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upside

Author: Jay Clouse and Eric Hornung

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Named a top 27 business podcast by Fortune, upside examines startup investing outside of Silicon Valley.

Every Wednesday, we speak with an early stage founder. We interview them as if we are angel investors considering the company as an investment opportunity.

Each show has three segments:

1.) Intro: independent research of the company
2.) Interview: interview with the founder
3.) Debrief: breaking down the opportunity

Sometimes, we share Coffee Chats interviewing venture capitalists, community builders, and later-stage founders.

Subscribe and see why Business Insider called our podcast "Almost as Good as Getting an MBA."
109 Episodes
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Interview begins: 6:49Debrief begins: 47:27Ellie Symes is the co-founder and CEO of The Bee Corp.The Bee Corp is a startup focusing on improving and creating sustainable methods for commercial bee pollination. Based in Indianapolis, The Bee Corp offers commercial beekeepers and growers a technical application called Verifli that tracks beekeeping strategies at a quick and cost-effective rate.Ellie and her co-founder began the idea for the company after starting a beekeeping club in college. They have since received two grants to continue their passion for creating sustainable solutions for the environment.We discuss:- Ad (5:26)- Ellie's beekeeping experience (11:55)- Natural vs commercial hives (14:47)- Business progression from a college club (17:59)- Overview of beekeeping industry and how Verifli fits in (19:22)- Verifli cost-effectiveness (29:14)- Bee endangerment and the future of beekeeping (33:20)- Verifli app walk-through (36:57)- Market network (39:40)- Bee Corp's older business model (42:09)- Indianapolis location (43:54)- Upside Listener Survey (46:14)The Bee Corp was founded in 2016 and based in Indianapolis, Indiana.Learn more about The Bee Corp: https://www.thebeecorp.com/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/survey--This episode is sponsored by Integrity Power Search, the #1 full stack high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts. They partner with venture capitalists, private equity groups and CEOs to build amazing teams for the world’s most disrupting companies.Learn more about or get in touch with Integrity Power Search: https://upside.fm/integrity
Interview starts: 6:38Debrief starts: 43:48Greg Robinson is the Managing Director of 4490 Ventures.4490 Ventures is an early stage venture fund based in Madison Wisconsin that invests in Midwest, tech based companies. Founded in 2014, 4490 Ventures aims $5-8 million per investment, and their portfolio includes companies such as EatStreet, Abodo, and SwervePay.Before 4490 Ventures, Greg served as the Managing Director at Peninsula Ventures and also co-founded Cogent Technologies, an enterprise software company. In today's episode, he shares with us his insights into working in different areas of the country and how these various landscapes change the investment game.We discuss:- Ad: Improved methods to sourcing talent and finding new colleagues- Lessons learned from founding a successful company (10:05)- Differences in software investment today vs. then (13:10)- Operating experience in VCs (15:45)- VC experience from Bay Area to Wisconsin (17:25)- Expectations vs. reality when investing in software (25:23)- Investment strategy (31:50)- Adding a partner to the strategy (38:07)- 4490 name (40:20)- What sucks about podcasts (Upside Listener Survey) (41:20)- Classifieds: resources devoted to Midwestern startups (42:20)Learn more about 4490 Ventures: http://4490ventures.com/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/surveyCheck out the Midwest Startup Rankings: https://midweststartups.com/cities/--This episode is sponsored by Integrity Power Search, the #1 full stack high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts. They partner with venture capitalists, private equity groups and CEOs to build amazing teams for the world’s most disrupting companies.Learn more about or get in touch with Integrity Power Search: https://upside.fm/integrity
Interview begins: 6:15Debrief begins: 47:49Everett Berry is the CEO and founder of Perceive, an experience-analysis computer vision software designed to give companies an automated method for analyzing business in a physical space.Everett began forming his idea for Perceive six years ago during his freshman year in college when he would peruse the campus's video feeds. Having since received several grants for his company, Everett currently runs Perceive out of Indianapolis and hopes to expand his team in the near future.Everett discusses his insights on the recent changes in the events, retail, and restaurant businesses and how Perceive is providing companies an efficient and dynamic analysis of their customer experience through video analytics.We discuss:- Ad: Improved methods to sourcing talent and finding new possible colleagues (4:58)- Challenges in computer vision, AI, and what Perceive does (8:05)- Perceive's story of becoming a company (14:55)- NSF SPIR grant (16:25)- Commercial application of Perceive and monitoring customers (19:25)- Analytics and company personalization (27:37)- Business model (31:52)- Events, restaurants, retail, and customer experience (34:36)- Perceive's clientele (39:49)- Future growth (41:45)Perceive was founded in 2015 and based in Indianapolis, Indiana.Learn more about Perceive: https://www.perceiveinc.com/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/surveyCheck out the Midwest Startup Rankings: https://midweststartups.com/cities/--This episode is sponsored by Integrity Power Search, the #1 full stack high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts. They partner with venture capitalists, private equity groups and CEOs to build amazing teams for the world’s most disrupting companies.Learn more about or get in touch with Integrity Power Search: https://upside.fm/integrity
Interview starts: 6:23Debrief beings: 48:05Alex Rubalcava is a General Partner and Co-Founder of Stage Venture Partners, an L.A.-based VC firm that invests in upcoming software technologies.Alex began his investing career with Anthem Venture Partners in Los Angeles before switching to public market investing. He founded Stage Venture Partners in 2015 with his co-founder, and the company has since worked with startups including Balto, Sightline, and Iris.TV.Well-versed in venture capital and investing, Alex shares with us some valuable insights into the investing world, including his experiences in both private and public environments and what he looks for in companies when wanting to invest.We discuss:- Public vs. private market experiences (8:58)- Effects of proliferation of VCs in the LA area (15:15)- Specialized investments vs. broader focus (16:25)- What is enterprise software (23:18)- Helping and adding value to spread companies (29:50)- Why you, why now, why us (31:43)- Evaluating different venture opportunities (38:30)- Working with Balto (previous Upside guest) (42:57)- Upside's Listener Survey 2019 (46:54)Learn more about Stage Venture Partners: http://www.stagevp.com/Follow Alex on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexRubalcava/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/survey--This episode is sponsored by Integrity Power Search, the #1 full stack high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts. They partner with venture capitalists, private equity groups and CEOs to build amazing teams for the world’s most disrupting companies.Learn more about or get in touch with Integrity Power Search: https://upside.fm/integrity
Interview begins: 6:13Debrief begins: 52:10Max Farrell and Andrew Kirpalani are the co-founders of WorkHound.WorkHound is a platform that allows frontline workers to provide feedback to the companies for whom they work. Max and Andrew began WorkHound in the hopes of eliminating a barrier that exists between the workers and the companies, with the ultimate goal of increasing worker retention rates and thus the success of the companies. Originally designed for truck drivers, WorkHound has since expanded to other professions such as technicians, mechanics, construction workers, and visiting healthcare providers.We discuss:- Founders' story and WorkHound's inception (10:50)- WorkHound today and it's evolution (16:38)- Use of WorkHound by companies (18:08)- Company model (26:25)- WorkHound's successful for a business (30:50)- Usability of the WorkHound platform (33:50)- Potential opportunity (38:34)- Dual-location in Des Moines and Chattanooga (44:00)- Autonomous trucks and the future of WorkHound (47:30)WorkHound was founded in 2015 and based in both Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Des Moines, Iowa.Learn more about WorkHound: https://workhound.com/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/survey
Interview begins: 7:10Debrief begins: 44:55Kate Shillo Beardsley is the Managing Partner of Upslope Ventures.Formerly known as Galvanize Ventures, Upslope Ventures is committed to investing in early stage startups. Located in Denver, they look for startups throughout the country and currently have a hand in ten U.S. markets.Having unknowingly entered venture capital in the late 2010s, Kate Shillo Beardsley has been instrumental in some major investments done in the late 2000s and early 2010s. She discusses her passion for early stage investing and how the landscape has changed since she started.We discuss:- Ad: Improved methods to sourcing talent and finding new possible colleagues (5:50)- Taking on venture capital roles as an Executive Assistant (10:00)- Benefits of an English degree in venture capital (13:55)- What does being qualified to work in VC mean? (15:35)- First major investments (18:00)- The split between Galvanize and Upslope (21:20)- Types of companies and markets Upslope look at (26:05)- Why and how early stage? (32:30)- Changes in VC over past ten years (38:05)- Women in VC today (41:20)Upslope Ventures was founded in 2014 (as Galvanize Ventures) and based in Denver, Colorado.Learn more about Upslope Ventures: https://www.upslope.vc/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/survey--This episode is sponsored by Integrity Power Search, the #1 full stack high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts. They partner with venture capitalists, private equity groups and CEOs to build amazing teams for the world’s most disrupting companies.Learn more about or get in touch with Integrity Power Search: https://upside.fm/integrity
Interview begins: 7:35Debrief begins: 48:15Paige Williams is the founder and CEO of Audience Awards.Audience Awards is an online platform that organizes contests and film festivals in hopes of providing more opportunity and exposure to independent filmmakers. Operating in Montana, Audience Awards opens submissions to anyone who has a story to share while offering prizes such as camera equipment and mentorship with industry regulars.Audience Awards now hosts 65,000 filmmakers and covers an audience of 200,000 viewers. Paige, an experienced filmmaker herself, shares her thoughts in hoping to grow those numbers and offers insight into how their company has shown success.We discuss:- First inspirations for making film (9:00)- Original film experiences (11:45)- Impetus for Audience Awards (16:00)- Audience Awards today (18:30)- Film festivals and contests on Audience Awards (23:02)- Growth of Audience Awards (30:10)- OTT: Over The Top platforms (31:03)- Growth and scaling (33:23)- Future opportunities at Audience Awards (35:49)- Running and funding a tech company vs a film (37:41)- Growth as a question of money vs. opportunities offered (41:02)- Operating in Montana (45:20)Audience awards was founded in 2013 and based in Missoula, Montana.Learn more about Audience Awards: https://theaudienceawards.com/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmLearn more about our film: https://upside.fm/test-city-usaTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/survey
Interview begins: 5:20Debrief begins: 43:15Joni Cobb is the founding President and CEO of Pipeline Entrepreneurs.Pipeline is a network of high-performing entrepreneurs who call the Midwest home. Their entrepreneurs and experts give generously of their time, talent and capital so that they can build global businesses from wherever they choose.Pipeline takes zero equity in their Member companies, focusing on the entrepreneur first.Companies led by Pipeline entrepreneurs have generated over $1.39B in revenues, raised over $608M in outside capital, are conducting business in over 85 countries and have created over 2700 jobs. As CEO, Joni has led the development of every aspect of the organization, including the curriculum build-out, pivoting the business model, building a national advisory board, launching an angel investor group, securing multi-state partners and raising over $12M in outside funding.We discuss:- Beginning with law and public policy at the Capitol (5:30)- Transitioning to entrepreneurship (15:55)- What is Pipeline Entrepreneurs (21:57)- Pipeline's process for picking their next entrepreneurs (24:10)- Do other Pipeline-like organizations exist? (28:30)- Initial incentives for the first Pipeline classes (30:58)- Changes in entrepreneurship in the last 13 years (33:10)- Joni Cobb's next moves (39:05)- Plug: Upside 2019 Listener Survey (42:00)Pipeline Entrepreneurs was founded 2006 and based in Kansas City, Missouri.Learn more about Pipeline Entrepreneurs: https://www.pipelineentrepreneurs.com/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefmTake the listener survey: https://upside.fm/survey--This episode is sponsored by Integrity Power Search, the #1 full stack high growth startup recruiting firm between the coasts. They partner with venture capitalists, private equity groups and CEOs to build amazing teams for the world’s most disrupting companies.Learn more about or get in touch with Integrity Power Search: https://upside.fm/integrity
A short episode this week discussing our latest issue of the update. The update is a quarterly publication that usually features editorials, trends, and stories happening outside of Silicon Valley.We had big plans for this issue of the update, namely sharing our documentary, "Test City, USA" with you. But, complications arose and timelines changed, so the update issue three is a "skinny" version of itself.Tune into the episode to hear more and read the update issue three for a full behind-the-scenes look at how we produced a documentary in less than four months and where we plan to go from here.Synopsis:There is undeniable energy and momentum in the growing startup ecosystem of Columbus, Ohio. ‘Test City, USA’ explores this moment in time for the city, how the ecosystem evolved, and the challenges of what comes next.WINNER: 2019 Best Ohio Feature by the Film Festival of ColumbusDirected by: Kyle SkinnerProduced by: Jay ClouseA film by The Up CompanyRead the update issue three: https://upside.fm/update/issue-three/Learn more about Test City, USA: https://upside.fm/filmFollow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefm
Interview begins: 6:05Debrief begins: 45:15Michael Markesbery is the co-founder and CEO of OROS apparel, an outdoor and sportswear company that has revolutionized the technology in outdoor clothing.Founded in Cincinnati and now based in Portland, Oregon, OROS makes outdoor apparel using their own NASA-inspired aerogel technology called SolarCore. An online, direct-to-consumer brand, OROS offers several products with the aim of making outwear less bulky and, perhaps one day, eliminating the need for outwear at all.Michael recounts his inspiration for the product and for the company, and how he and his partner started building the brand as pre-med students and continue to watch it grow.We discuss:- Inspiration for a less bulky yet warmer product (6:15)- The potential of aerogel and it's use in SolarCore (8:00)- The start of OROS and it's values (11:15)- Acquiring aerogel (15:54)- Kickstarter success (17:50)- Flourishing of the business (22:39)- How warm is SolarCore? (25:33)- Target consumers (30:25)- OROS's goals for today and market potential (32:05)- OROS's products and finances (33:45)- Move to Portland (42:04)- Marketability of eliminating outwear (43:29)OROS was founded in 2014 and based in Portland, Oregon.Learn more about OROS: https://www.orosapparel.com/Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefm
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