21 episodes

The Zero Prime Podcast with Pete Soderling explores the early stories of top startups as seen through the eyes of their engineer-founders. In each episode we uncover insights on what it takes to start a company as an engineer in the words of the founders themselves. From the most cutting edge infrastructure companies to the newest trends in developer tooling, we introduce you to the engineer-founder personalities behind the up and coming software startups that you can’t afford to ignore.

Zero Prime Podcast Data Council

    • Technology

The Zero Prime Podcast with Pete Soderling explores the early stories of top startups as seen through the eyes of their engineer-founders. In each episode we uncover insights on what it takes to start a company as an engineer in the words of the founders themselves. From the most cutting edge infrastructure companies to the newest trends in developer tooling, we introduce you to the engineer-founder personalities behind the up and coming software startups that you can’t afford to ignore.

    E21: The Power of Pricing with Alvaro Morales of Orb

    E21: The Power of Pricing with Alvaro Morales of Orb

    In this episode, Pete speaks with Alvaro Morales, the co-founder and CEO of Orb, who shares his journey from being an engineer to becoming the founder of a flexible billing engine for modern software pricing. 
    Alvaro traces his path from Lima, Peru to San Francisco, discussing the rise of startups in his home city as well as his early engineering experiences at Yahoo, Palantir and Asana.  His early days founding Orb were not without challenges, especially when it came to signing up customers and building trust. However, Orb’s customer-centric and collaborative approach helped them build strong relationships and turn early customers into champions. 
    Pete and Alvaro also discuss the shift to usage-based pricing in the AI world and how Orb supports customers in implementing these pricing schemes. Listen in for a fantastic conversation!

    Highlights:
    [00:45] - Alvaro discussed his origins in Lima and what the tech world is like in Peru.
    [3:36] - We dig into what Alvaro learned from early engineering internships at Yahoo, Palantir and Asana.
    [6:55] - Alvaro shares the key insight that led him to start Orb.
    [10:16] - We discuss encouraging flexibility and experimentation of pricing and any downsides it can create.
    [12:27] - I ask Alvaro how he worked with design partners and started signing early customers.
    [17:42] - We talk about who was involved in their customer-acquisition and relationship building conversations.
    [18:20] - Alvaro shares insights into usage-based pricing and how it applies to the AI world.
    [22:35] - We discuss the biggest challenges in transitioning from engineer-founder to CEO.



    👉 👉 Don't forget to join us at Data Council Austin - where hundreds of data geeks, founders & investors join each other in building the future of data.

    • 24 min
    E20: Building Sustainable Businesses in the Tech Industry with Craig McLuckie

    E20: Building Sustainable Businesses in the Tech Industry with Craig McLuckie

    In this enlightening episode, I have the privilege of hosting Craig McLuckie, a tech industry veteran who has made significant contributions to the cloud computing industry and is currently the Co-founder & CEO of stacklok. We begin by exploring his journey from Microsoft to Google, where he co-authored Kubernetes, a pivotal project that has shaped the industry.  We also delve into his post-Google venture, Heptio, and the strategic planning that led to its success. Craig offers valuable advice on building and commercializing open source projects, highlighting the importance of understanding the trade-off between reduced activation energy and value extraction. Finally, we discuss stacklok, Craig's latest company focused on enhancing the security and sustainability of open source projects.  This episode is chock full of insights for anyone in the tech industry, especially those interested in cloud computing, open source or GTM strategy.

    Highlights:
    [1:10] - Understanding the origins of Kubernetes
    [2:38] - Exploring distribution and GTM challenges, insights and concerns
    [5:49] - How the competition evolved in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service landscape
    [7:08] - Diving deeper into startups and GTM strategies based on Craig’s experience at Heptio
    [10:47] - Advice to founders building OSS projects who are looking to commercialize
    [13:11] - Thoughts on optimal sales/engineering/product teams in seed stage companies
    [16:16] - Digging into stacklok, what Craig and his team are building and why
    [23:00] - Craig elaborates on his quote “Let’s make infrastructure really boring”
    👉 👉 Don't forget to join us at Data Council Austin - where hundreds of data geeks, founders & investors join each other in building the future of data.

    • 26 min
    E19: Overcoming Self-Doubt to Become a Founder with Erik Bernhardsson

    E19: Overcoming Self-Doubt to Become a Founder with Erik Bernhardsson

    In this episode, I chat with Erik Bernhardsson, co-founder and CEO of Modal, about his journey from Spotify engineer to startup CTO to startup founder. Erik takes us back to his early days as a software engineer and shares how his transformative years at Spotify ignited his startup mindset. We discuss the challenges he faced during his transition from engineer to founder, including overcoming self-doubt and stepping into a leadership role. Erik also talks about his experience building open source projects and what he's built so far at Modal, outlining challenges they've encountered and what he's most proud of to-date. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in tech entrepreneurship and personal growth.

    Highlights:
    [00:40] - Erik shares about his early jobs and how they shaped his career and future desire to be a founder
    [2:05] - When Erik realized he wanted to be a founder (or gained the confidence to be one)
    [3:55] - Diving into the people management side of building founder confidence
    [5:50] - How open source projects can aid in building your technical leadership skills 
    [7:55] - Erik shares his thoughts on what can be done with data and how data is key to successful consumer products
    [10:15] - Paradigms and pitfalls about the open source world
    [13:52] - Digging into Modal, why Erik started Modal and what he’s most proud of so far
    [17:30] - Figuring out where the MVP line is in startup engineering
    [21:33] - Differentiating yourself with stronger moats
    [22:17] - Erik shares the most surprising thing about becoming a CEO
    👉 👉 Don't forget to join us at Data Council Austin - where hundreds of data geeks, founders & investors join each other in building the future of data.

    • 23 min
    E18: Data Tool Disruption: Barry McCardel on Building Hex

    E18: Data Tool Disruption: Barry McCardel on Building Hex

    In this episode, we chat with Barry McCardel, Co-Founder and CEO of Hex, as he shares how honing his leadership skills in college paved the way for his journey to becoming a founder. Barry discusses building his team with former Palantir colleagues and Hex's emphasis on design from its inception. He shares insights on Hex's rapid feature development, scaling challenges and his vision for the future of data tooling. The episode concludes with Barry's thoughts on emerging trends in data, infrastructure and AI.

    Highlights
    [0:30]: Barry's introduction via Hex's seed round lead investor.
    [01:15]: Barry's journey leading to his role as a founder, shaped by key experiences.
    [03:25]: The insights that sparked Barry's creation of Hex.
    [04:27]: Why Hex embodies the ultimate product Barry wished for at every career juncture.
    [05:47]: Barry's formation of his founding team, reuniting with former Palantir colleagues.
    [08:01]: Maintaining a strong focus on design in the early days of Hex and why branding and design is critical.
    [13:52]: Unveiling Hex 3.0 with its "magic" features, many powered by LLMs.
    [14:24]: Challenges faced while building internet-scale features with LLMs.
    [18:17]: Barry's vision for Hex and its future in the industry.



    👉 👉 Don't forget to join us at Data Council Austin - where hundreds of data geeks, founders & investors join each other in building the future of data.

    • 24 min
    E17: The Visionary Behind Vercel with Guillermo Rauch

    E17: The Visionary Behind Vercel with Guillermo Rauch

    In this episode, we explore Guillermo Rauch's path from a teen hacker in Argentina to the founder of Vercel. We touch on his engineering roots, the role of open-source in his success and Vercel's creation to simplify deployments with Next.js. We compare Vercel's innovations to the evolution of electric cars, discuss the significance of speed in edge computing and peek into the future of building data-intensive applications with the help of AI.
    Guillermo, balancing roles as an engineer and CEO, reveals how he's shaping Vercel to develop products that let developers focus on their passions. The episode concludes with insights into AI's impact on Vercel and the soon-to-be-launched V0.dev.


    Highlights
    [01:01] - We discuss how Guillermo's parents' humble beginnings, their engineering backgrounds and exposure to technology early led him to the world of open source and working in engineering from an early age.
    [03:32] - Guillermo shares how the open source community has helped him and how it has shaped his career.
    [05:50] - Guillermo's insights on what it takes to build a modern infrastructure company, having been involved in many open source projects throughout his career.
    [09:08] - Guillermo details how the strategy behind Next.js began in real time.
    [13:00] - We talk about whether edge computing was around when Guillermo was building Next.js and how Vercel fits into the contemporary landscape of edge computing.
    [22:10] -  Why React and Next.js have unlocked all kinds of data-intensive applications and how  the flexibility in today's environment enables users to pick the right backend for each problem.
    [23:35] - Guillermo's experiences as an engineer CEO: understanding his audience and building better products and features that developers truly care about
    [26:06] - How Guillermo is still able to "scratch his engineering itch" while serving as a Founder/CEO.
    [27:58] - Guillermo's views on how AI will impact Vercel and how that ties with Vercel's overarching mission 
    👉 👉 Don't forget to join us at Data Council Austin - where hundreds of data geeks, founders & investors join each other in building the future of data.

    • 32 min
    E16: The Future of AI in the Workplace -- A Conversation with Aaron Lee of Smith.ai

    E16: The Future of AI in the Workplace -- A Conversation with Aaron Lee of Smith.ai

    In this episode, Aaron Lee, Founder & CEO of Smith.ai joins me to discuss a variety of topics. First, we delve into the innovative strategies of tech giants like Google, and explore the future of AI in business. Then we journey back to the early days at Smith.ai, where AI was used to enhance productivity. Aaron shares a multitude of learnings from his time founding RedBeacon and then serving as CTO of Home Depot following its acquisition of RedBeacon. Next, we dig into the complexities of teaching machines to understand context, tone and nuance, and the potential for AI to develop emotional intelligence. We also explore the 'human in the loop' model, where AI efficiency is combined with human reasoning for maximum impact. Finally, we get to know Aaron a bit better through our Quantum Round of rapid-fire questions.

    Highlights
    [1:15] - Aaron walks us through his professional background, particularly digging into how his time at Google impacted him
    [2:27] - We speak high-level about the idea for Smith.ai
    [3:00] - Diving into how founding his first company impacted Aaron’s founding of smith.ai and how his customer learnings informed smith.ai
    [4:34] - Technical challenges in building RedBeacon and what interested Aaron about starting a marketplace company when he did. Aaron shares how necessary it is to balance supply and demand at marketplace companies.
    [6:12] - Considering verticals as well as going deep vs. wide when building marketplace companies, and then understanding what core tech will enable the marketplace you’ve decided to create
    [8:37] - Matching components as core values in marketplace companies and how the quality of those matches is key to being successful. The matching in the beginning requires going deep in one vertical to start before expanding further.
    [10:27] - The story of Home Depot acquiring RedBeacon and Aaron’s time as CTO at Home Depot plus the lessons he took away
    [12:50] - How scale impacts your perspective on how multiple audiences are interacting with your software and the need for ease-of-use when you have a massive number of people needing to use your software
    [15:06] - The origin story of Smith.ai and the core problem they were trying to solve as well as where they saw opportunities
    [17:36] - In the early days of smith.ai (before all of the advances in LLMs), exploring how far were the team was able to get in removing challenges for customers using AI as a copilot vs. an actual participant in calls
    [19:14] - What AI excels at vs. what humans excel at when it comes to using AI in customer service applications
    [20:12] - Sharing thoughts on AI’s ability to develop human-like emotions/EQ and if there’s specific architecture that can help solve that problem
    [23:02] - Exploring the human-in-the-loop idea and the power and limitations of AI systems as well as how to pitch software vs. services companies or companies that combine the two
    [28:40] - Quantum Round of rapid-fire questions
    👉 👉 Don't forget to join us at Data Council Austin - where hundreds of data geeks, founders & investors join each other in building the future of data.

    • 30 min

Top Podcasts In Technology

Waveform: The MKBHD Podcast
Vox Media Podcast Network
The AI in Business Podcast
Daniel Faggella
Apple Events (video)
Apple
Apple Events (audio)
Apple
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Lenny Rachitsky
Lex Fridman Podcast
Lex Fridman

You Might Also Like