There is a huge gap between industry and academia today. Learn more about the lay of the land and identify opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with giving our audience a bit of context about Hands-On Learning (HOL). What do you do? What major online education industry trends are you aligning with?
The Force.com platform has been a great bootstrapping device for entrepreneurs. Read how Alex and Richard Britton bootstrapped CloudSense to a sizable product company on the platform.
Sramana: Alex, let’s start with your personal journey. Where were you born and raised? What are the roots of your entrepreneurial story?
Alex Fuller: I was born in Wimbledon in the UK where the tennis championship is held. My educational background was not focused on technology. I studied classics at Oxford University, which focused on Latin, Greek, and Linguistics. Before that, I had already acquired an interest in technology. I got into computing as a child when I was 12 years old. I had a keen interest in computing throughout my school years. >>>
VCs in Silicon Valley want financial levers that allow you to grow with a hockey-stick curve. Expensify doesn’t have that. In my opinion, however, they have built an excellent, profitable, steady growth subscription business that has an attractive viral characteristic. The business, at some point, may accelerate naturally, but as David notes, the levers are not financial. Very interesting case study.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with your personal background. Where were you born and raised? Tell us a little bit about your childhood.
K-12 has been a challenge for EdTech companies to build businesses in. Typically, buying cycles tend to be very long. See where Edgenuity is getting traction, and what trends are emerging in the space.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to you as well as to your company.
Sari Factor: After a short career in teaching back in 1980, I joined a company to explore technology in education. It was the first electronic publishing division of a major US publisher. I thought technology was going to change the world. I was this young green thing right out of teaching. Here I am many years later and I’m still trying to get technology to change K-12 education.
You have read some of the Unicorn Series pieces already: Tableau, FireEye, RightNow, Palo Alto Networks and several others. Here’s a company that gets little coverage but is performing at Unicorn levels.
Sramana: Ratmir, let’s start our discussion by reviewing your background. Where are you from? What are the roots of your entrepreneurial journey?
Ratmir Timashev: I was born in Russia in 1966 in the mountains between the European and Asian region of Russia. I studied physics in Moscow and I attended the top science school in Russia. I was working on my PhD when perestroika came into being. Science was very prestigious under the Soviet Union and when perestroika happened, all that changed. Government funding suddenly stopped. The economy collapsed and science did not make sense. A lot of my friends who were studying science went to work in other areas. >>>
We seldom see global technology companies being built out of Latin America, so what Ricardo and his team have been able to accomplish is very exciting. And to think that they are building a fraud prevention company out of Bogota, Colombia is truly impressive.
Sramana: Ricardo, let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where were you born and raised?
Ricardo Villadiego: I was born in Cartagena, Colombia which is a small city in the north of the country. I was raised there until I was 15 and then I moved to Bogota to study to become an engineer. I moved there by myself. I finished my degree as an electrical engineer. Immediately after graduation, I went to work for Unisys Corporation. >>>
You must have heard of 1-800-Flowers. Did you know that the company takes 50% of the order value, while the local florists fulfill the orders? That’s a hefty customer acquisition cost. Read how Farbod Shoraka and his co-founders are disrupting the industry.
Sramana: Farbod, let’s start by learning a bit about you. Where are you from? What is the backstory to the BloomNation story?
Farbod Shoraka: I am from Los Angeles. I was born in Iran, but I grew up in LA. I was only two years old when we came over to California. I went to school at Berkeley. I studied economics and graduated in 2004. >>>
Tony has identified a gap in the book business and built a thriving company. Let’s learn the how, what, and why of it.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised?
Tony DiCostanzo: I was born in Anchorage, Alaska. Shortly after turning two, I moved up to Nome, Alaska – from a small city to an even smaller village of 3,000 people. We lived there through the sixth grade and then moved back to Anchorage through most of high school. I ended up spending a couple of years in Washington State but found that California was more of my natural habitat. I came down to go to school at Pepperdine University and met my wife who was from southern California. It was a natural >>>
Social media is great, but human beings also love to socialize in person. Paint Nite is thriving by tapping into the desire human beings have to ‘hang out’ and do creative things.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with telling our audience a little bit about your personal background. Where were you born and raised? What kind of background?
Dan Hermann: I am now 43 years old. I was born in Boston and grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. I attended the University of Wisconsin. I started my first business at the age of 21. That business is a pick-up and delivery laundry service, which I still own today. We’re in six different states. I learned a great deal about operational businesses in that business.
SmartRecruiters is going after Taleo and SuccessFactors and intends to disrupt the cloud-based recruiting platform industry. Gutsy and well-conceived, Jerome is executing very well on his vision!
Sramana: Jerome, let’s start by reviewing your background. Where are you from? What are the roots to your entrepreneurial journey?
Jerome Ternynck: I was born in France. I studied finance in Paris at the University of Paris Dauphine. I then went into the army, which was mandatory at the time. I gained my first lessons in leadership over there. I served as an officer in the French paratroops for two years. >>>