Tech-Entrepreneur-on-a-Mission Podcast


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 Platypus

His 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

More Episodes


The power in creating an aligned organization to not only survive a global crisis but come out stronger altogether

Season 5, Ep. 197
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to build the best content, connect people across the world and create happy customers. My guest is Volker Smid, CEO of AcrolinxVolker has more than 25 years of management experience in the software, internet, technology, and media industry around the globe. Throughout his career, he served as CEO of Searchmetrics and EVP Digital & Technologies at the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. He was CEO of Hewlett-Packard Germany, Vice Chairman of BITKOM, President EMEA and Asia/PAC at Novell Inc., SVP Sales Midmarket at Parametric Technology Boston, and SVP at POET Inc. in San Mateo, California.Today he's the CEO of Acrolinx, a company that's built around the vision to create a world connected by amazing content. Its mission is to supercharge the billions of enterprise content touchpoints that power the global customer experience.And that inspired me, and hence I invited Volker to my podcast. We explore what's broken when it comes to managing content in the enterprise world. We drill into the negative effects and the cost of content that frustrates people, and this multiplies as the scale, consumption, and complexity grow.Volker then talks about how he's steering his organization to be a fully aligned organization - and how having a strong and clear vision and mission that are focused on transformational change are critical to achieving this.Last but not least he shares his lessons learned in leading his company through the crisis, and what was required to become a stronger company altogether.Here are some of his quotes:My first statement, when I came to realize that this world was being turned upside down, was: This is a global crisis. And there will be winners and losers in the global crisis. And I believe we have a fair chance to come out of this crisis being a stronger company - without knowing what that meansBut the first address for the organization was the reminder of. It is a crisis. Every crisis is a mix between challenges and opportunities. Let's be very, very cautious and careful about the challenges. But let's focus on the opportunity.During this interview, you will learn four things:How to embrace uncertainty and fear when adversity hits - and the power of trust in each other to overcome the biggest challenges.Why every company should educate and develop every employee to be able to tell a 30-second story about the companyWhy capturing the transformational stories from customers are critical to creating an aligned and proud organizationWhy leaders should encourage every employee to go out of their comfort zone and do things they have never done beforeFor more information about the guest from this week:Volker SmidWebsite Acrolinx

How diverse and distributed teams can accomplish truly amazing things...

Season 5, Ep. 196
This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to bridge the best of both worlds to create remarkable results in an increasingly remote workplace. My guest is Matt Compton, Co-founder, and CEO of Filo.Matt is a two-time founder and former IBM, ExactTarget, and Salesforce. He spent his entire career solving complex problems within product development, sales, marketing, and business strategy. Through a unique skill set combining engineering and business, he specializes in building and leading cross-functional teams to solve organizations' largest problems.Today he's the CEO of Filo, a company that's on a mission to build a future where online meeting fatigue is replaced with meaningful engagement and increased productivity.And this inspired me, and hence I invited Matt to my podcast. We explore how his company emerged from an attempt to prevent a hackathon event from being canceled. It's a story about what's humanly possible to achieve in a matter of weeks when the problem is highly valuable to solve and timing is critical. Matt shares the challenges he had to overcome in finding a repeatable business model and making the business sustainable. Last but not least he shares his experiences on what it takes to shape a remarkable software business.Here are some of his quotes:We're helping people come together in order to get real work done, but without having to be in the same place to do it.While it's always great to be in person, and I'm excited to get back in person when we can start doing more of that. Having to do it isn't good for anybody. It's not good for us as people, it's not good for our families. It's not good for the environment. It is not good for business, because it just slows everything down. It's incredibly expensive.We like to move fast. So this is a problem we have been talking about for many years. And we had an opportunity at the beginning of the pandemic in order to put our money where our mouth was. And going back to curiosity, being ambitious, and working with great people - It was an opportunity. We had four weeks and we said "hey, what if?"During this interview, you will learn four things:The importance of laser-sharp segmentation - in particular, understanding who you're not forHow to continue momentum when the virality effect of 'the start' fades outHow to tune messaging when you're bringing something to market and people are not in the mindset and may not even think there's a solution out there they needWhat to change to be able to better deal with failure - and become stronger from it.For more information about the guest from this week:Matt ComptonWebsite Filo

Great innovation starts with beautiful (but big) constraints

Season 4, Ep. 195
This podcast interview focuses on the art of product innovation - and how people, not technology, often play a fundamental role in creating success. My guest is Derek Mendonça, Co-Founder Singular AircraftDerek is a highly accomplished business leader with a passion for people & results; specifically, for empowering people to get the best results, aligned around an ambitious vision.He believes people perform at their best when they are challenged. When they are allowed to explore, encouraged to push their boundaries, and inspired to compete against their own prior achievements.Derek excels at creating the engagement, excitement, and professional challenge that leads to positive organizational change and encourages innovation.And exactly this skill caused him to co-found Singular Aircraft. It's a company that produces the largest and most versatile unmanned civilian aircraft. The company is on a mission to solve some meaningful and growing problems such as fighting the massive wildfires around the globe, poaching, and delivering goods to operations in dangerous or remote areas.And this inspired me, and hence I invited Derek to my podcast. We explore how making big progress is so often not about introducing new technology, but changing the mindset of people. Derek shares many anecdotes about his fascinating journey (and opportunity) with Singular Aircraft. How small thinking literally stopped countries that need it most to make a big impact. He talks about the big lessons learned to overcome seemingly impossible hurdles - and what helped him to stay sane in that process.Here are some of his quotes:We wanted to make something different. We wanted to make something that everyone could afford. Most planes, as you know, are very expensive.We wanted to make something affordable, at a price point that nobody could compete with us.So our competitor is a 4x4 Land Rover. In terms of cost, not a plane, any 4x4 is my competitor. Because that's the real cost of operations. Obviously, we can take much carry much more and travel further, than where a 4x4 can go. But that is my competitor. So we made it at a price point. And it was a huge risk because we thought at the time: Time will tell whether we're genius, or crazy.During this interview, you will learn four things:It's easy to think about the downsides. It's hard to be positive - choosing not to spend time or energy on what can go wrong, but what can go rightWhy we need to start with the end in mind - and envision how your product can make the biggest possible differenceThe power to catalytic invention - create something that excels at the three A's: Applicability, Accessibility, and affordabilityHow to create something that drives word of mouth from the startFor more information about the guest from this week:Derek MendonçaWebsite Singular Aircraft