Nicole Emrani Green's journey from the rambunctious daughter of Persian immigrants to venture-backed CEO had twists and turns. Surprisingly, her first career in psychotherapy gave her some of the tools to help advance herself as a leader and successfully close a $4MM Seed round for her company Givingli.
Matt Pohlson, co-founder and CEO of Omaze, has had one of the most death defying startup journeys ever. Time and time again, his company has been on the brink of death, only to be saved by Matt’s persistence and never-quit attitude. While most involved nearly running out of funds, one experience involved his own near death experience as he flatlined on an ER bed with his family surrounding him. Persistence brought him back from the brink and eventually back to Omaze where he used an even stronger belief in their mission to lead a Series B fundraise in March of 2020 just as COVID began impacting the world.
Zach Bruhnke, co-founder and CEO of HMBradley, had a shot at startup glory with his first fintech company Spout. After investor skepticism caused him to throw in the towel, he vowed not to have his own convictions be swayed in future companies. Zach shares how a crazy commitment to the vision with HMBradley as well as a natural approach to building relationships led to both company and fundraising success.
For the three years between her graduation from Y Combinator to her splashy $50MM Series A raise from Sequoia, Christina Cacioppo and her company Vanta kept a low profile. Back in 2018, they had been working in a space few people were talking about around Silicon Valley. SOC2 compliance for startups hardly got people excited. Then, almost out of nowhere, came the announcement that Vanta had raised $50MM from Sequoia Capital. Christina shares how she got to this point and how much impact YC had on the process.
Kameale Terry never wanted to be an entrepreneur, but eventually a problem she saw first hand in the electric vehicle industry drew her into starting ChargerHelp! From the beginning, she was less concerned with the hype cycle of startup trends and more focused on what she describes as “good business.” This allowed her to weather the storm of confusing and sometimes conflicting startup advice and the struggle to find a lead to eventually find herself in a super oversubscribed seed round.
Before starting Yac, Justin Mitchell had zero network in venture capital, didn’t know the insider terms, and was based out of small town Florida. None of this would point to someday raising a Series A round of funding from a top venture capital firm, but that’s what he did. The key he tells us was focusing on meeting the right people, building great product, and leaning on his thespian roots.
Laura Del Beccaro, the Founder of Sora, looks like the most VC-backable, first time founder ever. She went to a top university, was a software engineer at a scaled startup, and even did a stint at a top VC firm. But after pulling together an all-star pre-seed round fairly quickly, Laura found out how difficult fundraising can be when you’re no longer a “hot deal” as she tried to raise her subsequent round. Laura had to dig deep to find the confidence to unlock VC dollars even while her company’s numbers were less than confidence inspiring.