Listen to conversations between Madrona investors and growth team members and entrepreneurs, founders, and startup personalities who talk about some of the key moments in building a company. Designed to give would-be founders and others interested in working with or for startups a view into the struggle and the lessons learned, these conversations are informal and informative.
Based in Seattle, Madrona invests mainly in early-stage information technology-based companies. These conversations also highlight why building a company in the Seattle region is so appealing to many founders.
Magnify's Josh Crossman on Incubating a Startup and Bringing AI to the Customer Experience
In this episode, investor Elisa La Cava talks with Josh Crossman, CEO of Magnify, which was incubated at Madrona Venture Labs. Josh was actually recruited by Madrona Venture Labs to help launch a business that would bring AI to the customer experience. He was quickly persuaded and signed on in 2021, spinning out of MVL in less than three months with a $6 million seed round.
Josh and Elisa discussed the incubation process and how Magnify's intelligent application to improve customer retention, expansion, and adoption is solving one of the biggest pain points of the customer experience — focusing on and understanding the needs of every single user. They also dive into finding product market fit and the importance of incorporating AI/ML into a product from the very beginning. I'll go ahead and hand it over to Elisa to dive into all this and so much more.
IA40 Spotlight: A-Alpha Bio's David Younger on machine learning in biotech, building cross-functional teams
This week on Founded & Funded, Partner Chris Picardo is talking with A-Alpha Bio Co-founder and CEO David Younger for our first Intelligent Application 40 Spotlight episode of 2023. We announced the 2022 IA40 winners in October, and A-Alpha was the first biotech company to make the list, which was no surprise to us. As one of our portfolio companies, we know the work David and his team are doing at the intersections of biological and data/computer sciences will change the world — but having a group of judges agree with us makes us all the more certain.
Protein interactions govern just about all of biology and A-Alpha uses synthetic biology and machine learning to measure and engineer protein-protein interactions, speeding up a traditionally slow wet lab process. The company's proprietary platform — AlphaSeq — uses genetically engineered cells to experimentally measure millions of protein-protein interactions simultaneously, generating enormous amounts of data to inform the discovery and development of therapeutics.
It is within that enormous amount of data that the company is adding to every day that so many answers will start to be found as the company is able to use machine learning to train predictive models and begin predicting new antibody sequences that could be effective against different viruses and diseases — improving the way that we are able to discover drugs.
Chris and David dive into that future that A-Alpha is working toward and so much more — the power of data engineering, building business models around data, building cross-functional teams, having both tech and biotech-focused investors. It is an episode you won't want to miss.
IA40 Spotlight: dbt Labs Founder Tristan Handy on the modern data stack, partnerships, and creating community
In this week's IA40 Spotlight episode of Founded & Funded, Madrona partner Jon Turow talks with dbt Labs Founder and CEO Tristan Handy. Here at Madrona, we just announced our 2022 IA40, and dbt Labs is one of our two-time winners. The company has positioned itself as the industry standard for data transformation in the cloud, and it raised $222 million at the beginning of the year, which was led by Altimeter, but Databricks and Snowflakes both participated in the round, further solidifying dbt's place and the modern data stack.
Jon and Tristan dive into the concept of epistemic truth, how the modern data stack has significantly improved the frontier of what's possible in data, the collaboration that needs to happen between data analysts, analytics engineers, and data scientists, the right way to use partnerships, and how the best way to try and create a community around your product is to not try and create a community, but you'll have to listen to Tristan's explanation.
Data Visionary Bob Muglia on the Modern Data Stack and Lessons from Snowflake
In this week's episode which is leading up to our Intelligent Applications Summit on November 2nd, Soma speaks with Bob Muglia. Bob has thought deeply about the Modern Data Stack and they speak about it here - what is needed in the data stack to enable Intelligent Applications (or data driven apps as Bob calls them) and the opportunities for new companies to innovate. Bob is also well known as the CEO that took Snowflake from a promising application for the public cloud to success by focusing on the problem of scaling a data warehouse in the cloud, and building product and sales teams that could win the hearts and minds of their loyal customers. Bob talks here about the early days after he joined Snowflake and what he did to get a product to market, how partnering with the big public cloud providers worked- and had it's challenging moments. It's a great view into how both Soma and Bob are thinking about the future of enterprise data and intelligent applications.
IA40 Spotlight: Fivetran CEO George Fraser on Data Replication and Connectors
This week Madrona Investor Sabrina Wu talks with Fivetran Co-founder and CEO George Fraser. Fivetran is fundamentally a data replication company — that’s how George explains it. But the company actually started out trying to solve a completely different problem when it was founded in 2012 and pivoted to strictly data integration in 2015 after multiple customers started asking for help. But in attacking that problem differently than it had ever been done before — by only focusing on replicating people’s data into the desired destination w/o getting sucked into any of the workflows that the user intended to do on the other side — they’ve come out as a leader in the space. Fivetran landed a $565M series D last year and made two acquisitions. And – it was named one of our top 40 Intelligent Applications in 2021. In this IA40 spotlight episode, Sabrina and George not only dive into the story behind Fivetran and how it has taken time and patience to get to where they are now. But Sabrina also gets some hot takes on the modern data stack, reverse ETL, query federation and why Fivetran doesn’t open source. He also has some great advice about coming up with a company name, but you’ll have to listen to get it, so I’ll hand it over to Sabrina to dive in.
Stack Co-Founder and CEO Will Rush on Teen Crypto Investing
This week, Investor Aseem Datar is talking with Will Rush, co-founder and CEO of Stack, a teen crypto platform to educate a young crypto-curious generation — and their parents — about responsible investing. After working at a company, building a banking app for teens, Will took his decade-long experience in securities and finance and applied it to crypto and Web3. He saw the excitement and curiosity that teens had for crypto and knew he could apply his experience to create a world of responsible teen crypto investing.
Stack has managed to balance education and access for both parents and their teens in a way that the younger generation is actually appreciating and connecting with. And Will is maniacally focused on the education portion. Not only because he is a soon-to-be parent himself, but because in what he calls the Wild West of Web3 and crypto, he says somebody needs to be the good guy. To help continue that project, Stack just landed $2.7 million in funding to continue developing its platform. And Will's advice for every founder — "You need to have slime on your face" — a reference most of us millennials will understand, but you'll have to listen to see how Double Dare relates to launching a startup.
Insights on building a company
Like the Seattle flavor of these conversations with people who have built companies. Great insights!
Please speak closer to the mic.
I'd give it a 5 but either the host isn't close enough to the mic or the guest isn't close enough to the mic.
Great podcast and insight but can the people who run this podcast please speak closer to the microphone or turn up the volume on their side? My headphones are full blast and can barely hear anything. Would be 5 stars if I could hear it all.