Ep 57: Zipline co-founder on how robotics and automation have changed him and the world
When Keller Rinaudo started Remotive in 2011 while in a Techstars Accelerator program, he didn’t really know what entrepreneurship was until he read Tony Hsieh's book “Delivering Happiness.” At the time, he was at Harvard University working with DNA and the inner workings of humans, not robots. That all shifted.Keller and his team knew that the world of robotics and automation would change within the next decade, and they wanted to be a part of that transformation. Now, his company Zipline is focusing on building a new type of logistics system that would not just serve those who can afford instant access to goods, but everyone equally while also helping the environment instead of destroying it. Zipline delivers vital shipments via the fastest, most reliable autonomous aircraft delivery service in the world.“When we talk about instant logistics, we really mean teleportation. In fact, the product vision for Zipline is as closely approximate to teleportation as possible. We want something to be able to be delivered to any home, any hospital, any primary care facility, anywhere in the world, in just a couple of minutes and to do it in a net-zero carbon emission way. We think that this is an obvious future.”Listen as Keller delves into his founding story, including Zipline’s mission to help serve all in the healthcare industry, his decision to start in Rwanda, how the first 8 months of the launch were “unbelievably painful,” and how Zipline has helped Rwanda achieve the unprecedented 0% of blood wasted. Also, don’t miss Keller tell David about how Zipline is expanding in Ghana, Nigeria, Japan, and the U.S.!Follow Keller Rinaudo on Twitter @KellerRinaudoFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohen
Ep 56: Goodie Nation's Joey Womack on building community for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds
Joey Womack is a builder, but he’s not in traditional construction. Through creating ecosystems and making connections, he is helping social entrepreneurs and diverse founders build relationships that close the gaps, all through his company Goodie Nation.A relationship gap is the distance between entrepreneurs and key influencers. Often with diverse founders and social entrepreneurs, particularly those not in coastal financial centers, they are less connected to these key influencers than their counterparts. This can lead to a lack of financial capital, customers, talent, professional development, and especially a lack of access to the higher-level CEOs who can help them navigate very complex problems.“We talk about relationships and the gap there, but it does all at the end of the day, kind of boil down to trust. We really create intentional connections based on origins. … Especially when you're talking around entrepreneurs and decision-makers, either on the capital side or the purchase side, you start to get into those origin stories. Then you start to show that the founders have traction, and that’s where it leads to quick decisions … So we spend a lot of time creating those kinds of deeper connections, and it may take three or four or five conversations, but it leads to some really good results.”Listen as David and Joey discuss what’s in the water in ATL (a lot of entrepreneurship!), creating a unique tech identity in the southeast U.S., the intersection of equality and culture in the startup space, and the Black Founders Fund.Also, listen to Joey describe his family’s background and how community building is in his DNA. This chat is not one to miss!
Ep 55: MindMaven Founder and CEO Patrick Ewers on achieving true greatness through relationships
Patrick Ewers describes his work as helping people achieve true greatness, or as our host David Cohen calls it, giving people superpowers. But there is a funny thing about the term “true greatness”.“When you look at the word true greatness, I think it's the most subjective term you will ever come across, especially in the world we're working in. For some, it is that they really want to reach the top, they want to become the next Elon Musk. Most people want to just reach the fullest potential, build something bigger than themselves, or leave a legacy. … So it doesn't really matter what your true greatness is. We help you achieve it by focusing on relationships.”Why relationships? It’s because no one has achieved true greatness without the help of others. It’s wired into the way of the world. However, most people don’t take care to nurture these relationships.Listen to Patrick describe importance versus urgency, and some practical solutions to fix your work-related relationship problems.Also, don’t miss how Patrick developed the idea of Mindmaven, how building relationships can produce game-changing results for you, and why it’s important to hire an engagement manager who will help free up your time up to 8+ hours per week.The duo also dives into positive alacrity. There is so much information packed in this single episode!Follow Patrick Ewers on Twitter @PatrickEwersFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohen
Ep 54: Zane Access founder Shila Nieves Burney on accessing networks while building capital
Shila Nieves Burney, General Partner at Zane Venture Fund, has spent 20-plus years addressing inequity with capital, first in human capital with institutions and education systems, and then sourcing investors. Along the way, Shila discovered a much-needed resource for entrepreneurs: networks and connections. They can build the capital, but then what? In comes Zane Access capital readiness program.“We teach the technical skills, accessing venture capital, some of the terminology. What did it mean to be a cap table? And how do you look at your cap table and ensure that you are balanced and that sort of stuff. So we bring in the experts who do this on a daily basis.”Listen to Shila describe the exposure beyond the education portion of the program, as well as cultivating the soft skills of fundraising as diverse entrepreneurs. “The preparation part is extremely important,” Shila says.Also, don’t miss David and Shila discussing the scalability of these cohorts, the innovation weekend collaboration with university programs and student entrepreneurs, always leveraging your network, and Shila’s personal mentors.Follow Shila Nieves Burney on Twitter @rednievesFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohen
Ep 53: DivInc’s Preston James on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry
After two decades in the corporate world, Preston James was blown away by the innovation of tech startups. Once he got involved as an angel investor, he realized this industry was just like corporate America, where diversity was severely lacking.After digging into the issue by talking to others within his network, Preston saw the need to “build this pipeline of entrepreneurs for the underrepresented community and make the ecosystem more authentically diverse, equitable, and inclusive in creating those opportunities.” To date, DivInc has helped more than 75 companies go through their program.Listen to Preston describe how he is expanding DivInc’s reach across the country and diving deeper to accelerate the opportunities for underrepresented founders from the get-go.Also, don’t miss Preston talk about how there are 4+ opportunities you can help DivInc reach more early-stage founders (including donations).
Ep 52: Fraudmarc’s Keith Coleman on the Value of Give First as a Founder
If you’ve ever wondered just where Give First came from, or how it became such a central philosophy at Techstars, this episode is for you. Or if you’ve ever wanted to push back and say: does Give First really work? What’s in it for me? This is also the episode for you.A few months ago, Keith Coleman, Founder of Fraudmarc (Techstars Atlanta 2017) emailed David and Brad with the subject “give first, finish last.” In it, he explained his reservations with Give First. Basically, he asked: Is Give First right for new founders who are super focused on the survival of their company? Or is Give First for people who have already met with success, and who have the time and resources to be able to give?David and Brad’s response was to invite Keith on the show to talk about what Give First is, where it came from, and why it’s absolutely not just for the already successful. Give First is for every stage in your company, and in your entrepreneurial journey.
Ep 51: Bain Capital Ventures’ Matt Harris on supporting entrepreneurs through 25+ years as an investor
There are some people whose lives are perfect expressions of the zeitgeist. Matt Harris is one of them.In 1995, Matt’s college roommate at Williams started a company out of their dorm room. It was called Tripod, and it was one of the first dot com companies. By 1997, when Matt was 24, Williams invited him back to Williamstown, a rural community with a population of 6,000, to run an investing firm.When that was a success, Matt and that same college roommate, Bo Peabody, started Village Ventures to bring VC to secondary and tertiary cities around the U.S., with a focus on college towns with intellectual capital, but no venture capital.Fun fact: Matt’s first hire at Village Ventures was Gina Raimondo, who is now the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.In 2012, Village Ventures wound down, and Matt moved to Bain Capital Ventures, where he continues to invest in startups.Basically, Matt’s journey has paralleled, and shaped, that of venture capital in the age of the internet. Listen for insights into that rocky road, and how Matt has learned, over time, how to best support the entrepreneurs he’s invested in.
Ep 50: Sustainability and economic opportunity with Cody Simms of Techstars Climate Tech Podcast
People want their capital to be used for good, and whether it’s clean energy or sustainable agriculture, there is ample economic opportunity in efforts to decarbonize the planet. In this special podcast crossover episode, Techstars’ own David Cohen and Cody Simms discuss how the entrepreneurial ecosystem is rallying around climate change. If you haven't yet checked out the Techstars Climate Tech podcast, you can find it on all major podcast platforms.
Ep 49: The Community Fund’s Lolita Taub on investing in community-driven companies
Lolita Taub has always been about community, from her upbringing in South Central LA to now at The Community Fund, which is a venture capital fund that invests in community-driven companies, “connecting people to people and resources to achieve results.”By day, Lolita is the Corporate Development VP at Catalyte, but on breaks or weekends, she is an operator-investor, looking for those unicorns of the future. She believes these companies will “have customers that identify as members where members have a space to create value for each other, and then start this marketing sales flywheel.”Listen for Lolita’s ideas of the expensive side of building a customer base and how “only good things can come out of” involving customers into building a company, such as lifetime value, retention, sales leads, and talent acquisition, among other benefits.Also, don’t miss Lolita and David discussing the startup investor matching tool that began last year right on Twitter, and how COVID has changed how we build relationships.