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Angel Invest Boston

Through the Angel Invest Boston Podcast we seek to learn more about the creation of world-changing startups. Boston’s unique concentration of academic talent and entrepreneurial culture offer bountiful opportunities for conversations with people who have funded and built innovative companies. By recounting engaging stories, angels and founders convey lessons they have learned. These narratives illustrate the rewards of helping founders commercialize transformative technologies. We hope you too will find our dialogues entertaining and instructive. I’m Sal Daher, host of the Angel Invest Boston Podcast. After immigrating to Boston as a child and attending Belmont High School, I studied engineering at MIT and Stanford. Decades of work in international finance followed. During that time, I invested in a handful of ventures founded by friends and acquaintances. Now, I’m a member of Walnut Ventures and MIT Angels and spend most of my time as an angel investor taking stakes in about a dozen startups per year.
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Nov 7, 2018

Accredited Investors, an Exciting Syndicate Is Under Way: Click to Learn More

Coming from a family of lawyers in Italy, Laura Indolfi was an unlikely candidate to found a tech startup. Yet, her love of engineering and fascination with materials took her to the storied labs at MIT led by Elazer Edelman and Bob Langer. Her startup, PanTher Therapeutics is using off-the-shelf cancer drugs and biomaterials to create a new way to treat cancers that are really hard to treat such as pancreatic cancer, Laura’s first target. Don’t miss this lively interview with a stellar founder.

Highlights include:

  • Laura Indolfi Bio
  • How Laura Indolfi Decided She Wanted to Be a Materials Engineer
  • Laura Indolfi Explains Why She Came to the US
  • “Like the first six months I was thinking of probably I will go back to Italy and probably join my family into the law firm. But once you pass that moment and you get adjusted to the space then it was much better.”
  • The Founding Story of PanTher Therapeutics
  • Business Mentors Have Been Very Helpful
  • Could MIT’s Process for Licensing Technology from the Institute’s Labs Be Improved?
  • What PanTher Is Doing and Why It Matters
  • “You end up with 12 times the cancer-killing drug on the tumor as you would get from intravenous application of the same drug.”
  • “We are planning to submit our final application to them [the FDA] beginning of next year, January 2019. That will allow us to start enrolling patients the first quarter of 2019.”
  • “The things that makes me as the CEO of the company very excited is the engagement from the clinical community. We had a partnership with clinical oncologists that they are operating on these patients, coming up to Boston to operate on the pigs.”
  • Sal Daher Reads a Review from a Listener and Asks for Your Review on iTunes
  • Laura’s Indolfi Advice on Fundraising
  • A Major Change at PanTher and What Drove It
  • Laura Indolfi’s Parting Thoughts
  • Arrigo Bodda, This Is for You
Oct 24, 2018

Accredited Investor, an exciting syndicate is under way:Learn More Here

How do you become the giant player in a fragmented business like that of finding voice-over talent? This is just one of the questions that intrigued me in this interview with David Ciccarelli, CEO & Co-Founder of Voices, a business he stated and runs with his wife and co-founder Stephanie. If you’re raising money, this episode and “The Secrets of Fundraising” (Click Here) are must listen.

Highlights include:

  • Introduction to David Ciccarelli & Voices.com
  • “"What is the intersection of this? Art, science, technology, music, sound," and really had this desire to do something in that space…”
  • “That's been the same idea right from the very beginning to what we do now is, it's evolved to a global marketplace of over 500,000 users from all around the world…”
  • David Ciccarelli and His Wife Stephanie Are Co-Founders – How Do They Make It Work?
  • David Ciccarelli’s Parents Encouraged an Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • The Remarkable Funding History of Voices.com
  • The Three Crucial Questions You’ll Be Asked on Your Raise
  • GOLDEN TIP FOR FUNDRAISING!!!! “Over the years, I'd developed a massive spreadsheet of 200 names of investors that had either shown interest, or I'd met at a conference, or something along these lines, of names of the firm, the city they were in, and the phone number and email on the contact, basic information. I created a one-pager, almost like a business model canvas-type idea, but really tight one-pager with some key stats, problem, solution, results.”
  • DON’T MISS THIS EITHER!!“Now, you've previously made, I think, a really important point, and these are not cold emails. This isn't just, "I googled around."”
  • “I think one of the challenges that were currently faced is how to manage the growth efficiently…”
  • How Voices.com Built Its Dominance in a Fragmented Business
  • Jean Hammond’s “There’s No Second Thing” Story
  • “We describe that as leading and transforming the industry…. Being the place… where the world comes to find their voice.”
  • Starting a Business in the US vs. Starting One in Canada
  • What Has Made London, Ontario a Tech Hub?
  • Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs from David Ciccarelli
Oct 10, 2018

New Syndicate! Sign Up to Learn More: Link for Signing Up

Running a landscaping business while in grade school gave Sean Eldridge a taste for entrepreneurship. Years later, after a successful career in large corporations, he decided to start a business, Gain Life, building software to change people’s lives. Big players in the insurance business are betting that Gain Life will help their bottom line.

Here are some things that came up during my interview of Sean Eldridge:

  • “…these individuals had… transformative experiences through either medical or surgical weight loss… They became a different person. They had an identity shift.”
  • “…you sort of became a missionary for mind change around health.”
  • “Yeah. I think it probably all started back when I was probably in sixth grade. I started a lawn mowing business…”
  • “…I loved… being able to marshal resources that weren't under my own control, to be able to help individuals and make some money while doing it.”
  • In College, Sean Dreamed of Starting a Sports Publication on the Web – Instead, He Became Hooked on Healthcare during an Internship
  • “I think there's something about starting out in a landscaping and going on to become very successful entrepreneurs and assassinating a few plantings along the way.”
  • “At Gain Life, we build digital behavior change programs…to empower individuals to achieve their best life.”
  • “…right now, we have part of our business that's growing really fast around helping individuals actually return to work from temporary disability…”
  • There Is Evidence that Digital Intervention Gets People Back to Work Faster
  • Most People Out on Disability Want to Return to Work – Gain Life Helps Them Deal with The Loss of Income and Connection That Comes from Being Out of Work & Gets Them Back to Work Faster
  • Sean Loved His Jobs in Corporate America but Wanted to Apply that Experience to Helping People Transform their Lives
  • Gain Life Was Founded by Three Alumni of Procter & Gamble’s Future Works Division Who Enjoyed Working Together
  • Gain Life Re-purposes Behavioral Science Used to Sell Consumer Packaged Goods for Helping People Make Changes in Their Lives
  • “Huge Study of People Who Lose Weight Successfully Points to Identity Shift”
  • Gain Life Pivoted Away from Weight Loss to Disability – From Selling a Vitamin to Selling a Painkiller
  • Sean’s Extracurricular Activities at Harvard Business School Primed Him for Entrepreneurship
  • Three Big Trends that Help Gain Life
  • Behavioral Sciences Are Transforming Big Consumer Companies
  • Chat Bots Are Relieving Insurance Employees of Mundane Tasks
  • Algorithms Are Starting to Have an Economic Impact in the Insurance Industry – Lemonade Inc.
  • “Boston is like the greatest city on Earth.”
  • “…venues like this that talk about a founder's journey are so helpful, not just for founders who are going through it and sometimes feel isolated, but for individuals who are even considering entrepreneurship as a potential journey.”
  • “People think that this podcast is about technology. It's about human nature, really, as it confronts technology, as it confronts markets, and so this is why it is an endlessly fascinating subject…”
Sep 26, 2018

Gamer turned AI maven, Kevin Lyman is implementing Jeremy Howard’s vision of harnessing the super chips that power gaming machines (GPUs) to interpret medical images. Deep learning algorithms are already making radiologists faster and better at their work. It’s a story of man plus machine not man versus machine.

Don’t miss this accessible report from the frontier where machine is starting to make a tangible difference in medical care.

Some highlights from the interview:

  • Kevin Lyman Versions 1.0 & 2.0
  • Kevin Lyman, Gamer Turned AI Maven
  • Stints at Hasbro, SpaceX & Microsoft
  • The Inventors Guild
  • Jeremy Howard of Kaggle Fame Decides AI Is Ready to Take on Medical Imaging-Founds Enlitic
  • GPUs: Good for Gaming + Processing Medical Images
  • “…deep learning has managed to turn AI into more of an engineering problem than a science problem.”
  • “…you can see most AI setups today as being like a black box.”
  • Kevin Lyman Dropped Everything to Join Jeremy Howard at Enlitic
  • “…they didn't just give us the $10 million in our Series A. They gave us 100 terabytes of historic patient data-“
  • “…21% faster, they caught 11% more of the true positives and with 9% fewer false positives…”
  • “…we should not be focused on man versus machine… We should be very focused on man plus machine…”
  • AI – Compare & Contrast
  • Kevin Lyman’s Personality Disposes Him to Work in Startups
  • Kevin Lyman 2.0 Interview – Nine Months Later
  • Headway During Nine Months Since 1.0
  • 95% Body Coverage
  • About to Deploy Beta with Capitol Health
Sep 12, 2018

The secrets of startup fundraising revealed by an angel steeped in Boston’s tech investing scene. 35 minutes is all it takes to make you a better fundraiser. Sal Daher, CFA of the Angel Invest Boston Podcast is your mentor.

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction
  • Why Do You Need Funding?
  • “So, raising money has to be for a purpose. There's a real danger of getting money and it killing your ”
  • Secret #1: Raising Money Is Selling – Stephen Hawking vs. Willy Loman – Warm Calling not Spamming
  • Secret of Fundraising #2: Ask for Advice to Get Money, Ask for Money to Get Advice
  • Secret of Fundraising #2.50: Start with the Least Likely Prospects – Your Pitch Will Improve
  • Secret of Fundraising #2.75: Angels & VCs Require Different Pitches
  • Secret of Fundraising #3: Fundraising Can Paralyze Your Business
  • Types of Funding
  • “The problem is, early on, who knows what your company's worth?”
  • Understanding the Difference Between Angel Money and VC Money
  • “…do not underestimate the value of a functioning board.”
  • Sean’s Question on Picking VCs
  • Nathan’s Question About When to Raise Money
  • Matt’s Question About Better Ways to Match Founding Teams with Investors
  • Elizabeth’s Question About How Angels Put Together a Portfolio of Startup Investments
  • A Question About Investment Theses
  • Please Leave a Review on iTunes, It Helps Us Get Found
Aug 29, 2018

His bonhomie masks a keen intelligence that has, for decades, taken note of what makes or breaks founding teams. Joe Caruso is the CEO Whisperer, the Father Confessor to Founders. Joe’s an intrepid angel investor who goes where other angels fear to tread. This makes him a highly sought-after board member or advisor. I was privileged to sit down with him for an hour and to imbibe his wisdom and good humor. Typical Joe Caruso comment: “…you don't train a Labrador to flap its ears. It makes for a lousy butterfly.”

 

Here are some highlights of what we discussed:

  • Joe Caruso Introduction
  • Joe Caruso Bio
  • How Joe Discovered He Wanted to Be the Father Confessor to CEOs
  • How Roxbury Latin School, the One True School, Figured in Joe Caruso’s Formation
  • Joe Caruso Drops Out of High School and Enrolls at Northeastern University
  • Boston’s Unique Environment for Learning: Jeff Bezos Take Note
  • “I'm in the cafeteria … and at the table is a newspaper from the prior June … and they had a list of starting salaries of all the people who graduated, and electrical engineers made more than anyone else, so I said I guess I'll be one of them.”
  • “…co-op [work/study program at Northeastern] taught me that engineering wasn't my strong suit.”
  • Outstanding Argument in Favor of Northeastern’s Co-op Program
  • Delightful Story About Joe Caruso Considering Turning Down Harvard Business School
  • Joe Caruso Had No Idea of the Value of Networking While at Harvard Business School!
  • “I studied and ... I took no advantage of that [networking at HBS], which in retrospect was a huge missed opportunity.”
  • How Doing Turnarounds Got Joe Caruso Involved with Level Up
  • “Here's this 19-year-old kid, either freshman or sophomore at Princeton, that was going to drop out to start a company.”
  • “It had gaming, location-based. As I kidded with him, it was very buzzword-compliant.”
  • “If you give me a bright, passionate, high-integrity entrepreneur, that's the ticket of admission to at least me considering investing.”
  • Semyon Dukach’s Answer to “Should I Start a Company?”
  • “…you don't train a Labrador to flap its ears. It makes for a lousy butterfly.”
  • “None of this is off-topic. … Our topic is human nature.”
  • “So, be who you are. That also says, "complement who you are."”
  • The Change in Business Plan of Which Joe Caruso is Proudest
  • From Measuring Alpha Waves to Helping People Recover from Spinal Injuries
  • Leveraging Personal Computers for Lab Automation
  • The Particular Hell of VCs with Conflicting Interests
  • Sal Daher Reads the Review from Listener bpaul2 – Reminds You to Leave a Review in iTunes
  • Joe Caruso’s Favorite Pivot
  • Joe Caruso’s First Investment
  • Joe Caruso’s Parents Were Survivors of the Depression Era and thus Not Open to Entrepreneurship
  • "We've gotta get you out of the basement."
  • Joe Caruso’s Apologia for the Value of Boards – Directors vs. Advisors
  • What Advice Do You Find Yourself Giving Over and Over?
  • Joe Caruso’s Parting Thoughts
Aug 15, 2018

Few are as well positioned to see the huge opportunities that exist for small and medium businesses in digital marketing as the founder of Constant Contact. In his new company, Brevi, Randy Parker is using software to allow mom & pop businesses to access those opportunities in ways that pay.

I had loads of fun talking to this most clever and affable guest; and I learned a lot.

Here’s what we touched on:

  • Randy Parker Introduction
  • How Randy Parker Discovered He Wanted to Build Software
  • What Took Randy Parker from Florida to MIT
  • “So, I was third generation entrepreneur. My kids now I say are fourth generation entrepreneurs when they're doing things.”
  • “…in a consultant practice it's always, essentially, you're usually being hired to solve something that other people haven't figured it out.”
  • “I grew up in a family thinking about A/B tests, and marketing…”
  • Roving Software / Constant Contact Started as an Information Agent for Business
  • Constant Contact Was Essentially a SaaS Business by Another Name
  • Sal Daher Thanks Listener JaySingh1022 for an iTunes Review – Asks for Your Review
  • What Brevi, Randy Parker’s Current Startup, Does
  • “The way we can do that [allow the local coffee shop to compete with Starbucks] is, to actually tap into their data.”
  • Brevi Ties into the Small Business’ Operating Software to Learn About Opportunities for Growth
  • “…there is no substitute for the integrity and the commitment to the small business.”
  • Intuit’s Scott Cook as the Model of Attention to All Customers
  • For 2019, Randy Parker Hopes to Give Users a Tangible ROI on Their Ad Spend
  • Thriving on the Abundance of Data, Machine Learning Can See Patterns Humans Can’t
  • Randy Parker and the Proto-Kindle
  • Alice’s Table
  • Outseta
  • “…startups are like a family. And so, like families, there are some great things about them and there may be more challenging things about them.”
Aug 1, 2018

Invest Alongside Boston's Top Angel in Our Syndicates: Link to Syndicates Page

Angel investors Catherine Friend White and Ben Littauer answered questions about investing in startups in front of an audience at Babson College. Then the audience got to ask questions. The conversation ranged from the optimal portfolio size to the usefulness of the blockchain.

Here are some highlights:

  • Sal Introduces Live Event - Thanks Nina Block & Margaret Jone from Babson for Making it Possible
  • Sal Introduces Angel Catherine Friend White
  • Sal Introduces Angel Ben Littauer
  • How Catherine Became an Angel Investor
  • How Ben Became an Angel Investor
  • “…there are about 32 [angel groups] here in New England…”
  • “…I have so many soft values that I get from doing this [angel investing]…”
  • KnipBio & UltraCell
  • Cognition Therapeutics – Susan Catalano
  • “Having run my own company for 27 years, I have also my own list of what not to do…”
  • “If you have 25 [investments], you can probably diversify away a fair amount of the risk.”
  • “One of the biggest mistakes that early investors make is, they have a good outcome on their first bet and then they think they can pick winners.”
  • “…angel deals are chronically underfunded in the Boston area…”
  • “…when you're providing growth capital you need to keep providing more.”
  • NextShift Robotics
  • ICOs
  • “…I think that there is a lot of value in blockchain, but there's a lot of swamp around the blockchain ecosystem…”
  • “The other thing to know about blockchain is that the NSA has cracked it.”
  • Potential of Using the Blockchain for Storing Medical Records
  • Maybe This Is a Situation Where an ICO Makes Sense
  • Coachability Is Crucial for Founders
  • "I am going to be the forever CEO."
  • “…come to us and ask for advice, you might get money.”
  • Golden Seed Office Hours & The Capital Network, TCN, as Great Resources
  • Q&A: Joel Francois of Helius Power
  • Q&A: Ankit Soni of Cricket++
  • Q&A: Bob Goodof of Walnut Ventures
  • Q&A: Brett Wagner of Waec LLC
Jul 18, 2018

Zipcar’s first investor, Jean Hammond, is Boston’s indispensable angel. Her hands-on approach has been pivotal to the success of her startup and several others. She co-founded the leading accelerator for educational technology startups, LearnLaunch. The interview was great fun and hugely instructive to me. Don’t miss it!

Here are some highlights:

  • Sal Introduces Jean Hammond
  • From Studying Biology at Boston University to Running a Food Warehouse
  • Jean Decides She Needs a Rigorous MBA – Goes to MIT Sloan
  • Moved to Edinburgh & Worked at Fast-Growing Computer Networking Startup
  • “By the time I left there [Spyder], I felt like I'd done all the different functions in a little startup and done it while growth was going on.”
  • Jean Hammond Founds AXON
  • “AXON was four years old when 3Com acquired it and had grown quite rapidly to a pretty good business, and we got a pretty good price.”
  • Jean Hammond’s Second Startup, Quarry, Suffered from Bottlenecks in Telecom Infrastructure
  • “We live in a magic world of technology today that just things you wouldn't have imagined could happen are happening every day.”
  • “First, I wish to thank listener Phillip L. 36 for this great review on iTunes”
  • Jean Hammond Becomes Zipcar’s First Investor
  • “By coming back into town and talking to everybody, I found out that I was an angel investor. I didn't even know that all of that time.”
  • This Is Why We Call Her the Indispensable Angel
  • Jean Hammond Invests Widely with Boston’s Angel Community
  • Golden Seeds & Teaching Angel Investing
  • Jean Hammond Starts the Activity that Would Lead to the Founding of LearnLaunch, the Ed Tech Accelerator
  • “Education is a really interesting industry. It's the last of the giant industries, well over five trillion globally, maybe six, to digitize.”
  • “Qstream is based on technology that actually understands how memories are fixed.”
  • “…learning science is quite clear that we need to be striving, taking a little bit harder than you took the last time.”
  • “…some of our most excited investors in the LearnLaunch accelerator are coming in from India and China and Japan because they want to be a part of these changes.”
  • Jean Hammond’s Thoughts on the Importance of Boards to Startups
  • “Being a board member for a startup is actually quite a challenging job…”
  • Jean Hammond’s Parting Thoughts
Jul 4, 2018

Timeless values of loyalty and integrity have helped Phillips Kuhl build a thriving company at the heart of one of the economy’s most innovative sectors: biotechnology. Holding more than 250 conferences per year, Cambridge Healthtech Institute or CHI, helps participants discover new perspectives on the problems they are addressing. This impressive feat requires the concerted effort of 150 talented employees whose encouragement and guidance are Phillips Kuhl’s constant concern. I really enjoyed discovering how my friend of long standing built his remarkable company.

Here are some highlights:

  • Sal Introduces Phillips Kuhl
  • “…consorting with biotech royalty…”
  • Russian Studies & Economics at Haverford
  • Reading Russian Novels to Stay Awake on the Night Shift
  • “I always knew that I wanted to work for myself. I didn't work particularly well for someone else. I'm not great at following someone else's direction…”
  • Grandmother Provided Phillips with a Model for Entrepreneurship
  • Fast Growth Got the Attention of Vidar Jorgensen Who Was Already in the Conference Business
  • The Easiest Decision: Become an Entrepreneur
  • “…one of the key lessons was figuring out who were the people that represent the buy side of that topic, who are the people that represent the sell side…”
  • “…critically valuable to have several different perspectives that are brought together…”
  • “You're going to hear perspectives that you otherwise might not be aware of…”
  • Listener BPaul2 says: "Great content. Very informative podcast for entrepreneurs to get inspired and start working in their ideas."
  • Company Crisis Number One
  • Company Crisis Number Two
  • Company Crisis Number Three
  • The Heartbreak of Having to Fire Good Employees
  • A Culture of Openness Sets CHI Apart
  • Angel Investing: SQZ Biotech
  • Savran Tech
  • Angel Investing: Glycosyn
  • What Phillips Most Appreciates About Boston
Jun 20, 2018

The possibility of transcending the limits of human intelligence in scientific discovery has led this young British scientist to leave academia and found a startup. Founder & CEO James Field and LabGenius are engineering the evolutionary process to create novel proteins that have remarkable qualities. I caught up with James at TEDMED and had a most revealing interview.

Topics covered include:

  • Sal Pitches the Syndicate
  • Sal Introduces James Field, CEO & Founder of LabGenius
  • James Field Was Inspired to Become a Scientist by Science Fiction
  • Discovered Synthetic Biology by Participating in iGEM
  • James Field Is the Second PhD from Imperial College on the Podcast, Beth Marcus Was the First
  • “…the big flaw in my approach was that I was trying to apply rational engineering principles to nano-scale highly complex biological systems. And in my opinion, that's the wrong way to go about it.”
  • “…if you start testing many designs in parallel and then selecting for the ones that work, you don't have to be smart.”
  • “…LabGenius is a vehicle through which we can explore and harness evolution to develop new products.”
  • Founding a Company Was the Best Way to Accelerate the Work that Excited Him
  • Harnessing Evolution, but Doing it Better than the Natural Process
  • “…in the case of natural evolution, the process doesn't get any smarter. But the beauty of our process is every single time we conduct one of these evolutionary cycles, we gain information that then enables us to be more intelligent about how we design these biological systems.”
  • Concrete Applications
  • “…because we're so mission-driven, we're gonna continue this mission until either we succeed or conclusively fail.”
  • “…I was really banging my head against a brick wall until I found a group of investors who understand this to be an important part of the development of humanity…”
  • Transcending Human Intelligence by Designing Evolutionary Processes for Scientific Discovery Is Astonishingly Promising
  • James Field’s Parting Words
Jun 6, 2018

Invest Alongside Boston's Top Angels:

Click Here to Join Our Syndicates List

 

Aki Balogh had a project to apply machine learning to help content creators. Suddenly it looked like a business when Jeff Coyle, the VP of Search at an established company, joined him as co-founder. MarketMuse is now a fast-growing startup helping hundreds of companies figure out what content to create.

Aki, Jeff and VP of Engineering at MarketMuse, Noah Davis, were in studio for an engaging interview.

Some highlights:

  • Sal Talks about Angel Invest Boston’s Syndicate
  • Aki Balogh Talks about Going to Community College at age 15
  • Jeff Coyle Goes from Computer Science at Georgia Tech to Content Marketing
  • A “Take Your Kid to Work” Day Gets 12-Year Old Noah Davis Interested in Software Engineering
  • “I like computer science, but I was not going to be the best engineer. I wanted to do something with people.”
  • Jeff Coyle’s First Job Out of College Gave Him Exposure to Entrepreneurship
  • “So, I'd been trying to solve the problem that MarketMuse solves by hand, manually, for ten years.”
  • “And she asked me if I wanted to see something cool. Of course, I did. So, she slung a few lines of code … and made something happen and appear on a screen that had previously had nothing on it. From that moment, I was hooked-“
  • “And some of the things we use APIs for at MarketMuse allow us to move very fast as an organization.”
  • MarketMuse’s Founding Story
  • “I think you should be at a startup, either running your own or working on somebody else's. And that operational experience would make you a better investor down the line.”
  • “So, I started thinking, I wonder if there's a way we can use machine learning to actually help with this content creation problem and help us figure out what to write about and how to write about it…”
  • “…oh my gosh, the Vice President of Search from TechTarget is interested in what we do, I nearly fell out of my chair.”
  • “If you have that culture of content internally, you can really take this quickly and integrate it in your workflows to be more successful at the planning side, and then even in the execution side.”
  • “The search-engine industry has changed in the meantime here to really start caring about content quality too.”
  • “…basically we have a software as a service solution that allows you to evaluate the quality and comprehensiveness of any page on any topic.”
  • “Processes that would take tens, twenties of hours in the past, the research elements, we're doing in minutes.”
  • Aki Balogh’s Advice to Startups in Finding Their First Use Case
  • “…we were fully remote because I would just work with wherever I found talent…”
  • MarketMuse Uses Slack and Confluence to Keep Remote Staff on the Same Page
  • “I wanted to avoid venture until as late as possible because it creates a couple of bad behaviors.”
  • Sal Brings Up Wistia as Fantastic Bootstrappers
  • “The more data you crunch, the more cases you see, the more knowledgeable you are and therefore the farther ahead you are of your competitors who haven't crunched those particular numbers. This is an interesting-“
  • “…your quality of life basically just falls, continually falls as the company grows, because you have less personal freedoms and so on. But it's a very meaningful process…”
  • “…40% of a startup is articulating what the software does…”
  • Creating an Environment in your Startup for People who Are not Entrepreneurs
May 23, 2018

Invest Alongside Boston's Leading Angels in Our Syndicates: OPT IN HERE

In this interview, repeat founder Jo Schneier addresses the problem of providing effective training to the 64 percent of the population that does not have a college degree. Drawing on Jo’s experiences and prior startups, Cognotion’s opening gambit is a training platform for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) an occupation with stratospheric job turnover. Cognotion seems to be succeeding in improving retention of its client’s CNAs.

Here are some of the topics addressed:

  • Sal’s Pitch for the Angel Invest Boston Syndicate
  • Sal’s Intro of Jo Schneier
  • How Jo Schneier Became an Entrepreneur
  • Jo Schneier Is Pulled into Cognotion
  • “We looked at all of the 64 percent of Americans that don't get a college degree, a four-year college degree. And we were asking ourselves, where did they land in the workforce? And were there opportunities for them where they can move from a minimum wage job up the ladder a little bit, so they start on the pathway up for economic mobility.”
  • “Right, so instead of paying an agency three to six thousand dollars to place somebody, they essentially become the school for this new employee.”
  • “Yeah, the turnover rate for CNAs and at skilled nursing facilities is 147 percent in the first month…So, if we can get somebody to four months, the likelihood they're gonna stay for four years is significantly higher.”
  • How Cognotion Built Its Team
  • Features that Make Cognotion’s Learning Platform for CNAs Effective
  • “…we formed channel partnerships with some larger institutions that are already selling into this space.”
  • “So, our biggest competitors are in-person schools.”
  • Qstream as a Possible Model?
  • Cognotion’s Funding Trajectory
  • $5.5 Million Angel Round
  • Advice to Founders & CEOs – Absorb the Stress & Hire People Smarter than You
  • “This is a complex time in America's history. And I think it's a unique opportunity, also, for people who are smart and dedicated entrepreneurs to look at how can we participate in improving the economy today.”
  • Jo Schneier on AI & Employment

 

May 9, 2018

Invest Alongside Boston's Leading Angels Via Syndicates: Opt In Here

Cambridge-based Wistia has taken the road less-traveled to success. They did not raise a lot of money but now compete with richly-funded startups. What’s their secret? Listen to the interview with the delightful founders of this popular video platform, Brendan Schwartz and Chris Savage, as they discuss the unique culture and vision that make the startup remarkable.

During the interview I pondered naming the episode “They Did It Their Way”; an echo of the song made famous by Frank Sinatra. I decided against this title because Chris and Brendan are nothing like the self-absorbed crooner. Actually, they are two friends from college who built a business together and still enjoy working and socializing with each other. The beautiful story of their friendship is only one of the attractions in this bravura interview.

Highlights include:

  • Brendan Schwartz and Chris Savage Bio
  • Wistia’s Founders Lived and Worked in a 10-Person House in Cambridge Keeping Costs Low
  • “When we started Wistia, we were both 23 years old. I think really the thing that was the most attractive to me was that it was an adventure, and that no two days would be the same.”
  • Wistia’s Founders Tried a Lot of Ideas Before They Found Their First Use Case
  • How Wistia Found its First Use Case
  • Startups Tend to Undercharge for Their Services; Wistia Was No Different in This
  • $400 per Month from the First Corporate Client Was a Lot Compared to a Burn Rate of $1600 per Month
  • “Today, Wistia is a video platform.” “It’s really trying to make it easy for you to get value from your videos.”
  • “There's no way Wistia would be what it is today if we weren't crazy scrappy for many, many years.”
  • Sal Asks for Your Review – He Points at Chris & Brendan Significantly!
  • Great Advice on Finding Your First Use Case
  • The Savage Rule: “If you're not embarrassed by the stuff you're putting out in the world, you probably have taken too long in protecting it or trying to make it perfect…”
  • On Being Friends and then Co-Founders – Dos & Don’ts
  • Chris Savage & Brendan Schwartz, Like Bettina Hein of the Founder of Pixability, Are Very Wise About their Schedule
  • Chris Savage’s Brilliant Responses to the “Sleep When You’re Dead” Idea
  • Wistia Has Been Massively Capital Efficient Compared to Brightcove & HubSpot – Their Investors Are Elated!!
  • Over-Funded Competitors Undone by the Video Market’s Slower-Than-Expected Growth
  • Wistia Is Has Put in Place a Financing Structure Unusual for a Startup
  • “We hit on this idea of raising debt so we could do right by the investors, and we could really take a bet on ourselves…”
  • Startups Chris Savage & Brendan Schwartz Admire
  • Parting Thoughts from the Founders of Wistia
  • “I wish everyone could just think longer term.”
Apr 25, 2018

Join Sal's Investment Syndicate. Opt In Here: Syndicates Page

At age 32 Molly Lindquist was diagnosed with breast cancer. Other women in her family had also endured this terrible ordeal. She survived it and is fighting back. Consano, the crowdfunding platform she founded, funds more than 65 medical research projects at leading academic centers such as Dana-Farber and Memorial/Sloan Kettering. Her work is getting serious attention because she’s figured out how to help disease survivors channel their energies towards defeating the illnesses that beset them. I had the opportunity of interviewing this energetic and engaging founder at TEDMED.

Here are some of the topics covered in this brief conversation:

  • Sal’s Pitch for his Investment Syndicate
  • Molly Lindquist Bio
  • Molly Lindquist Is Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, as Both Her Grandmothers Had Been
  • Molly Lindquist Tells Consano’s Founding Story
  • “I mean, over 50% of their time [researcher’s time] is spent fundraising. I'm naively thinking, shouldn't you be in the lab coming up with treatments. We need some cures here.”
  • Molly Lindquist Explains How Consano Works
  • “But people have now been calling this [Consano], this Kickstarter / Match.com hybrid. I was like, did not see the Match.com coming.”
  • “So, our biggest differentiator from many of the other crowdfunding platforms is that we vet each project.”
  • “We've listed about 65 projects from 25 academic centers from West Coast, East Coast, Dana-Farber, Sloan Kettering…”
  • “I think the biggest piece of advice I usually give when people ask me is really, be ready to jump on to an emotional roller coaster.”
  • Molly Lindquist on Work/Life Balance
  • “I think you know my whole premise now is leaving this world, as we all will at some point, having left a mark and having made it a better place.”
Apr 11, 2018

Invest Alongside Angels Like Bob Goodof. To Join our Syndicate List Opt In Here: Link to Syndicate Sign Up

Growing up in humble circumstances in Ohio, Bob Goodof discovered he had a head for numbers from playing with his baseball cards. At MIT he excelled in material science. After stints in the chemical industry and an MBA from Harvard, Bob became an investment analyst on Wall Street specializing in the oil and gas industry. He now invests as an angel with Walnut Ventures and teaches at Babson. He’s a sought-after advisor to startups and a valued colleague to other angels.

Here are the highlights form this fun and engaging conversation:

  • Sal’s Pitch for Angel Invest Boston Syndicates
  • Bob Goodof Bio
  • How Bob Goodof Dodged a Career in Journalism and Ended Up in Engineering
  • Bob Goodof Is a Guy Who Does His Numbers
  • Bob Goodof Dodges a Career in Aero & Astro, Ends Up in Material Science aka Metallurgy
  • Bob Goodof Gets an “Industrial MBA” from Dow Chemicals in His First Job
  • Bob Goodof Was Very Relaxed at Job Interviews, Perhaps Too Much So
  • Why Bob Goodof Decided to Get a Real MBA – The Real Value of a Harvard MBA
  • An Intro to the World of Investment Analysts
  • Bob Goodof Tries to Drag HBS Kicking & Screaming into Entrepreneurship Projects
  • Bob Goodof Gets Fired from His First Job after HBS; 18% Mortgage + an Attempt to Create a Software Newsletter
  • Bob Goodof Makes a Connection Playing Hockey & Gets a Job at Eaton Vance
  • Being an Analyst Was the Perfect Job; Bob Goodof Got to Ask Questions Companies Had to Answer
  • The Origin of Bob Goodof’s Entrepreneurial Urge + Breeding Lobsters in the Brine
  • Bob Goodof’s Rule: “Beware Wisconsin CEOs with Deep Tans” – What He Looks for in Management
  • How the Investment Business Changed during Bob Goodof’s Career
  • Bob Goodof’s Take on Why Fund Managers Buy and Sell Shares So Frequently
  • Sal Reads Helldoc88’s iTunes Review and Urges Listeners to Leave Their Own Reviews
  • How Bob Goodof Started Angel Investing
  • Bob Goodof’s Take on the Associative Nature of Creativity
  • What Bob Goodof Likes to Tell Founders
  • Is there a Danger in Investing Only in Areas You Know?
  • Why Bob Goodof was Intrigued by Fortified Bike
  • Bob Invests in a Nutraceutical Company
  • Startups Bob Goodof Is Excited About: UltraCell, DropWise & Poly6
  • UltraCell
  • DropWise
  • How Did Poly6 Avoid the Distraction of Too Many Possibilities?
  • A CFO That Can Say No
  • How Bob Goodof Stated the Off Wall Street Conference for Oil & Gas Bigs
Mar 28, 2018

INVEST WITH BOSTON'S LEADING ANGELS

JOIN OUR SYNDICATES: Opt In Here

 

Joe Meyer founded ExecThread, https://execthread.com/, to solve a pain point he felt acutely himself. Joe had sold his company to Apple and, after the obligatory stint at the acquirer, was looking for a senior executive position. He was astonished when he revealed all sorts of important things about his career profile to a recruiter and the recruiter did not take notes. That’s when it hit him that the recruiting industry was totally broken and he decided to build a solution for the problem. Two and half years later he has $7MM in VC funding and 25,000 highly selected and engaged users helping him map where the “hidden jobs” are. Among his backers is a co-founder of LinkedIn who was astonished that ExecThread could be aware of the “passive job seeker”, execs who would entertain an offer but who are not seeking a new position actively. Listen to this interview with a founder building a company that promises to be very big and very profitable.

Some of the topics addressed:

  • Sal Daher’s Pitch for Angel Invest Boston Syndicates
  • Introduction of the Guest
  • “Absolutely. I also experienced the pain point when I hired executive recruiters as a hiring manager at my last two companies as well, so I've seen it both from the candidate-facing perspective now, as well as from the client or hiring-company perspective.”
  • How ExecThread Works – Accessing the “Hidden Job Market” for High-Level Execs
  • “I quickly realized, though, that this walled-garden approach in the executive search industry actually benefits executive recruiters much more than it does hiring companies, and far more than it does candidates.”
  • “…we've created the largest aggregator of non-listed and non-published jobs in the world, that you won't find on any other job platform out there.”
  • How ExecThread Got VC Funding
  • LinkedIn Co-Founder Lee Hower about Execthread: “"Wow, you guys have access to the passive job-seeker."
  • Joe Meyer Speaking of Executive Recruiters: “…I gave them everything that wasn't on my LinkedIn profile, and the thing that amazed me was, they didn't write it down.”
  • “For an incredibly manual process that we think can be largely automated. And there's a lot of inefficiency in this industry, but there's also a large appetite to pay for solutions.”
Mar 28, 2018

Invest with Boston's Leading Angels.

Join Our Syndicates: Opt In to Syndicates List

Roboticist Keenan Wyrobek’s first career was founding Willow Garage which created ROS (Robot Operating System) that now makes robotic components inter-operable. After creating a foundation to sustain this vital piece of open source software, Keenan went in search of new engineering challenges. He became intrigued with the idea of helping developing countries deliver crucial medical supplies to areas that are poorly served by roads. He co-founded Zipline, the VC funded venture that is improving the lives of people in rural Rwanda. Zipline is now poised for profitable growth. Listen to this inspiring and brilliant engineer speak passionately about solving major problems while building a business.

Topics covered:

  • Sal’s Pitch for Angel Invest Boston Syndicates
  • Sal’s Introduction of Keenan Wyrobek
  • How Keenan Wyrobek Became an Engineer
  • Keenan Wyrobek Starts Willow Garage & Creates ROS (Robot Operating Systems) the Ubiquitous Open Source Software that Makes Robot Components Inter-Operable
  • Robotics: 90% Software & 10% Hardware?
  • Keenan Wyrobek Stumbles upon the Idea of Zipline
  • “And I think the reason we got that traction in our conversations is that this was a really visceral problem. Everybody's one degree away from it. It's either your grandmother or you or your sister has gone to the hospital and the doctor says, "I could have helped you, but I don't have X."”
  • It Took Two and a Half Years to Refine the Solution for Delivering Perishable Medical Supplies with Drones
  • “Our first plane had a wingspan that was probably about four feet and what we operate now is 10 feet. So it's went from a plane you could carry under your arm with no problem to a thing that's a beast.”
  • VCs Saw a Huge Opportunity
  • In the Midst of the Drone Craze in 2014 & 2015, Zipline Was Quietly Making Progress
  • New Version of the Drone Is Built to Scale
  • Keenan Wyrobek’s Advice to Young People Interested in Drones
  • Parting Words
Mar 14, 2018

Invest with Boston's Leading Angels. Click here to Opt In to Our Syndicates List => Syndicates Page

In college, Diane Stokes juggled caring for a sick mother, working full-time, doing ROTC and even had time to be on U Mass Lowell’s cheer leading squad. This energy and focus served her well as she progressed in her career of helping build startup after startup. Eventually, Diane founded a startup of her own. It succeeded beyond her greatest expectations. She invested as an angel for a while but is now back at another startup, helping them grow. My conversation with her revealed a personality of impressive determination and stamina leavened by good humor and genuine caring. I really enjoyed this interview, I think you will too.

Topics covered include:

  • Diane Stokes Bio
  • While in College, Diane Stokes Cared for Her Sick Mother, Worked Full-time, Did ROTC and Still Found Time to Be on the Cheerleading Squad
  • How Diane Stokes Found Her Path in Work Life
  • How Diane Stokes Juggled Her Transition from Engineering to Sales While Being a Mom and Getting Her MBA
  • Diane Stokes Left a Poorly Managed Startup and Went to a Second One that Got Acquired by Chipcom, a Particularly Well-run Company at Chipcom Diane Learned a Lot
  • Diane Stokes Realizes She Wants the Startup Life
  • Diane Stokes, Tri-Athlete
  • Sal Daher Reads an iTunes Review by TDN7 – Insightful Review
  • How Diane Stokes Founded her First Startup – Spoiler Alert: Moonlighting Involved
  • In Many Ways, ORP Was the Perfect Startup for Diane Stokes to Co-Found
  • What Diane Stokes Thought She Knew About Startups but Didn’t
  • The Most Useful Things Diane Stokes Learned from Co-Founding ORP – Number of Founders Is Critical
  • The Most Important Thing Sal Daher Learned at The Venture Café 😉
  • Why Diane Stokes Is Going Back to the Startup Life
  • Important Disclosure About Diane Stokes
  • Diane Stokes Has Joined Wireless Startup Wyebot Heading Up Marketing
  • Diane Stokes Gets Sal to Reveal the Exact Reason He Started the Podcast
  • Parting Thoughts from Diane Stokes
Feb 28, 2018

When Sid Satish saw his first surgery he was struck by the contrast between the advanced technologies in use side by side with ancient practices such as the negotiation over how much patient blood has been lost. He saw an opportunity to apply technology to create an informed calculation of blood loss. This was in 2011, now this technology runs on iPad Pros and is in use at 30 hospitals.

 

Here are some highlights from this eye-opening interview:

 

  • Siddarth Satish’s Bio
  • Got Hooked on Entrepreneurship from Business Plan Competitions at UC Berkeley
  • Gauss’ Device & Software Scans the Operating Room to Estimate Blood Loss – Too Cool!

[The Product Is Called Triton and Has Been Adopted at 30 Hospitals and Used on 100,000 patients Already]

  • How Gauss Got Started
  • “…we've had a few of our health systems study the delivery of the system and find that it has clinically impacted blood transfusions, made them more efficient, it has led to a significant increase in the recognition of hemorrhage, which is the problem we're trying to solve….by almost 400 percent.”
  • “When you're trying to change an entire field and trying to change the way that medicine is ultimately practiced with a completely new perspective, it takes re-imagination both on the technical front, but also on the clinical front, on the customer-facing front.”
Feb 28, 2018

Since its publication in 2011, “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries has determined how startups are built. The idea is that little can be known up front about what customers really want, thus a series of cheap and quick experiments are in order. Minimally viable products (MVPs) are slapped together and put in front of trial audiences with the goal of having them “fail fast”. This rapid experimentation may lead the startup to change directions repeatedly. These changes in business direction have come to be called pivots.

Now a team of experienced product people are challenging some aspect of the Lean Startup Method. Among those voices are Geordie Kaytes, Radhika Dutt and Nidhi Aggarwal. They have seen the problems that blind adherence to the Lean Startup Method can bring, such as aimless and unproductive pivoting. They propose a rebalancing towards a more deliberate approach. In our interview Nidhi, Geordie and Radhika tell us what drove them to fashion this new approach to product creation.

Radical Product can be found at: Radical Product Website

Feb 14, 2018

Invest Alongside Boston's Leading Angels in Our Syndicates

Learn More Here: Angel Invest Boston Syndicates

Shiva Kashalkar of Green Piñata Toys

The toy industry is hard for new comers. Building a subscription business in the toy industry is doubly hard. Despite the obstacles, Shiva Kashalkar and her company, Green Piñata Toys, are starting to get traction. They report 50% organic growth month over month with 90% monthly retention. The secret of their growth has been the creation of an algorithm to predict from the first delivery, what toys will be of most interest to their customer’s children. Listen to this engaging conversation with a dynamic young founder who is beginning to see green shoots in her startup.

Feb 14, 2018

Invest Alongside Boston's Leading Angels in Our Syndicates

Learn More Here: Angel Invest Boston Syndicates

Shiva Kashalkar of Green Piñata Toys

The toy industry is hard for new comers. Building a subscription business in the toy industry is doubly hard. Despite the obstacles, Shiva Kashalkar and her company, Green Piñata Toys, are starting to get traction. They report 50% organic growth month over month with 90% monthly retention. The secret of their growth has been the creation of an algorithm to predict from the first delivery, what toys will be of most interest to their customer’s children. Listen to this engaging conversation with a dynamic young founder who is beginning to see green shoots in her startup.

Feb 14, 2018

Invest Alongside Boston's Leading Angels in Our Syndicates

Learn More Here: Angel Invest Boston Syndicates

Guest: Semyon Dukach, Super Angel, Founder & VC - "The Energizer"

When Semyon Dukach’s family came to America as refugees from the Soviet Union, they had a hundred dollars to their name. Semyon is now one of Boston’s most consequential super angels. Along the way he founded a couple of startups himself and made some remarkable angel investments that put him in a position to be helping founders with money and time. He has a knack for encouraging founders during the tough times. He’s done some fascinating stuff, like being a member of MIT’s fabled blackjack team, more recently he headed up Techstars in Boston. Now he’s raised a venture fund, One Way Ventures, focused on working with immigrant founders.

Don’t miss this inspiring interview. Topics covered include:

  • Sal’s Announcement of the Angel Invest Boston Syndicate
  • Sal’s Intro of Semyon Dukach
  • Semyon Dukach Bio
  • The Moment Semyon Dukach Figured Out What He wanted to Do in Life
  • Semyon Dukach’s Immigrant Story
  • One of Semyon Dukach’s Adventures on MIT’s Fabled Blackjack Team
  • The Satisfaction of Helping Out Customers in Significant Ways
  • Semyon Dukach’s Tremendous Pivot Story
  • Semyon Dukach’s First Angel Investment
  • Some of Semyon Dukach’s Favorite Startups – Wanderu, Quanergy & Lovepop Cards
  • Semyon Dukach’s Leadership at Techstars Boston
  • Semyon Dukach’s Advice to Startups Applying to Techstars
  • Why Are Immigrants So Over-Represented Among Founders
  • How One Way Ventures Came About
  • About Eveline Buchatskiv, Semyon’s Partner in One Way Ventures
  • Semyon Dukach’s Advice to Angels & Founders
Jan 31, 2018

Jay Singh co-founded ViralGains which is on Deloitte’s Fast 500 list of North America’s fastest growing tech companies. Still working on the marketing technology space, he has founded Clear Coin, a company hoping to apply distributed ledger technology to making digital advertising more accountable. He chose a token sale as a way of acquiring the resources needed to build his new company and seems to be off to a great start.

Jay Singh’s is the first Founder Focus interview on Angel Invest Boston. This new format is a response to the growing demand from founders to be on the podcast. The interviews are shorter and done via VOIP, allowing for more immediacy while still maintaining good sound quality. These Founder Focus episodes will launch concurrent with our regular podcast to offer listeners a broader choice. I hope you enjoy them.

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