Raj Nijjer: VP of Community Relations at Yext, Angel Investor

Raj Nijjer, angel investor and VP of community relations at Yext, photographed at Malee's Thai Bistro in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Raj Nijjer, angel investor and VP of community relations at Yext, photographed at Malee’s Thai Bistro in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Raj Nijjer
www.twitter.com/RajNijjer

Raj Nijjer is a passionate believer in the power of technology to boost economies and communities. The 37-year-old Phoenix resident, who is VP of community relations at digital location management service Yext, is an angel investor who regularly partners with small-to-medium-size technology startups and advises them on how to grow their businesses.

Nijjer shared his thoughts on the Phoenix tech scene, as well as gave his advice for startups. You can also hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised in India, and I was 12 years old when we moved to America for the opportunity. The climate in Arizona was warm, and we came from a warm climate. The cost of living and opportunity was great outside of the usual immigrant stalwarts, like San Francisco, New York and L.A. We still wanted to be close to the coast, and we had a little bit of family here for some support.

I went to Shadow Mountain High School and graduated from Arizona State [University] several times. The first time was for a bachelor’s degree in computer science, then I went back and got a bachelor’s for international business.​ I did my MBA at ASU two years ago, which was such a great experience, and I now mentor undergrads. Continue reading

Ken Morrison: The Beer Czar

Ken Morrison, The Beer Czar blogger, photographed at Craft 64 in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ken Morrison, The Beer Czar blogger, photographed at Craft 64 in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ken Morrison
www.thebeerczar.blogspot.com

Ken Morrison is a craft beer expert whose passion for the frothy drink extends to his blog, where he talks about everything beer-related as the Beer Czar. The 42-year-old Gilbert resident, who works for Bank of America as an operations analyst for workforce management and staffing, touches on everything from how to cook with beer, to coverage on where to get local brews in the Valley.

Morrison shared more about why he’s so fervent about craft beer and gave his tips for brewskie beginners. You can also hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

Winter. I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and grew up in northern Maine. My parents moved out here while I was in college in southern New Hampshire at Franklin Pierce College. The winter we had during my senior year of college was one of the worst winters on record. I was studying fine arts and education, and on my way to student teaching one day, I did a 360 in my car in the snow. I vowed to myself that was going to be the last winter I’d ever spend in New England. I moved to Arizona after I graduated and have been here ever since.

When I first came to Arizona, I was a teacher for a few years. I then moved into finance and have continued working in that field. Continue reading

Jake Poinier: Freelance Writer and Author of ‘The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer’

Jake Poinier
www.DoctorFreelance.com

Jake Poinier has experienced immense flexibility in his role as a freelance writer and editor for the past 16 years. The publishing guru works on projects ranging from penning web copy to ghostwriting books, and he’s self-published three of his own titles: The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid, Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy!, and the recently released The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer: How to Find, Sell, and Retain More Freelance Business.

The 48-year-old Phoenix resident shares his knowledge of the freelancing world on his website, www.DoctorFreelance.com, where he is available to answer questions and creates blog posts focused on freelancing. He shared his tips for existing and aspiring freelancers, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in Boston and grew up in Massachusetts. After graduating college, I was working at a golf magazine called Golf Digest magazine in Connecticut. Two years later, I quit my job and attempted to ride my bike cross-country and was run over in Montana by a pickup truck, which cut that short. Even so, the first 1,100 miles introduced me to the beauty of the West’s mountains and desert.

After going back to Massachusetts after the accident, a guy who had left Golf Digest to become the editor at a magazine here in Arizona, called Golf Illustrated, called me. It was a classically awful New England night, 33 degrees and raining, and he said, “Hey, do you want to come to Arizona to be my managing editor?” I said, “What time is my flight?” I flew out and haven’t looked back since. Continue reading

Colton Brock: Artist and Photographer

Colton Brock, photographed on top of Shaw Butte in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Colton Brock, artist and photographer, photographed on top of Shaw Butte in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Colton Brock
www.coltonbrock.com

Colton Brock has made his mark on the Valley’s art scene in a big way, as the creator of several murals throughout the downtown Phoenix area and beyond. The 33-year-old Phoenix resident creates landscape art in a variety of mediums, including photography, and presents his work at a solo exhibition at The Hive in Phoenix, called Location³. The exhibition debuts with a music and refreshment-filled reception Friday, October 16 from 6-10 p.m. and runs through mid-November.

Brock has had several commissions with the City of Phoenix and City of Tempe and has shown at The Lost Leaf and Phoenix Public Library, as well as in Minneapolis. You can currently see his murals at Tempe Farmers Market, at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, and around Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix, and he created a public installation at the light rail stop at Mill Avenue and 3rd Street in Tempe.

Brock shared his artist inspiration, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in and grew up in Phoenix and went to Arizona State University, where I got my bachelor degree in art and design, with a minor in religious studies.

My grandfathers were both born in Arizona. My whole family is from here, back to four generations ago, and before then, I don’t even really know where they came from. Continue reading