- Founders Serving Founders: Hooman Radfar of Collective
“If you want to get a deal done as an entrepreneur, you can create the narrative that rationalizes your bias. And so when I call (references), I’ll give you some questions that I asked, I think the most salient piece of information is, okay, tell me a time when you were low, or that you had a transition? What did they do for you?”
— Hooman Radfar (Founder & CEO @Collective)
Today’s guest is Hooman Radfar, Founder & CEO at Collective (backed by General Catalyst, QED, Google’s Gradient Ventures, and Expa). Collective's vision is to increase the number of financially successful businesses-of-one by enabling self-employed people to focus on their passion not their paperwork.
Having been on the VC-side of the table, Hooman really understands how incentives at the capital level impact every aspect of company-building. Aside from sharing insights on the market and how Collective was born, Hooman shares his unique approach to company building, covering some of the most important pillars of any startup: 1) Fundraising and 2) Relationships.
43m | Mar 15, 2021
- The outsized opportunities in the small-business market.
- How to dissolve bias when selecting your VC/Investor partners.
- Back to basics— doing business with people you have strong relationships with.
- Building things for the love of building!
- The Journey Into Venture and Back Again: Gautam Gupta of M13 Ventures
“I would just caveat that I don't believe that being an operator makes you a better investor. It's still an incredibly hard job of picking great companies. We’ve all seen great venture capital investors who've never been operators…”
— Gautam Gupta
Today’s guest is Gautam Gupta, Partner at M13 Ventures and founder (former CEO) of NatureBox, a digitally native brand of snacks. He started his career as an early stage investor at General Catalyst, and had the great fortune to join the firm at 18 years of age, spending his first 8 years as part of a team that scaled it from a small firm to one with global reach. In this interview, Gautam talks about his unique learnings and journey from starting in venture, venturing out as a founder, and returning to venture!
32m | Feb 19, 2021
- Starting a career at a startup VC and being part of its growth into an international brand.
- The ups and downs of building a consumer startup.
- The ONE 10x thing founders often don’t make the time for …
- Distilling the art of successful fundraising. Period.
- The Ascent from ‘Angel’ to ‘Institutional’: Sheel Mohnot of Better Tomorrow Ventures
“I'm looking for leaders that I think can lead a company of hundreds of people in the future. And sometimes, you just don't get that feel, there's no way to quantify it. It's like a gut feeling that you have, but we're only looking to invest in companies that will have massive outcomes.” — Sheel Mohnot
Today’s guest is Sheel Mohnot, Co-founder and GP at Better Tomorrow Ventures (BTV). BTV is an early-stage venture fund focused on building the future of fintech by leading seed and pre-seed rounds of fintech companies.
Before becoming an institutional investor, Sheel founded the podcast “The Pitch” and a tech-enabled food company, Thistle, serving 10’s of thousands of customers every week. He also invested in numerous tech companies as an angel investor, successfully achieving two meaningful exits in fintech companies.
In this interview, Sheel talks about the journey from operator to angel, and now, institutional investor. If you are serious about getting into venture capital for life— you’ll enjoy Sheel’s sharing!
“So I would say, the main thing I look for, is a founder
who can clearly articulate their vision.”— Sheel Mohnot
Successful fundraising = clarity in communication!
The single point of failure on unsuccessful early-stage venture deals.
Enjoying being a VC, unapologetically.25m | Jan 27, 2021
- Investing in the Many Dimensions of ‘Work’: Ashley Bittner of Firework Ventures
“I got interested in technology as a way of solving some of these major challenges I was seeing in my classroom. And that's not just education. There’s also all the other things that people need to actually have upward mobility in their lives.”
— Ashley Bittner
Today’s guest is Ashley Bittner, Founding Partner at Firework Ventures, Investing in human-centered Future of Work companies. Their current investments include: TRANSFR, Stride Funding, Hone, Learn In, Podium Education, Catch, BrainTrust, The Prelude Institute, and Edvo.
With first-hand experience as a teacher in the Bronx, a management consultant, and a political appointee in the Obama Administration, Ashley brings a thoroughly insightful learnings about the Future of Work.
In this interview, Ashley talks about the kind of innovations needed to meet the rapidly evolving needs of our workforce. She also touches on important matters such as diversity, upward mobility, and the role policy plays in driving socioeconomic transformation.
“Bridgette (Founding Partner) and I focus a lot on how we think or how we build a platform that has really values diversity of thought, different experiences.”
— Ashley Bittner27m | Jan 21, 2021
- What’s ‘Next’ in Sports, Health, and Wellness?
“I think the entrepreneurs that have the best shot at success are those who have done the work to understand who they are, to have tons of confidence and courage in what they're building, but to also just be very aware, and humble about what they aren't great at.”
— Melanie Strong
Today’s guest is Melanie Strong, Managing Partner at Next Ventures and former Nike executive for over 18 years. With a history of leading diverse international teams, Melanie is one of the most passionate leaders you can find in the sports, health and wellness space.
In this interview, Melanie talks about the fundamentals of human performance. Whether you are an athlete or not, you’ll appreciate her humble insights about career development, well-being, company-building, and life fulfilment :)
“That's my mantra when I ride— humility, humility, humility— over and over again.”
— Melanie Strong
24m | Jan 17, 2021
- Coming into venture with a fresh set of eyes.
- The exciting developments in sports, health, and wellness.
- The #1 well-being habit that everyone needs to pay attention to!
- The ‘artform’ of early-stage venture investing.
- The people-first approach to performance and resilience.
- Building Companies, Building Companies, and Building Companies: Hiten Shah of FYI
“Hunt for a problem worth solving, and then solve it better than anything else on the market.”
— Hiten Shah (Co-Founder & CEO at FYI)
Today’s guest is Hiten Shah, Co-Founder & CEO at FYI, long-time serial founder and investor (120+ investments to date). Hiten has been in the profession of building companies since 2013— pioneering technology solutions in the analytics space that are easy-to-use and intuitive. First, with Crazy Egg, then with KISSmetrics, and now, with FYI.
In this interview, Hiten shares some great insights into problem-hunting, product-development, and the performance psychology behind ‘0 to 1.’ Throughout this interview, you will experience his deeply empathetic, humble, and more importantly, engaging approach to company-building! Especially if you possess the ‘born to build’ mentality that so many great founders have!
“This is one big problem we see founders do: preventing the thing (problem) next time is not as important as solving the thing first. Especially with a big problem!”
— Hiten Shah (Co-Founder & CEO at FYI)
50m | Jan 5, 2021
- Problem-hunting— go where most don’t, and out-solution those who are there!
- The 5-Day MVP rule
- Solving big problems faster!
- Don’t understand something? Start with context!
- Controlling how you respond to what happens.
- Solving for the future, not recreating the past.
- The Compound of Data & Emotional Intelligence: Jun Deng
Today’s guest is Jun Deng, Investment partner at Social Starts & Joyance Partners— investing in the emerging science of health and happiness. The funds have achieved great success, effectively investing in multiple unicorns and companies exceeding 100MM in valuation.
Jun has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences and intentionally crafted her career in Venture Capital due to her love for new technologies that disrupt traditional areas. In this video interview, Jun shares her experience in investing and scientific due diligence— combining her love for data analysis with emotional intelligence to evaluate the companies building the future!20m | Dec 16, 2020
- Powering the Future of Aviation: Alex Mans
Today's guest is Alex Mans, serial entrepreneur, founder and president at FLYR Labs. FLYR is a company radically transforming air travel through cutting edge technologies that are years ahead of what has been commercially available. Backed by notable tech figures such as Peter Thiel, FLYR solves complex problems with beautifully engineered solutions to help leading airlines around the world unlock their full potential.
Even before founding and building FLYR, Alex has been building software and hardware products since 2007. In this interview, Alex takes us through his journey of entrepreneurship. But more importantly, he talks about the advantages and opportunities of solving the really hard things that no one else is!
“The way you retain people is by finding people that you're confident will be able to mold with the company as the company evolves.” — Alex Mans22m | Dec 15, 2020
- Patterns of Inevitability in Tech and Blockchain: Jack O’Holleran
"I got to see this machine learning AI space progress and now I'm working in blockchain. And I have to tell you— there's a pattern. I just see this pattern.”
Today's guest is Jack O’Holleran, serial entrepreneur, and Co-founder and CEO at SKALE Labs. SKALE is a technology company solving the blockchain scalability problem, helping the ecosystem run hundreds of millions of smart contracts and transactions per second. Before founding SKALE, Jack also co-founded and grew Aktana, the leading SaaS Sales and Marketing Analytics platform for Global Life Sciences companies. In this exciting interview, Jack takes us on an engaging journey of entrepreneurship— the inevitability of technology, and, the growth mindset behind building or achieving anything new!
- From riding horses and scooping snow to building tech companies in Silicon Valley.
- Patterns in innovation and what that means for the future of technology and blockchain!
- The growth mindset behind building and achieving anything new!
- A world with much fewer middle-men.
- Building an AI & Machine-Learning driven product before people even knew what AI was!
“It just seems to me like an inevitable thing, where you can— through smart contracts and open source software, and essentially blockchains— create new rails rules and governance for the way we use software systems.”
— Jack O’Holleran40m | Dec 7, 2020
- Redefining the Status Quo: Neha Tanna M.D.
Today's guest is Neha Tanna M.D., Investment Partner at Social Starts & Joyance Partners. Neha and the team are early-stage investors in the emerging science of health and happiness. The funds have achieved great success, effectively investing in multiple unicorns and companies exceeding 100MM in valuation.
In this interview, Neha Tanna takes us through her unique personal and professional journey. From medical general practitioner to innovation in the medical industry, and now an investment partner in a global institutional venture fund.
Neha's sharing is a breath of fresh air— direct, engaging, and authentic. If you consider a career in venture, Neha's sharings will help you connect some dots between points A and B. If you are an early-stage founder looking for the right investment partner— you will gain an appreciation for the people behind the investments that enable breakthrough innovations to achieve dramatic scale and impact.
24m | Oct 29, 2020
- From doctor to investor at an institutional venture fund— how?
- Radical candor— starting with yourself!
- Learning and growing in the venture profession.
- Happiness is a science.
- Better collaboration between nature and science— the next emerging frontier of innovation?
- Keeping it ‘True’ in Venture Capital: Puneet Agarwal
“I think the real definition (of empathy) for me is just having a full understanding of the whole person.”
— Puneet Agarwal
Keeping it ‘@True’...
Today's guest is Puneet Agarwal, General Partner at True Ventures, a seed and Series A stage venture fund in San Francisco that is empowering extraordinary founders from all walks of life. The True VC team has invested in iconic companies such as Peloton, Duo, Blue Bottle, and Fit Bit, to name a few.
But logos hardly do justice to the depth of learning, coordination, and that community goes behind every single founder they partner with!
In this interview, we get a comprehensive look into the psychology and experience behind one of True’s incredible General Partners, Puneet Agarwal. Puneet’s insights come from a place of deep humility while providing an incredibly lateral view of all things that matter to founders and people in tech— leadership, empathy, and company-building.
“I think what I've said before, and I'll say, again, is that I think venture capital is a fundamentally human business.”
— Puneet Agarwal
- Keeping it ‘True’ — VC as a human business.
- Coming full circle on venture— starting a career in venture, leaving to be an operator, and returning.
- 360 vision on founders— a sophisticated use of empathy for evaluating, partnering, and investing in visionary founders.
- Pushing the fold in early-stage VC— how can you successfully maximize risk at the earliest stages?
- Cross-functional innovation— product, go-to-market, and business model!
“So, we're really looking for, you know, is this person able to navigate from an entry point and then find a bigger vision down the road that they can, again, also navigate?”
— Puneet Agarwal30m | Oct 15, 2020
- Progressing the Bottom-Up Economy: Satya Patel of Homebrew
“We are big believers that everybody in technology is
standing on the shoulders of giants.”
— Satya Patel
Today's guest is Satya Patel, Founding Partner at Homebrew, a seed stage venture fund in San Francisco focused on helping entrepreneurs who are building within the Bottom-Up Economy. Alongside his partner, Hunter Walk, Satya and the team are investing in mission-driven founders who are leveraging technology— often in some novel way— to democratize access to products, services, data, customers, revenue, markets, and more!
Satya’s thoughtful sharing provides piercing clarity to a myriad of topics— venture investing, career development, and company building. Anyone who consumes large volumes of content will find Satya’s sharing to be a breath of fresh air!
26m | Oct 13, 2020
- The bottom-up economy and making the world a more equitable place to live.
- The best of both worlds— classical VC and operational support.
- Operating experience— a double-edged sword?
- Bringing the product-philosophy to investing.
- The ONE domain of expertise every VC must master.
- The founder’s relationship with capital— necessary evil, or, a rewarding path to long-term value creation and partnership?
- Superhumans Behind Superhuman: Vivek Sodera
“That's how we're gonna level up mankind— by augmenting people's natural capabilities with the software and tools that we create. Give them superpowers and make them Superhuman—that's where the name of the company came from.”
— Vivek Sodera
Today's guest is Vivek Sodera, Co-Founder at Superhuman, the fastest email client in the world. The team has rebuilt the inbox from the ground up to make customers brilliant at what they do. To date, Superhuman has over 300,000 people on their waitlist, and raised over $51MM in VC led by a16z and First Round Capital.
Vivek’s journey as a serial entrepreneur is packed with humble insights that come from a deep respect for the ‘art of the start’ and beyond. If you too are a passionate operator and team-builder, you will feel a strong kinship with Vivek.
“I think the biggest growth area for me personally, is going super deep in the context of being more external facing— this is actually a real-time conversation I'm having right now with my co-founder, Rahul...”
— Vivek Sodera
23m | Sep 23, 2020
- From studying chemical and nuclear engineering, to serial entrepreneurship— how?
- Co-creation and serendipity— meeting Rahul Vohra and joining forces to create Superhuman!
- Discovering the quotient for product-market fit.
- Building a world-class team who are obsessed with delighting customers.
- Playing a Positive Part for The 'Whole': Pejman Nozad of Pear VC
“ I think if I have one DNA very much in common with Silicon Valley is just this insane amount of optimism. For me everything is possible. That's why I went from rug salesman to venture capitalist.”
— Pejman Nozad
Today's guest is Pejman Nozad, Founding Managing Partner of Pear.VC, an early-stage venture capital firm partnering with entrepreneurs from day ‘zero’ to build category defining companies.
Pejman has over 15 years of experience investing in early stage high tech start-ups. He's invested in over 100 startups and has seeded several multi-billion dollar companies such as Dropbox, Lending Club, Gusto ( Zenpayroll), Doordash, Guardant Health and Branchmetrics.
As a human being and professional investor, Pejman is someone with an inherently ‘positive-sum’ approach to life and business. In this video interview, Pejman covers key areas of his most unprecedented career journey into VC— one that connects all the dots in hindsight while illuminating the future with foresight.
“I encourage entrepreneurs to have a global view, I encourage entrepreneurs to think about outside where we are— some of the best entrepreneurs I've ever worked with investments in themselves.”
— Pejman Nozad
21m | Sep 17, 2020
- From rug salesman to rockstar venture capitalist— how?
- What does being the BEST seed investor mean?
- Self-awareness as a guiding mechanism to a rewarding career.
- The core ingredients to building ‘category defining’ companies.
- Learning from the great investments you miss.
- ‘Being’ In The Business of Building: Tracy Lawrence
“I think the transition is learning that I am a whole center in and of myself. ”
— Tracy Lawrence
Today's guest is Tracy Lawrence, Co-Founder & Former CEO at Chewse (acquired) and an allround complete human being. Tracy founded Chewse, a corporate tech-enabled catering company, at about 19 years of age. Their mission was to bring people and teams closer together through well-curated and sourced foods!
Over the 10 years, Tracy shaped the culture around love— for the customer, for each other, and for life. But more importantly, Chewse became a symbol for a humane organization, one that recognized the significance of emotions in business and performance, and designed their team practices around it.
Tracy is a unique founder with truthful insights about startup life— before, during, and after!
If you want hardcore tactics and strategies, this video interview isn’t for you. But if you want to explore how the softer, subtle human needs move and shape startups— you’ll enjoy this! :)
“I have my whole life to be a novice,
which is actually kind of thrilling if I don't attach my ego to it.”
23m | Sep 9, 2020
- Understanding your past and freeing yourself from it!
- Little hints that suggest that founding a company might just be for you …
- Lessons from founding and running a startup for over 10 years.
- Emotions and their place in company-building.
- Listening to your voice and bringing your unique style of leadership to your company!
- Life after exiting your startup!
- All Eyes Ahead: Monique Woodard of Cake Ventures
“I think that if we start to think about the world in a much broader way, and sort of lift ourselves out of the immediacy of Silicon Valley— and this goes for both investors and founders— there are much, much bigger market opportunities for us to get excited about.”
— Monique Woodard (Founder at Cake Ventures)
Today's guest is Monique Woodard, Founder at Cake Ventures. Cake Ventures has a simple, effective motto, “Investing in where we’re going, not where we came from.” Monique invests at the intersection of technology and newly powerful consumer groups who are mostly overlooked by most.
Before starting her venture firm, Monique worked at 500 Startups, investing in pre-seed and seed companies in the US and Africa. She also worked as a product-focused operator and founded a national community of tech entrepreneurs.
Monique symbolizes how one can live a self-directed, meaningful life regardless of your background. Any investor and operator who is building the future of humanity can benefit from watching this video! You will feel a kinship with what Monique has to share! :)
“To put a clear perspective on it like back when I started, there were really very few black people in venture. There was Charles Hudson, and like that was it.”
— Monique Woodard
23m | Sep 3, 2020
- Investing in where we’re going, not where we came from.
- Venture Capital as a culture-setting vehicle.
- The evolving state of diversity in tech and venture.
- Market trends, changing demographics, and the newly powerful consumer groups.
- The growing economic power of women in the world.
- Gray New World— the aging market is still in its infancy.
- Journey to the west— from programming to venture investing.
- Breaking the mold for a more diverse, equitable venture ecosystem.
- The Science of Being ‘Cool’ (or Hot): Sam Shames of Embr Labs
“There's this opportunity for well-designed technology to help us feel more in tune with our environments, more connected to our emotions, and more in touch with how our bodies feel on a physical level.”
— Sam Shames (COO & Co-Founder of Embr Labs)
This podcast interview is close to the heart for us…
Today's guest is Sam Shames, Co-Founder & COO at Embr Labs. Embr Labs pioneered the exciting category of thermal wellness technology, starting from their labs at MIT, to growing a company with customers who absolutely love their product (The Embr Wave).
Sam and the Embr Labs team truly embody the pure, honest spirit of entrepreneurship, and one that is grounded in scientific research & innovation. As co-founder and COO of Embr Labs, Sam shares his humble insights and discoveries in company building. If you want to model and adopt a low-ego stance for growing a category defining technology company— watch this video!
“And for us, that's the fundamental belief that technology can— and when it's at its best— should make our lives better.”
— Sam Shames (COO & Co-Founder of Embr Labs)
21m | Aug 19, 2020
- Temperature— a keyboard to our nervous system?
- Empowering people to harness temperature for their well-being.
- What do you do when no single co-founder should be CEO?
- What’s professional wrestling got to do with entrepreneurship?
- CFO— Chief Food Officer?
- Building The Future Through Venture: Nina Achadjian of Index Ventures
Today’s guest is Nina Achadjian, Partner at Index Ventures. Before joining Index, Nina was also the founder of HIVE Ventures, the first seed fund focusing on Armenian entrepreneurs. She was also a higher yield bond trader at Citigroup and the FP&A Lead for Google’s AdSense team.
In this podcast episode, Nina shares her unique journey into venture and her passion for working with brilliant entrepreneurs who shape the world we live in. Furthermore, if you are determined to find a path into VC, Nina provides a simple, effective frame for securing your VC career.
You’ll enjoy this! :)21m | Aug 17, 2020
- The Shoulders of FinTech Giants: Sandeep Kumar Sood of Kun.ai
“I had the luxury to help other people before myself...
it grew me more into a mentor as a leader than it did as a hustler entrepreneur.”
— Sandeep Kumar Sood
Today’s guest is Sandeep Kumar Sood, Co-Founder & CEO of Kun.ai, a consulting company that has led innovation for large financial institutions for over a decade. To date, they have shipped over 150 products for the clients which include the top ten US banks, Fortune 500 technology companies, and numerous unicorn startups.
Sandeep was also the co-founder of Junglee Games, helping the company become the largest game producer in India. Before that, Sandeep also successfully sold his first agency, Monsoon, to Capital One.
As a serial entrepreneur, CEO, and mentor, Sandeep’s insights and sharings come from a place of deep humility and experience. If you want to adopt the right stance for transforming old, archaic industries— you must watch this interview! Sandeep will take you on a journey of building the future with an appreciation for the past...
“This to me is a moment for the industry (financial) when consulting and labor is equally if not more important than SaaS companies in the space.”
— Sandeep Kumar Sood23m | Aug 11, 2020
- The Business of Powerfully Caring.
“It was wonderful to understand that there was so much you can do
when you can just figure out if you set your mind to it.”
— Celine Ivari (Co-Founder & CEO, WholyMe)
Today’s guest is Celine Ivari, Co-Founder & CEO of WholyMe, a company focused on delivering the healthiest, effective relief solutions for an active lifestyle. Along with Co-Founder & COO, Quitterie de Rivoyre, Celine is on a mission to empower people to make the best decisions for their well-being and the planet.
Before co-founding WholeMe, Celine co-founded and operated Meshkati hair center— a high-end hair loss clinic in London. Celine holds a Master’s Degree in Genetics, and worked in the medical educator sector, helping big pharmaceutical companies launch new medicine globally.
Celine possesses an incredibly mature and youthful approach to leadership, building a sustainable business, and placing customers at the center of all commercial efforts. Any founder, seasoned or emerging, will enjoy listening to her speak! :)
“If you believe in yourself, and if you have faith in your project and your ambitions, and the bigger mission, then you can weather every single storm.”
— Celine Ivari19m | Aug 8, 2020