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The Uncovered Podcast

Author: PJC

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Have you ever wanted to know the real secrets to starting, building, and scaling a company? How do you learn to fail and fail fast? How should you be thinking about financing and exit strategies? The entrepreneur’s journey is a long one — full of unknowns, risks, and opportunities at every turn. At PJC we have your back. With our Uncovered podcast, we aim to expose some of these unknowns so you can better understand what to expect and how to prepare. Each season you’ll hear from first time founders to repeat founders, to low and high profile companies, taking you behind the scenes to reveal the secrets and stories previously untold. We hope you’ll join us! Uncovered is presented by PJC, an early-stage venture capital firm committed to empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs.
39 Episodes
Episode Summary:Phil Bronner is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of D.C. based Ardent Venture Partners, which was co- founded in 2020 with fellow veteran investor Phil Herget.  Phil has had an impressive 15-year career in venture prior to starting Ardent, leading 16 investments (was actively involved in 20) totaling over $100 million.  He has also been on the entrepreneurial side, founding Quad Learning, a venture-backed startup acquired by Wellspring Higher Education.   In this episode you’ll learn more about Phil’s background and experience working in venture, the challenges and humbling process of starting your own venture fund, and the key strategies and lessons he has learned thus far starting Ardent Ventures. What is Uncovered: Phil’s experience in venture and what has surprised him the most starting Ardent Venture Partners The key strategies to think about when starting your first fund The importance of team vs finding the next big deal The changes in venture over the last 10-15 years The sheer number of accomplished VCs out there looking for funding The state of valuations today & predictions of what is to come within VCLearn More About:Phil Bronner:Phil Bronner is the co-founder of Ardent Venture Partners, a venture fund investing in companies that transform the way we work. He is currently on the board of Reserve Trust, Verituity, ExecOnline, OneMain Financial (OMF) and an investor in Method Financial and Collective. Before co-founding Ardent Venture Partners, Phil was Founder/Managing Member of Summer League Ventures (SLV). Active SLV deals include Morning consult, ExecOnline, Ordway Labs,,, and AirSide Mobile.Prior to SLV, Phil was a General Partner with Novak Biddle Venture Partners. Over the course of his 15-year career, he led 16 investments (was actively involved in 20) with investments totaling over $100 million. Three of Phil’s series A investments went on to be worth $880 million or more. Investments include: 2U (TWOU), Infoblox (BLOX), SolidFire (Acquired by NetApp), AddThis (acquired by Oracle), Webs (Acquired by Vistaprint), Approva (Acquired by Infor), LifeShield Security (acquired by DirectTV), ClearStandards (Acquired by SAP), Social Gaming Network, and Logic Library (Acquired by SOA Software). In addition, Phil’s past board observer seats include N.E.W. Customer Service Companies (acquired by Asurion), AnswerLogic, a natural language search engine (acquired by Primus Knowledge Systems), and Spectrum K12 (acquired by Power Schools). Phil was the founder of Quad Learning, a venture-backed startup acquired by Wellspring Higher Education, served as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. and worked as a software engineer at IBM.  Phil earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University; a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Law; and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Phil and Brooke live in Washington DC with their 3 kids: Dylan, Sophia, and Mason. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn. Ardent Venture Partners: With over 50 years combined of experience Ardent Venture Partners has proven time and again that the right combination of capital and active strategic support during the seed stage can create significant value and outsized returns for both Founders and investors. To learn more visit their website at  
Episode Description:  In episode 7 of Season 3,  Matt and Rob speak with Lee Hower, co-founder and Partner of NextView Ventures.  Lee has spent his career as an entrepreneur and investor in early-stage software and internet startups.  In this episode, you'll learn more on Lee's early days at PayPal alongside Elon Musk, to co-founding LinkedIn and moving back to the east coast to start his venture career at PJC.  You’ll hear more on his experience starting NextView Ventures, the biggest challenges he has faced with NextView and what has surprised him the most being in venture for over 10 years.  What is Uncovered: What it was like starting Fund I at NextViewThe parallels of running a startup and raising money as a VCWhat it was like to receive that first LP commitment How Lee's experience in tech has influenced his experience in VentureThe most surprising thing about starting a venture fund The biggest challenge Lee has faced over the last 10 years at NextView Learn more about: Lee Hower: Lee is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has spent his entire career as an entrepreneur and investor in early-stage software and internet startups.Lee started his career as an early employee of PayPal in product and business development roles, through the company’s 2002 IPO and sale to eBay. After PayPal, Lee was a co-founder of LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) and served as head of corporate development during the company’s early years.Lee began his VC career at PJC, a Boston-based early-stage VC firm, where he was a Principal and helped to build the firm’s internet investment practice. At PJC Lee led investments in and served as a board director of Multiply (acq. by Naspers) and FanIQ.Lee graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Management & Technology program, with a BAS in Systems Engineering and a BS Economics from the Wharton School. He was selected as Wharton’s Commencement Speaker in 2000. He lives with his wife and small daughter and splits his time between Boston and San Francisco.Connect with Lee on LinkedIn. NextView Ventures: Seed stage investors who champion founders who want to redesign the Everyday Economy.  NextView keeps their number of deals small and platform offerings expansive so they can help their portfolio with what matters most at the seed-stage. Check out their full pitch deck: Quote rom Lee: “People come up with all kinds of sports analogies as to what early-stage VC and investing is like and the best one that I've said is it's kind of like baseball: a hybrid between the base running coach whose standing at third base and the talent-scout.  The 3rd base coach gives perspective and input to the founders, who are the ones who are actually building and running the companies. Sometimes they listen to our advice, sometimes they don't, but hopefully the third base coach can see the whole field and see what’s happening and offer that perspective to go around third base and head for home or not. The talent scouting part of it is identifying really exceptional people who sometimes have ideas that seem unusual at the very early stage.” 
Episode Summary:In this episode of Season 3 of the “Entrepreneurial Side of VC” hosts Matt Hayes and Rob May speak with David Martirano, Managing Partner of PJC.  Tune in to learn more on his 20+ year career in venture and how its evolved over the years as well as the current trends within venture capital today.  What is Uncovered:The differences between raising capital for a VC fund versus a startup The ​​parallels between managing and running a venture fund and managing and running a startup as a CEOThe evolution of venture over a 20 year span from rising hedge fund activity in venture, to an increase in unicorn companies to the IPO market and SPACsThe J curve and David’s experience fundraising for funds II and IIICurrent key trends that are going to require venture capitalists to continue to adapt, grow and change Partnerships vs solo capitalists and the pros and cons of both PJC’s first-time founder focus and why it's been successful over the years Learn more about: David Martirano: David Martirano is the Managing Partner of PJC. David has extensive experience investing broadly in B2B SaaS, Consumer and Tech Enabled Service companies.In 2001, David partnered with Governor Gina Raimondo, and together they founded Point Judith Capital in Rhode Island.  Point Judith Capital subsequently relocated to Boston in 2011 and later rebranded to PJC.  Prior to PJC, David Co-founded Rex Capital Ventures, which was a venture division of a family office that invested in early stage technology companies around the world.  Before embarking on his 20-year venture capital experience, he worked on Wall street and was a member of the Investment Banking Group at Cowen & Company.  David sits on the Board of Trustees at the University of Rhode Island and the Investment Committee of Lifespan and has been actively involved with Year Up Rhode Island.For fun David punishes himself by playing golf and working on his golf game (not well), in addition, to skiing and other outdoor activities with his kids.  Connect with David on LinkedIn. PJC: PJC is an early stage venture capital firm investing in innovative, high-growth companies that are building technology to disrupt the status quo. The firm seeks to be the first institutional capital deployed into a company and is focused on being a true partner to entrepreneurs as they drive their companies toward becoming industry leaders in their respective categories. The firm has invested in over 100 companies across North America including notable companies like Expensify, Nest, Blockfi, GetWellNetwork, Nexamp, and Yandex. PJC was founded in 2001 and is based in Boston, MA. For more information, visit episode was recorded in September of 2021. 
Episode Summary:Virginie Raphael is the Founder and Managing Partner of FullCircle, a pre-seed fund focused on the structural changes required to create a better workforce and closing the incentive alignment gap.  In this episode, Matt and Marissa talk with Virginie about her path to venture, her motivation for starting FullCircle (first launched in June of 2021) and her passion for helping companies at the earliest stages with FullCircle’s perpetual fund structure.  What is Uncovered: Virginie’s unexpected journey to venture FullCircle’s perpetual fund structure The strategies and challenges with fundraising for a perpetual fund What her first LP commitment was like The parallels between fundraising for a startup and a venture fund Learn More About:Virginie Raphael Virginie Raphael is obsessed with serving founders at the earliest stages and passionate about finding ways to better align founders and funders.Virginie launched FullCircle to scale the impact of her work with a perpetual fund structure to invest in a better workforce.Prior to founding FullCircle, Virginie was a Managing Director at Tusk Ventures where she was an early employee and spent eight years advising and investing in early-stage founders operating in highly regulated industries. Before Tusk, Virginie honed her analytical and financial skills as a banker at Lehman Brothers/Barclays. French born, she was swept away by New York’s resilient entrepreneurship culture and enduring optimism.  Connect with Virginie on LinkedIn and Twitter. FullCircle: FullCircle is an early-stage venture firm investing at pre-seed out of a perpetual fund. We serve founders as trusted long-term partners with shared values and a startup mentality.We invest up to $250k into initial rounds ranging $500k-$1.5M.​We are highly collaborative and network-driven, co-investing with the angels and small early-stage funds you want around the table.​We are passionate about the changing composition of the workforce.​We see an overlooked opportunity to build technologies serving the needs of working caregivers, deskless workers in traditionally low-tech industries, as well as independent workers.​We value trust and transparency above all else.​We align with you right from the start as your most insightful, transparent and candid partner in executing your vision with clarity and focus.Learn more about FullCircle on their website.Quotes from Virginie: “VC is a team sport, especially at pre-seed. Those rounds are going to be syndicated out, so if you want to be a repeat player, you have to be able to be collaborative." “I love collaborating with other firms whom I know our values are aligned with and treat founders the same way I would want them to be treated.”
Episode Summary:Vishal Vasishth is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Obvious Ventures, founded in 2014, and investing in both early and growth stage companies.  In this episode we speak with Vishal on his path to starting Obvious Ventures - from his time at Patagonia which greatly influenced the way he thought about brand and culture to his entrepreneurial path focused on how to solve real problems in the world.  Tune into this episode to learn more on the parallels between building a company and venture funding, the importance of a clear focused thesis and how to build trust with key stakeholders. What is Uncovered: Vishal’s journey to starting Obvious Ventures The process and experience of getting those first few LPs to invest  The biggest difference between being a venture capitalist and an entrepreneur The parallels between venture capital and starting a companyBiggest challenge running Obvious Ventures thus far How Obvious Ventures is growing and differentiating themselves in a competitive VC landscape Learn More About:Vishal VasishthVishal invests in values-driven founders and companies that dramatically improve healthcare outcomes, create more human-centered financial systems, and reimagine consumer services from the ground up.He leads Obvious’ investments in full-stack healthcare with Virta, Galileo, and Devoted Health; financial technology startups such as Hedvig, One, Corvus, and Openly; and purpose-led consumer services like Good Eggs and Block Renovation.Before co-founding Obvious, Vishal was the founding partner of Indian-based fund SONG Investment Advisors. He also served as a senior executive at Steve Case’s Revolution, LLC. Prior to his career as an investor, Vishal spent a decade at outdoor gear and apparel retailer Patagonia, in roles ranging from product manager to Chief Strategy Officer. He was selected as a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a Next Generation Fellow of the American Assembly, both recognizing value-based leadership. Vishal earned a B. Tech degree in India, an MS from North Carolina State University, and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.Vishal grew up in the fast growing city of Chandigarh, India. He is an avid cricket fan and aspiring batsman.Connect with Vishal on LinkedIn Obvious Ventures: Obvious is a venture capital firm investing in startups reimagining trillion-dollar industries through a world positive lens. Our three investment pillars are Sustainable Systems, Healthy Living, and People Power. We invest at both early and growth stages. Learn more by visiting their website at On raising money for follow-on investments: “It's a journey. I think it's similar to building companies and operating companies, which is ultimately building trust.  You need to be building trust with all the stakeholders, including internal teams, external teams, customers, and showing progress, day after day, which enables you to get more people involved in your tribe.” “You are becoming better by doing the things which have brought success and learning from the failures” 
Episode Summary: In our third episode of Season 3, Matt joins forces with Marissa Millbury, VP at PJC,  to speak with Abby Miller Levy, Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Primetime Partners.   We learn more on how she went from wellness entrepreneur to founding Primetime Partners in 2020 which is focused on the trillion dollar global sector of Aging.   A powerful conversation around this particular sector that is ripe for innovation. What is Uncovered: The catalyst behind Primetime Partners Why Abby went from writing business plans for older adults to instead starting her own VC fundThe strategic steps she took to get Primetime Partners off the ground What surprised her the most with fundraising The staggering statistics around our aging population & the enormous amount of white space in this sector The biggest challenges Abby has faced thus far with starting Primetime Learn More About: Abby Miller Levy: Abby is the Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Primetime Partners.  Abby has spent her career helping businesses and consumer brands grow as an operator, entrepreneur and advisor, most notably in the wellness sector. Prior to Primetime Partners, Abby was an executive at SoulCycle, where she oversaw business development and revenue growth outside the consumer studio business, with an emphasis on building new digital products as the Senior Vice President of Strategy & Growth. Abby has also been a Founder herself, teaming with Arianna Huffington to launch Thrive Global, a behavior change technology company focused on employee productivity and wellness. Abby served as President of Thrive Global and remains on the Thrive Board. Abby began her career at McKinsey & Company then led product development at OXO International. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School.  Connect with Abby on LinkedIn.  Primetime Partners: Primetime is an early-stage venture capital fund that invests in, and builds from the ground up, companies that can transform the quality of living for older adults.They support the founders and organizations that create meaningful new products, services and experiences in the under-served, trillion dollar global sector of Aging.  They accelerate business growth through their direct-to-consumer marketing expertise,  their strategic distribution partners, synergies across portfolio companies and an engaged network of advisors. Also core to their mission, is to unlock the talent and expertise of experienced older adults as founders and business builders.  Follow on:  LinkedIn.  Quotes from Abby: "Don’t discredit anyone’s questions or criticism. I think it's really easy to say, ‘oh, they just don't get it.’ Or, you know, ‘screw them’ or whatever else it is, but actually, in the critiques is where you can learn the most.  I felt that way when I fundraised in the past and I still feel like it raises your game to get that criticism and feedback.” “The emotional reaction of being told no still takes getting used to, even if you have been successful and are prepared and know the stats of first time funds” “Fifty percent of Americans are going to run out of money and no one's dealing with it or talking about it. There's only two million senior living beds in our country. How are people going to age in place? There are just tons of macro issues that entrepreneurs can help solve.”
Episode Summary: Join us for episode 2 where we speak with Managing Director and Co-founder of General Catalyst Partners, David Fialkow.  In this episode, we learn more about David’s journey from documentary filmmaker to venture capitalist and the common thread they share.   What is Uncovered: David’s unique path to starting General Catalyst alongside his long time friend Joel CutlerThe importance of mentorship and following your passion The lessons that Joel and David learned while starting their own travel company (last-minute travel) The story behind David signing up and completing his first Ironman with only 90 days of training  Why David and Joel saw themselves as B entrepreneurs and how this realization was the impetus to starting GC Partners What makes a successful VC firm and GC’s early wins The common thread between founding a venture capital firm, a start-up, and creating documentary films. Learn More About:David Fialkow is a co-founder and managing director of General Catalyst, a venture capital firm that partners with founders from seed to growth stage to build companies that withstand the test of time.  David's focus areas include financial services, digital health AI and data analytics, as well as leading General Catalyst’s XIR program. His portfolio of investments includes Casana, Catalant, Crossfit, CLEAResult (acquired by General Atlantic), Datalogix (acquired by Oracle), Datto (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), Highwinds (acquired by StackPath), NotCo, OGSystems (acquired by Parsons Corporation), PathAI, TrueMotion, and Vitrue (acquired by Oracle).Before going into business, David studied film at Colgate University, earned a law degree from Boston College and made documentary films. David has raised millions in dollars in philanthropy to support kids’ programs by biking, running, climbing, and rowing. He and his wife Nina produce documentary films focused on social justice. Their film Icarus won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2018. His non-profit boards include Facing History and Ourselves, The Pan-Mass Challenge (former chairman), the Dean's Advisory Council at the MIT School of Engineering, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is chair of the Investment Advisory Committee of The Engine (launched by MIT).Select Current Investments: Casana, Catalant, CrossFit, Elysium, NotCo, Outdoor Voices, PathAI, and TrueMotionAlumni Investments: BBN Technologies (acquired by Raytheon), CLEAResult (acquired by General Atlantic), Datalogix (acquired by Oracle), Datto (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), Highwinds (acquired by StackPath), Index (acquired by Stripe), OGSystems (acquired by Parsons Corp.), Rue La La (acquired by GSI Commerce), Vitrue (acquired by Oracle)Education: BA Fine Arts from Colgate University; JD from Boston CollegeGeneral Catalyst: General Catalyst is a venture capital firm that provides early-stage and growth equity investments. They provide ongoing momentum that accelerates ideas, careers, and companies toward standout success. They create the ideal conditions for growth, surround clients with the right people, and offer mentorship based on deep experience.To date, General Catalyst has managed eight venture capital funds totaling approximately $3.75 billion in capital commitments.Quotes from David Fialkow: “Founders need empathy to drive their vision and dreams." “Great firms are defined by great funds and great funds are defined by great companies” “In order to win, you need people to win with, nobody is so good that they can do it on their own.” 
Episode Summary: Our first guest of Season 3 is Ian Rountree, Founder of Cantos.  Ian grew up the son of a Marine and a public school English teacher from South Florida.  He was introduced to VC at an early age while visiting his aunt in the bay area who was married to a venture capitalist.  Although Ian’s interest in venture capital came at an early age, his trajectory to starting Cantos zig zagged as he went from graduating with a degree in political science to then working in the nonprofit industry.   Ian’s passion to solve big world problems at scale however led him back to business and finance and working at SoFi.  This ultimately led him to what he calls earning a street MBA in VC, where he began to invest his savings in various startups, 11 to be exact, for which one made it big.  The success of this company led him to starting his own VC fund. To learn more about Ian, his experience starting Cantos and fundraising be sure to tune into this episode and conversation.  What is Uncovered: Ian’s path to starting Cantos How Ian generated deal flow at SoFi and expanded his network for potential LPs Ian’s first LP Commitment and how it felt to write a check on behalf of someone else The parallels of starting a VC fund and being an early stage founderThe differences between being told ‘No’ from a LP or investor vs. a VC passing on startups The VC 3.0 community and how it helps emerging managersLearn more about: Ian Rountree: Ian started making angel investments in 2012 while on the early teams at SoFi and then Invisible Technologies. He founded Cantos in 2016 to continue backing world-positive startups at pre-seed and seed. In 2018 Cantos went all-in on "near frontier" startups across cutting edge hardware and wetware with a focus on billion-dollar opportunities in mitigating disease, climate change, poverty, conflict, and existential risk. Cantos manages roughly $50M across several entities, typically investing $500K to $1M, and prefers to be a startup's first investor. Cantos:  Cantos is a first-round venture capital firm with $50 million under management that invests where the innovation curve casts previously intractable problems in new light –– where new technology might positively impact billions. At a time when venture capital has become synonymous with growth equity, we exist to take the first steps with founders on bold journeys that would have been impossible just years prior. That is, to return venture capital to its roots. Areas of focus: Clean Tech, Bio + AI, and Aerospace
Episode Summary: In our final episode of this season we speak with Miguel Vega who is a partner at Cooley LLP.  Miguel has been practicing law for 27 years representing clients in the technology and life sciences space.  He has worked on M&A transactions of all sizes and provides great advice for both CEOs looking to sell their company and buyers.  You will discover the common mistakes each player can make, when to start engaging with a lawyer, and the ins & outs of what goes into a M&A deal from a lawyer’s perspective. What is Uncovered: Miguel’s background in law & the interesting complexities that M&A deals bring How the M&A team is set-up at Cooley When a startup should bring on an attorney: pre-LOI or during LOI The importance of having your legal records in order as you scale your company Miguel’s tactical advice to his clients who have never sold a company before The percentage of deals that go through post LOI The common issues or requests that have surprised CEOs the most as they go through the buying processThe common mistakes that acquirers make that cause deals to fall apart How Miguel positions himself between an acquirer and buyer when things can get contentious The 3 trends Miguel has seen change over the last 10 years  Learn more about: Miguel VegaMiguel J. Vega is the Head of the Boston Business & Finance Group.  His practice focuses on the representation of private and public companies in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, divestitures and financing transactions. He also advises public companies on SEC compliance, stockholder activism and corporate governance. Miguel has worked on more than 200 M&A transactions, over a career that has spanned more than 27 years.Miguel has been recognized in Massachusetts Super Lawyers each year since 2005. He has also been named as one of the leading corporate lawyers in the United States by the peer review and legal directory, The Best Lawyers in America, 2011 – 2019 editions. Since 2017, Miguel has been recognized by Chambers USA as a leader in the Corporate/M&A category. Cooley: Cooley LLP is an American international law firm, headquartered in Palo Alto, California with offices worldwide.  Clients partner with Cooley on transformative deals, complex IP and regulatory matters and high-stakes litigation, where innovation meets the law. Quotes from Miguel: “There are things that can be cleaned up before the transaction commences, which will make the process a lot easier.”“Leverage matters very much in terms of transaction terms.” "If you're selling your company to one of the big tech companies it is truly a 24/7 effort that requires the internal team to intensely focus on that transaction and can leave limited time to keep running the business” “We encourage our clients to let us take the bullets for them during negotiations and be the intermediary in discussions”This episode was recorded on October 20, 2020 
Episode Summary: On Episode 10 we speak with Emeka Iffih, who is the Head of Strategic Planning & Corporate Development at Commvault.  Emeka has been in corporate development for over 20 years and in this episode we learn more on his role at Commvault, how they approach investments vs M&A and the common mistakes entrepreneurs make that cause deals to fall apart.  We also hear more on how Emeka got started in corporate development and his advice for others looking to pursue a career in this field. What is Uncovered: Commvault’s focus & strategy when it comes to M&A and investing in startups Fielding vs Hunting - how Commvault finds opportunities  What the corporate development process looks like at Commvault The common mistakes that entrepreneurs make that cause them to walk away from a deal The number one reason why deals typically don’t meet their full potential Cultural fit when it comes to M&A vs investments Emeka’s path to corporate development and his advice for those looking to pursue a career in this field. Learn more about: Emeka Iffih:Emeka Iffih has 15+ years of experience as a technologist and strategist. He enjoys working in the nexus of technology, strategy and business. He leads strategic planning and corporate development at Commvault. Emeka is the father of four, an avid reader and podcast listener, and is nuts about soccer ( or football to those outside the US).Commvault: Commvault's data protection and information management solutions provide mid- and enterprise-level organizations worldwide with a significantly better way to get value from their data Commvault can help companies protect, access and use all of their data, anywhere and anytime, turning data into a powerful strategic asset.This episode was recorded on October 16th, 2020 
Episode Summary: Tune into this episode to hear from Kevin Spain, General Partner at Emergence Capital. Kevin’s background in both VC and corporate development over the last 20 years brings a unique perspective on how M&A have changed, the trends he is seeing in this space along with great advice for entrepreneurs looking to go public. What is Uncovered: How the landscape of M&A has changed over the last 20 years Kevin’s advice to startups who are looking to make the M&A process go smoothly Why startups shouldn’t be focusing their energy on exiting and instead should stay focused on building an amazing business and culture Advantages and disadvantages of SPACS vs traditional IPOs The trends Kevin is seeing in the VC space as it relates to IPOs The common mistakes entrepreneurs make when negotiating with a buyer Financial vs strategic acquisitionsAdvice to founders as they get approached from buyersLearn more about: Kevin Spain: Working closely in a team of equals is what drew Kevin to Emergence. The mission of the firm excited him, and he loved the culture they wanted to build.Early in his career, he co-founded and was CEO of Founding and running a company in the heat of the dot-com bubble was an exciting and challenging experience that strongly influenced his decision to ultimately enter the venture business. Today, he enjoys the high of creating new businesses vicariously through the entrepreneurs he invests in.He has also spent time as a senior member of the corporate development teams at Microsoft, and was part of the group that launched Electronic Arts’ original online gaming business. During that part of his career, he learned an incredible amount about digital media, online services, and software businesses from some of the most successful executives in the technology industry.Kevin earned his MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a graduate of the Kauffman Fellows Program.As a native Texan and foodie, he’s always trying to find great barbecue and southern food joints (though unfortunately there are few in the Bay Area). Kevin lives in Palo Alto and loves spending time with his wife and two sons.Emergence CapitalQuotes: “The best companies that we have worked with at Emergence don’t think about exits, they’re focused on solving a huge problem for their customers, building an outstanding business, and a great culture.” On assimilating into a larger corporation: “How you show up in those meetings and your willingness to demonstrate that you can actually shift and work successfully in that kind of environment is something that I know acquirers are assessing.”“An IPO is a little bit of a rite of passage, it forces you to grow up, forces you to think about how much you can grow and serve your customers in ways you haven’t before, when staying private doesn’t necessarily force you to do” On counseling companies on selling or not selling: “I listen to the entrepreneur very intently when it comes to decisions like this. They're the founders of the company, they had the vision for this company initially…. what is it in their guts that they really want to do or are drawn to?”“I think the real key is you've got to be in an area that is deemed highly strategic and just an absolute top priority for a company, and if you’re in that range, then you can expect a strategic deal rather than a financial deal. “This episode was recorded on October 14, 2020
Episode Summary:On episode 8, Matt and Rob speak with Leigh Price, Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy at IBM.  Leigh has over 30 years in the industry and has overseen just north of 400 purchases at IBM.  In this episode you will learn everything from the strategies IBM takes with acquisitions, how the corporate development team is organized and the importance of culture & integrity in this business.  Leigh also shares his advice for entrepreneurs looking to build a relationship with IBM & why deals can often fall apart in this business. Heads up: At the beginning of this episode Rob says, the undercovered podcast.  Please ignore this blooper, and continue listening to hear more on this episode of the Uncovered Podcast. :) What is Uncovered: How the corporate development team is organized at IBM Where the vast majority of deals are sourced from Leigh’s advice for entrepreneurs looking to work with IBM How IBM’s culture has changed over the years and the importance of the soft elements during an integration An example of trust being compromised and why integrity in this business means everything. The importance of good business hygiene for startups & why more companies should be spending their time in this area The common reasons deals fall apart from the buyer’s perspective Learn more about: Leigh Price: Leigh Price is Vice President, Corporate Development Strategy at IBM where he is responsible for leading the development of IBM’s worldwide inorganic strategy including acquisitions and divestitures.  Previously, Leigh was the Vice President of Intellectual Property for IBM, leading its patent and research licensing businesses, contributing nearly $500M to IBM profit.  Before that he spent nearly 15 years in IBM Corporate Development leading both acquisition and divestiture transactions.  His deal sheet numbers over 50 transactions with an aggregate transaction value nearing $20B.Before IBM, Leigh was the CFO and COO of Zucotto Wireless, Inc., a semiconductor startup focusing on Java IP, based in San Diego, California.  While at Zucotto, Leigh raised $42M in 4 private equity financings involving both equity and debt.  Leigh holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business.IBM: IBM is a leading cloud platform and cognitive solutions company. Restlessly reinventing since 1911, we are the largest technology and consulting employer in the world, with more than 350,000 employees serving clients in 170 countries. With Watson, the AI platform for business, powered by data, we are building industry-based solutions to real-world problems. For more than seven decades, IBM Research has defined the future of information technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents. For more information, visit from Leigh: “We take a particular focus on culture and change, it’s actually a discreet stream in our due diligence and is taken seriously.” “M&A is a relationship business, and trust is an important part of any M&A deal and I’ve been in deals where that trust has been compromised, and I will never forget those.” “Integrity in my mind is everything in this business” “If both parties want to get a deal done, they will find a way”This episode was recorded on October 2, 2020 
Episode Summary:In episode 7, we speak with John Swanciger, who runs strategic alliances at Toast.  John shares the unique path that brought him to corporate development after many years working in tech as a C-level executive, and his advice for others who are considering corporate development. He discusses what it has been like joining Toast after its first acquisition, and how the team thinks about staying true to Toast’s culture with the partnerships they pursue.   What is Uncovered: John’s path to Toast and why he became interested in corporate development The 3 buckets to corporate development: corporate development strategy, deal execution, and integration  How Toast thinks about corporate development and the bucket they spend most of their time in these days Inbound vs Outbound and how Toast thinks about building relationships The lessons John has learned thus far at Toast and being part of the post-integration process John’s thoughts on how COVID-19 has impacted the restaurant business and if there have been changes to the way acquisitions are looked at within their market Advice to listeners looking to pursue a career in corporate development Learn More About:John Swanciger John Swanciger leads Business and Corporate Development at Toast. He is a proven results-driven executive with over 20 years of experience building and growing innovative businesses globally. Recognized as a creative thought leader skilled in structuring and managing high-value partnerships from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Previously, John was CEO of Manta (acquired in 2018) and held leadership positions at Starwood Hotels, Hotwire, and Switchfly. He holds a BS in Finance from Boston College.Toast Launched in 2013, Toast powers successful restaurants of all sizes with a technology platform that combines restaurant POS, front of house, back of house and guest-facing technology with a diverse marketplace of third-party applications. By pairing technology with an unrivaled commitment to customer success, Toast helps restaurants streamline operations, increase revenue and deliver amazing guest experiences. Toast was named to the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50, 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Finals, 2018 Forbes Cloud 100, and recognized as the third fastest-growing technology company in North America on the 2017 Deloitte Fast 500. Learn more at from John: In regards to the Integration process:“Most importantly we haven’t changed our culture and values with serving the customer first.  If an issue arises and requires more support we have always followed through on that promise to deliver.” In regards to COVID-19:  “The Big question here is what does it look like post-vaccine and post-vaccine plus 6 months.  It used to be a multi-year plan and now I view it as “in COVID” and “after COVID.”  Nobody knows what that may look like. I don’t think we are any different than a lot of the businesses and that whatever the next phase of this looks like, we need to be prepared for it.” On a career in corporate development: “In corporate development a lot of us have banking, consulting or finance backgrounds. There are also a lot of product people who are coming into corporate development because they are often involved in diligence process, which is how it started for me” This episode was recorded on September 23, 2020. 
Episode Summary:On episode 6, Matt and Rob speak with Charlie Burckmyer, Director of M&A and Corporate Development at Culligan International.  We learn more about how an M&A deal looks at a company with over 80 years of delivering water filtration & softener products.  Charlie discusses the types of companies Culligan looks to acquire and how that has changed over the years, new technologies emerging within the industry, how acquisition sizes and valuations differ from traditional software companies and the key skills to have to follow a career path to corporate development. What is Uncovered: How the corporate development team is structured at Culligan Details on Charlie’s role & the type of work he focuses on Why deals may fall apart and the importance and value of your word How Culligan thinks about acquisitions and the type of new technologies within water filtration and softening that have impacted the way they think about M&AThe type of acquisition sizes and valuations a company like Culligan looks at compared to those that VCs and other firms are looking at with tech companies How Culligan focuses on high quality teams with high quality products to become satellites of Culligan rather than doing heavy integration Learn More About:Charlie Burckmyer: Charlie Burckmyer serves Director for Culligan International’s global Corporate Development team, a role he’s held since early 2017. Charlie joined Culligan from JMC, a middle-market Private Equity fund based in Boston. He began his principal investing career in 2008 following a successful early career in sales leadership. He and his family live on the North Shore of Boston.Culligan International: Water touches everything in your home. For over 80 years, Culligan Water has been making that water cleaner, soft, and delicious for your friends, neighbors, and probably even your grandparents. Culligan Water provides the best in water softening and filtration technology. Let’s see what Culligan Water can do for your home. You could give your people Culligan Water. This episode was recorded on September 17th, 2020 
Episode Summary:Hilary Shirazi may have had a more traditional path to corporate development, but it wasn’t what she had planned.  On this episode we learn more about Hilary’s various roles in corporate development from being an early member of LinkedIn's Corporate Development team and working through the Microsoft acquisition to her role at Zendesk today.  We uncover more on how she thinks about building relationships, how corporate development differs at Zendesk, and advice for entrepreneurs looking to get acquired.  What is Uncovered: Why the skills you acquire in your career take precedence over your previous job roles Why Hilary decided to move to the west coast after several years in NYC and what led her to work at LinkedIn The corporate development structure at Zendesk The 3 stages of the corporate development funnel How you get on a potential buyers radar & why it’s not always the corporate development team you should reach out to The fine line between sharing too much and sharing too little The red flags to look out for at pre & post-term sheet stages When to make the decision on M&A or raising another round, and why your chances of getting acquired become smaller as you grow Learn More About:Hilary Shirazi: Hilary Shirazi is Director of Corporate Development at Zendesk. Previously, she held senior roles at LinkedIn and InVision after years of growth investing at Spectrum Equity in internet and software companies such as Grubhub and She is also an active angel investor and was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 for her work in education technology.Zendesk: Zendesk is a service-first CRM company that builds support, sales, and customer engagement software designed to foster better customer relationships. From large enterprises to start-ups, we believe that powerful, innovative customer experience should be within reach for every company, no matter the size, industry or ambition.  Zendesk serves more than 150,000 customers across hundreds of industries in over 30 languages. Zendesk is headquartered in San Francisco, and operates offices worldwide. This episode was recorded on September 11, 2020.
Episode Summary:On our 4th episode of Season 2, Matt and Rob connect with Brandon Greer, Manager of Corporate Development at HubSpot.  We chat with Brandon on his experience from investing and helping  SaaS teams in VC to working in partnerships and leading the venture arm at HubSpot.  We uncover more on how HubSpot invests and what makes their venture arm unique.  It’s a great episode for entrepreneurs to listen to and gain a better perspective on how corporate development works at a company like HubSpot and how to establish a rapport early on with potential buyers. What is Uncovered: Brandon's journey from investing at Openview to working in corporate development at HubSpot The main differences between venture investing at a tech company vs investing at a VC firmHubSpot’s investment strategyHunting vs Fielding inquiries: what has worked best at HubSpot Brandon’s thoughts on who should be managing the conversation when it comes to investing Why deals can slow down and fall apart How data from HubSpot’s integration partners provide early signals on where and how to invest at HubSpot  How a startup should best prepare for an acquisition or merger - and how early you should be thinking about it Brandon’ thoughts on strategic vs financial buyers and what entrepreneurs should think about before selling Learn More About:Brandon Greer: Brandon sits on on HubSpot's Corporate Development & Strategy team, where he manages the HubSpot Ventures portfolio, strategic acquisitions, and works with HubSpot’s core technology partners. Together, with the business development, product, and strategy teams, Brandon manages the pre-and-post investment process for HubSpot Ventures. Previously, Brandon worked as an Associate at OpenView Venture Partners, a software-focused VC fund based in Boston.  He holds a Bachelors of Science in Applied Economics from Cornell University. @bmarshallg on Twitter HubSpot: HubSpot is a leading growth platform with thousands of customers around the world. Comprised of Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and a powerful free CRM, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to grow better. Our company culture builds connections, careers, and employee growth. How? By creating a workplace that values flexibility, autonomy, and transparency. If that sounds like something you’d like to be part of, we’d love to hear from you. To learn more about HubSpot, visit and to join our team, visit from Brandon: “The most exciting things happen to come from people who know the pain points really well”  “We don't do investments unless we have a vision for where we can work with this business in a really meaningful way."  “The types of companies that are most attractive are the ones that can augment the HubSpot experience and provide distinct value to our customer base” “We’ve got a lot of data points and data sources which is a really cool competitive advantage of a strategic venture arm” “There is this middle ground that everyone has to work to strike here, and you manage it like an active relationship and it should be nurtured”  “The more power I can place into an entrepreneur's hands, the happier I am, I think there's a two way relationship to be struck with any corporate conversation.”This episode was recorded on August 17, 2020.
Episode Summary: On this episode Rob and Matt speak with Scott Haylon, Director of Business and Corporate Development at Datadog.  This episode dives into Scott’s unique background & trajectory to corporate development, and is packed with advice for founders considering a merger or acquisition.  Scott also provides great insight into his role at Datadog and the secrets to success for a M&A and the road to an IPO.  What is Uncovered: How Scott’s role evolved over the last 3 years working in Corporate Development for Datadog Inbound vs. Outbound: How Datadog approaches mergers and acquisitions  Scott’s advice to entrepreneurs on how to have conversations early on with Corporate Development execs The key strategies Scott’s team uses to find the best companies to acquire or merge withWhy a company’s deal size may hinder or benefit buyers The most common mistakes founders & corporate development execs make that cause a deal to fall apart Financial vs strategic buyers: The advice Scott gives to founders looking to IPO & how it’s best to fully understand a buyers motives What post acquisition looks like at Datadog 7 key takeaways on what a founder should do ahead of a M&A Learn More About:Scott Haylon Datadog: Datadog has seen tremendous growth over the years and in August of 2019 went public and today is estimated to be a $31B market cap company.  Founded in 2010 with HQ in NYC, it is the essential monitoring platform for cloud applications. Datadog brings together data from servers, containers, databases, and third-party services to make your stack entirely observable.  These capabilities help DevOps teams avoid downtime, resolve performance issues, and ensure customers are getting the best user experience. Learn more on their website: This episode was recorded on August 11, 2020.
Episode Summary: Our first guest of Season 2 is Anders Bialek who talks to us about his role as VP of Strategy & Corporate Development at iRobot.  Tune in as Rob uncovers more about the ins and outs of working within corporate development as well as the strategies & secrets for both founders and corporate development teams to know ahead of a M&A. What is Uncovered: How Anders got started within corporate development at iRobot & the common tracks folks take towards this career How the team is structured at iRobot and what the day to day may look like for someone working within corporate development.  The benefits of having M&A & strategy teams work in tandem under corporate developmentThe importance of being proactive, clear on strategy with M&A teams and effectively  communicating with bankers on what you are looking for in terms of deals How the process of corp dev works specifically at iRobot & why establishing relationships and conversations early on is the best strategy for both parties Common things that cause deals to fall apart - from both the buyer and seller side Misconceptions on how M&A work and how the press can influence this misperception As a founder, to understand your valuation, control, and the expectations of your board members which can all have a profound impact on the M&A process Trends Anders is seeing within the consumer robotic space Is there a right time to sell? Why you should hire an advisor early on (whether it be a banker and/or board member whose been through M&A process) to help navigate conversations on purchasing Learn More About: Anders Bialek: Anders Bialek leads iRobot’s Corporate Development team which is responsible for Strategy, M&A, Partnerships and Venture Capital.  Prior to iRobot, Anders worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in Europe serving clients in a variety of industries including telecommunications, financial services and private equity.  Prior to management consulting, Anders spent several years in the technology sector in Boston, MA.  Anders holds an MBA from INSEAD and a BA from Hobart College.About iRobot: Founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists with the vision of making practical robots a reality, iRobot has sold more than 30 million robots worldwide. The company has developed some of the world's most important robots, and has a rich history steeped in innovation. Its robots have revealed mysteries of the Great Pyramid of Giza, found harmful subsea oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and saved thousands of lives in areas of conflict and crisis around the globe. iRobot inspired the first Micro Rovers used by NASA, changing space travel forever, deployed the first ground robots used by U.S. Forces in conflict, brought the first self-navigating FDA-approved remote presence robots to hospitals and introduced the first practical home robot with Roomba, forging a path for an entirely new category in home cleaning. With more than 30 years of leadership in the robot industry, iRobot remains committed to building robots that provide people with smarter ways to clean and accomplish more in their daily lives.This episode was recorded on March 10, 2020. 
Episode Summary: Join us for season two of The Uncovered Podcast where we explore the world of corporate development.  On our intro episode you’ll hear from PJC partners, Rob May, Matt Hayes and David Martirano as they discuss this past season’s episodes, the biggest takeaways and consistent lessons uncovered from the world of corporate development.   Find out more on what is uncovered in this season by tuning into this episode and stay up to date on the latest episodes by simply subscribing on your preferred directory.  We hope you enjoy. This season you'll hear from corporate development execs at iRobot, Toast, IBM, Datadog, Emergence Capital, HubSpot, Commvault, Cooley, Culligan International, and Zendesk! What is Uncovered in Season Two: The different roles of corporate development and the way teams are structured How much of corp dev is hunting vs fielding inbound requests How startups should prepare in advance to ensure a smooth M&A process What causes deals to fall apart When a startup should sell vs. continue to raise The best time to start talking to a corporate development team The pros and cons of strategic vs financial deals The different avenues that lead to a career in corporate development And much, more! 
Episode Summary: In our final episode we bring together Jana Eggers, CEO of Nara Logics, Scott Kirsner, Boston Globe columnist and CEO of Innovation Leader, and Dave Balter, CEO of Flipside Crypto, to discuss the question on every Boston entrepreneur’s mind: to build in Boston or Silicon Valley? This episode is a fun and enjoyable listen where you’ll get to hear each guest’s opinions and theories.Uncovered in this episode: The biggest differences between the two coasts when it comes to starting a businessScott’s take on why so many people who start to build in Boston end up leaving to go out West  Strategies for how to keep talented entrepreneurs in Boston The misconception that big companies aren’t made in BostonWhy we should stop overthinking things in Boston and “just dance”List of resources mentioned in episode:Articles written by Scott Kirsner: Logics website: Crypto website: Jana Eggers: Jana brings over 25 years of technology and leadership experience to Nara Logics from Intuit, Lycos, American Airlines, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and startups that you’ve never heard of. Jana is a frequent speaker, writer, and mentor on AI and startups. She is also a marathoner (most recently completing Boston) and an Ironman.About Scott Kirsner: Scott Kirsner has written a weekly column for the Boston Globe since 2000, and before that helped the Globe launch its digital publishing division with Scott Cohen and Frank Hertz, his co-founders at Innovation Leader.Scott has also been a contributing writer for Wired Magazine, Fast Company, Variety, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, and other publications. He is the author of several books on innovation and technology, including “Inventing the Movies,” which explores the challenge of bringing new ideas to a century-old, change-resistant industry: Hollywood.Scott has presented leadership strategies to corporate leaders, technologists and entrepreneurs at Harvard Business School, the MIT R&D Conference, South by Southwest, the Consumer Electronics Show, HubSpot Inbound, Tijuana Inovadora, the Connected Health Symposium, and the NAB Futures Summit. Scott has also appeared on NBC's Today Show, NPR's Science Friday, the Discovery Channel, and WBUR's Radio Boston.About Dave Balter: Dave has been active in the cryptocurrency space for years, and has learned invaluable lessons from not buying during crypto winters and at least one wallet loss.Previously, Dave was the CEO and co-founder of Smarterer, a machine-learning skills assessment company acquired by Pluralsight in 2014. Post-acquisition, Dave was the Head of Transactions at Pluralsight, while also serving as a Board Observer.Before co-founding Smarterer in 2010, Dave founded and was CEO of BzzAgent, a social media marketing company, which was acquired by dunnhumby, a division of Tesco(PLC) in 2011. From 2011 - 2014 Dave sat on the Global Executive Team at dunnhumby, where he led all venture investments and M&A activity.Dave sits on the Board of AdHawk, is an investor and/or advisor to more than 50 startups and is Vice Chairman of Boch Center for the Performing Arts, a nonprofit steward of iconic venues, providing arts, entertainment, cultural, and educational experiences to the greater Boston community.
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