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Breaking Into Startups

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We're starting a podcast that features people who came from non traditional backgrounds and broke into startups.

We're starting a podcast that features people who came from non traditional backgrounds and broke into startups.
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We're starting a podcast that features people who came from non traditional backgrounds and broke into startups.








#76: Gary Vaynerchuk - CEO of VaynerMedia

Gary Vaynerchuk does not need an introduction. For those of you who haven’t heard of him yet, he is not only a rockstar entrepreneur, he's an author and a speaker. He's a four-time New York Times bestseller. He now runs a 800-person media agency, VaynerMedia. He is also an early investor in Twitter, Snapchat, and Uber. Big on giving back and making people happy, the one legacy he wants to leave is that he has given more than what he has taken.


#75: Heather Swan - Journey From Retail to an Enterprise Account Executive at Zoom

A San Jose-native, Heather Swan is the Chief Happiness Officer at Zoom, a video conferencing tool that works on any device. She started as an employee #15 and now Zoom has grown to over 700,000 clients worldwide, she has worked in every sales role within the company and has consistently hit her quotas. Heather has previous experience in the retail sales space, particularly for Tory Burch shoes and medical devices. Today, she shares the perspective of founding a startup from an employee...


#74: Ian Harriman - from a Sales Development Rep to an Account Executive at Checkr

Southern Californian-native, Ian Harriman is a rockstar salesperson. He started as a sales development representative until he rose up to the ranks of being a mid-market account executive at Checkr, a background check community that utilizes software (instead of people) to complete a majority of the parts to the process. Ian also talks about his leadership role in the Bounce Back to Work Program at Checkr, where they help both applicants and companies through their background screening...


#73: Kyle Woumn - Software Engineer at Twilio, who Turned an Internship into a Full-time Offer

Today, we take a closer dive into getting internships and how you can leverage those to get full-time offers. Kyle Woumn is a fullstack engineer on the messaging experience team at Twilio, a cloud-communication platform that integrates communication into apps. A Georgia Institute of Technology graduate, Kyle did internships at GE and Twilio. He's also part of the National Society of Black Engineers and he is currently building an app that fosters an online community for Black Greeks.


#72: Marco Morawec - Founder of The Firehose Project (Remote Coding Program)

Born in Germany, Marco Morawec is the co-founder of The Firehose Project, an online coding school that helped over a thousand people learn how to code remotely and become engineers. They also got a 1-million dollar grant from TechHire to help more people from under-represented groups to gain tech skills. Marco got his undergraduate degree and Master's in Public Policy and Management from the University of Constanz in Germany. He formerly worked as a Product Manager at an advertising firm...


#71: Jon Deng - U.S. Army Captain who Became a Software Engineer at Snapchat

Jon Deng is a mentor who has helped several people break into tech. He is widely known as a software engineer at Snap Inc. Prior to tech, he was actually a platoon leader in the U.S. Army with 40 men reporting to him. He was a captain and a field artillery officer. In this episode, Jon walks us through his transition from the military into tech, his thought process, and how he essentially prepared himself for the coding bootcamp at Hack Reactor. He also talks about how he got through his...


#70: Dan Burrill - Director of Inside Sales at Twillio

Dan Burrill is not just the inside sales boss at Twilio but he's also a seasoned executive having spent time with other amazing companies including Box and Honeywell. A man who’s big on commitment and the power of listening, Dan admits coming to Twilio for one big reason - market opportunity. Twilio operates in the telecommunications industry that has been around for decades and it's fast-forwarding the space into the future. No wonder it’s his favorite among all the companies he’s worked at.


#69: Adam Braun - Founder of MissionU

Adam is a co-founder of MissionU where he is building a school for the 21st century. He is also a founder of Pencils of Promise that has built over 400 schools around the world and provided over 70k kids with an opportunity to learn! At MissionU, Adam is building a school for the 21st century! Millions of people are either themselves effected by college debt or know someone in their family who is effected by it. College loans are also the only kind of debt you cannot default on. To fix...


Nick Caldwell - VP of Engineering at Reddit

Nick Caldwell - VP of Engineering at Reddit by Breaking Into Startups


#67: Bangaly Kaba - Journey to a Product Manager Role at Facebook & Instagram

Bangaly Kaba shares his story on how he broke into product management from a non-traditional backgrounds in Education and Finance. Originally from the East Coast, Bangaly is now considered as one of the best PMs in the Bay Area. He previously worked at Facebook's growth team until landing his current product management role at Instagram. You probably first heard of Bangaly's name back on Episode 13 when Elaina Koros mentioned his name on the show referring to him as a great mentor. From...


#66: Rocio Lopez - A Product Designer & a DACA Recipient is Standing Up for All DREAMers

Rocio Lopez came to the U.S. as an undocumented minor and lived on the East Side of Palo Alto. For years, she and her family have gone through so much struggle until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA was signed by President Obama, a program granting temporary work permits to immigrants who came to the U.S. as children illegally. Recently, DACA, has been repealed by the Trump administration. And Rocio is one of the 800,000 DREAMers that are going to be affected by this...


#65: Zac Otero - From the Meat Factory's Floor to a 6-figure job as a Salesforce Admin

A Missouri-native, Zac Otero is a true testament that a four-year degree isn’t always an indicator of success. High school dropout, Zac Otero describes how he worked his way up the career ladder from working a blue-collared job working at a McDonalds, a popcorn factory, a grocery warehouse and a meat packing factory before landing a Salesforce admin role. He talks about how he got into this role, what Salesforce is, and how he learned through books before the online platform Trailhead came...


#63: Saron Yitbarek - Self-taught Engineer & Founder of CodeNewbie Podcast

#63: Saron Yitbarek - Self-taught Engineer & Founder of CodeNewbie Podcast by Breaking Into Startups


#62: Mandy Cole - VP of Sales of Startups such as Living Social, Zenefits and Stella & Dot

Born in Atlanta, Mandy Cole is the founder of The Cole Method, a consulting firm that helps startups that have reached $1 million revenue to start learning how to go from putting balls in the basket to playing basketball. It's very important for someone that successfully broke into a startup to understand what a high functioning sales organization looks like. Listen in to find out how a high-functioning sales organization is supposed to operate. Mandy is an expert at not just building...


#59: Dr. Carol Langlois - How Self Esteem & Empowerment are Changing the Ratio through Hackbright

Dr. Carol Langlois is a lifelong educator who used to run the business program at USF. She was the Dean at Mills College and founder of Higher Education Specialists. She did a dissertation in female self-esteem development that led her to creating a book called Girl Talk where she interviewed over 200 high school women on the subject. It was later turned into a play called Girl Talk: Teen Monologue Series. It's next performance is going to be on August 24. From a traditional education...


#58: Tiger Shen - An 18-Year-Old Software Engineer Who Worked at Square and Braintree

#58: Tiger Shen - An 18-Year-Old Software Engineer Who Worked at Square and Braintree by Breaking Into Startups


#57: Kelvin Lightner - Tax Consultant from Deloitte Become A Software Engineer at Intuit

Kelvin Lightner is a software engineer apprentice at Intuit and a graduate of Dev Bootcamp. Prior to tech, Kelvin has a double major in Legal Studies and Economics from UC Berkeley and he worked as a consultant at Deloitte. A true lover of logic, he jumped from management consulting to tech with this strong belief that the end does not justify the means. Kevin has drawn great support from #YesWeCode, an organization that helps people from underrepresented backgrounds break into the tech...


#56: Mike Slagh - How a US Navy Veteran Started a Company to Help Veterans Break Into Tech

Mike Slagh is the Founder of, a hiring pipeline for military veterans. Back in the military, Mike was a bomb technician and since finishing his service a little over a year ago, he started to create new pathways for veterans into various industries that didn't exist before. There will be about a million new veterans in the next five years, which means there are 20,000 military service members leaving every month. Mike’s greater purpose is to help bridge that gap between...


#55: Pavan Ravipati - Deep Dive on Software Engineer vs. Sales Engineer

An East Bay-local, Pavan Ravipati grew up in a family of tech people. He initially took Film and Media in college, landed some corporate sales roles, and worked his way up but he ultimately found his calling in tech. After taking some coding courses online, Pavan decided to join Hack Reactor and he eventually took part in the organization's Hacker in Residence Program. Currently, Pavan serves as a Solutions Engineer at GitHub, a leading open source software company.


#54: Erica Prenga - How a Graphic Design Major became an Experience Engineer at Adobe

Erica Prenga is currently an Experience Developer at Adobe. Aware that she had a different learning style, she decided to quit college after her fourth year of studying graphic design until she ultimately figured that going to a coding bootcamp was what she wanted to do and how she wanted to learn. Erica is a Dev Bootcamp graduate and in this episode, she shares how she approached her job hunt differently as well as a couple of negotiating techniques, which people wouldn’t have normally...


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