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Off the Record with Aram
29 minutes | Sep 8, 2022
Koii - The blockchain project built for media - Al Morris, Koii Network
About Al MorrisAl is a chief architect and co-founder of Koii network. Koii was born in 2020 to widen the possibilities for the future of Web3. Al loves teaching, which made him start Blockchain Institute Chicago. The main goal of the institute is to help educate the public about the use of blockchain technology. SHOW NOTES: 0:00 | Introduction to Al Morris0:22 | Why Koii?2:42 | What sets Koii apart from other networks4:43 | Crypto -a giant scam?6:33 | Intricacies of remote work11:12 | Strategy to track productivity14:58 | Recurring meetings are time wasters19:18 | Zoom Fatigue a Real Thing21:34 | Satisfaction of making your own food 23:00 | Privacy - 10 years later Quotes “The reason that we set out to build this one, in particular, is to fix like a really big problem in the world, which is this, this issue of the internet being owned by such a select few.” (20.20) “You could basically wipe an entire section of civilization off the map and within a decade, no one would even remember that it happened. I think there’s probably instances that is happening in a lot of places right now around the world where we don’t really have those kinds of protections in place.” (26.47) Connect with Al MorrisFollow Al Morris: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderdmorrisWebsite: https://www.annalembke.com/ Work with Crowdlinker: https://www.crowdlinker.com/contact
47 minutes | Aug 9, 2022
The Ugly Side of Unintentional Growth with Mark Rickmeier, TXI
About Mark RickmeierMark is the CEO at TXI - a product innovation firm. He believes in creating rich employee and customer experiences. But, not everything scales well. Even good intentions don’t necessarily scale well. In the pandemic, TXI tried to deliver cooked meals to all members of the team. That didn’t scale well. Mark shares lessons he learned about scalability throughout this episode. Besides TXI, Mark founded The Kermit Collective where founders of software companies get together to share how business is going with their competitors in a high-trust environment. SHOW NOTES:00:05 | Who is Mark Rickmeier?00:57 | What is the ugly side of growth? 02:19 | Focusing on resilience instead of growth 05:16 | What is TXI (product activation firm)? 10:09 | Why would you want to make your competition better? 16:13 | Removing stigmas around your industry through cooperatition OR Revealing your biggest failure to your biggest competitor 19:22 | What to prioritize when scaling SaaS companies22:32 | Making employee growth paths at scale25:40 | Growth, accountability, mentorship at scale (mistakes when scaling SaaS companies) 27:49 | Being transparent with job descriptions and salaries OR What is harming you as you scale?30:13 | Building a community through collaborations OR Spending time in different company culture34:09 | Do things that don’t scale: is it good advice? 37:36 | Fireside questions (going bankrupt, walkshops with other leaders, balancing family and business) QUOTES:[01:08] “The ugly side of growth is the unintentional side of growth; sometimes there's this pursuit of growth at all costs or growth just for growth's sake.” [02:57] “Resilience is what people should be pursuing more than growth”[21:40] “You have to be very intentional about the big things you want to get done because the little stuff will always take up all the room.” Links We Mentioned: The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek: https://simonsinek.com/books/the-infinite-game/ The Kermit Collective: https://kermitcollective.com/Walkshop - https://www.walkshop.io/ Follow Mark Rickmeierhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/markrickmeier/
39 minutes | Jun 20, 2022
Premature Scaling: Why It Kills Startups and How to Avoid It - Ron Benegbi, Uplinq
Follow Aram Melkoumov on Linkedin for highlight clips and DMs. Ron runs a tight ship at Uplinq and he shares how and why he does so. This interview also explores why growing a startup for the sake of an exit is a bad strategy, why you should want to hold cash in this economy, how to hire people that make a genuine impact in your growth, and the difference between thoughtful scaling and so-called ‘aggressive’ scaling. About Ron BenegbiRon is the founder and CEO of Uplinq. He is a 4 time tech founder with 2 exits and one flop. Being an immigrant who moved to Canada as a child with his family in the early 70s, he knows what it’s like to start from nothing. As he puts it, he’s not cut from the cloth of overspending. He’s cut from the cloth of disciplined business operations and fiscal responsibility, and that’s how he’s currently running Uplinq. SHOW NOTES:00:00 | Who is Ron Benegbi?00:26 | His father getting a loan to start a business04:19 | Giving new business a shot at financing (Uplinq) 06:50 | Serving the underbanked (opportunity size)09:38 | Thoughtful scaling vs. aggressive scaling14:43 | Building a unicorn is a bad purpose16:48 | Should you take money from VCs or bootstrap?18:09 | Why hold on to cash in this market22:52 | Hiring people that 10X your revenue29:39 | Not hiding from failure 35:13 | Favourite thing about his co-founder36:22 | What would you do if your company went bankrupt? 36:52 | Becoming less reactive and more mature QUOTES:[11:50] “We're building a company, but we're trying to build a profitable company. So i'm not here to just raise money, and then, you know, hire 20 people and then burn cash and be in the same place six months from now. So we're here to, you know, build a product, do it right; hire in a very thoughtful programmatic way, but also give ourselves enough of a cash runway; while always having business milestones that we need to hit.” [12:49] “It's not that I'm not in a rush. Believe me, I have a sense of urgency every moment of the day but that has to be balanced against a thoughtful pragmatic way to build a business.” [19:04] “I'm very very concerned about cash and cash runway. That's the number one reason all small businesses fail, regardless of whether they’re VC funded or not intact or not. And especially now with the markets being what they are with the economy turning, we have to hold on to every penny we have until we can't anymore so that's how I look at it.” Connect with Ron Benegbi: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronbenegbi/
47 minutes | May 30, 2022
What Most People Don’t Tell You About Exiting Your Company - Mark Achler & Mert Hilmi Iseri
Follow Aram Melkoumov on Linkedin for highlight clips and DMs. How much do you really know about exiting a company? Most people know very little, simply because there’s very little out there about the hush-hush world of mergers and acquisitions. That’s until today’s guests co-wrote their book Exit Right.About Mert Hilmi Iseri Mert is the co-author of Exit Right. He is an Entrepreneur In Residence at MATH Venture Partners and Ex-CEO of SwipeSense. During the episode, he narrates his rollercoaster journey at SwipeSense. It is this very journey, along with the extensive research insights he has acquired about exiting companies solidified his belief that “company performance is CEO performance.” About Mark AchlerMark is the Managing Director at MATH Venture Partners and co-author of Exit Right. Amongst other roles, he is also an Adjunct Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management. Mark tells stories of lessons he’s learned as a VC that have led him to prioritize empathy and vulnerability when building relationships with his CEOs. Links We Mentioned:Exit Right: How to Sell Your Startup, Maximize Your Return and Build Your Legacy by Mark Achler and Mert Hilmi Iseri: https://www.exitrightbook.com/ Don’t Talk To Corp Dev by Paul Graham: http://www.paulgraham.com/corpdev.html SHOW NOTES:00:00 | Who is Mark Achler?00:46 | Who is Mert Hilmi Iseri?01:43 | What’s it like writing a book? 05:16 | You don’t know enough about selling your company. Here’s why.07:19 | 3 reasons why there isn’t enough information about mergers and acquisitions08:42 | How to get comfortable with rejection (and how it can be helpful)12:19 | Not viewing pitching as a transaction14:28 | 4 things that make acquisitions work (The FAIR Framework)21:14 | Storytime: What happened when Mert’s company was running out of money? 30:40 | Painting a rosy picture to your board: should you do it?33:57 | What entrepreneurs get WRONG about board meetings37:56 | Having an annual exit talk39:57 | What can bury a successful exit? QUOTES:“If you’re fundraising, or if you’re selling, or if you’re fundraising, get ready to get said no to. This job is mostly about how you handle rejection.” [12:07] “A transaction, a sale, isn’t a short term I give you something, you give me something. It’s the beginning of a long-term relationship.” [18:12] “Most entrepreneurs, especially first-time entrepreneurs, think that a board meeting is reporting. Just giving information. I’m going to give financial information. I’m going to give sales numbers. I’m going to give the pipeline. It’s reporting. That’s not a great use of time. We can read. We can get those reports and read them ahead of time. The real value of a board meeting is when you have, you know, smart people around the table who are passionate about your business who can, who have scar tissue. We’ve lived through what you’re going through.” [33:57] “We wrote this book about exits, but it turns out that the decisions you make at the beginning of your journey have an outsized impact at the end of your journey.” [39:16] Connect with Our GuestsMert Hilmi Iseri:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/merthiseri/ Mark Achler:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markachler/
41 minutes | Mar 29, 2022
Transitioning from a Pro Service Company to SaaS one - Jordi Torras, Inbenta
Follow Aram Melkoumov on Linkedin for highlight clips. Highlights: - Building a Minimal sellable product (MSP) and going international- How Jordi deals with the paradigm of large customers and requests for introducing features in the product roadmap - Finding a French version of himself - origin of Jordi’s company Inbenta About Jordi Jordi is the Founder & CEO at Inbenta, an AI and semantic search technology company for e-commerce and customer support. He graduated from Harvard Business school in 2004, where he specialized in Leading Professional Service Firms. He has been an associate professor at EADA for the past 18 years, and is teaching Strategy and Entrepreneurship to young and older students.
50 minutes | Feb 17, 2022
Celtic House VC talks hiring, raising money and failed businesses, Jonathan Graff
Conversation highlights: - How Jonathan’s $60,000 MRR company failed after acquisition process went sideways- Hiring your leadership team as a founder: what to look for - What qualities founders need to have to raise money About Jonathan Jonathan Graff is the Venture Partner at Celtic House Venture Partners, a Canadian venture capital firm that has collaborated with extraordinary founders and management teams since 1994 to develop technology companies from inception through to exit.A high energy and data-driven leader who has developed wide ranging strategic skills and operational experience as a founder, as a CEO & president, as a board member, and as an investor.Jonathan is a strategic thinker with a passion for helping companies grow, and has led a start-up company’s growth to over 500 employees and $85 million in revenue.
40 minutes | Jan 25, 2022
Building Products For The Gig Economy - The New Norm - Scott Absher, ShiftPixy
The pandemic has disrupted the workforce twice. Once when it made remote working normal and another time when it empowered workers to be more autonomous and powerful. Scott Absher, the CEO at ShiftPixy talks about what happens now. About Scott Scott Absher is the CEO at ShiftPixy - a company focused on streamlining the gig economy to unleash new potentials for flex workers and the companies who hire them. His interest in the gig economy began with his skepticism toward companies like Uber and Lyft who, in his opinion, provide unreliable sources of income to workers. Today, his skepticism continues as he builds ShiftPixy to demand more. More for gig workers and more for the companies who depend on them. Key Web Links The system for Identifying Motivated Abilities: http://simainternational.com/ Follow Scott Absher: LinkedIn Website: https://shiftpixy.com/ SHOW NOTES 0:00 | Who is Scott Absher (ShiftPixy)? 00:27 | What is ShiftPixy (and how it cures toxic turnover)? 10:54 | Three waves of human capital markets disruption.13:00 | The user experience of the gig worker15:24 | Leveraging opportunities in the temporary staffing market. 20:22 | Two unexpected insights about temporary staffing and flexible human capital. 22:08 | How ShiftPixie facilitates the discoverability of part-time staffers. 24:01| The challenge of finding reliable and consistent gig workers (and the shifting balance of power in the workforce)26:55 | What will the workforce look like in 2024? 28:27 | How to discover what your staff members are passionate about (and why you should care about that). 32:59 | The downside to remote work (project drift and disconnected passion). 35:48 | Why ShiftPixie relocated its headquarters from Southern California to Miami QUOTES “I knew we would have a big opportunity in the temporary staffing industry. That’s the other half of the part-time labor population and that is a very old business that has not been technically adapted to the new market. And, in fact, they never had to. They didn’t have to use elegant technology to communicate with their clients or with the people that were doing the work for them to make that investment.” - Scott Absher [15:24] “We also learned how dependent the fortune 1000 is on this type of agile or flexible human capital. The fortune 1000 clients kept popping up in our due diligence work and as we’re putting things together at the end of the day, we’re going to be delighting these types of clients…Walmart, Target, Amazon, FedEx, they all rely on flexible labor.” - Scott [20:41] “Wages are already escalating. It’s really funny. Without legislation, we now have a new national minimum wage of at least $15/hour. We think that’s going to settle more at $20. And that’s supply and demand. Right now, the workforce is carrying the balance of power. If you’re doing creative work, you hold the power. If you’re doing software development, you hold the power. If you’re doing blue-collar labor, you hold the power. And it’s going to be reflected in wages but also flexibility.” - Scott [26:20] “What you’re going to see is people rethinking work. Starting off with the fundamental question: why do I work? And what do I want to do?” - Scott [27:19] “When you can link somebody’s passion to their occupation, you get Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.” - Scott [32:04]
42 minutes | Dec 9, 2021
Five Key Traits that Successful Entrepreneurs Share - Jeff Dennis, Counsel, Fasken Law
Winning attitudes that show up again and again among the most effective entrepreneurs, include: - They are lifelong learners, perpetually curious. - They don’t feel the need to be the smartest person in the room. - They’re able to listen to feedback, seek out information and learn from others. - They’re good at delegating and helping people reach their full potential. -They demonstrate humility and openness. Key Takeaways 0:00 | A bit of Jeff’s background by way of introduction. 0:50 | Jeff decided to convene a panel featuring the stories of seasoned entrepreneurs willing to candidly share the unvarnished lessons they’d learned through trial and error. The concept was an immediate hit that spawned his book, "Lessons from the Edge: Survival Skills for Starting and Growing a Company." 3:29 | Through the process of hosting panels and researching his book, Jeff learned that there’s a menu of mistakes that entrepreneurs regularly make. Why? Because they’re making decisions with limited resources. 5:30 | The huge success of his book afforded Jeff the opportunity to travel the world, speaking to various business groups, build his network and broaden his horizons. At this point in time, a sequel is unlikely but there are a lot of great come-back stories among the those he profiled. 7:42 | During pandemic Jeff got involved with a number of online groups, including a call that coincidentally included more than a dozen of the entrepreneurs featured in his book. The long-term outcome was pleasantly surprising: They had all experienced noteworthy comebacks. 10:30 | When it comes to fast-growth tech company mistakes, among the most common Jeff sees is poorly chosen partnerships. Mismatched value sets, long-term goals, ambitions and expectations are all liabilities. People very often spend more time interviewing prospective employees than they do vetting co-founders. 12:47 | How passion and naivete ultimately hobble entrepreneurial ventures. 12:59 | Another common mistake? Giving away too much equity. 14:21 | Jeff’s recommendations for putting the right guardrails in place around your enterprise: Know who you’re getting into bed with. Kick the tires and make sure you share the same work ethic, values, timeline and commitment. Ask the hard questions. Put in place a shareholders’ agreement and a conditional framework for vesting (or reverse vesting) to protect against undue loss of equity. 17:05 | Asking the hard questions. Jeff looks at business partners very much like a marriage, requiring a similar level of honesty, vision, commitment, trust and communication. Does your prospective partner fight fair? Know how to compromise? 20:40 | Valuation is a tricky business. Partnerships aren’t necessarily inherently equal. Contributions and value-add can vary significantly and without a clear definition of entitlements over-compensation of one or more partners is a real risk. 22:30 | Jeff reflects on the big question – the one he believes is most essential. Why are you doing this? He believes too many entrepreneurs lose sight of a very simple driving purpose for entrepreneurial endeavors: Providing for our families. 25:05 | Life Advice: Per Chapter 5 in “Lessons from the Edge,” Jeff urges entrepreneurs to appreciate the fundamental necessity for balance. Sleep, eat properly, exercise, have a spiritual practice of some sort, have relationships. Because at the end of the day, what’s it all for? Money and success don’t hold a candle to fulfillment and connection. 27:20 | Jeff defines some of the traits common among the most effective and successful entrepreneurs, which include: They are lifelong learners, perpetually curious. They don’t feel the need to be the smartest person in the room. They’re able to listen to feedback, seek out information and learn from others. They’re good at delegating and helping people reach their full potential. They demonstrate humility and openness. 31:11 | A few thoughts about hiring technical co-founders, the unique skills and liabilities with regard to team building. MVP roles can be dicey and complicated. 34:35 | BATNA: Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. When you go into a negotiation it’s essential to have a Plan B, without which the other party has all the bargaining power. Where do you have to go and if there isn’t another avenue, your answer is simply: Take the deal. If you do have an alternative, it’s time to talk about the options. 37:04 | The Art of Negotiation: It’s not for everyone. Some people thrive on it but others have to study it with all deliberation and develop a toolkit that may never become particularly familiar or comfortable to execute. 37:56 | Jeff shares some parting thoughts about riding – versus fighting – waves. Going with the flow is invariably the easier route. But you also have to stay aware in order to recognize and jump onto that wave. It’s about keeping your eye firmly fixed on that horizon. Quotes “It’s quite lonely at the top as an entrepreneur.” [2:25] “People very often end up with the wrong (partnerships) and then it’s a mess. It makes it hard to run a business, finance a business, sell a business, grow a business … It’s a disaster.” [11:41] “Ego is the worst. If you let ego drive you that’s destined to fail. I see a lot of that.” [13:54] “If you’re founding a company you’ve got to have that stick-to-itiveness and passion and commitment. And it’s tough. It’s become glamorized to be an entrepreneur (but) it’s not for everybody.” [14:55] “You only call in the lawyers when there’s a problem or you’re selling or financing. Day-to-day business? At the end it’s got to be good faith.” [18:33] “There’s a misconception because of technology that you can start a business with nothing. You can’t. You do need resources. You need more than a laptop. So you need partners because they bring resources to the table.” [20:02] “It’s lonely at the top. You need somebody to talk to, somebody to work on this self-awareness piece because – at the end of the day – are you going to be happy just because you built a company and sold it? Is that the meaning of life?” [24:35] “I’ve seen guys make tons of dough and go through five wives and they’re not happy. I’ve seen other people who have nothing and are very happy and content. So it’s got nothing to do with success and money. I don’t think it’s co-related.” [26:06] “The guy who is able to get something off the ground is different than the person who can sell it and motivate a team of 200 people … I’m not saying you can’t learn it. But who the hell is good at everything?” [29:17] “Negotiating is a whole other skill set. Not everyone is good at negotiating ... It’s a skill. It’s in your genes. Some people have it and some people don’t.” [35:27] “What’s the wave here? Decentralization. Gig economy. All these trends – waves – what are they? Let’s ride them. That’s what I look for and when I look at companies I’m looking through that paradigm.” [40:11] “There’s lots of factors to success, but fighting a wave is not one of them!” [40:32] Contact Jeff @LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffdennis/
31 minutes | Dec 7, 2021
The Best VC Pitches Gets Right to the Point - Nick Adams, Differential Ventures
Approach VCs that have an interest or expertise in your market sector. Create pitch decks that are tight, disciplined and get right to the selling points. Nick shares thoughts about how to ride the entrepreneurial tide without getting lost in a sea of competitors. As a wrap up with take a quick look at what’s on the horizon for Differential Ventures and the VC industry overall as we head into a huge period of growth and unknown implications related to big data. Key Takeaways 0:00 | Introduction to Nick and background on his transition from sales and marketing to VC, including a return to school for new credentials and redefinition of the role he wanted to play. 3:00 | VC is not a good fit for everyone. Investors don’t typically have a lot of control, which operators tend not to like. Nick, however, enjoys being a behind the scenes mentor, leveraging his experience to help new ventures. 4:52 | Nick can’t respond to every inbound pitch or request for a meeting. Thousands of pitch decks come in over the transom, so the team has no choice but to narrow the pool in order to optimize offerings within Differential’s areas of focus. 6:33 | The Shark Tank Effect. The reality is that if a VC is spending time on your deck, they have some level of familiarity. So get to the meat of the proposal right out of the gate! You aren’t making a pitch to a general primetime TV audience. 8:50 | You’ve got about 45 seconds of attention span when you’re giving a pitch, so kick off strong. Frontload your high points – What are we doing, why it’s important and how this team is uniquely qualified. After that you can go wherever the investor wants to take you. 12:10 | Excel spreadsheets are great, but they can be a red flag. At the early stage, numbers and projections are nice but Nick is somewhat biased towards founders who are scrappy and all about getting out there and figuring out how to get their enterprise launched 13:40 | Nick explains how seed funders assess prospective investments based on metrics very specific to the type of product or service, its founder and team, traction and IP. 15:20 | Nick describes what it is that stands out when he’s considering a startup venture, its founding team and potential. The reasons people commit to ventures are varied and not always realistic. 17:35 | The logos on decks are often misleading. It’s critically important to drill down and understand the relationships in this compressed investment environment. There is pressure but you need to work faster – not ease off – on the due diligence. Clarity early on is critically important down the line if/when things go sideways. 20:42 | Bootstrapping can be great – if it works out (which is infrequent). Seed funding also isn’t always the right fit. Timing and ripeness both influence decisions about the best business model for startups in the process of launching. 22:33 | Nick reflects on an example of misjudgment and how he recalibrated a situation in which he recognized that he’d taken on a role that wasn’t the right fit. Knowing how – and when – to switch up a strategy is crucial if you don’t want to land in a ditch. 25:33 | What projects are most exciting on Nick’s horizon? Differential is very dialed into AI and machine learning and how it will scale. Use cases, privacy issues, adoption across multiple sectors are all subjects of interest and study. Remote work has been an accelerator. 27:45 | Nick calls out some of the industry leaders (FB and Amazon) in the AI space and what they’ve pioneered in the use of data science thus far in these early days. Quotes “My passion is around data and AI and machine learning and where it’s going to go in the next 20-25 years and having a VC fund with dozens of portfolio companies tackling various parts of that problem.” [4:05] “The shocking, or frustrating, thing for me is sometimes I’ll be going through this long deck and losing interest when I get to the end and see, ‘My God! This company has amazing traction’ … You really want to get that upfront.” [7:09] “It’s interesting when people want to do something creative and are trying to stand out. But we’re kind of programmed to interpret data in a very consistent and similar way” [10:30] “Being an entrepreneur and being the founder of a venture capital fund is a crazy thing to do. You really have to understand why somebody is in it and why they’re going to stick with it when the inevitable bumpy times come along.” [15:29] “When you go into any relationship it’s really important to go through a legal process, a term sheet process. It’s uncomfortable but you’re hammering out what happens when things don’t go right, if things don’t go right. It’s important to take that time.” [19:18] “If I’m not passionate about something – if I don’t really believe in what I’m doing and stand behind the product – I can’t sell it. I’m not a good salesperson. In fact, I’m terrible.” [23:47] “There are some things you just can’t fix and you have to be okay with that. It’s exponentially more true as an investor than even as an employee.” [24:00] “We like investing in responsible AI and have a healthy expectation on what the limitations of AI and machine learning might be – not that we’re opposed to trying things that might break or test those limits, because that’s venture capital.” [29:20] Follow Nick Adams: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickadams11 Website: https://www.differential.vc/
42 minutes | Nov 24, 2021
Startup growth principles and talent strategy - Anuj Adhiya, Underscore VC
Follow me on Linkedin for podcast updates, new episodes and highlight clips. Highlights: - A powerful way to connect and network with tech entrepreneurs who deliver daily value- How hire the right people based on your company growth stage- When is a good/right time to bring your first marketer onboard About Anuj Anuj Adhiya is the author of the book 'Growth Hacking for Dummies'. He mentors startups at Harvard Innovation Labs, Seedstars and The McCarthy(s) Venture Network. Way before that he was a Director of Engagement and Analytics at GrowthHackers working directly with Sean Ellis, the so-called godfather of growth hacking.
50 minutes | Nov 21, 2021
From a Bootstrapped startup to having 5 financing rounds and an IPO - Mike Evans, Fixer
Highlights:- Principles and metrics on when to pivot or not (apart from the gut feeling)- How Mike started GrubHub and grew it to IPO- How Mike raised 5 million dollars for his new company Fixer About Mike Mike Evans is an author and Founder of Fixer and GrubHub. Before Fixer, he earned a pile of degrees in MIT, where he also accrued a massive amount of debt. After seeing flaws in the food delivery system, Mike launched GrubHub, which he bootstrapped for two years and was involved in five fundraising rounds, as well as several acquisitions, a merger, and an IPO. Mike's upcoming book called Hangry: A Startup Journey is here: https://mikeevans.com/hangry-intro/
46 minutes | Nov 20, 2021
Over-mentoring founders, how to exit your business - Stephen Forte, Fresco Capital
Highlights: - How to prepare your company for an exit- When is the right time to exit your business- If you’re being acquired how not to sell your business too low- VC role may not be a good fit to you - reasons why About Stephen Stephen is a managing partner at Fresco Capital. He was Chief Strategy Officer of Telerik, a leading vendor of developer and team productivity tools which got acquired in 2014. And he’s also an avid mountain climber, and leads an annual charity fundraising trek in the Mt. Everest region.
38 minutes | Oct 12, 2021
Passion Drives Your Startup Success - Bram Warshafsky, Shelfgram
Follow me on Linkedin for similar content and personal updates. Highlights: - 2 moments when Bram was considering walking away from a startup- How to get employees to work on what they really want- 1000 small pivots - what’s that and how it works- Don’t set long term goals About Bram Bram Warshafsky is the Founder of Shelfgram, a tech start-up that enables brands and retailers with increased in-store visibility and a suite of competitive intelligence tools to find actionable shopper insights, monitor in-store promotions, and spot retail trends before they're trends. Prior to founding Shelfgram, Bram was the VP of Innovation at sgsco where he led a team of engineers applying artificial intelligence to eCommerce and was instrumental in building and commercializing a new SaaS product with Fortune 500 marketing teams. Bram joined sgsco through the acquisition of 5Crowd, a global platform that connects enterprise marketing and sales departments with top freelancers, which he co-founded. Before 5Crowd, he held various roles within brand management and digital marketing at Johnson & Johnson. He has been named Top 30 Under 30 by Marketing Magazine, Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Desjardins Bank and Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year by the Toronto Board of Trade.
31 minutes | Sep 16, 2021
Entrepreneurship is a mental game - Mike Smerklo, Next Coast Ventures
Follow me on Linkedin for podcast updates, new episodes and highlight clips. Highlights: - How much mindset matters in running your business- What to look for in a good mentor- How Mike met Bill Campbell - Self-awareness - fundamental block for your success About Mike Mike Smerklo has worked 100 hour weeks at Lehman Brothers, a job that he hated. Got hired by legendary entrepreneurs Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz as one of the first employees of their new startup, Loudcloud. Started his own company after acquiring a San Francisco startup and grew it into a successful 3,000-person publicly-traded business. He now heads Austin-based firm Next Coast Ventures.
40 minutes | Sep 8, 2021
Start your startup marketing from day one, with Mike Williams, CEO @ Jetstream Digital
Follow me on Linkedin for similar content and personal updates. Highlights: Why you need to start marketing before you build a product At what point do you abandon opportunities? How do you find traction? How to not get destroyed by your business mentally About Mike Mike is the CEO and Co-founder of Jetstream and a Facilitator of the Alacrity Academy Digital Marketing Bootcamp. In his current role, Mike works to help companies grow through scalable digital marketing strategies and initiatives and help develop up-and-coming leaders in the digital marketing ecosystem. Prior to Jetstream and Alacrity Canada Mike has worked in Digital Marketing for the past 18 years. During that time he has Co-founded several companies.
46 minutes | Aug 12, 2021
Overnight success that took me 30 years (with Founder and Owner of Danby Appliances, Jim Estill)
Conversation highlights: Jim’s philosophy on failing and doing market research How Jim bought Danby Appliances What to look for in hiring Wealth philosophy - you don’t need that much money About Jim Estill: Jim is a Canadian technology entrepreneur, executive, and philanthropist. He started his first computer distribution business from the trunk of his car while in university and grew that business to $2 Billion in sales. He invested in, mentored and advised over 150 technology companies including Blackberry. In addition, Jim was the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Ontario winner and has received both the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario.
51 minutes | Aug 10, 2021
CEO of ACTO on product market fit, defining core values and funding (with Parth Khanna)
Parth takes us through his entrepreneurial path and obstacles he had to overcome while building his business.We talk about product market fit, figuring out your company values, scaling and fundraising. Key talking points: - Product market fit - what to look out for- What kind of mindset you need to secure funding and build relationships with investors - What company culture really is and how to define your core values About Parth Khanna Parth holds an undergrad degree in neuropsychology, two law degrees, and US patents in AI and NLP-based technology. He was an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2018 and right now is the CEO of a healthcare and life sciences company called ACTO. Before founding ACTO, Parth worked on training and developing people through founding and serving as President of Creating Legal Acuity in Student Environments (CLAUSE). In 2014, Parth and his roommates from the University of Waterloo had the vision to help people “Act today”.
51 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
Raising Capital 101: Breakdown of the key principles from Scott Case, CEO @ Upside
Want to see future episode highlights? You can add me on Linkedin here.I’m speaking with technologist, inventor, and entrepreneur Scott Case. Scott is well-known as the founding CTO of Priceline.com. Currently, he is the Co-founder and CEO of Upside.com, where he is reinventing business travel for millions of people each year. He is also the host of Founders Focus, a community of entrepreneurs navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
25 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
The right way to build your brand online from scratch (with Nelio Leone from UrbanMonks)
Key talking points: - How Nelio hacked his way into marketing while being on vacation- Key considerations for founders to build their brands on social media - What elements make social posts hyper-successful About Nelio: Nelio has been a growth marketer for nearly a decade, and he has a passion for building edgy brands with digital flair. He is the founder of Urban Monks, a growth marketing agency he started in early 2019, dedicated to building awesome brands and helping entrepreneurs earn their own "Black Belt". Before going down the entrepreneurial route, Nelio was a marketing manager at L’Oreal in Paris, Director of Brand at Careem and Head of Growth at Washmen. He was the first Marketer to join Careem and helped the company scale from Newborn to Unicorn and was recently bought over by Uber. He then replicated a similar success story at Washmen where he helped the company scale from start up to a solid SME. #personalbrand #marketing #linkedinbrand
40 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Growing your startup with freelancers (ft. Growth Mentor CEO, Foti Panagiotakopoulos)
Foti is an accomplished founder with an extensive background in full stack growth marketing. He has over a decade of experience developing and marketing businesses. In this episode, we’re speaking with Foti about getting your product off the ground and growing your startup, as well as the benefits of outsourcing, and why a strong team might not be the right fit for your company. Growth Mentor started in 2018, matching founders, marketers and product managers with vetted growth marketing and start-up mentors. The platform enables new founders to engage in 1-1 video calls and conversations with experienced mentors, to provide them with the skills to grow their companies.
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