Boston Speaks Up: Archiving the stories of inspiring people with connections to Boston, one interview at a time. Medium: https://medium.com/boston-speaks-up ; Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/boston-speaks-up/id1441158587?mt=2
086: Smoov Founder Tucker Cohen
Guest Tucker Cohen is the Founder & CEO of Smoov, an app that makes it easy for couples to split their expenses automatically before they have a shared bank account. Smoov has enjoyed a popular beta period in Boston for its ability to save people time, money and headaches.
Cohen is an entrepreneur with a range of experience on the west and east coasts, and grew to become a very active member of the Boston startup community in recent years. He is also an Web3 maxi as an early investor in Acala and Polkadot, as well spending time as a VC Scout for SHL Capital.
Prior to Smoov, Cohen spent time in various sales and growth roles helping early stage startups build and scale their sales processes and teams. He also served as a Sales Core Leader at Underscore VC. Of note, he built and scaled the go-to-market team at Breezeway as the Head of Sales.
In May 2021 Cohen started Smoov for the same reason most people start any venture – he had a deep desire to fix a problem that he was experiencing personally. It all started when he and his fiancé were sitting down after a month abroad in Madrid. During the trip they were spending time with family and going out to dinners and most meals. Once back in Boston, they were reviewing their various credit cards and expenses, using a spreadsheet to tally up the damage of who paid for what over the past month, and sending Venmo’s to each other to settle up. As they were going through this tedious process, naturally they were chatting and came to the conclusion that “this sucks... and there must be a better way.” The impetus for Smoov was born.
On this episode of Boston Speaks Up, we chat with Cohen about his past experiences, his recent move from Boston to LA and his plans to grow Smoov as it emerges from beta.
085: Underscore VC's Lily Lyman
Guest Lily Lyman is a General Partner at Underscore VC, a leading Boston venture capital firm known for its Underscore Core Community of proven business builders helping each other succeed. She is also a Board Director for the New England Venture Capital Association, MIT Sandbox Funding Board, and is a leader of the Boston All Raise chapter.
Lyman has a background as a founder, investor, and operator. She came to Underscore VC from Facebook, where she worked in product strategy focused on the international growth of core products including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.
Prior to Facebook, Lyman held a variety of strategy, operational, and entrepreneurial roles. Through it all, she has gained a truly global perspective, having lived and worked in more than 75 countries.
At Underscore VC, Lyman leads investments on Future of Work, AI/ML, Insuretech, Commerce, and more. With experience that spans the globe, she spends her time identifying investment opportunities and guiding startups that will define new digital categories, reshape industries, and change the world.
On this episode of Boston Speaks Up, we chat with Lyman about her lessons from the past, her bets today and her predictions for the future.
084: Miranda Perez of HBCU Founders Initiative
Miranda Perez is a cross-topic multimedia journalist on a mission to highlight and elevate marginalized voices. Evolving beyond the newsroom, she recently joined the team at HBCU Founders Initiative, a nonprofit organization that is engaging rising HBCU students and alumni interested in pursuing entrepreneurship.
For those unfamiliar with the term HBCU, it refers to any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.
Perez is playing a critical role supporting entrepreneurs participating in HBCU Founder Initiative’s Pre-Accelerator, an 8-week program for early-stage founders who are past the ideation stage and ready to validate a problem and build a minimum viable product.
Beyond her role at HBCUFI, Perez still writes about business, tech, politics, social issues, fashion, and entertainment, among other topics. She also consults with businesses navigating societal and technological change.
She grew up as an inner-city kid in Chicago. She describes school “as an escape for a lot of the hardships I faced growing up.” She pushed herself academically and became the first person in her family to graduate from college, earning a Mass Media Arts degree from Clark Atlanta University, a top 25 nationally ranked HBCU and Black Ivy League school.
During college, Miranda served as the Editor-In-Chief of CAU's campus newspaper, The Panther, and as the President/Editor-In-Chief of CAU's online magazine, Her Campus. During that time, Miranda had her first national byline in The Nation as a sophomore in college.
These accomplishments won the attention of editors across the country, and Perez earned and held editor/reporter roles at BostInno, Insider and BuiltIn upon graduation. She’s also appeared on programs such as MSNBC discussing education equity for Hispanic Americans.
In this episode, we speak with Perez about the challenges she’s overcome in life, and her evolution from a cross-topic multimedia journalist into a dynamic branding and storytelling consultant.
083: Scott Ernst, Drift CEO
Guest Scott Ernst is an entrepreneur who’s been at the intersection of market research, commerce and technology for three decades. He was building startups on Newbury Street in Boston long before this recent wave of VCs and startups began moving into the Back Bay area.
After stints at multiple startups in the 1990s, Ernst was a founding management team member of Compete in the 2000s and helped the company grow to a $100 million revenue business resulting in the 2008 acquisition by MIllward Brown Digital/WPP’s Kantar.
In June 2022, he made headlines for his appointment as CEO of Boston-based Drift, a marketing technology trailblazer best known for single-handedly introducing conversational marketing to the market. Ernst joined his friend, company co-founder and long-time CEO, David Cancel, who stepped into the role of Executive Chairman.
Ernst most recently served as CEO of Tubular Labs, a social video analytics company headquartered in San Francisco. Prior to that, he was the CEO of Macromill, a Tokyo-based global marketing research business, which he took through an IPO with an enterprise value of over $1 billion.
In this episode, Ernst discusses the future of Drift, OG Boston tech, his time in Japan, taking a company from early stage to IPO, how San Francisco and Boston compare, the future of marketing and much more.
082: Kristen Craft of Silicon Valley Bank
Guest Kristen Craft is a proven entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in enterprise software and digital marketing. In her role as Director of Early-Stage Startups at Silicon Valley Bank, she’s become well known around the Boston startup community for her passionate support of founders.
Craft has helped build several prominent brands in Boston and is committed to supporting companies with excellent cultures and strong values. Her past experience includes leadership roles at Animalz, Tettra, Ovia Health Wistia, and Transparent Language, as well as launching her own start-up, Brown Box Storage.
A life-long learner, Craft earned her BA from Brown University, and earned a Masters of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Upon graduation, Craft decided she wasn’t ready to leave the classroom just yet, so she went on to MIT’s Sloan School of Management to earn her MBA.
In this episode, Craft discusses the various challenges entrepreneurs face when first building their startups (and how you can avoid them) and the importance of following the proper steps when starting a business. We also explore her Harvard, MA roots, her early jobs as a teenager and our mutual passion for reading with our children.
BONUS: Zach Servideo on The Repivot Project Podcast
*Bonus Episode* Boston Speaks Up host Zach Servideo joins Deirdre Sartorelli on The Repivot Project podcast, which explores the art and science of change. Zach discusses: how Value Creation Labs is navigating the current economic downturn; how to select the right people to collaborate with; the value in consulting with different customer archetypes; his company's unique approach to brand development; and his silver linings playbook coming off his achilles tendon tear/surgery this year.
Well worth the listen... EVERY TIME!
I’ve been listening to this podcast since episode 1 and felt compelled to share my thoughts. Zach and the BSU team clearly put a great deal of time and thought into this show and it shows. I can’t believe this content is free!
Favorite Podcast Yet
Listening to Zach interview guests makes me feel more connected to Boston! Specifically, his podcast with his brother, Kiel helps make the pandemic that we are all going through feel a little less isolating.
Zach has a knack for going deep into the stories of his guests - whether it be a VC, entrepreneur, or business executive.
The beat part of Boston Speaks Up is that it not only covers the local Boston business scene but also brings insights to anyone looking to learn from experienced experts in business.