawn It seems they are taking the content distribution and entertainment tack as a sales tool for distribution. This is a great idea because its not a far-cry from the current form of entertainment, TV. It seems it would be an easy sell. From there, with distribution in place, one could launch all kinds of other programs: Education, Virtual Human Assistants, Mind-enhancing games, Community interactions, Family Connection portals. So many possibilities. 

One idea Chris and Shawn are launching is their ‘Missions’ platform. While I don’t have the details on what this is, it sound like it could be bringing in the youth of the Church to connect with Elderly in a virtual environment, hopefully bringing love, optimism and faith to their lives. 





Nanea Reeves - CEO, Tripp Inc

Nanea and her co-founder Zach Norman have deep backgrounds in gaming, and many many firsts. 

  • First mobile games for Nokia
  • First mobile game for flip phones
  • First Mobile games for iPod 
  • 3 of the first 5 iPhone games
  • First multi-player mobile games

Its no surprise Tim Chang from Mayfield Ventures chose to invest in them. Skilled, vetted and experienced. 

Nanea’s mission at Tripp centers around making Virtual Reality games that are immersive and mood-altering. To ‘Dial up moods.’ Our conversation was wide ranging from what data can tell us about our users, to the shifting landscape of mindfulness in business. 

In the medical world, there are many regulatory challenges to overcome before a procedure is accepted as medicine. Lots of evidence based research is required. Its an interesting concept, to build tools in the wellness and entertainment markets, where regulatory control is not as embedded. 

One of the things Nanea mentioned over and over is her desire for what the many Indian religions call Ahimsa, or ‘do no harm.’ Its also a core tenet in many other religions around the globe. Her intention is to build experiences that enhance life, not cause harm. Personally I’m in alignment with this intention. And, I often reflect on what harm, or good means. While there are cultural agreements, its also a relative perspective based on personal experience. 

The potential power to use these tools for good is tremendous, and the potential power for non-good is also large. I look forward to seeing the breadth of creativity and cultural impact more humans join in to create experiences that align with their values. Could this tool be used as a social and cultural change agent? Will it by definition act as a social and cultural change agent? Is how we interface with our environment also shaping us as individuals and societies? 

One concept we talked about in our discussion is the interaction and evolution of connectivity and interface. The connectivity, or pipes of connection, for human thought and consciousness are being firmly established even deeper into this planet’s infrastructure with the internet and cellular networks. Paralleling and, iteratively interacting with that communication network are the methods, the ‘ways’ humans are interfacing with both each other, and the dominant software and hardware available. My hunch is these communication and creativity tools are both shaped by humans, and also shape us humans as we interface with them. If this hunch is true, then we are entering a whole other dimension, both literally and materially, in the realms of spatial and embodied computing. How we touch data, how we think, what ideas autonomously surface in the subconscious mind, what programs we are running, our world-views, perceptions of self, other, and society as a whole. 

I am seriously excited at Nanea’s mission. I also am excited at the splash a $4MM investment in this space makes. In many ways the investment validates the impact VR can have on consciousness and the approaches to digital experiences Nanea and entrepreneurs like her are going to have as they explore these embodied computing realms. 

Dr Skip Rizzo, PhD - Director, USC Medical Virtual Reality Lab - Institute for Creative Technologies

Skip is a dynamic technical healer. I like to say he’s the ‘Godfather’ of using Virtual Reality for healing mental health challenges. Skip skillfully blends his Clinical Psychology background, passion for technology, and deep vision of future emerging trends along with a working knowledge of hard-science evidence based research.  

His ‘Godfather’ status is warranted. He started out using this technology in the 90’s, when, let’s just say computer graphics were a bit pixelated, raw, and block-man cartoonish. Headsets were 10’s of Thousands of dollars, and research frameworks were brand-new. 

His Titles Include:

·       Director, Medical Virtual Reality - Institute for Creative Technologies

·       Research Professor - Dept. of Psychiatry and School of Gerontology

·       University of Southern California

·       Co-inventor of software Brave Mind 

·       Really Awesome Dude, RAD.

Skip and his team along with their highly customized software/hardware tools have cured Many Thousands of Veterans from a life-crippling condition, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD since the Lab’s inception.

Skip’s software, Brave Mind, is in more than 50 Veterans Affairs hospitals. They are also deploying their software simulations in a program that prepares soldiers to face challenging situations before they occur, thus reducing the risk of PTSD and other ailments proactively. In addition, his lab is using VR to assist therapists in more than the PTSD condition. 

While VR is the focus of Skips research, his lab is going far beyond Randomized Control Trials of known solutions. He’s constantly pursuing the next new thing, exploring, trying, adjusting, exploring more. Skip is both a Futurist and a Pragmatist. A rare combination. 

I was touched by Skip's large heart. He’s clearly in this work because he loves to help people, and his work in PTSD is addressing a segment of Americans who are often hard to bring into a therapeutic setting. The appeal of playing a video game, and the familiarity of interface is intriguing enough to Veterans for at least a sample. In our talk, Skip mentioned the dryness of some of the post-deployment check-list type intake forms, and how they may not be the most effective at surfacing some of the deeper issues affecting these returning soldiers. To me, this spoke to how human Skip is. How he really holds in mind the end goal, which is to heal people. He’s looking for the places where valuable diagnosis data slips thru the cracks, and building processes and tools to be sure and capture, analyze, and skillfully apply this info to a programmatic approach of healing. 

We talked a bit about the importance a skilled Therapist can make with real connection. The ways software can detect emotional patterns in voice, face, and posture. These diagnosis ‘hints’ are talked about, studied, and taught in many schools for Therapists. However, collecting large sample-sizes and being able to accurately run verifiable data-driven stats on these data points has, to my knowledge, not been possible prior to the emergence of this machine assisted process. The other things machines and software can assist in are neutrality. An AI driven therapist may have a bias, but that bias is likely consistent, predictable, whereas human biases are often unpredictable and dependent on many internal and external variables. One finding which was not anticipated, but certainly valuable, is how returning soldiers are more likely to reveal the truth about their condition to a Virtual Human, an AI directed piece of software rather than a real live human. These findings are promising for the future!

In summary, Skip and his lab at USC are both pioneers in using VR for Mental Health, and Explorers riding and pushing the cutting edge as its moving forward. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and look forward to hearing about the new findings from their lab. Who knows, maybe some of their technology will be coming to a Therapist near you soon.

You can find our more about Skip and his advancements herehttp://medvr.ict.usc.edu/

And check out his you-tube channel here.


Nikita and Maryna - Lucid Dreaming with Luciding.com

Nikita and Maryna are pioneers in the field of Lucid Dreaming. Lucid Dreaming is a way to cultivate what your dreams are intentionally, and remember them in the morning. There are many varied perspectives about what happens when we dream, where our mind/spirits go and do, and what the impact is in the waking days of dreams. In the western scientific community we are fact-based.

Virtual Bytes - Matt and Sarah

Matt and Sarah are a dynamic duo. They stated Virtual Bytes in San Francisco and are rapid prototyping two Virtual Reality Programs per month. Their aim is to illustrate and better understand how thought/mind impacts movement using the Virtual Environment as a playground to explore this connection. You can check them out @ www.Virtual-Bytes.com