Monthly Archives: January 2018

#4 – AI AND BIG DATA FOR A NEW WAY TO WORK – JOEL LUXENBERG – DEEP CURRENT



Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle, New York, Austin.  They’re all synonymous with startups.  But often overlooked is the nation’s second largest city.  While Hollywood is the 800 lb. gorilla in the City of Angels, a vibrant and ever growing tech scene continues to flourish to the west of downtown Los Angeles in what’s become affectionately become known as Silicon Beach.

Veteran entrepreneur Joel Luxenberg was convinced there was plenty of talent and opportunity in LA for his newest venture, Deep Current, and is quickly proving there’s no shortage of opportunity for startups to thrive amidst the sunshine and palm trees.

“It was very important to me as a founder to say ‘no, we are bucking that trend.’  We don’t have to be up in the Bay to do this or Seattle.  It was really important that we’re building this community here in Los Angeles,” Luxenberg says in a conversation with producer Josh Kerns and Microsoft technical evangelist Anthony Kelani in the latest installment of Series A – The Podcast.

Deep Current is at the forefront of dramatic advances with AI and machine learning .  The enterprise SaaS company uses a series of neural networks powered by Azure to automate data entry and help companies make better business decisions.

In this episode, Luxenberg reveals some of his important insights for other founders, discusses his experiences raising millions of dollars in VC, and how his experience as a starving jazz musician on the streets of New York shaped him as a founder and technologist.

The company was among several recently backed by a a new $125 million fund raised by Los Angeles-based Cross Ventures, and Luxenberg offers his philosophy that led to Deep Current’s recently sold out funding round – a stark contrast to his previous companies where he had to “beat the pavement” for relatively minuscule investments.

But he admits with even the best laid plans, every day brings unknown and unexpected challenges, experiences and adventures.  And it’s his foundation in jazz he relies on to help get him through it.

“The beauty of jazz is – it’s very similar in mathematics to engineering – you learn all of this to be able to forget it.  To let it come out organically as you improvise,” Luxenberg says.  “Being a founder is all about that improvisation within structure, but it still has to resolve, as chord progressions and changes do.”


#3 – NEW RETAIL TECH @ NRF 2018 STARTUP SHOWCASE



While hundreds of companies and thousands of potential customers packed New York’s massive Javits Center for the annual NRF Big Show, a much more select event was taking place at Microsoft’s flagship store in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

Tereza Nemessyanyi – who spearheads Microsoft for Startups on the east coast out of New York – curated the exclusive panel of top retail startups. It was a chance for each one to pitch to NRF attendees from all over the world – showcasing the power of their transformational businesses for retailers seeking truly disruptive solutions in a dramatically and rapidly changing world. You could consider it retail startup speed dating of sorts.  And there were plenty of matches made.

Host Jim Brisimitzis and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns take a deep dive into the major tech trends reshaping the retail landscape, as seen at the Microsoft Startup Showcase at NRF 2018. The episode features founders and key leaders from Glam ST, Everywear, Cosign, Prevedere, Tangiblee, Genostyle, Papervault, Markable.AI, Maxerience.


#2 – MARKETING MAKEOVER – KATE BRADLEY CHERNIS – LATELY



As a founder, one of the challenges is knowing when to listen to others, and when to trust your gut.

It became pretty obvious to Lately founder and CEO Kate Bradley Chernis after years of working for others. “Once you know that it’s a line in the sand that you draw.  And to know what you have to do as a result of it,” Kate says in the latest episode of Series A-The Podcast.

What the founder of the burgeoning New York City-based startup has done is built a powerful marketing software solution that’s taking business by storm, from the SMB to the enterprise.

Kate tells host Jim Brisimitzis of Microsoft for Startups launching the company was something she did somewhat begrudgingly. She had owned a thriving agency managing multi-million dollar national campaigns for the likes of Walmart, the United Way, and many others.  The former radio DJ had built a booming business with the help of her savvy for spreadsheets, developing a reputation for her mastery of managing disparate campaigns and contacts.

Some friends and colleagues urged her to automate her spreadsheets into software and create a company. They figured it would cost about $25 thousand.  Kate wanted nothing to do with their idea.   “What are you talking about, why would we do that, leave me alone,” she told her friends. “I’m buying a house with my money.”

Unbeknownst to her, her friends funded and built the product themselves and showed up at her house on the Sunday after Christmas. She wasn’t happy.  “I was so pissed and annoyed, and then they showed me what they had done and then I was like ‘Oh! Oh my god,’” Kate recounts in her conversation with Series A.  And Lately was born.

Kate shares the myriad insights gleaned during the past several years as a founder, including how to find her product market niche, navigating some of New York’s top accelerators such as Entrepreneurs Roundtable and Grand Central, and the necessity of repeated preparation for the pitch.

She offers founders valuable hacks gleaned from years behind the microphone and on the stage and reveals how she’s overcome a painful and debilitating condition that requires a number of adaptations including frequent use of speech-to-text software (with a cautionary tale: Dragon tends to misinterpret VC’s as feces, she laughs.)

And perhaps most important, Kate teaches others how to be true to themselves, and embrace who they really are.  “I’m a pain in the ass. I’m a wild horse. I’m really stubborn, sometimes belligerent. I like to do what I like to do, warts and all,” Kate laughs. It seems to be working just fine. Join Kate Bradley Chernis with host Jim Brisimitzis for the latest episode of Series A-The Podcast, now available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Blubrry.


#1 – DECODING AND THE SLACK MOMENT – CHRIS NGUYEN – LOGDNA



LogDNA isn’t co-founder Chris Nguyen’s first rodeo. But when he and longtime partner, friend and co-founder Lee Liu learned a new baby was on the way, they realized it could be their last as co-founders, and LogDNA was born from another startup the pair had built.

At the time the company had just $17,000 in the bank, so it was as Chris calls it a true “Hail Mary.”  But the bet paid off and the reception for LogDNA has been overwhelming.  Along with numerous major customer wins, the burgeoning startup recently raised $7 million in Series A funding.

In this in-depth and revealing conversation, Chris discusses his experiences, lessons learned and keys to success as a founder with host Jim Brisimitzis. Chris describes LogDNA’s “Slack moment” –  the dramatic pivot he and Lee took after exiting Y Combinator with a company the pair determined would never gain the traction necessary to achieve profitability.

Other entrepreneurs can learn much from his insights as a repeat founder, from building products to satisfying customers to creating the right company culture. And this humble Canadian shares some of his biggest secrets to success, such as his willingness to ask others for help. Join Chris and Jim for a fascinating and insightful conversation with plenty of valuable lessons for any founder.


WELCOME TO SERIES A – THE PODCAST



They’re the disruptors, the innovators, the dreamers and the doers.  Men and women changing the world as we know it, one startup at a time.

Series A-The Podcast goes in depth with the founders, investors, engineers, technologists and others paving the way to the future.

In this prologue, join host Jim Brisimitzis – the head of Microsoft for Startups – as he introduces you to some of the top talent he’ll profile throughout the series.  They share unique insights, lessons learned, personal stories of triumph and tribulations as they seek to build the next great success.

Throughout the series you’ll hear and learn from founders at flourishing startups including LogDNA, Joy, Deep Current, Lately, Bittrex, Gfycat, SummitSync, and many others across the US and Canada – From Silicon Valley to Toronto, New York to Atlanta.

Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.