Ep 63: HILOS Founder Elias Stahl on Creating A New Supply Chain
Supply chains are a big nut to crack, and Elias Stahl ran straight for them. He was empowered to start a whole new supply chain and have his company HILOS be at the forefront of creating a different way to manufacture shoes, where it is ground zero for inefficiency and waste.“We saw that opportunity to leverage new technologies like 3D printing and gender design tools to rethink how we make things so that we're no longer building based on volume and cost, but on efficiency and a far more sustainable way for creators to take their ideas and turn them into products and then deliver them into hands of customers,” the CEO and founder of HILOS said.Listen to Elias describe fundraising as a comparison to dating with “meeting your match” and not changing yourself to find “love” or, in this case, your investors.Also, don’t miss David and Elias talk about the Stanley+Techstars Accelerator and the growth of HILOS because of the Give First mentality, including winning Best in Show at the SXSW Pitch competition and releasing a case study in partnership with Yale University.Follow Elias Stahl on Twitter @stahl_eliasFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohenListen & subscribe to the Give First podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Ep 62: Twelve Labs CEO Jae Lee on Video Search Innovation and Accelerating with Techstars
Innovation is just innovation if no one uses it. This is a lesson Jae Lee, co-founder and CEO of Twelve Labs, learned while building multimodal neural networks and video search AI. Through the Techstars Seattle Accelerator, mentors, and community, the company began to grow its customer base, transforming from a video search prototype to raising $5 million in a seed funding round.Listen as Jae Lee describes how video search is a very intuitive concept but we haven’t seen much of this technology out in the wild, as well as credibility and experience in AI.“What we've realized was, hey, video is going to be everywhere. It's already everywhere. It's going to explode. Is there a new neural network architecture that we can use or create to have machines fully understand videos? And what this means to customers is better content moderation, better content recommendation, better summary generation, and better content discovery," said Jae Lee.Don’t miss Jae Lee describe his time in the South Korean cyber operations, where he met the co-founders who joined him to build Twelve Labs, as well as the startup scene in South Korea.Follow Jae Lee on Twitter @_jae_leeFollow Twelve Labs on Twitter @twelve_labsFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohenListen & subscribe to the Give First podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Ep 61: Authors Mark Achler and Mert Iseri on Exit Strategy and Building Your Legacy
There are many business books out there for current and future entrepreneurs: How to start, how to raise money, how to market, and more. However, after selling his business SwipeSense to SC Johnson, Mert Iseri, with his mentor Mark Achler, realized there aren’t as many books imparting wisdom about selling your business from all aspects of the process.“The exit hopefully is a joyous moment in time, but your relationships and your legacy lasts hopefully through the rest of your career,” said entrepreneur Mark Achler, who is the managing director at MATH Venture Partners.Listen as Mert and Mark describe the different approaches they took to this book by interviewing not only CEOs but also M&A attorneys and corporate development departments at acquiring companies. The two also discuss the prevailing thought of not worrying about the exit as it will take care of itself, and how the exit actually should be a planned, thoughtful activity. “There's this myth that one day you're sitting in your corner office looking outside the glass window and Jeff Bezos gives you a call and wants to buy her a company. That's not reality,” Mert Iseri said.Don’t miss the trio discussing picking the right buyer, transparency and when to tell the team, earnouts, and other tough areas during an exit process.Follow Mert Iseri on Twitter @mhiFollow MATH Venture Partners on Twitter @MATH_V_PFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohenListen & subscribe to the Give First podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Ep 60: Stream Founder Thierry Schellenbach on Listening to Customers and Following the Metrics
Stream might be a small startup company, but by listening to its customers and their needs, the company decided to launch a second product that helped it scale.“Focusing only on a single product, it was hard to go for larger channels that are not well-targeted, so we needed to have a broader product offering to really scale up,” said founder and CEO Thierry Schellenbach. “I think that’s the one thing in terms of advice for founders, I think you need to look at those metrics and we could have probably raised like an A and B rounds, like earlier on the activity feed business, but it would've been really hard to scale given the unit economics and where they were. So we ended up launching chat, doing well in that space, and then doubling down on like the A and to B. And I think that's been very successful for us.”Listen as Thierry describes the company’s coming-to-America moment through Techstars New York and moving its headquarters to Colorado, and all the support he received from business leaders throughout the process.Also, don’t miss Thierry and David discussing the difference between Europe and the U.S. when it comes to startup investing, how the pandemic changed how startups launch investment rounds, and how the role of CEO changes as a company scales.Follow Thierry Schellenbach on Twitter @tschellenbachFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohenListen & subscribe to the Give First podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Ep 59: Articulate Persuasion Founder Monique Maley on Delivering Ideas with Conviction
Monique Maley actually began her career in acting, which has shaped how she became an entrepreneur and mentor. When she transitioned out of the acting industry, she used her skills of communication and body language to help other leaders get out of their own way.“For years I've been saying the thing that attracted me so much to the startup ecosystem and why I get so energized by it is because it's exactly like theater and film. There are so many things about it. There's the energy, the creativity, the collaboration, the building something from nothing. You want to get great reviews, you want it to be better, you want it to go on longer, but it's that comradery and that building something from nothing, it's intoxicating.”Listen as Monique describes how vitally important it is for founders to deliver their pitch with conviction (“The metaphor that I always use is you can know really funny joke, but if you don't know how to tell it, nobody's going to laugh.”). David and Monique also discuss tips specifically for female founders when delivering pitches and other ideas in Monique’s book “Turbulence: Leadership’s Unsexy Solution to Streamline Rapid Growth”.Monique is also the Vice-Chair of DivInc. To learn more about DivInc, listen to GiveFirst’s episode 53 with Preston James.Follow Monique Maley on Twitter @MoniqueMaleyFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohenListen & subscribe to the Give First podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Ep 58: Sketchfab Co-Founder on Building Relationships as the Key to Business Immortality
Started in France, Alban Denoyel knew that the key to his product, Sketchfab, was its influence in the United States. Now a leading platform for 3D and AR models, Sketchfab got a boost while Alban was part of the Techstars Accelerator program. “I think having gone through Techstars really helped us get the credibility we needed to raise money with VCs as first-time entrepreneurs.”Years later, the key takeaways from Alban’s time in the program still bring success to Sketchfab. Investors won’t just throw money at an idea; it’s about having a rapport, as Alban met some investors two years before they even wrote their checks. “The real key lesson is to build a relationship ahead of when you need some money.”Listen as David and Alban delve deeper into having resilience and perseverance, switching focuses from building to monetizing a product, the struggles the company faced within the AR market and technology not being ready for their product, and how building relationships helped when Sketchfab was acquired by Epic Games.Follow Alban Denoyel on Twitter @albnFollow David Cohen on Twitter @davidcohenListen & subscribe to the Give First podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
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