By Bret Waters
4thlyMar 23, 2023
Diana Sierra - Founder & CEO of BeGirl
On this episode I talk with one of my favorite social entrepreneurs in the whole world. Diana Sierra is originally from Colombia, ended up getting a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York, was an industrial designer developing products for global companies, and then founded BeGirl, a social venture startup focused on menstrual health for women in Africa. I met her originally through my work with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. She’s amazing, and I think you’ll enjoy our discussion.
Biden's Executive Order regarding US investments into China - a panel discussion.
On this episode, a panel of US-China experts discuss President Biden's recent executive order which subjects private US investments into China to screening. This obviously has a pretty big impact on venture capital and private equity firms, but in the discussion we got into the larger picture of the US-China relationship, and the "conscious uncoupling" that is going on. The panel includes Ker Gibbs, noted US-China scholar, Christopher Swift, lawyer specializing in national security regulations, H.K. Park, who runs the national security practice at Crumpton Global and specializes in outbound investments, and Louis Lehot, Silicon Valley lawyer who represents many VC and PE clients. This was a great conversation, co-hosted by 4thly and Foley & Lardner. You can also view video of the conversation.
Alice Bosley - CoFounder/CEO of Five One Labs
On this episode I talk with Alice Bosley, Co-founder and CEO of Five One Labs. She and her cofounder met in grad school at Columbia and decided to create a startup focused on solving a really big problem - getting refugee populations back up on their feet. The UNHRC estimates the number of people in the world who have been forcibly displaced is now almost 110 million - the highest in history. I think you’ll enjoy this conversation with Alice about how her organization is tackling this problem, and what she’s learned in her six year journey as a social entrepreneur. I met her originally through my work with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship.
Sylvana Q. Sinha - CEO of Praava Health in Bangladesh
On this episode I talk with Sylvana Quader Sinha. With a master’s degree from Columbia plus a law degree from Harvard, she was a high-achieving international lawyer, a foreign policy advisor for Barack Obama, special consultant to the World Bank, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Then in her 30’s she decided to pivot to a real challenge - being an entrepreneur focused on fixing health care in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Her startup, Praava Health, is now the fastest-growing healthcare brand in Bangladesh, serving a half-million people, and has been featured in Forbes, the Financial Times, and Fast Company. She’s amazing, and I think you’ll enjoy my conversation with her.
Christopher Zaw - CEO of Warc Africa
Christopher Zaw runs Warc Africa - a social enterprise based in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Their goal is to get smallholder farmers out of poverty and address food insecurity across Africa. They design and sell regenerative farming input packages while providing access to training, mechanized services, and markets. I met Chris as part of my work with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and Warc Africa is a great example of a successful social enterprise, treating poor populations as customers and partners rather than charity cases.
Jeff Bradley - CEO and Co-Founder of Phrasia.
Jeff Bradley was working with Large Language Models long before most of us had heard of them. He's now CEO of Phrasia, a startup with a deep learning platform that helps companies to get actionable insights by going through all the natural language information (app reviews, survey comments, customer comments, social media, customer service transcripts, etc). On this episode Jeff talks about his own journey as an entrepreneur, and the future of AI and Large Language Models.
Panel Discussion on Biotech Trends
Biotech remains a red-hot area for startup founders and investors. Next-generation gene therapies, precision medicine, using AI and ML for speeding discovery and development of new drugs, and entire new delivery methods. What does the future look like, and how should investors and founders parse the opportunities in this sector? On this episode I talk with Marguerite Hutchison, Kent Hawryluk, and Louis Lehot about these topics and more.
A Panel Discussion on Climate Tech, for founders and investors.
Climate is a threat to the planet, and an area of great opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors to be part of the solution. Last year saw over $70 billion in venture capital invested in Climate Tech ventures. There are huge opportunities for founders and investors in this sector, as climate resilience becomes a growing imperative worldwide. I hosted this panel along with Louis Lehot and Jeffery Atkin of Foley & Lardner, and our expert guests included Kathleen Egan, CEO of ecomedes, Kristin Wegner Guilfoyle of the National Renewable Energy Lab, Gopal Erinjippurath, CTO of Sust Global, and Charlie Crocker, Co-founder of Zonehaven.
A Panel Discussion on ChatGPT and Generative AI
2023 is certainly the year of generative AI. New software such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, and Bard have collectively created one of those “This is going to change everything!” moments in Silicon Valley and beyond. Startup founders and investors are all-in on what appears to be a new gold rush. On this episode, I have a lively discussion with a panel of experts including venture capital investors, startup founders, and Louis Lehot from Foley & Lardner.
Panel Discussion on Startup Financing in mid-2023
There is plenty of seed financing activity going on in the startup world, but it’s a different economic environment with a variety of different structures being used. In this episode a panel of experts discusses early stage startup financings in the new economy. Co-hosted by Foley & Lardner, LLP, the panel includes Benjamin Heywood of SkyRiver Ventures, Igor Taber of Cortical Ventures, Taylor Oliver of Tenacity Venture Capital, as well as Natasha Allen ad Louis Lehot, two attorneys who handle many Silicon Valley startup financings.
Charlene Platon - CEO and Co-Founder of 5th Window.
On this episode I talk with Charlene Platon. She’s a registered nurse, and she’s in a leadership position at Stanford Health Care, which includes Stanford Hospital. She’s now launched a startup on the side, called Fifth Window. It’s a digital platform with a mission of revolutionizing the well-being of nurses worldwide. She talks about her journey as a startup founder, and also thoughts on how startup founders can optimize their time in order to achieve their goals.
How Brazil has created a thriving startup ecosystem.
Brazil is not only the largest economy in Latin America, it’s also a hotbed of entrepreneurship and innovation. Brazil has generated several unicorns - startups with a valuation more than a billion dollars - including Nubank, 99, Brex, Neon, Loft, and more. A small island in the south of Brazil, Florianópolis is often called “The Silicon Valley of Brazil” because it's become a thriving ecosystem of tech and startups. Joining me on this episode are two important people in that Florianópolis startup ecosystem - Leandro Piazza and JP Schneider. They run a startup school called “49 Education”, and they talk about the extraordinary startup activity in Brazil today.
Kyle Connors - Co-founder of Candidate.fyi
On this episode I talk with Kyle Connors, co-founder of Candidate.fyi, an early-stage venture with a software product that helps companies transform their job candidate interview process into a world-class experience. Kyle talks about the importance of doing customer development simultaneous to product development, about running a successful startup fundraising process, and about the mindset of successful entrepreneurs.
Roger Lang - Entrepreneur and Impact investor.
On this episode I talk with Roger Lang, venerable entrepreneur and venture capitalist. By the age of 36 he had two IPO's under his belt, and more money than he knew what to do with. So he decided to dedicate himself to impact investing - investing in new startups that could help solve the world's pressing problems. His new venture capital fund is called "The Smart Society Fund".
Vera Maslova - Founder & CEO of Science.me
Vera Maslova grew up in Moscow with two world-class scientists as parents, and then she went on to a PhD program in which she studied the intersection of art and philosophy. Then the war in Ukraine hit and she fled, ending up in Silicon Valley. An accidental refugee from unexpected world events, she now runs a startup named Science.Me, with a mission of giving more people exposure to brilliant scientists and philosophers from around the world. On this episode we talk about her new startup, but we also talk more broadly about facing adversity and how each of us can learn to develop a mindset of resilience.
The TikTok Kerfuffle - A conversation with Ker Gibbs
TikTok, headquartered in China, is a hugely-successful app platform today. Last week the Biden Administration issued an ultimatum that the company either be sold to new owners or face the prospect of having the app banned in the US. It's an extraordinary thing, that a social media app popular with young people has been declared a national security threat. And this is happening, of course, against the background of a very tense unique relationship between the US and China. Joining me on this episode, to talk through this, is Ker Gibbs, an expert on US-China business relationships.
Darren Powderly - CoFounder of Crowdstreet.
On this episode I talk with Darren Powderly about his journey from having an early startup idea to founding and building a company that today is a market leader, with over $4 billion in investor transactions processed. Crowdstreet has transformed the way that commercial real estate is funded, democratizing the process and making it much more efficient.
"Reverse CFIUS" - New Regulations impacting VC and PE investments into China.
On this episode we talk with four experts about some new Federal regulations being called “Reverse CFIUS” that will have a big impact on venture capital and private equity funds with investing activities in China and certain other countries. Investments from China into US companies and operations have long been subject to Federal review by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (commonly called CFIUS) and now the Biden administration is looking to make investments going the other way also subject to review. According to many sources, a new executive order is being drafted and will be issued soon - it’s being called “Reverse CFIUS”. The Biden administration’s purpose is to check Chinese ambitions in fields such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing, with the clear aim of slowing the development of China’s military capabilities. But what do the new expected regulations mean for US investors? Today there are many outbound transactions conducted by venture capital, private equity, and other US investors into Chinese investment opportunities, and by some accounts nearly half of these transactions will be subject to this new set of regulations. The experts on this episode include Louis Lehot, Christopher Swift, PhD, HK Park, and Ker Gibbs.
"Young, Dumb, and Enthusiastic".
On this episode I talk with Karel Nappus and Markus Lember, co-founders of Montonio, a fast-growing fintech startup in Estonia. They’ve raised $13M in venture capital and over the past year they’ve scaled from 20 employees to over 60. They talked to me about their entrepreneurial journey from being “young, dumb, and enthusiastic” (their words) to being CEO and COO of a successful venture-backed company.
From Wall Street Investment Manager to Founder of a New Digital Gold Startup.
On this episode I interview Ashraf Rizvi. He managed billions of dollars at Credit Suisse and UBS, founded his own investment firm, and now is Founder & CEO of Gilded, a new digital platform for buying physical gold as an investment while also getting many of the advantages of a digital asset. Their tagline is "Imagine the investment returns of gold with the functionality of cash". In a world where crypto gets the headlines with all of its wild swings and drama, Gilded is firmly rooted in the most historically stable asset of all - physical gold. On this episode Rizvi talks about his entrepreneurial journey and what he's learned along the way.
Bookworm - From Passionate Side Project to Fast-Growing Startup Venture.
On this episode I talk with Amelia Goodman, founder of Bookworm, a new app for passionate readers. Amelia has been a software engineer at Google, Apple, and Stanford, built the app as a side project for her friends, and now Bookworm has taken off and is turning into a real business. Many great startups have begun as side projects, and Amelia talks about her journey turning her side hustle into a fast-growing venture.
Asher Weiss - Co-Founder and CEO of Tixologi
On this episode I talk with Asher Weiss, Co-founder and CEO of Tixologi. He was a digital product manager for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors who saw an opportunity to build a next-generation ticketing platform for sports and other events, using blockchain as an underlying technology.
From Goldman Sachs to Digital Entrepreneur.
On this episode I talk with Jesse Link, Co-Founder of Rella, a digital platform for wedding planning. He talks about his journey from being a Vice President at Goldman Sachs to founding a new startup focused on making wedding planning more efficient, effective, and accessible.
Solfium: A Canadian Startup Revolutionizing Solar Energy for Families and Small Businesses.
Zach Magnan, a Canadian energy guy, met his co-founder at the London School of Economics and now their new startup, Solfium, is bringing solar power to families and small businesses across Mexico. On this episode he talks about their mission, their capital-raising journey, and bringing home solar to the rest of the world.
10 Big Trends for 2023
This is the time of year when all the pundits begin to issue their predictions for the new year, so on this episode I give you mine. Except that mine aren't really predictions for 2023, per se. Instead, I give you ten big trends that I think are worth paying attention to. Some of these will play out in 2023, and some of them play out over the next several years. But all of them are salient vectors that entrepreneurs and innovators should be paying attention to today. Have a missed some? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org - I'd love to hear from you.
Caitlin Landesberg: From tech marketer to beer entrepreneur to founding a venture fund.
On this episode I talk with Caitlin Landesberg. She went from being a Silicon Valley product marketing exec, to founding a branded beverage company which she sold to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, to founding a venture capital fund named for a line in a David Foster Wallace speech (This is Water). She believes in B-Corps, triple-bottom-line ventures, and the notion that startup entrepreneurs can create innovative new products that are good for the planet.
Creating the next generation of wireless internet.
On this episode, my guest is Diana Gamzina, PhD - she's the Founder & CEO of Elve, a new startup developing the next generation of wireless data. In today’s hyper-connected society, broadband access is no longer a luxury, but, for many, those kinds of speeds are still unavailable. Providing the needed infrastructure in rural and remote areas is often difficult and expensive. Elve’s millimeter-wave amplifiers, manufactured at scale, can remove those barriers and unlock access to fiber-like speeds in a wireless network. Diana talks about her personal journey from being a researcher at Stanford to raising capital and being a startup CEO.
An entrepreneur building new sustainable cities.
On this episode we’ll talk with an entrepreneur who is designing and building new, sustainable cities. Alberto Scherb is co-founder and CEO of 100 Thousand Million, a startup focused on building new cities that are human-centered, nature-focused, and sustainable at the core. Alberto spent a decade at Apple, then followed Tony Fadell to Nest, and now is taking on the biggest challenge of all - saving the planet via new, better cities. The fact is that we’re at an inflection point for the planet right now - last week the UN said the world’s population has surpassed 8 billion, and meanwhile we’re worried about how we’re going to deal with climate change as well as feed all these people.
Typically, Venture Capital financings are structured as equity. But recent years have seen the emergence of Venture Debt - sometimes used standalone and sometimes used alongside an equity financing. How does this work? What are the pros and cons? Joining me on this episode are expert attorneys Lisa Conmy and Alidad Vakili from Foley & Lardner, along with Pete Petitt, a managing director with Aon.
What Startup Founders Need to Know about Privacy Regulations.
On this episode I discuss privacy regulations with two expert attorneys, Stephanie Webb and Steve Millendorf, both of Foley & Lardner. For startups today, there is a labyrinth of privacy regulations to comply with – and the consequences of being out of compliance can be expensive. If your product will be used in the EU, you’ll need to be GDPR-compliant. In California, it’s CCPA. And, if children under 13 might access your product, there are Federal laws to comply with. How do startup founders with limited resources navigate privacy regulations and stay compliant as they thrive and grow?
Stock Options 101 for Startup Founders.
Many startup founders will want to create a stock option plan in order to recruit and retain top talent. How do you create and manage an effective stock option plan? What are the legal considerations, and how do startups use stock option plans to align the interests of founders, employees, and investors? On this episode I discuss all this with two expert attorneys from Foley & Lardner, Casey Knapp and Andre Thiollier.
The Art of the Bellyflop
All startup ventures begin with high expectations, but things don’t always go to plan, especially during challenging economic environments. So how do you navigate venture capital term sheets that may contain down-round valuations, pay-to-play, management carveouts, or the dreaded full-ratchet? On this episode I discuss these topics with venture capitalist Danielle D’Agostaro and startup attorney Louis Lehot from Foley & Lardner's Silicon Valley office.
A Startup Founder's Guide to Employment Law
As a startup founder grows a venture, there are complex employment law issues to comply with. On this episode I discuss this with two expert lawyers from Foley and Lardner - Krista Cabrera and Louis Lehot. Adding employees is a crucial step for startup founders and you want to make sure you do it right. What are the correct employment documents? How do you make sure that confidentiality and IP are protected as you add employees? We discuss all this, and more.
The History of Silicon Valley
I've lived in Silicon Valley my entire life. On this episode I discuss how the sleepy valley I grew up in became a global hub of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship with an economic output larger than most countries in the world - and why it happened.
Introduction to the 4thly Podcast
My introduction to this podcast. I've been in Silicon Valley my entire life. I’ve been a startup founder several times, I’ve been a tech CEO, an investor, and an academic. Today my main focus is helping other entrepreneurs to thrive and succeed - I teach entrepreneurship at Stanford University, I coach startup CEO’s at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and I run the 4thly Startup Accelerator. Here's what we'll talk about on this podcast.