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Lay of The Land

Author: Jeffrey Stern

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Telling the stories of entrepreneurship and builders in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio. Every Thursday, Jeffrey Stern helps map the Cleveland/NEO business ecosystem by talking to founders, investors, and community builders to learn what makes Cleveland/NEO special.
114 Episodes
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Brian Folmer.Born and raised in Cleveland, Brian has boomeranged back to Cleveland after 6 years in NYC and starting his own company.Brian is the founder of and; he’s a mentor at Techstars and a16z, Managing Partner of the FirstLook Syndicate, and a proud Ohio State Alum. He previously led BD & Strategic Partnerships at XRC Labs, International Operations at Victoria's Secret, and took his first startup through a technology startup accelerator in his hometown Cleveland, OH.Through his work at FirstLook, he’s come to believe founders are the dreamers in action who drive innovation, push the world forward, and create the bedrock of our economy — and in practice, he’s focused on helping those founders build exciting brands and realize their visions. FirstLook is dedicated to cutting the friction and red tape between founders and investors by sending innovative products from emerging, high-growth consumer brands directly to early-stage investors via their subscription box.In our conversation today, we explore how by connecting these two groups in a new, efficient, and practical way, Brian can uncover far more promising brands than before and begin to rewrite the script on consumer investing. Please enjoy my conversation with Brian Folmer--Connect with Brian Folmer on LinkedIn — Brian Folmer on Twitter @homerfolmer — more about FirstLook VC — FirstLook VC on Twitter @firstlookvc — with FirstLook VC on Linkedin — with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedIn — Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefe — Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Afif Ghannoum, a biotech attorney by background and the CEO of BIOHM Health — which he co-founded with his father, Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum, a leading microbiome researcher and recognized for naming the mycobiome (the body's fungal community). With over 30,000 citations and 500 published papers, Dr. Ghannoum is one of the top 0.5% of cited microbiologists and the top 2% of all scientists across all disciplines and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1991, including just receiving his latest NIH grant at age 72.Leveraging his own background launching and selling consumer products in over 27,000 stores and licensed IP to companies around the world in addition to holding several biotech patents, Afif partnered with his dad to commercialize his research and science into world-class consumer products through their company, BIOHM Health.With state-of-the-art science and one of the largest microbiome datasets in the world that combines bacterial and fungal sequencing, BIOHM was the first to address the critical link between fungi and bacteria in gut health. Over the last year, BIOHM has expanded its role with some of the largest global ingredient companies to offer a world-class suite of services, including product development leveraging its industry-leading database, bioinformatics, testing, and clinical trial support — their first BIOHM FX probiotic supplement was designed to specifically help reduce digestive plaque found in the gut.BIOHM is currently embarking on a clinical extension directly for medical practitioners and is quickly expanding into retailers across the country, as it not only manages one of the most comprehensive gut health datasets, but also has access to one of the largest collections of fungi strains, second only to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).In late 2022, Afif secured $7.5 million in funding for BIOHM to support their broader vision. BIOHM is a fascinating company based here in Cleveland and I loved learning more about Afif’s journey building it — please enjoy my conversation with Afif Ghannoum--Connect with Afif Ghannoum on LinkedIn — Afif Ghannoum on Twitter @AfifGhannoum — more about BIOHM Health — BIOHM Health on Twitter @biohmhealth — with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedIn — Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefe — Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Adam Fleischer — President of Cleveland’s Entrepreneurs' Organization and founder & co-owner of The Wine Spot here in Cleveland Heights.A proud product of Cleveland, Adam joined the United States Air Force just after graduating from Cleveland Heights High School and spent four years on active duty as a medic. After relocating back to Cleveland to attend Cleveland State University, Adam got a job at a local hospital’s inpatient pharmacy, where he began implementation of one of the first clinical information systems (also known as an Electronic Medical Record) in the country — with that experience, Adam was hired on by the company, Cerner Corporation, which was recently purchased by Oracle. After 20 years of experience in corporate America, he decided to focus his energy on his passions — the Cleveland community, and wine!Adam and his wife Susan followed their dream of owning their own business and being entrepreneurs by opening The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights on December 16, 2011. From the onset, they wanted to be part of the local food and beverage community and began partnering with like-minded entrepreneurs like: Restless Coffee, Brew Nuts, Mister Brisket, many local micro-breweries, and artists to create a relaxing destination where all feel welcome and can enjoy the fines wines, craft beer, and cocktails.In addition, Adam is active in the community as the creator and co-creator of The Heights Music Hop, The Cleveland Heights Happy 5K and 10K, 46 and 2 Brewing Cold Brewed Coffee now part of Six Shooter Coffee, Bitcoin Boulevard USA, and The Wine Spot Salami.It was a lot of fun to hear about Adam’s journey to entrepreneurship, the work he’s doing at the Wine Spot, and understanding the role of EO — the Entrepreneur's Organization — which we’ve heard mentioned many times throughout Lay of The Land but are finally making the space to talk about specifically today! Please enjoy my conversation with Adam Fleischer--Connect with Adam Fleisher on LinkedIn — more about The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Cleveland — more about The Wine Spot — Follow The Wine Spot on Twitter @TheWineSpotCH — with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedIn — Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefe — Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Michael Murphy who is on a mission to bring professional soccer to Cleveland as the Co-founder and CEO of the Cleveland Soccer Group.Previously, Michael served as President of Gravitas Ventures — whose story we featured back on Lay of The Land’s 68th episode with Gravitas’ CEO (linked here), Nolan Gallagher, Michael’s current co-founder at Cleveland Soccer Group!At Gravitas, Michael was instrumental in growing the company’s distribution footprint, managing their library of more than 3,000 titles of movies and TV to over 100 transactional, subscription, and ad-sponsored Video-on-demand operators on a worldwide basis — ultimately affording Gravitas distribution into over 100 million homes in North America and over 1 Billion homes worldwide.Prior to joining Gravitas Ventures in 2007, Michael was Captain in the US Army where he served on active duty as a Judge Advocate. In 2005, he deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.Michael is a member of the Cleveland Chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Council, on the board of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Northeast Ohio, and on the advisory council for the Northeast Ohio Women’s Sports Alliance.He also coaches track, basketball, and, of course, soccer at St. Dominic School in Cleveland.This was a really fun conversation — we cover everything from the cultural importance of sports in American society, how he envisions Cleveland Soccer as a community pillar going forward, to the logistics of starting a professional soccer club, from stadiums to financing to building a competitive and formidable platform and team. Really enjoyed learning more about Michaels’ vision for the Cleveland Soccer Group and I am excited to follow along on this journey as it unfolds — please enjoy my conversation with Michael Murphy.--Connect with Michael Murphy on LinkedIn — Connect with Nolan Gallagher on LinkedIn — Cleveland Pro Soccer on Twitter @cleprosoccer — Michael Murphy on Twitter @CLE_MMMurphy — Nolan Gallagher on Twitter @NolanGravitas — more about The Cleveland Soccer Group — with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedIn — Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefe — Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Aleksandra Brankov and Cole Worley — the co-founders of Cafilia.Cafilia is a Cleveland startup and network of curated local coffee shops where people can purchase monthly memberships and enjoy a sustainable and community-driven coffee experience.Aleksandra is a proud product of Serbian immigrant parents — Born in Cleveland, she moved to Europe to continue her professional career in strategy implementation consulting for Global Fortune 500s after receiving her Master’s in International Management in Madrid, Spain. Now back in Cleveland, Aleksandra came up with the idea for the Cafilia during a winter retreat in Canada and decided to pursue it, launching the pilot program in July 2020 in the Cleveland market.Cole had earned his degree studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Dayton, and has worked with companies all over the world in marketing, business development, and product management. He's had a hand in launching new business units, managing mass market and luxury products, and consulting with small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, Cole led and organized the StartupBus competition across North America, where people come together, pitch their skills and startup ideas, form teams, build and launch a product in just three days, all while traveling to a final destination.Collectively, Cole and Aleksandra are working to bring the Cafilia to every major city all in support of local, sustainable, and quality coffee, for coffee shop owners and coffee enthusiasts alike. We cover everything from historical coffee macro trends, to the meaning of Cafilia, to managing a coffee subscription service — please enjoy my conversation with Aleksandra Brankov and Cole Worley--Connect with Aleksandra Brankov on LinkedIn — with Cole Worley on LinkedIn — more about Cafilia — with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedIn — Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefe — Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Jeremy Umansky, the renowned chef and owner of Larder!Larder Delicatessen and Bakery — as it’s known in full — is a staple and favorite of many here in Cleveland, housed in the historic Ohio City Firehouse, where the from-scratch Eastern European deli embodies Jeremy’s philosophy with a focus on the use and promotion of sourcing and foraging local and wild food, cooking as seasonally as possible, with minimal to no ecological impact on the environment, all without sacrificing on intensity and deliciousness of flavors and the overall experience.Larder was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as the Best New Restaurant in America in 2019 and Jeremy was further recognized as Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2020 and in 2023 with his wife and co-owner, Allie La Valle-Umansky!Jeremy has a fascinating mind and it was a genuine pleasure to hear his thoughts on things far beyond the realm of Larder — although we do talk a lot about Larder too and his interests in mushrooms and foraging, Koji, fermentation, culinary technology, sustainability, Cleveland’s food scene, fulfillment, his motivations and much more — this perhaps was of the most wide-ranging and varied conversations we’ve had on the show so far, and as a big fan of Larder myself, I had a lot of fun learning a lot more about Jeremy and his story. Hope you all enjoy my conversation with Jeremy Umansky--Learn more about Larder — Larder on Instagram — Jeremy Umansky on Instagram — Jeremy Umansky on Twitter @TMGastronaut — with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedIn — Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefe — Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Artur Grabowski — co-founder of Extendify.Artur emigrated from Poland to the Cleveland area at the age of 8 — where he later attended Case Western and got exposure working both with a hardware measurement instruments company and a Silicon Valley software startup that later became a unicorn. Artur then transitioned to the business world working with KeyBank's investment banking team in Cleveland and with the startup ecosystem while at Silicon Valley Bank in the Bay Area. After completing an MBA at the University of Chicago, Artur returned to San Francisco to join Adobe where he lead acquisitions and investments, and launched Adobe's early-stage investments through the Fund for Design. Artur then returned to Cleveland and joined Automattic, the company behind WordPress, to lead acquisitions, investments, and strategic initiatives.Most recently, in 2019 — and where we’ll spend most of our conversation today — Artur left Automattic to co-found Extendify where they are a mission to help web hosting companies deliver delightful WordPress experiences and has since raised venture capital in support of this mission, with the initial investment led by Village Global, and subsequent investment from a variety of angel and strategic investors, including his former company, Automattic.WordPress powers an almost unbelievable 43% of websites on the internet today and Artur is set on supporting those in this goliath ecosystem! Artur has great perspective on the landscape of the internet, building a fully remote company before it was the popular thing to do so, venture, and I feel has a refreshing and unique take on many aspects of the entrepreneurial journey — please enjoy my conversation with Artur Grabowski!--Learn more about ExtendifyConnect with Artur Grabowski on LinkedInFollow Artur Grabowski on Twitter @arturgrabo--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with the family behind Snider Recreation a company in the very business of fun where they are focused on the development of Commercial Playgrounds — Chuck Snider, Jamey Snider, and Jeff Snider! Jamey and Jeff took over the business in 2014 and today run the company, focused on growing Snider Recreation’s brand and presence in the playground and recreation industry, while Chuck had founded the business back in the late 80s after over a decade working in the legal sector.If you’ve ever wondered, how does a playground come to be? Or what are all the considerations that go into making one that is fun and inclusive, and safe? That is what we’ll cover in this episode!From how the recreational and commercial playground industry has evolved over the last few decades, to how Chuck, Jamey, and Jeff think about innovation, to how they’ve continued to run a family business over the generations — really loved learning about this business that fundamentally ties its success to providing a fun safe environment for children to play — please enjoy my conversation with the Snider family.--Learn more about Snider RecreationFollow Snider Recreation on TwitterConnect with Jamey Snider on LinkedInConnect with Jeff Snider on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Dr. Elad Granot — Dean of John Carroll University’s Boler College of Business, co-founder and managing member of an early-stage technology Venture Capital fund, and advisor to a $450mm VC fund. Elad is passionate about the role of higher education in the world of startups, and actively spends his time building & cultivating social connections for students to move up the academic and economic ladders & promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in the Cleveland business ecosystem.Prior to joining Boler College of Business as Dean and Professor of Marketing, Dr. Granot led Ashland University's Business College. His academic appointments also include Dean of the College of Business Administration and Professor of Marketing at Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey; Assistant Dean – MBA Programs at Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business in Cleveland, Ohio; and Special Assistant to the Provost for eLearning Development at Cleveland State University. In addition to his background in higher education leadership, Dr. Granot served as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) prior to beginning his international business career in 1994 as a sales manager for a US based freight forwarding company. He later established his marketing and strategy consulting practice. In 1998, he was recruited to be vice president of marketing for Israel’s largest private education company, later acquired by the Washington Post group. In 2000, Dr. Granot was named CMO of KPMG in Tel Aviv, a position he held until taking over as CEO of a large media production company.We cover a lot of ground in this conversation spanning what Cleveland can learn from Startup Nation and Elad’s time in Israel, the role of academia in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, the tolerance for risk in North East Ohio, technology transfer out of academic institutions, and a lot more — please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Elad Granot!--Connect with Dr. Elad Granot on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Jan Jenson — PhD, CEO/CSO/Founder of Trailhead Biosystems, based here in Cleveland.Jan is the Lead Inventor of Trailhead Technology and has 20 years as a molecular developmental biologist. He is the Eddie J. Brandon Endowed chair of Diabetes Research at the Cleveland Clinic and obtained his Ph.D. from U. Copenhagen in 1998 and has been faculty at US institutions since 2001 where he has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and is now engaged with multiple research projects and consortia covering neural, renal, pancreatic areas, as well as cancer and immunotherapy.The technology of Trailhead Biosystems — which exists around the high-dimensional design of experiments dependent on computerized designs and robotic executions — allows for the production of cellular ink as the biological building blocks to address a myriad of issues across cell-based therapeutics, drug discovery, organ printing, and disease modeling — ultimately aiming to arrive at the cures for diseases we’ve only historically been able to treat like Diabetes, which is one of Jan’s original motivations.Trailhead Biosystems is one of the most fascinating companies I’ve come across so far and I learned so much from this conversation with Jan — everything from the basics of cell differentiation and development biology, to the vast implications that unlocking industrialized manufacturing of specialized human cells can have for regenerative medicine! Please enjoy my conversation with Jan Jensen--Learn more about Trailhead BiosystemsConnect with Jan Jensen on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Aaron George, Founder/CEO of SupplyNow! Growing up with a family of small businesses & food service owners, Aaron first came to the US in 2015 with a deep sense of respect for entrepreneurship and the food service industry from a very young age. At that time, he came to study Civil Engineering and Business Management from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) — during his time at CWRU, he founded PastryNow which was a digital, late-night delivery platform that connected local bakeries & home bakers to college studentsIn early 2020 though, when college campuses shut down overnight, Aaron had to close down the business and go back to the drawing board. He had noticed restaurants were amongst the hardest hit during the pandemic and was determined to find ways to help. After interviewing several restauranters and chefs, he found that there were inadequate solutions available to actually help restaurants control their purchasing costs, especially in the context of having to navigate frequent critical supply chain failures.In 2021, Aaron founded SupplyNow, leveraging his experience from PastryNow, to provide critical supply chain solutions that can save restaurants and local distributors, time and money. The company’s flagship service — Crisis Management — helps restaurants when their vendor has shorted them (potentially due to unexpected waste/demand, inventory miscalculations, etc) and are too short-staffed to send for a restaurant's emergency supplies. At the same time, the company has built out the supply-side of its network to service distributors who find it too expensive to offer same-day/on-demand deliveries to their customers, due to CDL driver constraints and preset weekly routes that are hard to deviate out of.Through our conversation, we also cover Aaron’s journey as an immigrant founder, the many additional challenges he’s had to navigate as a consequence of this, and the work of Global Entrepreneur in Residence program he is spearheading. Please enjoy my conversation with Aaron George.--Learn more about SupplyNowLearn more about Global ClevelandConnect with Aaron George on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land’s 100th conversation is a reflection on the 99 before it — what universal lessons can we learn and patterns we can extract from recounting the stories of amazing people building amazing things! We'll cover what draws people to entrepreneurship in the first place, where do company ideas come from, and the real importance of culture — I hope you all can take these learnings with you as well. Thanks for tuning in for two years now :)Please enjoy and let me know if you all have any feedback. To the next 100!With Love — Jeffrey SternHost, Lay of The Land PodcastCo-Founder, Axuall
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Steve Santamaria, CEO of Folio Photonics, where he is focused on innovating storage media with the first-ever enterprise-scale, immutable active archive solution that delivers breakthrough cost, security, and sustainability!Steve — who resides here in Chagrin Falls — is a seasoned technology executive, entrepreneur, and student of disruptive technologies. Steve spent 14 years at Intel where he led an array of strategic projects including: Intel’s Microsoft partnership, colloquially referred to as Wintel, investment in China Software Park Program (with launches in Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen and Chengdu), global expansion of the Intel Developer Program, formation of the Visual Computing Group to move Intel into more graphics-oriented businesses such as VR and 3D animation and the launching of various Intel Service businesses including Intel Online Services, AppUp and Tizen.Prior to Intel, Steve had a successful sales and business development career with companies including: Control Data, Ceridian, Parametric Technology and Giga Information Group. Most recently, Steve started two companies: WebTuner Corp., an OTT video streaming company, and Envelop VR, which created the first Windows desktop environment for virtual reality.Really enjoyed getting Steve’s perspective on the history and future of storage, the prospects for Folio Photonics’s opportunity looking forward, Cleveland’s whole ecosystem, and his reflections on leadership! Hope you enjoy my conversation with Steve Santamaria--Learn more about Folio PhotonicsConnect with Steve Santamaria on LinkedInFollow Steve Santamaria on Twitter @SSantamaria7 --Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Kris Snyder! Kris has an extensive entrepreneurial past over the last 25 years building and leading five entrepreneurial companies, including founding Vox Mobile — an enterprise mobility management service here in Cleveland — back in 2006 where he served as CEO growing the organization to over 200 people, over $20mm in capital raised, and $10’s of millions in recurring revenue. In 2018 Kris founded a growth advisory firm called Impact Architects where he serves as the Managing Partner, and in 2019, he began working on Ninety, a company focused on supporting the same market as Impact Architects by providing company operating system software where he serves as the Head of Finance and Partnerships, sits on their board, and helped them recently close on a $20mm investment round led by Insight Partners.He is an active member of EO's Cleveland chapter as a member of the board, chairs the board of the NEO Arthritis Foundation, and has been recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year!This really was one of my favorite discussions so far as Kris — who is one of the clearest thinkers I know — has this powerful ability to distill his extensive learnings into very concise meaningful takeaways as well as speak to his underlying motivations of working with entrepreneurial leaders to create impact and pursue a world where small and medium organizations and their employees can become more humane, productive and resilient in order to live their best lives. Please enjoy my conversation with Kris Snyder.--Learn more about Impact ArchitectsLearn more about Ninety.ioLearn more about Vox MobileConnect with Kris Snyder on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Raji Sankar, co-founder of Wholesome International, a multi-concept restaurant development company and co-chief executive officer of Choolaah, a fast-casual Indian restaurant, owned and operated by Wholesome International, with a modern commitment to good health featuring traditional Indian recipes, spices, and tandoor cooking.Choolaah has become a beloved gem in and of itself here in Cleveland with a growing presence in other cities like Pittsburgh.Raji has a refreshing perspective on leadership and company building as a student of companies before her own and mastering the best of what they’ve already figured out — Raji operates with a level of intentionality paid to company culture and commitment to the customer experience that feels representative of the best of the restaurant industry!Previously, she held executive and operational leadership positions in technology and media companies. She has served as an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University and as a member of the Board of Directors for Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanity.In addition, Raji is an incredible storyteller and just fun to talk with — so please enjoy my conversation with Raji Sankar.--Learn more about ChoolaahConnect with Raji Sankar on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Lukas Minkov and Logan Schouman.Born and raised in Vienna, Austria and a former member of the Austrian Armed Forces, Lukas is the son of first-generation immigrants. Launching his first startup at the age of 17, he’s serially created companies spanning e-commerce marketing businesses, to most recently in 2020, an organization providing masks to marginalized communities and selling into the German Red Cross during the pandemic.Logan — born in Buffalo, NY — has a passion for entrepreneurship, a background in sales, and connected with Lukas as students at Kent State where together, they founded Afters[.]io and are building out IDRA — an acronym standing for Intelligent Demand and Revenue Augmentation.As they can attest to firsthand, consumers — particularly college students today — expect instant gratification when it comes to e-commerce delivery. Existing options, like Instacart, offer same-day delivery on groceries but can’t accommodate 10-15 minute deliveries during late night hours when college students need it most. Their focus has been to build out a hyper-speed delivery service that delivers everyday convenience store items like drink mixers, cleaning products, and snacks in 10 minutes or less. Through their bootstrapped trial at Kent State, they’ve validated this hypothesis yielding a 7-minute avg. delivery time on 2,600 fulfilled orders with $31K in revenue.As part of their experimentation, they also discovered value they could unlock beyond a local delivery service, where they are focused on coupling modern logistics best practices with AI to increase delivery speed and predict product demand with increased accuracy.I enjoyed learning about Logan and Lukas’ experience so far and am excited to see where they take Afters and IDRA next — please enjoy my conversation with Lukas Minkov and Logan Schouman.--Learn more about Afters.ioFollow on Twitter @AftersTweetsConnect with Lukas Minkov on LinkedInConnect with Logan Schouman on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Ed Weinfurtner, Executive Chairman of Great Day Improvements & Co-Founder at Blue Olive PartnersEd is an entrepreneur at heart and has been an investor, operator, and board member in a variety of privately held businesses over the past 40 years developing specific expertise in DTC home improvement, distribution, and manufacturing businesses. Most recently at the helm of Great Day Improvements, he’s grown the company by an order of a magnitude from $44M to $922M in sales in just 7 years — in the last year alone, the company grew its remodeling jobs from 9000 the year prior to nearly 68,000!As one of the largest Northeast Ohio companies, employing more than 2,100 people, Great Day Improvements is a vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer provider of home remodeling and premium building products: including Patio Enclosures brand sunrooms and screen rooms; Stanek brand windows and doors; Apex Energy Solutions energy efficient windows and doors; and Hartshorn Custom Contracting pool enclosures.Since Ed acquired the business in 2014, it has quadrupled in size and is now ranked as the 11th largest residential remodeling company in the US by Qualified Remodeler. It was recently named among the fastest-growing private companies in America by INC. Magazine and by Crain’s Cleveland Business as the fastest-growing privately held business in Northeast Ohio.I really enjoyed Ed’s reflection on his career and learning how he navigated the business through the pandemic and the deluge of downstream headwinds to his business from labor shortages to inflated material costs, to double down on the company’s core competency and find success through it. Please enjoy my conversation with Ed Weinfurtner.--Learn more about Great Day ImprovementsLearn more about Blue Olive PartnersConnect with Ed Weinfurtner on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Chef Douglas Katz.For the past 25 years, Doug has focused on creating fulfilling experiences for Clevelanders to enjoy. As chef & owner of Zhug, Chimi, and Amba here in Cleveland, his driving purpose is to spread joy through meaningful experiences and shared passion. Doug is also a chef & partner of Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as the former chef & owner of Fire Food and Drink — which operated in Shaker Square for more than 20 years.Doug is passionate about using fresh, high-quality ingredients with integrity and throughout his career has been celebrated for his unwavering support of local farmers and food artisans. He advocates nationally and internationally for sustainable, healthy and local food systems, and frequently consults with media and civic leaders on local food initiatives. He is an advisor for Seeds of Collaboration Tahini and Smart Soda. He also serves as a chef ambassador for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafoodwatch program, which promotes environmentally responsible fishing and fish farming, and as a consultant for Perfectly Imperfect Produce, which aims to reduce food waste and improve healthy food access. He also serves on the board of the Countryside in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and has held leadership positions with Destination Cleveland and Cleveland Independents, an organization of 90 locally owned restaurants that nurtures and promotes local independent restaurants.Esquire magazine named Zhug one of America’s best new restaurants in 2020 and back In 2014, the prestigious James Beard Foundation nominated Doug for Best Chef of the Great Lakes Region.Doug’s passion for his work is inspiring. It’s hard not to be a huge fan of Doug if you’ve gone to any of his restaurants and witnessed the care and attention he and his team provide to create the best experiences — I loved hearing about Doug’s passion for service & food and his journey to become one of Cleveland’s most renowned restauranteurs and chefs. Please enjoy my conversation with Chef Douglas Katz.--Learn more about Chef Douglas KatzConnect with Douglas Katz on LinkedInFollow Douglas Katz on Twitter @phiremanFollow Douglas Katz on InstagramLearn more about AmbaLearn more about ZhugFollow Zhug on InstagramLearn more about ChimiFollow Chimi on Instagram--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Michael Kubinski — Founder & CEO of Cleveland Clothing Company.From printing tees in a basement to the Best of Cleveland!, Cleveland Clothing Co. has been spreading Cleveland pride one t-shirt at a time since 2008. They are independent, local, and family-owned. A one-stop shop for Cleveland-themed graphic tees, apparel, accessories, gifts, and more!Founded by two lifelong friends. One, a graphic designer, had always dreamed of starting a t-shirt company. The other, an entrepreneur, was looking for a fun new opportunity. One fateful night over some beers, chili, and burgers at one of their favorite spots, Whitey's in Richfield, Ohio, they decided to put their money where their mouth was and came up with a plan. They purchased a screen printing press, some blank t-shirts, and got to work on a couple of designs. Cleveland Clothing was born. They started a website, used social media to get the word out and spent $50 on business cards, which they left around local businesses. Word began to spread, and the company was literally "Spreading Cleveland Pride, One T-Shirt at a Time" as the guys screened and shipped the shirts themselves…and the rest is history, as they say — a history that we’ll cover in our conversation today! Please enjoy my discussion with Michael Kubinksi--Learn more about Cleveland Clothing CompanyFollow Cleveland Clothing Company on Twitter @CLECLOTHINGCOFollow Cleveland Clothing Company on InstagramConnect with Michael Kubinski in LinkedInFollow Michael Kubinski on Twitter @MK_Creative--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Leopoldo Peña.Leo is the Co-Founder and CEO of Presta — a digital lending infrastructure that allows traditional financial institutions to better lend to small and medium-sized businesses by allowing them to book loans digitally.Leo’s prior professional experience has been centered around the world of government and civic technology — most recently focused on expanding access to equity investment. In 2019, he co-founded and launched The Opportunity Exchange, an equity investment marketplace for economic development projects. After powering projects in the majority of the US, The Opportunity Exchange was acquired by Bludot, a competitor in the space.Prior to that, Leo and I actually worked together as part of the founding team of Votem to launch a mobile voting platform designed to securely cast votes in elections across the globe, allowing members of the US military to participate in general and midterm elections while serving abroad, in addition to building out other core election infrastructure like voter registration systems.Leo currently resides here in Cleveland, Ohio with his dog Chamo, holds a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University, and is an alumnus of the Venture for America Fellowship.Leo is one of the best people I know — so needless to say I’ve been looking forward to having him on the podcast for a while now. I’m glad the timing finally made sense and I hope you all enjoy our conversation!--Learn more about PrestaConnect with Leopoldo Peña on LinkedInFollow Leo on Twitter @leodpena --Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
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