Aaron Caulfield dives deep with high-achieving entrepreneurs, CEOs, and founders of startups. He gives you an inside look, unscripted at the dreams as well as the emotional challenges they face as leaders. Aaron previously worked for Accenture in Silicon Valley and studied finance at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Nikil Viswanathan, Co-Founder And CEO Of Alchemy, On Reaching A 1/2 Billion Dollar Valuation In Eight Months (#24)
Alchemy went from public launch to a half-billion-dollar valuation in eight months.
The company is the world’s leading blockchain developer platform powering $30+ billion in transactions with 10+ million users in 197+ countries worldwide.
Founded by Nikil Viswanathan (@Nikilster) and Joe Lau (@thejoelau), Alchemy has been likened to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) of the blockchain industry. They provide the best tools and products for developers to use in building NFTs, marketplaces, protocols, and more.
Investors include Stanford University, Coinbase, Pantera Capital, founders and executives of Charles Schwab, Linkedin, PayPal, Yahoo!, Dropbox, NYSE, as well as John Hennessy, Jay-Z, Reid Hoffman, Will Smith, Balaji Srinivasan, the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United, and more.
They recently raised their Series B funding round of $80 million led by Coatue and Addition (started by Lee Fixel in 2020).
Previously, Nikil and Joe co-founded Down to Lunch, a social app that rose to #1 in the App Store and was featured in The New York Times and other international media publications. The two met at Stanford, where they studied computer science and were co-TAs for an online class on databases, a precursor to Coursera.
In this episode, Nikil and I discuss:
Growing up in a small town in Texas (Lubbock)Building apps like Down to Lunch and Check In To My FlightLearning from mentors including John Hennessy and Charles SchwabThe importance of optimism, persistence, and confidenceNikil's entrepreneurial lessons include:
Make sure it’s the right fit with your co-founder.Finding product-market fit is the most important thing early on. If you’re not sure if you have product-market fit, you don’t have it.Optimize for now. Don’t worry about what will happen in a month or a year. Do whatever you need to do today to be successful.Have an obsessive customer focus.Surround yourself with great people and have a lot of fun!For more information, go to: https://www.aaroncaulfield.com/podcast-feed/nikil-viswanathan-on-reaching-a-1/2-billion-dollar-valuation-in-eight-months
Nikki Adamson — How To Create A More Diverse, Equitable, And Inclusive Startup Team (#23)
Nikki Adamson is the founder of Hustle Hunters, a recruiting firm for early stage startups.
They help teams attract, support, and retain top talent and create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) organizations.
Candidates in their network include people that have historically been excluded: moms, women, caregivers, people who identify as LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), Asian Americans, and more.
In this episode, we discuss:
Building your hiring process with a DEI lensCalling out biasesPitfalls to avoid when growing your teamNikki's tangible takeaways include:
Start with an applicant tracking system (ATS).Figure out the baseline of your team in terms of historically excluded groups (e.g., BIPOC, LGBTQ+, caregivers, older people).Update your job description template.Review your values.Consider whether your ideal candidate would make it through your hiring process.For resources, organizations, and people mentioned go to: https://www.aaroncaulfield.com/podcast-feed/nikki-adamson-how-to-create-a-more-diverse-equitable-and-inclusive-startup-team
Justin Shenkarow on Bitcoin, Ethereum, Winning NFTHack, Launching Hashink, Celebrity Autographs, and More (#22)
Justin Shenkarow is an actor, voice actor, producer, writer and director from Los Angeles. He’s best known for his roles as Matthew Brock in Picket Fences, Simon Holmes in Eerie, Indiana, and the voice of Harold Berman from the Nickelodeon animated series, Hey Arnold!
Justin recently participated in NFTHack, a hackathon hosted by ETHGlobal, where he formed a team with Felipe Faraggi, Brennan Fife, and Pablo Palomo.
They created Hashink to enable celebrities, actors, musicians, athletes, artists, and more to sign autographs digitally, interact with fans, and receive royalty perks.
NFTHack featured 634 participants, 182 NFT projects, and 10 winning teams, of which Hashink was one.
Disclaimer: My guests and I are not investment advisors. All opinions are my guests’ and mine alone. There are risks involved in placing any investment in bitcoin, ethereum, cryptocurrencies, or any other investment vehicle. Nothing discussed today or anytime is intended to form the basis for any offer or recommendation or have any regard to the investment objectives, financial situation, or needs of any specific person. Everything discussed is for informational and entertainment purposes only.
For resources, organizations, and people mentioned go to: https://www.aaroncaulfield.com/podcast-feed/justin-shenkarow-on-winning-nft-hack-and-more
Claude Cayemitte On Types Of Trauma, The Spectrum Of Racism, And Addressing Systemic Oppression (#21)
Claude Cayemitte is a NARM-certified, award-winning psychotherapist based in West Palm Beach, Florida.
He works at a health center and runs a private practice, Clear and Connected Counseling, for individual therapy with adults and adolescents.
I met Claude through the NARM Training Institute, where I’m training to be trauma informed in my coaching and consulting work. NARM stands for NeuroAffective Relational Model and is designed to help people address complex trauma.
Disclaimer: Claude is a licensed psychotherapist, but I am not. As such, this episode and blog post are for informational purposes only, and nothing is intended as professional or medical advice in any capacity. If you are intending to recover from trauma, please contact a licensed psychotherapist or medical professional.
In this interview, Claude and I discuss several types of trauma including:
Shock or acute trauma (e.g., car accident, sexual assault)Complex or developmental trauma (e.g. emotional neglect, emotional abuse)Systemic, cultural, and racial trauma (e.g., systemic racism)Intergenerational trauma (e.g., slavery, The Holocaust)We also cover:
The spectrum of racism—racism is not binary, it’s a spectrum from Neo-Nazis to Nelson Mandela.The impacts of the murder of George Floyd.How the black community and other marginalized groups have been in an abusive, attachment relationship with America since its inception.Claude’s lesson for listeners is to embrace vulnerability. As leaders, we can create spaces for ourselves and others to be vulnerable. If you embrace vulnerability, your life will be transformed.
For resources, organizations, and people mentioned go to: aaroncaulfield.com/podcast-feed/claude-cayemitte-on-types-of-trauma
Abhishek And Aaron On Democratizing Entrepreneurship, Building In Public, And A Platform For Founders (#20)
On this episode Abhishek Gutgutia interviews me as a potential customer for the platform he’s building.
Abhishek is the Chief Product Officer at Chronicled and is creating a platform on the side of his full-time job to help fellow entrepreneurs succeed.
By providing resources, tools, coaching, feedback, best practices, and other support, he plans to celebrate and support founders of companies, especially first-time founders.
Inspired in part by the trend of “building in public,” whereby startups receive valuable feedback early on from potential customers, investors, and coaches, Abhishek would like to create a one-stop shop for founders to share their journeys and receive support.
His mission is to demystify and democratize entrepreneurship and help people all over the world start companies, rather than only those in Silicon Valley and other hubs.
For resources, organizations, and people mentioned go to: aaroncaulfield.com/podcast-feed/abhishek-and-aaron-on-democratizing-entrepreneurship
Marquis Lupton On Overcoming Stuttering, Growing A Digital Media Business, And Launching TCP TV (#19)
Marquis Lupton, co-founder and CEO of the TCP Network, struggled with stuttering while growing up.
To overcome his speech impediment, he worked with speech coaches and practiced speaking in front of the mirror: making eye contact, squaring his shoulders, and wearing a microphone.
Determined to be a radio personality or news reporter, he started two radio shows in college under the DJ name Quiet Storm. After college he worked for WLAN FM97 as a club DJ and board operator. He later landed a job in production for CNN in Washington, D.C., where he worked on the Pentagon unit and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
Marquis then spent several years in the field as a news reporter for TV stations around the Northeast. But he noticed that people of color, especially men, were disproportionately reported on in crime stories. There’s a phrase used in the industry: “if it bleeds, it leads,” meaning that fear-based stories, especially about minority groups, tend to get top billing.
After several failed attempts, Marquis partnered with Billy Way, Brandon Way, and Whitney Lupton to start the TCP Network, which stands for The Cultured Professional.
They’ve grown the radio station to over a dozen original shows on topics such as the morning news, hip hop, politics, pop culture, and sports.
Marquis and his team share the stories and voices of marginalized people and serve the community through initiatives such as the Spread Love Campaign.
In this interview, we discuss:
TCP’s business model, pricing, and clients (e.g., Pennie).Launching TCP TV on Roku.Starting a Puerto Rican outpost of TCP in San Juan.Balancing following your passion with making money and raising a family.Effectively managing a team with different personalities and powerful people.Marquis’s take on Joe Rogan and other influential podcasters. Marquis's entrepreneurial lessons include:
Trust your dopeness. Trust that inner voice that says, “you can” even when others may say something else.See a need, fill a need. If your neighborhood doesn’t have red apples and if everybody loves red apples, then find a way to sell red apples.You want everyone on your team to feel like you wouldn’t succeed without their help. Build a strong, competent team where the responsibilities are shared and everyone is needed. For resources, organizations, and people mentioned go to: aaroncaulfield.com/podcast-feed/marquis-lupton-on-overcoming-stuttering
Check out thetcpnetwork.comLike TCP on Facebook: facebook.com/theculturedprofessionalFollow TCP on Instagram: @tcp_networkSign up for Aaron's email newsletter: aaroncaulfield.com
Refreshingly honest conversations
This podcast is great for all entrepreneurs, new and experienced, to get a glimpse into a wide variety of business ideas from a unique perspective. Aaron’s ability to connect with his guests in personal ways takes each conversation to weird and wonderful places!
Aaron’s Podcasts are always informative and thought-provoking.
Aaron’s guests have great ideas for business and for coping with everyday life. Aaron draws these ideas out and enables us to implement them in our own lives.
I look forward to every session that Aaron provides. He is thoughtful and kind with his interviews.
Looking forward to the next ones.
Thank you, Aaron.