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.
From developing a brand identity to cultivating the right conditions for musical exploration, successful recording artists are masters of the creative process. Hosted by Stanford professor Bob Sutton, Sickamore, a hip-hop artist, photographer and the creative director at Interscope Records, joins Sam Seidel, director of K-12 strategy and research at Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, for an intimate conversation about what entrepreneurs can learn from the music industry, how to navigate ambiguity, and why it's important to strike the right balance between open-ended creativity and project completion.
Honeycomb co-founder and CEO Christine Yen spent a decade as a software engineer before creating her own company. She describes how her deep domain knowledge and relationships with like-minded software developers propelled her startup?s launch, and shares how she built an energetic human architecture around a highly technical B2B product.
The podcast market was growing rapidly when Luminary Media was founded at the beginning of 2018, and it was even bigger by the time the company launched its podcasting service on April 23, 2019. Just a month after that launch, CEO Matthew Sacks and co-founder/head of talent Lauren Perkins step back to assess how they identified an opportunity in the podcasting space, built a team and launched a product with a library of exclusive content in a little over a year. They also address the negative headlines and Twitter backlash they received during launch week, and share strategies for responding to the kinds of mistakes that fast-moving startups often make.
At age 26, Chip Conley founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality and grew the company into the second largest boutique hotel brand in the United States. After he sold the business, he accepted a strategy role at Airbnb, and his interactions with a predominantly millennial workforce led him to found the Modern Elder Academy, a ?midlife wisdom school? in Baja that encourages individuals with a lifetime of experience to carve a purposeful path through the modern workplace. Here, he shares the insights that have allowed him to flourish while shifting roles and accommodating to cultural change.
In the 1990s, Toby Corey co-founded the world?s largest web development company. Since then, he?s started other companies; held senior management positions at SolarCity, Tesla and most recently PlanGrid; and lectured in Stanford's Department of Management Science & Engineering. Now, he finds himself as concerned by social and environmental problems as with building companies. In response to global crises of climate change and inequality, he advises an approach that he calls ?zentrepreneurship,? and articulates principles aimed at helping entrepreneurs integrate creativity and ambition with social and environmental consciousness.
When Capella Space?s first prototype satellite launched in December 2018, it was the culmination of over three years of nonstop effort. Capella Space founder and CEO Payam Banazadeh explains how he fused experienced gained at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Stanford?s Management Science and Engineering masters program to build the satellite imaging company. As an early-stage CEO, he provides insights into the many risks and strategic decisions that precede product roll-out.
Nicole Hu and her two co-founders created One Concern to help communities prepare for and mitigate natural disasters by harnessing the power of AI. She explains how they use machine intelligence as a predictive tool, and shares strategies for identifying a central problem, securing investment and growing a mission-driven team.
Ritu Narayan founded Z?m in 2014 to solve a problem that working parents (herself included) face every day: transporting and caring for children before and after school. She describes her journey from the Delhi Institute of Technology to Silicon Valley and unpacks three factors that catalyze sustained growth: passion, perseverance and people.
From high school computer science classes all the way up to VC partner meetings, women and people of color remain underrepresented in the technology ecosystem. Even so, diversity-focused social scientist and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein is hopeful about the future of technology and entrepreneurship. As a partner at Kapor Capital, she provides seed-stage funding to technology startups that make a positive social impact on low-income communities and communities of color. Drawing on her work both as an investor and a diversity researcher, she offers strategies that founders and funders alike can pursue to make the tech world more diverse and inclusive.
You can?t do it all, no matter what our crazed culture tells you?and there?s no shame in walking away from a commitment that isn?t working out, as long as you do it thoughtfully, respectfully, and with plenty of advance warning. On this episode of LEAP!, Tina Seelig, Professor of the Practice in Stanford?s Department of Management Science & Engineering, and guests Konstantine Buhler of Meritech Capital Partners and John Melas-Kyriazi of Spark Capital embrace the negative, exploring when, why, and how to say no. Life is full of great opportunities, but they?re not all for you.
As Google?s first engineering director, Alberto Savoia led the team that launched Google?s revolutionary AdWords project. After founding two startups, he returned to Google in 2008 and he assumed the role of ?Innovation Agitator,? developing trainings and workshops to catalyze smart, impactful creation within the company. Drawing on his book "The Right It," he begins with the premise that at least 80 percent of innovations fail, even if competently executed. He discusses how to reframe the central challenge of innovation as a question not of skill or technology, but of market demand: Will anyone actually care? Savoia shares strategies for winning the fight against failure, by using a rapid-prototyping technique he calls ?pretotyping.?
Navin Chaddha, managing director at the venture capital firm Mayfield, describes the firm?s core values and examines the drivers behind several of the firm?s most successful investments. Mayfield?s investment strategy, he explains, is to focus on the founder rather than the company. He describes how impactful founders identify their mission early and pivot when necessary, all while maintaining a firmly people-centered mindset.
Midway through a M.D./Ph.D program at UCLA, Alice Zhang made a discovery that she felt could reverberate far beyond the halls of academia. So she shifted directions, leaving her Ph.D program to found Verge Genomics, a biomedical firm that aims to unite genetic research and artificial intelligence in service of drug discovery. She describes how AI can revolutionize the drug discovery process, and reframes risk-taking as a simple series of optimistic next steps.
Cars can be much more than just boxes that get their owners around. John Viera, a former director and sustainability lead at Ford Motor Company, and Raj Kapoor, chief strategy officer at Lyft, join Stanford adjunct professor Pedram Mokrian to discuss opportunities for innovation in the field of transportation, particularly in the context of sustainability concerns and accelerating urbanization. Innovators, they suggest, need to think of transportation as a converging ecosystem, rather than as a collection of disparate technologies and business models. As shifting energy sources and big data come into play, car sharing companies and automotive manufacturers will find themselves both competing and collaborating in new ways.
Opportunities in the cryptocurrency sector extend well beyond simply investing in Bitcoin or Ethereum, says Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan. He compares the digital currency landscape to the early days of mobile?a space poised to create an entirely new set of innovations and business models. For entrepreneurs looking to make a play in everything from social networking and banking to collectibles markets and real estate, he suggests, crypto?s underlying blockchain technology is worth investigating.
Roles expand and shift at a breakneck pace in a high-growth startup, says Meebo co-founder Elaine Wherry. Interns find themselves in charge of massive, mission-critical projects. Engineers are suddenly tasked with hiring and managing multiple teams. Wherry shares her insights on how to thrive in a rapidly expanding technology venture, drawing on the heady years between developing Meebo?s initial instant messaging platform in 2005 and landing the company at Google seven years later.
Everything we know about ?real time? is wrong, says Damien Patton, founder and CEO of Banjo. By analyzing and processing billions of live data signals, Banjo is able to deliver live-time, live saving information to aid agencies and the media. Patton shares his mission of using artificial intelligence for good, and encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to listen to their gut when faced with tough ethical decisions.
Global trade has existed for centuries, but hasn?t evolved with technology. Ryan Petersen, CEO and founder of Flexport, learned this the hard way as an entrepreneur managing the supply chain of his brother?s motorcycle sales business, and took it as an opportunity to update the industry. Petersen shares his insights on how entrepreneurs can solve some of the world?s biggest challenges and how the Internet can be a force for good.
Emily Melton, partner at the venture capital firm Threshold (formerly DFJ), shares her experience growing from a humanities student to tech investor. Melton shares advice for how to sustain startup momentum, navigate uncertainty and forge the honest, supportive relationships that lead to success.