This is MPods
Listen to the stories of the brilliant alumni—innovators, founders, and investors—who have emerged from the University of Michigan, hosted by two students from UMich, Nora and Lyn.
Connect with us
Michigan alumni interested in being on the pod can reach out to us at email@example.com.
E8: Matt Garratt - Ross MBA '08, General Partner of USVP, Ex CRV, Salesforce Ventures
In this episode, we are very honored to talk with Matt, General Partner at USVP, who has an engineering foundation from Purdue and an MBA/MS from the University of Michigan. Matt has seamlessly transitioned from a technical expert to a venture capitalist, first cutting his teeth at Battery Ventures before becoming the founding member of Salesforce Ventures' global team. His acumen in enterprise tech investing is unmatched, as evidenced by his successful tenure at CRV, where he backed notable companies like Power Finance.
Currently at USVP, Matt is at the vanguard of integrating AI with enterprise SaaS, leveraging his extensive background to identify and nurture the next wave of innovation. This discussion includes his pivotal career shifts, his investment philosophy in data-centric companies, and the values that have guided his impressive journey in venture capital. Join us to uncover the insights of a leader who continues to shape the technological landscape.
E7: Cindy Padnos - UMich Residential College, Founder and Managing Director of Illuminate Ventures
In this episode, we sit down with Cindy Padnos, a distinguished University of Michigan alumna and the trailblazing founder and Managing Partner of Illuminate Ventures. With over 25 years in the tech industry, Cindy shares a treasure trove of insights from her multifaceted career—spanning roles as an entrepreneur, management consultant, corporate executive, and now a visionary investor.
Cindy delves into her journey from Michigan to the peak of venture capitalism, exploring how her academic background fueled her professional prowess. She recounts the genesis of Illuminate Ventures in 2009, revealing the confluence of experiences that inspired its creation. Cindy also reflects on the critical interplay between founding a company and investing in one, discussing how her entrepreneurial ventures shaped her investment strategies.
Cindy opens up about a setback that morphed into a powerful learning moment, influencing her future decisions. She articulates the unique investment thesis that sets Illuminate Ventures apart from other early-stage VCs and concludes with heartfelt guidance for the young and ambitious—especially those at her alma mater in Michigan.
Join us to listen to Cindy's inspiring journey!
E5: David Horowitz - Ross '98, Founder &CEO of Touchdown Ventures, Ross Faculty
David Horowitz, CEO and Founder of Touchdown Ventures, manages venture capital funds for corporations like Kellogg, TEGNA, and Allegion. Before founding Touchdown, he spent nearly 15 years at Comcast Ventures as a founding partner, focusing on digital media, ad tech, and fintech, among others. His investments include Entropic, Invite Media (acquired by Google), and Rubicon Project. He also co-founded Genacast Ventures with Comcast Ventures and started his career at Bear Stearns. Additionally, Horowitz initiated the South Jersey Tech Collective and holds a BBA with highest honors from the University of Michigan.
In this engaging episode, he delves into the journey of founding Touchdown Ventures, drawing on his rich experience in corporate venture capital (CVC). He articulates the nuances distinguishing CVC from traditional venture capital, providing valuable insights for young adults, particularly students, looking to navigate the complex world of venture investing.
E6: Danny Dang - Ross + CS '15, Ex Snowflake, Ex Salesforce, Angel Investor
Danny Dang is an alumnus of the University of Michigan with dual degrees in Business and Computer Engineering. Danny's career arc is a compelling tale of versatility and achievement, stretching from the realms of big tech to the vibrant startup ecosystem and into the world of angel investing. His role as a full-stack software Engineer and leadership as president of the Michigan Ross Bay Area Alumni Club underscores his deep engagement with both technology and the community. Currently a CFA Level III Exam Candidate, Danny's story offers invaluable insights and guidance for students and professionals navigating the ever-evolving landscapes of technology and investment. Let's explore the experiences, learnings, and personal wisdom that shaped Danny's impressive career path.
In this insightful episode, Danny Dang offered his valuable perspective on the pivotal decision of pursuing a career in big tech versus venturing into the dynamic world of startups post-graduation. He delved into his philosophy and approach towards angel investing, drawing from his experiences over the years. As the former President of the Ross Alumni Club in the Bay Area, Danny reflected on the impact of this role. He also shared his recent bold move of leaving Snowflake to venture into developing his own project, highlighting his entrepreneurial spirit. Additionally, Danny emphasized the often-underestimated importance of sales skills and effective communication, especially for engineers. We're grateful to Danny for his time and insights in this episode and wish him all the best on his entrepreneurial journey.
E4: Samir Kaul - Biology '95, Founding General Partner at Khosla Ventures
Samir is a Founding Partner and Managing Director at Khosla Ventures, where his interests lie in health, sustainability, food, and advanced technology. He led the firm’s investments in multiple companies that have had successful exits via IPOs or acquisitions, including Vicarious Surgical, View, Guardant Health, Granular, SLD, NanoH2O, Nutanix, Oscar, Quantumscape, Iora Health, and Raxium (Google). In addition, he has led investments in Impossible Foods, Mojo Vision, Primer, OpenStore, Connie Health, Statespace, Varda Space Industries, Rightway Health, Mirvie, and Ultima Genomics, among others.
Previously, Samir spent five years at Flagship Ventures, where he started and invested in early-stage biotech companies. While there, he helped co-found Helicos BioSciences with Stanford’s Stan Lapidus and Steve Quake, which was a leader in developing single-molecule sequencing instruments to revolutionize personalized medicine. He was also the founding CEO of Codon Devices, for which he raised Series A financing, built the technical and advisory teams, and booked significant revenue in the company’s first year of operation. His other investments include Epitome (Millipore), LS9 (Renewable Energy Group), and Morphotek (Eisai).
Previously, Samir led the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative at Craig Venter’s Institute for Genomic Research. Under his direction, the cost-efficient project was completed early and led to publication in the December 2000 issue of Nature.
Samir is an alumnus of the University of Michigan. He graduated in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in biology.
E3: Jessica Liang - Ross + Polisci '23, Founder of Steadfeather Capital
In this episode, we invited Jessica as our guest speaker. She is an outstanding individual who graduated from Yale University and completed an MBA program from the Michigan Ross School of Business with a dual degree in public policy. She is currently working for a search fund based in San Francisco. Based on her outstanding working experiences and enthusiasm for exploring different areas, Jessica made full use of all the resources to take part in internships, dive deeply into or take a sneak peek at the search fund, and also started Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Club, where she specifically serves as the president and encourages students to find an alternative way to set up a business.
In this clip, Jessica shared her enjoyable studying experience in Ross, the development of the ETA club, and how these influenced her later decision to start a search fund.
If you enjoy our podcast, please follow us and share it with your friends and family. Your support fuels our motivation to enhance this podcast, and we hope you find it enjoyable. Michigan alumni interested in being part of the podcast, feel free to reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org! We are excited to start the journey with you!