Tech-Entrepreneur-on-a-Mission Podcast

12/1/2021

To make the biggest impact we should blow up our calendar

Season 4, Ep. 192
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to let us all create a bigger impact, by spending less time in meetings. My guest is Alessandra Knight, Co-Founder, and CEO of Katch.Alessandra studied anthropology and has always had a passion for learning about different people and cultures. She values people-first thinking. And this landed her at Dots - a mobile game studio, where she quickly moved up to an operations-lead-slash-strategic-advisor role for the executive team. Her role was geared towards optimizing time for herself and her colleagues. Soon she started seeing how hard true, uninterrupted focus time was to come by.This sparked a project within Dots to search for a way to give the team more time to do work and less time in meetings.And this became the big idea behind Katch. Katch is on a mission to create a world where people make the time to connect with who they want, on topics that matter at times that work best for them. It's giving all of us the ability to live our lives versus being controlled by our calendars.And that inspired me, and hence I invited Alessandra to my podcast. We explore what's broken in the way we manage our time or have our time managed for us - and how that erodes the impact we can make. The traditional ways to manage calendars is flawed - since it doesn't take our mindset, energy levels, and priorities into account. Alessandra shares the big idea behind her company and how she'll use technology to give us back uninterrupted focus.She also shares some of her big lessons learned building her SaaS business and what is important to succeed beyond having a remarkable solution.Here are some of her quotes:Our life is a spontaneous train of events We never know how the next hour and whatnot will be scheduled. We're creating a product to work hand in hand with spontaneity and believe that being able to have these conversations ad-hoc, when you're in that right headspace to connect with someone, is important.Being able to focus on what's most important in the moment, being more productive, and still having time to do what matters most.During this interview, you will learn three things:That it's very possible to disrupt a market that's been around for decades and is dominated by extremely large tech-giantsWhy passion for the product is not enough,w the passion needs to be about how the product help impact the lives of othersThat we always try and move forward in our paths - but sometimes we have to move laterally to get where we need going - and that's OKWhy openness, passion, and diversity are key ingredients to create a SaaS business that's able to create remarkable momentum.For more information about the guest from this week:Alessandra KnightWebsite Katch
11/24/2021

How to create an organization where the bulk of your employees are so committed that they are willing to put in their own money

Season 4, Ep. 191
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to shape the conditions where everyone can come to work in an environment that’s right for them. My guest is Nico Blier Silvestri, Co-Founder and CEO of Platypus.Nico has an extremely diverse and robust 15-year career in recruitment, working at industry-leading companies, including Yahoo!, Trust Pilot, and Unity. He's been pioneering his own brand of culture-centric recruitment. Through his time as Chief People Officer, Strategic Business Advisor, and Director of Talent, Nico has now channeled his business and recruitment insights into PlatypusHis experience has taught him that company culture is at the core of every step of an employee journey, from attraction to management, to retention.He believes that culture is democratic. That all employees have an impact on the culture of an organization, bringing their personal values as cultural drivers - and that company culture is not defined by top-down values but by everyday actions.This became the founding principle of Platypus, which Nico leads as their CEO.It's on a mission to help organizations understand their culture better and make sure every employee, whether current or future, has the opportunity to prosper.This inspired me, and hence I invited Nico to my podcast. We explore what's broken in the market where it comes to building thriving cultures. We discuss that's very much a management issue - and what difference can be made if technology and people blend in the right way. Nico shares his stories about the journey he's been through in taking the Platypus from an initial vision to where it is today. He shares the mistakes he made and explains how we overcame some big hurdles to get to Product-Market Fit and create a solution that makes a significant difference in the eyes of his customers.Here are some of his quotes:My big picture genuinely is to kill bullshit branding. I'm exhausted from looking at videos or organizations advertising themselves. It's all the time the same. Put another logo, there's nothing genuine and honest about the reality of this. It's not helping the organization. and it's certainly not helping the candidates or the people outside.Secondly, we really want to achieve is for people to find the right organization for them to work in. That's the whole idea with Platypus. Platypus is this amazing animal that probably shouldn't exist because it's so specific.But in the right environments, in the right setup, it's happy, it's thriving, and it exists and it's evolving. That's why for us we call it Platypus because it's all about finding the right environment for the person.During this interview, you will learn four things:That a critical lever for success is positive conflict. You don't need people that agree with you. You don't need to hear what you've just said in a different voice.Remove the ego from leadership. You're not in a leadership position, because you're right all the time. You're in a leadership position because you're the best at getting the best out of people.That as a CEO you want to go so fast, and you're so self sold into your own idea that it's critical to have people that are not you making decisions on the product.How to go about making the decision to kill your product, and start all over again.For more information about the guest from this week:Nico Blier SilvestriWebsite Platypus
11/17/2021

The value we can create when software makes its users remarkable

Season 4, Ep. 190
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to give all of us new options to communicate more humanly and be trusted faster. My guest is David Jay, Founder, and CEO of Warm WelcomeDavid was recently named a Top 100 Tech Innovator and Influencer. David is a startup junkie, he has started service-based companies and several software companies. He believes that business can be a tool to help us build better relationships and connect us to a purpose far beyond ourselves.Today he's the CEO of Warm Welcome. A startup that's on a mission to create a world that is more personal, more human, more joyful than ever before. They believe that most people would prefer to engage with another human instead of a robot - and that relationships are what make our lives rich and give us meaning.This inspired me, and hence I invited David to my podcast. We explore what's broken in the way communicate digitally and what that leads to. We then discuss the approach David has chosen to solve this problem in a remarkable way. He shares his big lessons learned in building the solution in an as lean as possible way. He addresses the challenges he faced in creating momentum in a completely new category - and ends with his fresh take on the concept of 'launching'.Here are some of his quotes:It really helps people stand out. Everybody is been doing things the old way. Everybody has a funnel built. They have email campaigns. You sign up for a product, and you get 20 emails. And they all look the same. They're beautifully designed, they're full of text and graphics.But when you put your face behind something, you build trust way faster than you do with pretty graphics. And for most products and services, people want to trust the person that's making it before they're going to buy it.During this interview, you will learn four things:That we're too often building remarkable software, but forget the power of human touch. Combining the two creates something that stands out.That, in order to more often succeed, we should replace the word 'launch' with 'planting seeds'.Why we should always test the water in the market with something lightweight - something we can still adjust without wasting money.Why it's key to turn early customers into evangelists - and how to go about that.For more information about the guest from this week:David JayWebsite Warm Welcome
11/10/2021

Value creation isn't often so much about the accuracy of your technology, but how useful it is in the eyes of the user

Season 4, Ep. 189
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to help young people speak their truths and tap into their superpowers. My guest is Ivy Mahsciao, Founder and CEO of evrmore.Ivy is a champion for human potential who has a 20+ year background in consumer psychology and product science, with a category-defining product management portfolio that includes Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, and Nike.Today she's the CEO of evrmore - a startup that's on a mission to help people see their innate potentials and impacts in the world by bringing our social and emotional selves back online. It's an inclusive betterment platform for young people to develop transferable core skills and social mobility. This is especially helpful for those who might be going through the most challenging time in their lives, such as the current pandemic, immigration trauma, grief, separation, and other difficult transitions aka life.This inspired me - and hence I invited Ivy to my podcast. We explore what's broken in today's world where it comes to helping young people to grow their self-knowledge and having a strong self-narrative.We discuss how the non-stop push of information and chasing social proof has created a big problem in society. We then explore the journey Ivy has taken to fix the problem once and forever - and the challenges she's faced along the way. We discuss her strategies to scale and accelerate by leveraging the ecosystem in her tech stack. Lastly, we discuss her take on building a remarkable software business.Here are some of her quotes:The MVP in the traditional sense is just not going to cut it now for something like evrmore. So then what is that thing? This is again, another thing that I want to demystify for the founder’s entrepreneurial experience. When you're building something from nothing - from just the screaming dots you're trying to connect - you also realize that you're always going to feel like you're not going fast enough.There's just not going to be any shortage of Crunchbase news, or acquisition news or funding news, you're always going to be like I needed to launch this thing, six months ago, eight months ago, two years ago, or something like that.Not downplaying that anxiety, I think it's an important one to clearing the air and just being vulnerable. And just say "that is very much my reality."You're always trying to balance those external pressures. So what is that gold standard of knowing what to measure, knowing what to validate before you hit that first Launch button and say, This is now my maximum minimal viable products?During this interview, you will learn four things:How to find highly valuable innovation opportunities by growing your skills to capture any idea and actively connect the right dotsThat the essence about the minimum viable product is often misinterpreted - and how thinking about maximum-minimum viable product can helpHow asking the most piercing questions and describing it from a qualitative standpoint will help define the essence of your businessThat it's your responsibility as a tech-entrepreneur to cherish your hunches and intuitions - and create the pathways for them to become useful.For more information about the guest from this week:Ivy MahsciaoWebsite evrmore
11/3/2021

A story about how to make workplace culture less accidental - and let people succeed in your business from the get-go.

Season 4, Ep. 188
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to help create the workplace culture we'd all dream to work in. My guest is Petri Lehtonen, CEO of FlowtracePetri is a startup leader turned into an entrepreneur. He's what he calls a professional Inter-team communicator. He's had significant exposure to strategic partnerships, nurturing startup cultures, and building cloud products.After 20 years of tackling the slow and manual processes of organizations and teams, Petri figured there must be an easier, modern way of making work more transparent and avoiding the recurrent pitfalls of teams not collaborating with each other.He realized that work is changing whether we like it or not. The tools we use are also part of that change. For a leader to understand their organization, new ways of overseeing are needed. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 was the final push - as it made it even more pressing to solve the obstacles of collaborating remotely.That became the founding idea behind Flowtrace in 2020. Flowtrace is on a mission to bring about the future of work for everyone. It's doing this by building a platform and focusing on the things that really matter in inter-team collaboration – making modern work more meaningful.And that inspired me, and hence I invited Petri to my podcast. We explore what's broken when it comes to creating successful company cultures - and what are the consequences of failing. We discuss what culture creation really is all about, and how technology can play a fundamental role in amplifying the benefits in areas such as boosting productivity, creativity, quality, and/or innovation. Lastly, we dig into Petri's big lessons learned around creating a product-market fit and creating momentum through messaging.Here are some of his quotes:I started a little bit differently than many other founders. Becoming a founder, I knew I wanted to build something that b2b companies can leverage. I wanted to increase the communication and collaboration in the startup tech industry. So the next six months, I spent talking with people who are in the same position as I am. I was trying to find a viable, feasible and valuable solution in these conversations. So I was basically designing my solution just by talking the first half a year.Towards the end of those hundreds of calls and conversations I had some people started to ask at the end of the call, "Can I actually try your solution?"It obviously shocks you a little bit, but when it happens many times enough, you realize, I actually don't have any product. Maybe now it's time I need to actually build it.During this interview, you will learn four things:That success starts by being specific - Being specific about the value you create and who'd benefit most from this valueWhy selling the vision will help you grow momentum faster than selling the featuresThat it's essential to get to product market fit fast - and how to achieve that almost without coding a single lineThat there's often a big difference between what customers want and what you think they want - and how go about that by addressing the fundamentalsFor more information about the guest from this week:Petri LehtonenWebsite Flowtrace
10/27/2021

"When your back is up against the wall, that's when you do your most creative work"

Season 4, Ep. 187
This podcast interview focuses on the journey and the big resilience lessons learned by a startup as it moved from start, to launch, various pivots towards ultimate success. My guest is Paul Wickers, Founder, and CEO of Huggg.mePaul spent 14 years in the Structured Finance team at RBS and then Santander. During this time he came to study the social economics of the greetings card industry. He realized that the success of physically sending a greeting card in the offline world had never been achieved in the online world. This helped him develop the insight that the principles of giving and receiving emotionally impactful gifts could be applied in a digital way - it just had to be done in a different way.This became the launch of Huggg in 2015. Paul build the platform in his spare time, left his job in 2016, and the platform was first launched in July 2017. But the journey of his company wasn't an instant success from the start. And it's the story of business resilience that really caught my attention - and inspired me to invite Paul to my podcast.Listening to this interview will feel like watching a movie trailer unfold. We explore the lessons Paul learned as he took his product to market. Initially towards Consumers, later towards Business to Business. We discuss the importance of product-market fit. We discuss his lessons learned when it comes to allocating funding to the right levers in the business. We go through what happened when COVID hit the world - the rationalization that followed, then the hibernation, then the rebirth, and finally how sheer perseverance and focusing on the problem, not the product helped him succeed.Here are some of his quotes:At the start, any startup idea, especially if it's novel, is a great big bag of all the things that are likely to go wrong. Because in all likelihood, it won't be a success, it's just statistically unlikely for you to actually succeed.So on day one, you've got a great big bag of problems that you're going to have to overcome. And your job over time is to make that bag lighter before you take it to an investor. Because the more of those risks you've gotten rid of, and you've got a lighter bag, when you go forward to raise the next round of money, the better your proposition is because you don't want to prove it.Now what I spent was too long on like creating the first product and not enough time just knocking over those barriers. Actually, because I underestimated I was confident that the idea would work. And I didn't realize how hard product-market fit is.During this interview, you will learn four things:That if you can create a constant feeling of genuine urgency around the mission you'll get the best out of people longer term.That your company will become stronger by being plain honest about what's the real situation in a crisis situation. It helps create great bondingThat nothing is ever as bad or as good as it first seems.That when one thing goes away, other things will open up. So focus on the positive things that you can do, rather than the negativeFor more information about the guest from this week:Paul WickersWebsite Huggg.me
10/20/2021

How seemingly subtle product strategy decisions can set you apart in a big way

Season 4, Ep. 186
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to grow the impact we can make by superpowering our communications. My guest is Surbhi Rathore, Co-Founder, and CEO of Symbl.Surbhi is an international tech leader who advocates for Women in AI with a personal mission to inspire more women to work in Data Science. She comes with experience from technical and customer-obsessed roles in both startups and enterprises such as Nevis Networks and Amdocs. She is a national speaker, an accessibility equity champion, and the ultimate adventure capitalist.Today she's is the CEO and co-founder of Symbl.ai. With her team, she's on a mission to leverage AI technology to democratize conversational tech to make collaboration effortless. And in line with that, they created a new category of voice tech infrastructure– “Conversational Intelligence as a Service”.This inspired me, and hence I invited Surbhi to my podcast. We explore what's broken in the way we communicate and collaborate digitally. We discuss what is required to capitalize on the potential of human intellect by making collaboration effortless. We also address the tough choices Surbhi made in not going with the flow - but instead taking a radically different approach to solving the big problem in the market. Last but not least we discuss what it takes to build a remarkable software business.Here are some of her quotes:When we started the company, it was super crowded. There were so many businesses trying to build automated meeting notes products.I think we always had the right positioning in our minds.But as a founder, it's so hard to articulate that and other people. It was hard for us to just articulate our go-to-market motion of the product that we are building the right way. Although we had an idea that what is going to set us apart. But I think it just came over time as we evolved in terms of 'Okay, we want to we want to build a platform that enables businesses to analyze conversation data without building an in house data science team.'So making it absolutely easy and removing the dependency on data. So there is no data labeling training annotation that goes in the cycle. It's a plug-and-play experience. And that really created a very compelling like aha moment for businesses.During this interview, you will learn four things:Why, to streamline your business and get razor-focused, it's key to get crystal clear on your positioning.That love for the problem is critical to success, but there are some other equally crucial skills to develop/look for in new hiresThe importance of the role of marketing and content creation early in the lifecycle of your company to establish the foundation for inbound trafficHow to prevent investing your newly gained funding on the wrong initiativesFor more information about the guest from this week:Surbhi RathoreWebsite Symbl
10/13/2021

A story about executing bold vision - one about reimagining the way the world works for the benefit of employees

Season 4, Ep. 185
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to transform our workplace into a fair workplace - starting with fair pay. My guest is Maria Colacurcio, CEO of SyndioMaria is a tech veteran – she previously co-founded Smartsheet, which went public in 2018. She spent three years at Starbucks, one of the first Fortune 50 companies to go public with pay equity results. Having started her career working on congressional campaigns, she has a long history of mission-driven work, and a compassionate and competitive attitude to spur change.She serves on the board of the nonprofit Fair Pay Workplace and has been named by Goldman Sachs Builders + Innovators Summit one of this year’s 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs.As a CEO and a mom of 7, Maria is walking the walk on eradicating workplace inequities. Today Maria is the CEO at Syndio, a SaaS startup helping companies around the world create an equitable workplace for all employees, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity.That inspired me, and hence I invited Maria to my podcast. We explore what's broken in today's workplace when it comes to valuing people for the contribution they bring and paying them fairly independent of who they are.We discuss the pivot and what it took to change course. We discuss the effects the Pandemic introduced, and what was critical to not only bounce back, but actually come out stronger. And last but not least we address the role of the CEO in creating a business that people love talking about.Here are some of her quotes:If we get it right we quite literally transform society. I think the gender and race pay gaps resulted in lifetime wages that are often hundreds of 1000s of dollars less for women and people of color.So I think when you think about the wealth gap, and how we just compound over time, that's where we have a tremendous opportunity to transform society. And for companies, it's just as big because, if we get it right, it means they move away from this cycle of annual one and done remediation. And they actually get to stay on top of this proactively overtime on both sides.We really believe that workplace equity is a combination of two things. We started with pay equity, and now we're moving over to more broad workplace equity to look at promotions and when you can get to both. That's when you have a company that Really has an enduring ability to create value and to measure how they're valuing their employees not just for who they are, but the contributions they bring.During this interview, you will learn four things:That the odds of success and surviving any crisis starts with having a solution that's perceived as mission-critical, and not a nice to have.How to prioritize your roadmap by focusing on the smallest ingredient that driving the biggest impact for your ideal customersThat your ideal customers are not the ones that have the biggest budgets, but the ones where you align on world-views and show the courage to stick to it no matter whatHow to focus your leadership team on looking at a problem and brainstorming a solution collaboratively without blaming and fingerpointingFor more information about the guest from this week:Maria ColacurcioWebsite
10/6/2021

By thinking differently about three ways in which we approach data, we enable the future of the world

Season 4, Ep. 184
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to move us to where we are at the centre of our own digital life, and back in control over our own data. My guest is Julian Ranger, Executive Chairman and Founder of Digi.me.Julian is an aeronautical engineer specialising in interoperability and the military internet. He founded STASYS Ltd in 1987, and grew it to a staff of 230, with subsidiaries in the USA, Germany, Malaysia and Australia prior to sale to Lockheed Martin in 2005.He's an angel investor in more than 20 start-up businesses, including firms such as Hailo, DataSift, and Astrobotic.His passion for the power of personal data led him to build new businesses.Today he's the Exec Chairman and founder of digi.me, a company that's on a mission to enable the Internet of Me, enabling us to do amazing things with our personal data without compromising our privacy or security.And that inspired me, and hence I invited you Julian to my podcast. We explore how the internet has become a place where no one is in control anymore over their own data, but no one is in control over all data. And exactly the latter is the problem that stops us from having the level of personalization we really want, and the big breakthroughs we all need, like precision medicine.Fixing privacy, security and consent is not the way forward. That's about stopping the bad stuff from happening. What we need is a way to share more and better data - to make the good stuff happening (without the bad stuff)Here are some of his quotes:Rich data, now ask yourself, is there a company in the world that can do that? And people say, 'well, Google, and Facebook and Axiom', but if you take a circle of my data, they have a wedge. But they don't have my health, my purchases, or my media, my wearables, and stuff.In fact, because of all the stovepipes or silos, whichever analogy you like, it is impossible for any company to bring all that data together to get a rich data library view. So we are effectively stopped from our future at this point.And the laws are shrinking those wedges that people have, but nobody said, Well, how do I open up the whole circle to do it? Now when you look at it, no company can. But there is one entity in the whole system that knows all about you and me. Yourself.You know where your data is. You have a right for that data. And you're the only entity with unlimited usage rights. When you understand those three things, you can only aggregate rich data at the individual. And that's the key insight for what my business does. That's our big idea. And it's no less than enables the future of the world.During this interview, you will learn four things:Why too often we approach the problem from the wrong end - by not looking far enough ahead: the simple desired outcome for the userWhat it requires to succeed when your big idea hits the road and you discover that the road is not quite as smooth as you'd likeThat everybody is lucky - but that many are just not seeing the luck around them.Why as entrepreneurs we often spend too much time on the idea and the instantiation of it, and not enough time on the internal and external messagingFor more information about the guest from this week:Julian RangerWebsite Digi.me