Launching and growing startup ventures in Colombia with Wenyi Cai of Polymath Ventures and Jeremy Dann of USC

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Business, business advice, Finance, startup incubators, Venture Capital

Wenyi Cai, Managing Partner of Polymath Ventures and Jeremy Dann, Professor of Innovation at USC’s Marshall School of Business’ Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies joined me on Bay Area Ventures to talk about entrepreneurship and its impact on economic development in emerging markets like Latin American and specifically in Colombia.


 
Polymath Ventures
Wenyi Cai

 

Jeremey Dann, Professor at USC

 
Professor Dann is back for his third appearance on my show and this time he is here to talk about his new case study about Wenyi’s venture fund and incubator Polymath Ventures. The case, which like all of Jeremy’s 30 plus case studies, is used as a teaching tool for entrepreneurs and business students in businesses and business schools throughout the world. Jeremy is an expert at walking one through the challenges and issues that a company or managers face in real world situations. In this case Wenyi and her team face new and unique challenges creating, incubating and funding startup companies in emerging Bogota, Colombia. The issues include a rapidly changing political environment, entrenched traditional standards for financing ventures and a lack of infrastructure for supporting the needs of a fast paced venture-backed startup.

 
Wenyi is a bright and dynamic woman who, at the age of 15, was working on fluid dynamics problems at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. She went on to earn her degree in Physics from Harvard University and, while there, founded Tuesday Magazine. After college, Wenyi worked at McKinsey & Company on management consulting assignments in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. She then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and became COO of Milo.com. One year later Milo was acquired by eBay for $75 Million. Ms. Cai did not wanting to join another Bay Area startup and opted instead to start up her own fund and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Wenyi and her team set out to identify the best place to found Polymath Ventures and settled on Bogota, Colombia.

Professor Dann picks up the case from there and walks the us through Polymath’s earliest ventures.

Wenyi and Jeremy discuss the case in detail and also offer their take on the difference between the Bay Area way of business vs. the startup and entrepreneurial environment in Colombia and other emerging markets We cover several of Polymath’s earliest ventures and found out how they have fared since Jeremey completed his research and published his paper.

This is a rare opportunity for students of business, to learn from the protagonist of a case study.

Jeremy’s Case Study of Wenyi and Polymath Ventures can be purchased at Harvard Business Press or The Case Centre

Recorded on March 27, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

First quarter 2017 mergers and acquisitions review

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Business, business advice, Finance, Financial Services, M&A

The first quarter of 2017 is in the history books and in this episode of The M&A Moment, Rick Climan, a partner at Hogan Lovells, LLP and I discuss the Q1 M&A results both world-wide and for the San Francisco Bay Area.

In Bay Area technology M&A, we discuss Intel Corporation’s acquisition of Mobileye, the Israeli manufacturer of vehicle collision avoidance systems for $15 billion. This deal gives Intel a major leg up into the world of autonomous vehicles. Next we look at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s purchase of Nimble Storage for $1 billion.

Hogan Lovells, LLP logo  Rick Climan headshot

 

Then we talk about the volume of global M&A in terms of both overall dollar value and the number of deals taking place in the first quarter of 2017. We look at trends in the currency of mergers and acquisitions such as cash or stock and the preferences for each from the buyer’s or seller’s perspective as the year 2017 unfolds. We close our first quarter review with a look at what lies ahead for the rest of 2017.

Finally, we take a look at the how M&A deals initiate. We discuss the “mating dance” of M&A from the buyer’s perspective. To do so we look at why buyers pursue M&A as a strategy. We discuss the teams they put in place to implement that strategy in order to select a target company and to initiate the talks. Who makes the first overture in an M&A deal, what do managers need to think about before doing so and who is the right person in the organization to make the initial call. Listen in to learn all about it. Note, next month we’ll take a look at the process from the target company’s perspective.

This episode was recorded on Bay Area Ventures on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School on March 27, 2017.

Tim Chen wanted to help his sister find a credit card, today he runs Nerdwallet

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, Finance, Financial Services, free business advice, Marketing

Tim Chen, Co-Founder and President of Nerdwallet joins me on my latest episode of Bay Area Ventures to talk about his journey from Wall Street investment banker to advocate for consumer credit choice and information.

Nerdwallet is a site where one can find the best credit card, bank account, travel rewards plan, mortgage, insurance or other financial needs tailored to their specific needs, goals or tastes. The site walks users through some qualifying questions then draws on thousands of providers in every state for the best solution.

Nerdwallet Logo Tim Chen, CEO of Nerdwallet

 

Nerdwallet was founded in 2009, in Tim’s apartment in New York City, when his sister asked for help finding the “best” credit card for her needs. Nerdwallet moved to San Francisco when Tim’s co-founder came to San Francisco and hired an intern that was 10x more productive than the intern Tim hired in NYC. In this interview Tim expands on that discovery and talks about why the ecosystem and entrepreneurial hires found in the Bay Area are ideal for a growing startup.

Through his work at Nerdwallet, helping millions of consumers, Tim has become Member of the Consumer Advisory Board for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency created after the 2008 financial crises to protect consumers. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the National Federation for Credit Counseling. He talks about high credit rates that consumers face and why it’s difficult to make changes.

Tim, is a highly intelligent young entrepreneur who is dedicated to building an open and motivated workforce. Learn about how he and his team communicate to get work done and allow the company to scale rapidly. This is a great interview packed with lots of practical takeaways for your business.

Recorded on February 13, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Jonathan Swanson on how to build a generational company

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, free business advice, Getting Started, Hiring Contractors, Setting Goals
Jonathan Swanson
Jonathan Swanson, Co-Founder and President of Thumbtack joins me on my latest episode of Bay Area Ventures to talk about his journey from White House economic aide to building a high-growth fast-pace “generational” technology startup.

Thumbtack provides a marketplace for local services allowing one to find providers for just about anything from builders to caterers to tutors to … you name it. Their approach is different from sites which force you to do all the research for choosing the best provider. Thumbtack walks you through a couple questions and then does the research for you, finding you the best match for your project.

 

Founded in 2009, Thumbtack is now a so-called “unicorn”, a privately held company valued at over $1 billion. Jonathan’s goal for Thumbtack is to be the Amazon of the gig-economy by creating the ultimate marketplace for getting things done. More than building just a huge company though, Jonathan is out to improve the lives of millions of people around the world by helping them become independent and successful entrepreneurs in a world where no one can count on an employer or job to support them for life.

With over a million active customers and hundreds of thousands of providers, Jonathan is doing just that. Thumbtack helps independent providers promote their skills and match them with good customers. In doing so, these independent providers increase their confidence and change their lives for the better. In this episode you’ll hear Jonathan provide some solid examples of people who have achieved great personal success on the platform. Thumbtack is so successful it is out performing Yelp and Angie’s List and could be the Yellow Pages for the twenty-first century and beyond.

Jonathan, is a bright and highly motivated entrepreneur. He is building an open organization where he welcomes debate and challenges to the status quo. The company publishes internal information like board meeting notes for all employees to see in order to encourage everyone in the organization to be aware of what’s happening and how they can make an impact.

Jonathan and his co-founders launched Thumbtack in Washington, DC during the height of the financial crisis in 2009. Today Thumbtack has over 1,000 employees in San Francisco, Salt Lake City and the Philippines. Jonathan moved Thumbtack to San Francisco to take advantage of the Bay Area’s ecosystem early-on and in this interview you’ll hear how he compares the Bay Area way of business to other areas.

There is a powerful interview with a brilliant young entrepreneur.

Recorded on February 13, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

First look at M&A for 2017 – Cisco acquires AppDynamics and two health insurance mergers crater

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, M&A, Venture Capital

In this episode of the M&A Moment, Rick Climan of Hogan Lovells, LLP, joins me to look at how the year 2017 is starting off in the Mergers and Acquisitions arena. We discuss the dollar volume for January 2017 and how that compares to the same period in 2016. We then discuss whether or not the January figures are a good indicator of how the whole year will fare.

The year started off with a couple high flying tech companies being purchased for a fraction of their peak valuations and look at how that might portend for the so call “unicorns” – privately held companies valued over $1 billion. January was also a month where the US government blocked two very large deals that were announced in 2015. Rick talks about those deals and how the Trump administration may or may not act in similar situations going forward. We end the conversation by talking about one very large deal just announced where the target company was simultaneously pursuing an IPO and an acquisition.

Rick Climan  Hogan Lovells logo

 

All this plus Rick’s usual analysis of the legal, financial and strategic thinking behind the M&A markets and these specific deals.

This episode was recorded during my Bay Area Ventures show on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School on February 13, 2017. Be sure to check out my Bay Area Ventures show page by clicking on the show link at the top of this page. For more information on Rick Climan you can go to Rick Climan on HoganLovells.com or go to www.MandAMoment.com.

How to build products that are pulled by the market

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Biotech startups, business advice, Setting Goals, Venture Capital

My latest episode of Bay Area Ventures features Abe Sher, Managing Partner of Energetico Ventures, a Bal Harbor, Florida based venture fund focused on companies that are helping humanity with brilliantly engineered products and services.

Abe Sher
Abe’s portfolio companies include Aqua Sciences, a company that literally creates water out of thin air, SuperEye, a “neural-reality” company bringing advance displays to human-machine interfaces and Zero Phone, a company aimed at freeing users from the high cost of mobile communications.

 

Mr. Sher has won numerous awards for his technology and has been invited to speak at the White House, by the King of Saudi Arabia and to the Conference of Nobel Laureates by the King of Morocco. His companies’ clients include the Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Army and FEMA to name a few.

Abe talks about the types of companies and founders he looks for at Energetico. He is typically looking for products and services that are “pulled” by the marketplace as opposed to those that have to be pushed along. For example, with Aqua Sciences, because he is able to create water from air in some of the harshest environments in the world, he has had huge demand for the systems from governments and NGOs or non-governmental agencies. This has built up sales to the point where they have generated economies of scale and can now offer the system for general commercial purposes like stadiums and events.

Abe has traveled the world helping companies and promoting his own. He talks about his recent trips to China and what he’s discerned about the state of their economy just by walking through their factories. And regardless of where your company is located, he provides tips on what to expect from your leadership team.

This is a super interesting interview jam-packed with practical takeaways for your business and career.

Recorded January 23, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

The Bay Area economy 2016 year in review with Jim Wunderman

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The Bay Area economy, to put it simply, has been booming. It has been undergoing a sustained period of growth and economic development. But just how good was it? Jim Wunderman, CEO of The Bay Area Council, joined me to take a look back at the San Francisco Bay Area’s economy for 2016, and also takes a look forward to what might lie ahead for the region in 2017.

Was 2016 the “best of times” for the Bay Area? What were some of the factors that contributed to the current state of the economy? What were some of the biggest challenges the region faced in 2016 and what will be the key drivers and issues going forward? The Bay Area has some of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country but, at the same time, has some of the highest costs of living in the world. Can people afford to live in the Bay Area and, if not, can companies attract and retain the talent needed to maintain its position as one of the leading centers of innovation in the world? Will inflation become a problem for the region in 2017 and how will the Donald Trump administration impact existing and future initiatives and policies? Jim covers all these areas and more in this special extended edition of the Bay Area Council Quarterly Update feature of my show, Bay Area Ventures.

Jim Wunderman Image
Jim Wunderman’s organization, The Bay Area Council, is a public policy organization founded in the 1940’s by a Who’s Who of San Francisco Bay Area business leaders. The Council is focused on making the San Francisco Bay Area and the Silicon Valley the most globally competitive and economically productive region in the world. The Council’s membership is comprised of CEOs from hundreds of the top businesses in the Bay Area and Jim has been its CEO since 2004.

Before the Bay Area Council, Jim had a distinguished career in both the public and private sectors. He served as Chief of Staff to San Francisco Mayor Frank M. Jordan from 1992-95, responsible for overseeing all departmental and budgetary functions, and management of the Mayor’s Office. Earlier he served as Special Assistant to Mayor Dianne Feinstein, from 1983-1987, with his duties including oversight of the city’s utility, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Department of Public Works. From 1988 through 1991, he served as Vice President and General Manager of two major waste collection, disposal and recycling firms in the Bay Area under its parent, Recology, Inc (formerly Norcal Waste Systems). From 1997-2004 he served as Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Providian Financial Corporation. Jim is also a Visiting Professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, teaching a course in Executive Leadership. You can see Jim’s full bio here http://www.bayareacouncil.org/people/jim-wunderman/

This interview was recorded on January 23, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time. For a list of upcoming and past guest information, click on the Show link above.

2016 Mergers and Acquisitions Year in Review and 2017 Forecast

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, M&A

In this special extended addition of the M&A Moment we take a look back at the highlights and final numbers for mergers and acquisitions for the year 2016. We will also take a look ahead at what 2017 might hold in store. Rick Climan of Hogan Lovells, LLP joins me to talk about how 2016 compared to 2015 and discusses some of the biggest deals announced, as well as some of the biggest deals to crater in 2016. Not only does Rick tell us the numbers but he gives us tremendous insights into what’s behind all the strategy, negotiation and legal decisions that led to the results.

Rick Climan
2016 was a stellar year but, was it as strong as 2016? Will 2017 be stronger still? What sectors had the most activity? How did US activity compare to global M&A. Were US companies an attractive target for foreign investment and, if so, what countries were the biggest investors? How will the Donald Trump administration impact US and foreign M&A transactions going forward? Will CFIUS reviews be stepped up and will cyber-crime or information leaks impact any major deals?

 

Rick and I cover all of this and take calls from listeners, as well. It’s a jam packed episode that will be invaluable for your understanding of M&A and your decision making going forward.

This episode was recorded during my Bay Area Ventures show on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School on January 23, 2017. Be sure to check out my Bay Area Ventures show page here on Spreaker. For more information on Rick Climan you can go to Hogan Lovells, LLP.

San Francisco vs. Atlanta as a place to run your startup company

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On this episode of Bay Area Ventures we speak with Paul Judge, Co-Founder and CEO of Luma. Paul, is an inventor, investor and serial entrepreneur. He is a cybersecurity expert and has had extensive experience in the field through many of his roles. In addition to Luma, Paul was a co-founder of Pindrop Security, Looklive, Tech Square Labs and PureWire, a web security service acquired by Barracuda Networks where he stayed on to be their Chief Research Officer and VP for over five years and through to their $2B IPO.

Luma logoPaul Judge, CEO Luma

Before all that, Paul was the Chief Technology Officer of CipherTrust and Secure Computing. CipherTrust was acquired by Secure Computing for $273M in 2006 and Secure Computing was subsequently acquired by McAfee in 2008 for $465M.

In addition to almost 30 patents under his belt, Paul is an author and lecturer and holds MS and PhDs in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a BS in computer science from Morehouse College. You can find videos of some of Paul’s lectures on his website at www.pjudge.com.

Paul tells us about his latest company Luma, makers of a new Surround WiFi system that brings the type of WiFi service typically found in large commercial spaces to the home. Luma is a scalable system that allows one to place multiple access points throughout a home, overcoming the limitations of typical home Wifi routers which only have antennas in one location. Luma also employs sophisticated software to make configuration a snap and to protect your home from cyber intrusions.

Luma in living room

Paul also shares his advice on building and running a startup company talking about his transition from a Ph. D. student and early employee at a startup company to becoming a serial entrepreneur on his own. Having homes and offices in both San Francisco and Atlanta, he compares the differences between running startups in the Bay Area versus other locations. The good and the bad.

Paul is an engaging speaker offering great advice for any entrepreneur.

Recorded December 19, 2016 on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

How to run your startup as if your life depended on it

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Getting Started

Sheryl O’Loughlin, CEO of REBBL joined me recently to talk about her company, her life and her new book “Killing It: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart“. You can hear it all in this episode of Bay Area Ventures recorded on December 19, 2016.

We begin the interview by catching up on the changes in her life that led her to leave a faculty role at Sonoma State University to join REBBL as their CEO, then we discuss her new book in detail.

Sheryl practices what she preaches and teaches. She advises entrepreneurs to create “purpose driven organizations” and that’s just what she is doing at REBBL, a registered Benefit Corporation. REBBL is the offshoot of the non-profit organization Not For Sale which is working to stop human trafficking around the world. Specifically, Not For Sale is striving to improve the lives or women and girls in developing countries who are most at risk for exploitation of human traffickers. 2.5 percent of REBBL’s net sales goes to Not For Sale and Sheryl talks about how she has chosen investors and co-workers who support the fact that REBBL is about more than just the bottom line.

Sheryl, is open and passionate about sharing her experiences as an entrepreneur. She has lived through the ups and downs of building a company and suffered the tolls that it takes on one’s health and relationships. After coming close to personal bankruptcy, Sheryl spiraled into a personal health crisis but, managed to pull herself through with counseling and the support of her family, friends and colleagues. To help other entrepreneurs avoid the problems and challenges she has gone through, she authored her new book, Killing It. Unlike a typical book or business school course on strategy, financing, marketing and all the other nuts and bolts of building a startup, Killing It talks about the personal decisions and actions one must take to maintain a healthy outlook and physical well-being needed to launch a company.

Killing It Book Sheryl O'Loughlin Killing It Book link

In Killing It, Sheryl walks entrepreneurs through the various stages of building a company from the decisions around founding a company, to choosing partners, teams and investors, to the ongoing stages of growth that a typical startup goes through. At each stage she offers personal advice about how to stay true to one’s personal beliefs and how to avoid the mistake of going from a healthy passionate pursuit to a destructive obsession. Sheryl openly discusses her own personal experience of going down the “dark path” and how difficult it was to see it while it was happening and how she ultimately came to put her work and life in balance.

Today she is back, her company is thriving and she is happy and fully connected with her relationships. She has dedicated time for family. Her team at REBBL is fully aligned, feel they are on an epic journey and share the dedication and fun of work with each other in order to help each other stay connected and in balance.

This is a highly personal story and fantastic advice for any entrepreneur.

To purchase Sheryl’s book go to Killing It
For more information on Not For Sale go to: www.notforsalecampaign.org

Recorded December 19, 2016 on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.