Zach Silverman joined me on the podcast to discuss his background and interest in helping more people understand and be inspired to invest in private companies. He started a group, Educated Investors, during Covid, and it's quickly grown into a vibrant online community of investors. Zach and his father invested in an emerging VC firm, RareBreed Ventures, headed by Mac Conwell, who's been a force of nature on Twitter and in the world of emerging VC managers!
Zach and I initially connected on Twitter, one of the silver linings of the last year, and I’ve had a great time in his group so far. Zach also has a passion for diversity and inclusion in the startup and investing community, and we talked about it quite a bit in this episode.
I'm confident that Zach will inspire a whole new generation of investors to participate in the startup world and assist the many amazing founders, and innovations they're building, to become more successful.
Thanks also to show sponsor, Collective Genius, and their work to help venture-backed companies build unstoppable teams. Reach out to me if you want to meet Jeff and team there.
Marvin Liao is currently a partner at GameGroove Capital, a hybrid holding company/family office/fund focused on building and investing in IP, startups and services around the Gaming industry. He was previously a partner at 500 Startups for many years, where he worked with hundreds of startups in the early stages, including many household names. He ran their San Francisco accelerator during much of that time. Prior to 500 Startups, he developed global experience in media and technology in companies like Yahoo, as well as companies that helped US companies reach audiences in Southeast Asia and navigate Baidu in its early years.
I’ve greatly enjoyed Marvin’s musings and writing over the last year, as his Substack called The Hard Fork is one of my absolute favorites. He definitely brings an abundance mentality and has a keen eye for new ideas and emerging entrepreneurs in many regions of the world.
Our conversation covered a lot of ground about careers, global business, the state of the world today, becoming an investor, and even including how to work with startups and founders to help them with their puzzles, and as Marvin says, "each startup is a snowflake."
Thanks to show sponsor, Peak Planning from Collective Genius, whose program for venture-backed companies will help you build an unstoppable team.
Rajeev Kapur is President and CEO of 1105 Media, a company that focuses on events and training. Before Covid his company was a go-to business for in-person education and training events. They did more than 70 events in 2019. Once Covid hit, all of his company's in-person events disappeared overnight. and he discussed the pivots that his various business units had to undertake.
Rajeev and team moved quickly to virtualize his business, navigated some audience and pricing challenges for emerging virtual events. 1105 media proceeded to thrive over the last year, with an increase in activity by over 20%, and gross margins increasing significantly, which led to the 2nd best year in the company’s history.
Rajeev has a long history in the tech industry with roles at Gateway and Dell, as well as more recently at INSTEON/Smarthome.com. I really enjoyed his views on leadership and how that is rapidly evolving due to expectations from today's workforce.
Thanks to show sponsor, Collective Genius, whose Peak Planning system is helping high growth companies to build unstoppable teams.
Tommy Tallarico is CEO & President of Intellivision Entertainment, a name many of you may recall from a prior era. 40 years ago it was a household name as a pioneer in the video game industry. Tommy and team have built on its legacy to bring back its simple, affordable family-focused games and entertainment. They are launching under the Amico name, which means "friend" in Italian.
Tommy has over 30 years of gaming industry experience in virtually every role – designer, producer, writer and even head of music and video. He’s also an accomplished musician and even holds some Guinness World records. He has an amazing vision for the company, and energy and excitement to see it succeed. We talked a lot about his entrepreneurial process on the show as well.
Enjoy Tommy's enthusiasm in this Operate Podcast conversation. And thanks to show sponsor, Hunt Club. They help you find the best talent for your company, from their network of thousands of referral partners.
William Fikhman is Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of Amazzia, a leading provider of services to brands who sell on Amazon. They work with these companies to help them protect and grow their Amazon business by doing things like removing unauthorized sellers, monitoring for counterfeit products, and other brand monitoring services. We talked much more about the needs for control, trust and other factors that have emerged in an Amazon-heavy commerce world.
Amazzia has helped companies deliver hundreds of millions of dollars of sales on Amazon across dozens of brands and product categories, so William has seen a lot and identifies the patterns and opportunities that building a successful business on Amazon often needs.
William is a SoCal native and has built his company here as well - enjoy the entrepreneurial story of how the company got started and his perspective on the evolving eCommerce landscape.
And thanks to show sponsor, Hunt Club, please check them out for their world class referral talent network.
Joshua Lee is Founder & CEO of Ardius, a fast-growing SaaS startup that helps companies identify and recover tax credits. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him over the past year, and enjoy his perspective from many angles – startup founder, investor, and former big 4 accounting firm background.
Ardius has helped companies recover millions of dollars in tax credits from things like research and development that they’ve done in building their product and company, and this money can feel like non-dilutive capital to help fund ongoing operations. This is done by companies of all sizes, but historically has been a very expensive and manual effort, which Ardius is making was faster and easier and automated. I successfully recovered these credits in one of my prior companies several years ago, so I've seen the historical effort and cost firsthand, as well as how well Ardius can now do it for our Operate companies, as an example.
Prior to Ardius, Joshua was investing and building startups through an incubator and venture studio, so we’ve had a lot to talk about in that arena as well! He began his career at E&Y, where he developed expertise in tax credits.
He is a SoCal native with degrees from both UCLA & USC, and has built his company here in SoCal as well. Look for big things from him and Ardius this year!
Annette Walker is President of City of Hope Orange County and is leading the development of a world-class cancer center in Orange County, which was reported to be more than a $1B investment. She and her team have recruited world class researchers and clinicians to the center. She has also quickly become a top community influencer and advocate who is rapidly transforming the health care landscape of So Cal. City of Hope is one of the most comprehensive cancer centers in the country, as well as a leading care providers to serious chronic illnesses like Diabetes.
Annette was a previously a senior executive of Providence St. Joseph Health, a leading health system with over 50 hospitals and over 100,000 caregivers in the western US. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Annette a bit in the last year as she’s gotten involved with the CEO Leadership Alliance of OC and I appreciate her commitment to its mission and particular focus on the next generation of talent and leaders here.
We talked about the history of City of Hope, the great excitement of the big investment they're making here, how that will transform health care and other innovation in the area, how important it is as a community to better develop our local young people, and how programs like Orange Fellowship are critical to building connections across a region as vast as Orange County.
Libby Duane Adams is co-founder and Chief Advocacy Officer of Alteryx. She and her co-founders, Dean and Ned, have built one of the biggest analytics software companies in the world, with a multi-billion dollar market cap, and they’ve done so right here in Orange County. She is also one of only a handful of female founders to take a technology company public. We talked about that amazing journey and story on the podcast.
Alteryx has also had a technology journey as they offer solutions from the desktop to the cloud and she’s evolved and thrived through it all. As a co-founder, along the way she’s led Marketing, Customer Experience and now Advocacy. It’s also been great to have her more involved in the community as Alteryx is taking its platform to schools to equip the next generation with important skills and experiences.
Libby described how companies like Pacific Life are using Alteryx across their company and putting the thrill back into problem solving. She is clearly still thrilled to be a part of the company.
We also spoke about the early days, when Alteryx was not so big, and some of those memories and lessons.
Bob Nunn is CEO of battery-free startup Everactive, a deep tech company that self-powers IoT devices. They have pioneered ultra-low-power circuits, and we talked a lot about the company's history, evolution and current status on the show. Have you ever realized how big of a market industrial steam trap monitoring is?!? Bob considers Everactive the biggest opportunity of his career, by far, as this market grows exponentially in the coming years.
Bob calls himself a “trust-first” manager and we talked about that philosophy, as it has helped his team to thrive during the pandemic, even as they’ve had to go remote, like many other companies. Bob shared his operating principles as a 30 year executive, as well as the qualities he looks for in other company leaders.
Bob has worked successfully with startups for over 30 years across various stages. He’s also raised a lot of capital, nearly $100M with Everactive alone. He previously ran a company, Fulcrum Microsystems, which he successfully sold to Intel, and spent several years there in senior roles.
Bob is also a fellow UCLA Bruin. There was so much wisdom and perspective from this accomplished business executive in the episode - enjoy it!
Deepa Krishnan is the co-founder and CEO of Spoonful, a company focused on leading the “food as medicine” movement. Deepa, her co-founder, Sam, and her team have developed a leading and fast-growing application that helps consumers increase their confidence and safety when selecting foods to eat, based on health restrictions, allergies or their diets.
We talked much more about her and the company’s path on the show, including how food is becoming more and more prevalent as powerful health solution, especially for chronic conditions. I’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to work with Deepa over the last year, as we are excitedly an investor in Spoonful through Operate.
Deepa has a strong background in software product and data, having previously worked in a couple prominent data companies. She’s a graduate of Princeton University, and earned her JD from UCLA.