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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Angel Invest Boston



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Now displaying: October, 2017
Oct 25, 2017

Bettina Hein is the founder of Pixability, one of the fastest-growing companies in Massachusetts. She was also co-founder of SVOX, a profitable Swiss startup sold to Nuance Communications for $125MM. This record may make her success seem easier to achieve than it was. Bettina Hein overcame numerous obstacles to justify the sobriquet “Fearless Founder”. Learn from her as I did. She is an exemplar of resilience, grace under fire and plain common sense. She also has much to teach us about how a startup might best raise money. Whenever I ask angel investors about a remarkable pivot by a founder, there’s a good chance Bettina’s name will come up. Don’t miss this charming and instructive conversation with a star founder.

Here are topics and quotes from the interview:

  • Bettina Hein Bio
  • How Bettina Hein Found Her Entrepreneurial Path in Life
  • Bettina Hein Used to Write Computer Programs in Fourth Grade but Did Not Learn to Code in College; Why?
  • Professors Discouraged Bettina Hein from Pursuing a Career in the Sciences
  • “If I had to go back, I would probably get an undergraduate degree in either electrical engineering or computer science.”
  • “I think I wanted to be an entrepreneur very early on. There's just that example that was set in my family. There's no one in my family that has had a nine to five job ever, except my brother…”
  • Bettina Hein Founds an Entrepreneurship Initiative for Students at her University Called Start, that Leads her to Brains-to-Venture, Which Connects Her with Her co-founders in SVOX
  • SVOX Has a $125 MM Exit to Nuance Communications
  • Bettina Hein Starts Pixability – Looked for Co-founders But Could Not Find Any Willing Takers – How She made Being a Solo Founder Work
  • Pixability’s Storied Pivots
  • “We help large brands and their agencies place their video advertising and optimize it on YouTube, and we've expanded to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.”
  • How Pixability’s Platform Impacts the Viewing Public
  • “Consumers like it better, and brands get more out of it.”
  • Sal Daher Reads an iTunes Review from HealthTech617 – Asks You to Leave a Review on iTunes
  • Bettina Hein’s Advice on Fundraising for a Startup
  • Bettina Hein on How Things Change Once a Startup Gets Venture Funding
  • Bettina Hein Thinks Founders Are Scared of Having a Board So They Miss out on a Lot
  • “Many beginning entrepreneurs are scared of having a board. They fear the meddling in their business. They fear that people will force decisions on them, on the board. I have not seen that ever happen.”
  • “For me, often times the exercise of preparing for a board meeting is almost more important than the board meeting itself because it allows me to really think through the narrative of the company.”
  • Bettina Hein’s Way of Balancing Work & Family
  • Bettina Hein on Fundraising While Pregnant
  • Bettina Hein on Marketing Technology’s Crowded Landscape
Oct 11, 2017

Quotes from the podcast:

“Every startup investment is folly, but not every folly should be a startup investment…”

"How can I eliminate the real follies?"

“Banks are dominated by all these rules, and they're extremely risk averse. It's sort of like belt and suspenders, and yet, periodically, their pants fall down.”

“Someone who's selling is steeling herself for failure in every phone call…”

Sal Daher got a person who knows him really well, his brother in law Martin Aboitiz, to interview him in this 25th episode of the Angel Invest Boston podcast. The result is a wide-ranging and light-hearted conversation that tells a lot about how Sal sees the world of startups.

BTW, during the podcast Sal refers to the physicist Stephen Hawking as Christopher Hawking. This lapse was occasioned by Sal having spent time with Christopher Lydon (Christopher Lydon's Website) just days prior to recording. Sal's sure neither gentleman takes umbrage from the confusion.

The list of topics includes:

  • Sal Daher Bio
  • Switch from Engineering to International Finance
  • How Sal Started Investing
  • How Being a Banker and an Engineer Helped Develop Sal’s Investing Philosophy
  • ”When I look at markets, I understand that markets are not knowable, and so I don't look to guess where markets are going. I don't look to think that I know more than anybody else, or that I know more than the market.”
  • “Banks are dominated by all these rules, and they're extremely risk averse. It's sort of like belt and suspenders, and yet, periodically, their pants fall down.”
  • “I've developed kind of an approach of skepticism, you know Popperian skepticism of how much I can know.”
  • Sal Has Andrew Carnegie as a Model – Keep a Lot of Cash to be Able to Buy Bargains
  • “I can tell you right now, anything we're buying, we're buying it very expensively.”
  • Sal Thanks Listener GranTia for Leaving a Review
  • How Sal Decides on Which Startup to Invest
  • “Every startup investment is folly, but not every folly should be a startup investment…”
  • "How can I eliminate the real follies?"
  • “What I have to do is I have to play a defensive game, I have to avoid investing in losers.”
  • “Martin, I discovered a really amazing thing, being really smart and really knowledgeable has zero correlation with the ability to sell, zero, okay?”
  • “Someone who's selling is steeling herself for failure in every phone call…”
  • Regrets?
  • Anti-portfolio
  • Sal’s Favorite Pivots – Pixability & SQZ Biotech – Personal Pivots
  • “I'm a big fan of pivots, because a pivot is an expression of belief in the ability of human beings to fall down and get up again.”
  • Networking in Boston vs. the Bay Area
  • “There's no other place like it [Boston], and there's an unbelievable variety of things that go on. It is a little bit insular, it is hard to network here, but I can tell you that the angel investing environment, there's no angel investing environment that's as collaborative as the one here.”
  • “Now, venture capitalists aren't interested in follies, they're interested in sure bets.”
  • “How many companies can an angel investor successfully track and manage in his portfolio?”
  • People from Whom Sal Learns the Most