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Founded & Funded
39 minutes | Feb 2, 2023
Lexion's Gaurav Oberoi on Applying AI to Change an Industry
In this week's IA40 Spotlight Episode of Founded & Funded, Investor Elisa La Cava talks to Lexion Co-founder and CEO Gaurav Oberoi. Lexion was one of the first spinouts from AI2, and Madrona invested in the first round the company raised in 2019. Like many companies that come from AI2 – Lexion is focused on applying AI to change an industry. Specifically, Lexion helps legal teams at enterprises manage contracts – and they are one of the companies that have added features using OpenAI’s GPT technology.
28 minutes | Jan 19, 2023
Magnify's Josh Crossman on Incubating a Startup and Bringing AI to the Customer Experience
In this episode, investor Elisa La Cava talks with Josh Crossman, CEO of Magnify, which was incubated at Madrona Venture Labs. Josh was actually recruited by Madrona Venture Labs to help launch a business that would bring AI to the customer experience. He was quickly persuaded and signed on in 2021, spinning out of MVL in less than three months with a $6 million seed round. Josh and Elisa discussed the incubation process and how Magnify's intelligent application to improve customer retention, expansion, and adoption is solving one of the biggest pain points of the customer experience — focusing on and understanding the needs of every single user. They also dive into finding product market fit and the importance of incorporating AI/ML into a product from the very beginning. I'll go ahead and hand it over to Elisa to dive into all this and so much more.
32 minutes | Jan 5, 2023
IA40 Spotlight: A-Alpha Bio's David Younger on machine learning in biotech, building cross-functional teams
This week on Founded & Funded, Partner Chris Picardo is talking with A-Alpha Bio Co-founder and CEO David Younger for our first Intelligent Application 40 Spotlight episode of 2023. We announced the 2022 IA40 winners in October, and A-Alpha was the first biotech company to make the list, which was no surprise to us. As one of our portfolio companies, we know the work David and his team are doing at the intersections of biological and data/computer sciences will change the world — but having a group of judges agree with us makes us all the more certain. Protein interactions govern just about all of biology and A-Alpha uses synthetic biology and machine learning to measure and engineer protein-protein interactions, speeding up a traditionally slow wet lab process. The company's proprietary platform — AlphaSeq — uses genetically engineered cells to experimentally measure millions of protein-protein interactions simultaneously, generating enormous amounts of data to inform the discovery and development of therapeutics. It is within that enormous amount of data that the company is adding to every day that so many answers will start to be found as the company is able to use machine learning to train predictive models and begin predicting new antibody sequences that could be effective against different viruses and diseases — improving the way that we are able to discover drugs. Chris and David dive into that future that A-Alpha is working toward and so much more — the power of data engineering, building business models around data, building cross-functional teams, having both tech and biotech-focused investors. It is an episode you won't want to miss.
38 minutes | Nov 3, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: dbt Labs Founder Tristan Handy on the modern data stack, partnerships, and creating community
In this week's IA40 Spotlight episode of Founded & Funded, Madrona partner Jon Turow talks with dbt Labs Founder and CEO Tristan Handy. Here at Madrona, we just announced our 2022 IA40, and dbt Labs is one of our two-time winners. The company has positioned itself as the industry standard for data transformation in the cloud, and it raised $222 million at the beginning of the year, which was led by Altimeter, but Databricks and Snowflakes both participated in the round, further solidifying dbt's place and the modern data stack. Jon and Tristan dive into the concept of epistemic truth, how the modern data stack has significantly improved the frontier of what's possible in data, the collaboration that needs to happen between data analysts, analytics engineers, and data scientists, the right way to use partnerships, and how the best way to try and create a community around your product is to not try and create a community, but you'll have to listen to Tristan's explanation.
43 minutes | Oct 20, 2022
Data Visionary Bob Muglia on the Modern Data Stack and Lessons from Snowflake
In this week's episode which is leading up to our Intelligent Applications Summit on November 2nd, Soma speaks with Bob Muglia. Bob has thought deeply about the Modern Data Stack and they speak about it here - what is needed in the data stack to enable Intelligent Applications (or data driven apps as Bob calls them) and the opportunities for new companies to innovate. Bob is also well known as the CEO that took Snowflake from a promising application for the public cloud to success by focusing on the problem of scaling a data warehouse in the cloud, and building product and sales teams that could win the hearts and minds of their loyal customers. Bob talks here about the early days after he joined Snowflake and what he did to get a product to market, how partnering with the big public cloud providers worked- and had it's challenging moments. It's a great view into how both Soma and Bob are thinking about the future of enterprise data and intelligent applications.
34 minutes | Oct 6, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: Fivetran CEO George Fraser on Data Replication and Connectors
This week Madrona Investor Sabrina Wu talks with Fivetran Co-founder and CEO George Fraser. Fivetran is fundamentally a data replication company — that’s how George explains it. But the company actually started out trying to solve a completely different problem when it was founded in 2012 and pivoted to strictly data integration in 2015 after multiple customers started asking for help. But in attacking that problem differently than it had ever been done before — by only focusing on replicating people’s data into the desired destination w/o getting sucked into any of the workflows that the user intended to do on the other side — they’ve come out as a leader in the space. Fivetran landed a $565M series D last year and made two acquisitions. And – it was named one of our top 40 Intelligent Applications in 2021. In this IA40 spotlight episode, Sabrina and George not only dive into the story behind Fivetran and how it has taken time and patience to get to where they are now. But Sabrina also gets some hot takes on the modern data stack, reverse ETL, query federation and why Fivetran doesn’t open source. He also has some great advice about coming up with a company name, but you’ll have to listen to get it, so I’ll hand it over to Sabrina to dive in.
30 minutes | Sep 22, 2022
Stack Co-Founder and CEO Will Rush on Teen Crypto Investing
This week, Investor Aseem Datar is talking with Will Rush, co-founder and CEO of Stack, a teen crypto platform to educate a young crypto-curious generation — and their parents — about responsible investing. After working at a company, building a banking app for teens, Will took his decade-long experience in securities and finance and applied it to crypto and Web3. He saw the excitement and curiosity that teens had for crypto and knew he could apply his experience to create a world of responsible teen crypto investing. Stack has managed to balance education and access for both parents and their teens in a way that the younger generation is actually appreciating and connecting with. And Will is maniacally focused on the education portion. Not only because he is a soon-to-be parent himself, but because in what he calls the Wild West of Web3 and crypto, he says somebody needs to be the good guy. To help continue that project, Stack just landed $2.7 million in funding to continue developing its platform. And Will's advice for every founder — "You need to have slime on your face" — a reference most of us millennials will understand, but you'll have to listen to see how Double Dare relates to launching a startup.
34 minutes | Sep 8, 2022
Battlesnake Founder Brad Van Vugt on Creating Community Through Programming Competitions
This week, Investor Maria Gilfoyle talks to Brad Van Vugt, founder and CEO of Battlesnake, a multiplayer programming game for experienced web developers where your code is your controller. Battlesnake builds games for programmers that encourage self-directed learning and are challenging to master. In this episode, Maria and Brad dive into where the idea for the game came from, how they get the developer community so involved, and how they're able to combine aspects of gaming, eSports, and traditional sports to create an engaging experience not just for developers, but for anyone to watch and enjoy. You won't want to miss Brad's stories and advice in this one.
37 minutes | Aug 25, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: Tesorio Co-founders Carlos Vega and Fabio Fleitas on Automating Accounts Receivable
In this IA40 spotlight episode, Managing Director Hope Cochran talks with Tesorio Co-founders Carlos Vega and Fabio Fleitas about getting finance teams out of the world of manual, error-prone and inefficient spreadsheets and equipping them with intelligent applications more common in other parts of a company. That’s where Tesorio comes in — they offer automation solutions designed to help companies manage accounts receivable — in other words, they help companies turn their revenue into cash. The platform replaces that tedious and manual collections processes with accurate, real-time predictions, optimized workflows, and actionable insights based on behavioral trends. Tesorio raised a $17M Series B in July to expand its go-to-market efforts and last year landed on Madrona’s list of the country’s top 40 intelligent applications, a list we launched to recognize companies applying machine learning to solve business problems better than ever before. We think these intelligent applications will define the next generation of innovation and shift the SaaS technology landscape into application intelligence. In this episode, Hope, Carlos, and Fabio dive into where the idea for Tesorio came from, how the company pivoted from the original idea, how these two met, the hard conversations any co-founders should have before deciding to launch a company together, and so much more.
30 minutes | Aug 11, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: Cresta Co-founder and CEO Zayd Enam on Using AI to Empower People to be More Productive
We've all struggled with call center experiences. Madrona's Ishani Ummat talks with Cresta Co-founder and CEO Zayd Enam about the unique angle Cresta takes to leverage AI to drive a better customer experience in real time. The two dive into the important topic of how AI can be used to help empower people to be more productive. we hear the story of why Zayd dropped out of his Ph.D. program to pursue launching his own company based on what he explains as the "schlep blindness" of contact centers. He also discusses the unique way he landed his first customer, which happens to be Intuit, one of the largest financial software companies in the country, and the benefits of taking a modular approach versus a full rip and replace of a customer's entire system. This episode may make you crave a Costco hot dog, but you'll have to listen to find out why!
29 minutes | Jul 28, 2022
CommerceIQ's Guru Hariharan on Pivoting When You're in the Wrong Market
In this episode of Founded and Funded, Managing Director Scott Jacobson is talking with CommerceIQ CEO Guru Hariharan. CommerceIQ is a retail e-commerce management platform that automates and unifies category analytics, retail media management, and sales and operations all under one roof. The company secured $115 million in funding in March and just made its first acquisition — e-fundamentals — to expand into digital shelf analytics. The acquisition actually brings the company around full circle in a sense. CommerceIQ was originally Boomerang Commerce, which was a dynamic pricing software for multi-brand retail companies to better compete with the likes of Amazon. But Guru realized that despite the quality of that software and the A+ team he'd pulled together, he was trying to grow a business in an F market. He ended up pivoting the entire company to what is now CommerceIQ, selling the Boomerang business to Lowe's. Scott and Guru dive into what went into navigating those turbulent times, what it takes to be a vertical SaaS company, and Guru's realization that he couldn't solve every problem as though it were a math problem.
32 minutes | Jul 14, 2022
Top Tier's David York on Limited Partners, Market Conditions
In this episode of Founded and Funded, we stray a little from our typical format to answer some questions that often come up in discussions between founders and our investors. Madrona Managing Director Matt McILwain talks with one of our Limited Partners — or the partners of ours that are not the day-to-day investors — Top Tier Capital Partners Founder and Managing Director David York. They explore different kinds of funding mechanisms, the current market conditions, and a bit of a history between the two firms – more specifically, why this San Francisco-based firm decided to bet on Seattle and Madrona all those years ago!
26 minutes | Jun 30, 2022
Sila Co-founder and CEO Shamir Karkal on Crypto and Web3
In this episode of Founded and Funded, Madrona Partner Chris Picardo dives into the world of crypto and Web3 with Sila Co-Founder and CEO Shamir Karkal. Sila is a FinTech platform that provides payment infrastructure as a service and sits at the intersection of crypto rails and traditional financial services infrastructure — because as much as some people want to get away from the traditional financial system, crypto still needs to be able to plug into it. Shamir and Chris dive into the importance of this infrastructure, the ups and downs of the crypto market, the trends driving FinTech and crypto, and so much more!
39 minutes | Jun 16, 2022
IA40 Winner Spotlight: Snorkel Co-founder Alex Ratner on data-centric AI, culture, and 'one of the most historic opportunities for growth in AI'
In this episode of Founded and Funded, we spotlight IIA40 winner Snorkel AI. Managing Director Tim Porter not only talks with Snorkel Co-founder and CEO Alex Ratner all about data-centric AI and programmatic data labeling and development, but they also dive into the importance of culture — especially now — and how to take advantage of what Alex calls "one of the most historic opportunities for growth in AI."
34 minutes | Jun 2, 2022
Robotics Expert Sidd Srinivasa on Trends and What's Ripe for Innovation
In this episode of Founded and Funded Madrona Investors Aseem Datar and Sabrina Wu sit down with robotics expert and University of Washington Professor Sidd Srinivasa to talk about the technology and sociological trends that are leading to innovation in the robotics space, where Sidd sees opportunities for founders, and why now it is a time to pay attention to what's happening in the space. Sidd also shares why he is what he calls an "accidental roboticist" and some of the hard-learned lessons from throughout his extensive career.
14 minutes | May 24, 2022
IA40 Spotlight - Madrona and PitchBook Partner for IA40
Madrona investor, Ishani Ummat, speaks with PitchBook Data leader, Daniel Cook, about bringing machine intelligence to the IA40 list. Their new algorithm takes many data points and creates a company score to predict company outcome probability. They previewed this work by analyzing last year’s IA40 list and found that late stage companies were 60% more likely to IPO. Listen as Ishani and Daniel talk numbers and what it means for companies building intelligent applications.
37 minutes | May 19, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: SeekOut CEO Anoop Gupta and VP of People Jenny Armstrong-Owen on AI-powered talent solutions, developing talent, and maintaining culture
This week on Founded and Funded, we spotlight our next IA40 winner – SeekOut. Investor Ishani Ummat talks to SeekOut Co-founder and CEO Anoop Gupta and VP of People Jenny Armstrong-Owen about their AI-powered intelligence platform, the importance of not only finding and recruiting new hires but also developing and retaining employees within a company, and maintaining SeekOut's own culture while seeing significant growth over the last year.
46 minutes | May 5, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: Hugging Face CEO Clem Delangue and OctoML CEO Luis Ceze on foundation models, open source, and transparency
This week on Founded and Funded, we spotlight our next IA40 winners – Hugging Face and OctoML. Managing Director Matt McIlwain talks to Hugging Face Co-founder and CEO Clem Delangue and OctoML Co-founder and CEO Luis Ceze all about foundation models, diving deep into the importance of detecting biases in the data being used to train models as well the importance of transparency and the ability for researchers to share their models. They discuss open source, business models, the role of cloud providers and debate DevOps versus MLOps, something that Luis feels particularly passionate about. Clem even explains how large models are to machine learning like what Formula 1 is to the car industry.
50 minutes | Apr 21, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: Starburst CEO Justin Borgman on entrepreneurship, cloud partnerships and enabling intelligent applications
This week on Founded and Funded, we spotlight our next IA40 winner – Starburst Data. Managing Director Matt McIlwain talks to co-founder and CEO Justin Borgman about how launching his first company was like getting a Ph.D. in entrepreneurship, and then they dive into the customer problem Justin saw that made him believe the time was right to launch his second — Starburst. The two discuss open-source alignment, why making use of cloud partnerships early, especially cloud marketplaces, can be so beneficial for startups, why Starburst had to change the name of its query engine from Presto to Trino, and Justin’s guidance for creating a future-proof architecture.
36 minutes | Apr 7, 2022
IA40 Spotlight: RunwayML Co-Founder Cristobal Valenzuela on the Intersection of Art and Technology
In this episode of Founded and Funded, Madrona is launching a special series to highlight some of its IA40 winners, starting with RunwayML, which offers web-based video editing tools that utilize machine learning to automate what used to take video editors hours if not days to accomplish. Madrona Investor Ishani Ummat speaks with Co-founder and CEO Cristobal Valenzuela all about where the idea came from, how he decided to launch a company instead of joining Adobe – and even how TikTok fits into all of this. Listen now to hear all about it.
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