The Mid-Point Aug 30, 2023
Dietrich Stephan, Cyto Ventures
Dietrich Stephan, general partner of Cyto Ventures, is a human geneticist and entrepreneur who works in personalized medicine. Trained as part of the Human Genome Project through the National Institutes for Health (NIH), he spent part of his career in San Francisco helping build the national infrastructure through which to deliver genetic information to the medical industry.His insight on moving innovation into commercialization and licensing landed him an opportunity to work with the University of Pittsburgh.He launched CytoVentures to give biotech founders access to infrastructure, expertise and a network of equity investment. Through its own fund and network of investors, Cyto has helped raise over $400 million for about a dozen startups.Listen in as he discussed the future of life sciences and biotech and his experience as both an operator and investor.Cyto Ventures is based in Pittsburgh, PA.
Sankalp Arora, Gather AI
Sankalp Arora is the CEO and Co-founder at Gather AI. A truly inspiring story - as a young man from Delhi, India, he always dreamed of making robots. He was constantly enamored with aerial robotics and as he puts it “making drones curious”. Sankulp earned his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University and leveraged the strength of the robotics ecosystem there to develop his company.Gather AI drones gather data with fully autonomous drones to optimize warehouse inventory processes. The company is at the forefront of taking everyday hardware like a camera or a drone and optimizing it with incredible software and data. The drones scan inventory, process data, find damages and more helping companies drastically improve productivity and efficiency.The company recently acquired a bay area startup, making Gather AI one of the world’s largest in the domain of providing autonomous warehouse data with drones processing thousands of palettes weekly.Gather AI is based in Pittsburgh, PA.
Jordon Rooney, Jaster Athletes
Jordan is no stranger to entrepreneurship. With deep dive experience in sports marketing and branding, he leveraged his expertise into a new innovative concept - Jaster Athletes. The company is building an impressive client roster with top notch athletes including Damar Hanlin.Jaster started as a simple sports marketing agency and has evolved into a scalable business model through the use of AI. Not traditionally a techie, Jordan’s ability to see an opportunity and be ahead of the curve by applying technology to adapt his business model created a “win”.Listen in as Jordan discusses his perspective on building a service based business.
Jeremy Keele, Catalyst Opportunity Funds
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna chats with Jeremy Keele.
Jeremy Keele is a recognized leader in impact investing with a diverse range of professional experiences in the private and public sectors. Jeremy is currently Co-founder and Managing Partner of Catalyst Opportunity Funds, a real estate impact investment firm with ~$300 M under management and dozens of assets in strategic secondary / tertiary markets around the country.
Prior to founding Catalyst in 2018, Jeremy was President & CEO of the Sorenson Impact Center, a university-based think-tank focused on social impact and innovation. During his time at Sorenson, Jeremy advised dozens of investors, government agencies, family offices, foundations and non-profits on strategies to align their funding, activities and measurement with their values. In partnership with the Obama Administration and the Sundance Film Festival, Jeremy created one of the premier social impact and innovation events, the annual Winter Innovation Summit. Under Jeremy’s leadership, the Center grew from two employees in 2013 to nearly 40 in 2018 with ~100 student fellows annually.
Prior to Sorenson, Jeremy was senior advisor to the Mayor of his hometown of Salt Lake. Jeremy advised on the policy portfolio of Mayor Ben McAdams with a $1.2 billion annual budget, 4,000 + employees and 1.2 million residents. While in government, Jeremy helped launch the first social impact bond in the country focused on early childhood education for at-risk kids in the community.
Prior to his time in government, Jeremy was a corporate attorney with the law firms of Cleary Gottlieb and Latham & Watkins in New York, London and Los Angeles. During his 7 years of practice Jeremy led numerous multibillion dollar, cross-border mergers & acquisitions and corporate financing transactions for large corporate clients around the world.
Jeremy holds BS / BA degrees from Brigham Young University, a JD from New York University School of Law and an MPA from Harvard.
Jared Glover, CapSen Robotics
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna talks automation and robots with Jared Glover.
Jared Glover is the CEO and co-founder of CapSen Robotics--a company that makes software to give robots more spatial intelligence. Jared received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 2014, where he developed and applied new theoretical tools for processing 3D orientation information to applications in computer vision and robot manipulation. Prior to that, he completed his B.S. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, where he led a team developing robotic walkers. He has 20 years of research experience in robotics and computer vision and over 500 paper citations. He is also on the boards of Catalyst Connection, a private non-profit that provides consulting and training services to small manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania, and the Pittsburgh Robotics Network.
Ilya Preston, PAXAFE
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna has a conversation with PAXAFE CEO Ilya Preston.
Ilya Preston is the co-founder and CEO of PAXAFE, a company that specializes in smart packaging technology for temperature-sensitive products. Prior to PAXAFE, Preston was the CEO of Thaddeus Medical Systems, Inc., a company that builds smart packaging technology to improve global shipment outcomes by protecting sensitive specimens through the entirety of the supply chain.
Preston has always been interested in improving healthcare and logistics. Ilya was motivated to start Thaddeus Medical Systems after learning about the billions of dollars wasted each year in the healthcare supply chain specifically due to temperature excursions and lost products. Ilya saw an opportunity to create a more dependable solution that would simplify and automate the packaging process and reduce exposure to human error, improve quality, reduce the total cost of ownership, and enable customers to consolidate their logistics supply base.
Under Preston's leadership, Thaddeus Medical Systems developed the iQ+-ler, a smart, all-in-one, hardware and software packaging IoT solution that integrates three key features: active temperature control, tracking and communication, and documentation automation. The iQ+-ler was well-received in the market and helped put Thaddeus Medical Systems on the map as a leading healthcare and logistics company.
Preston's experience with Thaddeus Medical Systems made him a natural fit to lead PAXAFE. With PAXAFE, Preston is continuing their mission to improve global shipment outcomes by developing even more innovative packaging solutions that protect sensitive products throughout the entire supply chain.
Ilya Preston's educational career began at Indiana University Bloomington, where they earned a Bachelor of Science degree Cum Laude in International Business, Economics, and Spanish. Ilya then went on to earn their Masters in Business Administration from the University of Indianapolis - School of Business.
PAXAFE is the OS for visibility control towers. PAXAFE's B2B SaaS platform — CONTXT — is an AI-enabled, device-agnostic risk-management platform that reduces product loss, improves operational efficiency and optimizes decision making for perishable shippers and service providers. PAXAFE contextualizes active and passive visibility data, quantifies risk and predicts OTIF adverse events.
Unlike sensor-enabled visibility providers that leave enterprises as ‘data rich but insights poor’, PAXAFE understands that operationalizing visibility is not a human problem -- it’s a machine problem. PAXAFE exists to unleash the value of visibility program data.
Charles Robinson, 1888 Capital
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna chats with Charles Robinson from 1888 Capital.
About Charles Charles Robinson is a serial entrepreneur and partner with 1888 Capital. He co-founded Teamworks and Forward Cities. Charles is a graduate from Duke University and his background is in investment banking, ad agencies and worked for several #TechStartups. He then built a successful career in real estate before becoming an angel investor. He is a partner in Teamworks, a sports tech company, a successful venture which has acquired other smaller companies. He is passionate about closing the wealth gap and helping underrepresented entrepreneurs find new pathways of discovery into the market. You’ll hear about his strong ability to build networks and discovery opportunities. Listen in on the episode as he describes himself as more of a “pirate” than an entrepreneur! He offers a unique twist and perspective to his approach on success and his ability to lead with empathy coupled with a strong demand for results. Charles shares his insight on what he looks for in budding entrepreneurs, the key upcoming hot upcoming verticals for the southwest and the power of maximizing and building “the network.” 1888 Capital is based in Atlanta, GA. #startups #startups #venturecapital #founderfriday #oneamericaworks
JJ Xu, Talk Me Up
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna talks to JJ Xu of Talk Me Up.
JJ Xu is the founder of Talk Me Up, an AI powered software company focused on workforce training. Originally from China, JJ left her full time job in China to migrate to the U.S. She always wanted to be an entrepreneur from a young age and came to Carnegie Mellon University in 2016 to pursue her MBA. She also participated in the university’s 2018 pitch competition. After doing some soul searching and interviewing many of her classmates and colleagues, it led her to dig deeper into the market and discover how she could create this innovative AI training tool. JJ talks about her approach to productivity and getting bottom line results. TalkMeUp has gained notable clients including Yale, ESP and Hearst. She demonstrates a strong commitment to constant customer discovery and describes her tenacity in building her business. In this episode, she also shares her approach on finding her early stage founding team and building a network in the U.S. #startups #founderfriday #venturecapital #techstartups #oneamericaworks #startupfounder #CarnegieMellon #ai #artificialintelligence
Michael Taylor, Duality
One America Works founder Patrick McKenna is joined by Michael Taylor who shares his background, his journey to building Duality with partners, the unique benefits to living in the #robotics capital that is #Pittsburgh, and what the next big thing in robotics will be. More about Mike Mike Taylor is one of three founders of Duality. The company utilized the metaverse to engineer enterprise solutions for their clients through the power of simulation. Duality has gained many notable clients including Honeywell. With a background in field robotics - solving problems, Mike and his team have been successful at raising capital and generating customers, all while staying on budget and continuing to innovate. Positioned in what many call “the robotics capital of the world”, Pittsburgh based Duality is part of a robust ecosystem of over 100 robotics companies. Mike discussed the marketability factors of being based in Pittsburgh, how it’s helped with the growth and development of his business and gives incredible advice on how founders should build. Mike drops a lot of wisdom in this episode including validating your idea, finding a better way to build and advice on how founders can successfully build their networks. He discusses his take on the future of robotics, from marketing, to household innovations to his sense on the future of autonomous inventions. Duality is based in Pittsburgh, PA. #startups #founderfriday #venturecapital #techstartups #oneamericaworks #robotics #startupfounder
Josh Sanchez, FloatMe
One America Works founder Patrick McKenna interviews FloatMe's Co-founder and CEO Josh Sanchez. About Josh Josh Sanchez, the founder of FloatMe is building one of the leading platforms for improving your finances. Starting out as B2B, the company has evolved into a direct to consumer product providing an innovative approach to helping millions manage their finances. FloatMe has saved customers over $200M in overdraft fees. Join in the episode to hear Josh’s insight on focus, growth, capital and the discovery of new opportunities. He also talks about his breakthrough moments, selling approaches and his take on keeping customers and investors engaged to build a successful business. Having started with humble beginnings to now serving millions of customers, this is a great episode of Founder Friday for entrepreneurs looking for tips on focusing on how to better solve their market. FloatMe is based in San Antonio, TX. #startups #founderfriday #venturecapital #techstartups #oneamericaworks #FloatMe #startupfounder
Ana Kraft, Xena Workwear
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna interviews Ana Kraft, founder of Xena Workwear.
Ana Kraft is the founder of Xena Workwear, a manufacturer of workwear safety boots that are both fashionable and comfortable. Ana never expected to be in the industry, but her background in #manufacturing sparked the idea one day. She initially started her business in Detroit and moved to #Milwaukee where most of her team lived. Listen in as she discusses her approach to growing her team of investors, expanding her product line as well as her tips to overcoming fear and approach to building relationships. Xena Workwear is based in Milwaukee, WI. #startups #founderstories #startupfounder
Aaron George, Supply Now
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna interviews Aaron George.
Aaron George is co-founder of Supply Now, an innovative solution for restaurants to help streamline their processes including food ordering, supplies, delivery, staffing and logistics. He was born and raised in Dubai and came to the U.S.in 2015 to study at Case Western University. Aaron was inspired by his mother, an entrepreneur in Dubai with a beauty business. He often helped her with marketing, sales and operations. Watching his mother pioneer into her own success gave Aaron the drive he would later use to pioneer his own ideas. The Supply Now story highlights the evolution of an idea in times of crisis. Aaron’s background in civil engineering and procurement helped develop his processes and approach to building his business. He also studied abroad in Madrid where he connected with a mentor and learned about the food supply chain in the European market. Aaron experimented with several tech powered food supply innovations and the impact of covid-19 was the catalyst which helped Aaron and his partners tap into their networks and create a new solution - Supply Now. Hear more about how Aaron reached out to his network to reinvent and pivot from crisis to opportunity. Supply Now is based in Cleveland, OH. #startups #startupfounder #founderfriday #cleveland #oneamericaworks #founders #venturecapital
Will Kaigler, sovaSage
One America Works' Patrick McKenna interviews startup founder and and CEO Will Kaigler. About Will: Will is a serial entrepreneur and has launched 4 successful tech companies. His fourth venture, sovaSage, a digital healthcare platform used to treat sleep apnea patients and other chronic conditions. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Will offers solid advice in this episode on his philosophy on solving customers problems and adapting to risk. He discusses the power of building a trust network and shares insight on overcoming hardship and his thoughts on distributed teams. Will teaches entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon and shares what he believes in the key to serving your market. Will describes his methodology and approach to how and why he decided to launch each new venture as well as his theory on what creates long term success. sovaSage is based in Pittsburgh, PA. #startups #founderfriday #venturecapital #techstartups #oneamericaworks #startupfounder #CarnegieMellon
Will Young, Sana Benefits
OneAmerica Works Founder Patrick McKenna chats with Will Young.
Will Young is co-founder of Sana Benefits. His company is building a new model of health insurance in the heartland. From a young age, Will grew up surrounded by friends and family members who were entrepreneurs. Will has a broad work history employed by large companies like Google, working in Hollywood and also doing consulting. He also had the experience of working on the founding team for an early stage venture backed company which grew from 10 to over 100 employees. With solid experience and having always admired entrepreneurship, Will decided to step out and launch his own venture - Sana Benefits. He envisioned he would start a bay area company or in a traditional venture capital hub, having lived in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, his first intro into the heartland was meeting his co founder who was based in Columbus, OH. That led Will to start hiring remote talent from all over the country - this changed his framework. Listen is as he talks about his unique journey and his thoughts on the advantages of growing in the heartland. He’s raised over $100M for his startup. Sana Benefits is based in Austin, TX. #startups #healthcare #insurance #Austin #founders #venturecapital #Columbus
Steve Case, Revolution
Steve Case is one of America’s best-known and most accomplished entrepreneurs, and a pioneer in making the Internet part of everyday life. For the past 15 years, Steve’s focus has been on starting and scaling Revolution, the Washington DC-based investment firm that now backs entrepreneurs at every stage of their development. Revolution Growth has invested nearly $1 billion in growth-stage companies. Steve’s entrepreneurial career began in 1985 when he co-founded America Online (AOL).
Steve discusses his new book, Rise of the Rest and how founders in smaller cities are pioneering the next wave of innovation.
Revolution is based in Washington D.C.
Kyle Maggard, Over Easy
Kyle Maggard is the CEO & Founder of Over Easy, a manufacturer of an innovative new collection of breakfast foods. Historically, the morning breakfast category has been dominated by a handful of companies and Kyle and his team are tackling breakfast in a brand new way. Over Easy products are distributed in nationally.
Over Easy is based in Chagrin Falls, OH.
Ray Leach, Jumpstart
Ray Leach is the CEO of JumpStart. JumpStart Ventures deploys Pre-Seed, Seed and Series A funding to tech startups. The organization has supported over 140 startups with more than $140M under management across multiple funds. Ray discusses the advancements and opportunities in the Ohio market as well as JumpStarts unique approach to economic development and innovation.
JumpStart is based in Cleveland, OH.
Brandy Burch, Benefit Bay
Brandy Burch is the founder of Benefitbay
With a background in operations and finance, Brandy discovered a unique opportunity in the healthcare industry. Listen in as Brandy talks about her journey in building her vision in the heartland.
Benefitbay is based in Omaha, NE.
Nida Ansari, Karmic Partners
Nida Ansari is CEO of Karmic Partners. Listen in as Nida discusses the innovation happening in Indianapolis and the launch of the Hardtech corridor.