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Give First Profile

Give First

English, Finance, 1 seasons, 84 episodes, 1 day 11 hours 40 minutes
In the startup world, Give First means simply trying to help anyone—especially entrepreneurs—with no expectation of getting anything back. It's the pay-it-forward principle that builds strong startup networks. Hosts David Cohen and Brad Feld—Techstars cofounders, lifelong entrepreneurs, and startup investors—talk with mentors and founders about what giving first looks like in action, and how it makes great entrepreneurship possible. Hosted on Acast. See ( for more information.
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The Perfect Storm with Elizabeth Kraus

For 20 years, Elizabeth Kraus was busy being an entrepreneur. So busy and stressed, she wasn’t eating well, had wild energy swings and barely slept despite training for, and tackling long-distance triathlons. A host of other medical challenges led to a thyroid and hormone imbalance diagnosis and medication which she said, “put a band aid solution on all these health issues.” Until the band aid ripped off. “It was the perfect storm of disaster,” said Kraus, the chief investment officer for MergeLane Venture Capital Fund. “My body completely shut down in 2023.”Listen as Kraus and David Cohen, longtime friends with frequent career intersections, discuss the breakdown, the warning signs and how she clawed her way back to, almost, normalcy. Kraus recently announced after eight years and investments in 54 female-led companies, MergeLane has made their final investment. Kraus plans to write a book and start a podcast. “I think lots of people who a
31/10/202333 minutes 30 seconds
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Using Your Dragonfly Eyes with Charles Conn

Charles Conn is a builder, a creator and an environmentalist. He’s managed to wed those three passions together by investing in the biotech space as the co-founder of Monograph Capital. “The most consistent thing you can do is work in this biology space because when humans have health security, they tend to look after the planet,” said Conn who has also been a member of the Patagonia board for 15 years, and chair for the last few. Patagonia recently transferred all its shares to The Patagonia Purpose Trust to fight climate change and species eradication.&nbsp; “That was an amazing journey and one that was also quite challenging,” said Conn.&nbsp; Conn recently released his second book, <a href=";pd_rd_w=dXxzm&amp;content-id=amzn1.sym.579192ca-1482-4409-abe7-9e14f17ac827&amp;pf_rd_p=579192ca-1482-4409-abe7-9e14f17ac827&amp;pf_rd_r
05/09/202326 minutes 44 seconds
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Bottoms Up: A Conversation with Bevi CEO Sean Grundy

Sean Grundy, co-founder and CEO of Bevi, wouldn’t budge despite calls from, ironically, David Cohen, the GiveFirst podcast host.&nbsp;Cohen wanted Bevi smart water coolers in more places than just Boston. Grundy wanted to prioritize quality control and customer retention.&nbsp;“We wanted our mechanical engineers and electrical engineers close by so they could personally put their eyes on any errors, see what was going wrong and fix it,” said Grundy.&nbsp;That was back in 2014 just after participating in Techstars Boston. Grundy’s phased approach ethos worked then and still works today. In fact, Bevi not only survived the pandemic but recently raised $70 million in a series D funding round.&nbsp;“The pandemic was brutal,” said Sean Grundy. “It felt like running into a wall.”Listen in as Grundy and Cohen discuss taking a compassionate approach to crisis leadership, gradual recovery and redefining success … all with only a few liquid-related puns.&nbs
30/05/202334 minutes 20 seconds
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Startup Community Builder Chris Heivly and his Newest “Build the Fort” Book

Described as the foremost expert on how to build startup communities, Chris Heivly has written “Build the Fort: The Startup Community Builder's Field Guide.” Listen in as Chris and David talk about what Heivly discovered while writing and practical steps to take for anyone who wants to launch a startup community.From building a pipeline of founders to feeding that funnel continuously and storytelling, Heivly reminds listeners the first step is culture.&nbsp;“Connections are the lifeblood of a healthy community” said Heivly. “If the founders don’t have access to the frictionless network that exists to help them do something, they are going to go elsewhere.”&nbsp;The longtime colleagues also regale listeners with a few stories from their days raising money and starting businesses, including one incident that involved Heivly nursing a recent (and bloody) run in with a hockey puck.&nbsp;Buy the book now: <a href="
25/04/202328 minutes 1 second
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Leading Through Crisis: 96 hours after the fall of SVB

The fall of SVB will go down in history as one of those ‘where were you when …’ moments. For David Cohen, he was sitting at a sporting event when his phone began buzzing incessantly. For Brad Feld, he was couch shopping with his wife.Feld is no stranger to crises and his instincts kicked in quickly.“I shifted into problem-solving mode,” says Feld.But then, almost as quickly, the government stepped in and money began flowing. Crisis averted. It was time to reflect.Listen as Feld and Cohen share insight into what they saw in the VC and startup community, how communication made all the difference and how many came together to support each other.They also tackle the looming question weighing heavy on founders’ minds: how will this affect the future of startups and fundraising rounds in process?As for the couch? Tune in to find out. Hosted on Acast. See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank'
16/03/202349 minutes 2 seconds
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MeatoDoor Founders on Startups With Family— But Not A Family Business

Though many might shy away from working with their spouse, MeatoDoor Founders Ambreen Khan and Rashid Ahmed wouldn’t have it any other way.&nbsp;“We don't see that as a challenge in terms of running the company. We are both totally different individuals; we bring different skills to the table,” says Ambreen, who is also CEO of MeatoDoor. “In fact, we both complement each other so much that almost 60% of the skillset that is crucial for an early-stage company to have growth, we actually satisfy the needs.”Listen as Ambreen and Rashid describe how they blend their lives and their startup work, and why this Riyadh Techstars Accelerator startup is not a family business.&nbsp;A
31/01/202322 minutes 54 seconds
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Creator Science Founder on The Value of Creating Content

As an entrepreneur, Jay Clouse loves to create. After spending time in the product world as both a founder and an employee of another company, he stumbled into the world of content creation, where he could build products on his own timeline.&nbsp;The Creative Science Founder has the #givefirst mentality, providing many free resources through several platforms for founders and creators, including his podcast Creative Elements.“The model in a nutshell is giving first for as long as you can, never stop giving, and then some people will choose to give back to you because of that,” Jay says.Listen as Jay shares how building your personal brand is valuable to success: “This level of influence that you can have as an individual … can be huge no matter what you're trying to do, whether you want to funnel that toward your own products, whether you want to funnel that toward you
10/01/202326 minutes 44 seconds
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Arweave Co-Founder on Building an Archive of History Using Blockchain

Do you have a digital storage problem? As almost everything begins to be stored digitally, customers are often looking for sustainable but secure and permanent storage for their assets.What was once considered science fiction has been created by Arweave. One of the company’s goals is to create a permanent archive of all of humanity’s knowledge through its cryptographically verifiable method.“The simple way of explaining what Arweave is to people that have read 1984 is, well, you know the memory hole? Well, we make the memory hole impossible,” says Sam Williams, Arweave co-founder and CEO.Listen as Sam talks to Pete Townsend, Techstars managing director and leader of the <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_bla
20/12/202227 minutes 46 seconds
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Techstars Director of ESG on Being a Responsible Founder and Investor

When a thoughtful founder or investor is thinking about creating or sustaining long-term value and a company that adapts for the future, they are already inherently thinking about environmental, social, and governance issues (ESG).ESG is for ALL companies - not just the ones focused on the environment.Dr. Mairi-Jane Fox, Director of ESG at Techstars, breaks down the creation of ESG, starting from when companies began to think about their corporate social responsibility (CSR), to the sustainability movement across corporates, and now tracking how companies were addressing ESG issues.“ESG evolved out of those spaces when investors, who are a powerful crew for change, started to realize companies could lose their social license to operate by making poor social choices,” Mairi-Jane says. “ESG is the data-driven thinking about financially material stuff tha
18/10/202224 minutes 35 seconds
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QuickHire Co-Founder & CEO on Raising Capital as a Person of Color

When we talk about a startup successfully raising money after being part of a Techstars accelerator, that’s not an unusual story. But did you know that only 0.3% of all venture capital funding goes to black women?For Deborah Gladney, co-founder and CEO of QuickHire, this was a reality every day as she and her sister built their company with not many connections, low-balled valuations, and many more roadblocks.“After we were able to successfully raise, what was so apparent was how rare it was because we didn't realize that we were actually the first black women in Kansas to even raise a million dollars or more in venture capital. It was 2021 and to be the first, that tells you the disparities that are apparent in the industry,” Deborah says.Listen as Deborah shares her experience as a black entrepreneur, how she utilized her advisors to a
04/10/202220 minutes 4 seconds
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Endel CEO and Co-Founder on the Future of Sound

Imagine always having a soundscape that adapts to what you're doing and what you need to get done without the need to manually select a playlist.&nbsp;This is the future with Endel, an app that utilizes circadian rhythms and the neuroscience study of how sound influences the cognitive state.&nbsp;“It's an ever-present sound that follows you everywhere during the day across all channels and platforms Endel is available on. And it just proactively shifts between different modes, depending on what you're doing right now,” says Oleg Stavisky, CEO and co-founder of Endel. “The end game for me, in terms of how the product looks, is just this one play button. You press play, you go about your day.”Listen as Oleg found the Techstars Music Accelera
27/09/202220 minutes 48 seconds
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David Cohen and Brad Feld Talk Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

It took decades for Brad Feld to understand his depression and mental health struggles.&nbsp;“There was a period of time, pretty deep into this depressive episode. … Work was fine. Business was fine, but I would describe it looking backward as the complete absence of joy. There was no joy in anything that I was doing in any way I was doing it.”All the while, Brad was the founder of his own company while in his mid-20s, but he felt ashamed as the CEO because “the mantra that got thrown around for a while is that you can't show any weakness.”Listen as Brad discusses his diagnosis and how it helped him respond to his anxiety and depression. Brad and David also talk about mental health in the startup community and how to stop the stigma, both broadly and in the entrepreneur space.Also, don’t miss episode 20 of the Techstars Entrepreneur’s Toolkit</
07/09/202229 minutes 56 seconds
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Recast Capital Co-Founder on Working With Emerging Managers

If an entrepreneur takes a seed stage investment from a very large brand-name venture fund, they’re unlikely to get very much of the venture fund’s time. However, when it comes to emerging managers, this group often comes up with very specific ways that they believe they can help you, says Recast Capital Co-Founder and Managing Partner Courtney McCrea.“To the extent that you're in the earliest stages of your development of your business, I would think that I would be looking for partners that could help accelerate the growth of my business, and often they are emerging managers in venture,” she says.Listen as Courtney tells David how Recast Capital is trying to help add diversity to the sea of sameness within the emerging manager community, not just on gender, ethnicity, and authenticity, but also backgrounds and experiences.&nbsp;Also, don’t miss Courtney sharing
16/08/202221 minutes 8 seconds
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ESG Takeover: B Lab Community Engagement Manager and Project Canary COO on What It Means to be a B Corp

In this final ESG takeover episode, Dr. Mairi-Jane Fox, who helps lead ESG at Techstars, talks with B Lab Senior Manager of Community Engagement and Network Strategy Becca Quirk and Project Canary Co-founder &amp; COO Will Foiles about what it really means when a business gets its B Corp certification and how it creates impactful changes.“Inherently, becoming a B corporation forces a founder to look not just at what we are accomplishing today, but what we are working to accomplish,” says Becca Quirk.Listen as Becca and Will describe the benefits of this certification for startup founders, such as thought leadership opportunities among the B Corp commu
27/07/202222 minutes 51 seconds
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ESG Takeover: Soona CEO and UN PRI Head of Private Equity on How to Engage with Investors

In this second ESG takeover episode, Dr. Mairi-Jane Fox, who helps lead ESG at Techstars, talks with Soona CEO and Co-Founder Liz Giorgi and UN-sponsored Principles for Responsible Investment Head of Private Equity Peter Dunbar about different aspects of engaging with investors, including investor diligence, transparent conversations, and discussing ESG practices.First, Liz Giorgi explains the development of the candor clause, and how it benefits startup founders regardless of their identity. The candor clause helps facilitate open, honest conversations about investors' practices, and ultimately allows founders to make informed decisions about who they are t
20/07/202226 minutes 59 seconds
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Integrated Capital Strategies Founder Sharon Schneider on Value Integration and Social Entrepreneurship

We all have a set of principles for how we live our lives. How well are those principles aligned across every facet, though? You might be environmentally conscious but it’s important to ask yourself: Where do you do your banking? Who holds your mortgage?&nbsp;This is the driving point for author Sharon Schneider’s book, Handbook for an Integrated Life: A Practical Guide to Aligning Your Everyday Choices with Your Internal Compass.“If you're just floating along on mainstream American culture, my friend, … you're getting a very me-first, maximize-benefit-for-yourself all-the-time approach. This idea of taking your value and being conscious about how you integrate it into every area of your life for everyday people really became the genesis of the book,” said the Integrated Capital Strategies founder.Listen as Sharon highlights a few of the 7 principles fo
19/07/202222 minutes 27 seconds
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ESG Takeover: Sustaio Founder and SVT Group CEO on Benefits of ESG Measurement for Your Company

In this first ESG takeover episode, Dr. Mairi-Jane Fox, who helps lead ESG at Techstars, talks with Sustaio founder and CEO Olivia Pedersen and SVT Group CEO Sara Olsen about the benefits and the how-to of measuring ESG impact for early-stage start-ups.&nbsp;“It's a responsible business practice to manage your carbon effectively and make sure that you're taking responsibility for the impact and the externalized cost that your company is creating,” said Olivia Pedersen.Listen as Olivia and Sara give tangible, actionable advice to startup founders on how they can measure their company's impact. Also, don’t miss the six questions for implementing impact
13/07/202221 minutes 42 seconds
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Techstars Berlin Managing Director Martin Schilling on Guiding Global Tech Startup Builders

Martin Schilling said he would never work in finance. However, after two years of scaling N26 Group, a large European fintech company, he left with a wealth of knowledge that he needed to share. So he wrote “The Builder’s Guide to the Tech Galaxy” with several leading tech builders.“It is, in essence, a give-first book because together with my co-founders, we are deep advocates of scaling up the European tech ecosystem. Why? Because as startup builders, we are the pioneers of our times. We are the inventors of the 21st century to a certain degree, and we will need to build millions of future jobs.”Listen as Martin describes the global tech ecosystem, its current needs, and the future development of startups and scale-ups through mentoring and knowledge. “The book, as well, is me
05/07/202229 minutes 15 seconds
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Flikshop CEO Marcus Bullock on Reshaping the Criminal Justice System

At 15 years old, Marcus Bullock’s life changed forever. He was locked in an adult maximum-security prison for 8 years after carjacking a man. Marcus began to feel hopeless, so his mother began to send photos and letters each day.A few years after his release, his friends in prison asked Marcus for photos and letters of his travels and life. Marcus knew there had to be a better way to share his experiences outside the prison walls, and when he didn’t find an app to do it, he created it himself.“I was promising them: I want you to live vicariously through me now. I want you to see these moments and share with me because I want you to know when you get out of prison, bro, you will have the same success,” he said.Listen as Marcus shares his success after being released, starting with the company that gave him a chance, his entrepreneurial spirit, and the opportunity to hire
21/06/202233 minutes 41 seconds
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HILOS Founder Elias Stahl on Creating A New Supply Chain

Supply chains are a big nut to crack, and Elias Stahl ran straight for them. He was empowered to start a whole new supply chain and have his company HILOS be at the forefront of creating a different way to manufacture shoes, where it is ground zero for inefficiency and waste.“We saw that opportunity to leverage new technologies like 3D printing and gender design tools to rethink how we make things so that we're no longer building based on volume and cost, but on efficiency and a far more sustainable way for creators to take their ideas and turn them into products and then deliver them into hands of customers,” the CEO and founder of HILOS said.Listen to Elias describe fundraising as a comparison to dating with “meeting your match” and not changing yourself to find “love” or, in this case, your investors.Also, don’t miss David and Elias talk about
10/05/202225 minutes 36 seconds
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Twelve Labs CEO Jae Lee on Video Search Innovation and Accelerating with Techstars

Innovation is just innovation if no one uses it. This is a lesson Jae Lee, co-founder and CEO of Twelve Labs, learned while building multimodal neural networks and video search AI. Through the Techstars Seattle Accelerator, mentors, and community, the company began to grow its customer base, transforming from a video search prototype to raising $5 million in a seed funding round.Listen as Jae Lee describes how video search is a very intuitive concept but we haven’t seen much of this technology out in the wild, as well as credibility and experience in AI.“What we've realized was, hey, video is going to be everywhere. It's already everywhere. It's going to explode. Is there a new neural network architecture that we can use or create to have machines fully understand videos? And what this means to customers is better content moderation, better content recommendation, bett
26/04/202224 minutes 24 seconds
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Authors Mark Achler and Mert Iseri on Exit Strategy and Building Your Legacy

There are many business books out there for current and future entrepreneurs: How to start, how to raise money, how to market, and more. However, after selling his business SwipeSense to SC Johnson, Mert Iseri, with his mentor Mark Achler, realized there aren’t as many books imparting wisdom about selling your business from all aspects of the process.“The exit hopefully is a joyous moment in time, but your relationships and your legacy lasts hopefully through the rest of your career,” said entrepreneur Mark Achler, who is the managing director at MATH Venture Partners.Listen as Mert and Mark describe the different approaches they took to this book by interviewing not only CEOs but also M&amp;A attorneys and corporate development departments at acquiring companies. The two
16/02/202226 minutes 11 seconds
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Stream Founder Thierry Schellenbach on Listening to Customers and Following the Metrics

Stream might be a small startup company, but by listening to its customers and their needs, the company decided to launch a second product that helped it scale.&nbsp;“Focusing only on a single product, it was hard to go for larger channels that are not well-targeted, so we needed to have a broader product offering to really scale up,” said founder and CEO Thierry Schellenbach. “I think that’s the one thing in terms of advice for founders, I think you need to look at those metrics and we could have probably raised like an A and B rounds, like earlier on the activity feed business, but it would've been really hard to scale given the unit economics and where they were. So we ended up launching chat, doing well in that space, and then doubling down on like the A and to B. And I think that's been very successful for us.”Listen as Thierry describes the company’s c
01/02/202222 minutes 1 second
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Articulate Persuasion Founder Monique Maley on Delivering Ideas with Conviction

Monique Maley actually began her career in acting, which has shaped how she became an entrepreneur and mentor. When she transitioned out of the acting industry, she used her skills of communication and body language to help other leaders get out of their own way.&nbsp;“For years I've been saying the thing that attracted me so much to the startup ecosystem and why I get so energized by it is because it's exactly like theater and film. There are so many things about it. There's the energy, the creativity, the collaboration, the building something from nothing. You want to get great reviews, you want it to be better, you want it to go on longer, but it's that comradery and that building something from nothing, it's intoxicating.”Listen as Monique describes how vitally important it is for founders to deliver their pitch with conviction (“The metaphor that I alw
11/01/202227 minutes 57 seconds
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Sketchfab Co-Founder on Building Relationships as the Key to Business Immortality

Started in France, Alban Denoyel knew that the key to his product, Sketchfab, was its influence in the United States. Now a leading platform for 3D and AR models, Sketchfab got a boost while Alban was part of the Techstars Accelerator program. “I think having gone through Techstars really helped us get the credibility we needed to raise money with VCs as first-time entrepreneurs.”Years later, the key takeaways from Alban’s time in the program still bring success to Sketchfab. Investors won’t just throw money at an idea; it’s about having a rapport, as Alban met some investors two years before they even wrote their checks. “The real key lesson is to build a relationship ahead of when you need some money.”Listen as David and Alban delve deeper into having resilience and per
14/12/202121 minutes 25 seconds
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Zipline co-founder on how robotics and automation have changed him and the world

When Keller Rinaudo started Remotive in 2011 while in a Techstars Accelerator program, he didn’t really know what entrepreneurship was until he read Tony Hsieh's book “Delivering Happiness.” At the time, he was at Harvard University working with DNA and the inner workings of humans, not robots. That all shifted.&nbsp;Keller and his team knew that the world of robotics and automation would change within the next decade, and they wanted to be a part of that transformation. Now, his company Zipline is focusing on building a new type of logistics system that would not just serve those who can afford instant access to goods, but everyone equally while also helping the environment instead of destroy
30/11/202118 minutes 41 seconds
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Goodie Nation's Joey Womack on building community for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds

Joey Womack is a builder, but he’s not in traditional construction. Through creating ecosystems and making connections, he is helping social entrepreneurs and diverse founders build relationships that close the gaps, all through his company Goodie Nation.A relationship gap is the distance between entrepreneurs and key influencers. Often with diverse founders and social entrepreneurs, particularly those not in coastal financial centers, they are less connected to these key influencers than their counterparts. This can lead to a lack of financial capital, customers, talent, professional development, and especially a lack of access to the higher-level CEOs who can help them navigate very complex problems.“We talk about relationships and the gap there, but it does all at the end of the day,
02/11/202118 minutes 12 seconds
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MindMaven Founder and CEO Patrick Ewers on achieving true greatness through relationships

Patrick Ewers describes his work as helping people achieve true greatness, or as our host David Cohen calls it, giving people superpowers. But there is a funny thing about the term “true greatness”.“When you look at the word true greatness, I think it's the most subjective term you will ever come across, especially in the world we're working in. For some, it is that they really want to reach the top, they want to become the next Elon Musk. Most people want to just reach the fullest potential, build something bigger than themselves, or leave a legacy. … So it doesn't really matter what your true greatness is. We help you achieve it by focusing on relationships.”Why relationships? It’s because no one has achieved true greatness without the help of others. It’s wired into the way of the world. However, most people don’t take care to nurture these relationships.Listen to Patrick describe importance versus urgency, and some practical solutions to fix your
12/10/202123 minutes 27 seconds
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Zane Access founder Shila Nieves Burney on accessing networks while building capital

Shila Nieves Burney, General Partner at Zane Venture Fund, has spent 20-plus years addressing inequity with capital, first in human capital with institutions and education systems, and then sourcing investors. Along the way, Shila discovered a much-needed resource for entrepreneurs: networks and connections. They can build the capital, but then what? In comes Zane Access capital readiness program.“We teach the technical skills, accessing venture capital, some of the terminology. What did it mean to be a cap table? And how do you look at your cap table and ensure that you are balanced and that sort of stuff. So we bring in the experts who do this on a daily basis.”Listen to Shila describe the exposure beyond the education portion of the program, as well as cul
07/10/202122 minutes 11 seconds
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DivInc’s Preston James on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry

After two decades in the corporate world, Preston James was blown away by the innovation of tech startups. Once he got involved as an angel investor, he realized this industry was just like corporate America, where diversity was severely lacking.After digging into the issue by talking to others within his network, Preston saw the need to “build this pipeline of entrepreneurs for the underrepresented community and make the ecosystem more authentically diverse, equitable, and inclusive in creating those opportunities.” To date, DivInc has helped more than 75 companies go through their program.Listen to Preston describe how he is expanding DivInc’s reach across the country and diving deeper to accelerate the opportunities for underrepresented founders from the get-go.Also, don’t miss Preston talk about how there are 4+ opportunities you can help DivInc reach more early-stage founders (including <a href="
28/09/202116 minutes 50 seconds
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Fraudmarc’s Keith Coleman on the Value of Give First as a Founder

If you’ve ever wondered just where Give First came from, or how it became such a central philosophy at Techstars, this episode is for you. Or if you’ve ever wanted to push back and say: does Give First really work? What’s in it for me? This is also the episode for you.&nbsp;A few months ago, Keith Coleman, Founder of Fraudmarc (Techstars Atlanta 2017) emailed David and Brad with the subject “give first, finish last.” In it, he explained his reservations with Give First. Basically, he asked: Is Give First right for new founders who are super focused on the survival of their company? Or is Give First for people who have already met with success, and who have the time and resources to be able to give?&nbsp;David and Brad’s response was to invite Keith on the show to talk about what Give First is, where it came from, and why it’s absolutely not just for the already successful. Give First is for every stage in your company, and in your entrepreneurial journey.<b
21/09/202138 minutes 14 seconds
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Bain Capital Ventures’ Matt Harris on supporting entrepreneurs through 25+ years as an investor

There are some people whose lives are perfect expressions of the zeitgeist. Matt Harris is one of them.&nbsp;In 1995, Matt’s college roommate at Williams started a company out of their dorm room. It was called Tripod, and it was one of the first dot com companies. By 1997, when Matt was 24, Williams invited him back to Williamstown, a rural community with a population of 6,000, to run an investing firm.&nbsp;When that was a success, Matt and that same college roommate, Bo Peabody, started Village Ventures to bring VC to secondary and tertiary cities around the U.S., with a focus on college towns with intellectual capital, but no venture capital.&nbsp;Fun fact: Matt’s first hire at Village Ventures was Gina Raimondo, who is now the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.&nbsp;In 2012, Village Ventures wound down, and Matt moved to Bain Capital Ventures, where he continues to invest in startups.Basically, Matt’s journey has paralleled, and shaped, that
14/09/202133 minutes 41 seconds
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Sustainability and economic opportunity with Cody Simms of Techstars Climate Tech Podcast

People want their capital to be used for good, and whether it’s clean energy or sustainable agriculture, there is ample economic opportunity in efforts to decarbonize the planet. In this special podcast crossover episode, Techstars’ own David Cohen and Cody Simms discuss how the entrepreneurial ecosystem is rallying around climate change. If you haven't yet checked out the Techstars Climate Tech podcast, you can find it on all major podcast platforms. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
09/09/202128 minutes 16 seconds
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The Community Fund’s Lolita Taub on investing in community-driven companies

Lolita Taub has always been about community, from her upbringing in South Central LA to now at The Community Fund, which is a venture capital fund that invests in community-driven companies, “connecting people to people and resources to achieve results.”&nbsp;By day, Lolita is the Corporate Development VP at Catalyte, but on breaks or weekends, she is an operator-investor, looking for those unicorns of the future. She believes these companies will “have customers that identify as members where members have a space to create value for each other, and then start this marketing sales flywheel.”Listen for Lolita’s ideas of the expensive side of building a customer base and how “only good things can come out of” involving customers into building a company, such as lifetime value, retention, sales leads, and talent acquisition, among other benefits.Also, don’t miss Lolita and David discussing <a href="
07/09/202122 minutes 47 seconds
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Academy Investor Network’s Sherman Williams on going from military service to VC

From his service as a Naval Intelligence Officer to an MBA from the University of Chicago to becoming an investor in early-stage startups in healthcare tech, frontier tech, logistics, and marketplaces, Sherman Williams has had an interesting career.&nbsp;Now he’s also helping other U.S. Service Academy (USNA, USMA, USAFA, USCGA and USMMA) grads to invest as well. Many veterans want to get into entrepreneurship, but don’t know how to access a network to help them learn and grow. The Academy Investor Network invests in veteran-led startups (as well as civilian-led startups) that focus on “dual-use technology,” or tech that has both commercial and government purposes. Or as Sherman puts it, “technologies that help make our country safer, operate more efficiently, and have a strong commercial use case.”Listen for Sherman’s take on how technologies like this can have both civilian and military use cases, and how veterans can thrive in entrepreneurship.&nbsp;
31/08/202118 minutes 52 seconds
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FemTech Focus’ Brittany Barreto, Ph.D. on creating a new category: FemTech

Brittany Barreto, Ph.D., started as an entrepreneur, transitioned to VC, and now is building a whole new category: FemTech. Yes, she invented the term, and you are encouraged to use it and spread it.&nbsp;Brittany realized that women’s health and wellness companies didn’t have the community that helps an industry thrive, so she set out to build it. She cofounded FemTech Focus, and started hosting the FemTech Focus Podcast to talk about “the innovative technology, services, and products (collectively known as femtech) that are improving women’s health and wellness.” FemTech focus is working to provide essentials like market research, industry awareness, founder training, and more that FemTech founders need in order to succeed.&nbsp;That was 2020. Now in 2021, Brittany is expanding to providing capital to the FemTech community, with her new firm, Coyote Ventures, which will
24/08/202122 minutes 19 seconds
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David Cohen and Brad Feld reflect on over 40 episodes of the Give First Podcast

Toward the beginning of this conversation between David Cohen and Brad Feld — cofounders of Techstars and celebrated early-stage investors — Brad says, “I believe it takes a hundred episodes before you can really call yourself a podcast.”&nbsp;If that’s the standard, the Give First podcast isn’t a real podcast yet, since we’re only at about 45. But we’re quite proud that Give First has stuck around so long and found such a welcoming audience. Turns out that people want to hear about the warm, relationship-based, virtuous cycle side of entrepreneurship and tech that Give First elevates and celebrates.&nbsp;What have David and Brad learned in the process of making all these episodes? For one thing, consistency is less important than continuation. They don’t make an episode every week, or even every two weeks, necessarily — but they keep making them, and that works.&nbsp;They also shout out to Techstars podcast producer Kacey Wherley, who makes it all happen behin
17/08/202116 minutes 57 seconds
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Digital Ocean’s Carly Brantz on leading marketing at three Techstars unicorns

“We get a tremendous amount of traffic to our website every month from people who are just searching for different ways to do things, learning different ways to code. It might not even be on our infrastructure, but we provide that content,” says Carly Brantz, Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Ocean.&nbsp;This is just one of many ways that Digital Ocean, which helps developers easily build, test, manage, and scale applications of any size on a complete cloud platform, Gives First to its customers, and even to people who aren’t its customers (but might one day be). Because when you give people what they need now, then when they do need your product, even if it’s a year or two from now, they’ll think of you.&nbsp;This could be just good marketing strategy, but for Carly — and for Digital Ocean’s founding team, Ben Uretsky, Moisey Uretsky, and Mitch Wainer, it’s more than that. It’s about love.&nbsp;David remembers when Digital Ocean was in the Techstar
10/08/202119 minutes 31 seconds
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Fast Forward’s Kevin Barenblat on running an accelerator for tech nonprofits

“Techstars for nonprofits” is a pretty good description for Fast Forward, an accelerator for tech nonprofits. The similarities are many — like Techstars, Fast Forward provides mentorship, network, and resources to tech founders, designed to help them succeed. The key difference is that Fast Forward focuses on the specific needs of nonprofit companies.“Our entrepreneurs have all the challenges of tech startups, and all the challenges of nonprofits,” says Kevin Barenblat, Cofounder and President of Fast Forward.Listen as David and Kevin talk about the amazing results Fast Forward has achieved — the 60 nonprofits that have completed the program have impacted almost 90 million lives and raised $275+ million in follow on funding — and how Kevin actually measures success. Because while these metrics are important, Kevin also believes in taking risks and supporting entrepreneurs that he believes in. Techstars personnel and/or guests who s
03/08/202120 minutes 46 seconds
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Chainalysis’s Jonathan Levin on building a blockchain business, values and the future

Jonathan Levin has had a remarkable career. A London native with an economics degree from Oxford, Levin cofounded Chainalysis in 2014, focusing on bitcoin on the blockchain. The company, a graduate of Techstars’ Barclays accelerator in New York with a valuation in the billions, now does blockchain analysis on a variety of cryptocurrencies.&nbsp;Listen in as Jonathan tells David about what it was like to secure funding in the crypto space in the early days, the importance of living your company values, why he believes “give first” truly is so powerful and get his takes on the must-reads for every entrepreneur.Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those
27/07/202120 minutes 47 seconds
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Bruno Morency on the evolution of the Montréal startup ecosystem

Bruno Morency graduated from college in 2001 and started a company right out of school. It was a tough time for tech startups, but Bruno persisted, and he’s been part of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Montréal ever since.&nbsp;Hear Bruno tell Brad about how his adventures in entrepreneurship paralleled the growth of the startup scene in Montréal over the last 20 years, culminating in Bruno’s current role as Managing Director of the Techstars Montréal AI Accelerator, as interest in entrepreneurship in Montréal and throughout Canada continues to expand.&nbsp;Brad and Bruno’s most urgent piece of advice for founders right now? Don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, an
08/06/202121 minutes 24 seconds
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Rob La Gesse on being the opposite of risk averse

Rob La Gesse has had an interesting career. After high school, he joined the Navy and worked both as a combat medic and a neonatal respiratory therapist. He was a mayor in Hawaii. He taught himself programming and went into tech, just in time to help develop Wi-Fi.&nbsp;On this episode of the Give First podcast, David Cohen talks with Rob about how helping people has guided him at every turn.&nbsp;Rob tells the story of hiring a bartender at his tech company. Why this bartender? Because he was so helpful, and Rob saw potential there. “I can’t teach empathy. I can’t teach compassion,” Rob says — but he can recognize them when he finds them, and he can reward caring people with opportunities and assistance.&nbsp;Follow Rob on Twitter @kr8trTechstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this
12/05/202120 minutes 49 seconds
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Katie Rae on breakthrough tech that can change the world

In this episode of the Give First podcast, Brad Feld talks with his old friend Katie Rae, who was once the Managing Director of Techstars Boston. These days, Katie is the CEO and Managing Partner at The Engine.Launched by MIT, The Engine supports big ideas and breakthrough technologies — “the long shots, the unimaginable, the unbelievable,” as their website says — that have really big potential to make a big impact and benefit society. While others refer to this as deep tech or frontier tech, Katie prefers tough tech, and she thinks of it as the “convergence of breakthrough technology and leadership.”Listen for Katie’s story, which is inextricably entwined with the evolution of the Boston startup ecosystem, plus insights into how truly transformational technology happens. Some fun examples include fusion and deep geothermal energy.Follow Katie on Twit
27/04/202119 minutes 58 seconds
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Crossover: Give First + Talking Through It! Neal Sáles-Griffin on giving first to grow Chicago’s startup ecosystem

In this special episode, Give First host David Cohen and Talking Through It host Neal Sáles-Griffin take turns interviewing each other: it’s two Techstars podcasts in one.&nbsp;David discusses with Neal on how giving first grew the Chicago startup ecosystem, and then Neal talks through today’s hot issues with David, including unicorn startups and cryptocurrency. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the National Geographic documentary series City So Real, a portrait of contemporary Chicago, including Neal’s candidacy in the 2019 mayoral election. Also, check out Techstars Chicago's r
05/04/202125 minutes 40 seconds
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Maëlle Gavet on helping entrepreneurs around the world create a better world

In this episode of the Give First podcast, two of the original Techstars founders, David Cohen and Brad Feld, talk with the new Techstars CEO, Maëlle Gavet.&nbsp;If you love Techstars, this one is a must listen, a passing of the torch from the first generation of Techstars leadership to the next.&nbsp;If you want to learn about Techstars, listen for insight into what the company stands for, values, and does.&nbsp;Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed — through accelerators, mentorship, and a worldwide network. And we do this because we believe entrepreneurs around the world can create a better future for all. That’s why David and Brad (and David Brown and Jared Polis — yes, Techstars had four founders, and one of them is now governor of Colorado) started the company. And it’s why Maëlle is the perfect choice to take Techstars to the next level.&nbsp;Want to learn more about Maëlle? Read her book, <a href="
17/03/202126 minutes 1 second
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Sean Paul Shanor on the joy of running Startup Weekends

In this episode of the Give First podcast, Techstars cofounder and Chairman of the Board David Cohen talks with Synergy Space Founder and Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator Sean Paul Shanor about what he finds so compelling about Startup Weekend.Sean Paul has helped run over a dozen Startup Weekends in eight countries, and in addition has become a startup coach, using the expertise gained from all those Startup Weekends to help entrepreneurs keep going when they get stuck.&nbsp;&nbsp;Listen for the story of how he transitioned from running golf tournaments in Dubai to helping entrepreneurs in his home country Norway, and beyond — and for insight into how Sean Paul truly lives Give First. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not
09/03/202127 minutes
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Baden U'Ren on growing entrepreneurship education in Australia

In this episode of the Give First podcast, Techstars cofounder and Chairman of the Board David Cohen talks with Baden U'Ren about his efforts to grow the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Australia.&nbsp;Baden U’Ren is a nationally recognized entrepreneurship educator who has led Bond University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation disciplines for over a decade, and he is also deeply involved in many other efforts to grow and strengthen entrepreneurship in Australia, through Techstars Startup Weekends and more.&nbsp;Listen for more about particularly Australian challenges to growing startup communities, the “tall poppy syndrome,” and how Give First has inspired Baden.&nbsp;Follow Baden on Twitter @badenuren<p style='color:gr
23/02/202126 minutes 5 seconds
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James Oliver on empowering Black parentpreneurs

In this episode of the Give First podcast, Techstars cofounder and Chairman of the Board David Cohen talks with James Oliver about why he started the ParentPreneur Foundation.The foundation “empower[s] Black ParentPreneurs, so they can leave a legacy for their children,” and provides grants, community, and resources for Black parents who are also doing the hard work of starting a company.&nbsp;Listen for more about why Oliver chose Black parent entrepreneurs as the group who most needed his help right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, plus insights on how he got the foundation off the ground so quickly — and how his other company, is doing.&nbsp;Learn more or make a donation to the ParentPreneur Foundation.
08/02/202126 minutes 23 seconds
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Andy Sack on Give First and Creating a Startup Ecosystem from Scratch

Andy Sack has been a technology entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist for 25 years — and is one of the godfathers of the Seattle startup community. He was managing director for Techstars Seattle, founder and executive chairman for Lighter Capital, and cofounder of seed stage fund Founder's Co-op. He participated in the first Techstars Boston Startup Weekend and was so moved by the experience that he decided to run a Techstars Startup Weekend in Seattle.&nbsp;As Andy says, “(I gave) a talk to the Techstars Boston class and it was supposed to be one hour. Three hours later after talking and answering questions, I left the building, and I was moved to tears.”He rallied the venture capital community in Seattle to support entrepreneurs through Techstars, creating a vibrant startup ecosystem that didn't previously exist. Three different unicorn startups (valued over a billion dollars) came out of Andy's 2011 Class of Techstars Seattle.&nbsp;<
07/01/202125 minutes 53 seconds
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Denise and Jim Franklin on how a scrappy startup grows into a thriving ecosystem

Denise Franklin, angel investor and startup veteran, and husband Jim Franklin, former CEO of SendGrid and University of Colorado Boulder MBA Instructor for VC, unpack the mystery of the Give First ethos, from benefiting from the kindness of others early on in their careers,to using their good fortune to help fellow entrepreneurs. They were instrumental in the very first Techstars Startup Week Denver, and give practical advice on how to build a thriving startup ecosystem.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;“If you’re a Series B or later founder or executive, you can pay it forward in a very important way, especially if you’ve been acquired by a large company," says Jim Franklin.Jim and Denise talk through the concept of philanthropic angel investing and creating your personal board of directors to help you navigate your way through life and your career.Follow Jim on Twitter: @jimfrankli
17/12/202031 minutes 57 seconds
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Janine Davis on Executive Coaching in the Time of COVID

Janine Davis began in engineering as a software developer. After 20 years in tech recruitment, she is now an executive coach and is a staunch supporter of the #GiveFirst concept, providing pro bono coaching for founders in the Techstars LA and Techstars Anywhere accelerator programs. As a board member for the Women Founders Network, she supports female entrepreneurs. She talks about why coaching is important for startups early on.As Janine explains, “The more you can follow (executive coaching) with leadership development and building your culture intentionally early, the less headaches and clean-up you're going to have to deal with later.”Janine also discusses the challenges of coaching during COVID and provides tips for startup executives during this time – balance empathy with accountability, have regular “check-ins” and “time outs” to reduce anxiety and internal conflict, and find time for self-care.Follow Janine on Twitter:<a href="https://twitt
30/10/202026 minutes 55 seconds
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Susan Standiford on the five traits of leadership

Susan Standiford’s impressive career has progressed from “nerdom central” to helping startup companies “create a technology, ethos, and identity” for future growth. Her journey as a technologist has taken her from organizations like Disney Interactive, Travelocity, Oracle, Retek, Rue La La and Zeal, to her most recent position as CTO at IKEA in London. In this episode, she talks about her personal and professional growth with David Cohen, and of the value she has gotten back from being a five-year Techstars mentor.Standiford discusses the “Five Traits of Leadership”—to be smart, able to get things done, able to fight through ambiguity, empowerment of others, and humble leadership (to be curious and willing to learn from others).She talks about the three chapters of her life—coding and building systems, building teams, and then scaling those teams into successful companies with a “growth mindset.” Standiford’s special passion is helping women entrepreneurs succe
02/10/202025 minutes 13 seconds
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Joy Taylor on taking the concept of Give First to the nth degree

Joy Taylor is a force of nature. Coming from a 20-year career in the banking industry (business development, coaching, and training), she now focuses on ecosystem building in her hometown of Toowoomba, Australia — and around the world. In this episode, Taylor shares her journey with David Cohen and talks about how giving first to her community led her to exciting worldwide experiences.At Canvas Coworking, Taylor runs programs and events for entrepreneurs. This includes the WiRE (Women in Rural, Regional and Remote Enterprise) startup bootcamp, Flare Incubator for female-led companies trying to expand internationally, and Zero to Startup for migrants and refugees. Her role as a Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator evolved into Global Facilitator, where she has helps entrepreneurs around the world to organize their own events.Taylor talks about how one experience led into another, and how giving first came back to her along the way.Canvas Coworkin
18/09/202032 minutes 4 seconds
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Gus Balbontin on fighting momentum and setting up your own success metric

In this episode, Gus Balbontin speaks with host David Cohen about the dangers of building momentum, and how it’s important for entrepreneurs to “look sideways” to meet new challenges. He tells stories about his own journey, from a small town in Patagonia, South America, battling FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), to a dream job at Lonely Planet and a career of supporting and inspiring founders within the Melbourne startup ecosystem and around the world.Gus explains why it’s important to create your own “success metric” and not get caught in the trap of crazy momentum, so that you can quickly reinvent yourself and innovate to adapt to future realities.He’s about to launch the Unrealistic Foundation, dedicated to investing in companies looking to disrupt the education model.Follow Gus on Twitter: @gusbalbontinFollow David Cohen on Twitter:
11/09/202028 minutes 26 seconds
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Semil Shah on turning ideas into reality

Brad Feld talks with Semil Shah, founder of the venture capital fund Haystack, who shares his inspiring founder story. With limited experience in the entrepreneurial world, Semil relied on his mentors to see the potential in him. Seven years later, he continues to pay it forward by helping turn other’s ideas into reality.&nbsp;Semil talks about how he turned his passion for writing about startups into a career as a founder of an early stage investment fund and partner at LightSpeed Venture Partners. Learn how Haystack raised their first million dollar fund and how they differentiate themselves from similar companies in the Bay Area.&nbsp;Follow Semil on Twitter: @semil Hosted on Acast. See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noref
28/08/202022 minutes 51 seconds
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Chris Schroeder on the power of global entrepreneurship

In this episode, Chris Schroder opens up with Brad Feld about how a “mind blowing” discovery at a startup convention in the Middle East inspired him to promote global entrepreneurship. With a background in digital technology at The Washington Post and in entrepreneurship as the co-founder of HealthCentral, a health and wellness platform, Chris knows the power of technology and wants to share it with the world.Chris talks about breaking out of his own narrative bias, entrepreneurship being a global language, and why co-authorship is the key to success as a mentor and venture investor. Listen for Chris’s take on the power of mentorship and inspiring founder stories from around the world. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
21/08/202032 minutes 38 seconds
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Misti Cain on how to connect during COVID-19

Misti Cain speaks with David Cohen about her journey from a digital marketing strategist to Techstars Anywhere Accelerator mentor, founder of mentorship platform Whyzze, and host of “Werrrk!,” a business reality show.&nbsp;She explains her best tactics for building important relationships in our challenging COVID-19 virtual environment, including having a visual component for a strong human connection, a shared raison d’etre, and clear communication.&nbsp;Listen for Misti’s memorable Whyzze business success stories, her early motivation, her definition of the true meaning of success — and why she believes everyone can Give First. Hosted on Acast. See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener
13/08/202026 minutes 4 seconds
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Fostering Youth Entrepreneurship with Dream Tank

Co-host David Cohen and guest Heidi Cuppari discuss how she co-founded Dream Tank to truly tap into the radical imagination of children. What started as an experiment five years ago is now a place in which kids, such as guest Amelia Rose Battle, can help make the world a better place.Listen as Amelia shares her experiences working with Dream Tank. This includes how they created a VR experience to help veterans adjust to regular life after serving and learning how to support Dream Tank and promote youth entrepreneurship Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
05/08/202028 minutes 35 seconds
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Brad Feld and the mentor who changed his life

In this episode, Brad Feld is joined by Techstars’ Chief Revenue Officer Frank Alfano and past Chief Innovation Officer Jenny Lawton to talk with their mentor – Len Fassler. They each share their unique experiences meeting Len some thirty years ago, the ups and downs of working together and the tremendous impact he’s had on their lives.&nbsp;Listen to hear how Len got his start in the entrepreneurial world, how he evaluates whether or not to buy a company, and the valuable lessons Brad, Frank and Jenny learned from him. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
24/07/202040 minutes 1 second
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Philip McKernan on the importance of reinventing yourself

Philip McKernan talks with David Cohen about how to find your purpose in life and his work with entrepreneurs. Through his coaching, he encourages people to take the risk they would only take if they were dying tomorrow. Listen as Philip and David discuss the importance of reinventing yourself, finding a business that fulfills you on a personal level, and how the idea of “holding space” can transform an entrepreneur’s home life. You can find the resources mentioned by Philip here. What would your one last talk be about? Tell David on Twitter @davidcohen. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast.This podcast is for inf
06/02/202031 minutes 11 seconds
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David & Brad on what they’ve learned from 20 episodes of the Give First podcast

Back in June 2019, David Cohen and Brad Feld looked back at their first six episodes of the Give First podcast, and decided that while they were pretty pleased, they’d probably need to do about 20-30 to really hit their stride. Seven months later, they’ve passed number 20, so they’re taking another moment to check in. Listen for reflections from these persistent podcast hosts, plus reminiscences on highlights from recent episodes with Josh Hix, Rajat Bhargava, Elizabeth Kraus, <
21/01/202019 minutes 29 seconds
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Live from CES: SparkCharge Founder/CEO Joshua Aviv on the unique challenges (and opportunities) of student entrepreneurship

Techstars VP of Network John Hill sat down with SparkCharge Founder and CEO Joshua Aviv live from the floor of Eureka Park.Josh talks about how he started SparkCharge at Syracuse University, the life-changing impact of the Blackstone Launchpad program, and the unique challenges and opportunities of being a student entrepreneur. Josh also shares insights and advice for other student entrepreneurs in an honest and wide-ranging conversation. All captured live at CES 2020. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
09/01/202024 minutes 15 seconds
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Live from CES: Damon Motorcycles Co-founder and CTO Dominique Kwong on the power of business and engineering partnerships and the emotional journey behind building a company

Damon Motorcycles Co-founder and CTO (and Techstars Mobility alum) Dominique Kwong talks with Techstars VP of Network John Hill about the unstoppable power of business and engineering partnerships, launching at CES, and the emotions behind building a company. &nbsp;In this wide-ranging and emotional conversation, Dom does a deep dive on his training as an engineer, how he met (and forms a deep connection with his co-founder), the importance of founder communication and all the “blood, sweat and tears” that goes into building a company.&nbsp;Finally, he describes the experience of unveiling a product at CES’s famed North Hall, alongside giants like Audi and Intel. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
09/01/202022 minutes 29 seconds
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Live from CES: Event Hub CEO and Co-founder Michael Bleau on the power of live events

Eureka Park at CES is one of the most influential startup events in the world. Techstars VP of Network John Hill sat down with Event Hub CEO and Co-founder Michael Bleau live from the floor of Eureka Park.They dug in to Michael’s founder journey, his Techstars Anywhere experience, his take on CES (and the power of live events) as well insights and advice for other founders. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
08/01/202024 minutes 40 seconds
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Live Episode: Josh Hix on the introverted CEO

Plated Co-founder Josh Hix knows about leading a growing team. He remembers taking the company through Techstars New York City in 2013, coming into the program with about seven people, and leaving with closer to 37. The company was up to 1300 employees by the time it sold to Albertsons for a reported $200 million in 2017. Leadership was a skill Josh had to learn. “I have always been an introverted engineer,” he says. He was comfortable with the management aspects of leading the company, but he came to realize that this wasn’t enough. “The leadership part is inspiring people and helping them connect to the mission at an emotional level,” Josh says. This was the part he had to learn, and the process wasn’t always easy: “As a geeky engineer, it feels irrational. But sometimes people need that. It was something that I had to learn to value and then learn to do.”Listen for more ab
12/12/201926 minutes 59 seconds
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Rajat Bhargava on Giving First for a B2B company

Rajat Bhargava, CEO of JumpCloud, has started a lot of companies—the first, NetGenesis, while he was still a student at MIT. And his friendship with Give First co-host Brad Feld goes right back to that initial foray into entrepreneurship. Rajat just keeps starting companies, and Giving First—including through his current B2B company, JumpCloud. How does a B2B company Give First? Rajat believe that every B2B can ask itself this question, and come up with practical ways to help anyone, especially entrepreneurs.How B2C companies can Give First is another question. And both Rajat and Brad agree that those that offer “free” services in exchange for user data is definitely not Giving First—especially when many users don’t fully understand the transactional nature of the exchange. Listen for more of Rajat and Brad’s thoughts on the complexities of Giving First as a company
05/11/201931 minutes 3 seconds
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Elizabeth Kraus on funding women-led companies

MergeLane, a VC fund that invests in startups and venture funds with at least one female leader, has an unusual aspiration, written in bold on its website: “We want to make MergeLane obsolete.”As co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of MergeLane, Elizabeth Kraus looks forward to a future when MergeLane will no longer be needed, because we will have achieved gender parity. She’s seen progress in the right direction over her career. When Elizabeth first started out as an angel investor, David Cohen—Techstars co-founder and Give First co-host—invited her to the Seed Angel Forum, which brings together local startup investors to see deals from all over the country. Elizabeth recalls: “I was 29 at the time. I was the only woman in the room, and I remember feeling so intimidated.” Fortunately, Elizabeth didn’t stay intimidated for long. And while the percentages a
23/10/201925 minutes 1 second
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Jason Mendelson on demystifying venture deals

Jason Mendelson, co-founder of Foundry Group, can explain what matters in negotiations between entrepreneurs and VCs in just two words: Control and Economics. It takes enormous expertise to make something complicated really simple, and these bare two words speak to Jason’s profound understanding of venture deals and how they work, for the entrepreneur, the investor, and the lawyers. In addition to being a VC and a company founder himself, Jason has also been a lawyer, a software engineer, and a professional drummer. Control and economics mean that, in the hundreds of pages of legal documents around an investment, the two things that really matter are control of the company and economic return from the company. Jason and his Venture Deals co-author, Brad Feld, coined this paradigm—and Jason is very proud that it has been used, and stolen, widely. T
09/10/201922 minutes 11 seconds
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Janet Bannister on human-centered investing

Today, Janet Bannister is a Partner at Real Ventures, but when Founding Partners John Stokes and Jean-Sebastien Cournoyer first approached her about joining to give the firm a presence in Toronto, Janet was nonplussed. “Why would I go into Venture Capital?” she asked. “Isn’t Venture Capital all about grinding the entrepreneurs down?” But she listened, and she learned about what VC could be, when it was done better, seeing “entrepreneurs as the heroes, and as people who can be supported and helped” with a mission that involves “helping the next generation of entrepreneurs and building entrepreneurial ecosystems.” Now she’s all in, with an approach that she calls “human centered investing.” Like Techstars, Janet believes that team is paramount in whether a startup will succeed or not. “What exactly is a great founder, what exactly is a great team? In my mind, i
24/09/201930 minutes
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Heidi Roizen on meaningful work & relationships

Heidi Roizen has called herself a recovering entrepreneur. Wendy Lea has called Heidi “the epitome of Give First.” Both of these are true, and go a long way toward describing the deeply humane perspective on the role of venture capital that Heidi brings to her current role as a partner at Threshold Ventures. Heidi was an entrepreneur herself for 14 years before exploring other career options (VP of Worldwide Developer Relations at Apple, for example) and eventually settling in as a venture capitalist—or “mentor capitalist,” as she sometimes says, in a nod to the profound importance of mentorship in the role. Heidi likes to joke that “entrepreneurs should be really careful about picking their venture partners, because the average VC rela
12/09/201931 minutes 34 seconds
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Marc Nager & Dave Mayer on building rural startup communities

Too many people believe that you have to be in Silicon Valley—or some similarly hyped tech-obsessed locale—to be an entrepreneur. Techstars knows this isn’t true: successful entrepreneurship can happen anywhere.&nbsp; Marc Nager and Dave Mayer are living proof.&nbsp; Marc is the Co-founder of Startup Weekend, the former CEO of UP Global before it was acquired by Techstars, and Techstars Chief Community Officer after the acquisition. He is on a mission to bring entrepreneurship to rural America. Dave is the Founder and CEO at Technical Integrity and Massive Impact and the Founder of Aspen Entrepreneurs, and an active and passionate member of the Colorado startup community. Both are hugely active in their local startup communities, Marc in Telluride, CO and Dave in Carbondale, CO outside of Aspen, and both see how entrepreneurship can thrive in these relatively small places—and what entrepreneurship can bring to them to make them economicall
03/09/201932 minutes 31 seconds
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Bonus Episode Alert: Do More Faster, 2nd edition

Back in 2010, David Cohen and Brad Feld distilled their knowledge about how to #domorefaster into a book, fleshed out with many, many stories from startup founders, investors, and other players in the startup ecosystem. They called it Do More Faster, and over the past nine years the book has been used at a number of business schools and regularly shows up on lists of top startup books. Nine years is a long time in the startup world, so David and Brad have updated their book with a second edition, hot off the presses and available now at your favorite bookstore and on your preferred e-reading device. Listen to this short minute bonus episode for David and Brad’s insights on how Techstars has changed over the past nine years, how the startups that people wrote about in the first edition have changed—a lot!—and what publishing a book is really like.<
20/08/20199 minutes 15 seconds
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Harry Stebbings on committing to building a network & giving first

Stride.VC founder Harry Stebbings is probably best known for his podcast, The Twenty Minute VC, the world's largest media asset in venture, with over 5 million downloads per month. He’s talked with amazing Venture Capitalists and entrepreneurs and made over 2,800 shows.When he was 13, Harry watched “The Social Network,” the movie about Facebook’s growth, and it inspired him to become an entrepreneur and investor. At 18, he set up the Twenty Minute VC podcast.Harry has also learned about giving first from David and Brad along the way. Listen to this conversation with David and Harry about how giving first is truly a mindset, and how you can build it into your network and relationships.<a href="
13/08/201932 minutes 55 seconds
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John China on whether you can give too much

In over 23 years at Silicon Valley Bank, John China has made it his mission to make connections between entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, and more. Many, many entrepreneurs at Techstars and beyond have benefitted from his Give First perspective on working with startups: that you “give, give, give” and you have to “be willing to do that for a long time.”David Cohen asked John, “At what point do you need to see some payback from that giving?” You should really listen to hear his whole, fascinating answer, but the short version is: You keep giving. John recently moved into a new role as President of SVB Capital, with $4.5 billion under management, and he’ll be supporting entrepreneurs and startups at their earliest stages. John and David talk about what this new role means for him and for entrepreneurs. And they get into how John’s mentor at SVB helped him grow into an executive, and how John is paying it forward by mentoring women and
31/07/201923 minutes 41 seconds
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Sherri Hammons on staying humble and staying strong

Today, Sherri Hammons is CTO of The Nature Conservancy, but as she admits, “I took the nontraditional path to CTO land.” This path included eight years as a professional singer before she went back to college and got a degree in software engineering—and went on to work for companies big and small, as well as being CTO for the state of Colorado. She’s done for-profit, non-profit, and government—and brought technology, strategy, and humane leadership to each role. Sue Heilbronner, CEO of MergeLane, described Sherri as a “humble badass”—a phrase that host Brad Feld loves. Sherri credits her humbleness to her parents, who taught her to “always give and always be nice to everyone no matter what.” That’s right, Sherri learned to Give First from her family—and she has been guided by that advice throughout her career. As for the “badass” part, she’s a successful woman CTO. Toughness and strength of character might as well be part of the job descri
23/07/201922 minutes 17 seconds
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Rebecca Lovell on career ‘nudges,’ karaoke, & how to be an ally

Rebecca Lovell plays, as Brad Feld says, “a very important role in the center of gravity for the Seattle startup community.” Currently Director at Create33, a resource center for tech entrepreneurs, Rebecca teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Washington and has held a number of roles in Seattle city government, from Startup Advocate to Acting Director of the Office of Economic Development. Listen for more of her interesting career trajectory, which has gone through unexpected turns because of “nudges” given by mentors and others, resulting in Rebecca’s strong belief in the power of mentorship and giving first. Then keep listening for actionable advice on how men can be allies to women in the workplace as well as Rebecca’s hilarious dive into why all startup founders should do karaoke.<a href="
16/07/201925 minutes 54 seconds
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David & Brad reflect on the first six episodes of the Give First podcast

With six full episodes of the Give First podcast under their belts, David Cohen and Brad Feld reflect on their recent interviews and duty as podcast hosts. They also have nothing but praise for guests so far: Wendy Lea, Paul Berberian, Troy Henikoff, Mary Grove, T.A. McCann, and <a href="
26/06/201929 minutes 39 seconds
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Kesha Cash on impact investing—and how mentorship got her there

Kesha Cash founded Impact America Fund in 2013 with a goal of investing in software and tech enabled companies that have a positive benefit on underserved communities in America. In 2018, she was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.&nbsp;She went to Columbia Business School knowing that she wanted to start a fund that invested in diverse entrepreneurs who were committed to tackling socioeconomic issues, and it was there that she met Josh Mailman, founder of Serious Change, who became her mentor.As an impact investor, Kesha Gives First every day. But she got to where she is today because of others, especially Josh, Giving First to her—empowering her, teaching her, mentoring her, and ultimately encouraging her to go out and start her own fund.&nbsp;Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast exp
18/06/201927 minutes 17 seconds
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T.A. McCann on how sailing in the America’s Cup is like running a startup

David Cohen was super excited when he realized that T.A. McCann—founder and CEO of Senosis (acquired by Google), Gist (acquired by Blackberry) and Rival IQ, a leader in marketing analytics, as well as Managing Director of Pioneer Square Labs—was the same guy he was reading about in The Proving Ground: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race.T.A. tells tales of his sailing adventures—including one harrowing anecdote involving Rupert Murdoch’s finger—and applies the knowledge he gained competing in two America’s Cups to running and growing startups. You can find more notes and the transcript here. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of ei
11/06/201926 minutes 43 seconds
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Mary Grove on the origins of Google for Startups & Startup Weekend

Mary Grove is passionate about community-driven change, and this theme has guided her entire career. She joined Google when it had only 2,000 employees, and by the time she left it was up to around 75,000. Over 14 years, she went from working on the IPO deal team to starting Google for Startups.&nbsp;Google for Startups very first partner was Startup Weekend, which Mary helped to spread from a few dozen to 140 countries, vastly broadening its impact. Today, she’s a partner at Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, the co-founder of Silicon North Stars, and on the Advisory Board for the Techstars Foundation.&nbsp;Mary talks with Brad Feld about the joys of empowering entrepreneurs across the globe, and the transformations she has seen. This is #GiveFirst at scale. We love it.&nbsp;You can find more notes and the transcript her
04/06/201928 minutes 15 seconds
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Troy Henikoff on how #GiveFirst grew the Chicago startup ecosystem

How does a startup ecosystem grow? #GiveFirst is one essential element. Troy Henikoff, Managing Director of MATH Ventures and Co-founder of Excelerate Labs, which became Techstars Chicago, remembers the early days of Chicago’s startup ecosystem, and how #GiveFirst helped it grow. One of the difficult things about describing the impact of #GiveFirst is that, over time, there are so many effects. Troy spends time in this episode telling stories about how giving and mentoring have changed his life and the lives of lots of founders, in Chicago, Boulder, and beyond. It’s a tangled web of awesome, where a decade after Troy’s first interaction with Techstars, there are so many winners it’s hard to keep track. And the wins just keep piling up. You can find the full transcript here</
28/05/201927 minutes 40 seconds
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Paul Berberian on the “addictive” nature of mentoring

Have you ever been mobbed in Times Square, like a rock star? Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero, the company that makes BB8, at one time the number one toy in the world, has. Paul talks about how mentoring and Give First were essential to Sphero getting the BB8 gig.He loves mentoring as well, and describes the experience of being a mentor and having a positive experience on someone’s life as “addictive.”Listen for more on the transformative nature of mentorship—from both sides—plus more behind the scenes details on how one of the best loved Star Wars toys came to be. You can find the full transcript here. Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this pod
21/05/201919 minutes 48 seconds
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Wendy Lea talks about the risks of saying no

Wendy Lea is a longtime entrepreneur and investor, as well as a board member and mentor at Techstars. With David and Brad, she digs into some of her own first mentoring experiences and reflects on a time when a mentor changed her life.&nbsp;Wendy was early in her career, and had just been offered a promotion that would cause a lot of change in her life, and she was hesitating. Her mentor told her: the risk of saying no is very high. “If you say no, you’re playing small. You have a lot of potential, and you need to go explore that potential.” &nbsp;She did, and she traces her success back to that encouragement and good advice.&nbsp;Listen for more about the risks of saying no… and saying yes.&nbsp;Bonus: Listen to Wendy, David, and Brad reminisce about the first Techstars class.&nbsp;You can find the <a href="
14/05/201916 minutes 28 seconds
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What is Give First?

What exactly is Give First? David Cohen and Brad Feld explore what this philosophy of living means to them. In the startup world, Give First means simply trying to help anyone, especially entrepreneurs, without any expectation of getting anything back. When a network of people—such as a global community of entrepreneurs—live in a Give First way, each is helpful whenever they can be. This builds a powerful network of caring people, all flourishing because they are all giving to each other. That sounds great in theory, but how does it work in practice? How does mentorship help others?Listen for answers and stories in every episode of the Give First podcast.Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice.
02/05/20193 minutes 41 seconds