Espree Devora started her entrepreneurial journey out of college building ZexSports, a digital media company focused on connecting brands with the emerging youth market through action sports. Espree went on to create WeareLATech.com, a platform that unifies the LA tech ecosystem through her first WeAreLATech Podcast, a localized Silicon Beach community event calendar, and offline experiences. She is also the producer and host of the Women in Tech Podcast, sharing stories of actionable empowerment and inspiring listeners to believe that “if she can do it, so can I.” which Espree calls “actionable empowerment”.
Espree is a a leading voice in the tech industry and a powerful advocate for women in tech. Listed as one of Inc Magazine’s Top 30 Women in Tech to follow and recognized by Harper’s Bazaar as one of the top 10 podcasts to listen to. As a speaker and panel moderator, Espree has spoken for numerous corporations including CBS, SXSW, Disney, and USC MBA.
Tune in to find out how and why Espree started ZexSports, becoming a podcaster before it was trendy, lessons learnt from building startups and helping founders, finding purpose, her love for writing and journalism and loads more!
Oli Russell-Cowan: Where did the interest for action sports come from?
Espree Devora: My dad really got me into action sports. He wasn’t an athlete, but was into old cars and he would take me to the skate park and to motocross events. Motorcross was the best watching the demolition.
I’ve never been a pro athlete. I have like 10 skate decks, it’s ridiculous. My friends, they can do some gnarly things. I just feel the culture of it. I grew up with the culture of it and I love it. I don’t know too much about traditional sports, I only know about action sports.
I feel like being an action sports athlete is very much like being a founder, we take these chances, we sacrifice our life, to entertain, to inform, to inspire. And it’s a huge sacrifice.
Action sports athletes sacrifice, literally their lives whenever they go out to perform. They could die, they could become disabled, it’s just insane. But the love of the craft of the art, the passion is so connected to our spirit and soul. It’s like, we’re gonna go out there and do it anyway.
I do think when you’re a true founder, when I started it was not the cool thing to be a founder. I was just deeply curious and deeply passionate about technology, about action sports and I wanted to merge my worlds together. Wouldn’t it be cool if people around the world into action sports could connect with one another? Yeah. Now it’s like, whatever. But back then it was crazy.
Oli Russell-Cowan: Was that around the time that Facebook started?
Espree Devora: Yeah. Same time. I did so many wild things that I’m so proud of. I went to the very first Y Combinator before it was Y Combinator. It was called Startup School. I think it was at Stanford and it was sold out.
I don’t even know how I found it. But I was like, I have to go. I have to meet other people like me. I drove there and I had a lot of challenges on the way. I was like, nothing is gonna get in the way of my destiny. I hoped that if someone didn’t show up, I would be able to get their empty seat and it worked out that way. But the challenges that happened in between were quite interesting. And I’m really proud that I didn’t let anybody stop me.
I’d never met people like me. I had my business partner who I met through my best friend’s cousin, you know, like that was it. It was so all these people who code. It was a mystical land. It was amazing.
That’s where I met Mark Zuckerberg and he was building Facebook. I should never be an investor because I told him, you’ll never take over Myspace.
I obviously don’t have a good future in venture capital skills. That memory also reminds me always follow up, it shows you how important follow up is and I don’t mean unauthentically, I’m definitely not a cloud chaser. I’m not one of those people that talks to people to get somewhere. In general if you’re authentically connecting with someone, have a really strong follow up game. You don’t know what’s going to happen. If you genuinely like someone, and you’re having great conversation, just make sure you have a great system as a founder to follow up regularly, or else you may have misconnections in the future.
Oli Russell-Cowan: Were you doing that back then?
Espree Devora: No, I’ve learned and still fail to apply. It’s just terrible. I know it but I’m just like, I call myself an artist of human connection. I’m an artist, I’m like, everywhere. I’m floating around. You know, in the ether. I’m an artist first and a business person second.
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