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: May, 2018
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.”