Profiles in Courage with Mark Achler
By MATH Venture Partners
Profiles in Courage with Mark AchlerJan 22, 2020
Transparency Creates Trust
In this episode of Profiles in Courage we hear from Stu Grubbs, CEO of Lightstream. Stu tells an emotional story about the reality he and his team faced when they almost closed their doors with a deal from one of the largest companies in the world in their hands. There are so many courageous decisions that CEOs have to make in this situation. Today, we explore the importance and the risks of transparency with your team, and also the challenges of fundraising a Series A with $0 in revenue.
Stu Grubbs has spent nearly 15 years in tech, esports, and video games after successfully dropping out of a computer engineering track at the University of Dayton. He has been a writer, editor, engineer, EMT, designed and built liquid coolers at Asetek, and served as head of global marketing for SteelSeries launching dozens of products to fanatical audiences all over the world. He also built an app for whiskey collectors before co-founding Lightstream where he currently serves as CEO.
Hire Slow, Fire Quick
In today's episode, we hear from Daniel Estrada, Co-founder and CEO of 86Repairs. In early-stage companies, there is often a lot of urgency around hiring for a new role. When you are operating on a lean team and missing a key role, it can have a profound effect on the company. On the flip side, hiring the wrong person can have a tremendous effect on team culture and productivity. Listen to this episode to hear about Daniel's experience navigating these crucial early hirings and firings.
Daniel Estrada is the co-founder and CEO of 86 Repairs, a subscription service that automates the entire repair process for restaurant groups.
Daniel started his career as a web developer, working in a variety of technical roles in both startups and Fortune 500 companies. He worked as a consultant for several years, before serving as the CTO at Scavado, a recruiting software company. He was also the co-founder of Osmium, an e-commerce and content management software company.
Prior to starting 86 Repairs, Daniel led the European healthcare practice at EPAM Systems, a global digital consultancy, and was based in London.
Daniel is a first-generation American, multi-citizen, and speaks three languages.
Slow Down to Go Faster
In today’s episode, we hear about how Jason Smith, Co-founder and CEO of rMark Bio, defied conventional wisdom by focusing on product-market fit rather than trying to get as many customers as possible, even when he knew he was at risk of making it more difficult to fundraise. He also revisits the time he realized that not all of his employees fully understood the customer. This resulted in him dedicating himself to doing a better job of explaining his company and the customers need. Both of these scenarios circle back to a simple learning, slow down to go faster.
Jason Smith is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 17 years of industry experience as a technologist and product executive. He has held positions in early-stage companies, large multinational corporations, and venture capital incubators yielding a rich professional background. He has assisted multiple startups to raise over $5MM in funding. Jason brings experience as a business executive and principal technologist in distributed systems architecture, big data analytics, and high-performance computing from work with ATI Research, AT&T, General Dynamics, IBM, and GraySky Simulations.
The Courage to Be Contrarian
Mike Evans started Grubhub back in 2002 and successfully led the company to an IPO in 2014. Shortly after, he left the company and decided to start his next venture. Today, Mike is the founder and CEO of Fixer, an on-demand handy-person service. In this episode, we hear about the time Mike turned down an investor, engineered board meetings to receive maximal honest feedback, and stayed strong when his work-life balance came into question.