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Episode 34: Alexandr Wang, Scale API

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -The opportunity Alex saw for humans to amplify the results of machines, and how Scale API plans to act on it -Growing up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, the birthplace of the Atomic bomb, and how its emphasis on science impacted Alex’s childhood -How working at Addepar and Quora before college influenced Alex’s career, and how that led to his taking a leave of absence from MIT -The thought process behind starting Scale API, and why Alex and his cofounder...


Episode 33: Katherine Power, CMG

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -CMG’s evolution from its initial site, Who What Wear, to the conglomerate it’s become today -How Katherine ensures CMG remains close to the consumer, and why its critical to the company’s success in light of fashion’s globalization -Katherine’s early entrepreneurial endeavors that included putting on (paid) shows for the neighborhood and creating faux restaurants with her toy kitchen -Her previous aspiration to be a film producer, and why she doesn’t...


Episode 32: Sean Chou, Catalytic

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -The state of innovation in Chicago, and how the startup ecosystem has changed since Sean built his first company -Sean’s transient childhood, and the hardships he saw his parents endure as Taiwanese immigrants who tried to be restauranteurs -Why hard work is not enough to be successful, and why it’s important to spend time thinking about business dynamics in any industry -How Sean views mentorship, and the relationship that guided him to a career in...


Episode 30: Kevin Wang, Fossa

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -Who the ideal Fossa customer is, and why enterprise companies are not the only ones who care about code quality and security -The evolution from TLDRLegal to Fossa, and the opportunity Kevin saw to create a sustainable business -How attending the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy boarding school shaped Kevin’s childhood and led to his early independence -How Kevin’s parents, who emigrated from China, were the driving force behind his technical...


Episode 29: Erica Brescia, Bitnami

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -How Bitnami evolved from a side project in 2008 to become a full fledged company in 2013 when the founders saw an opportunity surrounding the deployment experience -The pros and cons to raising outside funding, and why the Bitnami team choose to wait until the point where not raising would impede the business -Growing up in the Bay area, and how having an entrepreneurial father inspired Erica’s own ventures from a young age -How Erica views the idea of...


Episode 28: Scott Norton, Sir Kensington's

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -Critical advice on how to bring new products to market, and how to find your ideal customer -Why business is fundamentally creative versus competitive -The strategy and decision making process as to why Sir Kensington’s is headquartered in New York City -How Scott’s childhood growing up in the Bay area influenced his idea of entrepreneurship -How living in Japan shaped Scott’s thinking on Sir Kensington’s flavor profiles, brand marketing, packaging, and...


Episode 27: Luke Bonney, Redox

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -100 State, the largest coworking space in Wisconsin, and how it aims to be the center of gravity for the budding Madison entrepreneurial scene -How creating seven healthcare startups made the founders realize the need for Redox, and how the team solved the classic “chicken-and-egg” platform problem -Why his parents’ jobs instilled a deep ethical compass for Luke, and why you have to do what’s right even when it’s hard -Luke’s experience bringing iSAC ,...


Episode 26: Max Lynch & Ben Sperry, Ionic

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -The beginnings of Ionic, which originated from Codiqa, a drag-and-drop tool for jQuery mobile that stemmed from the desire (and frustration) to quickly build great apps -Why the pair feels so strongly about building Ionic from Madison, and the cabin (aka garage) phase of the company -The private messaging forum / blog they created among their friends in high school (before the days of Facebook) to share poetry, stories, and updates (and gossip) -The...


Episode 25: Chieh Huang, Boxed

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -Why Boxed surprisingly has very little customer overlap with the traditional brick-and-mortar discount clubs -Why seasoned entrepreneurs go after different markets than first-timers, and how to look beyond just solving a problem -The culture behind Boxed that has made it such a publicly lauded company (see here and here), and why these values actually do positively affect your bottom line -How Chieh’s parents, who emigrated from Taiwan, managed to...


Episode 24: Vijen Patel, Pressbox

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -How the idea for Pressbox started from Vijen’s aim to simply make life easier, and the other ideas he entertained before settling on dry cleaning -Vijen’s experience in high school reselling Cubs tickets at a lofty margin, and how that sparked his urge to be an entrepreneur -Why math was the center of Vijen’s life, and how this logical framework showed him how to create change (including how to lose weight) -How attending Notre Dame shaped Vijen’s...


Episode 23: Tracy DiNunzio, Tradesy

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -Tradesy’s beginnings, and the little hacks Tracy did to build up both sides of the marketplace -Tracy’s transition from artist to entrepreneur and how she dealt with all of the responsibility that came with it -Why it’s important to pick activities that force you to learn-as-you-do them, and how Tracy took that to heart while living in Mexico -What it’s like being a female entrepreneur running a female-centric business pitching to mainly male venture...


Episode 22: Danielle Strachman, 1517 Fund

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -Why Danielle and Michael decided to focus solely on younger founders, regardless of whether or not they attended university -How starting a venture fund increased her empathy for entrepreneurs, particularly through fundraising efforts -Danielle’s experience starting a charter school in San Diego, and why it was easy to fall prey to “imposter syndrome” during that time -Her experience as an instrumentalist growing up and how that helped her learn to...


Episode 20: Roy Pereira, Zoom.ai

Episode 20: Roy Pereira, Zoom.ai by Crissy Costa


Episode 19: Rachel Silver, Love Stories TV

In this episode you’ll hear about: -The struggles of content marketers today, and why media startups need to be especially scrappy and resourceful to succeed -The present opening Rachel sees in media companies and who the Love Stories TV’s typical user is (it may surprise you) -Rachel’s childhood growing up in suburban Detroit, where she was a competitive, synchronized skater! -How coming from a family of entrepreneurs helped inspire Rachel to eventually become one herself -The grand...


52 Founders 018: Sinan Ozdemir, Kylie.ai

In this episode you’ll hear about: -The origins of Kylie.ai, and why it’s entrepreneurs should always listen to prospective customers when developing new products -How his mother’s blend of math and psychology, and his father’s 30+ year tenure working at GE, inspired him to be an entrepreneur -Sinan’s experience as a professor at Johns Hopkins’ (after finishing his Bachelor’s degree in just 2 years), where he met his then-chocolatier (yes, chocolatier!) cofounder -How Sinan fell in love...


52 Founders 017: Taylor Katzman, Tiz

In this episode you’ll hear about: -When Taylor first saw the opportunity for Tiz, and why he decided to work at -Drizly before striking out on his own -The benefits of launching a startup in Chicago over San Francisco, and why top universities are critical to the ecosystem -How Taylor broke the family occupational mold by being an entrepreneur (he comes from a long line of surgeons!) -Why working in sales at a tech startup provided the best foundation for eventually running a company -Why...


52 Founders 015: Aneesh Varma (Aire)

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -The genesis of Aire, the vision Aneesh sees for the next 20+ years, and how to show value to investors along the way -His own transient childhood as the son of the diplomat (and a journalist), and how the “start, restart” mindset led way to entrepreneurship -Aneesh’s early activism, starting with an angry letter he wrote to Panasonic as a 16 year old to fix his MD player, and why he has always refused to accept “no” as an answer -What leadership truly...


52 Founders 014: Aleksandra Wozniak, Cleo

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -Why it was important for Cleo to have a personality, and the opportunity Aleksandra sees in the space -Growing up in Poland and how her father helped foster her early interest with -technology -How, as a child, computer science felt like wizardry, where scripts were spells and programs were magic -Why Aleksandra was not deterred by not having prior leadership experience (and why learning by doing is critical to success) -Why London is the perfect locale...


52 Founders 013: Aksh Gupta (Occasion)

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -How the idea for Occasion was born out of frustration from being unable to reserve tennis court time in Chicago -Aksh’s view on how AI will transform his industry -The long lineage of entrepreneurship in Aksh’s family, and how it molded his childhood dreams -Why Aksh works at his mother’s store every six weeks, and how that enables him to build a better product -The apprenticeship program Occasion started for its employees in order to gain more customer...


52 Founders 012: Abhinav Agrawal

In this episode, you’ll hear about: -Why being EIRs at Social Capital before officially starting Renzu helped the founders substantially add initial value when fleshing out ideas -How Renzu got potential customers to be angel investors before landing capital from venture firms like Redpoint -His childhood living all over the world due to his Dad’s diplomatic career, and how that influenced his ability to fearlessly adapt to new environments -The high bar his parents set for him, and why...