I sat down a few months back with my friend and fellow mover, shaker and DOER Matthew Swinnerton to discuss some of the events over the last decade that lead up to the founding of Santa Cruz Geeks, NextSpace (now in 9 locations across the country), TechRaisingLooker (the most recent $16M VC backed Business Intelligence and Analytics firm HQ’d in Santa Cruz), and my own firm Open Spectrum Inc.

An excerpt of the interview is below, but for anyone interested in learning more about how and why OSI was founded, and more specifically about what I’m working toward, click on the title below for the full interview.


$10 Million Tech Fund in Santa Cruz? – My interview with Sean Tario

Last March I had a chance to sit down and interview Sean Tario, CEO & Catalyst of Open Spectrum Inc. In the following interview, he talks about his path from tech consultant to entrepreneur, his take on the local tech scene, and why he’s got his heart set on making a $10 million Tech Fund a reality for Santa Cruz.

Matthew Swinnerton: So Sean, how did you personally get into the tech space?

Sean Tario: I got into technology because growing up my father was always working for different companies that would manage the processing of buy/sell transactions on the major financial exchanges.

He had his own firm, Transaction Services, for a number of years, then moved on to work for a number of the large banks that had in-house clearing exchanges, such as Schroders, Bank of New York, Citigroup, etc. The technology leveraged at these companies was always cutting edge, and the exchanges were started to adopt technology to clear orders faster through the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Chicago Board of Trade, New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, etc. He always had teams of systems, data base, network and application engineers working with him and around him as a result.

He would bring computers home and tell me, “Sean, figure out how to work this thing so you can teach me.” And so I would play around with it and end up breaking it and needing him to take it back to work to have his guys fix it and send it back. Eventually, I would figure things out or he would simply have me call or visit with the engineers at his office to walk through what to do. This was back when the DOS prompt was the first thing that you saw…

So, that’s a big reason why I became a geek. I will always remember trying to get onto the Internet, and taking the phone cord and just plugging it, jimmying it into the back of the computer, not knowing yet that I needed a modem.



An even more detailed and expanded version of what’s been happening in Santa Cruz over the past decade can be found within a well written and researched 3 part series featured on

PART 1 – Santa Cruz, the City Over the Hill, Works to Build Its Own Startup Culture

PART 2 – Seeding a New Generation of Startups in Santa Cruz

PART 3 – Building an Entrepreneurial Pipeline in Santa Cruz

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