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Non-Technical Founder Building a Tech Startup to over $10M: David Moricca, CEO of Socialive (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 7th 2021

Sramana Mitra: You have a political science and law background. Then you went to McKinsey to do some consulting work. This brings us to 2006 now?

David Moricca: 2005.

Sramana Mitra: What happens then?

David Moricca: I was itching to move from consulting into more of an operational role. Because of my previous background and my interest in education and combined with media, Scholastic jumped out at me. I had an offer with Google. Google had not yet gone public.

I ultimately decided to go with Scholastic because it was an interesting place to learn. My sense was that it was an entrepreneurial opportunity there. I joined Scholastic in 2005 first in the Strategic Planning and Business Development group. I ended up becoming a corporate entrepreneur there. A lot of my friends were surprised that I went to Scholastic. It worked out well for me.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do there?

David Moricca: Scholastic is a really interesting company. It’s a public company. For many years, it only had two CEOs. It’s really a family-run business. The son who’s the founder and former CEO, Dick Robinson, just passed away. It’s family-run but it has built a competitive advantage in certain market areas. They were ready to bring in more strategic planning and business development resources. My boss brought me in to help build out the first ever strategic planning and business development group. It was a lot of fun. It was an amazing way to learn about these startups in the education space.

Sramana Mitra: How long did that relationship with Scholastic last?

David Moricca: I was at Scholastic for about five years. I had a second role there. After a year and a half, I pitched the CEO on building a digital learning platform. The company was starting to get more and more into digital. Most of its business is in the institutional side selling to schools and libraries. I pitched the idea of us building a consumer-facing and institutional-facing digital learning platform.

They allowed to me build it internally. We built the company’s first digital learning platform. It’s called Study Jam. It’s a math and science learning platform. It’s built around the idea similar to what I talked about in the non-profit that I started. The whole idea was to make math and science more relatable by using things like karaoke and animated videos.

Sramana Mitra: You don’t come from a technical background. What was your strategy in figuring out the technical side? Was it that you attached yourself to somebody deeply technical?

David Moricca: I do have a bit of a product mindset. It gave me some firsthand experience of how to build these things. When I started the company, I was a solo founder. I incorporated it in late 2008. I didn’t have a co-founder. I didn’t have a technical co-founder.

Sramana Mitra: Is this your first company?

David Moricca: This is the same company. We pivoted four times. I didn’t have a technical co-founder. That first year, I made loads and loads of mistakes. I had gotten a seed round from friends and family. I burned through 25% of it trying to work with an agency to build the initial product.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Non-Technical Founder Building a Tech Startup to over $10M: David Moricca, CEO of Socialive
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