33 episodes

Bringing you stories from entrepreneurs who are in the midst of building their business. Unfiltered and real, we talk about the problems they are facing right now, explore their industries from a ground-level perspective, and share advice you can actually use.

StartupJab StartupJab

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Bringing you stories from entrepreneurs who are in the midst of building their business. Unfiltered and real, we talk about the problems they are facing right now, explore their industries from a ground-level perspective, and share advice you can actually use.

    SJ33 – The Importance of Stepping Away

    SJ33 – The Importance of Stepping Away

    We’re back from our quasi-planned hiatus, and delving deep inside Jason’s mind as he plans an even bigger break to process existential issues, walk hundreds of miles, and eat lots of food. We also talk external validation and intrinsic motivation.

    Jason’s not leaving quite yet, which gives us some time to find a guest host before he does. Submissions welcome.

    On the other hand, our producer, Katie, is on break now, and in the absence of her fantastic show notes and quality control, you get some hilariously bad machine transcription. [Help us.]

    Robot Transcript

    WELCOME TO START OF JAD.  Today we are going to take a trip inside Jason’s mind and figure out what causes him to make these crazy decisions.  With his life.  You know it’s a little messy in there.  I probably should clean up that from some leftover beer bottles from porches past those those those go on there was like that without a doubt you are welcome to start up jab.  Hello ladies and gentlemen welcome to Episode thirty three.  Of start of chat.  I am one of your host Jason Ellis with me as always the.  Well let’s just call it what it is the.  Six o’clock to minute and.  T. got pins.  T..  How I am a trend.  Is that you know old.  Or I have or will definitely more beard.  OK.  Without a doubt.  Yeah.  You know I have a patchy sad beard.  That.  I would wish upon anybody.  Whereas yours is full and normal like a.  And I don’t now.  You know.  And I shaved it when I was in Puerto Rico.  You can’t miss yes.  Well we’re.  We’re back after a brief hiatus between vacations and trips to South by Southwest and all manner of ridiculousness in between.  What’s been an interesting couple of weeks.  All.  Here in the U.S. And this.  You have gotten yourself into some interesting.  Future plans.  Yes and in the I guess we shared which type of thing that absolutely.  Yeah.  What team is alluding to is that after some discussion and.  Some introspection I’ve actually decided that after two.  Two years of overachiever and.  Depending on how you interpret it six months of my.  Merger.  Is brilliant.  I decided to step away.  And do some travel and start to figure out.  I don’t.  I don’t want to call it I guess my next phase.  I think earlier for do it is as.  Applying a.  A punctuation mark on this part.  Feels about right.  I think.  Not so much of it’s a semicolon or a comma are period or what but it’s.  Yeah certainly a question mark.  Yeah.  It’s my favorite touch indeed.  Yeah I so.  I don’t even know where to begin but I guess I’ll start by talking about that.  You know.  I actually like a preface by saying that this has nothing to do with brilliant as a company.  I think it’s actually very important that I take a moment and actually.  Preface the whole thing by saying that this isn’t a reflection of my feelings on the company or where it’s been.  This is entirely selfish.  You’re not just flipping tables and being like yeah.  No I mean even if I did feel that way.  I would probably be limited to more of a well we just decided to go our separate ways or some other coded phrase like that.  No.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work they’re doing and I think anybody who’s listening.  Who you know.  Is looking for marketing support or.  Designer technology products help people to go to.  But it was interesting you know we heard.  The company.  The two companies together.  Towards the end of last year.  And in the last couple months it’s been the kind of thing that is just doesn’t quite fit.  So I start to think about why it doesn’t fit and I start to think about why.  I’m not happy.  You know getting up in the morning and having that.

    • 30 min
    SJ32 – How to Break Into the World of Startups

    SJ32 – How to Break Into the World of Startups

    Time to take it back to the beginning! In the latest episode of Startup Jab, we answer some questions on how to get started in the world of start-ups, from soup to nuts, and what you need to know about this quickly-evolving industry. Start your engines.

    Links and Highlights:

    “I’ve won business plan competitions. What kind of jobs can I get?” (02:03)

    * “If you win business plan competitions and this stuff is embedded in your DNA, should you just dive right in?”

    * “If what you really enjoy is that early-stage stuff of doing customer validation and the early interviews and experiments, you may not be that excited about the company once you get to product-market fit.”

    * “Yeah, but Teague. THE MONEY.”

    * “It’s the myth of overnight success: Have idea. Build company. Sell to Facebook for $100M.”

    * “There are jobs where being able to move something forward when no one else believes in it is a valuable skill, and there are jobs where not being able to get other people to believe in it in the beginning is just doing to doom you to failure from the start.” Know yourself well enough to figure out which job is for you.

    “Can parents be angel investors?” (11:25)

    * “Technically, sure… your friends, your other family, your professors, if they have the money. It’s not so much ‘can they be,’ but SHOULD they be?”

    * “Typically we talk about that as a friends and family round, as opposed to an angel round. With startup money being easier to come by in the last fives years, people have been raising larger rounds up front, but as we start to see a bit of price correction and startup funding becomes a little more scarce, we might see people going back to doing a friends and family round first, to prove the idea before you put it in front of an angel investor.”

    * “It can be really stressful if your business isn’t going well and you go home for Thanksgiving, and your uncle says, “SO. How are sales?”

    * “There’s an obligation to make sure friends and family know what they’re getting into.”

    “How should I prepare for a Skype interview at a startup?” (19:35)

    * Have good lighting, check your sound, and DEFINITELY check your Internet connection.

    * “There’s nothing that will take you out of an interview more than technical glitches while you’re trying to have a conversation with someone who wants to hire you.”

    * “Get dressed up for the interview not necessarily because of how you will appear, but how it will make you feel… When you’re sitting at the desk, wearing your interview outfit, feeling confident and professional, you sound different and people pick up on that.”

    “What are some options to work for myself, with low startup costs, as a college student?” (27:10)

    * In college, Jason and Teague both made beer money by fixing peoples’ internet at home and setting up VPNs for them and taking care of email problems and that kind of stuff. Air high five!

    * “Take a skill you already have and try to sell it. It will teach you about what people are willing to pay for.”

    * “The cost associated with a service business can be almost nothing, and you can start very small and decide how quickly and how much you want to grow it.”

    * “This is a great time in life when you have the least responsibility with the most freedom, and the risk is pretty low in terms of things that you start.”

    * Great resource for anyone wanting to start and keep their costs low: The $100...

    • 40 min
    SJ31 – Tech and Entrepreneurship in Africa with Mannie T’Chawi and Jason Israel

    SJ31 – Tech and Entrepreneurship in Africa with Mannie T’Chawi and Jason Israel

    We were honored to have two very special guests on Startup Jab this week: Mannie T’Chawi and Jason Israel joined us to talk about tech, entrepreneurship, and Africa.

    Mannie T’Chawi is the co-founder & CEO of LayerCake; a social enterprise that promotes financial inclusivity and security in Tanzania. He also serves as the Director of International Outreach and Business Development for CULTIVA Solutions, a DC-area education consultancy and brokerage. In addition, Mannie consults on international development efforts helping to strategize, execute, and build partnerships between US and Sub-saharan Africa based organizations.

    Jason Israel is a dedicated public servant, naval officer, and educator with over 15 years of experience in military and civilian leadership positions at the federal, state, and local levels. Currently a Commander in the Navy Reserve, he recently deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa where worked in Somalia toward a more stable and secure future for the east Africa region. Jason is passionate about educating and empowering youth to rise to their full potential and has spent his free time teaching and mentoring students in each community he’s lived. A native Marylander and resident of Baltimore, Jason served as Director for African Affairs for the National Security Council at the White House until earlier this year.


    * Mannie: “Thanks to the success of mobile banking platforms in Kenya, for example, Africa has started moving towards mobile banking, which is really mobile transfer. It’s the equivalent of having your money in Verizon or AT&T rather than a a bank… Mobile transfer works for people fairly well, but you can’t exclude banks from the process. There needs to be unity, and less friction, and [my company LayerCake] hopes to provide that… You’re allowing them an opportunity, in a predominantly cash-based economy, to actually grow their wealth and savings rather than it literally being cash under their mattress.”

    * Jason: “What Mannie’s doing is really the driving force behind the change that we want to see in Africa. It’s a great example of looking at the institutions, the strengths and weaknesses that are in the country, and trying to build the capacity of the local banks in order to confront a challenge that is uniquely Tanzanian.”

    * J: “One of the greatest parts of my jobs [at the National Security Council] was hearing all of these stories about what entrepreneurs are doing to solve these unique problems.”

    * M: “People don’t realize that there is a lot of entrepreneurial expertise already in the market… Africa is a market that has always been wrought with necessity and is full of inventors.”

    * M: “The strategy for winning in Africa, no matter the vertical or industry, is being the connective tissue.”

    * J: Regarding “brain drain,” “I think it’s a myth that it’s just, ‘I can make more money in New York or London, so I’m going to head there.’ There are a ton of talented people leaving [Africa], and either a nation lacks the capacity or desire [to keep them in the country], or there’s a corrupt reason where somebody’s getting some money to allow people to leave.”

    * M: “We don’t just need big, bold moves, but we need a lot of big, bold moves all at the same time.”


    Some of the cool efforts going on in Africa:

    * a href="http://some of the cool efforts going on in Africa, including why POTUS decided to hold the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya last year. http://www.ges2015.org A super-interesting case study is the issues Somali diaspora are having sending remittances to loved ones b...

    • 1 hr
    SJ30 – The Business of Narrative Podcasting with Wolf 359

    SJ30 – The Business of Narrative Podcasting with Wolf 359

    This week, we’re pleased to welcome Gabriel Urbina and Zach Valenti from Wolf 359, a podcast about the advantages of floating, tiny and alone, in the middle of nowhere. A drama in the tradition of the Golden Age of Radio, Wolf 359’s bi-monthly episodes tell the story of Doug Eiffel, the communications officer for the U.S.S. Hephaestus Research Station, currently on Day 448 of its orbit around red dwarf star Wolf 359.

    Join hosts Teague Hopkins and Jason Nellis to talk about how Gabriel and Zach bootstrapped a successful radio show, the art and science of narrative podcasting, and life in isolated, zero gravity conditions.

    Links and Highlights

    EPISODE 30. This podcast is no longer a spring chicken, folks.

    Gabriel dreamed up a character who was monitoring a radio on a space station, and made the “fatal error” of sharing his idea on Facebook. Zach (a voice-over actor) saw on Facebook that a voice-over actor was needed for a one-man radio show. The rest is destiny.

    Listen to the first three seasons of Wolf 359 here.

    * “We were both attracted to the idea of doing something together and getting it out there quickly.“

    * “What’s great about the first season, when it was basically our moms listening, it gave us a lot of freedom… It took us about 10 episodes to figure out what worked and what the show wanted to be.”

    * “Our philosophy was, let’s put things out there, let’s see if it works, and then let’s polish… [but] it needs to be a certain level of quality.”

    * “A lot of the first few episodes were built on, ‘Hey, I did this guy a solid once.'”

    * “From day one, we wanted to put something out in the universe that people could look at, and so we could really establish ourselves [in our respective careers].”

    Zach does “sensual voice-overs” for Pillow.io, which, according to Gabriel, is “exceedingly mature and tasteful and well thought-out.” We say, go try it and find out for yourself (and happy belated Valentine’s Day!).

    * “The biggest technical challenge is making it work when people are recording in different spaces and different rooms with different sound qualities… We eventually solved that by deciding that the people who are remote will always be heard through a kind of filter, an ‘in-universe’ reason for their voices to sound noticeably different than everyone else’s. It was a moment of, ‘we’re going to try to turn this bug into a feature.'”

    * “We are fearless about the weird things that we do… but we rarely, if ever, have the next move planned.”

    * “There are critical times where it’s like, ‘Zach, it is now time to turn the “make shit up” button on’ (or off).”

    * “There have been times when it’s been a choice between having a 13-episode second season and get our merchandise together, and it’s always felt better to focus on making more and better shows.”

    * “Focus on making something that YOU love. The one thing we found in our nerdy, off-center taste is that we’re not alone, so in making something that we love, we inadvertently made something that other people love. Focus on that, because you can control that.”

    * In the beginning, “we tried all kinds of guerrilla marketing tactics when it was just our best friends and their cat listening to us… We tried to do the stereotypical ‘growth hacking’ to create our online presence, and the effect that had was… nil.”

    • 56 min
    SJ29 – Sex, Innovation, and Morality for Startups

    SJ29 – Sex, Innovation, and Morality for Startups

    We’re living on the edge today: Jason and Teague are recording from the same location at WeWork Wonder Bread Factory.

    Links and Highlights:

    Let’s get ready to DROOOOOOONE.

    Can drone racing become as big as eSports?

    The Drone Racing League Wants to Be to Drones What the WWE Is to Wrestling

    * “Explosions and money are the center of any good venn diagram.”

    * “Like any other sport, there’s already a push to sensationalize it and ‘sexy’ it up… The sport is not even out of the hospital bassinet.”

    Jason and Teague toss out a FREE BUSINESS IDEA for our listeners. If you steal it and launch it, please make us VIP customers, #kthx.

    Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is

    * “Today, folks are often thrown to the wolves in a lot of ways: sink or swim. It’s a lot harder to find the kind of support you once got, where someone said, ‘I’m going to pay your bills so you can go build things.'”

    * “There’s a reason we keep doing Shakespeare, and a reason we keep bringing up penicillin.”

    * “When you give a mind an opportunity to just be told, ‘go try something and don’t worry about failure,’ there’s real opportunity there… I don’t think potential trumps experience, but potential and experience should balance each other.”

    * “One of the great ways startups can get a leg up is by hiring people who punch above their weight; finding people who have enormous people who haven’t been given their shot yet.”

    Zenefits Founder Resigns

    * “Is what you’re doing actually harming consumers or harming competition? Is there a problem with pushing those boundaries, whether that problem is purely legal or whether there’s a moral issue at stake?”

    * “In a lot of ways we have a culture that advocates for screwing up, sometimes intentionally breaking laws and regulations, and then just apologize for it, mea culpa, pay a fine, and move on.”

    * “The moral question is, who’s being hurt by the laws that you’re breaking?”

    * “Zenefits is the latest in a series of very public companies that have skirted laws and done things that they know are immoral, and as a culture, how okay are we with that?”

    New startup aims to transfer people’s consciousness into artificial bodies so they can live forever – TechSpot

    * “This is the beginning of every schlocky sci-fi novel I’ve ever read. Every single one.” (Here’s the definition of schlocky, btw.)

    * “We’re talking about condemning ourselves to a ones and zeroes existence because we’re afraid of dying.”

    Questions from Quora:

    “As a non-technical co-founder,

    • 1 hr
    SJ28 – Aspire with Lily Cua and Marcy Humphrey

    SJ28 – Aspire with Lily Cua and Marcy Humphrey

    This week’s episode will introduce you to Aspire.is, software that helps companies make smart investments in their workplace perks so that they can recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Lily Cua, founder and COO of Aspire.is, and Marcy Humphrey, Head of Perk Operations, join Startup Jab to share how they are building Aspire, fill us in on the hippest, hottest HR trends, and tell us if office beer pong really is a good idea.

    Lily focuses on Aspire’s client acquisition and expansion efforts. She is always keeping an eye out for unique and engaging workplace experiences to build into the Aspire platform, and loves the fact that her job allows her to work with some of the most innovative and creative businesses in the country. Lily is a graduate of Georgetown University and in a previous life was a consultant at PwC. Most importantly, she is a gifted arcade basketball player and brunch enthusiast.

    Marcy is a graduate of Georgetown University, and has been in the DC area ever since. Marcy keeps the gears turning at Aspire by working in partner strategy & operations and managing client relationships. She also develops marketing content and is constantly looking for the coolest new HR trends to chat about. She counts among her many talents solving world hunger with Excel shortcuts and running faster than your average snail.

    • 54 min

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