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.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Angel Invest Boston




All Episodes
Now displaying: November, 2017
Nov 29, 2017

At the TEDMED Conference in Palm Springs, CA I had the chance to interview people from interesting startups. These brief interviews will appear in the coming months interspersed with our regular episodes.

Chee-Yeun Chung, a neuroscientist from Korea, was captivated by the idea that cures for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS, could be found by doing experiments on yeast cells. Conventional approaches to neurodegenerative diseases had proved problematic. However, an MIT professor, the late Dr. Susan Lindquist, saw a remarkable connection between yeast cells and the human neuron that could offer a solution. This evolutionary conservation, the scientific name for the unlikely connection, might lead to a platform for finding human cures. The promise of quickly evaluating compounds on simple yeast cells opened up the possibility of testing large numbers of potential treatments. Such massive experimentation could not be done with the much more complex human neuron. Chee was thus inspired to become a scientific co-founder of Yumanity Therapeutics, the corporate embodiment of Dr. Lindquist’s passionate vision.

With $47 million is Series A money, Yumanity has developed ultra-high throughput methods for testing the ability of large numbers of compounds to improve the functioning of yeast cells purposely afflicted with a certain defect. The defect, protein misfolding, is implicated as a cause of neurodegenerative diseases. Compounds found promising in treating yeast cells are then evaluated in human neurons in which protein misfolding is present. Yumanity has also developed methods to figure out the mechanism of action of these compounds based on yeast genetics and protein network analyses.

The result has been the discovery of promising compounds that might become cures. Yumanity believes that its progress over the past two years will justify a Series B raise.  The new money is expected to take the existing compounds to clinical trials.

For more details see annotated transcript at: [link to episode page to be added here]

Topics covered include:

  • Chee-Yeun Chung Bio
  • Yeast Cells as a Model for Human Neurons – The Simplest Cells Used to Model the Most Complex
  • Induce Protein Misfolding in Yeast – Test for Compounds that Alleviate Symptoms – Find Candidates to Treat Protein Misfolding in Human Neurons – Protein Misfolding Cause of Alzheimer’s Etc.
  • Take Skin Cells from a Parkinson’s Patients, turn them into Stem Cells, Make the Stem Cells into Human Neurons with Misfolded Proteins – Neurons Then Used to Validate “Treatments” Found in Yeast Tests
  • “There [were] a lot of evolutionary conservation between yeast and human neurons. And the compound worked in yeast and also worked in human neurons. So, this to us presented an amazing opportunity where we can create a drug discovery platform using yeast and human patient derived neurons.”
  • New Approaches Sorely Needed, Previous Approaches by Pharma to Find Treatments for Neurodegenerative Diseases Failed
  • Tony Coles, Yumanity CEO Raised $47 Million Series A to Maximize Freedom of Action & Long-term Support – Sanofi & Biogen Participating
  • Two Years into Series A – Promising Results Justify Series B Raise
  • The Biggest Obstacle Has Been the Chemistry – How to Make the Compounds Soluble, Stable Etc. without Compromising Efficacy
  • What Led Chee to Give Up a Safe Position in a Leading Lab to Risk Being is a Startup
  • Yumanity Hopes to Be in Clinical Trials Within 2 Years – Promising Compounds Have Already Been Identified
  • Working in Yumanity Chee Has Gained a Greater Appreciation of Focus and Team Work
  • Flexibility and Intense Communication Within the Team Have Proved Essential to Success
  • Sought Advice from Others Experienced with Startup Culture – Listened to Advice
  • Chee on Her Late Mentor Dr. Susan Lindquist
  • The Late Susan Lindquist found Her Work on the Evolutionary Conservation between Yeast and Human Neurons No Accepted by the Scientific Community, Yet She Persevered
  • Due to the Grit of Susan Lindquist, the Yeast-to-Human Neuron Platform for Drug Discovery Is Becoming a Reality
Nov 22, 2017

Ty Danco is an outlier in a population of outliers. His interests are varied and pursued passionately. He’s founded two fintech companies, he’s invested in a gazillion startups and he’s been a hugely generous advisor to companies, in fact the chief advisor at Techstars. Oh, I forgot to mention he’s an Olympian and also deeply involved with crypto-currencies. In this really meaty interview, Ty and I covered a wide range of topics. He explained his ideas in his affably quirky way. This was a super fun conversation.


"Danco, why are you here? You're a marketing guy." And I said that I was here to see Lever Brothers and he goes, "You idiot, you signed up for Lehman Brothers."

“So, I took a leave of absence from school, and Wharton let me make up my remaining credits over the summer, and so I tried doing all three things at the same time. It was a success on paper, I did make the 84 [Olympic] team, I did complete the MBA, I did work at Lehman Brothers, but in truth I was overwhelmed, I did everything badly.

I ended up breaking my heel and didn't compete in Sarajevo. I learned nothing in my last classes at school and I was just lost and floundering my first year on Wall Street. So, there's a pretty obvious lesson there about the need to focus and my inability to multi-task. That's maybe why they say focus on one metric that matters, don't try to do five balls in the air at once.”

Topics covered include:

  • Ty Danco’s Bio
  • How Ty Danco Stated His Career – Lehman Brothers vs. Lever Brothers – Olympic Team
  • "Danco, why are you here? You're a marketing guy." And I said that I was here to see Lever Brothers and he goes, "You idiot, you signed up for Lehman Brothers."
  • Ty Danco Doing Too Much
  • Ty Danco and the Importance of Focus
  • Ty Danco on the Cover of Sports Illustrated
  • Ty Danco Moves from New York City to Burlington, Vermont
  • Ty Danco Discovers that, Thanks to Michael Bloomberg, It Was Possible to Do Investing in Vermont
  • Ty Danco Founds His First Startup - eSecLending
  • Ty Danco Recalls Wall Street Misogyny of the Past – Women Found a Haven in Hugely Complex CMO Deals
  • Ty Danco’s Company is Hit by the Crash of 2008
  • Sal Daher Asks for you to Review the Podcast on iTunes – It Really Helps!
  • Why Ty Danco’s Second Startup Failed
  • Ty Danco’s Angel Investments
  • Ty Danco Thinks Crypto-currencies Are Worthy Alternative Investments
  • Ty Danco Believes One Can Eliminate Many Losers - But at a Cost
  • Ty Danco’s Philosophy of Angel Investing
  • Why Mass Medical Angels Is the Only Angel Group Ty Danco Attends
  • Why Ty Danco Does Not Invest Based on Cold Calls
  • Ty Danco Reveals the Secret of Getting into Techstars
  • Ty Danco Likes VCs Involved in Every Deal, Why?
  • “Virtually all of my deals, 99% of the deals come not from me directly stumbling over something, but from a lead from my network.”
  • Boston Angel Pantheon: Michael Mark, Joe Caruso and Jean Hammond
  • What Are ICOs and Why should VCs be Scared of Them?
  • Some of Ty Danco’s Favorite Startups
  • Ty Danco’s Categorization of Mentoring Styles
  • What Sets Accelerators Apart in Ty Danco’s Estimation
  • Ty Danco Takes a Page from Manu Kumar in Starting His Next Venture

Visit our home page:Angel Invest Boston Web Page

Sign up for our live events at: Opt In Link

Nov 8, 2017

While in prep school Matt Singer performed at a religious ceremony and became fascinated with the impact his music had on the congregants. This fascination led Matt Singer to major in music at Yale, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude, and to think of how to make a life in music. Matt hit the streets soon after graduating to start his music business. For ten years he built Dawn Treader Production with marquee names such as Paul McCartney, James Earl Jones and the New York Philharmonic. Relying on the emotional connection possible on TV, he sold the CDs he produced by the tens of thousands on QVC. In 2007 he joined co-founder Amanda Eilian, in starting a company that is now changing the way large enterprises communicate with their customers and employees via video. Videolicious makes it easy for employees to produce polished videos personalized to particular clients that make emotional connections. The platform is now used by 4,000,000 users in 100 countries, it’s even taught at 90 schools of journalism. Backed by Amazon and VC money, this startup is poised for continued growth.

This is the story of someone who followed what seems to be an impractical passion but managed to create something that is useful to large numbers of paying customers. Listen to this candid and introspective conversation with a young man who thinks deeply but acts practically. In particular, I liked what he had to say about how founders can prepare their psyche for the arduous journey of building their startup: “It turns out that anything that you accomplish in life actually brings a crush of responsibility, so you really just have to enjoy the journey because there is no magic carpet ride of happiness that comes with any accomplishment.”


Here are the topics covered and some quotes:

  • Matt Singer Bio
  • Matt Singer Actively Looks for a Way to Turn His Passion for Music into a Living, and Succeeds
  • The Story of The Talk Market Which Became Videolicious
  • How Matt Connected with his Great Co-founder, Amanda Eilian
  • What Videolicious Does Today
  • Sal Daher Reads a Review from Listener ChangDS and Ask Listeners to Leave a Review on iTunes
  • The Pivot that Turned The Talk Market into Videolicious
  • The Vision Stayed the Same, the Implementation Changed
  • Great Point about Finding Your Focus
  • “From the perspective of entrepreneurs, I think it's just good to note that you can have a vision but there are a lot of choices along the way in terms of who should you really sell to.”
  • Videolicious is Taught at 90 Schools of Journalism – It’s Becoming Ingrained
  • Instead of a Sales Binder Videolicious Allows You to Send Your Customer a Compelling Personalized Video
  • “Video is becoming the standard way that people create content.”
  • Videolicious’ Board Has Been Very Supportive – They’ve Been Amenable to Reasoned Arguments
  • “Yeah, you've heard that theme of focus, focus, focus, but exactly what that means is not always super clear.”
  • "Wow. What do I need not only just to get in the door, but also to keep them forever?"
  • How Matt Singer Got Amazon as an Early Investor in His Company
  • How Videolicious’ VC Backers Help with More than Money
  • The Interesting Route Videolicious Took to VC Funding
  • The Path Ahead for Videolicious – Making Video Creation Ever Easier & More Effective
  • Matt Singer’s Three Bits of Advice for New Founders
  • “Definitely finding a great co-founder is important… someone that you can really work with… work through thick and thin, because there's going to be ups and downs constantly and so it's great to have someone that can support you and you can support them.”
  • “…thinking through the entire lifecycle of your customer from the acquisition to renewal.”
  • Having a Long-term View Is Crucial in Selling to Enterprise Customers
  • Because Everybody Works from Home, Videolicious Looks for Self-starters
  • ” I do find that being able to tell the story and the vision is a good way to attract talent.”
  • Other Startups That Matt Singer Admires – Companies That Make Using their Product Super Easy
  • What Matt Singer Has in Common with C.S. Lewis
  • “…most technology is pretty disruptive for your average employee. It's different than what they're used to doing. That's what you have to contend with as a startup, you assume that's a big jump, even if your product in the isolation is easy.”
  • Matt Singer’s Parting Thoughts – A Truly Valuable Observation
  • “It turns out that anything that you accomplish in life actually brings a crush of responsibility, so you really just have to enjoy the journey because there is no magic carpet ride of happiness that comes with any accomplishment.”