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The Ecosystem

Business & Economics Podcasts

A podcast exploring the world's most exceptional entrepreneurs, investors & emerging growth companies who are making a difference in the world.

A podcast exploring the world's most exceptional entrepreneurs, investors & emerging growth companies who are making a difference in the world.


United States


A podcast exploring the world's most exceptional entrepreneurs, investors & emerging growth companies who are making a difference in the world.




Patti Glaza, see what the Executive Vice President and Managing Partner of Invest Detroit Venture Partners sees in the best entrepreneurs, and listen to what makes her the best in her city.

What is turning Detroit's ecosystem around? What does the investment scene look like? Listen to the passion and dedication Patti has for helping those who are underserved in the ecosystem. She stopped counting after she invested in her 60th company, and over half of the companies she invested in were led by women, minorities, or immigrants. She is truly making a difference in the world, and you'll hear how. Big Thanks to our co-host for Women's History Month, Claudia Saric from Relish Works


Amy Volas, what determines a good salesperson? Founder of Avenue Talent Partners

On today's episode, Amy Volas, founder of Avenue Talent Partners, talks sales with RJ, how startups are messing up in hiring sales people and how they can fix their hiring process. She tells how she is able to determine a good sales person right off the bat, and at what point it should be noticeable that the sales person hired is or is not a good fit. She mentions the importance for founders to actually know their customers and sales process so they know who is right to hire, and where...


Tamim Abdul Majid, OCA, Investment Decisions, Passion and Volatility

Tamim came on this episode to talk about his beginnings as an entrepreneur at an online gaming company he helped start, and his move into VC. He talks about how he is able to use his skills learned as an entrepreneur to help other entrepreneurs who are a part of the OCA fund. He talks about the important things venture funds look for from startup founders other than how much money they've made and how it's always company based, not leaning towards the founder or their market. He explains how...


Why I invest over 50% of my fund in women CEO’s

Samara earned an Industrial and Operations Engineering degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. Samara tells us about her start at Goldman Sachs, how she got into venture, and how different investment criteria helped launch her fund, Chingona Ventures. She talks about what's important to look for in early stage companies, and how the tech ecosystem affects everything.


Andrew Moyer

Andrew is EVP and General Manager of Reputation Partner’s Chicago Office and serves as one of the firm’s top client counselors. Andrew works with clients on strategic communications, thought leadership and executive positioning, proactive and reactive crisis and issues preparedness and reputation management programs. Andrew joined Reputation Partners after five years at Edelman where he was Senior Vice President, Crisis & Risk Management and Public Affairs Lead for the Chicago office. Prior...


Dana Wright, MATH Venture Partners, Go-To Market Strategies for startups, B2B, SaaS, What Investors are Looking For

Dana Wright is Managing Director of MATH Venture Partners. She is a leading voice on fundraising strategy, leadership during extreme growth, managing board dynamics, and optimizing for an exit. She believes in the Midwest as a hub for entrepreneurial activity and investment. Dana joined MATH in April 2015 and has more than 20 years of investing and operating experience. Prior to joining MATH, Dana was a corporate development executive at Gavilon, a private-equity sponsored commodity...


Michael Norton

Michael Norton is Houlihan Capital's Director of Business Development responsible for building and maintaining the Firm’s relationships throughout the Country. Among his many duties in that role, Mr. Norton covers Houlihan Capital’s accounting, financial sponsor and cannabis communities. His strong leadership experience allows him to quickly understand a client's situation and provide recommendations to achieve their strategic goals. Mr. Norton is quite engaged both professionally and...


Mandy Tahvonen

Mandy Tahvonen is the Managing Director of Relish Works, the innovation hub of Gordon Food Service's (GFS), based in Chicago, IL. For the past 19 years, Mandy has worked in strategy, innovation and consulting – primarily at Gensler and at Doblin. She has a passion for innovation, building new businesses, being the captain of her own ship, and the ability to make things real. In her current role as Managing Director, she oversees the company's innovation portfolio – determining the focus,...


Todd Connor

Todd is the CEO and Founder of Bunker Labs, a national entrepreneurship organization dedicated to helping military veterans and their spouses start and grow businesses. Founded in 2014 at the innovation hub “1871” in Chicago, Bunker Labs has grown to locations across the U.S. through a chapter affiliate model, with further expansion plans underway with a goal to have a presence in all 50 states. Bunker Labs works to support military veterans by creating locally thriving networks, robust...


Lisa Magill

Lisa is the Co-Founder and COO of Aleria. Over the years she has made herself very well known in the ecosystem for commitment to the community and her efforts to create more opportunities for women. With Aleria, she helps founders and companies "take the guesswork out of diversity & inclusion."


Mark Vargas

Mark Vargas is a trusted advisor and close confidante to some of the highest profile political and business leaders in America. His work as a tech entrepreneur in health care and political opinion writer and advisor have been featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Huffington Post, CNN, CBS, ABC, CNBC, and Fox News Channel. In March 2019, Judson University’s World Leaders Forum announced “Conversations with Mark Vargas,” a new and exciting speaker series where Mr....


Cayse Llorens

In this podcast we speak to Cayse Llorens about his background as a venture capital investor now turned entrepreneur. Cayse is building a different type of company-or-fund. Specifically, Cayse raised money for his search firm where he will look to invest in the best next thing while taking an active role as the CEO and Operating Partner. We talk about his experience as a VC investor and why he chose the search fund route as an entrepreneur.


JD Weinstein

JD Weinstein heads up Oracle for Startups North America. He helps startups scale through Oracle’s rich enterprise ecosystem, cloud solutions, & global customer network. He previously served as Principal of WPP Ventures, the world's largest marketing communications company. He focused on venture investments in tech-enabled companies in MarTech, big data & market intelligence, RetailTech, AdTech, and content. Prior to WPP, JD worked with Capital Factory as a Venture Associate, where he was...


Vic Pascucci

In this episode we talk with Vic Pascucci. Vic is a former trial lawyer who found entrepreneurship fascinating and after helping countless entrepreneurs, decided to become a professional fund manager & investor. After advising, coaching and investing in thousands of companies, Vic talks about his experience in what he looks for in companies, how to properly build your board, geographical investing and what it takes to continue to build the best company. We also explore “Investing in the...


Dujon Smith

Ever wonder what corporate venture funds do for early stage companies and how they work? In this episode we talk with Dujon Smith, Midwest Lead, Accenture Ventures. Accenture Ventures is on a mission to find the most exciting and scalable companies to partner and ultimately invest in. They have a large team who is constantly scouting new deals to invest in and have even opened an innovation center for startups. Hear from Dujon on what technologies and industries he’s most excited about in...


Desiree Vargas Wrigley

In this episode we talk with a well known entrepreneur who is building her second company, Pearachute. Desiree has been named Inc’s 30 Under 30, Crain’s 40 Under 40, one of Parents Magazine’s Most Inspiring Moms, one of Forbes Women to Watch, and has appeared on Shark Tank, closing one of the largest deals on the show to date. Desiree has also previously participated in TechStars and raised money for both of her companies from multiple venture capital firms across the U.S. In this episode,...


Amos Schwartzfarb

In this episode, we talk with Amos Schwartzfarb, Managing Director of Techstars in Austin, TX. Among the many things discussed in this interview are Amos’s investment strategy, what it takes to get product-market fit in your startup, what he looks for in his Techstars investments and his recently authored book, Sell More Faster. On a personal note, Amos is big into fitness and mental health in entrepreneurship. He’s also determined to live to 150 years old and is on a mission to make it...