Office Hours with Dorm Room Fund
By Dorm Room Fund
What would you ask? What stories would they tell? What lessons would product builders teach the next generation of game-changers? We had the same questions. So we asked them.
This is Office Hours with Dorm Room Fund. To learn more about DRF and apply to be considered for an investment, visit our website: www.dormroomfund.com.
Office Hours with Dorm Room FundMay 25, 2022
Miranda Wang, Co-Founder & CEO at Novoloop
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Miranda Wang (@mirandaywwang) from Novoloop!
Novoloop is an advanced upcycling company that invents sustainable ways to convert end-of-life plastic into specialty materials.
(0:30) - Introduction
(1:00) - Where did the idea for Novoloop come from?
(2:45) - Key Novoloop moments while in college
(6:34) - Challenges while fundraising as a startup in a less-common industry
(9:04) - Most surprising lesson learned since co-founding Novoloop
(11:06) - What makes the Novoloop team special?
(15:08) - Co-founder dynamics (Miranda and her co-founder, Jeanny Yao, started Novoloop together in high school!!)
(18:47) - At what point did Miranda decide to raise a Series A?
(21:51) - What does Novoloop look in board members?
(22:57) - Andrew tells a funny joke
(23:34) - Miranda's must-visit botanical garden spots & more
Get in touch with Miranda!
Jonathan Chang, XIR at Brex + Founder of Gen Z Scouts
Jonathan Chang is a XIR at Brex, where he works with startups and venture funds. He's also the founder of GenZScouts, a startup sourcing platform and quarterly fellowship for college students to leverage their networks and identify burgeoning startups.
He previously worked in data and analytics roles at NBC and Yumi, as well as numerous venture and investing roles at Lionsgate, Ground Up Ventures, and Global Silicon Valley.
To get in touch with Jonathan, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Connor McEwen, Engineering Lead at Uniswap Labs
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Connor McEwen (@connormcewen) from Uniswap Labs!
Uniswap allows people to swap, earn, and build on the leading decentralized crypto trading protocol.
(0:32) - Introduction
(1:22) - What led Connor to join Dorm Room Fund
(2:52) - Deciding whether or not take a gap year during college
(4:24) - Important lessons learned from returning to school
(6:11) - Experience launching makeBU
(8:48) - Being on the engineering side & what people on the Business and Engineering sides can learn from each other
(10:55) - How Connor approached joining a large company vs. startup
(14:20) - Is Connor a Bitcoin millionaire?
(14:30) - Connor's funny story about mining Bitcoin
(15:31) - How to land an engineering role at an attractive startup
(18:10) - 2013 startups vs. 2022 startups
(20:06) - Hottest Web3 take
(21:43) - How should engineers working at early-stage startups view fundraising?
(23:31) - Staying up to date in the crypto space
Get in touch with Connor!
Josh Belinsky, Co-Founder of Slate Milk
Josh Belinsky is the co-founder of Slate Milk, a venture back CPG company based out of Boston. Slate creates high protein, low sugar, lactose free canned beverages marketed toward adults. The DTC milk brand has raised raised over $7 million to date and is available in over 3500 stores nationwide.
Josh was previously part of the founding team at HqO, as well as a Business Development Executive at New Grounds Food before co-founding the brand with his partner Manny Lubin.
On this episode, Souhail talks to Josh about his upbringing, time at Northeastern, founding the company, appearing on Shark Tank, and much more.
Ansh Nanda, Co-Founder at Un1Feed
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Ansh Nanda (@anshnanda_) from Un1Feed!
Un1Feed allows users to retake ownership of their social media feed.
(0:32) - Introduction
(1:00) - Ansh's background
(1:49) - How a cold-email led to funding from Paul English (co-founder of Kayak) for Ansh's nonprofit, You Change Earth
(2:58) - How Ansh got free tickets to the Duke vs. UNC basketball game
(4:18) - Favorite Duke Basketball moment
(4:56) - Ansh's involvement with Dorm Room Fund (DRF)
(6:44) - How his DRF experience impacted his paradigm as a founder
(9:46) - Why Ansh turned down a Google internship
(11:20) - What is Un1Feed?
(12:11) - How Ansh came up with the idea for Un1Feed
(14:00) - Will Facebook copy Un1Feed?
(17:00) - Challenge of competing with Facebook and other tech giants
(19:13) - Downside of working at a big tech company
(19:31) - Upside of working at Un1Feed (email Ansh if interested!)
(20:30) - Closing remarks
Get in touch with Ansh!
Female Founder Track - Alice Ma, Co-Founder of Mad Realities
This week, Souhail talks to Alice Ma from Mad Realities about her story and previous experience with the Female Founder Track.
Alice Ma is a Co-Founder of Mad Realities, a crypto based media company aiming to bring interactivity and innovation to media and content consumption.
Alice previously co-founded Archer, a social venture making data more accessible. She also played an instrumental rise in helping launch ConstitutionDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization that aimed to raised money to buy the U.S Constitution, but ultimately came short.
For more information on the Female Founder Track, check out https://linktr.ee/dormroomfund
PhD Founder Track - Chloe Lopez-Lee and David Dellal
This week, Souhail talks to Chloe Lopez-Lee and David Dellal from Dorm Room Fund's PhD Founder Track.
Chloe Lopez-Lee is a Neuroscience PhD candidate at Cornell University and a Managing Investment Partner at Dorm Room Fund.
David Dellal is an NSF PhD Graduate Fellow at Yale University, Forbes 30 under 30, and CEO/Co-Founder at Floe, a cleantech startup. He is also a Managing Investment Partner at Dorm Room Fund.
For more information on the PhD track, check out https://linktr.ee/dormroomfund
Female Investor Track - Iris Liu, Mia Krishnamurthy & Tori Orr
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Iris Liu, Mia Krishnamurthy & Tori Orr from Dorm Room Fund's Female Investor Track (FIT)!
(1:17) - Mia's background and importance of FIT
(2:03) - Iris's background and importance of FIT
(2:50) - Tori's background and importance of FIT
(4:16) - What to expect from FIT
(6:33) - Details about the FIT community and benefits of the cohort size
(8:57) - How to make your story stand out
(10:32) - How students with no venture experience can showcase their interest
(12:08) - How to get the most of out the FIT program
(13:45) - Details about time commitment
(14:33) - What makes FIT special and unique from the other DRF Diversity Tracks
(16:13) - Final thoughts from Iris
(16:51) - How to get in touch
Have more questions about the Female Investor Track?
PRISM Investor Track - Ivan Zhao and Nika Duan
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Ivan Zhao and Nika Duan from Dorm Room Fund's PRISM Investor Track!
(0:48) - Ivan's background and importance of PRISM
(4:11) - Nika's background and importance of PRISM
(6:51) - What makes PRISM special and unique from the other DRF Diversity Tracks
(9:19) - PRISM's cohort size
(9:52) - Community fostered during PRISM
(12:10) - How to get the most of out the program and time commitment
(13:12) - How to get your story to shine through in the application
(15:25) - How applicants can stay engaged with PRISM & VC beyond program
(16:37) - Nika's advice to applicants and helpful tips
(18:10) - Ivan's wall of love of people who reached out about PRISM's impact
Have more questions about the PRISM Investor Track?
Blueprint Investor Track - Daniel Applewhite, Mea-Lynn Wong, Tori Orr, & Zakaria Gedi
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Daniel Applewhite, Mea-Lynn Wong, Tori Orr, & Zakaria Gedi from Dorm Room Fund's Blueprint Investor Track!
(0:48) - Mea-Lynn's background and importance of Blueprint
(2:57) - Tori's background and importance of Blueprint
(4:35) - Zakaria's background and importance of Blueprint
(5:53) - Daniel's background and importance of Blueprint
(8:48) - What makes Blueprint special and unique from the other DRF Diversity Tracks
(12:17) - Details about the Blueprint community and benefits of the cohort size
(16:32) - How to get the most of out the Blueprint program and time commitment
(22:10) - Daniel's advice to applicants and helpful tips
(23:10) - Tori's advice to applicants and helpful tips
Have more questions about the Blueprint Investor Track?
Tanthai Pongstein, Founder of Wonderstruck & Godling Design Studios
Tanthai Pongstein is the founder of Wonderstruck and Godling Design Studios. He previously was a Head of Design for Dorm Room Fund, a founder of Safebox Safe Lockers, and a student at UC Berkeley.
Additionally, Tanthai is the host of Proof of Love, a dating show developed by Web 3 Startup Mad Realities.
(0:34) - Quick Note
(1:35) - Tanthai's background and going from a 2.5 GPA to UC Berkeley
(5:34) - Safebox and going to a Hackathon
(12:37) - Tanthai's perspective on passion
(21:15) - Drawing rectangles
(22:01) - Favorite Artists
(24:43) - Proof of Love, a Web 3 Show
(27:02) - Finding what makes you happy
Talia Goldberg, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Talia Goldberg (@TaliaGold) from Bessemer Venture Partners!
(1:09) - Joining DRF and journey into investing
(2:48) - A memorable moment during her time in DRF
(4:00) - Breaking into venture and the Bessemer analyst program
(6:57) - Career advice for people early in their career
(8:17) - Female mentorship and Talia’s involvement with increasing diversity in VC
(9:45) - Rules that Talia breaks when investing in breakout companies
(10:35) - Bessemer’s investment in Web3 and BessemerDAO
(13:58) - What DRF is incredibly good at and potential initiatives
(16:11) - Areas of personal growth and New Year's Resolutions
(17:57) - Where the best pizza and ice cream shops in the country are
Get in touch with Talia!
Adele Li, Investor @ Redpoint Ventures
Adele Li is a growth investor at Redpoint Ventures. She previously worked in private equity roles for Ares Management Corp. Additionally, she was a managing partner at Dorm Room Fund while studying at UPenn.
(1:33) - Adele's upbringing and background
(3:35) - The Harker School
(6:20) - Getting an internship at a family office.
(8:05) - SF's entrepreneurial ecosystem
(11:20) - Joining Dorm Room Fund
(14:30) - Becoming a value-add in VC
(19:00) - What Adele invests in and areas of interest
(22:57) - Why she chose Redpoint
(26:12) - Business/VC blogs, podcasts, and more that she likes
(28:22) - Advice she gives to anyone interested in the industry
Isabelle Zhou, Chief of Staff and Investor at Floodgate
Andrew Xu and Daniel Aboul-Hassan speak with Isabelle Zhou (@isabelle_zhou) from Floodgate!
(1:12) - Launching DRF's Female Founder Track
(3:16) - Why Isabelle worked at an early-stage startup (Nooks) right out of college
(5:31) - How Isabelle defines success and how that definition has evolved
(6:47) - Crazy story while working at Nooks
(9:57) - Female mentorship and working with Ann Miura-Ko
(11:29) - What surprises Isabelle about VC
(12:57) - How Floodgate remains competitive in today's environment
(15:25) - Product-Market fit lessons
(17:52) - An underrated skill crucial for success in VC
(19:21) - The business Isabelle would start tomorrow & favorite her Taylor Swift album
(20:32) - Story from writing personal year-in-review
(22:16) - Decisions that don't seem large at the moment, but have a disproportionate impact
(23:49) - What Isabelle hopes to see happen with DRF
Get in touch with Isabelle!
Matteo Franceschetti, CEO and Co-Founder of Eight Sleep
Dorm Room Fund is excited to announce the return of the podcast! Subscribe for weekly episode interviews with some of the brightest minds in business, venture, and tech.
This week, Eight Sleep CEO Matteo Franceschetti is back! Souhail talks to him about everything from Eight Sleep's ascension to Formula 1 racing.
Eight Sleep is currently used by pro athletes and top performers across multiple industries and was recognized as one of TIME's "Best Inventions" in 2018 and 2019, was named one of Fast Company's "Most Innovative Companies" in 2018, and has raised over $150M in funding from leading investors, including Founders Fund, Softbank, Khosla Ventures, Y Combinator, Valor Equity Partners, General Catalyst, Naval Ravikant, and Patrick Collison.
Prior to Eight, Matteo co-founded and led GIR (acquired in 2014) and Global Investment (acquired 2011).
Matteo holds multiple patents in tech and health, is a Member of the Forbes Technology Council, and graduated magna cum laude with a Law degree from University of Ferrara.
(1:24) - What Matteo's sleep schedule looks like
(3:20) - Matteo's Background and Upbringing
(4:40) - Eight Sleep's role alongside other Health Tech
(5:12) - What Eight Sleep can do
(6:27) - The Motivation for starting Eight Sleep
(8:28) - Eight Sleep's Vision
(11:46) - Y Combinator's impact on the business
(12:15) - Working with his wife
(13:40) - The ideal Eight Sleep employee
(15:26) - Celebrity Endorsements and meeting Mike Tyson
(16:47) - Matteo's love for F1
Shawn Xu, Partner at On Deck
Office Hours with Dorm Room Fund is back! Subscribe for weekly episode interviews with some of the brightest minds in business, venture, and tech.
This week, Souhail talks to Shawn Xu, a partner at On Deck and Forbes 30 under 30. Shawn previously worked at Square, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Dorm Room Fund. He was also an investor at Floodgate, where he worked under Mike Maples.
(1:42) - Shawn's background and upbringing
(3:20) - How to stand out in VC
(5:50) - Why Shawn loves venture
(8:05) - Policy work and political background
(11:10) - The limits of policy experimentation
(14:30) - Biggest misconceptions about being a VC
(19:00) - The positives of being a VC before starting a company
(22:35) - Meeting the President and then the Vice President the next day
(24:52) - Meeting Quincy Jones
(26:20) - What a successful career looks like to Shawn
Atish Davda, Co-founder and CEO of EquityZen
Tej Singh and Daniel Bessenov interview Atish Davda, the Co-founder and CEO of EquityZen, a marketplace that connects shareholders of private companies (e.g. investors, employees, etc.) with accredited investors seeking to invest in those pre-IPO companies, like Airbnb, Postmates, Reddit, Airtable, Barstool Sports, Grab, Nextdoor, UiPath, Instacart, Flexport, and others.
Sarah Thompson, CEO of Droga5
Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Sarah Thompson, the CEO of Droga5. Droga5, one of the most renowned ad agencies, was founded in 2006 and has been recognized as Agency of the Year more than twenty times since 2007 by different publications. Its clients include Amazon, BMW MINI, Chase, COVERGIRL, Essentia, Harley Davidson, Heineken, The Hershey Company, IHOP, Johnsonville, Kraft-Heinz, LVMH, Mattress Firm, Pernod Ricard, Prudential, Sprint, The New York Times, Thorne, Under Armour and United Rentals.
Lucy Deland, Partner at Inspired Capital
Tej Singh and Cindy Zhang Lucy Deland, a Partner at Inspired Capital, which was founded in 2019 with an inaugural $200M fund. It is one of the biggest debut funds out of New York and an especially significant raise for a female-founded firm. Prior to this, Lucy was the COO at Paperless Post, a site that allows users to design digital invitations, announcements, and correspondence that are as beautiful as custom printed stationery, with the efficiency of web-based communication.
Jen Batchelor, Co-Founder & CEO of Kin Euphorics
Tej Singh interviews Jen Batchelor, the Co-Founder & CEO of Kin Euphorics, the first of a newly invented category of functional beverages called euphorics.
More about Kin: “Kin believes in a night where social isn’t sinful, and self-care doesn’t stop at sunset. It didn’t exist at the bar, so we turned to ancient remedy and modern alchemy to create euphorics: an adult beverage made from nourishing nootropics, balancing adaptogens, and replenishing botanics that opens the mind, calms the body, and connects the spirit.”
Melissa Mash, Founder of Dagne Dover
Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Melissa Mash, the Founder of Dagne Dover, a fashion brand that makes innovative backpacks, duffel bags, wallets, and other accessories. Dagne Dover happens to be a Dorm Room Fund portfolio company :)
Rachel Jo Silver, Founder & CEO of Love Stories TV
Tej Singh interviews Rachel Jo Silver, the Founder & CEO of Love Stories TV, a video platform for wedding planning and inspiration, bringing engaged couples and event professionals together in a uniquely visual community.
Leslie Voorhees Means, Co-founder & CEO of Anomalie
Tej Singh interviews Leslie Voorhees Means, the Co-founder & CEO of Anomalie, a direct-to-consumer startup that makes custom wedding gowns. It has raised over $18 million from top VCs like Lerer Hippeau and Maveron.
Anna Harman & Lisa Bubbers, Co-founders of Studs
Tej Singh interviews Anna Harman & Lisa Bubbers, the co-founders of Studs, a startup that wants to reinvent the ear-piercing experience for the modern world. The company raised its seed round last year from top VC firms, like First Round and Lerer Hippeau.
Eliot Horowitz, Co-Founder & CTO of MongoDB
Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Eliot Horowitz, the Co-Founder & CTO of MongoDB, the most popular database for modern apps. The company IPO'd in October 2017. Before that, it raised over $300M in funding from top VC firms, like Union Square Ventures and Sequoia. Eliot talks about his early years, college life, and the founding story of MongoDB. He also answers fun questions like, "What's the scariest thing you've done for fun?" and "If you had your own talk show, who'd your first three guests be?"
Brian Bushell, Co-founder and CEO of by Humankind
Tej Singh interviews Brian Bushell, the Co-founder and CEO of by Humankind, a clean-ingredient personal care brand on a mission to combat the global issue of single-use plastic waste. by Humankind has raised $4 million from top VC firms, like BoxGroup, SV Angel, and Lerer Hippeau. Previously, Brian was the Co-founder and CEO of Baked by Melissa, a New York City bakery famous for its bite-size stuffed cupcake.
Ilir Sela, Founder and CEO of Slice
Tej Singh interviews Ilir Sela, the Founder and CEO of Slice, which provides tools to independent and small chain pizzerias, like the ability to receive online orders, enabling them to better compete with the Domino’s and Pizza Huts of the world. Its tools are used by tens of thousands of restaurants across the country. A typical restaurant sees its order size rise from $18 over the phone to $30 with the platform. In the interview, Ilir also discusses topics like the economics of NYC’s famous dollar-slice pizza and his favorite movies & shows.
Michael Kirban, Co-founder & CEO of Vita Coco
Tej Singh and Shreyas Parab interview Michael Kirban, the Co-founder & CEO of the leading coconut water brand Vita Coco. Michael has quite the inspiring story, from struggling with learning disabilities as a child to grouping up and selling 25% of Vita Cocoa in 2014 to Red Bull China at a $665 million valuation. Michael chats about how the idea for the beverage came about in a bar when he and his childhood friend struck up a conversation with two young women from Brazil. What started as a side hobby to earn some travel money has evolved into the dominant coconut water brand that now cracks 2.5 million coconuts a day and enjoys a 60% market share. The brand boasts celebrity investors like Madonna, Matt McConaughey, Spike Lee, and Demi Moore.
Drew McElroy, Co-founder & CEO of Transfix
Tej Singh interviews Drew McElroy, the Co-founder & CEO of Transfix, an on-demand freight marketplace for shippers and carriers. It matches truck drivers with extra cargo space with shippers looking to send their goods to their destination. The trucking industry is massive, with long-haul trucking and logistics comprising almost 1% of the U.S. economy. The industry is also incredibly inefficient: nearly 20% of miles are driven with empty trailers, adding up to 65 billion annual empty miles. Transfix's marketplace eliminates waste in the supply chain through mobile technology, machine learning, and big data analytics, and has the numbers to back it up: the company has crossed the golden $100M+ revenue run-rate.
Brian Chen, Co-founder & CEO of Room
Tej Singh interviews Brian Chen, the Co-founder & CEO of Room, which makes soundproof and affordable in-office booths that resemble modern, sleek telephone booths. The company's soundproof booths provide a solution to the issues associated with the loud and distracting environment of open floor plans. In fact, 90% of employees working in offices with an open floor plan experience increased stress levels, conflict, blood pressure, and turnover rates. Room is a young startup that recently raised a $2 million seed round led by Slow Ventures, yet it already boasts over 3,000 customers, like Nike, JP Morgan, Google, and Salesforce.
Michael DeVirgilio & Cory Baker, the President and COO of Marquee Brands
Tej Singh interviews Michael DeVirgilio & Cory Baker, the President and COO of Marquee Brands, a brand acquisition, licensing, and development company they co-founded in 2014. Marquee Brands' first major purchase was the Italian luxury label Bruno Magli, back in 2015. The same year, it also purchased Ben Sherman, the London apparel brand. In 2019, Marquee Brands acquired the Martha Stewart brand. The duo evaluates acquisitions based on three pillars: heritage, global opportunity and growth potential, and whether the brand can benefit from Marquee management.
Matt Meeker, Founder & CEO of Bark (BarkBox)
Tej Singh and Jessica Leão interview Matt Meeker, the founder & CEO of Bark, the parent company of BarkBox, which provides a customized box of themed toys and treats for your pup every month. The company has raised over $75 million in funding and surpassed $100 million in revenue back in 2016. BarkBox was inspired by Hugo, Matt's 200-pound Great Dane. Before Bark, Matt cofounded Meetup, a platform that allows users to organize online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests. WeWork acquired Meetup in 2017 for a reported $200 million.
Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks
In this episode, Tej Singh and Abhinav Karale interview Josh Sapan, the CEO of AMC Networks, which has created some of this generation's most popular series, like The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. Sapan is one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and visionary executives and has played an integral role in ushering in this new "Golden Age" of television. He has a multitude of awards to show for it, like having been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and being lauded by Fast Company as one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business." Throughout his 25+ years at the company, Sapan led the company's acquisitions of Sundance Channel, a 49.9% stake in the BBC AMERICA cable channel, and other widely-watched media properties. In this interview, we discuss topics like his childhood in Brooklyn, dropping out the University of Wisconsin-Madison twice, and returning to NYC, where he looked unsuccessfully for a job in television for a couple of years. (The irony.) We wrap up by chatting about his favorite podcasts and the scariest thing he's ever done for fun, among other topics.
Henry Blodget, Co-founder & CEO of Insider Inc.
In this episode, Tej Singh and Abhinav Karale interview Henry Blodget, the Co-founder & CEO of Insider Inc., the parent company of Business Insider (66 million social media followers), Insider (137 million social media followers), and other online media juggernauts. Insider Inc.'s content reaches 375+ million people and helps shape the world's collective conscience. We dive into Henry's eclectic past, discussing everything from how he spent a year teaching English in Japan to why he then moved to San Francisco and supported himself by giving tennis lessons. We also discuss the founding of Business Insider and the goal Blodget had "to put the fun back in business" by making light of people in the news and of himself. Other topics include the modern media landscape, selling his company to the multi-billion dollar publishing house Axel Springer, and the scariest thing Henry has ever done for fun.
Emmett Shine, Co-founder of Gin Lane and Pattern Brands
In this episode, Tej Singh and Abhinav Karale interview Emmett Shine, the Co-founder of the legendary design agency Gin Lane, which has now transitioned into Pattern Brands, a multi-brand consumer goods company. Gin Lane was one of the most influential design agencies of our generation, helping launch one iconic D2C brand after another. Through Gin Lane, Emmett is an investor in some of the agency's clients, like Hims, Sweetgreen, Cadre, Quip, Haus, SmileDirectClub (IPO), Harry's, Stadium Goods (acq. by Farfetch), & more, giving him a track record that would rival any Silicon Valley VC worth their weight in gold. In this interview, we dive into Emmett's humble beginnings and discuss everything from how a Native American inspired him to (briefly) move to New Zealand, to why he dropped out of NYU Tisch his senior year. To wrap up, Emmett indulges us by answering fun questions like, "If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?" and "What's the best gift anyone's given you?"
Ben Liu, Co-founder & CEO of TrialSpark
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Ben Liu, the Co-founder & CEO of TrialSpark, which takes the guesswork and growing pains out of starting pharmaceutical clinical trials by overseeing all aspects of clinical research, from recruitment and set-up to maintenance and completion. They use technology to identify pockets of potential patients outside the typical test area of large cities and universities and help equip doctors with the infrastructure and oversight to efficiently run a clinical trial to help those patients.
Trialspark's investors include Sequoia, Thrive Capital, and KPCB's John Doerr. Ben is a Rhode's Scholar; he received his undergraduate degree from Yale, his Master's from Cambridge, and Doctorate degree from Oxford.
Jonathan Bensamoun, Co-Founder & CEO of Fi
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Jonathan Bensamoun, the Co-Founder & CEO of Fi, the most accurate, lightweight, modern smart dog collar. The company was founded in 2017 and has raised $10M from Lerer Hippeau and RRE Ventures. Fi has a battery life 20x longer than competitors, alerts you when your dog leaves a designated safe zone, and tracks your dog’s daily step count, allowing you to compare to other Fi users and compete on a leaderboard with pups of similar breeds. FI hopes to put an end to the problem of 10 million dogs going missing every year in the US.
Before founding Fi, Jonathan founded the location-based app Pins in 2013, which was acquired by Square the following year.
Curtis Lee, Founder of Luxe and Venture Partner at Primary Venture Partners.
In this episode, Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Curtis Lee, a Venture Partner at Primary Venture Partners, and the Founder of Luxe, an app that provided on-demand parking and valet services. Before being acquired by Volvo, Luxe had raised over $75M from Hertz, Redpoint, Venrock, and GV (Google Ventures); Curtis had built a team of over 100 FTEs in engineering, product, and ops and over 1,000 valet agents. Interview topics include Curtis’ transition from investing to startups, his story about how Luxe was severely impacted after Carl Icahn entered the picture, and his successful angel investments, like Superhuman, Persona, Kapwing, Poshmark, Wag!, and Pared.
Rachel Blumenthal, Founder & CEO of Rockets of Awesome
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Rachel Blumenthal, the Founder and CEO of Rockets of Awesome, a vertically-integrated children’s clothing company. The startup has raised $49 million from investors like Serena Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Foot Locker, Forerunner Ventures, and General Catalyst. Before this, at the age of 23, Rachel founded Rachel Leigh, a fashion jewelry brand that was sold in ~500 retailers worldwide, and did private label for American Eagle, Target, and J.Crew.
Jay Goldklang, Founder & CEO of Great Jones
In this episode, Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Jay Goldklang, the Founder and CEO of Great Jones, a modern, full-service operating platform that allows property investors to find quality renters, receive reliable income, and access local vendors for unit upkeep. Great Jones has raised over $20M from Crosslink Capital, Zigg Capital, Juxtapose, Seamless founder Jason Finger, and serial entrepreneurs Kevin Ryan and David Rosenblatt. Interview topics include Jay’s path from Yale and Stanford GSB to 1stdibs and Great Jones, his love of sports fueling his youngest entrepreneurial pursuits, and the value-add that Great Jones provides property owners, from leasing to maintenance.
Alex Adelman, Co-founder and CEO of Lolli
In this episode, Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Alex Adelman, the Co-founder and CEO of Lolli, a rewards site that gives its users bitcoin for shopping at just under a thousand retail partners like Walmart, Hotels.com, and Macy's. Lolli has raised around $2.25M from Bain Capital Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, SV Angel, FJ Labs, and other top VCs. Interview topics include how Alex’s first company, Cosmic, prepared him to play the long-game with VCs, the mentality a young entrepreneur should have when it comes to raising capital, and how Lolli is democratizing bitcoin for the next generation.
Charles Best, Founder & CEO of DonorsChoose
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Charles Best, the Founder & CEO of DonorsChoose, a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects, like field trips, and buying books. To date, over 4 million donors have collectively funded over 1.5 million projects, directly impacting nearly 40 million students. DonorsChoose is approaching $1 billion donated through its platform.
Matteo Franceschetti, Co-Founder and CEO of Eight Sleep
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Matteo Franceschetti, the Co-Founder and CEO of Eight Sleep, the world's leading sleep enhancement company. Named one of the Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company, Eight Sleep is redesigning the traditional concept of a mattress, by developing cutting-edge AI and machine learning models to track bio-signals during sleep to optimize body recovery and rest. Eight has raised $70 million from leading Silicon Valley investors, including Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Y Combinator, and angel investors like Eventbrite co-founder Kevin Hartz and Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen.
Brad Hargreaves, Founder and CEO of Common Living
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Brad Hargreaves, the Founder and CEO of Common Living, a company that is dedicated to making housing better by providing convenient, community-minded shared homes. Since opening its first home in 2015, Common has grown to over 650 members in five cities. It has raised over $63M from investors like 8VC and Norwest. Before starting Common, Brad founded General Assembly, a global education institution, and was a Venture Partner at Maveron, General Assembly’s lead investor.
Greg Marsh, Founder and CEO of KeyMe
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Greg Marsh, the Founder and CEO of KeyMe, a technology company that provides an app for copying keys and robotic kiosks for new key fabrication. KeyMe has raised over $190M from investors like Comcast Ventures and BlackRock. Interview topics include Greg’s impetus for starting KeyMe, his path from Columbia Business School to KeyMe, and how he has scaled his business since 2012.
Brian Long, Co-founder & CEO of Attentive
In this episode, Tej Singh interviews Brian Long, the co-founder & CEO of Attentive, a platform that helps brands send and receive text messages from their customers. It’s used by 400+ companies, like Sephora, Urban Outfitters, Coach, CB2, and Jack in the Box, and its client list has grown 8x in just the past year. Recently, Its $40M Series B was led by Sequoia, with participation from existing investors, like Bain Capital Ventures. Before Attentive, Brian founded TapCommerce, a mobile ad startup that was acquired by Twitter for a reported price of $100 million. Brian received his undergrad degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Patrik Hellstrand, CEO of By Chloe
In this episode, Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Patrik Hellstrand, the CEO of By Chloe, a plant-based restaurant with locations in NYC, Boston, LA, London, and Toronto. It has raised $31 million Bain Capital and others. Interview topics include growing up in Stockholm, working at a small mountain hotel in Austria and an Arctic cruise ship, joining as the first employee on the world’s most expensive cruise ship, helping launch a $2 billion resort, running operations at Equinox, and now being the CEO of By Chloe.
Jake Poses, Co-founder & CEO of Jumprope
In this episode, Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Jake Poses, the Co-founder & CEO at Jumprope, a place to discover, create, and share how-to videos, like craft projects, tutorials, recipes, fitness routines, and others. Jumprope raised a $4.5M seed led by Lightspeed, with participation by Adobe Chief Product Officer, Scott Belsky, and Thumbtack co-founders Marco Zappacosta and Jonathan Swanson. Interview topics include his experiences growing up in NYC, attending Duke and running the sports section of the university’s newspaper, working at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain Capital (PE), attending Stanford for his MBA, joining a then-8-person startup, Thumbtack, first as a summer intern and then full-time, eventually becoming the VP of Product, leading a 50-person team there and growing the company to a $1.25B valuation, and then finally moving to NYC to start Jumprope.
Emmanuel Straschnov, Co-founder & CEO of Bubble
In this episode, Tej Singh and Adele Li interview Emmanuel Straschnov, the co-founder & CEO of Bubble, a no-code point-and-click programming tool to build web and mobile apps. The platform has over 270,000 users and raised a $6.25M seed round last year led by by SignalFire and Neo, with participation from the artist Nas and the founders of the unicorns Warby Parker, Harry’s, Allbirds, Okta, MuleSoft and Flatiron Health. Interview topics include growing up in France, selling at the age of 13 to help his classmates learning German vocabulary, moving to China to work as a management consultant, attending Harvard for business school, working as a summer intern for the CEO of Prada, and launching Bubble, which was bootstrapped for many years at first.