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Entrepreneur Case Studies

Serial Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh: Ron Bianchini’s Amazing Journey (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 4th 2015

Ron is a fellow MIT alumnus who went to Carnegie Mellon for his PhD, and subsequently has done three successful systems ventures. This story offers insights into his methodology.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the very beginning of your story. Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances?

Ron Bianchini: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in a very large Italian family. If you put a dot on my grandmother’s house at 35th Avenue and go out on a five-mile radius, you’d probably capture 30 to 50 Bianchinis. >>>

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Successful Pivots on Product, Market, Business Model: Gigya Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Eyal Magen (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 4th 2015

Gigya started off with one set of market assumptions, and along the way, pivoted to a drastically different market, addressing an entirely different pain point. Four years later, it switched from an ad-supported business model to SaaS. It survived all these changes, and has now built a robust company, fueled by over $100 million of funding, strong customer growth, and overall execution. Read this very interesting, decade-long journey related by one of the co-founders of the company.

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

Eyal Magen: I was born in Israel. I was raised here. I was interested both in computers and psychology when I was in high school. I think the combination of psychology and computers is something that is very necessary for being an entrepreneur. That’s my early background. >>>

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A Textbook Case Study of Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship: Bhavin Parikh, CEO of Magoosh (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Apr 27th 2015

Bhavin Parikh and his now departed co-founder Hansoo Lee have built Magoosh with textbook diligence and great discipline. Along the way, Hansoo died of lung cancer, a tragedy that hangs over the company both as misfortune and as inspiration. Read this wonderful story of young Berkeley students pulling together a great business and executing with straight up common sense.

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

Bhavin Parikh: I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My parents are from India. They’re both physicians. At some point, I thought about becoming a doctor but during an internship, I fainted. So I knew that path wasn’t for me. I went to Duke University for undergrad and pursued degrees in Economics and Computer Science. Then, I moved to Philadelphia where I worked for Deloitte in technology consulting, right at the intersection of business and technology. It allowed me to utilize both of my degrees and work with people. >>>

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Bootstrapping from Belgium: iText CEO Bruno Lowagie (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Apr 27th 2015

Bruno has bootstrapped a highly profitable company from Belgium. Now what?

Sramana Mitra: Where are you from?

Bruno Lowagie: I’m from Belgium.

Sramana Mitra: I’m married to a Belgian. Were you born and raised in Belgium?

Bruno Lowagie: Yes, I was born in Ypres, which is in the west of Flanders. I lived there until I was 18. I went to college in Gent. I met Ingeborg there.

Sramana Mitra: You’re co-founders?

Bruno Lowagie: Yes. We married there. >>>

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From YCombinator to Customer Traction and $50 Million in Financing: MemSQL CEO Eric Frenkiel (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Apr 27th 2015

Eric and his co-founder Nikita left Facebook to join YCombinator to develop their idea for MemSQL. The company has blossomed into a robust enterprise software business with a solid customer base.

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?

Eric Frenkiel: I was born and raised in Southern California. I studied at Stanford when I actually decided to specialize in engineering. I looked at a lot of schools and I thought that Stanford was the best place for me to grow and learn. I graduated in 2008.

Sramana Mitra: What kind of engineering did you study at Stanford?

Eric Frenkiel: Operation Research. You would call it industrial engineering in another time. In Stanford, it’s called Management Science and Engineering. >>>

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Competing with Box and Dropbox: Soonr Co-Founder and CTO Steven Boye (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Apr 20th 2015

How does a little company with most of its engineering in Denmark compete with Box and Dropbox? Read the story of Soonr.

Sramana Mitra: What is the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey? Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What’s the back story of the entrepreneurship story?

Steven Boye: I’m a US-Danish citizen. I was born in 1962 in Denmark. My mother is American. I always had strong ties with Europe and America. I graduated as an engineer in electronics. I started in entrepreneurship shortly after that.

Sramana Mitra: Where did you do your studies? >>>

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Don’t Pivot Too Soon: ADARA Co-Founder and CTO Charles Mi (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Apr 20th 2015

The Lean Startup methodology has created a frenzy to pivot. Entrepreneurs seek instant gratification, and when they don’t get it, they rush to pivot. The market is strewn with false negativities as a result, because entrepreneurs don’t have the patience to stay with a concept, develop it, and sell it.

ADARA is a counter-example that pivoted, but to an idea that took a lot of lengthy selling to gain ground.

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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Bootstrapping Using Services From Colorado: InteliSecure CTO Chuck Bloomquist (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Apr 20th 2015

Chuck has bootstrapped a security company using services all the way up to $35 million in valuation and has recently raised private equity capital to develop a platform product.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? What kind of background leads up to this story?

Chuck Bloomquist: I was born in El Paso, Texas. I spent most of my youth living in the Pacific Basin. After we moved out of Texas, we moved to Wake Island. Then, we went to Hawaii and lived there for a year or so. Then, we moved up to Alaska and the UK. I came back to Texas for college. I then migrated to Colorado.

Sramana Mitra: After college, you graduated to Colorado? >>>

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