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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sari Factor, CEO of Edgenuity (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 20th 2014

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.

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Unicorn in the Making: Veeam CEO Ratmir Timashev (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 20th 2014

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. >>>

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Building a Global Technology Company from Colombia: Ricardo Villadiego, CEO of Easy Solutions (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 13th 2014

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. >>>

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Disrupting the Floral E-Commerce Industry: Farbod Shoraka, CEO of BloomNation (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 6th 2014

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. >>>

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Bootstrapping a Bulk Book E-Commerce Business: BookPal CEO Tony DiCostanzo (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Aug 4th 2014

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 >>>

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Bootstrapping a Fun Social Business: Paint Nite CEO Dan Hermann (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 30th 2014

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.

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Disrupting Cloud-Based Recruiting: SmartRecruiters CEO Jerome Ternynck (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 30th 2014

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. >>>

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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Peter Hirst, Executive Director of Executive Education, MIT Sloan School of Management (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jul 28th 2014

This interview is a great discussion about the various experiments going on in the world of higher education and how online learning is playing out there.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s introduce our audience to yourself as well as to what you’re doing at Sloan vis-à-vis executive education.

Peter Hirst: I’m the Director of the Executive Education program here at the MIT Sloan School. Essentially, what we do is run short, non-degree courses for individual executives and Senior Managers. We also do this for companies in a more customized >>>

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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Katya Andresen, CEO of Cricket Media (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 23rd 2014

It almost always is the case that Edtech companies don’t have solid monetization models. Cricket media is experimenting with models that are worth understanding. This interview also further elaborates on the issues raised in one of my articles, Are We In A Golden Age of Edtech?

Sramana Mitra: Let’s introduce our audience to Cricket Media. Tell us what you do and what trends you are aligning with.

Katya Andresen: We’re a children’s education media company. We provide award-winning content for learning on a safe and secure learning network. >>>

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Building a Fat Startup with a Massive Patent Portfolio: Cleversafe Founder Chris Gladwin (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 23rd 2014

There aren’t many sub $100 million technology companies that can boast of a strong patent portfolio. Cleversafe is that rare exception, and hence, a tremendously valuable company with robust revenue growth in a $20 billion market.

Sramana: Chris, let’s start with your background. Where are you from? What is the genesis of your entrepreneurial journey?

Chris Gladwin: I was born and raised in Ohio. Like you, I went to MIT, which was transformative for me. It opened my eyes with respect to technology and technology-based businesses. That led to me becoming a technology entrepreneur. >>>

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