Blog

By Brian Park

  Former Eloqua CEO: A Real DC Homer Those who follow acquisitions know its not always the founder that takes a startup across that final finish line to a really, really big sale. Often it’s a vetted CEO, brought in to supercharge sales, streamline operations, improve margins and make everybody a lot of money in a buyout. This month Startup Grind hosted such a man, Joe Payne, former CEO of Eloqua, a DC-er who led Eloqua in the acquisition by Oracle, an $871 million deal. What makes a great tech CEO? Washington, DC can claim this one: Payne was born in DC in Sibley hospital. “I’m a real homer,” Payne emphasized. “Caps, Terps, Redskins – I know there are like four of us left.” His family is all boys, and he described it, “A lot of sports, a lot of competition.” To entrepreneurship, “I was cutting grass all through college. On campus, I was the ‘t-shirt representative’ for TS Designs, so if you were a fraternity or sorority and you were throwing a party and needed tshirts, you found me on campus, and that’s really how I paid my way through school, that and the very generous support from Duke.” …

By Brian Park

  DC couples – and singles – are no strangers to the cool blue branding of The Wedding Wire, but how many of you know the founder Timothy Chi? That’s right, a groom, not a bride, that was so taken by the wedding planning process he decided to start a technology company to disrupt wedding planning and making it one of the world’s largest wedding marketplaces. In fact, The Wedding Wire was started by not one, but four guys together in Timothy’s Chevy Chase living room. The Wedding Wire is now valued at over $750 million, and Startup Grind DC couldn’t wait to chat with Timothy.   Like many other Startup Grind guests, Timothy was raised by immigrants. Both of his parents were entreprenuers; His father an architect, his mother a real estate broker. His own first business was far less glamorous: A car wash. It wasn’t until college, as a student at Cornell University, where he found his calling in software engineering.   Growing the Blackboard, LLC Beast   Way before Wedding Wire, Timothy was a known success for cofounding Blackboard. Back at Cornell, he had been working with six other founders, skipping classes to hack out the code …

By Brian Park

Silicon Valley Funding, Washington, DC Roots Washington, DC seems an unlikely place for database innovation; The city is filled with archaic government and nonprofit databases, each written in a slightly different language, each requiring enough training that when anyone exits an organization everyone goes – “Whose going to run reports??” Maybe its that need creates opportunity, because DC is now home to FoundationDB, one of only two DC startups funded by Ron Conway’s angel fund. This January Startup Grind DC hosted cofounder and COO, Nick Lavezzo. Nick is no stranger to DC’s government and technology space, having worked in finance and operations for Visual Sciences, Product Lab, LLC and Arimor, LLC. Nick is as homegrown in DC and FoundationDB, having spent most of his childhood between Baltimore and Washington. His background was more traditional, and he followed his father to Ernst and Young. His cofounder, Dave Scherer, was also his first grade best friend and partner in crime for such early entrepreneurial adventures as selling jars of surplus sugar-infused soda.   First Successful Exit in Data Nick’s first successful venture was also with Dave Scherer and Dave Rosenthal, who started Visual Sciences. Visual Sciences was a data visualization software platform, …

By Brian Park

Thirteen billion dollars. Thirteen billions dollars globally. It’s hard to even imagine thirteen billion dollars, especially on your bootstrapping startup grind, but that’s how much money Managing General Partner, Peter Barris of New Enterprise Associates has to invest. Best of all, this global venture capital titan is none other than a checkerplaid sportcoat wearing, boat-loving Washington, DC local. Startup Grind scored this December when Barris sat down with us to give us a glimpse of what it’s like to grow a $1 billion dollar tech-oriented VC fund to a $13 billion dollar global fund.   Learning From The Best Mentor: Jack Welch Like another Startup Grind guest, Ted Leonsis, Barris is a Greek-American, from a driven, entrepreneurial-oriented immigrant family. Also like Leonsis, he claims to have invented “surge-pricing”, but as a parking lot attendant in Ohio. His story takes a turn as he entered his MBA after an early career in engineering, following a very predictable track. There he became interested in GE. After his MBA, Barris’s real education began under Jack Welch. Barris’s job was to visit business divisions and solve their problems. “He put me into some real dicey situations, and I was 26 years old, what did …

By Brian Park

  Branching from our usual for-profit entrepreneurs, Startup Grind DC was privileged to host Jean Case this month. Jean founded The Case Foundation with her husband, serial entrepreneur and Startup Grind regular, Steve Case. Jean was also a former AOL marketing power player, GE info services marketer and technology company board member. The Case Foundation invests in social entrepreneurs, and is founded on principles of entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology.   What’s Expected When You’ve Made It   Where did this extraordinary woman come from? Normal, Illinois of course! “I had a corn field in my back yard, so it wasn’t really a setting that was aspirational”, she said of Normal. Raised by a single mother of four, it’s not surprising Jean grew into a strong and ambitious career woman. Answering her own question, “What took you into philanthropy?”, she shared her experiences “benefitting from the generosity of others” in her childhood, including attending private school on scholarship. “Too whom much is given, much is expected” is a feeling she shares in common with her husband Steve.   “Bad Words” Nonprofits Need to Learn   How important is marketing for a startup or a nonprofit? “I think marketing is important no …

By Brian Park

  In October, Startup Grind DC had the utmost honor to host Dr. Vint Cerf who is also widely known as the “Father of the Internet”.  The former DARPA scientist worked on data packet technologies which led to the internet as we know it. His led internet architecting at Verizon for eleven years and and spent fourteen years with NASA taking the internet to space. Vint serves as an evangelist for our October host and Startup Grind sponsor, Google. There he continues to push the bounds of the internet as we know it, into unconnected communities and new iterations in the internet of things.   Vint defied the portrait of a geeky scientist: Tall, and impeccably dressed, he took over the stage at our fireside chat, lobbing a joke at Brian. “You shouldn’t clap before people speak – you don’t know what they’re going to say yet.”   The Primordial Internet and the Cabana Hotel   Vint’s life story didn’t let us down there: Growing up in San Fernando in the Valley, his high school boasts Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford, Steve Crawford, Jon Postel, who managed the domain name system, and Richard Carp who wrote the first implementation of TCP. …

By Brian Park

  It’s been a big summer for the DC community with the arrival of the much anticipated 2U IPO. Startup Grind DC was lucky to host one of the company’s founders, Chip Paucek just after the IPO and hear his experience in taking a technology start-up from a few guys with an idea, to a publicly traded company.   Like many DCites, Chip arrived in DC as a student at George Washington University. Born and raised in South Florida, he was the first person in his family to go to college, and consequently supported himself through his undergrad. Of education he says, “GWU fundamentally changed my life in every way. I wouldn’t be here without [my education].”   Bleeding Entrepreneurship   His first entrepreneurial experience was at 12, selling comic books he earned working in a store to neighborhood kids. In 1993 he founded Cerebellum Corporation, an educational tv production company, which he ran in between doing political work. He went on to be the CEO of Hooked on Phonics, while founding and running the Sylvan Learning Center with his wife.   Surprisingly, he says of 2U, “Of all my entrepreneurial experiences, 2U is the only one that’s worked.” He …

By Brian Park

Startup Grind is launching into Public Beta today of Startup Grind Mentor, a new initiative focusing on engaging mentors with relevant domain expertise to help startups anywhere in the world. Startup Grind Mentor intends to connect thousands of startups to the right mentor at the right time via online and in-person mentorships. Early stage startups can ask help from a mentor with specific domain expertise who have skillsets that are relevant within their industry.  As they mature through the process, their needs change and require different mentors with other specialties who know how to navigate through the trenches.  The platform will match early stage startups to early stage mentors appropriately and allow entrepreneurs to graduate to the next level and enable access to higher mentors.   Startup Grind Mentor’s 3Ms – Matches you with startups – Manages the startups you advise – Motivates your mentees     ***Apply to Become a Mentor NOW!*** Startup Grind Mentor Application http://ow.ly/BwQzd                                       The official launch of Startup Grind Mentor to the general public will come later next year, likely in the February timeframe. The public beta …

By Brian Park

For many startups venture capitalism is critical in order to take their innovations to the next level. True Ventures who portfolio includes well known entities like Fit Bit, about.me, and Automattic are at the forefront of entrepreneurial investing. John Burke, a founding member of TV, recently discussed what it means to be a VC as well as what it took to obtain one. Acquiring an interest in startups during his college years Burke worked for various firms before leaving his home state of California to move east and pursue his entrepreneurial dream. For eight years Burke ran his first business BMI Software which provided technical assistance to major conglomerates such as American Red Cross and FedEx. After selling BMI in the late 1990′s Burke enrolled in business school thus familiarizing himself with the term venture capital. After graduation Burke became a VC and founded firms ABS Ventures and Blacksmith Capital before eventually ending with True Ventures. During the chat Burke discussed topics ranging from his first investments (about.me, Giga.Om) to his take on technology’s future climate. A key highlight was when Burke spoke on what it took to become a TV client. According to Burke a potential firm should not …

By Brian Park

 In the world of consulting no name screams louder than Deloitte. For over 100 years Deloitte has been at the forefront when it comes to providing strategic and comprehensive services to clients worldwide. One of the people at the helm of the Deloitte powerhouse is Cheif Technology Officer Mark White. Mr. White graciously shared his insight in a recent fireside chat.   A native of Georgia and proud graduate of UGA White grew up with a business mindset thanx to his entrepreneurial parents. After college he worked at May & Company-a family business- before landing a job with Arther Anderson Consulting. During his 14 year tenure White became a partner while also creating apps on his own such as Realiem which managed investment trust for various real estate agencies. Unfortunately when Anderson collapsed White had to seek out other employment. Eventually Deloitte reached out to White forming a successful partnership.    As the overseer of Deloitte’ s tech division White has 3 rules that he applies before placing a trend in the company’s Tech trend report: 1. Must be business led technology enabled 2. Have an expectancy to manifest within the next 18-24 months 3. Must have 3 general market companies obliging …