Built in Seattle with Adam Schoenfeld on Smash Notes

Built in Seattle with Adam Schoenfeld podcast.

May 01, 2020

Interviews with Seattle's top entrepreneurs, operators, and investors. Hear how they think, how they operate, and how they're building in Seattle. Hosted by Adam Schoenfeld.



Recently updated notes

On this episode of The Build in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Aviel Ginzburg, General Partner at Founders Coop. FC is an early stage VC dedicated to the Pacific Northwest. Aviel is a founder turned investor.

Updated on May 04

Key points in this episode

On this episode of The Built in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Matt Oppenheimer, CEO and co-founder at Remitly.

Highlights:


  • Matt's path on the road less traveled from Business School to Kenya to finding a customer problem.

  • "Willful ignorance" and the irrational decision to start.

  • Uncommon differentiation - respecting customers more than the competition.

  • The "does it pisses you off" test for worthwhile problems.

  • Pivoting without ego when people weren't using the product.

  • Serving people in ways that doesn't scale during COVID-19.

Guest Bio:

The inspiration behind Remitly came when Matt was working for Barclays in Kenya and saw how difficult it was to send and receive money overseas. Matt was drawn to the global impact his business could have: remittances eclipse foreign aid in improving global wealth equality and give people who receive them upward mobility. He began working on the problem immediately as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Highway 12 Ventures in Idaho and launched the company from Techstars in Seattle. Matt was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized as a Puget Sound Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree for his work with Remitly. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dartmouth College.

Where to follow Matt

https://twitter.com/matt_oppy

matt@remitly.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattoppenheimer/

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Feedback? Suggestions on who to interview? 

Email me anytime - adamseattlepodcast@gmail.com

Key points in this episode

Dan Shapiro is the CEO and cofounder of Glowforge, the iconic 3D laser printer. Starting with the biggest 30-day crowdfunding campaign on record, designers have now used their Glowforge printers to create millions of products like wallets, lamps, and furniture. Dan is also the author of Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook, published by O'Reilly. Before founding Glowforge, Dan launched the best selling board game in Kickstarter history, Robot Turtles, a game that teaches programming fundamentals to preschoolers. Before his detour as a board game designer, Dan served as CEO of Google Comparison, Inc, a Google subsidiary. Shapiro landed at Google when they bought his previous company, comparison shopping website Sparkbuy. Before Sparkbuy, Shapiro was founder and CEO of Photobucket Inc. (formerly Ontela).Dan's been featured on NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and on the front page of the New York Times. His game, Robot Turtles, as been sold everywhere from Target to MoMA. He has been awarded a dozen US patents, and received his B.S. in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College.

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On this episode of The Built in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Julie Sandler, Managing Director at Pioneer Square Labs (PSL). 

Links Mentions:


  • Brad Feld on "The Thee Crises" https://feld.com/archives/2020/03/the-three-crises.html

  • The Founder's Dilemna by Noah Wasserman: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007AIXKUM/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

  • The Intentionalist: https://intentionalist.com/

  • Shipium: https://www.shipium.com/

Guest Bio

Julie Sandler joined PSL as a managing director in June 2017, and spends most of her time running the venture capital arm, PSL Ventures.  

Prior to PSL, Julie was a partner at Madrona Venture Group, where she led the firm’s investments in Integris, Poppy, and Julep. She is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Washington Foster School of Business and teaches an MBA course on Entrepreneurship for which she has been named a UW “Star Teacher” several years running. She is a member and Board Director of the Washington Roundtable, and was appointed in 2016 by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to the board of directors of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship. In addition to serving on several not-for-profit boards, she has also served on the boards of privately held companies, industry associations, and several advisory boards. In 2013, Julie launched the Seattle Entrepreneurial Women’s Network, an informal forum for women entrepreneurs and startup executives to connect in the Greater Seattle area.  Julie was also one of 60 Americans selected as a Presidential Leadership Scholar in 2016 by the Clinton Foundation, LBJ Foundation, and the two Bush Presidential Centers.  She was voted Geekwire’s 2014 “Geek of the Year” for her work supporting women innovators, was selected to Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and was named a Rising Star to Seattle Magazine’s Seattle Hall of Fame for her work with local entrepreneurs in 2016. She was also voted Geekwire’s 2018 “Hire of the Year” for joining PSL.  She is a regular speaker at technology conferences and has appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg, and at WE Day.  

Where to Follow Julie:

https://twitter.com/juliesandler

https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliesandler/

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Feedback? Suggestions on who to interview? Email me anytime - adamseattlepodcast@gmail.com

Key points in this episode

On this episode of The Build in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Sara Icutas, COO and Co-Founder at LegalPad (legalpad.io).  

She's an immigrant founder herself and her story is at the core of the company’s mission.

They just raised $10M and tripled the team size. The team felt like the world was their oyster.

Then a global pandemic started.

We talked specifically about how she's navigating the current environment, finding new opportunities, and delivering the right message for her team.

Sara mentioned the book "Decisive" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath as a source of inspiration right now.

Guest Bio:

Sara has dedicated her career to creating technology solutions around work visas. She began her career in immigration software at Teleborder, a Y Combinator company that was acquired in 2013. In addition to building software and managing a network of attorneys at TriNet, Sara also handled TriNet’s press inquiries from outlets that included The Wall Street Journal and CNN when they sought expertise in corporate immigration.
Sara’s passion for immigration stems from the value she places on her own immigration story: Sara immigrated to the United States from the Philippines at age 5, and she then grew up in Hawaii and Palo Alto.

Where to follow Sara:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-itucas-407a0632/

michel@usermind.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelfeaster/

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Feedback? Suggestions on who to interview? Email me anytime - adamseattlepodcast@gmail.com

Key points in this episode

On this episode of The Built in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Michel Feaster, CEO and Co-Founder at Usermind. Before Usermind, Michel was VP of Products at Apptio.

Highlights:


  • Michel's learnings from her famous mentor, Ben Horowitz.

  • Mistakes and learnings in making the transition from operator to founder. 

  • Michel's journey building enterprise software for 20 years at places like Mercury, HP, and Apptio. 

  • Why "running toward fear" is now baked into Michel's philosophy. 

  • How she sees the job of founder to build a learning machine and how she's learned to let go of fear and inner shaming to make that possible

  • The mechanics of category creation and why it's important to "set your price" in enterprise software. 

  • Learnings from Apptio to Usermind - two category creation success stories.

  • The path from $15K deals to $1M+ deals at Usermind.

Guest Bio:

Michel Feaster is the Co-Founder and CEO of usermind, responsible for company vision, strategic direction, planning and execution. Michel’s enterprise software career spans almost 20 years with roles in sales, products, strategic marketing and general management. Before founding usermind, Michel was VP of Products at Apptio, where she drove product strategy, defined the category and discipline of Technology Business Management and helped grow the company from 30 to almost 400 employees. Michel led the acquisition of Opsware by HP Software for $1.6B, managed the combined Opsware, Radia and AppIq product teams and defined the Service Automation category. She also spent almost 8 years at Mercury Interactive learning how to build world class products like LoadRunner and QualityCenter which made customer’s lives better. She aspires to do the same at usermind.

Books & blog posts mentioned:

Where to follow Michel:

michel@usermind.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelfeaster/

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Feedback? Suggestions on who to interview? Email me anytime - adamseattlepodcast@gmail.com

Key points in this episode

Joe Davy's first venture was feeding chickens in North Carolina. He came to Seattle to join Avalara. Then, at 26 years old, he co-founded Banzai. In just 4 years, he's bootstrapped the business to millions of ARR, grown his team to 50 employees, and been named to Forbes 30 under 30. We got behind the scenes on Joe's journey, the benefits and challenges of bootstrapping, and Joe's mental models for building his business.

Highlights:


  • How Joe has developed patience and long term view after hearing "no" from 80 investors.

  • How Banzai decided to bootstrap their business, where they are today, and how they thinking about execution.

  • The back story - Joe's first venture feeding chickens in North Carolina.

  • How working at Avalara shaped Joe's thinking and the lesson's he learned about listening to customers.

  • How he did all this having just turned 30.

  • Why/how he left Avalara to found his own company at just 26.

  • Advice for other young founders.

  • Lessons from Joe's journey bootstrapping and building a business in Seattle.

Guest Bio:

Joe Davy is an entrepreneur and investor in Seattle, WA. He has been the co-founder and CEO of Banzai since 2016. Forbes magazine named Joe to its 30 Under 30 list in 2019. Joe is also a board director at Legalpad and the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation. Today, Banzai is the leading event marketing automation platform, with over 200 customers including Microsoft, Dell, Vmware, SAP, and RingCentral. Prior to founding Banzai, Joe was General Manager at Avalara, where he oversaw small business and enterprise business units and was a member of the Avalara leadership team. During his tenure, Avalara grew to over 1,500 employees in 16 global offices with over $150M in revenues. 

Joe is an avid bluegrass music fan and outdoorsman – hiking, skiing and fishing around the Pacific Northwest.

Where to Follow Joe:

https://twitter.com/jpdavy

https://www.linkedin.com/in/joedavy/

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Feedback? Suggestions on who to interview? Email me anytime - adamseattlepodcast@gmail.com

Key points in this episode

On this episode of The Built in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Sandi Lin, CEO and co-founder at Skilljar.

Highlights:


  • How she struggled to raise a seed round, but then had a highly competitive series A.

  • The mechanics of fundraising and the challenges for Seattle companies getting money from Sand Hill Road.

  • The crazy story of her car breakking down between pitches.

  • What happens when the tables turn and the VCs want you.

  • Why she left Amazon, but doesn't see others doing the same.

  • Sandi's lessons from building Skilljar and grinding out the enterprise sale.

  • Her focus on preparation, he style as an introvert, and the way she thinks about customer success

Guest Bio:

Sandi Lin is the CEO and Co-founder of Skilljar. Prior to Skilljar, she led product management teams at Amazon. Sandi has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Where to follow Sandi:

https://twitter.com/sandislin

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Feedback? Suggestions on who to interview? Email me anytime - adamseattlepodcast@gmail.com

Key points in this episode

On this episode of The Build in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Glenn Kelman, CEO at Redfin.

The highlights:


  • The ways Glenn reinvents himself and challenges himself with each stage of growth to become a new CEO every year.

  • Why humility matters for leaders.

  • The 14-year journey of building Redfin, the big mission, and why Glenn is more motivated than ever.

  • Questions Glenn has asked role models and other leaders, how Glenn has taken in other perspectives and even changed his mind about some things!

  • How Glenn is starting to think like an investor and allocator of capital.

  • Glenn's lessons about managing board meetings and talking to shareholders.

  • Building Redfin's company culture and leadership team for the long-term.

Guest Bio:

Glenn is the CEO of Redfin. Prior to joining Redfin, he was a co-founder of Plumtree Software, a Sequoia-backed, publicly traded company that created the enterprise portal software market. In his seven years at Plumtree, Glenn at different times led engineering, marketing, product management and business development; he also was responsible for financing and general operations in Plumtree's early days. Prior to starting Plumtree, Glenn worked as one of the first employees at Stanford Technology Group, a Sequoia-backed start-up acquired by IBM. Glenn was raised in Seattle and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.

Where to follow Glenn:

https://twitter.com/glennkelman

https://www.linkedin.com/in/glennkelman/

http://blog.redfin.com/

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Key points in this episode

On this episode of The Build in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Daniela Luzi Tudor, CEO and co-founder at WEconnect Health. The highlights:


  • Daniela's personal story of substance abuse that led to the idea for WEconnect.

  • How she met her co-founder, Murphy Jensen, former professional tennis player while on Richard Branson's island.

  • The challenges building as a B2B2C business that doesn't fit the typical mold.

  • How the principles that Daniela learned in recovery have helped influence her company culture, the way she runs meetings, and how she treats people.

  • Raising money, growing the business, and building a company culture.

  • Daniela's lessons along the way and her view on the Seattle startup community

Guest Bio:

Daniela Luzi Tudor is a serial entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and CEO of WEconnect Health, an on-the-go custom support and connection system for those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. This venture is guided by Daniela's core mission: Using the vast potential of technology to connect people and communities for physical and spiritual health. Her belief in the combined power of art, music, and technology to build communities and solve problems stems from her own experience with overcoming adversity.

Daniela's career has had a dual focus on entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. She has founded or been instrumental in three start-ups: WEconnect, The Beats Running Events, and SoundStrokes. She has a strong track record as an intrapreneur/tech. evangelist in the technology world. Her career also had a heavy focus on building successful engineering and development teams on a consulting basis for major enterprises such as Microsoft.

The story behind Daniela's inspiration for WEconnect and work on the WEconnect mobile app has been featured in Techstars Blog, Forbes, TechCrunch, Geekwire, Seattle Times and more.

Where to follow Daniela:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielatudor11/

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Key points in this episode

On this episode of The Build in Seattle Podcast, I talked with Manny Medina, CEO and co-founder at Outreach.io. The highlights:


  • The story behind Outreach's successful pivot after struggling with their first business.

  • Why keeping the team together after 2 years of "nothing" was Manny's proudest moment as CEO.

  • Life as a $1B+ SaaS unicorn.

  • How Manny hires for energy.

  • How Outreach is building their culture.

  • Manny's lessons on Seattle, founding, and growth.

Guest Bio:

Manny co-founded Outreach in 2014 and now serves as CEO. Prior to Outreach, Manny was employee number three on Amazon’s AWS team, and led the Microsoft mobile division from launch to $50M in annual revenue. He holds an MBA from Harvard and a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Manny is a model of vulnerable and transparent leadership to his employees, from his heartfelt weekly email to his employees, to the traditional Friday get-together where the whole company shares their highs and lows of the week. He is a proponent of saving the planet by consuming less and purchasing second-hand whenever possible (he might be the only CEO to take the stage at industry events in shirts purchased from Goodwill). Manny grew up in Ecuador and now lives with his wife and three children in Seattle.

Where to follow Manny:

https://twitter.com/medinism

https://www.linkedin.com/in/medinism/

https://twitter.com/Outreach_io

Where to follow Adam:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamschoenfeld/

https://twitter.com/schoeny

Key points in this episode


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