The Nevada County Tech Connection hosted a lively TechTonic event on Tuesday that touched upon a wide and seemingly unrelated variety of topics. Ken Krugler’s talk “The Billion Dollar Pivot,” was ostensibly about a Bay Area start-up that was originally formed to “solve fusion,” but ended up pivoting to designing electric thrusters for small satellites. However, Krugler spoke about everything from how, early in his career, he crushed Steve Job’s toe to the Second Space Race to freeze-dried gophers.
Krugler’s story of how Apollo Fusion successfully transformed from one kind of business to another was a fascinating tale of near misses, big risks, good luck, and unbelievably short timelines. He explained why satellite thrusters are a hot new market, and the different types of technology thruster manufacturers are exploring. Krugler, who is the president of local big data consulting and training company Scale Unlimited, also shared crazy start-up war stories with a highly engaged crowd that was as diverse as the topics he covered. Web designers, bioscience project managers, attorneys, physicists, and of course software engineers from the Nevada County tech community asked Krugler about everything from how to tell if a venture capitalist is good to how to get companies to move up to Nevada County from the Bay Area (ahem – broadband) to whether or not we will ever solve fusion.
Vanja Peric, a freelance web and graphic designer who runs Green Girl Studio, was happy she came to the event. “I’m new to the area, and I came here to meet people, learn, maybe collaborate,” she said. Eric Little, an attorney who focuses on technology and start-ups, was also there to learn. It helps that his office is in the Tech Hub building. “I learn so much from these events,” he said. “I try to attend all of them.”
TechTonic is taking a break in July, but the monthly event will return in August. Be sure to join our email list (at the bottom of the page) to get the latest announcement about Tech Hub events.