Human element sets the 'Standard' on 1st St.

Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier 
Standard Liquor owner Ramana Srirama chats with Paul Swanson.

The store known as Standard Liquor at 303 First St., across from Draeger’s Market, crams its tiny square footage with all the hallmarks of a bodega, corner store or mini mart. There are snacks, cold drinks, simple toiletries and the promise of little-to-no wait at the checkout counter – one of the definitional aspects of a convenience store.

Ramana Srirama anchors the shop seven days a week, first from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then, after a three-hour break when a co-worker takes the till, he’s back until 8 p.m., at which point his wife and son take over the final shift to 11 p.m. Srirama’s son, Druthi, is studying history at De Anza College by day and helping the family enterprise by night.

Los Altos Vault & Safe Deposit to close pending no new lease agreement with LACI

Megan V. Winslow / Los Altos Town Crier
Los Altos Vault & Safe Deposit Co. assistant manager Phil Van Poetsch, left, with manager Chris Lampe, run Los Altos’ “Fort Knox."

When the First Street Green project was pulled last October, employees of Los Altos Vault & Safe Deposit Co. thought they were getting a second chance. But with the landlord offering a six-month and then month-to-month lease, the Vault plans to close its doors permanently June 1.

Los Altos siblings sell first startup

Los Altos siblings Riley and Stephen Soward are proof that you’re never too young to start – or sell – your first company.

A few weeks ago, the brothers, ages 22 and 23, respectively, sold their marketing research firm, Campus Insights, to Harvard Student Agencies, Harvard University’s student-run company.

Los Altos startup brings consumer ratings technology to world of scientific discovery

Los Altos resident Karin Lachmi founded Bioz with the goal of helping scientists like herself make faster, smarter decisions about how they plan experimental procedures.

Megan V. Winslow / Town Crier
Daniel Levitt and Karin Lachmi lead the Bioz team based in Los Altos and Israel.

If Bioz’ research tool does its job, it will forward scientific discovery by making the experimental process more informed, reducing trial and error and increasing accuracy. The life sciences startup in downtown Los Altos is on the way to raising nearly $30 million in early funding rounds.

Writing what she knows: LA resident secures major deal for debut novel

Photo Courtesy of Kathy Wang
Those who know Kathy Wang only through a glossy photo on a book jacket won’t glimpse baby Vivienne and toddler Daniel, who co-sponsored her novel through naps and, in the case of the baby, not arriving too early as Wang wrote and queried agents at high speed.

Here’s a love story to the harried naptimes and uncertain bedtimes of early parenthood: Los Altos resident Kathy Wang managed to use those moments over the past year to write a novel, pick up an agent and snag a significant deal with William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers.

Anyone who remembers the chaos of early parenthood could be forgiven some gently envious chagrin at Wang’s story of determination and a son who’s an amazing napper. But the business behind her success is almost as interesting – she learned the publishers’ market using skills built as a Harvard MBA and product manager.

Afficient Academy puts twist on tutoring for local students

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Afficient Academy teacher Janet Larwood works with Lucas Wang, 7, in the Los Altos location that opened in December.

The idea for Jiayuan Fang’s learning center business, Afficient Academy, was born when the electrical engineer realized that his children’s progress wasn’t effectively being measured at their after-school tutoring program.

“(When) they gave you the next week’s worksheets, they do not know how well you did in the previous week,” Fang said of a nationally known after-school program. “The feedback is very slow. So when they figure out how you do, they give you additional worksheets to repeat it several weeks later.”

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