During this episode, William is joined by Kai Tan Founder and CEO of RevMatch and recent Startup Runway Winner. As a former product design leader at companies like IBM & Meta, Kai shares insights on the importance of tactically enhancing the user experience for B2C Apps, understanding feedback loops, and more about building/scaling consumer apps. Kai also delves into his Startup Runway experience and some of the most meaningful parts of the program. The next Startup Runway Showcase is coming up on December 7th at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. All interested founders can learn more and apply at https://startuprunway.org/.
Jessica King, CEO of femtech startup FlowIntell, recently celebrated a win, securing the Women's Empowerment Grant at the 22nd Startup Runway Showcase. Joining host William Leonard in this episode, she delves into her dedicated mission to tackle a pervasive healthcare challenge: endometriosis screening, a dilemma confronting over 6 million women. FlowIntell is spearheading innovations in endometriosis screening, addressing a condition that afflicts 10% of women and is frequently diagnosed too late—often a decade into its development—due to limited awareness and symptoms mimicking IBS and PID. For numerous women, an introduction to endometriosis comes regrettably late, typically amidst battles with subfertility or infertility. Jessica unfolds her ambitious vision of utilizing test kits to broaden healthcare access in medical deserts, shares insights from her experience at the Startup Runway showcase, and provides a deeper look into her path toward commercialization post-Startup Runway
In this Atlanta Startup Podcast episode, host William Leonard speaks with Miya Moore, the founder of Benechek, a SaaS platform based in Birmingham. Benechek aids nonprofits and churches by providing software to efficiently manage assistance requests from people in need. Miya discusses how her past experiences, both working at and founding a nonprofit, illuminated the potential for software to address workflow inefficiencies in such organizations. She also shares insights from participating in the Startup Runway showcase, including valuable learnings from a mock board session. She explores her strategy for utilizing the $10,000 Audience Choice grant from Startup Runway to execute her product roadmap.
In this episode of the Atlanta Startup Podcast, host Mecca Tartt interviews Anthony Joiner, Founder of Blooksy, a platform fueled by AI and natural language processing to streamline the book-writing process for various audiences, including writers, academics, and students. Joiner's journey unfolds from his software development and publishing background to the inception of Blooksy during the pandemic. He reveals the pivotal role of customer-centricity, embracing failure, and cultivating relationships with mentors such as Lisa Calhoun from Valor Ventures. Joiner's remarkable story is an inspiring example for aspiring entrepreneurs navigating the challenges of the startup landscape.
In this episode of the Atlanta Startup Podcast, host Mecca Tartt interviews Joshua Afolabi, Founder of 2GGO, a SaaS platform in Atlanta. 2GGO lets customers shop online from their favorite fashion and beauty retailers and receive same-day delivery. Joshua shares his journey as a founder, emphasizing the importance of passion, determination, and building with customer needs in mind. The episode highlights the value of partnerships, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and the desire for investors who feel like family. Joshua advises underrepresented founders to keep pushing forward and never give up on their dreams.
Join William Leonard as he sits down with Michael Muchnicki, the new CEO of Physician 360 - an early-stage catalyst in revolutionizing virtual care, especially in America's underserved rural regions. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual healthcare visits surged and secured a lasting place in the healthcare continuum. Venture into America's rural spaces with Muchnicki, as he unveils how insights from running United Health for 20+ years and feedback from intimate focus groups helped reinvigorate Physician360's go-to-market strategy to increase access to basic care for all Americans.
In the latest episode of the Atlanta Startup Podcast, William Leonard engages Andrew Morris, the Founder of the Fintech Agenda LLC, a consultancy advising fintech industry clients on the development and implementation of events and content strategies. Discover how Andrew navigated his career focus from traditional finance to the realm of fintech content creation and community involvement. Andrew illustrates the origin story of hallmark events like Money 2020 and delves into Fintech South, one of the nation's well-attended fintech conferences. With talks from industry experts and exited founders on hot topics like the nexus between AI and fintech, pioneering banking strategies, identity fraud, and beyond, Fintech South consistently attracts a crowd of over 1000 fintech enthusiasts annually. We'll also explore Andrew's ties with TAG, Georgia's top tech association, and provide a firsthand look into Atlanta's evolving role in the global fintech scene. Additionally, William highlights the synergies of Atlanta's vibrant ecosystem, academic strengths, and visionary leadership, illustrating how they've ushered the city to the pinnacle of financial innovation.
Data shows that diverse-owned firms manage only 1.4% of the U.S.'s $82 trillion in assets under management (AUM). Catalyze, a non-profit, strives to reshape this status quo by providing capital, networks, and resources to first-time fund managers. Michael Belles, the co-founder of Catalyze, discusses in this episode how they support these managers through initiatives like the Catalyze Fund Fellowship: a six-month program assisting 5-10 capital entrepreneurs with one-on-one advising, flexible financing, and connections to a broad network of professionals. With many preconceived notions around emerging fund managers, this conversation outlines what an emerging manager is, many misconceptions around starting a fund, and how first-time fund managers can create fundraising leverage through a unique thesis.
With a wealth of experience spanning over three decades, Peg Olson has been a guiding force for early-stage companies in developing effective talent acquisition/recruiting strategies. Today, she joins the Atlanta Startup Podcast to demystify the intricacies of early-stage startup recruiting by delving into the essentials that founders should seek in potential candidates, offering insights on interview questioning strategies, and establishing a general hiring framework for founders. She also shares her expertise in optimizing talent retention. She ends the episode by outlining the qualities defining exceptional sales leaders at different stages and recounting some of Peg's remarkable hiring success stories.
Foregoing college to build a multi-million dollar hanger empire? That's exactly what Devon Rifkin, the CEO of Hangers.com did. In this episode of the Atlanta Startup Podcast, hear Devon's story of going from a Wall Street Stock Broker to a bootstrapping entrepreneur and the many lessons learned along the way of building Hangers.com to be a multi-time Inc 5000 fastest-growing startup. Devon does a deep dive into the importance of proximity to customers, hiring talent at the growth stage, insights on achieving global scale early on, and how to think about exiting your startup as a founder. After a successful exit of Hangers.com, Devon is now consulting today with his firm Humaan Group which is hyper-focused on helping founders think about growth, restructuring, and other critical aspects of company building.
Does Georgia need a hybrid public school? Michael Staton, CEO at CoLearn, thinks so--and just applied to be Georgia's next public school. He moved to Georgia after years on the investment committee of one of the most successful VCs in education, Learn Capital in San Mateo, California. He has helped lead investments into Coursera, Minerva, AltSchool, Andela, and many others. Fittingly, he began his decade-long entrepreneurial journey in the classroom, teaching social studies to high school students in Houston, TX. Now, Michael joins Atlanta Startup Podcast host, Valor Managing Partner Lisa Calhoun, for a conversation about how to fix public school education--and his hands-on startup planning to open its hybrid classrooms across the state next year.
Managing a substantial $500 million, the Flourish Ventures Team expresses bullish optimism for emerging startup hubs like Atlanta and Nashville, actively shaping the entrepreneurial landscape across the Southern United States. Fintech has emerged as one of the most well-funded sectors in the startup landscape over the past decade. Driven by an even stronger conviction, is committed to supporting visionary entrepreneurs whose innovations drive financial well-being and prosperity for individuals and small businesses through software solutions. In an enlightening discussion, Flourish Venture Partner Sarah Morgenstern provides a deep dive into the thought process behind Flourish's capital allocation decisions, their comprehensive post-investment founder support, and the compelling reasons why the world of fintech remains ripe for VC investment dollars with a remarkable track record, including investments in prominent fintech players like Chime and Propel, Sarah and the Flourish team have constructed a unique lens on identifying opportunities in transformational fintech arenas such as cross-border payments, AI-powered identity verification, and proactive risk assessment. Founders, tune in to gain insights into how Flourish propels impactful systemic change and cultivates the growth of the next generation of fintech unicorns.
With the rise of Airbnb over the last decade, there's been an ever-present demand for complementary solutions that ensure safe and enjoyable experiences for guests. Atlanta startup Safely steps in to address this need by offering a modern insurance solution for individual homeowners and professional property managers. By integrating with various property management systems, Safely has amassed a substantial amount of data, totaling more than two million nights' worth, establishing itself as a leading solution in the globally thriving short-term rental market. In this podcast episode, Safely's founder and CEO, Andrew Bate delves into Safely's origins and the mental exercise of crafting the company's initial GTM strategy. As a second-time founder in this domain, Andrew highlights the sector's recent tech-driven evolution and outlines specific growth and innovation opportunities within today's broader property management industry. Reflecting on the company's 10+ year journey, you'll hear Andrew unpack the importance that relationships played in raising over $12M in capital and how he navigates the challenges and turbulence that have impacted Airbnb's business model.
Courtney Schickel is no stranger to building and scaling successful sales and revenue operations, bringing over 20 years of experience leading teams at startups such as Ingenious Med and Assuresign, which was later acquired by Nintex. As a former Chief Revenue Officer for two local Atlanta startups, Courtney brings her brilliance and expertise to the podcast offering valuable insights on: The evolving role of the CRO over the past decade, Practical advice for CEOs seeking to build revenue operations functions and Demystifying misconceptions surrounding early-stage sales and more. Courtney emphasizes the significance of achieving internal alignment at the executive level and provides tangible takeaways for founders to implement. With her vast knowledge and practical guidance, she becomes an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs and founders, equipping them with the necessary tools and strategies to optimize revenue operations.
Using its proprietary fintech AI that accesses behavior, not balance sheets, Funding U is the national leader in no-co-signer student lending, a $30B+ annual market. Now is a pivotal time for college and university students. The Supreme Court's decision ending race-based admissions policies at colleges and universities sets a tone that leaves a gap in confidence for the millions of students who do not have family wealth to draw on to fund rising education costs. In conversation with VC Lisa Calhoun at Valor VC, an early investor, CEO and founder Jeannie Tarkenton of Funding U dives into: 1) How big an impact the new post-affirmative action Supreme Court ruling will have on students of color. 2) The scale of the student lending opportunity. 3) How to help more students access non-predatory lending as they prepare to finish college. 4) How AI-based lenders like Funding U stack up against traditional FICO loans in terms of rates, loan payments, APRs, re-payment, and loan terms.
Investing out of their $170M Fund 3, Bonfire is a different type of investor. They are a lead-only seed VC with a high conviction approach that means each partner only does 2-3 deals a year, and spends weekly time with each founder coaching them through the ups and downs of the startup journey. In this episode, Valor managing partner Lisa Calhoun leads a conversation with Brett Queener, managing director of Bonfire Ventures. Brett began his career at Seibel, back when enterprise software "came on CDs." He later joined Salesforce as an early employee, contributing to the creation of one of the most valuable enterprise software companies on earth for over a decade. He then joined a pre-revenue startup, Smart Recruiter, and helped that become the fastest growing firm in enterprise recruiting over a 9-year journey. In this episode, you'll learn about how Bonfire and how Brett look at developing relationships with founders. You'll come away with deeply insightful approaches to building out sales teams that work well, and what Series A investors are looking for now.
In this episode of the Atlanta Startup Podcast, host Mecca Tartt interviews Rachel Wilson, Head of Operations at Collab Capital. Rachel shares her unconventional journey into venture capital, driven by her exposure to entrepreneurship from her entrepreneurial family. She discusses Collab Capital's investment focus, which includes tech-enabled black-owned companies with a particular interest in network capital. Rachel highlights the importance of social and human capital for African American founders, emphasizing the need for access to contracts with major corporations. Collab Capital supports founders in navigating challenges that often stifle their growth through resources such as playbooks, growth partners, and connections with their LPs. Rachel also shares a bit about Black Women in VC, a supportive community for Black women in the venture capital industry.
In this episode of the Atlanta Startup Podcast, host William Leonard interviews Gabby Fong, an investor at First In, a DC-based firm focused on cybersecurity & data companies. Gabby shares her background as a former United States Navy officer and intelligence professional, highlighting her journey of breaking into venture capital. She discusses First In's mission and investment focus, which includes cybersecurity, defense, and dual-use technologies, and the firm's goals of leading seed-stage rounds and providing operational expertise to portfolio companies. Gabby also discusses emerging trends in cybersecurity, such as exciting use cases for operational technology and critical infrastructure security, vendor consolidation, and the challenges and opportunities of utilizing AI in cybersecurity.
Charles Robinson is the Partner at 1888 Ventures, one of Atlanta’s newest venture funds focused on capitalizing early-stage founders in the Southeast. 1888 seeks to invest $250-500K checks in startups outside of the major hubs that leverage emerging technologies. Before 1888, Charles was the founding partner of North Carolina startup Teamworks which is an operating system for sports, military, and public safety organizations globally. With deep regional roots, Charles shares his insights on the importance of relationship building in VC/startups, and navigating bottlenecks early-stage founders often face, and he outlines the unique traits that make Atlanta’s and broader southern startup ecosystem special.
On this episode of the Atlanta Startup Podcast, we take time to understand the inner workings of Startup Runway. Joining us is Mecca Tartt, the program's Executive Director, who provides valuable insights and helps us unpack Startup Runway's core mission of providing grant funding to underrepresented founders at the pre-seed stage. In this convo, we'll learn about specific criteria for founder participation and highlight the many milestones the program has already achieved including, awarding over $350K in grant capital to underrepresented founders. Moreover, we explore the opportunities for future sponsors to join the ranks of existing partners such as Cox, PIN, Innovators Legal, and many others in supporting and underwriting Startup Runway's initiatives.
Hawks Ventures is the latest venture capital fund in Atlanta investing inclusively, following Valor's start in 2016 along and other local legends including Collab Capital and Fearless Fund. What's fresh about this foray into inclusive venture capital from the Hawks is their deep sports expertise and $50M capital commitment, one of the larger funds in this region focused on women and founders of color. In this episode, William engages with Hawks Ventures VP Felipe Arias to get the inside scoop on the inner workings of the fund's strategy, how to get in touch with the fund, and the strategic levers Hawks Ventures pulls to support its portfolio of companies.
Funding for climate tech startups grew 89% recently, to pull in over $70B. Enter Atlanta's climate-tech legend Thomas Stokell, CEO of Love to Ride (aka Riderr). Valor recently led the seed round for this startup, which has a global hybrid team that's won favor with 800 customers on 3 continents. Thomas sheds light on his thought process for building software with behavioral change at its core, bootstrapping Love to Ride to $2M in revenue, the process of selling software for climate change, and his approach to building/scaling a globally distributed team.
After recently securing $2M in new seed funding, Atlanta startup Piezo Therapeutics is off to the races in launching their new platform which empowers a safer and more efficient way to bring new medicines to market. Founder and Georgia Tech Alumni, Gaurav Byagathvalli, has gone all-in on his passion for biotech building, pivoting from his former role as a product manager. After five years of research and development in the Bhamla Lab at Georgia Tech, Piezo Therapeutics is poised to shake up the world of drug delivery with its innovative technology. But how did they get here? Join us as Gaurav shares his insights on the technological headwinds the industry has faced, the impact of Piezo's platform on the biotech landscape, and how a simple cold email paved the way for their seed round. Plus, stick around for Gaurav's predictions on the rapidly-evolving life sciences and the biotech scene in Atlanta.
W3 Studio is Atlanta's newest venture studio. Based out of the Atlanta Blockchain Center, W3 Studio is hyper-focused on supporting underrepresented founders who are building Web3 startups in Atlanta by equipping them with non-dilutive capital during the early iterations of company building. We're joined by Brian Zwerner, the Founder of W3 Studio, for a deep dive dialogue on the tangible resources provided by the studio, their non-obvious value adds proposition and the long-term vision of how W3 Studio will impact Atlanta for decades going forward.
In this ep, learn how you can join Valor this week Thursday in Athens, Georgia for Startup Runway's live session at the Delta Innovation Hub. Get free tickets online at Startup Runway.org. 10,000 grants are also being offered for preseed founders in May AND in June--so apply now through the Startup Runway Foundation online. Also, looking ahead to the end of this month, women leaders in the community are invited to join Valor at the Women's History Month celebration. Find out more online at Valor.com/Events. The Atlanta Startup Podcast welcomes Valor founding managing partner Lisa Calhoun, who interviews special guest Wall Street Journal bestselling author Cap Treeger about his book "Finding the Way". The book provides a process for entrepreneurs based on anecdotal and experiential learning. It uses fiction to tell the story of building and selling a company in Atlanta while incorporating lessons learned from mentors and role models. Alongside many mentors and early team members, the protagonist's wife plays an important role in the story, highlighting the importance of communication with spouses who may not be entrepreneurs. While entrepreneurship is challenging and risky, anyone can become an entrepreneur regardless of age or background as long as they are cut out for it and ready for the challenge--learn more in this episode. You can get your own copy of Finding the Way on Amazon, Audible, and Barnes & Noble.
In this engaging conversation, we delve into the world of Armond Davis, the Managing Partner at the Paragon Group, which has a keen focus on backing women and ethnically diverse founders. Armond's early career was spent working in asset management at Goldman Sachs and Truist, before making the transition into private equity. However, what sets Armond apart from other venture capitalists is his unique approach to adding value to his portfolio companies. Rather than simply providing funding or connections, Armond believes that helping founders with their mindfulness is a crucial aspect of his role. We delve into the practicalities of how he implements this approach and the benefits it brings to founders. Additionally, Armond shares his insights on the current macroeconomic environment, the state of early-stage fundraising, the importance of entry valuations for VCs, and sectors that he's most optimistic about over the next decade.
Introducing Jamal Lewis, Economic Opportunity Manager at the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech. A strategic problem solver, driven by the desire to improve access to resources in underserved communities. He helps create spaces and opportunities for those who are often under-resourced. In today's episode with Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation, you will learn the importance of collaboration in changing the mindset of the community and spreading wealth outside of the city of Atlanta. Jamal also shared some of the partnerships formed in the Atlanta area and where he sees the biggest opportunity for growth in Georgia. This is a great episode, you must tune in!
Atlanta Founder Shep Ogden discovered his passion for marketing and media in college where he started out helping small businesses augment their marketing. Today, he's founded and scaled Offbeat Media Group, a leading digital influence and media company that owns, builds, and brokers the largest native social media network of publishers and virtual influencers. Offbeat leverages its 1B+ follower network to innovate for its dozens of enterprise and media clients. In this episode, we have a conversation with Shep about the evolution of media delivery, how generative AI is driving a content revolution, ways enterprises will engage the new age of digital creators, and the social media platforms that he thinks will remain relevant in the long term. Catch up with Valor virtually on the 18th Startup Runway Showcase, one of the largest showcases for underrepresented founders at the pre seed stage is taking place on February 23 via Zoom. 23w0oYou can register to attend and meet VC at startuprunway.org.
Get to know Sed Joseph of StageWing and Gbenga Arotiba of GoodAction as they tackle what it takes to build a startup and why your team and support systems are key. In this episode with Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation, they talk about the peaks and valleys along with the passion needed to push through even when you’ve experienced a crushing moment. The secret sauce for getting people to believe in your startup and gain support from mentors and VCs. Identifying your avatar and needing to pivot to reach a new customer. You will not want to miss this conversation. Get your notepad ready!
Georgia-based founders Katherine Shayne of CIRT, Anthony Joiner of Blooksy, and Robert Grant of Revealaroo have bottled the key to pivoting during challenging times. They have all birthed companies that provide a solution to a major problem. Blooksy has found its way to becoming one of the most sought-after platforms for universities and writers. CIRT is saving our ecosystem by providing a solution to waste management for major corporations. Tune in to learn more.
Every day hundreds of new startups are launched, but it takes a market disruptor to pitch and win! How do you know that your startup has the "It Factor"? Meet Timothy Min with Supercopy, Vanessa Sachs with SWAKE, and Elissa Russell with READI, the 18th Startup Runway Showcase Winners judged by William Leonard, Investor at Valor Ventures, Jonathan King, Principal at Coinbase Ventures, Vanessa Villaverde of Vamos Ventures, Avoilan Bingham, General Manager at Drive Capital, Rachel Kazungu, Manager at Endeavor, Armond Davis, and Managing Partner of the Paragon Group. Tune in to this episode hosted by Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway, and learn how these three startups positioned themselves to win money from top-tier VCs. If you are wondering what it takes to WIN! Tune in now.
Atlanta Founder Jonathan Porter is building PorterLogic, a flexible low-code solution aiming to turbocharge complex operations for supply chain teams. Jonathan spent time early in his career leading operations at supply chain firms like Manhattan Associates before he transitioned to consulting for himself, where the idea for PorterLogic ultimately came about. In this episode, Jonathan breaks down how global supply chains have been decimated as a result of COVID, why Atlanta’s resources make it an ideal city to build a supply chain startup, how his consulting experiences shaped early perspectives as a software founder and actionable insights on overcoming the early mountain of customer discovery.
DataSeers is an Atlanta-based fintech building at the intersection of financial crime mitigation and AI. Led by CEO Adwait Joshi, DataSeers has grown as an entirely bootstrapped startup and was named one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc 5000 in 2022. We hear from Adwait the exact blueprint he’s followed to scale DataSeers without investor capital and the advantages that come along with bootstrapping. You’ll want to hear the story of how DataSeers acquired their first paying customers and Adwait’s do’s/don’ts of customer discovery as a bootstrapped fintech. This first Atlanta Startup Podcast episode of 2023 is a gem for the early-stage founder hyper-focused on growth, capital efficiency, and scaling their team.
With over $2B in assets under management, Drive Capital is a significant lead venture capital firm focused on backing startups between the coasts. On today’s episode, we’re joined by one of Drive’s newest General Managers, Avoilan Bingham, who is opening their new Atlanta office. Avoilan writes $500K checks for visionary pre-seed founders seeking to innovate in billion-dollar markets. Avoilan shares his insider perspectives on the budding Atlanta ecosystem, his advice for founders fundraising right now, and his passion for Generative AI. Connect with Avoilan and the Valor team in person this Thursday, December 15th for the 17th Showcase of the Startup Runway program, where Aviolan is a judge. You'll hear 10 underrepresented founders pitching to the VC Judges including Drive Capital, and Coinbase Ventures. Register for free for this in-person event at startuprunway.org
Join Jonathan King, Principal at Coinbase Ventures, as he reveals essential perspectives on how Coinbase became one of crypto's busiest VCs. Coinbase Ventures seeks to invest in an early-stage company operating in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology sectors. In this episode, you'll learn what's ahead for the crypto world in the Atlanta area and what Coinbase Ventures is looking forward to in 2023. On face-to-face interaction for our listeners, connect with Valor next week at the Woodruff Arts Center on December 15th as we host VC DAY and Startup Runway Georgia. Register for free for this in-person event at startuprunway.org.
Meet De’Havia Stewart, an early-stage FinTech investor at Anthemis, where she is responsible for sourcing, evaluating, and executing deals of pre-seed to Series A startups. Anthemis Group is an early-stage venture capital firm based in London, UK, with $1.5BN+ in AUM. De'Havia previously worked at Softbank, supported the SoftBank Opportunity Fund, and helped deploy $100M+ into black and brown founders. Learn the types of companies that Anthemis is investing in and some of the key metrics they look at when evaluating startups. Catch up with Valor in person. William Leonard will be in Miami on December 1st. He will be judging the Black Founders Demo Day. Startup Runway is at the Woodruff Arts Center on Dec 15th. You can register to attend and meet VCs, including Avoilan Bingham, General Manager of Drive Capital, Jonathan King, Principal of Coinbase, and Vanessa Villaverde, Healthcare and Femtech Investor of Vamos Ventures, at startuprunway.org.
Meet Stefanie Diaz, Manager of Industry Discovery and Research at Catalyst by WellStar. WellStar is Georgia's largest healthcare system. Catalyst is a First-of-its-Kind Global Digital Health and Innovation Center right here in Atlanta looking to invest in and engage with early-stage startups. Learn how they invest in this must-listen episode for early-stage founders. This week, join Valor at the Who's Who in ATL event at Atlanta Tech Park on Wednesday, Nov. 16th from 6-8 pm. You can register online at https://hub.tie.org/e/nov2022mm. Startup Runway is just weeks away and If you're interested and want to enter for a $10,000 pre-seed startup grant, apply to startuprunway.org. Looking ahead, Valor's VC Day is taking requests to register for this exciting event, with $1B of capital pointed at Atlanta. Learn more at VC.day.
Atlanta founder Hannah Olson was forced quit her dream job due to Lyme Disease. But she didn't let this setback halt her entrepreneurial aspirations. Today as the CEO and Co-founder of Disclo, she's the visionary behind the compliance platform managing employee disclosures and helping organizations meet employee needs in a HIPAA and ADA-compliant manner. Research shows over 133 million Americans are struggling with a chronic condition and seeking additional support and accommodations in the workplace. In this episode, you'll hear more in-depth about Hannah's empowering journey of battling Lyme Disease, her insight on building Disclo as her second startup, how she envisions this space evolving, and her important fundraising advice for early-stage founders.
The Plug and Play Tech Center is making waves in Georgia. As the largest innovation platform in the world, they're focused on the brightest startups building the future of supply chain, retail, eCommerce, fintech, digital health, and more. Director of Corporate Partnerships Jessica Vargas and Senior Director of Enterprise Technology Nate Hinman join William on the podcast for a rich conversation outlining the unique corporate access points Plug and Play offers its startups, their outlook for the newly launched Plug and Play Savannah Accelerator, a deeper dive on why they're hyper-focused on Georgia's burgeoning tech scene, and their expansion plan for Atlanta.
Get to know seed and Series A investor Steve Hasty of Circadian Ventures, an Atlanta investor. He talks about his introduction to venture capital in Atlanta and how helpful a chance connection with John Yates was in his journey. Plus, learn more about how to apply for grants that will be presented December 15 by the Startup Runway Foundation.
Meet Jennifer Richard, an investor with Bonfire Ventures who focuses on SMB tech, vertical SaaS, and "anything led by a woman or a diverse founder." Interviewed by Valor investor Wiliam Leonard, Jennifer is working out of a $168M core fund to lead seed rounds and looking hard at the Atlanta ecosystem, where Bonfire has already led rounds. You'll learn more about check size, how to impress Jennifer, and how Bonfire supports its portfolio in this engaging conversation. William also shares a few of his favorite tips on how to pitch Valor as the conversation continues. In this episode, you'll also hear how to connect with William and Jennifer in person this week, which is Innovation Week in Atlanta, so listen soon and share with founders you care about!
Atlanta's at it again--changing the world. Valor investor William Leonard catches up with Atlanta CEO and co-founder of Yellow Card Chris Maurice in this exciting ep. Yellow Card started by creating a better micro-payments infrastructure in Nigeria, a country that is on pace to be larger than the US by 2050. When they met Valor in 2020, we loved it--and so did Andreessen Horowitz, who led their seed round. Learn about the latest $40M Series B led by Polychain and how this exciting startup has grown into a pan-African exchange that's underwriting a bright future.
The first JP Morgan Atlanta TechStars just launched two weeks ago! Hear how this accelerator brings a uniquely Atlanta focus to helping startups scale. Managing Director Melissa Pegus shares how the accelerator is designed to provide equitable for all and particularly support for Black, Hispanic and Latino, Indigenous American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs. The accelerator is focused on exploring future of Commerce Technology, Consumer Brands and Platforms, and the Creator Economy. "Together we will take steps towards dismantling institutional, structural, and systematic barriers that often limit opportunities," says Melissa. The first cohort includes Retavo and Buzzbassasdor, Bhala AI, LyRise, DiversiBoard, Privacy Packs, Friendly Shoes, Super Bloom Bakery, Aspen Apothecary, Neufluence, Remote Coach, and Tychon. You'll also learn about ways to connect directly with Valor this week, including Venture Atlanta on October 19 - 20 at Woodruff Arts Center and with valor being a participating sponsor.
Jeff Richards, CEO and co-founder of SnapNurse, leads the 2nd fastest growing company in America. He cut this podcast 2 days after that news was broken by Inc. You'll enjoy hearing his fresh take, including how he walked out of the door at Grady passionate about changing healthcare for the better. . Learn how he went about it and SnapNurse's exciting trajectory in this intimate conversation with Valor investor William Leonard.
As the region gears up for Venture Atlanta, Valor investors Lisa Calhoun, Gary Peat, Robin Bienfait, and William Leonard discuss the current state of venture capital locally, including the seed stage deal volume, the trend in seed capital valuations, and more. They discuss local firms including Valor, Knoll, Collab, Tech Square Labs, Fearless Fund, and more, mentioning specific outside investors the team has worked with including Canaan Partners and Sequoia. The team shares some of the big current opportunities in Atlanta--and also challenges unique to the local environment. This episode is important for founders, investors, and corporate innovators alike. You also learn how you can meet up with the Valor team this week, at the Atlanta Unlocked last stop, September 22, at Valor's offices in Atlanta Tech Park.
In this can't-miss conversation with co-host Mecca Tartt, get to know Maria Velissaris, the founder and managing partner of the largest women's healthcare fund ---SteelSky Ventures. SteelSky is based in Atlanta and invests at Series A. Maria shares how she got started as an investor, her passion and purpose, what she looks for when she writes a check, and how she got inspired to launch her $73 million fund. Power question from our host, Mecca: "how do you balance investing with your head and your heart?" You'll love Maria's answer! In this week's episode, you'll also hear to connect in person with the Valor team this week and next, including the Startup Runway Women's Event September 15, and Atlanta Unlocked at our offices at Atlanta Tech Park on Thursday, Sept 22. See you there!
Meet Patrick Reynolds, the man connecting tech startups to the Department of Defense. Based in Atlanta, Patrick scouts tech and talent as the university representative for Georgia through the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). We sit down with Patrick who shares the numerous ways NSIN supports startups, the misconceptions of working with the DoD, what he looks for when scouting talent, and the initiatives he's most looking forward to in 2023.
Atlanta influencer turned founder Cynthia Ruff is building Hashtag Pay Me, the software helping creators and influencers appropriately price content. Incubated in Georgia Tech’s startup accelerator Create-X, Cynthia is building her startup from over a decade of content creation experience. In this energetic episode, learn why she turned down early investor capital to bootstrap Hashtag Pay Me, the evolution of the creator economy, her thoughts on the current state of the growing creator economy, and what monetization opportunities lie ahead for creators.
Paul Darrigo, the co-founder at logistics and warehouse startup Saltbox, is a 2003 Georgia Tech grad. In this conversation, learn how he believes eCommerce is changing now, and how his background at UPS shaped Saltbox's vision to create more billion-dollar eCommerce businesses. Saltbox is based in Atlanta and backed by several venture investors, including Metaprop, Kapor Capital, and Prologis. Also in this episode, catch up with Valor's this week. Meet Robin Bienfait and William Leonard at Georgia Tech's CreateX. Catch up with William in Tulsa and Lisa in Kansas City, plus much more!
Founder Akshita Iyer is rethinking the kitchen, and it's an exciting journey. This Duke University founder took her startup onto Shark Tank, turned down $800K in early stage investment, and made the tough decision to move to Atlanta. Find out how Akshita is thinking about building smart, interactive cooking appliances. You'll also learn where Valor is this week, including a few days in Tulsa, OK and here in Atlanta, the Dell for Startups pitch event at our headquarters at Atlanta Tech Park. Listen now and get involved with Atlanta's fast paced founder community.
Nick Santora just sold his cybersecurity training platform Curricula to Huntress for $22M. Get his impressions of the journey and lessons learned while bootstrapping. Nick dives into how he got here and how he evaluated acquisition offers. If you're building software in the South, this is a must-listen deep dive with host William Leonard.
Founder Chris Cherian of Gatherly credits his girlfriend, who set up a Zoom birthday party for him during the pandemic, with inspiring the product that became Gatherly. Since then, the Georgia Tech Create-X startup Gatherly has raised its seed round from Knoll Ventures. Join this episode to hear the inside story of an Atlanta startup that leaped out of the pandemic to solve a big problem.
ATDC is one of Georgia’s critical startup ecosystem drivers and one of the leading accelerators in the nation. Founded in 1980, ATDC has a global reputation for fostering technological entrepreneurship. Forbes named ATDC to its list of “Incubators Changing the World” in 2010 and 2013, alongside Y Combinator and the Palo Alto Research Center. Get to know Director John Avery. We dive into the various stages of membership at the ATDC and which level may be most appropriate for your startup. John shares some of the ways the ATDC has positively impacted the burgeoning Georgia ecosystem and some ways you can help support innovation in our state.
By any criteria, Venture Atlanta, led by Allyson Eman, is a contender for the best place in the country to pitch your startup. Hear why, learn about their successes getting capital to startup outside of the Valley, and how you can get involved in this coming October's conference. This ep is full of insider tidbits that if you're investing OR raising capital, you don't want to miss. (Disclosure: Valor Ventures, which founded and underwrites this podcast, is a proud sponsor of Venture Atlanta.)
Meet new Atlanta neighbor Rakesh Nankani, principal with University Growth Fund, one of the largest pure education investors in the country. University Growth Fund is a $54M second fund that trains students on how to manage deals. It is based in Salt Lake City and now has its sights set on Atlanta. Local principal Rakesh explains how he works with college students from public institutions who are doing hands-on robust deal experience.
Startup Runway executive director Mecca Tartt and one of our podcast's cohosts, interviews four Atlanta pre-seed startup founders. You'll hear their tips on handling no, encouraging yourself before you see success, and pushing forward in the earliest days. Enjoy this discussion with eStreamly's Smitha Kommareddi, TotemID Biosciences' Monica Isgut, Ask Me Your MD's Patricia Marsh MD, and Helix Automotive's Keith Wilson.
Investor Ayanna Kerrison of Precursor Ventures joins us to talk about all things pre-seed investing. Ayanna's perspective is extremely valuable as Precursor is widely known as one of the first and most active pre-seed funds in the world--the firm has over 300 portfolio companies and was founded in 2015. Tune in for an enlightening episode as Ayanna joins the podcast to break down the firm's perspective on pre-seed investing. You'll learn how they write 20-25 checks a year and add value at the earliest stage of a startup's lifecycle, and why she's bullish on southern startup founders. We're proud that Ayanna is a Startup Runway judge.
For businesses both large and small, churn is a key KPI leaders try to wrap their heads around. Atlanta founder Sebastian Builes has built Arcum, which leverages AI to predict when your customers will churn up to 12 months in advance and more importantly, why they may churn. He joins the podcast to talk about growing up in Colombia influenced his entrepreneurial aspirations, how he’s formulated Arcum’s go-to-market strategy, and how he’s building community in Atlanta through this monthly founder meet-ups.
Meet venture capital investor Allyson Plosko of SpringTime Ventures, interviewed by Valor's William Leonard. The firm has roots in Boulder/Denver, and now Allyson is focusing on other geographies, especially the Southeast--drawn by the growth in this region. Allyson recently joined William as a judge for Startup Runway as part of her focus on finding more opportunities. In this episode, she shares what SpringTime is looking for in Atlanta and how she evaluates a great pitch.
Musheer Ahmed of Codoxo shares the core metrics that helped his startup raise an oversubscribed Series B. Plus, hear more about the unique strategy this Atlanta healthcare leader is pursuing, using an AI-based approach to combat financial fraud within healthcare.
"Now SVB is focused on markets that have been untapped in the VC ecosystem," says Jaisa. As an Atlanta native and Howard grad, Jaisa Gooden has always been aware of the growth and potential of our area. Now, Silicon Valley Bank created a new position to focus on more banking opportunities for the region centered on Atlanta. Interviewed by Valor's William Leonard, hear Jaisa's perspective on why Silicon Valley Bank is doubling down on Atlanta and early stage founders in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Successful Atlanta startup founder Ryan Wilson shares his takes on fundraising, firm building, and The Gathering Spot's recent exit to Greenwood. He's interviewed by Interviewed by Lisa Calhoun, founding managing partner at Valor Ventures, who invested the first professional venture capital in The Gathering Spot. This dynamic conversation has lots of take away for founders and investors building on the venture frontier.
So what is it like to go from being a Digital Enterprise Architect to taking the leap to Startup founder? Sal reflects on his key learnings as a tech leader at IBM and how he's taken the leap from project to product with his former co-worker turned co-founder. You won't want to miss Sal's insights on the network effects he's seen from being an Atlanta-based founder and his thoughts on artfully constructing a strong co-founder dynamic.
Founded in 2013, Ada Developers Academy is the top program for empowering women and gender expansive adults to become software developers for companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, and other household tech names. CEO Lauren Sato is expanding into Atlanta and discusses Ada's amazing placement statistics, why Atlanta is the perfect city for Ada's model, and how funding from Melinda French Gates will take the program to new heights in our city.
Ryan Johnson is co-founder of Cxmmunity, the most diverse Esports league in the world. Cxmmunity has support from Microsoft, Twitch, Verizon and others. An HBCU grad Ryan left corporate America in 2019, deciding to pursue entrepreneurship by combining his passions of video games and sports. You won't want to miss Ryan's insider views on major acquisitions in the gaming space and how the pandemic served as a tailwind for Cxmmunity's global expansion.
As one of the largest ERPs globally, SAP invests in early-stage technology startups that strategically expand the SAP ecosystem and create value for their diverse group of customers. Head of Investments Sallie Jian joins the Atlanta Startup Podcast to break down her team's investment strategy, the value ad that SAP brings to startups, and her take on the state of corporate venture capital. She's recently relocated to Miami and has Atlanta founders top of mind.
Founder Matt Pfaltzgraf packed up his car and drove to South Georgia to meet with his first investor. Now, his startup Softgiving creates high-impact online fundraising for brands & charities. Hear Matt's story of his leap of faith to creating an alternative fundraising solution that raises millions for influencers, brands, & charities.
While working in the cybersecurity industry for Cisco, Founder Henry Zhang became aware of critical gaps that large cybersecurity corporations overlooked when it came to the security posture and safety of local businesses. He and co-founder Nicole Wraback, a Georgia Tech computer science engineering grad who studied AI, decided to invent a solution that could work for real people. They enrolled in Georgia Tech's Create-X student accelerator and met Robin Bienfait, of Valor. He then went through Startup Runway, Valor's pre-seed investor introduction platform. Valor led Senteon's seed round, which also had participation from Lytical Ventures and Purdue. Senteon's cybersecurity platform allows stakeholders to audit endpoint behavior and identify system-level settings that can be implemented on in-production machines to provide "best-case" system hardening. While many competitors in the space are only touching part of the process and still requiring some manual output, Senteon's platform creates baselines specifically tailored to the granular needs of each business unit, spending only a fraction of the time previously needed to achieve greater efficacy. Henry explains it why Senteon is different and how it helps in this fascinating conversation with Valor investor William Leonard.
In this interview with Valor investor William Leonard, meet investor Mahati Sridhar of Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. Mahati has deep ties to Atlanta and the South, and she's bullish about investing in this region. Learn why Revolution is focusing on the South and the kinds of investments Mahati is looking for--it just might be you!
Hear how Antoine Woods sees investing in Atlanta in this thoughtful conversation with Valor investor William Leonard. You'll learn about his first fund, what they're looking for, and why they're bullish about the growth and opportunity for founders in Atlanta--especially founders of color.
Georgia Tech leads the world in the number of startups launched, behind only Standard and MIT. Part of the magic is Create-X, a unique university accelerator that teaches students to build real businesses. Meet the man behind Create-X since 2019, Rahul Saxena, a GT grad himself with a robotics and genetics engineering background who's also worked as a VC, got an MBA from Emory, and experienced a turn-around as an operator. You'll hear how Georgia Tech sees "evidence based entrepreneurship." What Saxena says is, "You can actually teach entrepreneurship. It's a process." Don't miss this engaging interview with Valor investor William Leonard and learn all the tips Rahul has for starting great tech firms and the process of becoming a founder.
Now with five investments in the growing portfolio, Shila Nieves Burney shares with Valor investor William Leonard the types of bold and diverse founders she's looking to fund across the U.S. Don't miss this conversation with host, Valor investor William Leonard. She goes into the advantages and disadvantages of being a solo GP and how she's building Zane with passion and focus.
Did you know 2 of the top 4 software companies in the world are in Atlanta? That's what G2's 1.6 million software reviews say. Learn which companies these are, and get more inside stories from CEO and Founder Godard Abel of G2. He shares both founder challenges and successes on his path to building a unicorn company. If you are a founder, listen to this ep for tips on how his software ratings platform can bring you customers. Find out which metrics to use when you ask customers for reviews. You'll earn why Godard is expanding in Atlanta. Hint: it's not just that Atlanta has some of the best reviewed software in the world. There's more! Enjoy the episode with Atlanta Startup Podcast co-host Lisa Calhoun of Valor Ventures.
"I was always an artist, but was not celebrated because it was not something you could make a career in growing up." Meet entrepreneur, former social worker, and artist Ashley Daramola, Valor's 2021 Art of Inclusion Honoree. She shares her fascinating story from social worker on Atlanta's toughest streets, to a startup founder working in her home community in Atlanta. The thread of using art to shine light in hurting souls makes this interview one of kind. Listen in.
Morgan J Ingram got a job out of school as a BDR --and it was NOT what he wanted to do. Sales is hard. This Atlanta leader applied himself and learned the ins and outs, becoming a self-taught top sales performer and sales manager. Now, his podcast, YouTube and consulting business takes the guess work out of top sales performance. Get his insights in this fun conversation with co-host and Valor investor William Leonard.
Students aren't well served with bolt-on 'adult' business tool like Zoom in the classroom. Naomi Thomas built her first computer at 6, and she's taking on the challenge of building a better, wholistic educational environment for all students at InfinityEDU. In this passionate, informed conversation with Atlanta Startup Podcast host and investor William Leonard, learn how the future of education is being re-imagined by pioneers like Naomi.
Ever had your platform go down? Hacked? Ransome? Software engineer and founder Doug Neumann of Arpio knows how painful all of that can be from first hand experience. He engineered his own one-button disaster recovery solution, which is now being used by airlines, software firms large and small, and many more. Learn from this down to earth, passionate expert about how to build better software now, interviewed by infrastructure and cybersecurity technologist Robin Bienfait, former CIO at Samsung and Blackberry.
Where are things growing? The Southeast. Jeff Uphues of DC Blox helps governments, counties, universities and other key organizations get the security and speed they need online. He explains how the market has evolved and what he's doing to make sure no American is left behind. He's bringing "Atlanta infrastructure" to places like Huntsville, Greenville, Birmingham and more. He's bullish on the Southeast's growth and is betting on it with his business plan--listen in!
Interviewed by host Mecca Tartt, hear Inc. 5000 honoree and Global Licensing Top 20 entrepreneur Julie Newman of Artonomo, a recent Startup Runway Finalist. Julie struggled to find a content management platform for her brand Jewel Branding, and couldn't find it--so she built it. Hear her exciting story and learn how she went from professional services to software to support all creators.
Atlanta is the fastest-growing venture capital ecosystem in the country--and the most diverse. Could the VC climate get any hotter? Listen up as insiders Renee Montgomery, Robin Bienfait, Gary Peat, William Leonard and Lisa Calhoun of Valor Ventures help founders and investors get a compass on a new normal.
Atlanta psychologist and entrepreneur Dr. Yared Alemu of TQIntelligence is passionate about improving access to quality mental health care for youth from low-income communities. This visionary founder shares his perspective on the gradual adoption of AI in mental health applications, improved outcomes for underserved youth, and the overall state of innovation within the mental health world. With direct support from the NSF and Google For Startups, the company's core product Clarity AI is moving the needle in the right direction. Tune into this dialogue that is guaranteed to inspire and inform listeners from all walks of life!
Anne Bailey is an MBA student at Emory studying private equity in the popular class hosted by David Panton and Klaas Baks. She fell in love with the topic. In this unscripted and open-hearted episode, hear her ask co-host Lisa Calhoun, founder of leading seed-stage venture capital firm Valor Ventures, everything she wants to know about how to break into private equity in Atlanta. It's a fun, challenging conversation, and if you're curious about a career in private equity or venture capital, this conversation is for you!
Using Florence Healthcare, doctors and nurses save time in clinical trials. Founder and CEO Ryan Jones joins William to talk through key lessons learned as a healthcare founder, finding early product-market fit, and innovation in clinical trials in today's pandemic healthcare environment.
How do you improve the employee experience? With today's record unemployment, leaders are learning they better move fast. Atlanta Founder Prem Bhatia has been working the problem of better employee experiences for years. At Cooleaf, he is empowering mid to large enterprises to make data-driven decisions to continuously improve how their teams interact with the company culture. Cooleaf was just recognized on the Inc. 5000 as one of America's fastest-growing firms. Hear Prem's powerful founder story about Cooleaf's early pivot, critical lessons learned while building an HR startup, the importance of founder mentorship, and how employers are winning the talent strategy equation with Cooleaf. Can't miss material--tune in now.
CEO and Founder Anisa Telwar Kaicker and her 500 team members operate global beauty powerhouse Anisa International, the "Apple" of beauty. This visionary shares her perspective on the beauty industry, including her unique definition of what beauty is. Can't miss moments in this heartfelt conversation with host Lisa Calhoun of Valor Ventures include -- her leadership secrets, how she recharges as a founder, how she changes herself to free her company to scale, founder health, and so much more. Listen to the end to hear Anisa share a board position she's recruiting for now. Please share this conversation with a founder who's scaling and could learn more from Anisa right here in Atlanta.
Enjoy a spirited conversation with Alana Mann about how she broke into VC, her blog series outlining conversations with early stage female founders, and her thoughts on navigating the frothy venture markets. Alana joins host William Leonard, investor at Valor, for Startup Runway this month and the two took the opportunity to dive into what's cooking now in early-stage investing.
Retail tech veteran and Atlanta Founder Barbara Jones is building Lilli RnB, an end to end software helping notable retailers solve their billion dollar fraud problems. Barbara shares her story of productizing her consulting business, building resiliency while fundraising, and leveraging the SalesForce Business Builders Program to scale Lilli.
UGA Alum and Inbrain.ai Founder Jason Schubert joins the podcast to share the journey of building and exiting his people-based insights and survey platform startup. On the heels of recently being acquired by the world's largest first-party data platform for insights, Dynata, Jason talks through his thought process of the acquisition, points of emphasis for other founders considering acquisition offers, the state of data monetization, and much more!
Meet Derrick Barker, CEO of Nectar, an Atlanta startup providing upfront cash for short-term rental operators and unlocking real estate cashflows for investors. Hear Derrick's story of exiting his first venture during undergrad, building a 4500+ unit real estate portfolio with his payout, and his strategic advice for early-stage founders thinking of participating in an accelerator. Derrick just graduated from Techstars in Atlanta.
Honored among the Top 40 Tech Companies in Georgia, Vouch.io unlocks digital keys for carmakers. Tune in to hear Vouch.io Cofounder Anthony Maley share leading edge innovation in the automotive industry. Learn if blockchain really is the future of your car!
As one of Atlanta's newest unicorns, Flock Safety equips neighborhoods and police departments in over 1200 cities with machine learning tools to mitigate crime. Founder and CEO of Flock Safety Garrett Langley openly shares how he navigates growth roadblocks and his mindset for building excellence. You don't want to miss his practical fundraising advice for founders in Atlanta.
After spending a decade to perfect their process, Atlanta based Nexus Fuels has solidified a profitable and environmentally sustainable way to recycle plastics by converting them back into oil. Led by industry veteran Jeff Gold, Nexus has produced about 300K gallons of oil and diverted more than 2.7M lbs of plastic from landfills. Jeff joins William to share more about finding product market fit during the early days of Nexus Fuels and also thoughts on the future of cleantech in the US.
Learn about the founder's journey to a multi-million dollar startup from Candace. She's a Georgia Tech grad, a computer scientist, and an entrepreneur transforming the hair care industry with engineering. Hear her journey to building a tech platform for hair. Myavana uses artificial intelligence to recommend the perfect products --and some of the largest brands in the world are on board.
The increasingly frequent occurrence of cyberattacks and ransomware has led to a more pressing need for proactive cyber awareness. Nick Santora and the Curricula team are bringing customization to cybersecurity training by allowing companies to generate modules that address firm-specific security concerns. Meet Nick and understand why Curricula's brings fun and fluidity to cybersecurity training.
Inovcares Founder and new Atlanta resident Mohamed Kamara is modernizing healthcare for women of color. The tragic death of his sister in childbirth catalyzed him to take on changing the world. Hear Mohamed's insights around choosing the right business model, customer discovery tips, and why he feels Atlanta is the perfect city to build a healthcare startup.
What are VCs in Atlanta investing in now? What about seed-stage expectations across the Southeast? In this deep dive interview with investor William Leonard of Valor Ventures, De'Havia Stewart of Softbank, Vernon Lee of Marathon, Brian Truong of Graph Ventures, and more, you'll hear what seed-stage VCs are looking for right now. If you're a founder, this is can't-miss episode. Over half a billion of capital ready to invest right now is talking straight to you--listen now.
Hear two of Valor Ventures' team, general partner Lisa Calhoun and investor William Leonard, dive into trend for startups in the Southeast. This fast-paced conversation will help you get your arms around the valuations, the terms and the trends founders can expect raising a round right now. Listen in as two investors detail their craft and the insights they get from dozens of weekly founder interviews.
Founder Kristina Williams joins the Atlanta Startup Podcast to share about her journey of building Unpacking, a data-driven, gamified platform powering the future of diversity training. She's been backed by Beyonce and others to change DEI for better. After recently moving her business to Atlanta from the West Coast, she breaks down why she chose Atlanta (where else!?!) and why Unpacking's gamified approach to diversity training will change culture in a positive direction.
First investor checks--that's the mission of the Startup Runway Foundation, backed by presenting sponsor Cox Enterprises and founding partners Truist, Georgia Power, Avanta Ventures, and Innovator's Legal. Meet the dynamic first executive director of the Startup Runway Foundation Mecca Tartt, interviewed by co-host Lisa Calhoun of Valor Ventures.
Founded in 2018, Atlanta startup Hermeus is seeking to shrink the world by connecting global cities through its hypersonic aircraft. Hermeus founder and CEO AJ Piplica sits down with Valor Investor William Leonard to expound on his vision for creating a hyper-connected world as hypersonic travel creeps toward commercialization.
After successfully building, scaling, and exiting her fintech startup LoanHero, Kristin Slink moved across the country and joined the Advanced Technology Development Center as Fintech Catalyst. Founded in 1980, ATDC has developed a global reputation for fostering technological entrepreneurship. Forbes named ATDC to its list of “Incubators Changing the World” in 2010 and 2013, alongside Y Combinator and the Palo Alto Research Center. Hear Kristin elaborate on the numerous ways the ATDC supports not only Metro Atlanta founders, but founders across the state of Georgia.
Atlanta's booming film scene isn't just "LA does ATL." Jon Gosier shines light on rising film stars thanks to his startup FilmHedge, which helps connect emerging producers and investors with new projects for financing. Hear about this latest innovation in the film scene in this interview with Valor investor and host William Leonard.
Yieldi Founders Joe Ashkouti and Josh Lloyd are on the mission to make real estate investing as simple as shopping on Amazon. Hear the Atlanta duo discuss more about Yieldi and their thoughts on the state of current real estate markets.
With over 55M gig workers in the US, Dustin Walsey and the Buckle team are increasing access to financial products and services to the shared economy. Hear Dustin speak on Buckle's vision and core benefits offered to Buckle users.
SmartCommerce founder and CEO Jennifer Silverberg shares her do's and don'ts in startup fundraising in this candid episode with Valor general partner Lisa Calhoun. This is a can't-miss episode for founders packed with fundraising tips and strategies that work. You'll especially enjoy how she dives into the differences between raising in VC, New York, and the Valley as an Atlanta founder.
Atlanta Founder and Georgia Tech grad Ajesh Kapoor is no stranger to the southeast startup ecosystem. Hear Ajesh share his story of prior exits, crucial lessons learned as a founder, and how his latest startup SemiCab is digitizing the once antiquated world of freight movement in this conversation with Valor Investor William Leonard.
After recently relocating her startup to Atlanta from New York, Founder and CEO of Knac Ariel Lopez shares the driving forces behind her decision and also breaks down Knac's approach to humanizing the hiring process for enterprises.
With police and community relations in the recent spotlight, Lisa Mitchell and Marlin Jackson detail their approach to improving transparency and accountability between government organizations and local communities through the Pulse Analytix software platform.
Carlos Antequera, Co-founder and Managing Director at Novel Growth Partners details his team's approach to building a revenue-based financing venture fund and lays out why they don't take equity in their investments.
Led by CEO and Founder Jennifer Sparks, Atlanta startup VacMobile is working to simplify the storage and transmission of vaccination records and health status records from your smartphone. Enjoy Jennifer discuss her pre-Covid vision of more secure, transparent vaccination record storage.
Dan Dreschel of Panoramic Ventures joins William to discuss transitioning from operator to investor, tailwinds accelerating the Atlanta tech ecosystem, and founder do's and don't during board meetings.
Atlanta Business Chronicle journalist Erin Schilling landed in Atlanta after graduating from UGA. She's made a big difference in less than a year of reporting on the Atlanta startup scene. Learn how to pitch this dynamic young journalist and what she looks for in a great story in this conversation with Valor general partner Lisa Calhoun.
Learn from three pioneering general partners in venture capital what it takes to scale an early-stage venture capital firm in the Southeast. Find out how to earn a seed-stage lead investor term sheet from each of them. Enjoy this conversation with general partners at The Artemis Fund, a Houston-based seed-stage lead investor eager to invest more in Atlanta, hosted by Valor general partner Lisa Calhoun.
Ken founded Speedscale in 2020 with the ultimate ambition of developing a more efficient solution to prevent production incidents with automation. Hear Ken's journey of starting Speedscale, his advice on developing a GTM strategy, and his take on industry/geographical trends that serve as tailwinds for Speedscale in this conversation with Valor Investor, William Leonard.
Royal Street Ventures Maggie Kenefake explains how she invests and what she looks for in seed stage, female-led startups.
Georgia Tech Alum and Atlanta Native Graham Gintz shares how his first time fundraising struggles created a vision for Knightley. Based in Atlanta, Knightley is a SaaS platform that helps early stage founders organize their diligence while preparing to raise their next round of financing.
FinTech has always been a big part of the Atlanta scene. I have a Valor team show for you today on FinTech frontiers with Lisa, Gary and William.
CoFounders Capital is the most active early-stage venture capital investor in North Carolina, according to Crunchbase. Hear this deep dive discussion with general partner Tim McLoughlin and Valor investor William Leonard. Learn what Tim loves to invest in and his tips for raising capital for founders.
Atlanta Founder Tim Hall is helping reshape how large CPG brands leverage AI to automate new product research. Simporter's software automates new product research, including White Space Exploration, pre-launch forecasting, marketing simulations, and product monitoring.
General Partner at Maveron, Anarghya Vardhana, is long on inclusion and the demographic shifts reshaping culture. Listen to this passioante conversation on how she broke into VC as an immigrant from South India and now leads investments for one of the top venture capital firms in the country.
Victoria Fram is co-founder of Village Capital, a visionary VC investing in seed stage. It started right here in Atlanta and the firm backs founders in the South regularly. Victoria didn't start out as a venture capitalist. She backpacked the world trying to ease poverty. Hear how that influences and informs her investments in this provocative conversation with Valor general partner and founder Lisa Calhoun
Startup Runway Finalist Lucy Lu shares how the pandemic changed her law business--taking her from services to AI Automation.
VC William Leonard broke into full time venture capital investing after graduating from Mercer. Learn how he did it.
Seasoned Atlanta venture capitalists Mike Becker and Emery Waddell of Vocap Partners join host Lisa Calhoun of Valor Ventures to discuss why the Southeast is suddenly such a hot topic in the global startup community. Learn what this experienced operator-VC looks for when they lead seed investments. Get Mike Becker's incredible playbook for hiring your best sales leader ever.
Atlanta Founder Yotam Oren Builds AI Monitoring for High Stakes Data Science Teams at Mona Labs. Mona Labs is a SaaS monitoring platform for Data and AI driven systems.
Kyle was an original investor with Connetic but came on as a Founding Partner. Connetic Ventures is a data-driven venture capital fund that using proprietary machine learning and AI techniques to find and fund companies that will create the future.
Join us as we speak with Sofiat "Sofi" Abdulrazaaq, founder of GoodFynd. Goodfynd helps food trucks scale and grow with their fintech platform designed around the needs of these dynamic entrepreneurs.
What to expect from technology in 2021? Entrepreneurs are 10% or so of the population, but they create the innovations and the jobs that keep the rest of us going. You would love to hear what some of our founders are working on, and what they're excited about in tech for 2021.
Medical expert Evodie Epane is an Atlanta founder whose company Vegan Tiger is bringing a healthy new delicious snack to market. Vegan Tiger makes Tiger nuts food-based products. Our products deliver optimal digestive health support with the prebiotic benefits of Tiger nuts whether on an AIP or Paleo compliant diet.
Hustling co-founders Joel Nkounkou and Nelson Thomas just raised their first venture round for their digital textbook platform. Enjoy their insights into what the students of today need from their learning platforms.
Meet one of the most prolific and seasoned angel investors in Atlanta, Mike Ross, president and founder of MHR International. In this can't-miss conversation, you'll hear his deep insights on the break-out Black Tech scene headquartered in Atlanta and get his thoughts on the future.
Erin founded Small Bites Adventure Club in 2018, with the goal of creating turn-key solutions for teachers to help children discover, love and eat their fruits and vegetables. They create and ship hands-on tools shipped to homes and schools, childcare and after school programs. This turn-key food and nutrition activities connect with academic standards and features local farmers.
Dr. Brown began studying eye behavior in 2012 as a portion of her PhD research. During her PhD, she discovered that eye gaze can be used to determine engagement levels while learning. In addition to engagement, the human eye holds rich data about the mental state of a human being.
Tope is the founder and CEO of Calendly, a simple and beautiful scheduling tool that helps you schedule meetings without all the back and forth emails. Calendly is the fastest growing company in scheduling automation.
Candice, CEO and Co-Founder of GABA, is a serial entrepreneur and army veteran with a passion for healthcare and education innovation. The thesis of her career has centered around advancing solutions to access and equity.
Vertical Activewear, an Atlanta-based apparel company is a contemporary, multi-active lifestyle brand for both traditional and alternative workouts, such as pole and dance fitness, barre, and various forms of yoga. It was created for the woman who is committed to self-awareness, self-expression, and self-care.
Julius builds Jax, which rents vehicles to Uber and Lyft drivers in metro Atlanta. Helping to bring mobility, access, and opportunity to those wishing to participate in the ridesharing economy.
Ashley is a founder and CEO of MyTotem, using AI to create more efficient processes to branding and digital content development. My-Totem is a branding automation platform that uses info-driven algorithms to brand companies automatically.
Lauren is a pitch strategist, speaker, writer, angel investor, and founder of VC Worthy Business who has years of experience helping clients not only hone their pitches, but also find the investors that are the right fit for their business.
Ross is a Managing Director & Partner at Silicon Road, an early stage venture capital fund focused on building the future of commerce. They focus on omni-channel commerce, in-store and retail tech, supply chain and logistics, and fin-tech & transactions. Find out why Ross invests.
Louise is passionate about improving the way criminal justice works for everyone involved. Acivilate combines technology, psychology and compassion to build a mobile platform where professionals and justice-involved people can work together for better outcomes.
Robin has over fifteen years of experience building and launching financial solutions to consumers and businesses. RoadSync is a cutting-edge, digital payment platform that dramatically reduces payment processing time and maximizes revenue collection for the transportation industry.
Jasmine is an award-winning entrepreneur who is striving to make the world a better place one cause at a time. Her main focus is to foster change and generate awareness around important socioeconomic issues including poverty, food waste, and hunger.
Boards can accelerate or sink your startup. Hear seasoned operators Connie Mixon, Theia Smith, and Tim Cook discuss the right way to build a dynamic startup board that will help you win. Each of these Atlanta experts has dynamic national experience across multiple startup boards.
Ryan Wilson co-founded and leads a company fast becoming a cultural icon, The Gathering Spot, founded in Atlanta, whose professional members are often of color and/or female and at the top of their fields. Learn how he thinks about Black Leadership, Black business, and the future of American culture in this provocative discussion on race and gender equality. Delivered as the keynote for the Startup Runway Foundation, the largest competition sourcing top startups from underrepresented founders.
Amy is a strategic partner for founders and investors and a growth catalyst for companies on the rise. Central to her work, of course, is the development and nurturing of a company’s culture.
Startup Atlanta just released the definitive guide to the Atlanta startup ecosystem. Hear Kylan Kester share what's new, what's hot, and what you need to pay attention to the country's fastest-growing startup and venture capital hub.
What if you have to lay people off? Is there anything that could make it less painful? Turns out, yes. Hear how Sarah's building that tool no one wants to use, but every business should have. It's timely and you'll come away inspired by how founders get inspiration in the toughest circumstances. This Fintech startup is one to watch, too--a Startup Runway 2020 Finalist.
TIE Atlanta, the local chapter of the global tech entrepreneur association, commits to invest $100K in founders from under-represented groups. Find out why now and how you can get involved as an angel--or a founder--from visionary leaders leaders JP James and Amyn Sadruddin.
Kristin is the founder and CEO of Vital4, a fintech software company disrupting the global screening and compliance industry through AI driven technology.
Tammy Farley co-founded The Rainmaker Group in 1998 and serves as its president. She spearheads all sales, marketing and customer-related operations for the organization, which is the market leader in profit optimization solutions serving hotel, casino hotel, resort, and multifamily housing operators.
A proud Duke graduate and accomplished entrepreneur, David is the reason Atlanta Tech Village exists. Addicted to startups, David is CEO of Atlanta Ventures and an avid investor – having invested in over 25 startups.
Listen to learn more about the economic and employment implications of the significant seed funding gap in the Southeast.
Atlanta software engineer, military spouse and founder Sheffie Robinson created WPClover to make regular websites work like Superwoman. Hear her discuss how she's built her firm into a scaling B2B software resource powering dozens of fast growing firms that thrive on her platform.
Eller Mallchok is the managing director at Jumpstart Foundry, a seed-stage healthcare innovation fund that invests in and supports healthcare technology companies. They raise and deploy an annual $3M fund into 15-20 companies each year.
Sandy Welfare has driven a global career in Fortune 100 tech. Catch this episode for her candid advice on the attitudes and behaviors that drive her forward.
Rob Frohwein and Kathryn Petralia founded fintech startups Drum and the unicorn Kabbage. Listen to their founders' insights on the Atlanta startup ecosystem, raising money, coronavirus, leading a team through change and more.
Disrupter Studio's Alex Gonzalez has years of experience with innovation in the corporate sector and what it takes to inject innovation thinking into legacy systems. Learn what works in this deep dive interview.
Listen to how Angela Fusaro empowers the everyday person through Physician 360, an all-in-one telemedicine experience.
Listen to Kim Shriver speak about the impact of the partnership between Startup Runway and sponsoring partner Cox Enterprises.
John Sears is a former Georgia Tech computational chemistry professor who turned VC at Anzu Partners. Learn how they want to put their new $325 million early-stage fund to work in Atlanta.
Nyra Jordan at AmFam Institute backs founders creating social good. Learn more about her unique, national social impact mission.
Jennifer Silverberg's SmartCommerce grew 5x last year. Listen as she lets us inside this retail tech rocketship whose customers include P&G, Nestle and Unilever.
- The Deal. What do you invest in? Why Atlanta?
- The Pitch. Why should an Atlanta founder want to work with you? What’s the house secret recipe for success?
- The Story. Why did you invest in the Atlanta startup you chose? How did that startup stand out from among other opportunities?
- The Shout-out. Who is one person in Atlanta every investor should meet?
- The Hook-up. What’s the best way for a founder to contact you?
- The Pitch. What are you working right now? Why does it matter?
- The Story. What brought you to this point—tell us how your background inspires you.
- The Deal. Who is the ideal investor for you, and why?
- The Scale. Who would you like to add to your team next in terms of hires, advisors?
- The Shout-out. Who is one person every founder in Atlanta should meet?
- The Hook-up. How should listeners reach out to be a part of what you’re building?