CO-FOUNDER, EXTREME TECH CHALLENGE<br />CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, HARMAN INTERNATIONAL
We're currently in the fifth wave of technology evolution – an era driven by data and AI, which are accelerating the number of applications that can disrupt every industry due to the timely availability of actionable data-driven insights. This year's XTC winners, applying AI, blockchain, deep analytics and more across our seven categories, strongly show how this fifth wave can make the world a radically better place.
CO-FOUNDER, EXTREME TECH CHALLENGE<br />PARTNER EMERITUS, CHARLES RIVER VENTURES
For almost any company today, if you want to succeed, you have to stand for sustainability. Capital markets have a way of signally what the future needs. Take Tesla or Beyond Meat. The public capital markets are shouting that they want to fund projects like this because they will have a meaningful impact on our future. There are many sustainable companies in many different segments that are now viable because, rather than relying on subsidies as the driving force, there is increasing consumer demand. If, as a brand, you don’t stand for a better world, people aren’t interested in your product anymore, whether it’s ice cream or cars or anything else.
CO-FOUNDER & FORMER CEO, YAHOO! AND FOUNDING PARTNER, AME CLOUD VENTURES
We are balancing between the challenges of economic damage versus potential public health damage. This will define our generation depending on how we deal with it and how agile we can be. I think it’s clear that innovation will come out of necessity. My investment thesis is very simple. Since 2012, I’ve believed we are just at the beginning of data-enabled businesses that will disrupt and transform the mainstream. We have invested in companies like Zoom, but we also invested in deep tech companies, everything from space tech to AI and Robotics. Looking toward the future, I feel that this is the century of biology. As digital and life sciences come together, we are starting to invest in some of those businesses as well. I believe that if you combine a bioinformatics expert with a big data scientist, magic can happen there.
VICE PRESIDENT, CISCO INVESTMENTS
"Even though, with corporate venture capital, you are dealing with big companies, it always comes down to the people and the personal relationships you build. Finding the right person within the corporation you want to work with makes a big difference."
VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER OF CISCO CONTACT CENTER, CISCO SYSTEMS
Some people are worried that when a corporate investor comes in, they will start controlling your roadmap. When I ran my startup, I didn’t find that. Nobody controlled our roadmap or asked us to do things unnatural to us. And if they asked us to do things we didn’t want to do, we just said no. The investor wants you to succeed. They are not there to make sure you only succeed for them, because they are also financial investors.
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CO-HEAD, SAMSUNG CATALYST FUND
We live in extraordinary times, but they are also times of great hope. As a global startup, you have to think about how the world is changing today. How have consumers changed? For example, people around the world are clearly not traveling as much or staying in hotels. They are not going to the theater or movies. What’s clear is that consumers have shifted those dollars to other areas and to digital consumption within the home. It’s important to think how trillion-dollar industries are digitally transforming themselves because of Covid-19. If you are a startup, you need to think about how you can ride these waves of change. History shows that every time there is a downturn, that is exactly the time when great companies are founded.
MD, PHD, CHAN ZUCKERBERG DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR, UCSF AND CHIEF DATA SCIENTIST, CALIFORNIA HEALTH SYSTEM (UC HEALTH)
Telemedicine and telepathology are here to stay in a post-Covid world. It’s clear that patients have wanted this to happen. We have gone from near zero telemedicine usage at the beginning of the year to now, where 40% of our encounters are completed with telemedicine. At one point in the crisis, we had more telemedicine appointments than face-to-face appointments. Going forward, telemedicine will expand into many more healthcare verticals. Many of these telemedicine platforms are pretty generic today. That means there is a lot of room for even newer and better solutions. For instance, a surgeon now uses the same telemedicine tool as an endocrinologist. Think about what a surgeon would need to explain things to patients that an endocrinologist wouldn’t. There are also opportunities in making sure that telemedicine is not worsening disparities, and that these solutions work just as well for your parents and grandparents as they do for you. Let’s make sure our solutions work for them too and are not worsening disparities, whether digital, racial, ethnic, or age-based.
CO-FOUNDER AND GENERAL PARTNER, POND VENTURE PARTNERS
A lot of entrepreneurs are trying to figure out how to get their business funded. They just want money. But I often tell entrepreneurs what they really need is the right amount of money from the right VCs for the right business plan. You need to unpack each of those elements. Don’t raise more money than you need. Find a VC that is passionate about what you are doing and can really add value. And finally, if people listen to your plan, and you get hundreds of “no’s,” maybe you have take that to heart and make some changes. Because a few small changes in that plan can turn a very tough business into something that can really pop.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS AND CHAIRMAIN, WALDEN INTERNATIONAL
I’ve always invested in people who have a background in disruptive technology. I like to identify the most talented people with the most relevant experience. That is always the starting point. Once you have the right leadership, then you can build a team around those people. The other thing I look for is culture. You can’t learn that. Entrepreneurs have to be able to inspire others to build something great over the long term. And they must foster a team culture rather than an individual culture.
TAE HEA NAHM
CO-FOUNDING MANAGING DIRECTOR OF STORM VENTURES AND CO-AUTHOR OF SURVIVAL TO THRIVAL
Go-to-market fit is the formula for unlocking growth. The experience of finding go-to-market fit is like going from paddling to surfing. Paddling is so tiring. You are burning a huge amount of energy to go a very short distance. It’s like burning a lot of cash to generate a little bit of growth. On the other hand, when you catch the wave, what you feel is momentum. You feel like you can go very far without expending energy. It’s a very humbling experience when people who where superstars at one stage of the company unfortunately struggle and fail at the next stage. The reason for this is that, as the company grows, the role you play also changes, even if your title may not. People have to change or be changed. Being a VP of sales with five reps is very different than being a VP of sales with 5,000 reps, even though the title is the same.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTEL CAPITAL
I encourage startup CEOs to look not just for corporate investors, but for good corporate investors. As a startup, you want access to capital as well as to investors who can help you with follow-on rounds, with hiring, and with access to management talent. And you also want the strategic advantage of having investors who really understand your space and have experience developing technology and products. When working with corporate investors, you really get the benefit of this operating culture that you don’t quite get when working with financial investors.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, M12
"Diversity has to be part of your culture and process. Creating a diverse team from the beginning will create a better product. At Microsoft, the more diverse teams we have working on our solutions, the better our products have been."
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, MICROSOFT
Be thoughtful about what it is your building and who you are looking to serve. Then ask yourself, does your team represent your customers? We found that diversity drives innovation. You need a broad range of voices and perspectives to chip away at the biases that still exist in the workforce. And that will make your products even better. Leadership is a privilege. That’s means it comes with tremendous responsibility. What I’ve learned as a leader is that mindset is as important as skillset. You are responsible for setting the tone for those around you. And they will look to you for that clarity. Leadership is about listening and learning. Let a learn-it-all mindset—rather than a know-it-all mindset—guide you as you build your company culture. Culture will always be a work in progress. At Microsoft, we are never done. We keep asking questions, we keep listening, and we keep modifying and fine tuning. Culture is something that requires intention as well as attention. As you build your companies, you need to really foster the environment that you are looking to create. You will reap greater dividends by investing in culture early and often.
FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER, DRAPER ASSOCIATES
The bad news is that we have a global pandemic and shut down businesses. The good news is that entrepreneurs can lead us out of this period. Entrepreneurs are the ones who create value and jobs in our economy. This is your opportunity as an entrepreneur right now to take the big risks. This is your time. The world is counting on you to lead them to a better place. People are looking to leaders like you for guidance. In this crisis, you have the opportunity to lead the world to your destination, to inspire your employees and to show what you are made of. Don’t be distraught if you miss the wave. Technology advances very quickly. Moore’s Law says that the capabilities of technology double every 18 months. If that’s the case, if you miss one wave, you will see another one come 18 months later, and that wave will be twice a powerful. That means you can catch an even bigger wave. This is more true than ever. We are about to see a massive wave where the best startups won’t just be worth billions of dollars, but trillions of dollars.
I like to get to know the founding team anywhere from 12 to 24 months before actually investing. Building that relationship over time, getting to know each other, and seeing the progress, that makes things much easier when the time is right to invest. The best time for startups to engage with VCs is when you don’t need to raise money. There are a couple of benefits. It removes the pressure of having to get to a yes or no decision in a short period of time. The second benefit is that if VCs are interested, they will push the discussion. If they are not, they will hopefully tell you what they want to see to get interested. That leads to the third benefit of getting to know the investor better and understanding that you can work with this person over a long period of time.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND INVESTOR, JEITO CAPITAL
Investors don't like surprises. They don't want to learn something from someone else that they should have learned directly from the entrepreneur. My advice is to always be transparent. Building trust and transparency starts with setting expectations. For example, the CEO of one company I invested in informed me that, in two years, he would need to move to the U.S for personal reasons. Two years later, he did just that and it was fine because he was clear about his intentions from the beginning.