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Venture Stories by Village Global

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Charter Cities and Innovative Governance with Mark Lutter

Mark Lutter (@MarkLutter), founder and executive director of the Centre For Innovative Governance Research, joins Erik on this special two-hour episode to talk about charter cities. They start off by discussing how Mark became interested in the idea of charter cities. Mark explains the two main schools of thought when it comes to new forms of governance and talks about his philosophy for figuring out the best way to govern and how that involves charter cities. He talks about the recent...


The Present and Future of Autonomous Vehicles with Qasar Younis and Alexandr Wang

On this episode of Venture Stories, Erik is joined by two exciting guests: Qasar Younis (@qasar), co-founder of Applied Intuition, and Alexandr Wang (@alexandr_wang), CEO of Scale. Both Qasar and Alex are creating software that is transforming the way autonomous vehicles are being developed. The three of them have an expansive conversation about where autonomous technology is at today and how the technology and industry might evolve in the future. Throughout the conversation the founders...


Live Episode: Founders Discuss Village Global’s Network Catalyst Accelerator

Erik Torenberg, co-founder and partner of Village Global, recently hosted an event for entrepreneurs in San Francisco to hear from founders of Village Global portfolio companies who have been through Village’s Network Catalyst accelerator. Joining Erik were: Nancy Yu (@nancyyu25), co-founder and CEO of RDMD, a company working to accelerate treatment for patients with rare diseases. Amrita Saigal, co-founder of Saathi, a company creating fully eco-friendly, compostable sanitary napkins in...


The Influence of the Consumer on Enterprise SaaS with Brianne Kimmel and Josh Stein

Joining Erik for this episode are Brianne Kimmel (@briannekimmel), investor, advisor and Village Global Network Leader as well as Josh Stein (@dfjjosh), partner at DFJ. They start off by discussing the "consumerization of enterprise SaaS." More and more frequently new software is implemented at enterprises because ordinary employees use a service as a consumer and advocate for its use within the company. Brianne and Josh talk about why the enterprise is such a different animal compared to...


Requests For Startups: Machine Learning with Ash Fontana and Anthony Goldbloom

In the first all-Australian episode of Venture Stories Erik interviews returning guest Ash Fontana (@ashfontana), general partner at Zetta Ventures, and his fellow countryman, Anthony Goldbloom (@antgoldbloom), CEO of Kaggle. Ash’s fund is the first fund devoted exclusively to AI and machine learning, and the three talk about how to evaluate companies, founders and ideas in the space. Ash says that the founders he looks for are often pre-traction but post-data, meaning that they have the...


What Tyler Cowen Thinks About Basically Everything

In this extended episode of Venture Stories, Erik interviews Tyler Cowen (@tylercowen), professor of economics at George Mason University. They discuss about a wide range of topics, including Tyler’s book Stubborn Attachments, the value of watching sports, travel, Bitcoin, the Knicks, and Effective Altruism — among many, many others. Tyler explains why he has only two “stubborn attachments” — human rights and economic growth. He takes us through his argument that there’s a moral imperative...


Health Stories: The Intersection of Blockchain and Healthcare with Nikhil Krishnan and Nick Soman

On this episode of Health Stories, Erik is joined by Nikhil Krishnan (@nikillinit), of CB Insights and Nick Soman (@nicksoman), of Decent. Today they're talking about “the combination of two insanely complex topics.” They start out by discussing the potential applications of blockchain technology in the healthcare space and why it might not be ready for primetime just yet. They dive into some of the applications, including unique patient identifiers and why the lack of a system to transfer...


Rethinking The Merits of Decentralization with John Backus

On this episode of Venture Stories, Erik is joined by co-host Tony Sheng to interview John Backus (@backus), founder of Bloom and Cognito, two companies working on decentralized lending and identity. Co-host Tony Sheng (@tonysheng) leads product at Decentraland. He also publishes analyses on the business and strategy of crypto at and is one of Village’s Network Leaders. John recently wrote a popular post about the history of decentralized peer-to-peer file sharing in the late...


The Past and Future of Upstart and Income-Sharing Agreements with Dave Girouard and Tonio DeSorrento

Erik is joined in this episode by co-host Tonio DeSorrento (@TonioDeSo), CEO and co-founder of Vemo Education, and Dave Girouard (@davegirouard), CEO and founder of Upstart. They have a lively discussion about the history of income-sharing agreements, the forms in which they exist presently, and how the agreements might change or expand in the future. Dave gives us an overview of Upstart and why he says they are like “Kickstarter meets LendingClub.” Although Upstart is thriving now, it...


Income Sharing Agreements in Education with Tonio DeSorrento and Ali Hamed

Erik’s co-host for this episode is Ali Hamed (@AliBHamed) of CoVenture. They are interviewing Tonio DeSorrento (@TonioDeSo), CEO and co-founder of Vemo Education. They talk about the history of income-sharing agreements, including that Milton Friedman had once proposed the idea and that Yale University had experimented with them at one point. Tonio talks about starting Vemo and how he has brought income-sharing agreements to more and more educational institutions. They discuss the fact that...


The World’s First Publicly Traded Person with Mike Merrill and Marcus Estes

On this episode of Venture Stories, Erik is joined by Mike Merrill (@kmikeym), the world’s first and only publicly traded person, along with Mike’s friend, co-founder and shareholder, Marcus Estes (@marcusestes), co-founder and CEO of Chroma. We hear the backstory on how Mike became the world’s first “publicly traded person” and hear a funny story about an early 2000s arts group turned their group into a corporation in order to thwart an attempt by an e-commerce company to take over their...


Live Episode: The Present and Future of Crypto with Naval Ravikant and Balaji Srinivasan

In this special live episode of Venture Stories, Erik Torenberg interviews two special guests about the present and future of crypto: Naval Ravikant (@naval), CEO and co-founder of AngelList, and Balaji Srinivasan (@balajis), CTO of Coinbase. They start with an overview of the history of organizing societies and the role of centralized decision-makers from kings to democracies and why decentralization — where no one in particular is in charge but everybody follows the rules — has so much...


Competitive Governance with Patri Friedman

Patri Friedman joins Erik on this episode of Venture Stories. He founded The Seasteading Institute in 2008 with funding from Peter Thiel. His father is political theorist David Friedman and his grandfather is Nobel Laureate in economics, Milton Friedman. Over the course of their nearly two-hour conversation they cover a lot of ground, including crypto, physical (and virtual) governance, the current state of politics, Silicon Valley, and much more. Patri starts by explaining why he is both...


Live Episode: Eric Schmidt and Tyler Cowen on The Future of Technology and Society

This is a special episode of Venture Stories recorded in front of a live audience in San Francisco, featuring Tyler Cowen (@tylercowen), professor of economics at George Mason University and Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt), former executive chairman and CEO at Google/Alphabet. Cowen talks to Schmidt about a wide range of topics, from Schmidt’s college years, to his time as an intern at Bell Labs, to working for Scott McNealy at Sun Microsystems, to the early days of Google, to today. Cowen asks...


Live Episode: An Interview with Erik Torenberg at Venture For America in Detroit

Erik was interviewed by Jacob Evan Smith (@jacobsmith88) at Venture For America in Detroit, which is where Erik attended the University of Michigan before he started his live rap battle app, In this episode he talks about founding and running, why it didn’t work out, and how he ended up joining Product Hunt before co-founding Village Global. Erik explains why it’s not important that entrepreneurs get it right the first time, but instead that they don’t stop trying. He talks...


Health Stories: Computational Care, Computational Biology, and "Taking a Crowbar to the Health System" with Scott Barclay and James Hardiman

On this episode of Health Stories, Erik is joined by James Hardiman (@hardimanjames) and Scott Barclay (@SABarclay) of Data Collective, a deep tech and AI venture fund. Scott and James are live in-studio with Erik to discuss a number of interesting topics around the health space. Scott and James explain what they mean when they say innovation in the last 50 years was driven by the semiconductor but the next 50 years will be driven by biotechnology. The three of them discuss the state of the...


On-Chain Governance with Jacob Arluck and Peter Czaban

On this episode of Venture Stories, Erik and his co-host Tony Sheng are joined by Jacob Arluck (@JacobArluck) of Tezos and Peter Czaban of Polkadot and the Web3 Foundation. The four of them get into the details of the mechanisms of governance, including voting, councils, and other methods of governance. They discuss hard forks and why they are not ideal but sometimes necessary. The group also discusses common misconceptions around on-chain governance and their requests for products or...


Building Network Effects Businesses with NFX’s James Currier and Pete Flint

On this episode of Venture Stories, Erik is joined by James Currier (@JamesCurrier) and Pete Flint (@peteflint), of NFX. NFX is a great venture capital firm founded on the concept of network effects. Erik, James and Pete cover a bunch of fascinating topics in the interview. Pete and James explain why network effects make such good businesses — so good in fact, that they don’t have to even be run particularly well to still have great revenue, as James found out when he sold to a big...


Health Stories: Early Cancer Screening with Gabriel Otte

Gabriel Otte (@gabeotte), CEO and co-founder of Freenome, joins Erik on this episode of Venture Stories to talk about cancer screening. Gabriel starts out by talking about why he got into the cancer screening space and how Freenome got started. He lays out the different methods of cancer detection and why Freenome has chosen their specific approach to the problem. Erik asks how it compares to other companies working on similar problems and Gabriel helps create a market map of the space....


Looming Debt Crises, The Fed, and Crypto with Gabe Bassin and Taylor Pearson

Gabe Bassin (@gabebassin) and Taylor Pearson (@TaylorPearsonMe) join Erik for this episode. They cover a lot of ground in this episode where they explore some of the coming financial challenges that the US faces and how crypto might impact the markets and the economy in general. Gabe gives an overview of the current state of public debt and future government obligations. He explains how the fed ended up with four trillion dollars on its balance sheet. He says that “the market’s been...