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Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
Each week, experienced entrepreneurs and innovators come to Stanford University to candidly share lessons they’ve learned while developing, launching and scaling disruptive ideas. The Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series is produced by Stanford eCorner during fall, winter and spring quarters.
September 15, 2021
Ashley Flucas (Flucas Ventures) - The New Angel Investing
New users are flocking to angel investing platforms. What does this mean for investors and startups?
September 1, 2021
Jon Zieger (Responsible Technology Labs) - What is Responsible Innovation?
Jon Zieger is a co-founder and the executive director of Responsible Innovation Labs, a nonprofit working to create tools and standards to help innovative companies scale responsibly. He was previously the general counsel of Stripe, where he built and oversaw the company’s legal, compliance, public policy, and corporate security functions and helped Stripe scale from a small startup to one of the largest fintech companies in the world. In this conversation with Stanford professor Riitta Katila, Zieger explains why Responsible Innovation Labs is developing frameworks for responsible technology innovation and explores what a principled 21st century technology ecosystem might look like.
August 11, 2021
Tom Eisenmann (Harvard Business School) - Why Startups Fail
Tom Eisenmann is the Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School; Peter O. Crisp Chair of Harvard Innovation Labs; and faculty co-chair of the HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, the Harvard MS/MBA Program, and the Harvard College Technology Innovation Fellows Program. In this conversation with Stanford professor Tom Byers, he shares insights from his book “Why Startups Fail: A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success” (Currency, March 2021), which analyzes common patterns that sink both early- and late-stage startups, and also proposes a road map for deciding when to pull the plug and how to fail better.
June 2, 2021
Nicole Diaz (Snap Inc.) - How to Build an Ethical Company
Nicole Diaz is the Global Head of Integrity & Compliance Legal for Snap Inc., where her responsibilities include promoting ethical business standards and adherence to the Code of Conduct, managing risk in key areas such as anti-bribery and trade law, and leading internal investigations. In this conversation with Stanford professor Tom Byers, Diaz insists that ethics is a strategic imperative for 21st century businesses, and explores how the concept of “enlightened self-interest” can create a framework for better decision-making without requiring a commitment to pure (and unrealistic) altruism.
May 26, 2021
Jannick Malling (Public.com) - Social Fintech
Jannick Malling is the co-founder and co-CEO of Public.com, an investing social network where members can own fractional shares of stocks and ETFs, follow popular creators, and share ideas within a community of investors. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Toby Corey, Malling discusses building magical products in a highly regulated industry, turning company values into everyday tools, and why having two CEOs is sometimes better than having one.
May 19, 2021
Andre Iguodala (Miami Heat) and Rudy Cline-Thomas (Mastry) - Bridging the Gap Between Sports and Tech
Rudy Cline-Thomas is the managing director of Mastry, Inc., which brings together athletes and technology companies to create platform-building opportunities. A three-time NBA Champion, Andre Iguodala has played for the Miami Heat, the Golden State Warriors, the Denver Nuggets, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Off the court, Iguodala has invested in more than 50 companies through his firm F9 Strategies, including Zoom, Robinhood, Datadog, and Allbirds. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Toby Corey, Iguodala and Cline-Thomas discuss the evolving career paths for athletes, the unique value athletes bring as tech investors, and their shared passion for closing America’s racial wealth gap.
May 12, 2021
Maëlle Gavet (Techstars) - Ruthless Empathy
Maëlle Gavet is the CEO of Techstars and the author of Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem and How to Fix It (Wiley, 2020). In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Toby Corey, she explores how to deploy “ruthless empathy” in tech by combining big ambitions and cutting-edge ideas with a deep respect for other people.
May 5, 2021
Howie Liu (Airtable) - Building Startups, Fast and Slow
Howie Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Airtable. Inspired by his own experiences learning to code and building customized business apps, he co-founded the company in 2013 to democratize software creation. Prior to that, he was the founder of Etacts, an intelligent CRM tool that was acquired by Salesforce. While Etacts was a furious one-year sprint to acquisition, Liu followed a very deliberate, long-term approach with his second startup. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Ravi Belani, he offers advice to innovators who seek to create complex products that can’t be prototyped in a week-long hacking session.
April 28, 2021
Miriam Rivera (Ulu Ventures) - Diverse Businesses Are Better Businesses
Miriam Rivera is the co-founder and managing director of Ulu Ventures, a seed stage venture fund focused on IT startups. Previously, she was a vice president and deputy general counsel at Google, where she joined as the company’s second attorney. In this conversation with Stanford adjunct lecturer Heidi Roizen, Rivera discusses the state of diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley, how she evaluates investment opportunities to eliminate bias, and the importance of great mentors.
April 21, 2021
Michelle Zatlyn (Cloudflare) - Scaling with Resilience
Michelle Zatlyn is the co-founder, president, and Chief Operating Officer of Cloudflare, an internet security, performance, and reliability company that is on a mission to help build a better internet. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Ravi Belani, Zatlyn discusses the intense challenges involved in scaling a high-growth business, and offers insights about how to find optimism and build a great team amid those challenges.
April 14, 2021
Othman Laraki (Color) - It’s All About Access
Othman Laraki is the co-founder and CEO of Color, a distributed healthcare and clinical testing company. From population genomics programs to high-throughput COVID-19 testing, Color provides the technology and infrastructure to power large-scale health initiatives. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Toby Corey, Laraki discusses the genesis of Color, the immense challenges and opportunities in the healthcare sector, and Color’s race into COVID testing when the pandemic hit.
March 24, 2021
Research Insight: New Data on Lean Startup
In our first-ever ETL Research bonus episode, we look at one of the first empirical studies of lean startup. In a recent paper published in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, researchers Michael Leatherbee and Riitta Katila find that lean startup’s emphasis on “customer discovery” — that is, directly testing business hypotheses with potential costumers during product development — does help teams converge on business ideas. They also find that MBAs are both hesitant to embrace the method and especially successful when they choose to employ it. Katila is a professor in Stanford’s Department of Management Science and Engineering and research director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and Leatherbee is a professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile as well as President of the Advisory Board for Startup Chile. In this conversation they are joined by Stanford adjunct professor Steve Blank, whose Lean Launchpad class and 2003 book The Four Steps to the Epiphany were foundational to the lean startup movement.
March 17, 2021
Hemant Taneja (General Catalyst) - Build, Don’t Break
Hemant Taneja is a managing director at General Catalyst, and has been an early investor in market-leading companies like Digit, Grammarly, Gusto, Livongo, Mindstrong, Samsara, Snap, and Stripe. His 2018 book Unscaled articulates the need for accountability, transparency, and explainability in AI technologies, and his 2020 book UnHealthcare proposes a new model for impactful healthcare innovation. He is also the author of the influential Harvard Business Review article “The Era of ‘Move Fast and Break Things’ is Over.” In this conversation with Stanford professor Tom Byers, Taneja discusses recent technological paradigm shifts, and urges founders and investors to build responsibly and drive positive social change by measuring and valuing impact as much as financial returns.
March 10, 2021
Aicha Evans (Zoox) - Driving Innovation
In January 2019, Aicha Evans was named CEO of autonomous vehicle startup Zoox, which was acquired by Amazon in 2020. Prior to joining Zoox, Evans served as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Intel, where she drove Intel’s transformation from a PC-centric company to a data-centric company. In this conversation with Stanford adjunct lecturer and former Zoox board member Heidi Roizen, Evans discusses building cutting-edge technology in a crowded market, dealing with skeptics, and leading an innovative team.
March 3, 2021
Katrina Lake (Stitch Fix) - Making Entrepreneurship More Inclusive
While attending Harvard Business School, Katrina Lake saw an opportunity to combine data science with human stylists to reinvent the retail space. Lake founded Stitch Fix in 2011 to help women everywhere discover and explore their style through a truly client-focused shopping experience. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Ravi Belani, Lake discusses experiencing and fighting bias, achieving massive and unexpected financial success, and leading with authenticity.
February 24, 2021
David Rogier (MasterClass) - Finding the Right Motivation
David Rogier is the founder and CEO of MasterClass, a streaming platform that allows members to watch video lessons from top-performing professionals like Steph Curry, Margaret Atwood, Martin Scorsese, Sarah Blakely and Serena Williams. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Ravi Belani, Rogier discusses why he created MasterClass; how he engaged the right investors, advisors, and talent; and how he dealt with hundreds of people telling him that his idea was impossible.
February 17, 2021
Vlad Tenev (Robinhood) - Weathering a Storm
Vlad Tenev is the CEO and co-founder of Robinhood, a fast-growing brokerage platform giving millions of people access to investment opportunities and financial tools. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Ravi Belani, Tenev offers a behind-the-scenes view of high-stakes decisions related to the GameStop crisis, discusses the future of the financial services industry, and reflects on both past missteps and ongoing efforts to innovate at Robinhood and transform securities trading in the 21st century.
February 10, 2021
Stephanie Lampkin (Blendoor) - Data-Powered Diversity
Stephanie Lampkin, a TEDx speaker and former downhill ski racer, is the founder and CEO of Blendoor, which creates enterprise software that leverages augmented intelligence and people analytics to mitigate unconscious bias in hiring. Her 15-year career in the tech industry has included founding two startups and working in technical roles at Lockheed, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Emily Ma, she discusses her experiences as a Black woman in tech, the importance of expanding our social graphs to solve diversity challenges, and why she’s largely opted out of chasing traditional venture capital.
February 3, 2021
Tony Mugavero (Rad) - Hype vs. Reality in VR
Tony Mugavero is the co-founder and CEO of Rad (formerly known as Littlstar), a consumer streaming platform delivering live and on-demand Esports, music, comedy and sports. A veteran of the content streaming space, Mugavero has witnessed virtual reality’s transformation from an over-hyped new technology into a growing, real-world consumer experience. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Emily Ma, he discusses how to build a sustainable business in a cutting-edge niche, why relationships are central to entrepreneurship, and how Rad has thrived amid the bumpy progress of VR.
January 27, 2021
Alyssa Ravasio (Hipcamp) - A New Approach to the Great Outdoors
Alyssa Ravasio is the founder and CEO of Hipcamp, a platform for booking outdoor stays, from national parks to blueberry farms. Hipcamp partners with private landowners to unlock more ways for people to get outside, while also preserving land and ecosystems. In this conversation with Stanford lecturer Emily Ma, Ravasio discusses the early days of Hipcamp, analyzes several major pivots, and unpacks the values that drive the company.