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Founders and Funders

Author: Alumni Ventures Group

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Founders and Funders, a podcast by Alumni Ventures Group (AVG), is a forum where we discuss how entrepreneurs and venture capital investors work together to build great new companies. Our guests, many of whom are connected with AVG as entrepreneurs, investors, managing partners, fellows and more, are invited here to talk about the journey of building companies from incubation to early stage investing and beyond.
62 Episodes
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Levels Health has built a wearable device and dashboard that measures your metabolism, offering personalized insights into how different foods affect your body and well-being. Co-Founder Josh Clemente discusses his background at SpaceX, the importance of metabolic fitness, and how his company’s wearable device allows users to monitor and reinforce healthy habits.
As Co-Founder and CEO of Lolly Medical, Zachary Sweeney and his team are building a healthtech platform that allows patients to schedule a doctor’s appointment with the push of a button. Zach is a grant recipient from the 10,000 Entrepreneurs program (or 10KE), an initiative of Alumni Ventures Group aimed at helping young adults explore entrepreneurial careers.
Larry Jen is Managing Partner of Westwood Ventures, a venture capital fund for UCLA alums under the umbrella of Alumni Ventures Group. The Anderson School MBA discusses his investment experience in Silicon Valley, his decision to join Westwood, what it means to be a UCLA Bruin, and why his fellow alums should add venture capital to their portfolio.
Brianna Makaric struggled to find a healthy snack that fit her dietary needs. So she decided to create BRITE Bites, made with high-quality superfoods and probiotics to help support your immune and digestive systems. Brianna is a Grant Recipient from the 10,000 Entrepreneurs program (or 10KE), a nonprofit founded by Alumni Ventures Group to help young adults explore entrepreneurial careers.
Many people are unaware of the potential tax advantages available to accredited venture investors. Individuals invested in Qualified Small Business Stock can claim a federal tax exemption on up to $10M of capital gains. Peter Loukianoff of Strawberry Creek Ventures and Andrea Kushner of Alliance Bernstein discuss QSBS and other advantages of investing in venture capital.
Timi Dayo-Kayode co-founded Worksense to provide people ops professionals with scalable, real-time analytics for identifying, mitigating, and preventing biases in major decisions involving employees. Timi is a Grant Recipient from the 10,000 Entrepreneurs program (or 10KE), a nonprofit founded by Alumni Ventures Group to help young adults explore entrepreneurial careers.
Stanford alums and Tempo Co-Founders Greta Meyer and Amanda Calabrese looked at tampon leakage as an engineering problem and developed a solution based on fluid mechanics. Amanda and Greta are also Grant Recipients from the 10,000 Entrepreneurs (or 10KE) program, an initiative of Alumni Ventures Group aimed at helping young adults explore entrepreneurial careers.
Alumni Ventures Group's 10,000 Entrepreneurs (10KE) initiative is aimed at helping young adults explore entrepreneurial careers. The program is coordinated by Drew Wandzilak, a self-described entrepreneurial junkie who was attracted to AVG’s mission of expanding access to venture capital. Listen as Drew talks about the history, mission, and progress of the 10KE program.
Daniel Gartenberg is obsessed with sleep quality and its health benefits. So he and a team of technologists built a software tool that uses sound, atmosphere, and diagnostics to make sleep more regenerative. His hope is that people will eventually transition to software solutions that provide long-term benefits without negative side effects.
In October 2019, AVG returned to Boston to host the latest installment of its investor appreciation series, Spirits & Startups. Producer Scott Murphy joined the team in Boston to capture the sights and sounds of the event. Listen to our podcast from the event or read a summary episode.
After enduring several failed rounds of chemotherapy, Ping Yeh tried a new type of treatment that would both save his life and change the trajectory of his career. He co-founded StemoniX, a biotech company which helps test different drugs or therapeutics to see if the drugs are safe and if they effectively address various diseases.
Catherine Lu was approached by a few top venture firms after she sold a company that she'd started with Stanford classmates. But it wasn't until she met Andre de Baubigny, Managing Partner of Spike Ventures, that she made the leap into VC. Through Spike, she could be both a venture capitalist and an entrepreneur—all while disrupting the VC industry.
It's critical for cancer patients to get accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans as quickly as possible. Yet, doctors often struggle with discerning exactly which form of the disease they are dealing with because they can't see the individual cells involved. Charlie Silver, CEO of Mission Bio, hopes to change that with more precise, comprehensive DNA testing.
For years, Rinse Co-Founders Ajay Prakash and James Joun wondered how to increase sales in the static dry cleaning industry. They developed a solution that uses tech to facilitate laundry and dry cleaning pickup with smart scheduling and predictability for everyone involved.
Kelsey Hunter conducted a six-week experiment on Facebook Messenger, interacting with customers on the platform as though she were a chatbot. She discovered that people were more likely to engage with the chatbot if she asked questions. This prompted her to build an e-commerce tool that helps businesses turn Messenger into a new sales funnel.
David Klein attended business school with the goal of starting a company before he graduated. Ironically, the cost of attending business school exposed the very problem he would develop CommonBond to solve. He explains how the company is aiming to help fix the student loan crisis by addressing high interest rates, complex processes, and poor customer service.
According to David Mindell, CEO and Co-Founder of Humatics, it doesn't make sense for a robot of any type to be independent of its environment. That's why Mindell and his team at Humatics are revolutionizing how people and machines locate, navigate, and collaborate in what he calls "situated autonomy."
Green D Ventures Managing Partner Laura Rippy and Partner Lacey Johnson unpack the rationale behind diversification in a way that’s helpful no matter where you are in your investing journey. They discuss time horizons, risk tolerance, and several other relevant concepts.
Greg Baker went to the University of Wisconsin to become an engineer, but a summer internship would change the trajectory of his career. One of his roommates during the internship was Mike Collins, who would later found AVG and call on Greg to launch and lead Bascom Ventures, AVG's fund for UW alums.
Naveen Jain cut his teeth in the entertainment industry working with marquee artists. The challenges of ticketing and navigating the reseller market is foundational to the work he’s doing at Tari, which uses blockchain technology to manage digital assets without forcing the end-user into a world of cryptocurrency.
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