The Startup Foundations is a podcast where we talk to founders and entrepreneurs who have launched startups. We have conversations around the hits and misses of navigating the startup world and building a successful company from the ground up. Join me, Greg Miaskiewicz, the host of the Startup Foundations podcast as we dissect topics affecting the startup community and share founders' stories of how they landed their first customers and raised their first checks from investors.
Let the Startup Foundations podcast be the inspiration for your launch!
Jake Gibson, Founding Partner at Better Tomorrow Ventures
Jake Gibson is the founding partner at Better Tomorrow Ventures and formerly co-founder and COO of NerdWallet, which he started with Tim Chen back in 2010.
Jake talked to us about his professional journey, and what made him pursue a career in startups after spending a few years on a trading floor on Wall Street. As a COO and co-founder of NerdWallet, Jake has built a successful fin-tech business from the ground up. He shared some of the lessons learned along the way, including great SEO and content marketing tips.
Jake also discusses how he ended up leaving NerdWallet to eventually take up startup investing full time. This resulted in co-founding Better Tomorrow Ventures, an early stage VC fund focused on fintech companies, along with Sheel Mohnot. Jake talks about their recent investments and details the intricacies of funding overseas startups.
As a seasoned founder and investor Jake shares his insights about the common mistakes founders make when they pitch investors at the pre-seed stage, and explains the business model and incentives behind the venture capital funding.
Jake also shares tips regarding fundraising pitch tactics and general advice for founders who are just getting started.
Jeff Wilson aka Professor Dumpster, Co-founder & CEO of Jupe
Jeff Wilson, also known as Professor Dumpster, is a former HBCU environmental science professor and a serial tech entrepreneur. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Jupe, a hardware startup that creates flat packed shelters and software platforms that operate off grid.
As Professor Dumpster, Jeff has lived in a 33 sq. ft. modified trash dumpster as part of an environmental education and minimalist housing experiment. His work on sustainability and minimalism has been covered broadly by publications like Forbes, The Atlantic, NY Times, and The Washington Post.
Jeff talked to us about his “Dumpster Project” as well as his previous and current startup ventures. As an entrepreneur, Jeff has founded and built a micro housing startup, Kasita, that was sold off in 2018. Jeff’s latest company Jupe, has been a part of the recent Y Combinator batch, and Jeff also highlights what he learned from that experience.
In our conversation with Jeff we also discuss the details of how his current product works, the challenges of building a hardware company, picking the right co-founder, and… fundraising at the urinals.
Analisa Goodin, Founder & CEO of Catch&Release
Analisa Goodin is the CEO & Founder of Catch&Release, a software platform that streamlines the discovery and licensing of content from social media and the open web. The startup has recently raised $14 million series A from Accel Ventures.
Analisa, who has been working with ad agencies and brands for over a decade, talked to us about the hurdles of finding relevant and exciting content that's also ripe for licensing and commercial use, and how her company aims to simplify and automate a lot of the redundant steps in those processes.
Catch&Release has been a bootstrapping affair for a few years, before leaning into venture capital, and Analisa talks about a unique leverage this has created for her company. We also touch upon the differences in running a startup vs an ad-agency and what types of content are licensable through Catch&Release’s services.
Analisa also discusses the challenges she faced scaling her business, the shift from bootstrapping to venture capital, recruiting for startups, the future of digital content production and shares her advice to first time founders: fall in love with what you’re building!
Karn Saroya, Co-founder & CEO of Cover
Karn Saroya is the co-founder & CEO of Cover, a YC-backed insurance technology company that simplifies the process of getting property insurance and focuses on underserved communities.
Karn talked to us about the inefficiencies of the property insurance industry and explained how introducing things like financial transaction history and elements of behavioral data results in a better risk segmentation, fair prices, and in many cases - access to the insurance in general.
Karn also discusses how he left a career in finance for startups, and shares details of developing and selling StyleKick, a high-end fashion e-commerce business, to Shopify. Karn also details what made them decide to focus their efforts on young people and under-banked communities.
Karn shares his thoughts on building a diverse workplace and challenges that startups face during the hiring process. He also talks about building a business with his wife and how that influenced their fundraising process for Cover.
Sari Azout, Founder of Startupy & Investor at Level Ventures
This time on Startup Foundations, a conversation with Sari Azout, design-thinker, storyteller, angel investor, and founder of Startupy, a company building a community curated knowledge network for startup founders.
Sari started her career in finance after graduating from Brown University, and eventually transitioned to tech. She talked to us about the idea of psychological freedom, or lack of thereof, resulting from the attention-based revenue generation models in social media. Sari discusses new, innovative ways of monetizing writing, and how phenomenons like crowdfunding or NFTs could positively impact content and creators.
Sari also talks about the untapped potential of newsletters and writing on the internet, and shares examples of how she successfully monetizes her newsletter. Greg and Sari also discuss the regulatory side of the advertising-driven content distribution model, and how it can evolve in the upcoming years.
Sari sums up her perfect startup employee as someone who can wear many hats, be autonomous with alignment, and put the company and the team ahead of their own ego.
Emmanuel Bamfo, CEO & Co-founder of Globe
Emmanuel Bamfo is the CEO and Co-founder of Globe Inc, a Y Combinator-backed startup that enables property owners to rent out their spaces by the hour.
Manny chats about his entrepreneurial journey, including working for Linkedin, going through the acquisition process with Hitch, and founding his own startup Recharge, which provided hotel room rental by the hour. Due to problems with the supply side of business, Manny had to close down Recharge, despite having a dedicated customer base, and millions in funding and revenue. Manny eventually decided to iterate on his original idea for Recharge and founded Globe, a startup offering home rental by the hour.
Manny addresses the city of San Francisco threatening to shut down Globe and his mindset while building a home-sharing startup during a pandemic, having to go through many pivots and adversities.
He also discusses the co-founder matching, hurdles of terminating a company, and shares an exciting vision for what is next for Globe. Manny’s advice for first time founders? Relax...