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Entrepreneur Journeys

A Late Bloomer on Building a Legitimate Unicorn: Veeva Systems CEO Peter Gassner (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 27th 2016

Peter Gassner is a self-described late bloomer. In a wonderfully authentic interview, Peter describes here how he turned his middle-age crisis into a multi-billion dollar market cap company. Veeva, in 2016, will do well over $500 million in revenue and trades at a market cap of over $4 billion. There’s nothing foo foo about this company. It’s raw execution. I love the story.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background? >>>

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Building a Billion Dollar Unicorn: Outbrain CEO Yaron Galai (Part 1)

Posted on Thursday, Jun 23rd 2016

Yaron came with a clear notion of how he wanted to recommend content and monetize those recommendations. It took, however, many years before the market caught up with his vision. It has now. The company is going gangbusters.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Yaron Galai: I was raised in Israel. That’s where I grew up most of my childhood and spent my first 30 years. I served in the Israeli Navy for 7 years and then started startups.

Sramana Mitra: What year does that bring us up to? You said you worked in the Navy and then started working on startups, or was some of that interweaved while you were still at the Navy? >>>

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A Serial Entrepreneur’s Lessons Learned: .CLUB CEO Colin Campbell (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 20th 2016

Colin, in one of his ventures, worked 10 years, and made no money when the company was exited. Subsequently, his perspective has evolved, and in this interview, he offers lessons on what to watch out for.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Colin Campbell: I’m actually a farmer from Canada. It was very tough work. Even though I worked on a farm, I still lived in the suburbs of Toronto. I was able to get the best of both environments. I went to the University of Toronto and graduated from there. As soon as I graduated, I went right back to working in the farm for about four to five months. >>>

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The Story of a $9M Lifestyle Business: Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 20th 2016

Kean wanted to be able to build a digital business that he could work on from anywhere in the world, a lifestyle business that fulfils a very specific desire. Read his fascinating story, as the business has now started to scale.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Kean Graham: I was born in Alberta, Canada. My family moved to a small town called Golden, BC when I was eight years old. It’s in the Rocky Mountains of Canada and they started a bed and breakfast in the mountains. We actually lived for five years on solar power. I grew up appreciating having electricity and being conservative and sustainable. From there, I went to Victoria, BC which I now call home. >>>

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Connected Medical Devices from France: Visiomed CEO Olivier Hua (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 13th 2016

Connected Medical Devices is an emerging trend in Healthcare. Read on to see how a company from France has been navigating and pushing that trend.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Olivier Hua: I was born in France 58 years ago. I started my career as a banker. After seven years, I decided to become an entrepreneur. We actually bought three companies in the automotive industry and I stayed there for 12 years. Back in the early 2000, the automotive industry was a very traditional business. I wanted to be part of the new things that were happening. I then changed careers and became an investor. I was an investor for 12 years and during that time, I’ve helped several companies grow. >>>

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Long Journey Over 20 Years: Paula Tompkins, CEO of ChannelNet (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 13th 2016

Paula Tompkins started her bootstrapped digital marketing venture in 1985. She has navigated massive industry level shifts, three significant downturns, and has managed to remain relevant. The company today does $20M+ in annual revenue.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Paula Tompkins: I was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. I was the first of my family to be college-educated. I went to Marshall University. It was a local university in my hometown. I graduated with a Business degree in 1974. My mother was a hairdresser. My father owned a shoe store. My father was a first generation Lebanese. My mother has a multi-generational Irish-English-Welsh background. >>>

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Bootstrapped First, Raise Money Later: Manick Bhan, CEO of Rukkus (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 6th 2016

“My journey was as unexceptional as you can imagine,” says Manick, in describing how he got to $1 million Annual Revenue Rate in transactions before raising financing. Read on for the whole story.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by going back to your very beginnings. I want to hear about where you were born, raised, and in what kind of background.

Manick Bhan: Both my parents come from Kashmir. They raised me in Baltimore, Maryland. That’s where I was born. I’ve grown up mostly in the United States. In the very early days, I liked to take things apart. When I was nine, they bought me this bicycle. The first thing I did was I opened the whole thing up. I took out all the screws and basically dismantled the beautiful bike. They were a little horrified about it because it was a birthday present. This has been pretty constant in my life. I like to take things apart and figure out how they work. >>>

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A Serial Entrepreneur’s Awesome Journey from Austin, Texas: Jason Cohen, CTO of WP Engine (Part 1)

Posted on Tuesday, May 31st 2016

Jason has done three bootstrapped startups, sold two of those, and then bootstrapped a fourth one to heavy duty venture financing.

This is a great interview with a pro who knows what he is doing at many levels.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised and in what kind of background?

Jason Cohen: I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. Austin, of course, is a popular place to be. It’s about 20 million people in the surrounding area. When I was born, it was 10 times smaller. I had jobs in high school. I was an intern at Aerospace writing code in their R&D department. I worked throughout college at local startups at Austin. Right after that, I started a consulting company. The consulting company and the next three companies were all bootstrapped and got over $1 million in revenue. Two of them were sold. For about 20 years, I’ve been doing startups and never worked at a huge company. >>>

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Bootstrapping Using Services from Ireland: Shane Evans, CEO of ScrapingHub (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 23rd 2016

Shane has built a 140-people virtual team-based business from Ireland. Very interesting view into a different part of the world.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Shane Evans: I was actually born in the UK. Both of my parents worked at Heathrow. My father is British but my mother was Irish. I think their involvement and love for travel had an impact on me. I came to Ireland when I was two years old and that’s where I grew up.

Sramana Mitra: What was your educational process like? >>>

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Building a SaaS Company with Operational Discipline: Betterworks CEO Kris Duggan (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 16th 2016

Kleiner invested $15 million in Bettelworks on a concept. It’s an unusual financing that only experienced entrepreneurs can pull off. Read how Kris is building the company.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Kris Duggan: I was born in Australia. My parents are Australian. When I was five, we moved to Texas because my dad had an opportunity to relocate with the chemical company that he worked for. I grew up in Houston and actually went back to Australia for a year but then, ultimately, moved to California for most of high school and college. That was in Southern California. About 15 years ago, I moved up to Northern California. >>>

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