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Founders First

Founders First

By 1517 Fund
Founders First explores how founders got started, what they did before starting their startups, and how you can go from an idea to a venture-backed company.
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9. Turning Academic Research into Consumer Micro-Greens with Camille Richman (Hamama)
Hamama is helping people grow nutritious microgreens in their home, year-round. Camille Richman, and her co-founder Dan Goodman, started the company after meeting at MIT. Their product consists of 3 seed quilts that are laid in a reusable growing tray. Years of growing food in the lab and at home have made their system fail-proof and a viable option for inexperienced gardeners to benefit from homegrown veggies. Those greens are supremely fresh, extremely nutritious, and a novel addition to most diets. Camille talks with 1517 Fund’s Zak Slayback about their rigorous customer discovery process, how they’ve built everything themselves, and the potential market with Baby Boomers. Connect with Camille & Hamama Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
8. Growing a Facebook Group into a Venture-Backed Business with Dylan Gambardella & Justin Lafazan (Next Gen)
Next Gen started as an event that barely sold any tickets. Today, the community reaches tens of thousands of entrepreneurs through weekly emails, daily Facebook group activity, and a yearly conference. Next Gen was started by Dylan Gambardella and Justin Lafazan, who had a vision to provide resources to anyone and everyone in the nascent stages of building something for themselves. Today, they help leading brands like Target, Capital One, and Dell access, engage with, and influence the next generation. In this conversation with 1517 Fund’s Zak Slayback, Dylan and Justin explain the early hustle they undertook to launch the first Summit, how they collectively bargain for their community, and their commitment to replying to every question and ask. Connect with Justin, Dylan, and Next Gen Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
7. Bringing Software to Senior Care with Cameron Graham (Storii)
Cameron Graham and the Storii team are building a software platform for Senior Care Facilities. As the CEO, Cameron is responsible for leading their efforts to sell, fundraise and paint a vision for the future. The Storii product started with enabling care staff to digitally schedule and record the care they provide. It has evolved into a tool for case notes, family messaging, media consumption, and more. In this episode, you’ll hear Cameron and 1517 Fund’s Zak Slayback talk about how Cameron found his way into senior care, the challenges of being so young in such a conservative industry, and the disciplined customer discovery process Storii has followed. Connect with Cam & Storii Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
6. Making Home Ownership Possible with Cash Offers (Nick Friedman, Board)
Nick Friedman co-founded Board, a disruptive mortgage company, and now serves as Chief Operating Officer. Board’s founding idea is to level the playing field for home buyers by upgrading any offer into an all-cash offer. Board purchases homes in cash on behalf of approved buyers then sells the home back to the buyer once they’ve gotten their mortgage. You’ll hear Nick and 1517 Fund’s Zak Slayback discuss how Board narrowly avoided running out of money, how they landed in the Winter 2019 Y Combinator cohort after a last-minute application, and how they’ve hired talent. Connect with Nick & Board Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
5. Building Safe Construction Sites & Making Empathetic Sales with Alex Schwarzkopf (Pillar)
Alex Schwarzkopf is the CEO and co-founder of Pillar Technologies, a company that prevents damages on construction sites by using sensors and predictive analytics. Pillar’s sensors monitor temperature, dust particulates, noise, humidity, and more to prevent costly damages and identify mistakes sooner for construction firms. In this conversation, Alex and 1517 Fund’s Zak Slayback discuss how Pillar got their first pilot test deal, why they pivoted from their initial product idea, and the importance of empathy in sales. Connect with Alex & Pillar Technologies Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
4. Making Alchemy Real with Pavle Jeremic (Aether Biomachines)
When 1517 Fund looks to invest in technology companies, one of our favorite questions is, “what’s to stop someone else from coming in and copying you?” Pavle Jeremic had an incredibly exciting answer to that question. His firm, Aether Biomachines, is approaching control of 50% of all enzymatic data on Earth. In short order, they expect to reach 90%. That means they’ll have a head start, and moat, on applying machine learning and neural networks to high potential information. Pavle envisions this fundamentally changing the future of biological manufacturing for chemicals, food, and more. He discusses all this with 1517 Fund’s Zak Slayback in this 50-minute conversation. Connect with Pavle & Aether Biomachines Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
3. Helping People Time Travel with Gaetano Crupi (Cabin)
Time travel is not possible… yet. In the meantime, Gaetano Crupi and his team at Cabin are creating the illusion with overnight travel. Passengers of their mobility service get a bed to sleep in overnight while they travel from city to city. By removing the hassle associated with security and flight delays, it makes for a better all-around travel experience. In this episode, you’ll hear Gaetano and 1517 Fund’s Zak Slayback go deep down the idea maze for this exciting company. They discuss how cities reshape themselves to modes of transportation, how to avoid being commoditized, and navigating a change in leadership at a startup. Connect with Gaetano & Cabin Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
2. Eating Algae with Elliot Roth (Spira, Inc.)
Spira, founded by Elliot Roth, makes functional ingredients from spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that can be consumed by humans and animals is used as a dietary supplement or whole food. By developing spirulina in powders, food colorings, and protein isolates, Spira is making conventional foods more nutritious and sustainable. In this conversation, Elliot and 1517’s Zak Slayback discuss how Elliot got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of lab equipment for cheap, Elliot’s early missteps as an entrepreneur, and why Spira is pursuing this B2B business model. Connect with Elliot & Spira Connect with 1517 Fund
February 10, 2020
1. How Stephen Balaban Evolved from eBooks to Deep Learning Hardware (Lambda)
Stephen Balaban’s company, Lambda, is pursuing a lofty mission. They’re aiming to accelerate human progress with computation. The company builds workstations, servers, laptops, and cloud services used by Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Tesla, Amazon Research, Tencent, Kaiser Permanente, MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Caltech, and the Department of Defense. In this conversation, Stephen and 1517’s Zak Slayback discuss the profitable business Stephen started in his teens, how he got into the machine learning infrastructure space, and dealing with uncertainty when starting a business. Connect with Stephen & Lambda Connect with 1517 Fund
February 07, 2020