The VentureFizz Podcast

The VentureFizz Podcast, hosted by Keith Cline.

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Latest Episodes

Steph Johnson Multiplayer Podcast Audio

Steph Johnson Multiplayer Podcast Audio

Episode 340 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Steph Johnson, Co-Founder & CEO at Multiplayer. Steph is an inspiration. As discussed in this interview, her background might not be the prototypical tech CEO profile for a few reasons. First, she came up through the agency world and then ran comms in-house for major tech companies like DigitalOcean and MongoDB. Second, she is a female founder of a dev tools platform startup and yes, we need more female founders. And third, she has a neurological condition called Tourette Syndrome. All of these factors have ultimately given her unique skills to thrive in her current role. Multiplayer is a visual collaborative platform that makes it easy for engineering teams to design, develop, and manage distributed software. The company is venture backed and on a mission to create better ways for developers to work. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * Steph’s background story and how she got her career started with agencies in NYC. * Her decision to move in-house to run comms at DigitalOcean and MongoDB, plus what she learned at each company like the importance of a developer community. * Advice for making the shift from agency to in-house roles. * Founding Multiplayer with Tom Johnson, her Co-Founder, CTO, and husband… and why being married was a strategic advantage when they raised capital. * The details on the Mutliplayer platform and its beta release. * Advice on the storytelling element for a company building technical products. * And so much more.
Andy Palmer - Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, and Author

Andy Palmer - Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, and Author

Episode 339 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Andy Palmer, serial entrepreneur, seed investor, and now author. Andy is one of my OG’s, that being original guests. If you go way back into the archives of The VentureFizz Podcast, you’ll find my first interview with him for Episode #22 back in 2018. In that interview, we talk about his full background story, his career building companies like Tamr & Vertica, plus investing in companies. For this interview, Andy and I connected for a different reason. He has written a book with his co-author, Paula Caliguiri titled “Live for a Living: How to Create Your Career Journey to Work Happier Not Harder.” The two met on a Bumble date which resulted in a friendship and a collaboration for this book, which is useful at any stage of one’s career. It’s ultimately a guide to designing a life that leverages your personal values, motivators, and goals in your career. I’m a fan of audiobooks, so it was fun listening to Andy and Paula narrate the book and I have to admit, they both have great voices for it. Plus, it was cool to know some of the people that they highlight in the book like Elizabeth Lawler, CEO & Co-Founder of AppMap, who we recently on my podcast. The format of this interview is different from my normal style which was a fun change of pace. In this episode, we chat about: * How Andy got involved in AI back in the 80’s and how this is his third AI hype cycle, plus the details about his latest company called DBOS. * The inspiration behind the book. * The 5 phases of ideal careers that being: Starter Phase, Foundational Phase, High-Growth Phase, High-Focus Phase, and Give-Back Phase. We go through each phase in detail. * Why a simultaneous career path can be a benefit. * The advantages of working at startups and how it can push your career forward. * And more! There is obviously a lot more to this book than what we had the opportunity to chat about, so make sure you check it out! The title again is Live for a Living and you can find it on Amazon or the audio version Spotify or any other major outlet.
Episdode 338: Tasneem Dohadwala - Founding Partner, Excelestar Ventures

Episdode 338: Tasneem Dohadwala - Founding Partner, Excelestar Ventures

Episode #338 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Tasneem Dohadwala, Founding Partner at Excelestar Ventures. It’s a lot more common to find VC firms that are investing into deep tech or hard tech, but when Tasneem started Excelestar Ventures in 2010, it was far from the norm. Not only was it abnormal to invest in companies building highly advanced engineering products, but it was also a very challenging time in the tech industry in general. So, to start a new VC firm was very rare. Excelestar Ventures is a bit different than most VC firms as they operate an evergreen fund which gives them flexibility, especially during different economic cycles, in terms of the types of investments they can make versus having to raise a new fund every 2-3 years. The firm is also passionate about funding disruptive businesses led by under-represented founders. Across Excelestar’s entire portfolio, 61% of their companies are minority-led and 50% are female-led. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * Fundraising advice for women or minority founders and why you should always be thinking about asking for introductions. * Tasneem’s background story and how she got her career starting in finance at Goldman Sachs, plus her decision to go back to B-school at HBS. * All the details about Excelestar Ventures in terms of the companies they are targeting, including her interest in personalized medical devices, as well as how their due diligence process works. * Tasneem’s involvement with Golden Seeds, a firm focused on investing in women-led companies. * Advice for pitching your company and the importance of being able to properly articulate the value proposition of your company, having the right market size for that investor, and another factor that she calls the confirmatory mindset. * And so much more.
Episdode 337: Gloria Hwang - Founder & CEO, Thousand

Episdode 337: Gloria Hwang - Founder & CEO, Thousand

Episode 337 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Gloria Hwang, Founder & CEO of Thousand. Gloria’s career has centered around mission oriented initiatives and companies. Starting at Habitat for Humanity… then to TOMS, which is the gold standard in terms of businesses with a social mission based on their One for One model. She joined the company in its early years and played several key roles while there. As the Founder of Thousand, a Public Benefit Corporation, Gloria named the company after an initial goal of saving 1,000 lives (which they have passed) by making a bike helmet that consumers will actually enjoy wearing. The inspiration for the company came from a tragic story of a coworker who passed away from a bike accident in NYC. When you think of it, it is a category that hasn’t really evolved in terms of style and functionality. What started out as a Kickstarter project… then fast forward to today, Thousand has brought a new level of style and innovation to a category that has been stagnant forever. And, it is working. The company continues to grow aggressively and has been expanding into other categories like the launch of its Thousand Jr. collection. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * A deep discussion around building a company that is mission and community focused. * Gloria’s background story and her mentality as a builder that started as a child which was influenced by her father who started the robotics program for NASA. * Her experience at TOMS including playing a key role in building out their non-profit and giving programs and what it was like working closely with Blake Mycoskie. * The full lifecycle story of Thousand, including how she got started from designing the product to manufacturing to building a brand. * How they decided to expand their product line based on feedback from existing customers versus trying to build out new markets. * Starting the company with a bootstrapped mentality and how that helped the company over the long run. * And so much more.
Episode 336: Julia Rodgers - CEO & Co-Founder, HelloPrenup

Episode 336: Julia Rodgers - CEO & Co-Founder, HelloPrenup

Episode 336 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Julia Rodgers, Esq., CEO & Co-Founder of HelloPrenup, a platform that takes the awkwardness out of discussing and creating prenuptial agreements. This is the 3rd and final podcast interview from my live sessions at Suffolk University with 3 alums that being Don Bulens, Ernesto DiGiambattista, and Julia Rodgers. Some of the best entrepreneurs that I have interviewed for this podcast have either bootstrapped or raised a very, very minimal amount of capital to build their company in the early years. If you are successful with this approach, there are many benefits including the fact that you will have likely built a solid foundation for your business and if you do decide to raise capital to help fuel the growth, you’ll have a lot more control over the terms. As you’ll hear from this interview, Julia has raised only $150,000 total. She started working on HelloPrenup while working a fulltime job. This would involve working with the developer on the initial build of the product while also writing 1,200 word blog posts daily about prenups. This is a true foundational story of entrepreneurship and why I love doing this podcast. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * Julia’s background story and her experience as an attorney in family law. * The industry trend that prompted her to start a business around prenups, a topic that has a history of being a taboo between couples. * All the details about HelloPrenup including how she met her co-founder, Sarabeth Jaffe. * A deep dive into their appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank and their successful investment from Kevin O’Leary and Nirav Tolia, the Founder of Nextdoor. * Why she hasn’t raised institutional venture capital funding to date. * How she has approached hiring for the team and found people who are passionate about their business. * Advice for female founders and the power of networking. * And so much more.
Episode 335: Ernesto DiGiambattista - Managing Director, Genesis Accel

Episode 335: Ernesto DiGiambattista - Managing Director, Genesis Accel

Episode 335 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Ernesto DiGiambattista, entrepreneur and investor. This episode is the 2nd of three interviews that were recorded live at Suffolk University with Suffolk alums. Ernesto has a unique background that hits the trifecta of experience. He spent time in senior roles with larger enterprise corporations, then he founded a venture backed company called ZeroNorth which was acquired by Harness, and he’s now an investor in early stage startups as Managing Director of Genesis Accel. Thus, he was able to provide a very unique perspective, not only around building companies but we also talk about some of the inner-workings of the venture capital industry. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * The details behind EIEIO, which is the acronym that Ernesto uses for hiring, that being Energy, IQ/EQ, Experience, Integrity, and Organizational Fit. * Ernesto’s background story and how he got his career started in the tech industry and how he landed his role at Bank of America and then as an executive at Sentinel Benefits. * What led him down the path of entrepreneurship and how he recognized the market opportunity that turned into ZeroNorth and the full lifecycle story behind the company. * What Ernesto and his partner, Tom Meredith, are targeting for investments. * The importance of understanding the fund dynamics of a VC firm like their deployment requirements and other key factors. * Common pitch mistakes that he sees from founders and why you should show customer retention and revenue growth. * His view on customer success at a startup in the early stage and why it might be more important than sales. And so much more.
Episode 334: Don Bulens - 5 Time Startup CEO & Executive Chair at CloudZero

Episode 334: Don Bulens - 5 Time Startup CEO & Executive Chair at CloudZero

Episode #334 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Don Bulens, 5 time Startup CEO and Executive Chair at CloudZero. This episode was recorded live at Suffolk University which was so much fun! We recorded 3 interviews with Suffolk alums on April 2nd, so this is the first conversation and we’ll have two more coming in the following weeks. And just a side note about Suffolk, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at the school. I was blown away by how many students attended the sessions and how many came up to me afterward with great questions. Back to this episode... Don has had lots of success throughout his career including being the CEO at EqualLogic which exited to Dell for $1.4B in cash, which was the largest cash transaction of its time for a venture backed company… but what I admire about Don is his transparency about his failures. His first two CEO positions didn’t quite work out and he shares the details of this experience of getting knocked down and losing confidence, but how he got back at it and ultimately persevered. Today, Don is the Executive Chair at CloudZero, a venture backed cloud cost intelligence platform, which raised $41M last year in one of the most difficult markets to raise capital. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * Why the success of a company is all about the people. * Don’s background story and how he got into sales, plus the importance of learning how to sell. * A journey down the tech industry across the companies he led as a CEO - that being Radnet, Trellix, EqualLogic, Unidesk, and CloudZero. * Don’s 3 secrets to success. * The story of the EqualLogic exit. * All the details about CloudZero and how they found product market fit. * Meeting his wife, Lynne Capozzi at Suffolk, who was the Chief Marketing Officer at Acquia. * And so much more.
Episode 333: Geri Kirilova - Managing Director, Laconia

Episode 333: Geri Kirilova - Managing Director, Laconia

Episode 333 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Geri Kirilova, Managing Partner at Laconia. From what I’ve seen, it is very rare for someone to start their career in venture and continue to progress up the ranks. Usually, an Associate or Senior Associate will do a rotation for 2-3 years and then move on to a portfolio company, maybe start a company, or do something else. For Geri, outside of a stop at Techstars, the path to venture capital started when she was at NYU as an intern for VC firms including Laconia. Fast forward to today, she is a Managing Partner at the firm and has been recognized by Forbes as a 30 Under 30 recipient. Laconia leads investments in pre-seed and seed stage B2B software companies with a focus around supporting founders in the early days in terms of sales acceleration, operational execution, and capital strategy. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * Advice on building a career in venture capital. * Why she chose NYU and the details of her experience while in college as an operator. * A masterclass on how to build your network and lots of really useful tips on how to avoid the uneasy feeling that some people might have with networking at events. * How Laconia got started by David Arcara & Jeffrey Silverman, plus all the details on the firm. * Seed round funding benchmarks in the current market. * The unique due diligence process that Laconia runs which helps founders make potential customer introductions. * Details on Laconia’s internship and fellowship programs. * And so much more.
Episode 332: Ben Lerer - Managing Director, Lerer Hippeau

Episode 332: Ben Lerer - Managing Director, Lerer Hippeau

Episode 332 of The VentureFizz Podcast features Ben Lerer, Managing Partner of Lerer Hippeau. The tech scene in New York City has come a very, very long way over the past 14 or 15 years. A lot of that transformation and growth was due to access to early-stage capital which wasn’t prevalent back then, but Lerer Hippeau was a key element to the foundation of its success as a seed stage investor. The firm was an early investor in many consumer brands that you recognize as they have all been very successful like Allbirds, Casper, Warby Parker, BuzzFeed, Mirror, Venmo, and many more. Its reputation was built on these consumer breakouts, but ultimately the firm is category agnostic investing equally across the enterprise and consumer landscapes. For example, take a look at two of their most recent investments, which are Boston companies, 10Beauty (consumer robotics for manicures) and Tollbit (content monetization in the era of AI), which we talk about in details for this podcast. Ben is now a fulltime VC after founding and running Thrillist that scaled and then added other digital media brands under its umbrella as Group Nine Media, which was acquired by Vox Media. In this episode of our podcast, we cover: * Ben’s thoughts on the market and if now is the ideal time to start a company. * The inspiration behind Thrillist, plus lots of stories and lessons learned around the full lifecycle and evolution of the company to Group Nine Media and acquisition by Vox. * Advice for entrepreneurs on building a startup media company in today’s world. * How Lerer Hippeau came to fruition and what they are targeting for investments, plus why he considers himself a talent driven investor versus a thesis driven investor. * And so much more.

Bio of The VentureFizz Podcast

The VentureFizz Podcast, hosted by Keith Cline, is the premier podcast of VentureFizz.com, a trusted source for tech jobs and careers. With a focus on the tech industry, this podcast features insightful interviews with top founders and investors who are shaping the tech landscape.

Each episode brings listeners in-depth conversations with industry leaders, providing valuable insights into the world of technology entrepreneurship and investment. Through these interviews, Keith Cline delves into the experiences, strategies, and lessons learned by these successful individuals, offering a behind-the-scenes look at their journeys and the companies they have built.

It covers a wide range of topics, including startup growth, fundraising, market trends, leadership, and innovation, providing listeners with practical advice and valuable perspectives.

By showcasing the stories of top founders and investors, The VentureFizz Podcast offers a platform for learning, networking, and staying up to date with the latest developments in the tech world.

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