Venrock partner David Pakman speaks with Roham Gharegozlou, CEO and founder of Dapper Labs about launching CryptoKitties, one of the world’s first and most successful blockchain games, and shares his predictions for how crypto gaming will evolve in the next decade. They also discuss the launch of NBA Top Shot, a new kind of digital collectible that capitalizes on consumer affinity for collecting and sports, and Flow, which is a blockchain that takes care of the underlying technology so developers can focus on building their applications.
Venrock’s David Pakman speaks with Misty Robotics Founder and Head of Product Ian Bernstein and CEO Tim Enwall about the launch of Misty II and the company’s evolution into a platform for developers. They discuss what sparked their initial interest in robotics and the various ways a robot can help people at home, from eldercare and cleaning to any other application that developers can dream up. They also share lessons learned from launching the BB-8 robot at Sphero, and how design factors into human-robot interaction.
Venrock partner David Pakman speaks with CoinFund’s Jake Brukhman and Aleksandr (Alex) Bulkin about their path to the crypto space, projects they have worked on, as well as the challenges they have faced. The crypto ecosystem is still early in its evolution and there is a lot of room for improvement, but what will catalyze widespread adoption? David, Jake and Alex also discuss opportunities for investors and what projects excite them.
John Katzman, CEO and founder of the Noodle Companies, joins David Pakman to discuss the evolution of edtech. He shares what he learned from his time as founder and CEO of The Princeton Review, including hard lessons he learned as a first-time CEO. John shares with David the two values that all successful entrepreneurs must hold sacred, and why his focus on metrics has become a worthwhile obsession.
Ben Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Amino, joins Venrock’s David Pakman to discuss how Amino brings people together to share their passions. Amino is a mobile app where users join communities based on their interests, whether it’s Game of Thrones, robotics or modern art (to name a few). Unlike most gathering places on the Internet, Amino is rare in that it’s a positive place, almost always free of trolls. Being a first-time CEO, Ben tells David about the nuances of managing millennials and the importance of creating a constant stream of positive reinforcement. Ben shares how hustle, willpower, and perseverance have helped his team create one of the most highly rated apps in the App Store today.
Curious about cryptocurrency? Venrock’s David Pakman talks to Adi Sideman and Yonatan Sela about the upcoming launch of PROPS, a new cryptocurrency. The YouNow team pioneered mobile live video and they were the first to introduce an economy around interactive video, where on the one side people can buy a virtual currency, and on the other side, creators who perform can earn that currency. They discuss what led them to this point, and how YouNow is setting out to distribute network value broadly across users and break up the centralized control of media with the PROPS project.
Matt Rogers, co-founder of Nest, started his career as an intern at Apple and it was during that first week on the job when he met his co-founder Tony Fadell. While speaking with David Pakman of Venrock, Rogers talks about stretching people to help them grow, why he and Fadell chose to reinvent the thermostat, and why Apple is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs. Nest was going after a market dominated by well-entrenched players, but Rogers says they were prepared for a fight and ultimately these older companies have made it easy for Nest to stay one step ahead. Rogers also recalls a low point in the company’s growth – a product recall – and how they navigated that situation with transparency and continued focus on the whole customer experience. Now a part of Alphabet, Rogers says it’s hard to know what to expect when your company is acquired, but building a good relationship with the acquirer is key. Roger’s kryptonite? Large crowds!
YouNow CEO and founder Adi Sideman talks with Venrock partner David Pakman about his dream of an interconnected and livecasted world, and how he made it a reality with the founding of YouNow. He shares his views on the one pure form of rich media creation, what it’s like to compete with Twitter and Facebook, and how his game development experience helps him to deliver a magical experience to customers. They also discuss how YouNow avoids common safety pitfalls of other social media sites and why New York is the perfect home for the company.
Adi Sideman is a pioneer in participatory media, with more than 20 years of experience creating apps and companies in the user-generated content space. Founded in 2011, YouNow’s mission is to create an interactive platform where anyone can participate and express themselves live.
As an early investor in Dollar Shave Club, I spoke with CEO Michael Dubin about the company’s acquisition by Unilever and the journey to this point on the latest episode of Venrock’s podcast, Running Through Walls.
Many people remember the humorous viral video that first launched the company. “I was freaked out that maybe we wouldn’t recover from our success,” says Dubin, after the site crashed thanks to the video’s unanticipated popularity.
The company did recover, and Dubin went on to build one of the most recognizable brands in men’s grooming. He knew he had a hit when he visited a distribution center and saw the volume of packages on the conveyer belt, bringing to life how many people interact with the company daily. He says, “Three percent of Americans wake up and engage with Dollar Shave Club.”
Dubin took improv classes early in his career, and humor has long played a role in the culture of DSC. He’s even adapted some lessons from improv to the role of CEO: “When you’re on stage with no script, it teaches you to live in a scary moment and still perform, which is great training for a young company.”
Following the acquisition, Dubin will stay on as CEO, and it will be “business as usual” at DSC with a focus on launching new products and expanding internationally. Dubin cites “Unilever’s position as one of the most progressive and innovative CPG companies in the world” as the reason the company is a good fit for DSC.
Dubin hopes that five years down the road, “We’ve been able to meaningfully change the way people think about shopping on the internet.”
Entrepreneur Bryson Gardner speaks with Venrock partner David Pakman about how his experience at Apple – where he worked on the iPhone and iPod – led to the creation of Pearl Automotive. Bryson shares his vision for Pearl and why you shouldn’t have to buy a new car to get the latest technology. They also discuss which aspects of Apple culture he emulates and which he purposefully avoids.
Bryson Gardner has over 20 years of experience developing consumer products, most recently at Apple. Founded in 2016, Pearl is dedicated to improving the more than 1.2 billion cars on the road today through advanced automotive technology that updates automatically to deliver ongoing feature enhancements.