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Running Through Walls

Running Through Walls is a Venrock podcast featuring candid conversations between investors and entrepreneurs. Each episode, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the breakthroughs, challenges and nuttiness associated with building and growing companies. Venture capital firm Venrock has been investing in entrepreneurs across technology and healthcare since 1969.
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Running Through Walls
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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 21, 2016

Gio Colella, co-founder of RelayHealth and Castlight Health, speaks with Bryan Roberts at Venrock about starting companies and the importance of surrounding yourself with amazing people. Colella advises other entrepreneurs to find partners you can trust, who are very different from you, and who are aligned with the vision for the company. Colella and Roberts also talk about the early days of Castlight and the iterative process that revealed the foundation of the company, as well as the challenges related to managing through the highs and lows as a public company. They also talk about what made RelayHealth’s acquisition by McKesson so successful, in a world where M&A horror stories are rampant. Colella immigrated to the US from Italy and left his psychiatry practice to answer the call of entrepreneurship.

Dec 7, 2016

Farzad Mostashari, founder and CEO of Aledade, speaks with Bob Kocher at Venrock about bringing a data-driven approach to solving problems and the importance of knowing the question you want to answer, so you can apply the appropriate analysis. Mostashari, who went to medical school, knew quickly that he would not pursue a traditional career as a physician. In medical school he was an outlier, asking questions about population/public health, and then during his residency was mostly curious about the systems, so it’s no surprise that Mostashari went on to hold positions with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York City Department of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Despite loving government service, Mostashari saw an opportunity to improve healthcare through Accountable Care Organizations, that would be better for patients, better for doctors and better for society. And in 2014 Aledade was born.

Nov 23, 2016

Sam Mazin, Founder and CEO of RefleXion Medical, speaks with Colin Cahill at Venrock about managing a big project with a lean budget, raising money, and communicating an evolving and complex vision. They explore the evolution of RefleXion’s addressable market as clinical data showed better results than the standard of care, and what that means for some cancer patients.  Sam and Colin also talked about learning to manage “on the job” and how you manage people who have more experience. Sam’s research as a postdoc at Stanford led to the idea of combining radiotherapy with PET imaging, and RefleXion Medical was born.  

 

 

Nov 9, 2016

Ryan Gilbert, co-founder of SmartBiz Loans, speaks with Brian Ascher of Venrock about building a fintech company and what went wrong along the way. The company mastered the art of pivoting and ultimately found its niche in small business loans. Gilbert advises new fintech entrepreneurs to partner with large banks rather than focusing on disruption, as banks have started to embrace new technology. A catch-phrase master, Gilbert wonders where truly novel technology can be found in the finance industry – where is the tech, in fintech? They also discuss the war for talent, giving non-obvious candidates a shot and promoting loyalty. Gilbert also talks about becoming a VC and what has surprised him most about his new role.

Oct 26, 2016

Anne Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe, speaks with Bob Kocher of Venrock about her path to entrepreneurship, the importance of authenticity and health as the ultimate equalizer of humanity. Wojcicki was dismayed by the lack of transparency in healthcare, which led the company to sell direct to consumers and empower them with information to get the care they want. In addition to understanding how their genetic information impacts their health, 23andMe has allowed people to engage with their genetic information to understand where they come from. Ancestry has been an addictive component of the product for consumers as people are often surprised to find that their roots and connections may not be exactly what they thought. Long lost cousin? Mostly, Wojcicki loves the honesty in healthcare.

Oct 12, 2016

Kevin Ryan, co-founder of DoubleClick, MongoDB, Business Insider, and Gilt Groupe (among others), speaks with Nick Beim at Venrock about building teams and what to look for in a VC. Ryan advocates taking risks as an entrepreneur, even if it leads to a failure or two. You can learn a lot from unsuccessful ventures and it prepares you for the next thing. They also discuss how entrepreneurial optimism is essential as there will always be rejection and bumps along the way, but it can also cloud judgement when it comes to an exit opportunity. Overconfidence may make you want to pass up a good deal when it comes along.  Ultimately, you have to have fun. It’s what keeps you going.

Sep 28, 2016

Blue Shield of California (BSCA) CEO Paul Markovich speaks with Bob Kocher at Venrock about bringing the healthcare system out of the stone age and the opportunities for entrepreneurs to bring much needed change to the industry. They talk about how Paul’s career path led him to healthcare, how he fosters an open environment that welcomes feedback and what BSCA is doing to create new efficiencies through a collaboration with Anthem Blue Cross, called Cal INDEX. They also discuss “what insurance companies actually do” and who is making money in healthcare. Paul is currently president and CEO of BSCA, a four million-member nonprofit health plan. Their mission is to ensure Californians’ access to high-quality healthcare at an affordable price. Paul was previously an entrepreneur, having cofounded MyWayHealth, a consumer-driven health plan.

Sep 14, 2016

Candice Morgan, Head of Diversity at Pinterest, speaks with Venrock’s Richard Kerby about her experience so far balancing recruitment and retention of diverse candidates at Pinterest, and challenges of recruiting in San Francisco in particular. They also discuss the less sexy side of diversity initiatives that are rarely covered in the media, and Morgan shares experiences from earlier in her career of executives not being supportive of diversity efforts. She also highlights the Rooney-rule like requirement at Pinterest that promotes hiring underrepresented minorities and women in leadership roles.

Candice is currently Head of Diversity at Pinterest, leading strategy and programs to enhance a diverse and inclusive company. She is a frequent speaker at global conferences and events. Formerly, Candice was a Senior Director in Consulting Services at Catalyst, the leading nonprofit for research, advisory, and practices on women in business.

Aug 31, 2016

YouNow CEO and founder Adi Sideman talks with Venrock partner David Pakman about his dream of an interconnected and livecasted world, and how he made it a reality with the founding of YouNow. He shares his views on the one pure form of rich media creation, what it’s like to compete with Twitter and Facebook, and how his game development experience helps him to deliver a magical experience to customers. They also discuss how YouNow avoids common safety pitfalls of other social media sites and why New York is the perfect home for the company.
 
Adi Sideman is a pioneer in participatory media, with more than 20 years of experience creating apps and companies in the user-generated content space. Founded in 2011, YouNow’s mission is to create an interactive platform where anyone can participate and express themselves live.

Aug 17, 2016

Brent Lang, an Olympic Gold Medalist and CEO/President of Vocera, speaks with Venrock partner Brian Ascher about his journey from winning an Olympic gold in swimming during the 1988 Seoul Games to leading a public company. Brent shares lessons learned from competing in the Olympics and discusses his insights on becoming an effective leader and managing a board. He also reflects on maintaining Vocera’s strong company culture during times of transition, and what he’s learned about establishing a healthy work/life “harmony.” 

 

Aug 3, 2016

John Stuelpnagel speaks with Venrock partner Bryan Roberts about his career transition from large animal veterinarian to entrepreneur, the keys to Illumina’s dominance in the industry, and the future of genomics. As the founder and board member of many successful genomics companies including Illumina, Ariosa Diagnostics, 10X Genomics and more, John shares his advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs and offers his perspective on the next frontier of innovations in genomics. 

Jul 20, 2016

Venrock partner and early Dollar Shave Club investor David Pakman speaks with CEO Michael Dubin about the acquisition by Unilever and the company's journey to this point. 

Jul 6, 2016

Six-time founder Ned David speaks with Venrock partner Camille Samuels about why he doesn’t particularly enjoy being an entrepreneur, but feels compelled to build companies, including newly formed Unity Biotechnology. They discuss Unity, and why Ned is passionate about eliminating the aches and pains of old age and extending human “healthspan.” He also shares how his hiring tactics have evolved from “The Bad News Bears” to “The Expendables” over the years, and why he wants to make his son proud.

Cami has invested in all of Ned’s life sciences companies and currently sits on the board of Unity. Ned has founded a series of companies in the biotechnology and sustainable energy sectors, including Syrrx, Achaogen, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Sapphire Energy and now Unity, which designs therapeutics that prevent, halt, or reverse numerous diseases of aging.

Jun 22, 2016

Entrepreneur Bryson Gardner speaks with Venrock partner David Pakman about how his experience at Apple - where he worked on the iPhone and iPod - led to the creation of Pearl Automotive. Bryson shares his vision for Pearl and why you shouldn’t have to buy a new car to get the latest technology. They also discuss which aspects of Apple culture he emulates and which he purposefully avoids.  

Bryson Gardner has over 20 years of experience developing consumer products, most recently at Apple. Founded in 2016, Pearl is dedicated to improving the more than 1.2 billion cars on the road today through advanced automotive technology that updates automatically to deliver ongoing feature enhancements.

 

Jun 8, 2016

6sense founder and CEO Amanda Kahlow speaks with Venrock partner Brian Ascher about the importance of identifying company values and her unique spin on making those values a part of her company’s DNA. Amanda also discusses the most telling questions she asks every potential new hire, the ups and downs of letting people go while maintaining a positive culture, and shares how a little competition with her brother pushed her to succeed early in her career. She also has some advice for her fellow female entrepreneurs.  

Amanda Kahlow is a product-focused CEO who is passionate about bringing the power of predictive marketing and sales intelligence to B2B enterprise and mid-market companies. The 6sense predictive intelligence platform uncovers net-new prospects at every stage of the funnel and determines which existing prospects are in market to buy.

May 26, 2016

Gina Bianchini, CEO and founder of Mightybell, speaks with Venrock partner David Pakman about the secrets to building healthy communities online, “revisionist history” in Silicon Valley, the No. 1 product mistake she’s made, and how to build trust among teams. She also shares why sponsors, not mentors, helped her the most when first starting out in her career.

Gina is an expert in community entrepreneurship. Mightybell is designed for entrepreneurs and company innovators to launch communities that need to exist in the world. Before founding Mightybell, Gina Bianchini co-founded and led Ning, the largest social platform for communities, started in 2004.

May 25, 2016

Grand Rounds CEO and co-founder Owen Tripp talks with Venrock partner Bryan Roberts about the move from tech into the healthcare industry, his goal to make everyone a medical insider, and what he loves about Millennials. He also reveals his weakness in evaluating candidates, and discusses the rise of women in healthcare IT.

Grand Rounds’ vision is to create a path to great health and health care, for everyone, everywhere. Prior to Grand Rounds, Owen co-founded Reputation.com and grew the company into the worldwide leader in online reputation and privacy management.

May 16, 2016

Russ Fradin, CEO and founder of Dynamic Signal, talks to Venrock partner Brian Ascher about his long history as an entrepreneur and how that experience has impacted the way he approaches running a business today. They discuss lessons learned from Dynamic Signal’s early pivot, as well as Russ' contrarian view on fundraising, why he’s always open to blind emails and why it’s stupid to be stealth in the enterprise world. 

Russ is a digital media industry veteran with nearly 20 years of experience at companies such as Adify, comScore and Flycast. Dynamic Signal’s employee advocacy and engagement platform changes how companies communicate, turning employees into experts, advocates and contributors. 

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