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Podcast: David Heath, Founder of Bombas, Shark Tanks Most Succesful Products 

This podcast episode features David Heath, Founder of Bombas (@Bombas) and Mayra Ceja (@MayraCeja007), Host of Venture Unplugged.

In this episode, David and Mayra discuss.

  • How he turned Bombas into Shark Tanks #1 product.
  • How giving socks to homeless people turned into a social impact-driven business
  • Advice from Daymond John, Founder of FUBU & Shark Tank investor
  • How having a social mission-driven association impacts the business
  • Advice for founders raising and launching consumer retail startups
  • Plans for new products in the future

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David Heath’s Quotes

Hardest Lesson:

“One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that, even when you have a number of great years and the business is cranking and doing well, don’t get too comfortable or confident.”

Our Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space visit the website.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.

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Podcast: Mike Novogratz: Founder/CEO of Galaxy Digital, a cryptocurrency investment firm 

This podcast episode features Mike Novogratz (@novogratz) and Mayra Ceja (@MayraCeja007), Host of Venture Unplugged. Mike became a bitcoin legend when he famously predicted its meteoric rise. But this episode is about so much more than just Mike’s legendary status. It’s about his stories of building confidence, connectivity, and resilience. Yes, and there is bitcoin and blockchain talk.

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In this episode, Mike and Mayra discuss.

  • Why he started Galaxy?
  • The Cryptocurrency speculative bubble 
  • Loss of privacy & Chinese payment apps
  • The Libra Project 
  • On giving back, social justice, and philanthropy

Prior to Galaxy, mike had his own meteoric rise from growing up middle class  to getting his undergrad at Princeton, starting his career as a helicopter pilot, eventually becoming Partner at Goldman Sachs and later partner and president at  Fortress Investment Group.

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Mike Novogratz Quotes

Advice for people just starting off their career:

“Don’t take it too seriously, focus on yourself and that self-growth, don’t put that off. The quicker you get to being okay with knowing who you are, and being okay with who you are, everything else is easier.

How to get confidence back:

“You get smashed, you get mitigated at times and you’re learning to get back up and dust off and get back into the mat and go get smashed again. That subconsciously helped me learn to just get back up. It’s just a resilience of spirit.”

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Our Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space visit the website.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.

Subscribe, Rate & Share on iTunes or Spotify.

Podcast: Arianna Simpson, Founder of Autonomous Partners

In this podcast, Arianna Simpson (@AriannaSimpson) and Mayra Ceja (@MayraCeja007), Host of Venture Unplugged discuss:
  • Why she got started in crypto?
  • What the future of Libra?
  • What are the biggest misconceptions in Crypto?
  • How do we get more women in crypto?

Our Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space visit the website.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.

Subscribe, Rate &
Share on iTunes or Spotify. Follow me on Twitter @MayraCeja007.

Podcast: Ken Nguyen, founder of Republic

In this podcast, Ken Nguyen (@KendrickEsq) and Mayra Ceja (@MayraCeja007), Host of Venture Unplugged discuss:
  • Democratizing investing
  • How growing up as an immigrant in the Bay Area influenced his interest in tech
  • The future of blockchain and crypto
  • The hardest thing about launching a business
  • The biggest misconceptions in Silicon Valley about founder unhappiness 

Ken Nguyen is the founder of Republic (@joinrepublic). Republic is a crowdfunding investment platform for retail investors. Everyone — regardless of his or her net worth or income — can invest as little as $20 or even $10 into startups curated by Republic. For the first time ever, startup investing is no longer reserved for a handful of wealthy individuals.

Digest 

Growing up the child of Vietnamese immigrants

Ken Nguyen was born in Vietnam. His whole family moved here to the Bay area in the 80s and early nineties. As most Asian immigrants in the US, Ken’s parents had an expectation that you had to do either science or math. They want to be able to see what their kids’ lives would be like in 20 or 30 years. Ken ended up pursuing science as an undergrad and a law degree for a professional degree. 

On democratizing investing 

Going back to growing up as an immigrant in the Bay Area, Ken was surrounded by stories of companies going private, companies going public and all the enthusiasm and excitement around it, but not actually ever having the opportunity to participate nor anyone of his siblings, nor his parents. He was in the ecosystem but not part of it. Some of it subconsciously stayed with him as he became a lawyer. Democratizing investing was one business model, one mission that solved Ken’s problem and his insecurity from the early days. So he joined Angellist. That allowed for anyone with any net worth to invest if they can afford $5 or 500 or 5,000 in businesses that they believe in. Ken thinks that the true potential of entrepreneurship, a shared economy. 

The hardest thing about launching a business

About three years in looking back, it was even harder than Ken had expected and he knew it was going to be hard. The highest thing is that it literally takes 100% of your energy, headspace, and commitment. It didn’t leave a whole lot left for even maintaining existing friendships and relationships in family, much less building new ones like dating. 

What advice would he give to his 25-year-old self

Don’t worry about it so much and that one day he would, in fact, it would be in tech as an investor, and entrepreneur. He says, “I actually secretly always wanted it to do that.” However, he had a long journey between being a lawyer and going back to teach law, going to finance before making the leap into tech

On grinding and founder unhappiness

Ken thinks that doing that sooner in his twenties, he would’ve been even happier and certainly even more of a more effective asset. He thinks we as a society, as a culture value too much on just grinding and getting things done as much as possible and, it’s not correlative to efficiency and happiness.

What is the best piece of advice that you would give the founders? 

Don’t believe in the narrative that as a founder you have to suffer and that it has to be a miserable, stressful experience. That’s one of the big misconceptions in Silicon Valley, that founder unhappiness is an assumed fact of life. It is not.

Our Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space visit the website.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.

Follow me on Twitter @MayraCeja007. Listen on iTunes or Spotify. Sign up for our newsletter.

Podcast: Ben Cogan, Founder of Hubble | How he raised $70 million from Founders Fund, Greycroft, and Wildcat

In this episode, Ben Cogan and Mayra Ceja (@MayraCeja007), Host of Venture Unplugged discuss:
  • How he went from Harry’s to Hubble?
  • Why he launched Hubble Contacts
  • Why Hubble only has 25 full-time employees
  • What the future of retail looks like?
  • Why you absolutely should have a co-founder

 

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Ben Cogan is the co-founder of Hubble Contacts. With Hubble, he turned his direct-to-consumer brand experience from his time at Harry’s with his management consulting experience into a multimillion-dollar business that is doing for the contact lens space what Warby Parker did for glasses.

Podcast Digest

From Harry’s to Hubble
Before Ben Cogan started Hubble, he worked at Harry’s, a shaving company founded by one of the Warby Parker co-founders. While there, Ben noticed the price of my contact lenses spiked in 2015. It was a similar story to what he kept hearing about from the Harry’s guys about why they started Harry’s and getting ripped off buying Gillette razors. Eventually it didn’t take too long to realize that the Harry’s business model could be applied to the contact lens space.

On the necessity of co-founders
Ben believes you absolutely need a co-founder. Without a co-founder, it is just so hard and emotionally difficult. If you don’t have someone there with you in the trenches, it’s impossible. Ben met Jesse Horwitz at an internship in college at Bridgewater, and they stayed friends.

Raising funding
Ben heard a lot of stories about founders going to a thousand VCs before getting funded, but that wasn’t their case. Some VCs immediately got what they were trying to do. Many of them had the same pain point themselves in the industry. It also helped that he had direct to consumer brand experience from Harry’s, and recognized that Ben and Jesse’s experience in finance and consulting was also helpful. In their first round, they raised three and a half million dollars.

A highly regulated space
Contact lens manufacturing is a highly regulated space. The FDA and the FTC both regulate contact lens production. In the summer of 2015, Ben spent dozens of hours in the FDA databases going through every single FDA approved contact lens manufacturer to figure out who had a great product, cold emailing them, trying to figure out a way to get in touch with them, and getting in touch with them through regulatory folks who helped them get FDA approval in the first place. By the time it came to raise funding, they’d done the research and knew what went into manufacturing those tiny plastic discs.

A small team
Hubble now only has 25 full-time employees. Relative to some other companies of their size, in terms of financial metrics, Hubble is much smaller. Hubble is actually a pretty simple business. They have one contact lens, a daily disposable spherical lens, that they sell in one way, which is monthly subscriptions. They are only direct to consumer, basically exclusively selling online, largely through Facebook and Instagram as their primary marketing channels. When you really simplify the business down to real one product, one distribution channel, one funnel, it becomes easier to do it with your small team.
Naming Hubble
Ben’s dad came up with the name Hubble. It was inspired by Ben’s girlfriend, who went to Princeton and is an astrophysicist. She worked with the Hubble space telescope, and they really liked the name because it connects to something aspirational like space. And it’s also a cool sound. Most importantly, it was not trademarked.

Listen on iTunes or Spotify. Sign up for our newsletter.

Our Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space visit the website.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.

Follow me on Twitter @MayraCeja007. Subscribe, Rate & Share on iTunes or Spotify.

Podcast: Matt Meeker, Founder of Meetup.com & BarkBox-How Barkbox raised $80m from August, RRE Ventures, & Resolute Ventures

In this episode, Matt Meeker @mmeeker) and Mayra Ceja (@MayraCeja007), Host of Venture Unplugged discuss:
  • Why he launched Meetup.com?
  • What were the most popular groups on Meetup?
  • Why he launched Barkbox?
  • Where the future of retail is going?
  • What advice he has for founders fundraising?

Matt Meeker is the founder of BarkBox. With Barkbox, he turned a personal passion for dogs into a multi-million dollar business with 450 employees. He has raised over $70 million from VCs like August Capital, RRE Ventures, and Resolute Ventures.

Prior to launching Barkbox, Matt meeker was the-cofounder of Meetup.com

Podcast Digest

What inspired Meetup?

One of the big inspirations at the time was the aftermath of 9/11. Matt and his co-founder, Scott lived in New York, and after 9/11, the city was very different and people had a genuine concern for each other even though they didn’t know each other. There was a lot of looking people in the eye and asking, how are you? It’s New York City, the world capital of brusqueness. New Yorkers don’t even say that to each other now, but back then they would say it and they actually wanted to hear the answer. For Matt, that was a really good feeling. So Matt and Scott thought, how do you make that feeling happen at scale and how do you connect strangers to their neighbors? It’s one thing to be connected by following someone on Twitter and it’s another thing to actually go and sit down and have a conversation with them. That was a spark and it was one idea that they just couldn’t shake. So they kept developing it. About nine months later, Meetup was launched. 

Funniest meetups you had?

Scott used to get in trouble early on for saying this out loud, but he can’t get in trouble anymore. In the early days, Meetup was built on the interests of freaks and geeks. Their original guesses were so off, they thought that the most popular interests would be Yankee baseball, the Beatles, and popular music. They loaded up the platform with that, and the things that took off were witches and Wiccans and vampires and pagans. And he learned what furries were. He also went to a slash dot Meetup, which is a really, really nerdy online tech community.

Biggest challenges of fundraising?m

Matt’s biggest lesson in fundraising is that it’s one thing to get an investor to nod up and down and say, yeah, I’ll invest. And another thing to get them to commit. And another thing to get the check. You can have a day of great meetings, where everybody loved it and then nothing happens. And it’s like, wait a minute. Where’s the money?

When did it turn into a business? 

The tipping point for when it turned into a business was when it took off in a popular way. There was a lot of engagement early on, but mainstream media that would try to beat it down and tell people that the internet is a scary place and it’s dangerous to meet people that you connect to online and you’re going to be killed or your kids are going to be kidnapped. Matt and Scott fought that for the first year or two. The thing that turned it and got the platform a lot of popular exposure was politics.

How did 9 presidential candidates help grow Meetup?

Matt and Scott made an arrangement with a small democratic presidential candidate from Vermont who nobody knew, named Howard Dean. He and his campaign manager, Joe Trippy said, “we want to build the grassroots of this campaign on this platform. And so if you give us the platform to leverage for our campaign, we don’t have any money, we can’t pay you. But what we can do is after every speech we will say, join your local Howard Dean Meetup. And he did. As he did and he became a front runner, that in particular amplified in a major way.” So their campaign and Meetup grew up together, and every other presidential campaign quickly followed because of his success. So it really helped when nine presidential candidates were out there talking about using your platform. It gave Meetup legitimacy and made all those other concerns go away.

Our Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space visit the website.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.

Follow me on Twitter @MayraCeja007. Subscribe, Rate & Share on iTunes or Spotify.

Podcast: Nick Greenfield, Founder of Candid-The Warby Parker of Braces Raises $78m

In this episode, Nick Greenfield founder of Candid (@LiveCandid) and Mayra Ceja (@MayraCeja007), Host of Venture Unplugged discuss:
  • His early days at Lyft and were those pink mustaches come from?
  • Why he launched Candid?
  • Where the future of retail is going?
  • What advice he has for founders fundraising?

Nick Greenfield founded Candid alongside several Co-Founders including Spencer Solovaara and Lila Cosgrove. Forbes magazine nicknamed the company the Warby Parker of Braces. 

Nick and his co-founders took the company from zero to 400 employees in a little over 2 years and have raised over $70 million from VCs like Greycroft and Bessemer.

Prior to launching candid, Nick was an early employee at Zimride where he worked directly with John Zimmer. Zimride would later become Lyft. He received a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.

Podcast links

Podcast Digest

The power of a smile 

Smiling can also help to predict how long-lasting and satisfying a person’s marriage will be and even predict your lifespan. A smile can add seven years to your life, but certainly can’t be easy if you have crooked teeth. With Smile Direct Club’s most recent IPO, we’re wondering: can there be a second unicorn in this category? Today I’m chatting with Nick Greenfield founded Candid, the company nicknamed the Warby Parker of braces. It is a direct consumer company that provides teeth aligners and it has set out to take a bite out of a multi billion-dollar market as Nick and cofounders took the company from zero to 400 employees in a little over two years and have raised over $70 million from VCs like Greycroft and Bessemer.

How Nick got the idea

Nick started noticing that his teeth had shifted after he started working. His bottom teeth started overlapping, which was making it harder to floss and increasing the likelihood of cavities.

He asked his dentist about how much clear liners would cost because he had no interest in doing traditional wire bracket braces and she said $6,000 and he almost fell out of his chair. “I was like, this is way, way too expensive. And when you talk about all the other bells and whistles in terms of appointment fees and retainer fees at the end and the clear liners themselves and the 25 appointments you need to do to go back and forth. I looked at that and said, this is not something that I can do. And even though at the time I had dental insurance, which would cover something like a thousand to $2,000 of that, it still was just far out of my price range for a new college grad. And also, um, you know, not caring that much about it, right? Like I cared about it but didn’t care enough to put down what would end up being probably close to $10,000.” Bingo. That’s how the idea was born. 

Three factors that changed the marketplace  

At the beginning of 2017, Nick met the Chairman of Candid, whose dad is actually an orthodontist. He knew what was happening in the space and there was a really interesting intersection of three different factors. The first was the core IP expiration. There’s a company in the Bay area called Align Technologies. They’re the makers of Invisalign, from 1999. They patented using computers to actually move teeth. No one else was allowed to use a computer program to predict how teeth would move, which means that all other clear aligners outside of Invisalign could only be done using a hand.

In October 2017, those patents, as well as some other core patents that were important for clear liners, were rolling off. Historically in healthcare, when patents roll-off, you start getting generics. So there was an opportunity there for a company like Candid. The second thing that Nick saw was the consumerization of healthcare. What are ways that we can take costs out of the healthcare system by going direct to the consumer? If you look at Warby and Harry’s and you look at Hubble, there are trends happening in the market.

Then the third trend that Nick saw was the ability to offer a lower-cost product to access a completely different market. In the case of Candid, the original hypothesis was by lowering the price and going direct to consumer through a combination of both e-commerce and then basically demand fulfillment centers through our candid studios, we can dramatically increase the size of the market.

Who are Candid’s customers?

Nick and his team’s hypothesis going in was that their customer would be 22 to 30-year-old female, and it turns out that for a $2,000 purchase or a $1,900 purchase, it’s still expensive. They do, however, have a customer who’s in his eighties, and customers who are as young as 16, although they will be launching a team that youth product at some point in the next few months. The sweet spot of customers is 25 to 55 year old. 

Combining E-commerce and brick and mortar

Candid is opening stores. Candida has 20 locations open today. Warby and Bonobos have figured out, let’s sell online and then go offline because there’s a really important touch and feel component to having a retail presence. There’s also a really important credibility standpoint.

The consumer doesn’t trust themselves to order an impression kit online and then do it, take photos, send it back and say like, okay, that’s good. The Candid Studio is a solution because the consumer comes in, they get an intraoral scan, and in fifteen minutes, they get a 3D scan. It’s incredibly effective in-person touchpoint. 

Our Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space visit the website.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.


Follow me on Twitter @mayraceja007 Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

In this episode, Craig Elbert and Mayra Ceja discuss how his experience at Bonobos shaped his leadership style, why his commitment to the lean startup methodology led him to launch a fake company and how he turned plain old vitamins into an instagrammable DTC brand.Care/of raised over $40m from Goodwater, Tusk Ventures, RRE Ventures, and Juxtaposed
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This episode is sponsored by eToro, the smartest crypto trading platform, and one of the largest in the world. Join me and 11 million other traders and create an account and build your crypto portfolio the smart way.

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.


Follow me on Twitter @mayraceja007 Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Justin Kan is the founder of Twitch which he sold to Amazon for nearly a billion dollars. In this podcast, Justin Kan and Mayra Ceja discuss how Justin founded twitch and sold it to Amazon for nearly a billion dollars and his daily habits to achieve happiness.

Justin Kan is also the founder of Justin.TV and Kiko. Kiko was part of YCombinators first batch that included Mike Seibel, the founders of Reddit, and Sam Altman who became the President of YC and founder of OpenIA. Justin has also invested in successful companies like Cruise, Ripley, and Zenefits.

But today, he is focusing on a new company called Atrium, a tech company that provides legal services to startups. Atrium has raised $75 million from top venture capitalists like Andreessen Horowitz, First Round, and General Catalyst among others.

—————-

This episode is sponsored by eToro, the smartest crypto trading platform, and one of the largest in the world. Join me and 11 million other traders and create an account and build your crypto portfolio the smart way.

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This episode is sponsored by AWS. From Airbnb and Lyft to Slack and Twilio, the world’s top startups build on AWS. AWS has helped hundreds of thousands of companies to build and scale their businesses. AWS has unparalleled insight into the unique needs that startups have, and the opportunities that startups chase every day. Follow on Twitter @awsstartups.

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.

Follow me on twitter @mayraceja007. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or GooglePlay.

Muneeb Ali on Blockstack & Advising the HBO Show.

Muneeb Ali and Mayra Ceja discuss what it was like to advise the HBO show, Silicon Valley, how he raised from YCombinator, and why he launched a token sale. Blockstack is a new decentralized internet backed by investors Naval Ravikant, YC, SV Angels, and Union Square Ventures.

 

 


This episode is sponsored by eToro, the smartest crypto trading platform, and one of the largest in the world. Join me and 11 million other traders and create an account at eToro.com and build your crypto portfolio the smart way.

This episode is sponsored by Qtum, the first proof-of-stake smart contracts blockchain. If you’re tired of paying high fees on other smart contracts platforms, head on over to Qtum and start building today your own low fee, solidity smart contract today!

This episode is sponsored by Lukka, an institutional-grade, back and middle office accounting software and data services company that is bridging the gap between the business and blockchain world. For more information, please go to Lukka.tech

This podcast is presented by BlockWorks Group. For exclusive content and events that provide insights into the crypto and blockchain space.

This podcast is presented by Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and everyone to invest.