The Early Stage Podcast is devoted to interviewing top entrepreneurs at the Seed and Series A stages of their startups. This project is a deep dive into the initial challenges and breakthroughs driven innovators endure as they build their MVP, launch, raise funding, grow their teams, and find product-market fit.
Early Stage is hosted by John Valentine, Manager of Technology Identification and Communications at Thales, a worldwide leader in aerospace, space, defense, transportation, and security. A two-time Founder and early employee at venture-backed mobile payments startup LevelUp, John has deep experience launching new products, building systems, and scaling. In his current role, John embraces the opportunity to support hundreds of high-growth startups each year in much the same way as the innovation ecosystem helped him.
Folia Health - Nell Meosky Luo, Founder & CEO
The Early Stage Podcast pushes forward with a women in digital health takeover! Nell Meosky Luo, Founder & CEO of Folia Health, is today's guest, and my former colleague and MassChallenge HealthTech Director of Operations, Nina Kandilian, is my co-host.
The oldest of seven children and older sister to a brother with Common Variable Immune Deficiency, Nell is no stranger to supporting another with their complex disease state.
It took a block of ice literally falling on her head on a New York City sidewalk for her to realize she needed to follow her passion as opposed to dying a consultant.
She thought back to her experience with her brother and how difficult it was to match specific treatments to specific patients for complex diseases like CVID or Cystic Fibrosis. After over a year of working on the project nights and weekends (it can be done, 9-to-5ers!), Nell launched Folia Health to monitor patient-reported outcomes in a structured way, elevating appointments with clinicians and leading to better health outcomes.
Listen in to hear more about how she's making it happen.
Folia Health Website - https://www.foliahealth.com/
Early Stage Podcast Website - https://www.earlystagepodcast.com/
Hall - Albert Nichols, Founder & CEO
When you're not at home, and not in the office...what are you doing?
From setting up family dinners with his friends in college to launching the Back Bay location of his startup Hall, Albert Nichols has always had a passion for bringing people together.
At Hall, Albert and his team (thanks for setting this up, Phil!) have built a comfortable lifestyle space that feels like home but is also a space for grabbing dinner, catching up on emails, and meeting new people.
Listen in to learn about Hall's journey towards defining a new "place" for the 21st century.
Website - https://hallboston.com/
Albert's LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/albertnichols/
Albert's Twitter - @albertcnichols
Infinite Cooling - Maher Damak, Co-Founder
Today, we hear from Maher Damak, Co-Founder at MIT-spawned startup Infinite Cooling. For a first time founder, Maher comes across as thoughtful and in control. He and his co-founders have set Infinite Cooling on an amazing run: winning the MIT 100k and a grant by the state of Massachusetts, gaining acceptance and winning the top prize at MassChallenge, and most recently being named to the Forbes "30 Under 30" list for 2019.
Combining fluid dynamics with mechanical engineering for social good, Maer first worked on creating electrically-charged meshes to capture water from fog to produce drinking water in remote areas of the world that have lots of fog but no rain. The technology worked, and they found a massive commercial application capturing water from cooling tower plumes with electrically-charged domes.
Maher and his team are piloting the technology with MIT's cooling tower and are looking at raising funding from early stage investors to build the team and launch more projects. I see a ton of deal flow from running this podcast, and in my opinion, Infinite Cooling is something special.
While profit is certainly important, he also has an eye towards the developing world, with hopes to turn high cost power plants into low cost desalinization plants to provide clean water globally.
Infinite Cooling Website: https://www.infinite-cooling.com/
Maher's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maher-damak-phd-2217b35b/
Elsen - Zac Sheffer, Founder & CEO
Why hello startup nation, the Early Stage Podcast rolls onwards! It's great to be back in the saddle for a whole new set of episodes.
It's been a while since I hosted panels, I was invited to moderate the Pre-Traction Fundraising panel at Startup Boston at 1:30pm on September 12th at CIC Boston. If you ever wanted to say hi or give me a hug in person, well, this is your opportunity.
I usually edit most of my episodes to around 30 minutes, but I had such a hard time figuring out what to cut here that I just left most of it in. This interview with Zac Sheffer, Founder & CEO of Elsen, is a little longer than most episodes, but a full listen is definitely worth it.
Zac's started his career in entrepreneurship making $40/day hawking candy bars from his lock in middle school. After writing an iPad app that overlaid technical indicators on top of real-time Yahoo Finance data, he fell in love with the financial services space.
Our convo shifts from finding market validation for Elsen to riffing on value proposition, tips on working with large companies, having an obsessive customer focus, and the 20+ hour cooking challenges with his friends that have become his zen.
Listen in to learn how Elsen is enabling anyone to harness vast amounts of data to make better decisions and solve the worlds most complex problems.
Joulez - Stephanie Rowe, Founder & CEO [1-Year Lookback]
When I started the pod, one of the things I was super excited about was tracking entrepreneurs closely as they went on the rollercoaster journey that is startup life. The 1-year lookback podcast with RateGravity was so great I decided to do it again.
Stephanie Rowe has been hard at work as Founder & CEO of Boston-based IoT startup Joulez, which is reimagining STEM for every girl by designing experiences that inspire them. The company was founded to build fun, fashionable products, starting with room accessories, that encourage girls to explore engineering and programming and built confidence to compete for tomorrow's tech jobs.
Since we spoke on Episode 2, Stephanie pursued and won a prestigious Phase 1 SBIR grant, only 11% are accepted -- and she won it on her first try! A second product, which is still under wraps, is being developed alongside her first product, an IoT lamp for the bedroom.
In this conversation we discuss:
- Why she's been under the radar when some of her peers have gotten loud
- Where she sees the evolution in STEM toys for boys and girls
- Who she is looking for in a co-founder
- How often doubt creeps in, and how she copes
- And how to deal with family tragedy as a startup founder
Identity. Vocabulary. Skills. Tribe. These are the four tenets underpinning every decision she makes for her company, and for the millions of young girls she serves.
Ride alongside as we dive in.
OpenView Venture Partners, Blake Bartlett, Partner
Today I bring to you an awesome conversation with Blake Bartlett from OpenView Venture Partners. Born and bred in Southern California with a penchant for warm weather and analyzing businesses from a holistic perspective, opportunities at Battery Ventures and now OpenView have led him to meticulously maintain a beard, stock up on winter parkas, and make a number of exciting investments in expansion-stage B2B startups.
In our wide-ranging chat, we discuss the keys to making the leap from venture associate to partner, OpenView investment focus areas and peer differentiation strategies, ascertaining the core DNA of a startup, and his personal goals for 2018.
Enjoy today's conversation with Blake.
Awesome insight into the Boston innovation ecosystem. It's always interesting hearing how companies start. The host John also has a pleasant voice and does a great job engaging the speaker. It's sometimes difficult to make engineers sound interesting to non tech folks and somehow, John has managed to do well with this so far.
Awesome show, highly recommend!
John and his guests provide some incredibly actionable and compelling content on how to learn from your setbacks to become a better business leader and (more importantly) a better overall person.
Highly recommend listening and subscribing to The Early Stage Podcast if you want the knowledge AND mindsets to become the very best version of yourself (and reach your overall business goals as a result)!
Love the depth of insights
Early stage founders have it pretty rough, and this podcast is smartly being real about the startup journey. I love hearing about the struggles and wins from the founders, and the audio quality has gotten better and better