Series A goes in-depth with the founders, investors and others changing the world with their startups. The show travels the US and Canada, going behind the scenes of some of the most successful startups
Here's the Latest Episode from Series A – The Podcast:
While just one in 10 VC investments achieves a successful exit or next stage funding, a small team of upstarts has quietly come up with a way to significantly increase the odds of identifying whether a startup has a decent shot at succeeding.
After two years of internal work, the Microsoft Startup Predictor has proven to have a 75% success rate in predicting a future funding event.
The Startup Predictor is an AI-powered prediction engine conceived and developed by Series A – The Podcast host Jim Brisimitzis, Sonal Mane and Pushpraj Shukla.
In this edition of Series A, the trio detail development of the tool that can save VC’s millions of dollars by providing them an exclusive tool to dramatically increase the success of their investments.
Developed by a startup team inside Microsoft, the Startup Predictor combines the power and expertise of the Microsoft Startups group in the United States and Canada and the Microsoft Market Intelligence & AI team.
Can a company change the face of advertising while doing good at the same time? The founders of Chicago-based Do Good Media are doing just that.
In this edition of Series A – The Podcast, we visit with co-founders Jerome Shimizu and Michael Sheng during a visit to startup epicenter 1871.
“We provide publishers with billions of high-quality, incremental advertising opportunities,” the company says. But what exactly does that mean? The answer depends on the customer, Sheng says. At its core, Do Good is doing some amazing things across various media sectors to deliver new solutions and value in the cut-throat and ever-changing world of advertising.
As experienced founders and executives, Shimizu and Sheng offer valuable insights for any entrepreneur, from innovation to building an organization. Join technical evangelist Martin Schray and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns for a wide ranging and thought provoking conversation in the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast.
What do you get when you combine a seasoned serial entrepreneur and technologist with a PhD and tenure track cancer researcher at the University of Chicago? One of the most promising startups disrupting the health care industry.
In the latest of edition of Series A – The Podcast, we return to Chicago for a visit with Jason Smith, the co-founder and CEO of rMark Bio.
Smith’s diverse background provides for an insightful and wide-ranging conversation spanning over 17 years of experience doing everything from raising millions in capital, leading a number of ventures and serving as principal technologist in distributed systems architecture, big data analytics, and high-performance computing from work with ATI Research, AT&T, General Dynamics, IBM and GraySky Simulations.
rMark Bio’s industry leading AI solution understands the real-time business strategies of R&D, Medical Affairs, Marketing, and Commercial to provide field representatives with clear and concise ‘next best decisions’ that remove inefficiencies and increase ROI for thought leader engagements, the company says
“Leveraging artificial intelligence, we can go beyond the who. We can tell you why you should be engaging with them from a business perspective, what you should be engaging about when we tap into your content management systems, how this will help your business based on knowing your strategic KPI’s and strategic goals for a given quarter or year or even a year, and really what are the next best actions if you’re a field rep to meet those goals,” Smith tells technical evangelist Martin Schray and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns.
When Expedia founder Rich Barton was secretly building Zillow, it was Seattle tech news site Geekwire that first uncovered and broke the story. Same with the first tests of Amazon foray into the grocery business and numerous other big tech stories. That dogged reporting is why the Seattle-based enterprise has become the preeminent voice of technology in the Northwest – attracting readers from around the world.
“We founded the company – the startup – on the premise that Seattle and the Pacific NW deserved an international tech site,” says co-founder Todd Bishop.
Bishop and staff reporter Taylor Soper share their experiences and insights with host Jim Brisimitzis on the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast.
Their stories offer valuable teachings for any entrepreneur as a startup that emerged successfully from the massive disruption in the media world to become the most influential source of information and community for Northwest tech companies from Microsoft and Amazon to the smallest of startups.
“From the beginning we knew that digital advertising was not going to be enough to fuel the business. I think that was one of the biggest mistakes media companies were making at that time [Geekwire founding} , assuming they could just write enough stories and get enough clicks that they could use advertising networks to pull in enough revenue to sustain the business,” Bishop says.
The company has supplemented its revenue stream with other offerings including up to a dozen events a year from the highly attended Geekwire Summit to small, private dinners bringing top tech execs together.
Bishop and Soper also offer their valuable takes on hot topics such as Seattle’s controversial head tax targeting tech companies like Amazon to tackle growing income inequality and homelessness blamed on massive growth.
“My big take is that technology companies needed to have been engaged on the larger issue this is trying to address much sooner in the process,” Bishop says.
“If you’re having a conversation about your next 20 or 30 or 50 developers and there’s all of a sudden this new tax, you’re maybe rethinking that decision. This is what the CEO’s are saying,” Soper adds.
need for more startup funding if ecosystem is to grow
Bishop and Soper offer expert perspective on the differences between Seattle and Silicon Valley, the challenges facing founders now and in the future. And they provide revealing insights into what it takes to get that all important media coverage companies crave – all too often common sense but overlooked.
“First of all, make sure your product works, make sure your website works, make sure the buttons on your app work,” Soper says.
When it comes to representation and funding for minorities in the startup world, the numbers are sobering. Less than 3% of venture capital goes to female led startups, while just .02% (you read that right) goes to startups led by women of color. And there are so few Hispanics given the opportunity to lead a company or acquire capital, there aren’t even statistics for them.
That’s why the work of organizations like Project UK (United Knowledge) are so critical. In the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast, we travel to Kansas City to visit with Quest Moffat, founder of what he dubs a startup studio.
It’s far more than just an accelerator. Moffat outlines how Project UK is working to provide resources to founders struggling to validate their business ideas, by providing capital and counsel to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those of color.
In a frank discussion with Microsoft technical evangelist Jordan Svencara and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns, Moffat details the radical approach and breakthrough successes Project UK has fostered by bringing capital and knowledge to those who otherwise be shut out. And he outlines why huge advances in breaking down barriers are happening in the Silicon Heartland, not the Valley.
“Looking at the deals, our deals in Kansas City were holding the same percentage of investments into women and people of color as Silicon Valley, Boston and New York. And so we took it upon ourselves to say ‘what can we do to solve it’,” Moffat says.
Listen now for thought provoking insightsinto into the challenges facing minority founders, and the innovative solutions fostered by pioneers like Quest Moffat at Project UK in Kansas City in the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast
How do you make watching sports and other events truly social, and build a successful business for major media companies at the same time? For Game On co-founder and CEO Alex Beckman, it’s all about the bots.
The problem to solve for the San Francisco-based startup is figuring out how to get people to watch content they want to watch on the devices they want to watch it on without making the assumption that because it was done a certain way on TV that’s how it should be done online, Beckman says.
“Maybe four or five years ago we began to really see people distinguish between digital and mobile and understand that digital is not mobile. And now we’re seeing that mobile is not a thorough enough term,” Beckman tells host Jim Brisimitzis in the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast.
Beckman shares stories of growing up in the epicenter of the technology world in Silicon Valley, with classmates named Ellison and the like showing a second generation of genius from a young age. While Beckman could hang with them, coding wasn’t his calling.
“I was a bad developer. I didn’t love sitting down and writing code,” he laughs.
Lucky for him, his love of film and technology led to him instead to build a successful business he sold to Yahoo just nine months later. But he and his co-founders recognized they had far more work to do.
Beckman details the lessons learned building a product and company, successfully exiting, then going it alone a second time. He admits he made plenty of mistakes, and is trying to enjoy this go-round far more.
In the wide ranging and insightful conversation, he dispenses plenty of hard earned advice for fellow founders and would-be entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, that going it alone isn’t the answer.
I think everybody should have two co-founders because the odds of two people having a bad day on the same day are high, but that third just gives you the chance one of you is not having a bad day, and silly as that sounds that probably saved.
Check out Beckman’s conversation with Brisimitzis on the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast
For every deal, there’s a document. Actually, potentially hundreds of thousands or even millions of them. But thriving Chicago startup Heretik is leveraging AI to help the legal world search, sort through and analyze contracts, dramatically cutting the time and money spent in contract review.
The work has always been done manually, with lawyers and paralegals opening documents one at a time, reading each clause, section or paragraph, then copying and pasting into Excel for review.
“It’s a very tedious process. It takes weeks, some times months to go through, and we’re bringing in some artificial intelligence to streamline that to take those months down to days, sometimes hours,” says Andy Abbott, co-founder and CTO of Heretik.
Abbott is the featured guest on the latest edition of Series A-The Podcast, recorded at 1871 in Chicago.
“For global enterprises, any deal can mean hundreds of thousands if not millions of documents for complete viewpoint of risk and obligations,” Abbott tells Microsoft technical evangelist Martin Schray and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns.
It’s his second venture as a founder. His first company Booked Out was acquired by Shiftgig, leaving Abbott wondering what to do next.
“I realized I didn’t want to work at a larger company. I still wanted to do that entrepreneurial thing,” he says.
Abbott’s experiences have served him well with his new venture.
“Obviously the second time you have a lot of lessons that you’ve learned, mistakes that you’ve made previously and it is easier,” he says.
Abbott offers a myriad of insights for his fellow founders, from product development to sales. His revelation the company created no code for months while connecting with potential customers and truly understanding their needs before building a solution is among the eye-opening tidbits.
“What happens a lot is you focus on building that product first and then when you go out to share it, to give it to your customers, you hit these roadblocks.”
Abbott also details lessons learned bringing disruption to old-school industries like the legal field used to doing things manually.
“If you’re going to introduce change or bring in technology to a space that isn’t used to it, they’re going to push back. And so how can we reduce that push back?”
Listen to the latest edition of Series A-The Podcast to learn how Heretik is overcoming that, and making a major mark on the law.
If knowledge is power, then Chicago-based startup Packback is rocket fuel for college students blasting off into the future (excuse the cheesy analogy, but it’s apropos in this case.)
In the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast, hosted by Jim Brisimitzis from the Microsoft for Startups team, we profile the dynamic startup changing the way college students and their professors share information and knowledge to help empower fearless, relentless curiosity.
“Instead of just focusing on memorizing facts, Packback Questions is the place where you can ask the big, sometimes unanswerable, questions that you’re truly curious about,” says Jessica Tenuta, co-founder and chief product officer, in a wide-ranging conversation with technical evangelist Martin Schray and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns.
Tenuta offers keen insights into the company developed by a group of college students, now reaching tens of thousands of students nationwide. Packback builds artificial intelligence to quantify and improve difficult-to-measure student success metrics at scale — such as student critical thinking, soft skills and curiosity — by analyzing a student’s written questions and essay answers. Their product Packback Questions is a “smart” online discussion platform powered by their AI, where students engage in rigorous academic discourse as a core part of their instructor’s curriculum and coursework.
Tenuta details how the company’s commitment to its core values drive all of their decisions, from product development to hiring – often passing on top tech talent if they don’t seem like a good fit for the culture. She also provides key lessons for other founders on recognizing when to pivot, how to work best with multiple co-founders (in their case, four), and she reveals the company’s true secret to success: Pepper the Packback pup.
Despite barely being old enough to rent a car, Tenuta and her team are bringing a major change to ed tech, and their experience and enthusiasm or extremely valuable to anyone looking to learn from truly pioneering founders.
Attending a conference, meetup or gathering and coming away without making valuable contacts is an all too common and frustrating occurrence for busy business people. But Chicago-based Proxfinity is shining a literal light on the problem – with a unique wearable and software solution.
In this edition of Series A – The Podcast, meet Lisa Carrel, co-founder and CSO of the company bringing real change to the conference world.
Carrel shares the journey of Proxfinity with Microsoft for Startups technical evangelist Martin Schray and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns, detailing a unique path that included patenting a product before there was really even a market.
In a nutshell, Proxfinity’s solution features a smart badge that lights up to identify common interests and allow people seeking to make connections a quick and easy way to identify someone they should speak with. It sounds simple, but it’s an elegant, complex and effective way to maximize the time and efficacy of a networking event.
Carrel offers valuable insights and advice for other female founders on everything from raising capital to building a team, and chronicles how Proxfinity pivoted several times before settling into its successful strategy and solution.
Even though Proxfinity emerged from a cohort of female-led companies nurtured by 1871 in Chicago, the company’s story, struggles and successes are important teachings from any entrepreneur.
From a smart city to smart apartments, Kansas City entrepreneur Blake Miller has been at the forefront of innovation on the Silicon Prairie.
In the latest edition of Series A – The Podcast, we travel to Kansas City for an in-depth look at why America’s heartland is home to some of the nation’s top tech talent along with arguably its best barbecue.
Producer/correspondent Josh Kerns visits with Miller and Microsoft for Startups technical evangelist and engineer Jordan Svancara to go inside his latest venture Homebase, a smart apartment platform and ecosystem poised to dramatically change the rental housing game for tenants and property managers alike.
“After researching the market, the results were conclusive–current property management platforms aren’t built to handle the needs of today’s connected life,” Miller says.
For residents, Homebase brings together the best of IoT, combining smart appliances, security and the like with rent and utilities payment, maintenance management and more.
Homebase enables far better management for apartment owners as well, from finance to maintenance, enabling dramatic improvements in efficiencies, service and ultimately revenues.
Miller and Svencara also offer an insiders view into what makes Kansas City so special as a pioneer in innovation, from municipal WiFi to fiber to a number of other public/private partnerships that have spurred continued growth and success for the city, entrenched enterprises like Sprint, Garmin and Cerner, and countless startups like Homebase. And did we mention the barbecue?!
Plenty of people are called industry leaders, tech titans, ground breakers and pioneers. But few have earned the moniker like Chicago tech visionary Howard Tullman. The serial entrepreneur has helmed a variety of successful companies, written numerous influential books, and helped spawn hundreds of other companies through his groundbreaking startup collective 1871, the epicenter of … Continue reading #15 – EXCLUSIVE & IN-DEPTH: CHICAGO TECH TITAN HOWARD TULLMAN →
Many business people will tell you there are few things worse than attending a crowded trade show like CES or NRF in hopes of connecting with a potential customer, only to find it nearly impossible to find the needle in a haystack. It’s a problem veteran founders and marketing and sales guys John Corrigan and … Continue reading #14-FINDING NEEDLES IN A TRADE SHOW HAYSTACK – SUMMITSYNC →
When you think of business in LA, artificial intelligence isn’t likely to come to mind. But it turns out a number of leading entrepreneurs and academics have made the City of Angels an epicenter of AI. Some of those leading minds came together recently for Applied AI, an event hosted by LA-based startup Deep Current. … Continue reading #13 – AI IN LA – CITY OF ANGELS AT THE EPICENTER →
A tragic fatality involving an autonomous Uber vehicle in Arizona recently again underscored the challenges facing the burgeoning industry. But Atlanta-based startup Metrotech is at the forefront in developing solutions that could help make the future safer and help manage the ever increasing congestion throttling most of our major metropolitan areas. The lastest edition of … Continue reading #12 – SMARTER CITIES/AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES – PAUL VALCHEFF-METROTECH →
Why would anyone leave a highly successful sales career after a decade at Microsoft with all the benefits that come with it? “One day I just realized sometimes you have to step out of the picture to actually see the picture clearly,” says Piyush Saggi, the CEO and co-founder of Atlanta-based SalesTing. What Saggi repeatedly … Continue reading #11 – CONNECTING SALES AND MARKETING – PIYUSH SAGGI – SALESTING →
From the time he was a kid, John Dogru was always tinkering with electronics, taking them apart and trying to put them back together again. So it’s little surprise he would one day become CEO and co-founder of 3DPrinterOS, a company revolutionizing 3D printing. But it’s a journey over 30 years in the making. “I … Continue reading #10 – 3D PRINTING FOR THE MASSES – JOHN DOGRU – 3DPRINTEROS →
When it comes to the founding of insurance industry upstart Flyreel, there’s been nothing quick or easy. “Everyone reads the TechCrunch article about so and so raising $5 million and it just seems so effortless. And that just wasn’t our experience at all,” admits Cole Winans, the tenacious founder and CEO of the rising Denver-based … Continue reading #9 – OVERHAULING INSURANCE – COLE WINANS – FLYREEL →
When it comes to innovation, some old-school industries aren’t exactly the epitome of transformation. But thanks to a number of exciting new partnerships between Microsoft and some cutting edge startups, dramatic change is coming to the insurance industry and other traditionally staid finanical services sectors. It’s far more sexy than it sounds, according to Microsoft … Continue reading #8 – STARTUPS & MICROSOFT DISRUPTING INSURANCE INDUSTRY →
What do you do when a friend asks for help with her wedding? If you’re veteran Microsoft engineer Vishal Joshi, you hack an app. And before you know it, you’re CEO and co-founder of a burgeoning startup disrupting a $90 billion industry. In this edition of Series A-The Podcast, Joshi details the improbable rise of … Continue reading #7 – INTEGRATING ALL ASPECTS OF WEDDING PLANNING – VISHAL JOSHI – JOY →
Regardless of the business, artificial intelligence has become the holy grail for just about any startup. There’s been plenty of buzz but we’ve barely scratched the surface, according to Microsoft Applied Machine Learning Scientist Justin Bronder. In this edition of Series A-The Podcast, Justin joins host Jim Brisimitzis for a revealing and fascinating look at … Continue reading #6 – AI AND STARTUPS – JUSTIN BRONDER – MICROSOFT →
Harvard Business school. A former Associate Partner with McKinsey & Company. A financier at Societe Generale Investment Banking. By most measures, you’d call Germain Chastel a business success. But it wasn’t enough for the CEO and co-founder of New York-based startup Newton X. “I was very comfortable in corporate life,” Chastel tells host Jim Brisimitzis … Continue reading #5 – WORLD-CLASS CONSULTING FOR ALL – GERMAIN CHASTEL – NEWTONX →
Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle, New York, Austin. They’re all synonymous with startups. But often overlooked is the nation’s second largest city. While Hollywood is the 800 lb. gorilla in the City of Angels, a vibrant and ever growing tech scene continues to flourish to the west of downtown Los Angeles in what’s become affectionately become … Continue reading #4 – AI AND BIG DATA FOR A NEW WAY TO WORK – JOEL LUXENBERG – DEEP CURRENT →
While hundreds of companies and thousands of potential customers packed New York’s massive Javits Center for the annual NRF Big Show, a much more select event was taking place at Microsoft’s flagship store in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Tereza Nemessyanyi – who spearheads Microsoft for Startups on the east coast out of New York … Continue reading #3 – NEW RETAIL TECH @ NRF 2018 STARTUP SHOWCASE →
As a founder, one of the challenges is knowing when to listen to others, and when to trust your gut. It became pretty obvious to Lately founder and CEO Kate Bradley Chernis after years of working for others. “Once you know that it’s a line in the sand that you draw. And to know what … Continue reading #2 – MARKETING MAKEOVER – KATE BRADLEY CHERNIS – LATELY →
LogDNA isn’t co-founder Chris Nguyen’s first rodeo. But when he and longtime partner, friend and co-founder Lee Liu learned a new baby was on the way, they realized it could be their last as co-founders, and LogDNA was born from another startup the pair had built. At the time the company had just $17,000 in … Continue reading #1 – DECODING AND THE SLACK MOMENT – CHRIS NGUYEN – LOGDNA →
They’re the disruptors, the innovators, the dreamers and the doers. Men and women changing the world as we know it, one startup at a time. Series A-The Podcast goes in depth with the founders, investors, engineers, technologists and others paving the way to the future. In this prologue, join host Jim Brisimitzis – the head … Continue reading WELCOME TO SERIES A – THE PODCAST →