DiscoverFounder Real Talk
Founder Real Talk
Claim Ownership

Founder Real Talk

Author: GGV Capital

Subscribed: 24,409Played: 124,617


From GGV, this is Founder Real Talk, where we get real about the challenges that founders and startup executives face, and how they've grown from tough experiences. Check out for more information on the podcast and how to reach us with your founder questions. Hosted by Glenn Solomon, Managing Partner at GGV Capital.
43 Episodes
This is the second episode in our early stage series, a group of episodes that highlights younger companies to examine the issues and challenges these businesses uniquely face. Streamlit is an open source product that has become extremely popular with data science teams growing to over 10,000 GitHub stars since launch in late 2019. Streamlit’s founders, Adrien, Amanda and Thiago, previously worked together at Google X. One thing led to another and now they’re back together empowering data scientists and machine learning engineers to create beautiful, performant apps quickly and easily. Streamlit is gaining traction fast and this conversation is a testament to the passion of the people behind it.
This episode kicks off our early stage series, a group of episodes that highlights younger companies to examine the issues and challenges these businesses uniquely face. Mike Fitzsimmons is the Co-founder and CEO of Crosschq, a SaaS company that has pioneered a new category for talent acquisition called “Human intelligence hiring.” Seeing as 40% of hires don’t make it through a year in their new job, Crosschq is solving a critical mis-hire problem by helping companies’ better source, match, and retain the best talent. In this episode, Mike discusses the importance of building a great product, the challenges of creating a brand new category, how to acquire early customers, and what to consider when fundraising.
Kris Beevers is the Co-founder and CEO of NS1, the leader in modern application and access networking. Kris is a recognized authority on global application delivery and DNS. He joins the show from his new, aptly named boat, Social Distance. Early on, when he was in the process of choosing his co-founders, Kris sought out people who he had a strong and respectful personal relationship with. As the business has grown, the roles of the leadership team have morphed, changed, and become better defined. Now as CEO, Kris considers his job to be hiring great people and letting them run. One thing he wishes he knew during his series A fundraise was that most investors are more interested in investing in the team rather than the product. They want to know you have a great team that will hustle for success. Glenn and Kris also discuss the important impact hiring a COO had on the business and Kris recommends hyper-communication and swift decision making as tools for success during these times.
Mitchell Hashimoto is the Co-founder and CTO of HashiCorp, the leader in multi-cloud infrastructure automation software. In this episode, which was recorded during a GGV live webinar, we learn how Mitchell and his cofounder, Armon Dadgar, built HashiCorp into a 1000-person company valued at over $5B—all with a very distributed team since day one. For companies suddenly managing remote workforces, or for startups just beginning the journey toward growth, how can you scale and succeed far into the future with a fully distributed team? HashiCorp’s experiences scaling into a global enterprise software powerhouse without opening the usual array of offices are especially valuable today, now that so many companies have gone remote almost overnight.
Armon Dadgar is the Co-founder and CTO of HashiCorp, a commercial open source company that provides the fundamental building blocks around infrastructure and automation that developers need to create scalable, secure, high-performance applications hosted in the cloud. Valued at over $5 billion and now with over 1,000 employees worldwide, HashiCorp started out life in 2010 as an open source project and since grown into the defacto standard for modern cloud-computing development. In this episode, which was recorded live at GGV’s annual Evolving Enterprise conference, we learn how Armon and his Co-founder, Mitchell Hashimoto, initially met, what it took to sell to the enterprise and how to hire the right people as a distributed company.
This is the fourth episode in the Founder Real Talk Israeli Entrepreneur Series, a group of episodes dedicated to getting to know Israeli founders and their companies. Known as Startup Nation, Israel creates more companies per capita than any other country, with one startup for every 1,400 people. Read more about GGV’s commitment to funding and supporting the next generation of Israeli entrepreneurs. This series is co-hosted by GGV Capital Investor, Oren Yunger. Netanel (Nati) Davidi and Uri Alter are two of the Co-founders of VDOO, the only automated device security solution that is integrated across the entire product lifecycle, and a GGV portfolio company. Nati and Uri have had quite the journey together. They first met in the Israeli military service in 1999 and went on to co-found Cyvera, which was acquired by Palo Alto Networks in 2014. Their mission didn’t stop there. In 2017, with co-founder Asaf Karas, they started VDOO, a company born out of one of the biggest shortfalls of IOT. In this episode, we learn how Nati and Uri’s journey lead them to pioneer a way to scale security for connected devices.
This is the third episode in the Founder Real Talk Israeli Entrepreneur Series, a group of episodes dedicated to getting to know Israeli founders and their companies. Known as Startup Nation, Israel creates more companies per capita than any other country, with one startup for every 1,400 people. Read more about GGV’s commitment to funding and supporting the next generation of Israeli entrepreneurs. This series is co-hosted by GGV Capital Investor, Oren Yunger. Shlomi Ben Haim is Co-Founder and CEO of JFrog, provider of the world’s first universal artifact management platform that ushered in a completely new era in DevOps. Founded in 2008, JFrog has become the “database of DevOps” used by over 6000 customers worldwide including Amazon, Cisco, and Netflix. In this episode, we learn how Shlomi’s 12 years in the Israeli Air Force influenced his startup mentality, how the JFrog team has scaled an open source company, and what it takes to expand globally.
This is the second episode in the Founder Real Talk Israeli Entrepreneur Series, a group of episodes dedicated to getting to know Israeli founders and their companies. Known as Startup Nation, Israel creates more companies per capita than any other country, with one startup for every 1,400 people. Read more about GGV’s commitment to funding and supporting the next generation of Israeli entrepreneurs. This series is co-hosted by GGV Capital Investor, Oren Yunger. Slavik Markovich is the Co-founder and CEO of Demisto, a leading Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) platform that helps security teams accelerate incident response, standardize and scale processes, and learn from each incident while working together. Slavik sold Demisto to Palo Alto Networks in Feb 2019, less than four years after its founding, for over $560 million. Starting from his early days in the Israeli military, Slavik shares his thought process while walking us through his impressive journey. From founding his first company, Sentrigo, in 2006 to moving from Israel to the Bay Area in 2008, to building Demisto and ultimately getting acquired by Palo Alto Networks, Slavik’s story is noteworthy and full of lessons for current and future founders.
This episode kicks off our Israeli Entrepreneur Series, four episodes dedicated to getting to know Israeli founders and their companies. Known as Startup Nation, Israel creates more companies per capita than any other country, with one startup for every 1,400 people. Read more about GGV’s commitment to funding and supporting the next generation of Israeli entrepreneurs. This series is co-hosted by GGV Capital Investor, Oren Yunger. Roy Mann is the CEO and Co-Founder of – one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in the world, connecting people to processes while creating an environment of transparency in business. Before, he was part of Wix’s senior management team. Prior to that, he founded the online social game Save an Alien. Roy obtained a Bachelor of Science focused in Computer Science from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC). In this episode, we learn how Roy and his Co-founder, Eran Zinman are scaling the fastest growing company in Israel. With over 100K customers, users in over 160 countries, is helping shape the future of work globally. Learn why the company’s name changed to, what it’s like to maintain the same company culture in Israel and NYC offices, and why transparency is fundamental to's success. 
Sarah Nahm is the Founder and CEO of Lever, a recruiting software company that is tackling the most strategic challenge that companies face: how to grow their teams. Prior to Lever, Sarah worked at Google as speechwriter for Marissa Mayer and later joined the product team that launched Google Chrome, helping it become the world’s top web browser. A self-taught programmer, Sarah received her BS in engineering and product design from Stanford University, where she occasionally returns to coach design students at Stanford’s In this episode, we learn how Sarah’s inclination to pick the uncertain path over the logical path eventually lead her to Lever. Having grown up in Birmingham Alabama where she was one of two nonwhite people in a high school of 800, Sarah’s commitment to diversity and inclusion runs deep. The Lever team has been a 50/50 gender ratio since 2016 and inclusion is ingrained in the company culture Sarah has built. Her message to operators who are hiring: “If you're not building a database of talent the same way that you're investing in your sales and your marketing database, you're throwing away the opportunity to have cumulative value over time and you're always going to be hiring.”
Dheeraj Pandey is the Founder, CEO & Chairman of Nutanix. He brings a wealth of experience of working at high growth enterprise software companies. Prior to founding Nutanix, Dheeraj was the VP of Engineering at Aster Data (now Teradata), where he helped build the product and its engineering team from the ground up. At Oracle, he managed the storage engine group for Oracle Database/Exadata, and co-authored numerous patents in the area of distributed databases. Dheeraj is a Ph.D. dropout from University of Texas (Austin), where he was a Graduate Fellow of CS. That didn’t stop him from founding the fastest growing startup in history in 2009. In 2014 (the companies 5th full year), Nutanix eclipsed 100 Million in revenue. In this episode, we learn that behind the rosy story, there were a few near death experiences for the company. Inspired by Apple’s playbook, Dheeraj applied simplicity and elegance to a “very nerdy, geeky thing called web scale architecture for data centers” (his words). Dheeraj engineered significant transitions, turning Nutanix from a device company to a software business to a subscription software business. It doesn’t stop there. In the next 10 years, Dheeraj and his team are committed to making computing invisible anywhere (edge, core, public cloud). Beyond business, Dheeraj emphasizes the importance of building strong ties around you and finding joy at home. His movie recommendations? Darkest Hour and The Post.
Michelle Zatlyn is Co-founder and COO of Cloudflare, a leading Internet security, performance, and reliability company that was named to CNBC’s Disruptor 50 List, selected by the Wall Street Journal as the Most Innovative Internet Technology Company for two successive years, and named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Before co-founding Cloudflare, Michelle held positions at Google and Toshiba and launched two successful startups. She holds a BS degree, with distinction, from McGill University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was awarded the Dubliner Prize for Entrepreneurship.    In this episode, we learn why Michelle turned down a job at LinkedIn in June 2009 to pursue an idea that started as a school project with Matthew Prince and Lee Holloway at Harvard Business School and ultimately turned into Cloudflare. Among Michelle’s recommendations to founders is to think about cofounders as Venn diagrams in an effort to cover as much surface area as possible. She also encourages founders to go after something you’re “proud" of, not necessarily something you are “passionate” about. Cloudflare has maintained its momentum by creating a culture of shipping projects fast, empowering team members to showcase their work and be human.
As President and CEO of Smartsheet (NYSE: SMAR), Mark Mader leads a company committed to transforming the way organizations plan, track, manage, automate, and report on work at scale. With over 20 years executive leadership experience driving innovation for high-growth Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, Mark is a recognized leader in the technology community. He has been named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in Technology for the Pacific Northwest, and GeekWire’s CEO of the Year. Under his leadership, Smartsheet was named Washington’s Best Workplace by the Puget Sound Business Journal, and Seattle’s Next Tech Titan by GeekWire.   In this episode, learn how Mark grew Smartsheet from a six-employee startup to a publicly traded company with over 1000 employees serving 82,000 customers. When Smartsheet started in 2006, productivity apps were not ubiquitous like they are today. How did Mark and his team convince investors and customers that Smartsheet was solving for what spreadsheets don’t do well? Why did Smartsheet host their first customer conference just three years ago? What did Mark look for in new board members heading into Smartsheet’s IPO? Get the answers to these questions and more in this episode.
Aghi Marietti is an inventor, technology entrepreneur and angel investor. As the CEO and Co-founder of Kong — the API company on a mission to intelligently broker information across all services — he drives the company’s vision, strategy and long-term growth. Prior to Kong, he was the CEO and Co-founder of Mashape, the largest API marketplace, which was acquired by RapidAPI in 2017. Before that, he founded MemboxX, the first European cloud service for storing documents and sensitive personal data. Augusto holds a B.S. in Economics from the Catholic University of Milan. He is the lead inventor on five U.S. patents and an angel investor in more than 10 startups. In this episode, we learn from Aghi how he and his Co-founder & CTO Marco Palladino decided to move to an open core model. Kong Inc. was born from the first API marketplace, previously known as Mashape. Today, Kong has 75k downloads for its open source API gateway and more than 40k community members. Aghi and Glenn discussed the changing face of the enterprise software market, and how selling developer tools has changed as developers have more control over the software they use, even within larger organizations. Aghi’s advice for founders: “We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long term.” This episode was recorded live at Heavybit in San Francisco.
Assaf Wand is the Co-founder and CEO of insurtech startup Hippo. Based in Palo Alto, CA, the company is modernizing home insurance through the lens of homeowners – building policies with more comprehensive coverage for today's consumers at up to 25% less than competitors. Prior to Hippo, Wand was founder and CEO of Sabi, which designed and produced elegant everyday products (Sabi was acquired in 2015), a consultant with McKinsey & Company and an investor with Intel Capital. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA in finance and LLB in Law from the IDC Herzliya in Israel. In this episode, we learn how Assaf and the team at Hippo are modernizing the $100 billion home insurance industry. Now at unicorn status, Hippo is using data to deliver better and cheaper insurance policies to homeowners. Assaf talks about the importance of having a co-founder that counters you on a psychological level and notes why he and his co-founder, Eyal Navon, align in values. More often than not, companies fail due to misalignment between founders. Fun fact: Assaf reads The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand every few years. Listen until the end for the best falafel place in the world.
Erica Brescia is GitHub’s Chief Operating Officer, where she leads the business development, support, and workplace teams. Prior to joining GitHub, she was the COO and co-founder of Bitnami, where she was instrumental in leading the team's business development efforts with all of the leading cloud platform providers. Erica’s leadership in the technology space extends to serving on the board of directors of the Linux Foundation, as well as being an Investment Partner in X Factor Ventures, which empowers female-led businesses to succeed. In this episode, we learn how Erica Brescia went from balancing a Y Combinator interview while caring for her then 2-week-old baby to growing Bitnami’s team with her Co-Founder, Daniel Lopez to about 100 people with little outside capital. Erica explains why taking her current role at Github felt like “coming home,” despite not being a developer. When she’s not helping scale Github’s product roadmap and global expansion, Erica is supporting the next wave of female founders at XFactor Ventures, a seed fund that only invests in female entrepreneurs. Listen to the full episode for Erica’s book recommendations and advice for founders.
Kunal Agarwal co-founded Unravel Data Systems, Inc. in 2013. Prior to that Kunal led sales and implementation at several Fortune 100 companies. Earlier, he also co-founded, a pioneer in personalized shopping and what-to-wear recommendations. Before that he helped Sun Microsystems evaluate Big Data infrastructure like Sun’s Grid Computing Engine. Kunal holds a Bachelor’s in computer engineering from Valparaiso University and a M.B.A from The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. In this episode, we learn how Kunal and his Co-Founder, Shivnath Babu, convinced top notch talent with cushy jobs to make sacrifices for a common vision at Unravel. He shares how Unravel has kept its cultural values in check while growing from 11 to 100+ employees across multiple continents. We learn why the “shout-out” Slack channel is the 4th most used Slack channel at Unravel and why the Unravel team spent 3 years defining product-market fit. Spoiler Alert: Kunal’s recommended reading is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Listen until the end to get a crash course in race car driving. Highlights: 1:24 your co-founder is Shivnath Babu. He's a tenured professor in computer science at Duke. Is that where you guys met? 1:55 How did you convince a professor at a great university to get off that train and get on the startup. 2:41 Give us the elevator pitch of what unravel does and tell us about kind of the initial vision and how it evolved over time. 3:58 Where did the vision for the company come from? 5:17 how did you convince at such an early stage good people to come onboard? 8:19 When people are sacrificing for a common vision, did that build strength and resiliency into the company? 10:41 Do you think it was the right move to have a consultant and do you suggest to other founders to do something similar as they’re going forward? 13:39 When you're recruiting somebody who's gainfully employed and doing well it's not easy. What are some of the tricks when hiring? 16:03 How hard have you found it to hand over control? How do you manage the process? 19:26 So on that point about culture you've mentioned hungry but humble. Is that the kind of the essence of how you’d describe Unravel’s culture today? 22:17 Have you had some hiccups on culture as a result of growth and how have you tried to deal with those? 24:54 A lot of people talk about emojis on Slack, do you guys use photos too? 25:44 You are not IBM yet and you are serving big companies. How are you managing to do that? 29:24 Internally, how do you align product, sales and engineering to ensure that you’re building the right thing at the right time for what the market needs? 31:46 Lightening question round!
Anne Raimondi is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience driving growth for B2B and B2C companies - taking them from startups to nationally recognized brands. Currently, she is the Chief Customer Officer for Guru, a leading AI knowledge management platform. Prior to Guru, Raimondi served as the SVP of Operations for Zendesk. Prior to Zendesk, Raimondi served as a product leader and executive for technology innovators - including Survey Monkey, TaskRabbit, Blue Nile and eBay. Anne holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University and currently lives in the Bay Area. In this episode, we learn from Anne why face-to-face engagement with customers and prospects is critical and why we should stay in cross-functional pods for as long as possible. Anne encourages founders to hire inherently curious “evangelists” who are already passionate about your product. Pro tip from Anne: The quickest way to end internal debates about what should or shouldn’t be built is to listen to customers talk about their pain points. Listen to the full episode for more pro tips. This episode was recorded live at the first annual SMB Tech Summit, co-hosted by GGV Capital, NFX and Fenwick & West. Episode Highlights: 01:41 If you’re building a company that’s going after the SMB, your functions need to be tightly aligned within the organization. What are tricks of the trade to make sure that happens? 03:41 So how do you build a management team that can manage cross-functionally, particularly with sales? 05:14 What can go wrong and what can go right when hiring more traditional enterprise folks into a company focused on the SMB space? 07:33 As a Chief Customer Officer now and you’ve seen a lot of great companies this world, what are the hacks to make sure your customers are happy, but that you’re not spending a lot of time and resource making that so? 10:39 What have you seen work well related to renewal rates? 13:25 What have you seen work well is you’re attempting to grow accounts? 15:45 For renewal and for expansion who should own those within a company that’s going after SMB? 17:12 What benefits do you get from segmenting your customers? 19:55 What about Net Promoter Score NPS. Is it a useful tool, how is it used well, and when it goes awry, what problems do you need to avoid? 20:47 Is the move up market deliberate and when do you know you’re ready? If it’s not deliberate, how do you make sure you don’t mess it up? 22:27 [question from the audience] How do you maintain connection and understanding of customers as humans as the companies you’ve been with have grown?
Max Levchin is the Founder & CEO of Affirm a financial services technology company that offers microloans to consumers at the point of sale. Affirm allows shoppers to pay for purchases across multiple months with transparent, fairly priced fees built into every payment. Max is also the Co-Founder and Chairman of Glow, a data-driven fertility company, and was one of the original co-founders of PayPal where he served as CTO until its acquisition by Ebay in 2002. He has served on several boards such as Yahoo!, Yelp, and Evernote. Max is an engineer by training, serial entrepreneur, computer scientist, investor and philanthropist. In this Founder Real Talk / 996 crossover episode, we learn how Max used the guiding principle of HVF (Hard, Valuable, Fun) to found Affirm. Max talks about writing a pivotal note to self to crystalize what he wanted to accomplish and how the financial industry is ripe for disruption. This episode is co-hosted by Glenn Solomon and Hans Tung. [03:14] Why is and how is affirm hard, valuable and fun? [09:06] There's obviously a very well established banking industry that you're kind of going up against in some ways. What about that industry makes it ripe for disruption? [15:08] Can you talk about how do you manage to figure out who to underwrite and avoid fraud. [16:29] So given the business you guys are in, are there any new wrinkles that you've had to deal with? [21:13] How have you been able continue to create a differentiated product and what does it take for you to stay ahead of your competitors? [26:27] Some of the merchants that you work with have told us a sales conversion with you has increased by as high as 30%. How are you able to do that? [28:02] What techniques have you used to maintain such a high NPS score? [29:41] How do you use data as an advantage in your company and when you advise startups, what do you tell them about use of data? [32:42] When you look back in your career, how have you seen yourself grown as a leader? [36:33] Did you come up with the core values before founding the company on your own or was it a team effort? [38:53] How have you approached diversity and inclusion and what have the benefits been for you? [42:33] What made you decide on Pittsburgh and how did you come to the decision to have a second office? [43:54] How do you solve for engineers and product people in different offices? [46:29] What's your schedule like? How do you feel about working smart vs. working hard? [52:42] Lightning round
Rich Waldron is the Co-Founder and CEO of, a next gen workflow and integration technology company that allows automation of business processes without IT. Tray puts the power in the hands of non-technical users or “citizen automators” to quickly integrate the myriad cloud solutions that every company runs today to easily build and streamline bespoke workflows. In this episode, we learn how Rich and his two co-founders and lifelong friends, Ali and Dom, built a competitive product and high growth company with customers the likes of Lyft Forbes and New Relic. Rich explains how Tray has leveraged London and SF offices to define and maintain a strong company culture and shares tips for founders who are fundraising. Episode Highlights: 01:43 How did you decide to come together with your co-founders and what problem were you guys trying to solve initially? 03:43 How and why did the vision for the company expand beyond just email? 07:01 In the beginning, did you raise very little capital by design or was a result of a difficult situation? 15:24 How does the team stay in sync across offices in two continents? 18:15 What problems are your customers are having and why do they use Tray? 20:06 Do you feel Tray is part of the “low code, no code” movement”? 22:06 How do you rise above the noise in the market and handle your competition? 24:03 Why do you think Tray has hit on such a tremendous growth curve in the market? 25:24 How has word of mouth enabled Tray to grow rapidly? 26:16 What are you noticing to date as the difference between serving mid-market type customers and larger enterprise? 29:22 As your team grows, how are you trying to maintain the team spirit that you built with your co-founders? 30:56 How did you make the decision to raise early when the market gave you the signal that it was ready to invest? Any tips for others who are working with VCs? 35:40 How do you think about the future and what are you trying to accomplish? 39:33 What’s your recommended reading for other founders? 43:22 What’s your top piece of advice that you've gotten as a startup founder that you you would like to give to others?
Comments (2)

Austin Peek

If you're looking for other real talk with Founders... Here's another sweet podcast for ya 😚: Entrepreneur Stories 4️⃣ Inspiration 👌...

Dec 5th
Reply (1)
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store