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Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

The Young Guns

Tamara Christopherson is playing to win.

The Olympic kayaker and entrepreneur has combined her interests in business and athletics to help U.S. athletes get an edge at this summer’s London games. Husband Sky Christopherson, an Olympic cyclist, is part of both efforts.

You might say that Melissa Monday, Ted Bradley and Scott Wissbaum are playing to win as well, in their respective business endeavors.

Monday and Bradley have put together a digital marketing platform tailored to the unique needs of restaurant and nightclub owners.

Wissbaum has a business that does a lot of the financial homework needed to create a successful real estate development.

Four of the business owners are in their 30s. Bradley is 26. The five represent a new generation of entrepreneurship, one with plenty of drive and insight into the potential of new technology.

Games Plan

The Christophersons started their business, called Optimized Athlete, last year and have since put $20,000 into the endeavor. For the present, they are applying wireless health and genomics technologies to make sure the women’s sprint cycling team is in top shape when it goes into the Olympic Games, which begin on July 27.

They plan to use data collected from the Olympic cyclists during multiple weeks of training in Spain.

Sky Christopherson, 36, and Tamara Christopherson, 33, are building on the findings of the research community surrounding UC San Diego, where both studied after they retired from their Olympic careers. The new company’s supporters include Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute.

The two say that medicine is changing rapidly, and entrepreneurs can leverage those changes to improve athletic performance.

The Christophersons are intentionally vague when describing the services Optimized Athlete provides. Tamara Christopherson notes the competitive pressure on the Olympic team, and speaks of an obligation to protect the U.S. cyclists.

She said the company plans to make more detailed announcements once the games are over.

This is not the Christophersons’ first startup. The two also helped found Vicaso.com, a real estate photography service, at UCSD in 2006.

Filling a Need

Melissa Monday and Ted Bradley launched Restaurant Connect! in January. It’s not their first joint venture.

Monday, 30, and Bradley, 26, met at a firm that produced iPhone applications, and first pooled their resources to start a Web design firm called M.B. Strategic LLC.

Their newest project offers an entire digital marketing platform to bars, clubs and restaurants. Building on the foundation of a website, Restaurant Connect! offers an all-in-one product that can manage Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as produce newsletters, among other functions.

One unique function lets restaurant patrons tweet about a particular menu item that they like.

“We saw a very large need in the food and beverage industry,” said Monday.

That need differs from law firms or dental offices. Restaurant and nightclub websites tend to go out of date quickly, since menus and entertainment lineups change. What’s more, people who view hospitality industry websites are often on the go. Bradley says that some 30 percent of traffic comes from people using mobile devices, so a successful website has to look good on an iPhone.

The partners are targeting nightclubs and restaurants with more than $750,000 per year in revenue, and plan to deliver their product at a price much less than custom website developers charge. The partners anticipate fast growth.

The firm has two full-time employees and two part-time contractors. It has not yet made a profit, but it may have the interest of new investors, the partners said.

Restaurant Direct! clients include Bully’s Del Mar as well as La Jolla’s Brockton Villa Restaurant.

Thinking Ahead

Scott Wissbaum heads La Jolla-based RED Group LLC. The initials stand for real estate decisions.

Wissbaum, 31, produces business plans and financial models for real estate developers, their investors and lenders. In layman’s terms, he lays out the “what ifs.”

During the last eight years, RED Group has underwritten more than 12,000 acres, 26,000 residential units and more than 65 million square feet.

Wissbaum was part of the inaugural class at the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the University of San Diego. His stay in San Diego brought him together with associate advisers Nick Arthur and Steve Chiles.

While he would have preferred to stay local, the recession intervened. Clients are seeking opportunities in high job growth markets and university towns, so Wissbaum is working on projects in the Midwest, South and Southwest.

Two recent projects have been in Texas cities. Another notable project is the rehabilitation of a nine-story, 1920s-era building in an old city in the South. Its developers plan to turn it into apartments, and as a historic structure it will be eligible for tax credits, Wissbaum said.

RED Group involves a lot of “blood, sweat and tears” and really does not give him days or evenings off, Wissbaum said.

However, like Bradley, the Christophersons and Monday, Wissbaum seems to be enjoying the ride.

Tamara Christopherson may have said it best: Focus — or the ability to not give in to distraction — is a key part of doing business and being an Olympic athlete.

So is effort.

“Any good business,” Christopherson said, “could be informed by the hard work we see in the Olympic athletes.”


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