Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneursAuthor: Gregory Galant
01 Mar 2021

Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

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Muck Rack & Shorty Awards cofounder/CEO Greg Galant interviews the world's best entrepreneurs and creators, including the founders of LinkedIn, The Vanguard Group, Yelp, Brooklyn Brewery, Trello, Twitter and Stack Overflow.

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    How Mike McDerment grew FreshBooks

    Sometimes, a big mistake can trigger a big idea. In 2003, Mike McDerment was running a small web design agency when he accidentally saved over an old invoice. Frustrated and looking for a better way to bill clients, he decided to build the better way himself. The solution he came up with would become the foundation for FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting software for freelancers and service-business owners, which is now the #2 small business accounting software in America, with around 500 employees and customers in more than 100 countries. In true startup fashion, Mike ran FreshBooks out of his parents’ basement for the first 3 ½ years. His mother was even an early investor, securing a line of credit for the co-founders since they couldn’t get a loan themselves. In 2014, after a decade of incremental growth, FreshBooks raised $30 million in venture capital funding. A second round in 2017 raised another $43 million, fueling the company’s growth and dominance in the booming self-employed and small business market. Mike shares how he made the tough decision to pursue VC funding, the innovative approach they took to replatforming, how his role has evolved over time and what he’s doing to keep his entrepreneurial chops fresh. *** If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than a minute and helps us continue to attract the entrepreneurs you want to hear and learn from. For show notes, past guests and transcripts, visit venturevoice.com Sign up for the Venture Voice email newsletter at venturevoice.substack.com/welcome Follow and connect on social: On Twitter: twitter.com/gregory On Instagram: instagram.com/gregory On YouTube: youtube.com/c/GregoryGalant On LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/galant/ Learn more about Muck Rack at muckrack.com and The Shorty Awards at shortyawards.com

  • Posted on 15 Feb 2021

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    How journalist Steve Hindy started Brooklyn Brewery

    We’re heading back to the archives, this time revisiting my 2006 interview with Steve Hindy, co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery. Steve’s career journey, both as a foreign correspondent before he took the entrepreneurial leap, and as a brewery owner, is the stuff of blockbuster movie fare. After all, being robbed at gunpoint and being threatened by the mob are not problems the average entrepreneur encounters (thankfully!). Steve and his co-founder Tom Potter forged ahead through the ups and downs of the early years, even staring down bankruptcy at one point. But as Steve told me, building a business is like climbing a mountain. You put one foot in front of the other, you do the work everyday, and eventually you get there. In 2003, Steve and Tom sold their beer distributorship for $10 million to focus on the brewery. Since we spoke, Brooklyn Brewery has grown from $12 million to over $50 million in revenue, and it’s become a local institution, committed to investing in and giving back to the community. At the end of 2020, 36 years after convincing his neighbor and homebrew partner to quit his steady job at a bank and join him in starting a brewery, Steve announced his retirement. His story is proof that with grit, determination and a bit of fearlessness, you can turn your passion into a thriving — and thrilling — venture. *** If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than a minute and helps us continue to attract the entrepreneurs you want to hear and learn from. For show notes, past guests and transcripts, visit venturevoice.com Sign up for the Venture Voice email newsletter at venturevoice.substack.com/welcome Follow and connect on social: On Twitter: twitter.com/gregory On Instagram: instagram.com/gregory On YouTube: youtube.com/c/GregoryGalant On LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/galant/ Learn more about Muck Rack at muckrack.com and The Shorty Awards at shortyawards.com

  • Posted on 01 Feb 2021

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    How Mark Wilson built his success by building up others’

    Like most successful entrepreneurs, Mark Wilson, CEO of Chime Solutions, is an ambitious and savvy business person who’s driven by a strong work ethic and desire to make an impact. But when Mark founded his first company, Ryla, he was inspired by more than just the opportunity to build a business. Throughout his life, he had seen how talented people from minority communities often didn’t get the same chances as others who had more advantages. First with Ryla, which he ultimately sold for $80 million, and now with Chime Solutions, where he has a goal of creating 10,000 jobs around the U.S., Mark is aiming to level the playing field. In the process, he’s showing other CEOs that there’s a wealth of untapped talent out there, and that investing in people is good for business. Mark’s story is an inspiring reminder of what it means to be mission-driven and how much more powerful and fulfilling work is when you’re guided by meaning and purpose. *** If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than a minute and helps us continue to attract the entrepreneurs you want to hear and learn from. For show notes, past guests and transcripts, visit venturevoice.com Sign up for the Venture Voice email newsletter at venturevoice.substack.com/welcome Follow and connect on social: On Twitter: twitter.com/gregory On Instagram: instagram.com/gregory On YouTube: youtube.com/c/GregoryGalant On LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/galant/ Learn more about Muck Rack at muckrack.com and The Shorty Awards at shortyawards.com

  • Posted on 18 Jan 2021

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    How Evan Williams turned side projects like Twitter into huge successes

    Today, Evan Williams is most well-known for being the billionaire co-founder of Twitter, as well as Blogger and Medium. But back in 2005 when this episode was recorded, Twitter hadn’t even been conceived of yet. When we spoke, Ev had just raised about $2 million in venture capital money for a hot new podcasting company he was about to launch called Odeo. Spoiler alert: Odeo didn’t make it. But a little side project had promise, and about a year after this interview was conducted, he and his partners decided to shift their focus to it. That side project was Twitter. This episode takes us back to Ev’s mindset as he was gearing up for the launch of Odeo. It’s also a good reminder that failure is part of the entrepreneurial path. On a personal note, I have to say, this interview changed my life. Getting to know Ev and becoming one of the first users of Twitter ultimately gave me the idea for my first big success as an entrepreneur, The Shorty Awards. And that led me to start up my software company, Muck Rack. You never know where your journey is going to take you. *** If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than a minute and helps us continue to attract the entrepreneurs you want to hear and learn from. For show notes, past guests and transcripts, visit venturevoice.com Sign up for the Venture Voice email newsletter at venturevoice.substack.com/welcome Follow and connect on social: On Twitter: twitter.com/gregory On Instagram: instagram.com/gregory On YouTube: youtube.com/c/GregoryGalant On LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/galant/ Learn more about Muck Rack at muckrack.com and The Shorty Awards at shortyawards.com

  • Posted on 04 Jan 2021

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    Dan O’Keefe on the founding of Festivus and secrets of HBO’s Silicon Valley

    It’s a special holiday edition of Venture Voice, and the holiday we’re celebrating is Festivus. You may know it from the hit TV series Seinfeld, where the holiday “for the rest of us” is featured in the episode “The Strike” as an invention of George’s dad, Frank. Festivus was, in fact, invented by someone’s dad, but as you’ll hear in this episode, it wasn’t George Costanza’s; it was Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe’s. Dan shares how he reluctantly turned a family holiday memory he’d long tried to repress into one of Seinfeld’s most iconic episodes. At the time, he wasn’t convinced it would be well received. “It was embarrassing to me and seemed insane and not in a good, quirky TV way but in, like, a sad creepy dysfunctional way,” he shares. And yet, not only was that episode a hit with audiences, decades later, the holiday lives on. In preparing for the interview, I looked up media mentions for Festivus in our Muck Rack software and found over 3,000 articles have mentioned it in the past 12 months alone. Also in this episode, Dan shares some insider details from his time writing for HBO’s Silicon Valley, where he interviewed start-up founders and entrepreneurs as part of his research. The year the show premiered, HBO sponsored The Shorty Awards, which I co-founded and run, and they invited us to watch the pilot. I remember watching it and thinking, this is so good — it’s so accurate and incisive. After talking with Dan about their research process, I now understand just why it was so realistic. To nail down the Silicon Valley culture, the writers piled into vans and visited various tech companies, where they hit up founders, executives, engineers and VCs for stories. Coincidentally, among those Dan talked with were a couple of past Venture Voice guests, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman and my first guest on the podcast, the very funny Dick Costolo, then CEO of FeedBurner. According to Dan, a large percentage of the original Festivus was spent on airing grievances. I’m sure that’s something we can all get into as 2020 comes to a close. But you could probably also use a break about now, so tune in — I think you’re going to have a lot of fun with this one. Happy Festivus! *** If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than a minute and helps us continue to attract the entrepreneurs you want to hear and learn from. For show notes, past guests and transcripts, visit venturevoice.com Sign up for the Venture Voice email newsletter at venturevoice.substack.com/welcome Follow and connect on social: On Twitter: twitter.com/gregory On Instagram: instagram.com/gregory On YouTube: youtube.com/c/GregoryGalant On LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/galant/ Learn more about Muck Rack at muckrack.com and The Shorty Awards at shortyawards.com

  • Posted on 21 Dec 2020

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