Shauna Swerland, CEO of Fuel Talent, launches the What Fuels You podcast, where she sits down with influential, interesting and successful leaders to learn from them. She digs into the stories and choices that made them who they are today, with the goal of sharing the inspiration, perseverance and stories of resilience that are normally only shared within an inner circle. You'll walk away feeling fueled by each episode as Shauna uncovers things like personal hardships and failures, what it’s like to become an entrepreneur and tips on building a successful career.
Episodes with Smash Notes
On the first episode of What Fuels You, Shauna is interviewed by executive coach, author and friend, Teri Citterman. Shauna Swerland, a Seattle native, is the CEO and Founder of recruiting firm, Fuel Talent. In just five years, Fuel Talent has been recognized as one of the Fastest-Growing Companies, Largest Women-Owned Companies and Best Places to Work in Washington, among many others awards. Hear how her recruiting career came to be, how it’s evolved and her process on finally deciding to become an entrepreneur. You’ll learn about her passion and desire for creating this podcast, and it will set the tone for what you’ll hear the rest of this season when she does the interviewing moving forward.
Chad Robins is the CEO of Adaptive Biotechnologies. His company, which he co-founded with his brother Harlan, has received over $400 million in funding as it drives ground-breaking research in cancer and other immune-mediated diseases. Chad simplifies his role as a CEO into three categories and breaks down this complex industry for everyone to understand. Listen to this riveting episode and hear how he moved from investment banking to biotech, what working with his brother is like and how 100 days spent in the wilderness is what influences his leadership style to this day.
Serial entrepreneur, Jonathan Sposato, was the first person in history to sell two companies to Google. Since then, he's become chairman of Geekwire and PicMonkey and has recently made waves in the Seattle community by announcing he will only invest in female-founded companies moving forward. Hear from Jonathan firsthand on how he’s always felt like an outsider but hasn’t let it stop him from achieving incredible success. His unique childhood and growing up as an Asian-American in a predominately white community shaped him to become, in his words, “more of a Nick Carraway than a Jay Gatsby.” Jonathan's wisdom on family, business and life in general is something everyone needs to hear.
Alissa Leinonen started Gourmondo, Seattle’s leading catering and gourmet box lunch company, 24 years ago. Back in 1996, Alissa had a dream that she turned into a reality by refinancing her car and opening a 470 square-foot, four table café. Gourmondo has now tripled the size of the company in the last three years, serving between 3,000-4,000 guests per day across all divisions (box lunches, catering, and cafes) with more than 250 employees. Alissa is known for building her business around the working parent model, having led by example for many years raising her two children. She shares tips on running a business in a family-first way, how she brought the company back after a near-death mistake in 2006, and how her daughter’s persistence resulted in their number one selling sandwich. Alissa is resilient, thoughtful and fueled by lifting up people who want to work hard and just need someone to give them a shot.
The consistent theme in Matt Oppenheimer’s life has been people and relationships. When asked what he was ‘into’ in high school, he shares how he started a non-profit called the Youth Lobbying Organization to give people under the age of 18 a voice in the political process. Matt went on to attend Dartmouth and Harvard Business School. During his time working in banking, he lived in London and in Kenya and realized how important remittances are for giving people in developing countries more opportunity. As a result, Matt started Remitly in 2011, which is now the largest private digital remittance company in the US. They’ve raised over $175 million and have quickly grown to have over 800 employees in four different countries. Matt discusses how he gets to know his employees on a deeper level, the impact his family has had on him and his hopes for his daughter, Alice. Even with his impressive career and his successful efforts to make the world a better place, Matt remains incredibly humble. His kind heart is something everyone will feel from this podcast.
Fran Dunaway, Co-founder and CEO of TomboyX, is an incredible advocate for women and the LGBTQ community. She was raised in a military family from the deep south, and has had many unique pivots in her career. Fran started TomboyX as a clothing company with her wife, Naomi, in 2013. They quickly found success and transformed solely into an underwear company based off of feedback from their customers. In just a few years, they’ve received $6.3 million in funding and have an incredible presence on social media. Fran and her wife are making an astounding impact on their mission to represent all people and encourage everyone to be unapologetically themselves.
Matt McIlwain, one of the Managing Directors at Madrona Venture Group, explains the most important quality he looks for in a CEO before investing, Madrona’s new accelerator fund, how he spends his time as an investor and his passion for public policy on the What Fuels You podcast. On the topic of COVID-19, Matt brings up some interesting points about the “natural tension between freedom and boundaries” and how “barriers have been broken down to find sustainable preventions, cures and tests.” Listen to hear what he believes will be the business opportunities that come out of this pandemic.
Crowd Cow CEO and Co-founder, Joe Heitzeberg, tells the story of how the company came to be and why their mission is to help people discover and access better meat and bring people together – farmers and consumers, families and friends. Joe discusses how COVID-19 has impacted the meat industry and how Crowd Cow has been able to help small and multi-generational family farming businesses. You’ll learn about their work with Arbor Day Foundation, the importance of building an environmentally friendly business, and how everything you buy on Crowd Cow, end to end, is 100 percent certified carbon neutral. Joe also shares the importance of radical transparency, tips on fundraising after being on both sides, and even plays a little guitar for us!
Founder and CEO of Hedley & Bennett, Ellen Bennet, shares the story of how she started her company in her 20s and how they continue to evolve over time. The then apron company has shifted to more of a “workwear” company, most recently adding masks to their product line after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Ellen discusses how their values made it an easy decision to get involved, their buy one, give one model and their donation of over 100,000 masks to hospitals and healthcare providers on the frontlines. She also opens up about her confidence, her mentors and how she’s finding the good in this time of slowing down.
Ian Morris is the Co-founder and CEO of Likewise, an innovative startup backed by Bill Gates that’s re-imagining the way that people find great recommendations. Though the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every business in some way, Ian shares how the stay at home order and closure of recreational facilities has resulted in a tremendous jump in users on Likewise’s platform and how they’re up 400 percent on the number of recommendations and saves taking place on the application. He discusses the most popular lists and categories on Likewise and how they are quickly expanding their content on the platform to meet users needs and interests.
Angela Dunleavy Stowell, CEO of FareStart, a non-profit that transforms lives and disrupts poverty through food, life skills and job training, shares how they are on the frontlines of King County’s COVID-19 response. Angela talks about how FareStart gives people second chances, their 1400 percent homeless shelter meal increase during the pandemic, and how they are serving 26 different locations, with the capacity to do up to 50,000 meals a day. She also discusses how people can help give back to FareStart and the community, how she’s staying centered and being fueled by leaving a legacy behind that her kids would be proud of.
As a former lawyer and a social justice advocate at heart, Frances Dewing is fueled by using whatever she’s doing as a platform for social advocacy and change. Now as the CEO of Rubica, a cybersecurity company, Frances is helping small businesses and consumers protect their digital lives and secure you from invisible threats online. On this episode of the What Fuels You podcast, Frances discusses fundraising three rounds, Rubica’s culture, what she believes people can do to support female founders, and her advice for people just starting out in their careers. She also explains how cybercriminals are making money today and provides helpful tips on what you can and should be doing to protect your data right now.
Co-founder and CEO of Barre3, Sadie Lincoln, candidly opens up about her unique childhood being raised by a strong group of women, her journey in the fitness industry and how building a business “has been the most amazing way to grow personally.” In 2008, Sadie co-founded Barre3 with her husband, which focuses on teaching people to be balanced in body and empowered from within. Today they have over 160 franchise studios powered by female entrepreneurs and an online workout streaming subscriber base in 98+ countries. During this episode, Sadie offers a fresh perspective on what fitness could and should look like as opposed to what we see every day in the media. She also shares her experience with mindful leadership, honoring her body and showing up authentically. Sadie’s story behind starting Barre3 is incredibly relatable and what it’s grown into will inspire you.
On this episode of What Fuels You, Stefan Weitz discusses gut health, his diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis and his probiotic subscription company, Jetson, that he founded as a better way to manage his chronic disease and also help “make 50 million Americans healthier.” In addition to Jetson, Stefan has an incubator called 87 that heavily invests in exciting direct to consumer companies – many of which he shares details about. Stefan also reflects on the impactful advice his first boss at Microsoft gave him, the three ways he believes you can view success and how he would rate himself on each scale, and what ultimately drove him to leaving Microsoft after nearly two decades (and why he wishes he did it sooner).
Sue Suh, discusses her impressive resume, which includes undergrad at Princeton, two master’s degrees, the U.S. Department of Defense, The Rockefeller Organization and now TIME. As the first Chief People Officer at TIME, Sue is focused on culture-building, recruitment, human resources, security, facilities and other operational areas. She talks about how TIME is a “97-year-old start-up” that’s continually evolved over time, what it’s been like under new ownership and the events that they host, including the TIME 100 Gala. Sue also reflects on how she’s learned to be a positive person from her parents, the different countries and cultures she’s experienced throughout her career, her stint in acting and how she genuinely wakes up every day and pinches herself because she feels so lucky.
Zillow veteran, Rebekah Bastian, joins us to talk about all things company culture. Rebekah has been with Zillow for nearly 15 years, most recently serving as their VP of Community and Culture. She discusses what makes their culture so great, their equity and belonging efforts and how she balances her family life with her career. We also chat about her college pivot from music to engineering and her most recent venture as CEO and Co-Founder of OwnTrail, inspired by writing her book Blaze Your Own Trail. Rebekah is making waves in our community and her support and desire to empower women is refreshing.
Mohit “Mo” Bhende, Founder of Karat, loves connecting with people and interviewing, so it’s no surprise he found a pain point in the industry and founded the company in 2014. Karat has created the category of Interviewing Engineering and has conducted over 60,000 technical interviews on behalf of clients including Intuit, Wayfair, Indeed and Pinterest. In addition to his career journey and his learnings from Karat, Mo shares stories from his unique upbringing in India, how he got rejected from 12 of the 13 colleges he applied to, his passion for skiing and how he’s restructured his days since becoming a dad. In this podcast, he recalls the life defining moment his dad said to him “all it takes is one,” and it will change your perspective on everything just like it did for him.
CEO of Gennev, Jill Angelo, is changing the stigma associated with women’s health in the second half of their life with the first-ever online clinic for women in menopause. Prior to starting Gennev, Jill had a 20-year career in tech, with 15 of those years at Microsoft in executive roles. During this episode, Jill shares details of her life growing up on a farm, her background in speech communication, how the idea for Gennev came to be during her sabbatical and the impact being on The Today Show had on the business. We also have an open conversation with Jill about menopause – the symptoms, statistics and ways to manage, the importance of diversity of thought in the workplace and being fueled by a desire to be meaningful.
Chris DeVore, Managing Partner of Founders’ Co-op and former Managing Director of Techstars Seattle, shares how he’s helped over 200 Pacific Northwest startups raise over $1.5 billion in investor capital. You’ll learn what is unique about Seattle’s startup ecosystem, why seed rounds came to be and details on what the venture capital process is like for investors. Chris talks about how he’s now raised four funds, why he’d always rather back a founder who has felt a pain point, the lessons he learned from working at Patagonia and the founders/companies he’s most proud of from Techstars Seattle. During this episode, you’ll also get to know him personally too, including his love for making pizza, how he ended up at Yale and his fond memories of his family’s place up on Lopez Island.
OfferUp’s CEO, Nick Huzar, joins us to talk about the evolution of the largest mobile marketplace in the U.S. OfferUp, which he started in 2011, has raised $261 million in funding so far. They have a strong focus on safety and live and breathe their product (their 70,000 square foot office is furnished entirely by OfferUp)! Nick discusses learning work ethic from his parents at a young age, how he’s raising his kids to have grit and how his “word is everything.” He also shares how how he struggles with the balance of patience and pushing, how joining a small company after college gave him the confidence to be where he’s at today and how having hard problems to solve is what gets him up in the morning.
The CEO of RealSelf, Tom Seery, shares details about his upbringing in Upstate New York, packing up his car and moving west to Seattle in search of more innovation and startups, and how he started working with Expedia after getting his MBA. You’ll also learn about where the idea for RealSelf came from, how he chose the name, what their business model is and how the industry has shifted over the years. Tom is a visionary and incredible at giving back - supporting surgeons who donate their time and go on humanitarian trips abroad. He believes “the difference between a person who has ideas and an entrepreneur is execution,” and he will inspire you to think bigger and strive to make an impact.
Apptentive CEO and Co-founder, Robi Ganguly, shares how his company is helping give consumers a voice and enterprise brands measure customer sentiment in actionable ways. Eight years in and over $17 million in funding raised, Apptentive has helped clients see a 500% increase in App Store ratings and reviews, an 80% increase in positive customer sentiment and a 100% increase in customer retention. In this episode, Robi gives helpful tips on what to look for in investors and board members, being intentional with culture and values, and the importance of giving people a voice. He also opens up about his childhood and being first-generation American, his love for reading and Tae Kwon Do, why he chose to go to Ponoma College over the ivy leagues, and the three things that are a part of his ritual to start his days off right.
Rathna Sharad is helping make international shipping easy, affordable and friction-free from “anywhere to anywhere” through her company, Flavor Cloud, which she co-founded in 2017. Rathna started in the shipping space with her first company, Runway2Street, a marketplace to help smaller companies sell luxury women’s clothing and accessories internationally, after working in supply chain for many years. In just a short time, Flavor Cloud has raised $2.3 in seed funding so far and they are prepping for their Series A next year. Rathna shares what it was like growing up in India, her admiration for her parents, and her passion for traveling. She also discusses how she was able to combine her love for both fashion and the tech world as an entrepreneur, her takeaways from raising money and the importance of founders thinking about diversity.
Clayton Lewis was one of the youngest Chiefs of Staff on Capitol Hill before he pivoted to the private sector at age 30. Since then, he’s helped take two companies public and was General Partner at Maveron for over a decade. His most recent company, Arivale, had several successful years and raised over $50 million before it closed down earlier this year. Clayton discusses his path into politics, his passion for health and wellness and how closing Arivale’s doors was “tragic” for him. He also chats with us about being a publicly gay leader in Seattle, what his upbringing was like and about being a competitive Iron Man triathlete. You’ll take away a ton from Clayton’s tips on strategizing in an interview, the importance of setting really audacious goals, and learning to “pause, reflect and listen” in life.
Ben Gilbert’s had the entrepreneurial bug since he was young, starting with building his high school website and developing apps in his college dorm room. Since then, Ben has worked at several incredible startups, become Co-founder of Pioneer Square Labs, Co-host for popular venture capital podcast, Acquired, and was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. Ben attributes much of his success to always “having two careers at once” by working on side projects and being fueled by a sense of accomplishment. In this episode, Ben talks about his first app, SeizeTheDay, that was downloaded over a million times, the story of how Acquired came to be, if he invests in people or ideas and the entrepreneurs he admires outside of PSL. He also shares what growing up in the Midwest was like, what being an Eagle Scout taught him, his involvement with the Anti-Defamation League, and much more.
Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade, founded the software company that elevates the employee experience and helps build great places to work in 2006. His time at Intuit ignited the idea that if they could build a system that helps you measurably improve your financial well-being, then there should be a software system that can measurably improve your overall well-being. On this episode, Henry discusses the concept of burnout, his own personal experience with it, and how it pushed him into building Limeade, which now has $33 million in funding, has acquired two companies and serves some of the most admired companies in the world. Henry also shares details about his personal life including growing up as the youngest of four boys, playing basketball in college and in Europe, and how he’s raising his three children. Henry is a continuous learner, a “self-improvement nut” and a CEO who truly embodies what he’s building at Limeade.
Jeremy Lott talks about his experience growing up in a family-owned business since birth. SanMar, the largest supplier of apparel to the imprinted sportswear and promotional products market, was started by his dad back in 1971. Jeremy, now President, always wanted to work in the business, but wanted to prove himself successful first. He did just that through his career in investment banking and by receiving his MBA before returning to Seattle. In this episode, Jeremy discusses the benefit of working with a family business consultant, SanMar’s supply chain and business operations all around the world, their values, and how they’re thinking about sustainability and the environment. It’s obvious Jeremy knows his business inside and out, and the way he deeply cares about his customers, employees, community and family is incredibly moving.
Tim Porter, Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group, discusses how the venture capital firm operates, what a day in the life of a VC looks like, what he looks for in a founder, and funding female founders. Prior to joining Madrona in 2006, Tim attended MIT and Stanford Business School and worked at Teledesic and Microsoft. His passion about very early stage companies makes him a perfect fit for his current role, where he focuses on investing in B2B software companies in the Pacific Northwest. Some of Tim’s companies include Heptio, Highspot, Algorithmia and Lattice Data. Beyond talking about his work, Tim shares the lessons he wants to pass on to his children, what growing up in the Midwest was like and what he’s focusing on improving about himself. This episode is great for anyone thinking about a start-up, looking for funding or curious about venture capital and learning more.
Karl Siebrecht, Co-founder and CEO of Flexe, shares how he went from being a Diving Officer in the U.S. Navy to becoming a serial entrepreneur. Prior to co-founding Flexe, Karl was the President at aQuantive and the President and CEO of AdReady. After becoming well-versed in Ad Tech, a discussion among friends sparked the idea for creating Flexe, the on-demand warehousing, fulfillment and logistics company founded in 2013. Now at 130 people, 1,200 warehouses and having recently completed their Series B, Flexe can’t grow fast enough. Karl discusses the lessons he learned at aQuantive and AdReady, their company culture and what they look for during their hiring process. He also lovingly talks about his family, how he chose to go to Duke and Dartmouth, the books he recommends, and his dream of building a company where people say “that’s the best company I ever worked for.”
Daniela Luzi Tudor co-founded WEconnect Health Management in 2014 to help support those in recovery from substance use disorder (addiction). Daniela was born in Romania and lived in Germany and Portugal before coming to the United States. As a child, she always excelled academically and went on to University of Washington before starting another company, SoundStrokes Art, in Los Angeles. Daniela talks about what it was like living in an immigrant asylum before coming to America, her own struggles with substance abuse, and her experience winning a contest to get to go to Richard Branson’s island. She shares helpful insights on what substance abuse is, diagnosing it, and how recovery looks different for everyone. Daniela’s vulnerability, perseverance through her difficult times, and desire to have a lasting, positive impact is beyond inspirational and something everyone should hear.
Daniela Luzi Tudor co-founded WEconnect Health Management in 2014 to help support those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Daniela was born in Romania and lived in Germany and Portugal before coming to the United States. As a child, she always excelled academically and went on to graduate from University of Washington before starting her first company, SoundStrokes, in Los Angeles. Daniela talks about what it was like living in asylum before coming to America, her own struggles with substance abuse, and her experience winning a contest to get to go to Richard Branson’s island. She shares helpful insights on what substance abuse is, diagnosing it, and how recovery looks different for everyone. Daniela’s vulnerability, perseverance through her difficult times, and desire to have a lasting, positive impact is beyond inspirational and something everyone should here.
Michael is the CEO of Gen Next, an eclectic community of influential and purposeful leaders committed to addressing the most critical issues facing future generations. He pioneered a high impact venture philanthropy model to counter domestic terrorism, which has been featured at the White House and across Wired, Bloomberg, Axios, ABC News and more. Michael talks about a childhood visit to Russia and its transformative effect, why he doesn’t pay attention to the 24-hour news cycle, the importance of taking the long view, and how he thinks about social impact. He also discusses lessons with global perspectives, the importance of civics, his family’s recent adoption triumph, and the benefits of daily journaling and meditation. In yet another stimulating episode, Michael will make you think big-picture about the world we will leave behind for the generations to come
Mitch Gold, Co-founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of Alpine Immune Sciences and Managing Partner of Alpine BioVentures, talks about his lifelong commitment to helping patients with cancer, which stems from the loss of his mother when he was just four years old. Prior to his work at Alpine where they’re creating therapies to treat cancer and autoimmune disease, Mitch was the CEO of Dendreon, a biotech company that created a treatment for prostate cancer. Mitch discusses the lessons he learned at Dendreon, what he hopes to achieve with Alpine, what he loves about being a dad, and his interest in “where humanity is going.” This thought-provoking episode dives into the future of science, challenging yourself and those around you, and encouraging you to be a never-ending learner like he is.
Heather Rogers, co-owner of Modern Dermatology and the Founder of Doctor Rogers RESTORE shares everything from her childhood days of getting bullied to what products everyone should be using on their skin. Heather’s knowledge on dermatology is unmatched. She opened Modern Dermatology in 2015 and has dedicated her work life to making sure she provides the best care to her patients. While running her practice, her dissatisfaction with the selection of products for healing skin led her to also research and create her own line, Doctor Rogers RESTORE. Her plant-based, hypoallergenic Healing Balm beat out its competitor, Aquaphor in skin healing and patient satisfaction during a split face trial. Her entire skin care line are effective, safe and sustainable. RESTORE is available at beauty retailers as well as dermatology offices across the country. During this episode, you’ll hear about Heather’s journey through school, how she found dermatology and what the process has been like starting and running two companies at the same time. She also talks about the influence her sister’s death has had on her, the importance of human connection and how her busy schedule is making her be more intentional with the way she spends her time.
Navigating Cancer’s Founder and President, Gena Cook, has nearly 30 years of experience directly working to help cancer patients. Gena first got started in the healthcare industry in pharmaceutical sales and took increasing roles until she became an accidental entrepreneur in 2008. Her company, Navigating Cancer, now supports over a million patients and thousands of cancer care providers nationwide to lower costs, improve patient satisfaction and drive better outcomes. Gena talks about how she’s juggling being a very busy working mom, the boards she’s on and the importance of their partnership with McKesson, a Fortune 10 healthcare services and technology company. The word “visionary” came to mind when Gena was asked how people would describe her as a leader, and we think you’ll agree after hearing her passion for and dedication to solving important problems.
Ian Morris, the CEO of Likewise, talks about the exciting things that he and his team are building at Likewise to help all of us get better recommendations about what to watch, read, and experience next. Before Likewise, Ian spent 7 years at Microsoft where he helped create and went on to lead Microsoft HomeAdvisor. He then served 10 years as the CEO of Market Leader, the real estate software leader that he took public and later sold to Trulia in 2013. Now, with Likewise, an innovative company which was originally imagined and is funded by Bill Gates’ private office, he is out to change the way we all discover, collect, and share recommendations about the things we are passionate about. Ian opens up about his passion for entrepreneurship which dates back to his college years, how he led Market Leader through the crash of the real estate market, and the values he and his wife try to instill in their children. His fuel for “the people side of things” and his passion for the exciting things they’re building at Likewise is contagious.
Colette Courtion has founded three venture-backed consumer health and beauty related startups. During this episode, Colette takes us through her journey from a quiet child to a leader and innovator. She shares the lessons she learned while working at Starbucks for eight years, how she started Calidora Skin Clinics, and what ultimately made her decide to sell it. In the midst of growing her second company, JeNu Biosciences, Colette’s decision to get pregnant and the information her girlfriends shared with her ended up birthing the idea for her current company, Joylux. Founded in 2014, Joylux is a leading global femtech company that has developed a portfolio of light-based medical devices and products that help solve women’s intimate health issues such as stress urinary incontinence, vaginal dryness and sexual function concerns. In addition to sharing how she leads, measuring success through customer feedback and Joylux’s partnership with leading e-tailers, such as Goop, Colette gets personal; she opens up to discuss her miracle pregnancy through intrauterine insemination to help destigmatize women’s health issues and decisions. She shares how she struggles to find balance and how she’s driven to help empower women to gain the confidence they deserve.
Xiao Wang talks about his own family’s process of immigrating to the United States from China and how it influenced him to start his company, Boundless Immigration. Before Boundless, Xiao received degrees from both Stanford and Harvard Universities and worked for McKinsey, the New York City Department of Education, and Amazon. With the help of Pioneer Square Labs, Xiao decided to leave the corporate world and cofound his company in 2017. Xiao discusses what his parents went through during their immigration process, his plans for what he wants to achieve with Boundless in the future, and how he’s extremely proud of their 100% approval rate from the government. He also shares his passion for doing multiple Ironman triathlons, why he got really into cooking, and how he’s fueled by “contributing a meaningful brick” to the great wall of humanity.
Adina Mangubat co-founded her company at age 22. Spiral Genetics, a leader in the genomics analysis industry, makes software to compare large populations of whole human genomes. They closed a multi-million-dollar funding round in 2013 and were acquired in 2017. Earlier this year, Spiral Genetics left their parent company and re-launched by partnering with Microsoft to analyze the genomes of people with heart disease. Adina breaks down what genomes are, how she got into this space, the several pivots they made early on and the process of un-acquiring her company. She also shares how she’s interested in who her employees are as human beings, dealing with the criticism of being a young CEO earlier on, leading with transparency, and her idea of ‘Surprise Date Day,’ which you will want to incorporate into your own relationship!
Co-founder of Maveron, Dan Levitan, discusses his extensive careers in both investment banking and venture capital. At age 40, Dan pivoted his career by uprooting his life in New York City, moving to Seattle, and starting Maveron with former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz. Through his venture capital firm, Dan is focused on helping build and monetize consumer brands. Some of the companies in his portfolio include Zulily, Potbelly, eBay, and Allbirds. In this episode, Dan shares his love for Duke University, what influenced his decision to quit his successful career and move across the country, and his appreciation for his four mentors. He talks about how his relationship with Howard Schultz came to be, the values they’ve set for Maveron, and how his relationship with each founder he works with is different. Dan’s words of wisdom on the importance of giving back and having fun in your career are important lessons everyone can learn from.
Heather Redman, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Flying Fish Ventures, shares her expertise on early stage startups and investing. Heather admittedly has been affected by imposter syndrome and is inherently an introvert. She reflects on growing up in communes, how her childhood has influenced her to be an out of the box thinker, and her experience attending Reed College and Stanford Law School. Heather has incredible insight on being a VC, advice for entrepreneurs, and thoughts on the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In addition to being busy with Flying Fish Ventures, she stays busy as an active mentor, board member and advisor. She is fueled by being both “interested and interesting.” Listen to this episode to hear all of this and more.
Four-time Founder, CEO and investor, Dan Shapiro, shares the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial journey thus far. Though he humbly attributes much of his success to privilege, Dan has worked hard, taken risks and followed an unconventional career path that has led him to become a board game inventor, author and record holder for the most backed 30-day crowdfunding campaign. Today, Dan is focused on building Glowforge, the iconic 3D laser printer company founded in 2014. The idea originated while he was creating Robot Turtles, the board game that teaches programming to kids. Now, his company is nearing 100 employees and has grown 2.5X in the last nine months. Dan discusses his transition from Microsoft to the startup world, how he really appreciates feedback, and how they are intentionally creating a culture of diversity and inclusion at Glowforge. Dan’s enthusiasm for what customers are making with their product is something you won’t want to miss.
Executive performance coach, Teri Citterman interviewed Fuel Talent’s CEO for the first episode of the What Fuels You podcast. Now, Shauna turns the tables and interviews Teri. Teri is the author of From the CEO’s Perspective. During this episode, Teri shares valuable information on the type of leaders who work with her. She talks about the one trait she believes every leader must have in order to be great, her methodology for coaching, and how she teaches executive presence. She also discusses how she’d wanted to be a writer from a young age, how she’s always been deliberate with her career choices, and how her courageousness comes from her parents, who both survived the Holocaust. Teri has unbelievable experience working with a countless CEOs and has some incredible nuggets of wisdom to share on how to start thinking like one.
Sharelle Klaus founded DRY Soda Co. in 2005 from her kitchen, noting she’s had an entrepreneurial curiosity from the time she was little. While nursing her fourth child, she was frustrated that there wasn’t a sophisticated non-alcoholic beverage that wasn’t overly sweet or made with artificial flavors, so she decided to create her own. DRY is now in over 9,000 stores and is one of the fastest-growing natural sparking beverage brands in the nation. In addition to her speaking about her experience as a female entrepreneur, Sharelle shares her belief that women should be able to go on and off the working train throughout their lives. She credits learning many skills like time management, multi-tasking and negotiation to her time as a stay at home mom. You’ll also hear about how she’s traveling the world in her Airstream, her involvement with the Aliados Foundation and how her kids are her greatest accomplishment and helping her be more present.
Andy Liu, Partner at Unlock Venture Partners, knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur from a young age. Andy started two companies with his Co-Founder David Niu, who he met while getting his MBA at Wharton. Always intrigued by angel investing, Andy decided to dip his toes in after both NetConversions and BuddyTV.com had successful exits. Today, Andy is an investor in nearly 100 companies. He started his current venture capital firm, Unlock Venture Partners, in late 2017, which focuses on early-stage technology investments in Seattle and Los Angeles. Andy shares helpful tips for entrepreneurs including what to consider when choosing a Co-founder, focusing on customer acquisition and distribution versus building a product, and the traits he looks for as an investor. He also discusses how he learned to cold call after starting his first company, getting the idea for BuddyTV.com while visiting Machu Picchu, and how he’s helping provides education and career opportunities to poverty-stricken communities through technical training with his organization, Future Hope.
Rahul Sood started his first company when he was just 17 years old. VoodooPC went on to sell to HP in 2006, where he spent four years as their CTO. Rahul then spent a few years at Microsoft, where he says he “learned everything and got a crash course in how the best leaders are created.” In 2014, he started his current company, Unikrn, an esports betting and news company that’s backed by big names like Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, Elisabeth Murdoch, Shari Redstone and many others. Unikrn has received over 10 million in funding and is on the front lines of regulation in its industry. Rahul shares many valuable lessons he’s learned through his first company’s acquisition and going to work at a large company after never working for anyone but himself. He also talks about the one pager exercise that changed his life, his involvement in the medical industry after his dad’s passing, and his admiration for Elon Musk and Tesla. His “you can reach out to anyone” mentality is a lesson you will want to take with you.
Liz Dunn started Dunn & Hobbes, her real estate development company, in 1998 after pivoting from her career as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. Over the last 20 years, she’s created several developments that push the envelope of design while maintaining the character and uniqueness of the buildings and neighborhoods where she works. Much of Liz’s inspiration comes from the time she’s spent in older urban cities like Toronto, London and Paris. During this episode, Liz talks about growing up in Canada, her time at Microsoft (including when she asked for a then unheard-of sabbatical), and how she lived in her first project for two years while she was paying off the bank. Liz also shares tips on how to break into the industry, the impact she thinks technology will have on real estate, and how seeing projects well done is what fuels her. Her knowledge of and passion for Seattle’s urban fabric is incredibly interesting to learn from.
Liz Pearce and her daughter Lila join us for this episode of What Fuels You. Liz’s resume boasts impressive companies like Sony, Google, and Amazon, COO and CEO of LiquidPlanner, and even her own consulting company. Most recently, Liz was the Chief Revenue Officer at Streem. Since this recording, Liz has left Streem to start her new company, Fresh Chalk, which helps you find “local professionals with a little help from your friends.” Liz is a self-proclaimed “productivity nerd” and shares some of her hacks that will help transform your schedule. She also discusses her involvement as a mentor to women in the tech community, her key takeaways from her career progression, and how she is intentional about taking time to connect with her family away from technology.
Scilla Andreen’s life lessons and the mission she’s fulfilling through her company, IndieFlix, are compelling and powerful. Scilla shares how she was bullied much of her young childhood and how that has propelled her forward in life in many ways. After high school and a short time at NYU before dropping out, Scilla found herself working on the set of The Wonder Years sorting hangers. She quickly worked her way up, receiving an Emmy nomination for her first episode as the show’s Costume Designer. After years in the industry, she took a crack at filmmaking and her first film received Oscar consideration. Her company, IndieFlix, which she co-founded in 2005, has become one of the most meaningful global screening and subscription streaming services, working to create positive change in the world through film. Scilla shares how she’s fueled through love and relationships, what losing a child was like, how meditation is a part of her daily practice, and how she’s opening up dialogues on difficult topics among children and families through her films. During this episode, you’ll feel as though you’ve been on her life journey with her through her incredible storytelling. Scilla is accomplished, grounded and someone everyone can learn something from.
Todd Bishop and John Cook both found their careers as journalists very early on. They originally met at the Seattle PI and went on to start the PSBJ TechFlash website together before starting GeekWire in 2011. Today, GeekWire receives millions of monthly page views and hosts several signature events that bring the community together each year. Their platform is the go-to source for technology news, with strong roots in the Seattle region. During this episode, Shauna has a free-flowing, fun conversation with Todd and John. She digs into their upbringings, struggles, and thoughts on the evolution of reporting. These two share how their differences complement each other and have been what’s allowed them to build this successful news empire. You’ll get the inside scoop on the GeekWire name, their favorite events of the ones they host, hopes for the future of their company, and much more. The dynamic of these co-founders will have you laughing while inspiring you at the same time.
About two years ago, Leslie Feinzaig founded Female Founders Alliance (FFA) after a frustrating experience in the pitching circuit with her own startup, Venture Kits. What started out as a Facebook group for a few female CEOs has grown into a large online network with hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals in just two years. Last year, FFA launched a startup accelerator consciously designed for women and non-binary founders seeking their first round of venture financing. After a runaway success with its first cohort, applications for the 2019 Ready Set Raise program are now open! Leslie is focused on spreading the message that women grow companies at three times the rate of men, but only get two percent of venture capital. Along with how she’s helping change this landscape, hear her talk about growing up in Costa Rica, her interesting journey applying to business school, her tips for staying organized, and how everything touches her more deeply since becoming a mom.
If you asked anyone who grew up with Robbie Cape in Montreal, they would all say they knew he was going to run his own business someday. He was constantly learning as a child from the family business and from his parents, who believed he should grow up understanding the value of a single dollar. In 2014, Robbie sold his first company, Cozi, and now is building his second company, 98point6, which is revolutionizing primary care and making healthcare more affordable and accessible to everyone. Robbie shares how he always starts with the ‘who’ before the ‘what’ when building businesses, why Time Inc was the perfect company to purchase Cozi, and important insight on the primary care crisis we’re facing. He also discusses his thoughts on Microsoft and Amazon, how he and his wife decide which organizations they are going to support, and the three key factors that have translated to good parenting for them.
Nicole Maddox shares her knowledge and expertise on scaling a startup on the What Fuels You podcast. Nicole stumbled into tech recruiting with her engineering background post-graduation, and since then has recruited for a range of companies. Most notably, Nicole was the Head of Talent Acquisition at high-growth startup, Convoy, until recently starting her own business to consult companies on all things hiring. This conversation has powerful insights for everyone from startup CEOs to candidates wanting to understand how to value stock. In this episode, Nicole and Shauna share an open dialogue on strategy for the first key hires, how startups can manage the offer stage against big giants like Amazon, and the importance of addressing diversity and inclusion early on.
Kabir Shahani, rightfully so, was recently recognized as one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” by Goldman Sachs. As a child, he got to travel the world playing violin and began attending summer college classes when he was only in sixth grade. Kabir co-founded his first company, Appature, at the age of 24 and successfully sold it in 2013. He is now the Co-founder and CEO of Amperity, which has received $37 million in funding in just three years. Kabir discusses Amperity’s values, how they hire, and the important role philanthropy plays in the company and his life. You’ll also hear about his experiences growing up in Kansas, how selling Appature made him “a much more diligent, rigorous operator,” and how he’s now focused on building a company that outlasts him.
Brent Frei credits his success to hard work and dedication, which he learned from his parents and from growing up on his family’s farm in Idaho. Though he never felt the need to be in charge, his desire to be in an environment where everyone is sinking or swimming on their own merit, including himself, led him to become the founder of three companies. Brent’s first, Onyx, IPOed in 1999, and his second, Smartsheet, IPOed in 2018. Brent reflects on the early days at Smartsheet, including the time they were almost out of money and the business model they bet on to be successful. He’s now hyper-focused on transforming the farming industry with technology and being the best dad to his five children. Find out what influenced him to start his current company, TerraClear, and what fuels him in business and in life.
Raja Mukerji, Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of ExtraHop Networks, learned empathy at a young age. His yearning for a sense of belonging while growing up in the UK and India taught him to understand the nature and meaning of connection, which he channels into everything he does today. During this episode, Fuel Talent’s Senior Tech Recruiter, Byron, joins Shauna to dig deep into the technology behind ExtraHop, the types of employees they look for, and the emphasis they place on culture. Beyond discussing his childhood and the early days of starting a company, Raja shares why early childhood education is so important to him and emphasizes the importance of “intentional presence.” His intellect will captivate you.
Scott Swerland was born to be an entrepreneur. He incorporated his first business at age 15, and ever since, continues to build and add more companies to his portfolio. He currently is the Founder and CEO of Seattle Sun Tan, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Urban Float and Washington Co-founder and CEO of TruFusion. You may have even seen him on a recent episode of Shark Tank! During this special episode, Shauna sits down with her big brother, Scott, to discuss their childhood, the biggest challenges he faces running several companies, and his “out of body experience” on Shark Tank. His passion and dedication to his work and family will motivate you to look at life in the same way he does.
Ambika Singh is the Founder and CEO of Armoire, a high-end clothing rental service that’s evolving the way women shop and dress. The idea was born during her time getting an MBA at MIT and the company launched in 2016 after she spent time at impressive companies like Microsoft, The Boston Consulting Group and Rover. Ambika shares her thoughts on mentors, molding your definition of success as you progress in your career and the importance of family. She’s been recognized on the 40 Under 40 List and is extraordinarily humble and relatable. Listen to her discuss what it’s like to build a company from the ground up and how she’s continuing to learn and iterate as the company plans to 10X in the next 12 months.
Incredible storyteller, Richard Tait, shares unforgettable moments from his lifetime as a connector and inventor. Born and raised in Scotland, he came to the US for entrepreneurial opportunities, and it didn’t take long for him to see unbelievable amounts of success, particularly with his popular board game, Cranium. As a result of Richard’s tenacity, Cranium became the first game sold at Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. He talks about both of these stories and several others where “a door that closed resulted in another door that opened.” His positive outlook on life, his love for his children and desire to put smiles on people’s faces will leave you energized and inspired to be a better person.
Amy Nelson founded the co-working space, The Riveter, under two years ago and already has five offices with eight more on the horizon across the US. Before The Riveter, Amy grew up in the Midwest and then became a lawyer in New York City for many years. Find out why Amy pivoted from her law career to get behind supporting female entrepreneurs, what the interesting twist in her love story is, and hear about the fascinating work she’s done in politics and with The Carter Center. Amy is a powerhouse supporter of women, a super mom, a great friend and someone you will definitely want to hear and learn from.
From being the daughter of an orphan immigrant, to getting into Princeton because a stranger paid for her SATs, to proposing to her husband, Jane Park’s narrative is unlike any other. Every bit as passionate as she is sweet, Jane founded nail salon turned beauty empire, Julep, because of an experience (or lack thereof) with her girlfriends. Listen as she shares how she built this multimillion-dollar business, what the process of being acquired was like and what this new phase means for her.
The What Fuels You podcast launches on Tuesday, January 22nd featuring the following guests.
- Shauna Swerland
- Greg Gottesman
- Jane Park
- Brent Frei
- Richard Tait
- Amy Nelson
- Jonathan Sposato
- Scott Swerland
- Fran Dunaway
- Chad Robins
- Raja Mukerji
- Ambika Singh
Here’s a teaser of Shauna's conversations from the Season One episodes. Be sure to share, subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts or Spotify, and follow us on social media for the latest news and updates!