PODCAST

SphereCast

Sphere Partners

SphereCast is a podcast all about technology — technology advice, technology inspiration, and how real entrepreneurs have used technology to build their businesses from the ground up. If you’re wondering how technology can support your business goals, rest assured. Our guests have been there and done that.

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Welcome to SphereCast!
Jan 13 2021
Welcome to SphereCast!
Welcome to Spherecast. A podcast all about technology — technology advice, technology inspiration, and how real entrepreneurs have used technology to build their businesses from the ground up.
Passion Meets Tech — Emilia (Gyoerk) De Stasio
Jun 6 2022
Passion Meets Tech — Emilia (Gyoerk) De Stasio
This week, the SphereCast speaks with Emilia De Stasio, COO and Founder at Artscapy. The mission of Artscapy is to lower the barrier to entry into art collection. Within the platform, users can both purchase contemporary art and track the art pieces they own, including documentation and value. Artscapy is merging the worlds of fine art and complex technology — such as blockchain technology — to make the art world more welcoming to new audiences.Emilia has always had an interest in art and art collection — a common thread through a relatively uncommon career path. Emilia thought she was destined for a job as an economist and pointed her life plans in this direction. However, when economics didn’t pan out as expected and through several twists and turns, Emilia began building a business to drive traffic in the direction of that one common thread — art. For Emilia, Artscapy is a place where her passion meets tech. And on the podcast, she dives into both the passion and the technology as she reflects on her time as an entrepreneur.Noteworthy Quotes:”Our mission is to democratize the art world — to make it accessible. To make it possible for anyone to come in and learn about art. Overcoming those initial barriers to entry. That initial intimidation.”“A key to building any sort of tech business is being in it from the beginning. Understanding what’s the backbone of the business.”“Many people who are interested in building a tech business think, ‘Okay, I need to build every single thing from scratch.’ And that’s not necessarily true. One of the key strengths of a good entrepreneur is finding out how to optimize solutions. Aggregating different solutions. Bringing in the skeletons built by others and expanding on that.””Working within a startup, I’ve never worked as much as I am now. But I’ve never been happier than I am now.”“Don’t get too worked up around what you think you need to be doing. Or that there’s only one path for you and that you need to pursue it ad nauseam… In life, the places where you can add the most value develop over time.”“The beauty and the curse of entrepreneurship is that no day is the same. There’s always a challenge. There’s an infinitely growing to-do list. It’s a living, breathing animal that needs love, care, sweat, tears. And that’s also the beauty of it.”“There are different routes to entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, if you can drive your business forward while also staying sane, that’s what matters.”Bullet List of Resources – Emilia De StasioLinkedInArtscapyCompany WebsiteInstagramLinkedIn
It Pays to Be Nosy — Andy Bray
May 20 2022
It Pays to Be Nosy — Andy Bray
This week, the SphereCast interviews Andy Bray, Chief Financial Officer at Sermo. Sermo is a social platform, connecting more than 1.3 million healthcare providers across 150 countries. This physicians-first online community allows clinicians to communicate about issues that are important to them and their patients. In no other industry is mind-share more important than healthcare, as sharing expertise can literally mean saving lives. The sum is much greater than its parts.Bray has held financial positions in various companies across many different industries — including an early run at one of the “Big 4” accounting firms. Having seen and experienced much over the course of his seasoned career, he offers a unique perspective on what makes a “good” finance department. But one prevailing attribute that spells success in a financial professional? Nosiness. On the podcast, Andy deep dives on the value of curiosity in finance, offers some insightful leadership advice, and much more.Noteworthy Quotes:”To be a strategic CFO, you absolutely need a strong team. The most important parts of your FP&A team are the people that you have in it. And they need to have an analytical mindset and a curiosity. You need to be nosy and understand what’s going on inside of the company. To look beyond the numbers.””Excellence is not perfection.””Agility is just huge and is such a key attribute. It’s massively linked to your culture. If you want agility and to be agile, it’s important to live that culture and harness that.””As a leader, you have to be respectful of people’s time. You get to meetings on time. You don’t change things at the last minute. You don’t move things around… You have to put your team first.””As a leader, listen more than you talk. That’s key. Listen and understand different perspectives, facts, and viewpoints. And once everything has been put forward, make the right decision based on that data.””Don’t be afraid to make career decisions that aren’t orthodox. Everyone has a long career, and going down the route that is nontraditional is hugely beneficial. And sometimes people think it’s risky. But that risk is never as great as people fear it is.””As a leader, you have to be focused on what needs to be done. Especially when people are going off in many different tangents.”Bullet List of Resources – Francois CasanovaLinkedInSermoCompany WebsiteFacebookTwitterLinkedIn
The Scalable CEO — Francois Casanova
May 6 2022
The Scalable CEO — Francois Casanova
This week, the SphereCast speaks with Francois Casanova, Founder and CEO at Fitogram. Fitogram is a digital service that takes the pain out of administrative logistics for fitness professionals and business owners. Fitogram offers comprehensive online booking, payment processing, customer management, and accounting — all in an easy-to-use SaaS platform. In its own words, Fitogram believes that “nothing should stand between people and their passion for sports.”In 2012, Fitogram began as a humble Germany-based startup. Since its inception, the company has grown its customer base to tens of thousands of fitness providers across more than 11 European countries. With the growth, Francois’s role has shifted from a fully hands-on CEO to more of a visionary, casting direction for the company and trusting his team to see the vision to reality. On the podcast, among many other things, Francois discusses entrepreneurship, leadership, and trusting your team to do what’s right.Noteworthy Quotes:"Now, my role in management is to serve the company. I don't see myself as a leader. I see myself as a servant of the business. The team is really doing the big chunk of the work at this point. And that has been a massive switch... That helped us unlock so much potential and growth.""When you're the CEO, you feel that you need to help and need to be involved and need to know everything. But you can't. Definitely not... My role has to be as a [visionary].""A good leader is a good listener. It's about understanding and listening your team and your market. Really taking the time to do that is very important.""I've been part of an entrepreneurial club for a long time now. And we organized an event called Leap and the Net Will Appear. And I think that's very true for every entrepreneurial journey. If you really work hard and go in the right direction, you make stuff happen.""You cannot underestimate the value of a good customer journey."Bullet List of Resources – Francois CasanovaLinkedInFitogramCompany WebsiteInstagramYouTubeLinkedIn
Scaling Live Music Experiences — Yuli Levtov
Apr 14 2022
Scaling Live Music Experiences — Yuli Levtov
This week, the SphereCast team interviews Yuli Levtov, Chief Technology Officer at Volta XR. Volta is a self-serve XR creation platform that makes producing innovative digital experiences accessible to all. Prior to Volta’s platform, truly engaging digital experiences were reserved for the makers with extensive resources and extremely deep pockets. With Volta, that is no longer the norm. Volta is initially focused on extending its services to the music industry — effectively offering limitless scale to live music performance — but has plans to extend into other verticals as well.For Levtov, Volta is a dream convergence of two of his highest passions — music and technology. And Yuli can rest easy, knowing that he’s doing the good work of making great technology — and, by extension, great live experiences —  accessible to more people. On the podcast, Yuli lays out his history with Volta XR, recounts some of its early challenges, and discusses some learnings made along the way.Noteworthy Quotes:"When you have limited resources — as every startup does, by definition — it's very tricky to know exactly where to be directing the resources. There are lots of interesting options on the table — lots of ways the product could go.""Productivity comes in different ways. You have to work smarter, not harder.""Be more structured around personal development... If you want to be a CTO or a founder or an entrepreneur or something like that, the ability to pull in bits of expertise from different subject areas makes for something greater than the sum of the parts. In order to do that, you have to take a keen interest in learning."Bullet List of Resources – Yuli LevtovLinkedInVolta XRCompany WebsiteInstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube
Sticking to our Core — Gandolf Finke
Apr 13 2022
Sticking to our Core — Gandolf Finke
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Gandolf Finke, Founder and MD at Mika. Mika is a digital companion platform that walks with cancer patients through every step of their difficult journeys through sickness. The app offers up personalized evidence-based content, including digital interventions and trusted education. Prior to his work at Mika, Finke spent time as a consultant with a large global firm, primarily focusing on healthcare organizations.Cancer in no stranger to Gandolf. Several instances of cancer that personally impacted him ultimately drove him towards creating a solution like Mika. Easing others’ difficulties with this horrible disease is at the core of Mika’s mission, and Finke is dedicated to maintaining focus on this objective. In fact, in a world where the norm for digital apps is to sell personal data, Mika has drawn a line in the sand and has chosen to forego short-term monetary gains for the good of its users. On the podcast, hear the full inspirational story and pick up some solid entrepreneurial advice along the way.Noteworthy Quotes:"One really important aspect for us is to stick to our core... In the digital healthcare industry, it's very easy to get pulled into, 'Why don't you create this great tool that takes all of the data from patients and then monetizes on that and sends it to pharma companies?' And I get it. Totally fine. But we took a conscious decision against some of these demands. We believe, at our core, that we want to empower the people that are using Mika that are impacted by cancer.”"When building a business based on a nontraditional model, you very much relay on the story that you can tell. If you don't have a great story that's valuable and helpful, you can't find people to give you money.""A huge challenge for my company in our journey is constantly questioning and iterating around what we're doing. Are we doing the right thing? Is it really working how we want it to? What are the proof points?""Being an entrepreneur is about facing challenges and dealing with them. There were tough times. There were easy times. And you have to celebrate the highs and, somehow, manage to go through the lows.""In order to hire the right people, you have to have a very clear understanding of what you actually need. Write it down, and be very strict in grading people against that.""Human resources is different now. People look at their employer differently now than they would have 30 years ago. It's no longer a, 'I'm going to join this company and work there for the rest of my life.' It's much more of a, 'I want to work on things that are purposeful. I want to pursue things outside of work.' So you have to adjust how you operate the company accordingly."Bullet List of Resources – Gandolf FinkeLinkedInMikaCompany WebsiteInstagramFacebookLinkedIn
Trust Your Intuition — Emma Kay
Mar 15 2022
Trust Your Intuition — Emma Kay
This week, the SphereCast team interviews Emma Kay, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at WalkSafe. The WalkSafe app visualizes real-time crime reports by plotting these incidents clearly onto a map, allowing users to build a detailed understanding of local area crime patterns and plan safer walking routes. The WalkSafe app also features loads of other pro-safety functionality, keeping users safe while out and about.Emma was inspired to start this business after speaking with her brother about her fears — and other women’s fears — of walking alone. And she was ultimately brave enough to take a step out as a female entrepreneur. But a key part of Emma’s journey was finding a belief in herself — by proving to herself that she had what it takes and that her gut instincts were right and true. Only then did she experience true success. On the podcast, hear Emma’s entire entrepreneurial journey and how she hopes her story inspires other women to find their voices and trust their intuitions.Noteworthy Quotes:"I've learned that my intuition is right. And if I fundamentally believe in something and feel very strongly about something, I need to stand up for what I believe in and speak about it.""You can't pull from an empty cup. I'm trying to learn that. I want to say 'yes' to everything... And I'm always striving for perfection. Taking time to prioritize is really important. What can wait? Asking the question is the best course of action.""As a leader, it's important to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie and where you can learn from someone else.""We fundamentally believe in keeping the majority of our app free for the user. We believe that personal safety is a basic human right — one that everyone should feel.""I truly feel that our users' voices are really important. We have spent a lot of time fine-tuning things, and we will continue to do that to keep evolving the app and making the best it can be.""With a startup, you're always learning. The power of hindsight is always there."Bullet List of Resources – Emma KayLinkedInWalkSafe Ltd.Company WebsiteInstagramTwitterFacebookLinkedIn
Innovation in a Regulated Industry — Ansgar Lange
Feb 18 2022
Innovation in a Regulated Industry — Ansgar Lange
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Ansgar Lange, Chief Operating Officer at Nostos Genomics. Globally, nearly 300 million people live with a rare genetic disease, and, for many, discovering and diagnosing these illnesses can take years. Nostos Genomics is changing the game by leveraging new technologies to dramatically reduce this timeframe. Prior to his work at Nostos Genomics, Ansgar worked in various senior-level roles at other healthcare-related companies.Ansgar is a master of scalability. His resume tells the story of one who can prep a small company for fast expansion. This skill is a difficult one to master, but its level of difficulty is elevated even higher, considering Ansgar’s industry-of-choice — healthcare. How does one go about building a rapid growth, innovative company in a highly regulated industry? On the podcast, Ansgar discusses the challenges of a COO in a healthcare startup and how to properly innovate within the bounds of your chosen industry. Noteworthy Quotes:"It's really interesting for me to use cutting edge technologies to help others and innovate the healthcare sector.""Trust with startups in the digital healthcare sector is always a challenge.""I've seen this many times. People have great ideas, but if you don't play it back to your customers, you'll never get back to a proper product that's adopted quickly.""A COO typically has to really juggle lots of different activities and make sure they're all aligned nicely in the end… And saying ‘no’ is one of the most difficult decisions a COO has to make.”"COVID brought the remote-first hybrid model. The opportunity that is offering is to work across the globe with different people in different time locations. It was a negative impact in the short run, but in the long run, it's an advantage.""It's an illusion to stay on top of all business and technology innovations. There are so many out there that you have to focus quite a bit.""In retrospect, I could have spent less time focusing on academics. In general, people value commercial achievement over academic achievement.""I wish I would have started building my network earlier... Having a network of many different people is extremely valuable, especially when building a company."Bullet List of Resources – Ansgar LangeLinkedInNostos GenomicsCompany WebsiteLinkedInTwitter
Building a Great Product and a Solid Team — Miruna Bicoli
Feb 10 2022
Building a Great Product and a Solid Team — Miruna Bicoli
This week, the SphereCast team interviews Miruna Bicoli, Chief Operating Officer at BlueBat Games — a Vancouver-based company that produces white label social casino games for ground-based casinos. Before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer in January of 2022, Miruna spent nearly two years as BlueBat’s VP of Product and Managed Services. Prior to her run at BlueBat, Miruna held a variety of product, operations, and customer service roles at various gaming and software companies.Miruna’s passions for product and leadership come to the forefront throughout this interview. To Miruna, the data only tells part of the story. A true product professional will know how to find the balance between hard data and real customer feedback. And, for product leaders, even while navigating this friction, they must stay concerned with developing employees, encouraging innovation, and promoting integrity. All of this and so much more on this week’s episode of SphereCast.   Noteworthy Quotes:"The role of leaders has dramatically changed over the past few years... They need to be enablers of innovation, even if it means making mistakes... They must focus on developing and mentoring others... And they need to be promoters of ethics and integrity.""Data without context tells you nothing... If you don't combine data with actual feedback, you basically have nothing. You only have assumptions.""There are moments in the product world where data will say one thing, but end user feedback will say another thing... That's when the value of a real product person is shown... You must pay attention to why the end user is giving you that feedback.""Here, we build a platform for our clients — the casinos. But we need to have in mind the end users — the players. So the main challenge with our product is having to always have B2B-world and B2C-world aligned... Sometimes you know what the client wants is not what the end user needs.""You never really get it right. Product isn't about getting it right. Product is about putting something out and iterating on it, based on feedback you get. You throw something against the wall and see what sticks.""I am a product-focused person at the core. Working in customer service, I witnessed how bad products impact customers.""When it comes to the latest technology innovations, I have to say I 100% rely on my team... I know products, and I know what I want to do with the product that I'm managing. I don't know how to get there, so I have to rely on everyone around me to take me there.""If you hire someone, you start by trusting them right away. They don't have to earn your trust. Otherwise, don't hire them.""You need to be ready for anything. You plan for something, and your plans change. You need to be able to quickly adapt everything in your life to the new plan."Bullet List of Resources – Miruna BicoliLinkedInBlueBat GamesCompany WebsiteLinkedInTwitterFacebook
Restoring Confidence in Travel — Kris Rupay
Jan 25 2022
Restoring Confidence in Travel — Kris Rupay
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Kris Rupay, Executive Vice President Engineering at aero hygenx. Through a combination of robotics and medical-grade ultraviolet light, Kris’s company is making pandemic-era travel safer. aero hygenx’s product, aptly named RAY, is a robot that moves throughout transportation cabins, sanitizing surrounding areas using UVC light — a technology proven to neutralize COVID-19 and its variants.Typically, businesses are born by way of identifying a problem to solve. Kris and his team sought to tackle a huge problem — making travel safe once again, during a global pandemic. Per its website, aero hygenx is a company “inspired by the need to bring consumer confidence back to travel.” And through extremely innovative technology, it is accomplishing its goal. On the podcast, Kris lays out his company’s short but impactful journey, recaps any lessons learned along the way, and discusses what constitutes a good team.  Noteworthy Quotes:"Never stop learning... You learn a lot at school, but it never stops. Continue learning every day. Try to read. Try to grow. If you're in your career and you realize that you've stopped learning, it's probably time to move on.""Our biggest challenge is getting innovation out there and driving adoption. Getting folks to think in a different way. Once that happens, it opens everything up.""It's important to surround yourself with the right folks — to build the right team... It's really all about bringing the right people together.""Emails are so distracting... I had a colleague that once told me, 'If someone really needs you, they'll pick up the phone and call you.'""We were able to build a business around a pandemic. We created a business where working from home is the norm.""When hiring, more than anything, it's personality that makes such a difference. Finding the person that you will connect with. That will relate with your team and work well with others."Bullet List of Resources – Kris RupayLinkedInaero hygenxCompany WebsiteLinkedInTwitterInstagramYouTube
Keeping Business Technology Efficient — Justin Tung
Jan 10 2022
Keeping Business Technology Efficient — Justin Tung
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Justin Tung, Head of Business Technology at Segment, an enterprise platform that allows businesses to activate their customer data. The platform supports a variety of use cases, including activating data in marketing, product, and engineering. Segment is used by over 20,000 companies, including elite organizations like VMware, Google, Optimizely, Gap, Instacart, and more. In November 2020, Segment was acquired by Twilio for $3.2B.As the Head of Business Technology, Justin has been tasked with the seemingly impossible task of streamlining tools and processes between teams in a high growth environment — from marketing to sales, from sales to finance, and everywhere before, after, and in between. And, today, when there seem to be more applications than employees, that job is both painful and necessary. On the podcast, Tung explores his role, discusses some key challenges in the world of business technology management, and describes the importance of team building and development.  Noteworthy Quotes:"Today, systems integration has to be a part of a business technology project's end-to-end delivery. Not only do you have to create the process automation and stand up the application itself, but you have to think of integration into other systems as a part of a delivery.""There's a role in the world for someone who can blend entrepreneurship and technology in really any industry... There are opportunities everywhere, essentially.""As you grow a team, prioritization and bandwidth of your team becomes a huge challenge. How to ensure that you're growing the team in the right direction. That you're growing and finding the right skillsets. Building your team for success in the future so that you're able to support that future need.""A huge challenge today is making sure you're creating narrative from the data that you're cobbling together across all the disparate applications you may be using. And that's requiring more expertise than ever from every single team.""Don't neglect the networking piece because you're busy doing your day-to-day or are busy solving the problems of the business. This could be reaching out to someone within your company to learn more about that organization. This could also be reaching out to someone outside of your company.""Physical health is a really important foundation to mental health and work-life balance. It's something I don't negotiate, essentially. I have to have it. I have to do it."Bullet List of Resources – Justin TungLinkedInSegmentCompany WebsiteLinkedInTwitterGitHub
The Future of Futbol — Álvaro Ybáñez
Dec 10 2021
The Future of Futbol — Álvaro Ybáñez
This week, the SphereCast team interviews Álvaro Ybáñez, Chief Product Officer at Fly-Fut. Fly-Fut uses modern drone technology and loads of creativity to make every amateur futbol player — or soccer player, as some say — feel like an idol. Fly-Fut’s main product offering features an aerial view of match highlights, paired with professional narration and energizing music. Though futbol is its first love, Fly-Fut aspires to delve into other sports such as basketball, tennis, volleyball, and more.Ybáñez, who is both a veteran product expert and futbol lover, truly believes that Fly-Fut is going to revolutionize the game. But, while the rewards of startup innovation are high, Álvaro knows that getting a young company off the ground is no walk in the park. On the podcast, Ybáñez discusses some of Fly-Fut’s biggest challenges but also divulges the myriad ways he stays grounded as a senior executive at a fast-moving company.  Noteworthy Quotes:"The most important thing for any company — and not just startups — is to talk to customers. Every single week. Discover and research, regardless of the phase you're in. You have to talk to customers all the time. Not a single euro that goes into research or discovery is badly spent.""Technology never stops. And it's evolving faster. So, not knowing what is coming in the next 18 months is our biggest challenge.""The thing about choosing technologies for a startup is that you never know what to use properly until you have a very well-defined business case.""I plan my days ahead with time blocking... You can plan the day ahead and make sure you're producing the most work possible. That's a very proactive way to organize your day. Because if you keep responding to emails and let other people push you around, you don't get much done... Organizing days beforehand has been a life-changer for me.""I don't need to relax. I have a couple of habits that have made me not need to relax."Bullet List of Resources – Álvaro YbáñezLinkedInFly-FutCompany WebsiteYouTubeLinkedIn
Quality Leadership through Digital Transformation — Sophie Schwerdtfeger
Nov 26 2021
Quality Leadership through Digital Transformation — Sophie Schwerdtfeger
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Sophie Schwerdtfeger, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at welearn — the parent company of wehorse and wedog. welearn’s goal is to be the go-to destination for educational content on certain niche topics. welearn’s first endeavor — wehorse — offers users the world’s largest library of equestrian content, all from one single streaming platform. welearn’s second project — wedog — is currently in early stages but, similar to wehorse, will give its users access to an enormous library of streaming content related to dog training.Even before acquiring the horse-riding content library in 2018, Sophie knew that, to succeed, she’d have to radically change how this content had been historically distributed — through DVD sales. And, with that mission in mind, she and her co-founder embarked on a journey to build and lead a company, while also digitally transforming that company to a streaming platform. On the podcast, Sophie shares tons of knowledge on leading well — and particularly on leading well in times of major transition and growth.  Noteworthy Quotes:"Communication and feedback among your team is the most important thing. You must implement a feedback culture straight away so that everybody can live in your company and live to the highest potential.""In order to be an effective CEO or leader, you have to be a good communicator and you must be emotionally intelligent... Leading by example is also extremely important as well.""When it comes to decision making as a CEO, the most difficult thing is making the right decision at the right time. Especially since technology is changing all the time.""Early as an entrepreneur, you must be flexible and be willing to adjust. And always be reflective of what you do and appreciate all feedback you get... But at the end of the day, entrepreneurship will always be unpredictable. You can't really learn it beforehand.""I think it's very important for co-founders to have like-minded interests... You have to be aligned on what you want and your vision. And be accepting of the others' ideas.""Hiring remote employees is a huge advantage for us. We no longer, for example, hire on location but hire on motivation and skill set.""When I'm at my desk, I'm 100 percent focused... In our busy days, you must use the time you have in a very efficient way."Bullet List of Resources – Sophie SchwerdtfegerLinkedInwehorse – The Online Riding AcademyCompany WebsiteInstagramFacebookYouTubeLinkedInwedog – The Online Dog AcademyCompany WebsiteLinkedIn
Driving a Medical Revolution — Mariano Vazquez
Nov 12 2021
Driving a Medical Revolution — Mariano Vazquez
This week, the SphereCast team interviews Mariano Vazquez, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at ELEM Biotech. ELEM Biotech uses patient data to build “virtual humans,” replicating human cells, tissues, and organs and all their functions. Medical professionals can then run predictive modeling and simulation against these avatars to display the effects of various diseases and to forecast the effectiveness of treatments. ELEM’s earliest work has centered around virtually replicating the human cardiovascular system.It’s not a stretch to claim that ELEM Biotech is revolutionizing medicine; it’s world-changing charter seems like something straight out of a science fiction movie. But it’s all true — and the ability to run experiments against real data-driven virtual humans is going to change the medical game and save some lives along the way. On the podcast, Mariano deep dives on his product and product architecture, details the benefits of this incredible technology, and discusses lessons learned from the beginning of his company to now.  Noteworthy Quotes:"When healthcare companies work with data, it's like an oil company. Artificial intelligence is like dealing with oil. Oil is data. The oil will always be there... But the kinds of things that we do is like an alternative energy... If you take what we do and combine it with the oil — the data — you can start a revolution.""With our product, we've always been very concerned about portability, flexibility, and modularity. And a fourth one — efficiency. With these four things in mind, we're in a position to deploy the different parts of the platform in various locations.""You asked me for advice? Don't give up. No matter how difficult things are — don't give up.""The most valuable lesson I learned was that, as a researcher, I do not understand business. It's a whole different arena. I learned that I must work with someone that really knows it. And it's what we're doing now."Bullet List of Resources – Mariano VazquezLinkedInELEM BiotechCompany WebsiteLinkedIn
Unstructured Data Insight with RavenPack — Kevin Crosbie
Oct 29 2021
Unstructured Data Insight with RavenPack — Kevin Crosbie
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Kevin Crosbie, Chief Product Officer at RavenPack. RavenPack is a platform that gives meaning to unstructured data. The platform offers speed and accuracy in analyzing large amounts of unstructured content — newspapers, emails, social media, and more. The company then enables clients to quickly extract value and insight from this processed data. Regarding speed, RavenPack can analyze one page of data every 300 milliseconds — which is, literally, the time it takes to blink.Some estimate that between 80 and 90 percent of all the world’s data is unstructured, so the spoils go to those individuals and companies that find a way to interpret this goldmine. RavenPack has found a way to do just that. On the podcast, Kevin discusses all the key use cases his platform can meet, explains the difficulties of migrating to the cloud, shares some of the most difficult decisions he has to make, and describes what it’s like to be driving the direction of an industry-leading product.   Noteworthy Quotes:"One of the hardest things to do is prioritize... There are so many things we want to do. We've got our fingers in lots of different pies because this world is moving very fast. And we're one of the leaders in that.""For the most part, the pandemic hasn't impacted RavenPack itself... The pandemic actually made firms realize that they need to make more data-driven decisions and be able to monitor the media for important things that are happening.""A lot of our financial industry clients prefer a rules-based approach because one of the issues you have with something like machine learning is that it's 'black box.' It's not easy to say, 'This is why I got this result.' And those clients require transparency... They must show the reasoning behind making decisions.""Make sure the team you have is amazing. Otherwise you can't make amazing products.""Trusting my team to get things done — that's how I manage my time. I try to keep them from getting stuck. I think they should be autonomous, take responsibility, and be owners... And start with the hardest problems first.""Definitely there were some growing pains in the beginning [of our cloud migration]. Moving from a server-based solution to the cloud does require some re-architecture. It required some investment... But the benefits have paid off so much.""A good leader must keep people motivated. Give people a purpose. Share the vision with them. Make sure they're on board and that everyone is working together.""If you're a business that has a strong core with a reliable model, then you have a much better chance of surviving and prospering. The pandemic verified that."Bullet List of Resources – Kevin CrosbieLinkedInRavenPackCompany WebsiteTwitterLinkedIn
Extracting Value from Data — Adrian Gaveglia
Oct 8 2021
Extracting Value from Data — Adrian Gaveglia
This week, as a part of our CFO podcast series, the SphereCast team interviews Adrian Gaveglia, Portfolio CFO at EmergeONE and Interim CFO at EnterpriseAlumni. Throughout his career, Gaveglia has held a wide variety of high-level finance roles at companies in the London area, including a lengthy stint at HarperCollins. Adrian has extensive experience making sense of digital platforms, navigating mergers and acquisitions, and providing in-depth financial analysis.At the end of the day, Adrian is a master of the numbers. And like any good CFO, Adrian’s superpower is reading between the lines of the spreadsheets and asking the right questions, all to discern what’s important, what’s not, and where companies should be paying special attention. On the podcast, Adrian shares how he both finds what matters most and persuades others in the company that his point of view is correct. He also speaks to the attributes of a good financial leader, the nature of luck in business, and much more.  Noteworthy Quotes:"The CFO basically sees everything in an organization. They've got the numbers. They can visualize everything that's going on. If you've got a very strategic CFO, they become very good at seeing the problems and successes in the business and thinking through how to make them better.""It's not the CFO's job to know everything. It's their job to lead and put in the processes to get things done.""The most important thing when presenting to a board is that you and the CEO are aligned on what's being presented.""Good financial leaders are good at listening and taking in information to make decisions. The best financial leaders are transparent. They make sure information is available, timely, and correct for the audience.""The most important thing for any leader is influence. Leaders are in place because they want to influence. To have a seat at the table and take the business forward... All other attributes funnel into this attribute.""When presenting, I always think that less is better than more. But always be prepared to have that more in the back of your pocket if you need it.""When a business starts scaling up, the FP&A function cannot be sitting outside of finance because finance brings the realism and the accuracy to that.""If you're thinking about progressing in your career, you're always looking at the attributes that your role models have. For me, I could see that my role models were consistent, measured, thoughtful, and quite analytical.""One important thing that's important for leaders is consistency... You have to have a method where people can trust you and trust how you will behave.""Relationships are very important. Because for most people, luck plays a huge part in their success."Bullet List of Resources – Adrian GavegliaLinkedIn
Leading a Business Through Crises — Brandon Mackay
Sep 24 2021
Leading a Business Through Crises — Brandon Mackay
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Brandon Mackay — Owner, President, and CEO of SnugZ. SnugZ is a Utah-based company that boasts the domestic manufacture of promotional products. Founded in 1989, Mackay’s company has spent over three decades creating custom gear for businesses, events, and various other promotions. SnugZ creates most of their customizable products in house, from hand sanitizer to PPE kits to sunscreen to lip balm to lanyards. Brandon joined SnugZ five years after its inception and has shepherded the company through its highs and lows. During its 31 year history, SnugZ has lived through the “Dot Com” bubble, Y2K, the 2008 housing crisis, COVID-19, and other difficult events. And, as you would imagine, Mackay has picked up quite a bit of perspective living through such turbulent times. On the podcast, Mackay shares that perspective and explains how to survive and thrive during events that are out of our control.  Noteworthy Quotes:"When it comes to navigating crises, business owners try to remember that there are some skills from the past that we can pull forward to today.""Really, in the early years when you're in a business that's an upstart, everything feels like a crisis.""In retrospect, the advice I'd give myself is to constantly breathe. If you knew how close you were to the finish line, you would always try just a little bit harder. Sometimes, we don't realize how close we are to our goal. We just need to pace ourselves. Be patient.""When defining company values, first, you have to define what your own values are... Once we established our values, we went from an okay company with decent growth to a great company with momentum growth.""Transparency is always the best policy... It allows everyone to be proactive versus reactive.""When most startup businesses begin, there's always more work than there is people. There's just not enough revenue to hire the staff that you need.""To find a good balance in life, you have to find those sacred times for yourself. Whether that's your lunch hour or dinner with your family or friends. Just respect those moments of time during the day."Bullet List of Resources – Brandon MackayLinkedInSnugZCompany WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramMediaHive
Infusing AI Into VC Funding — Alex Balderstone
Sep 14 2021
Infusing AI Into VC Funding — Alex Balderstone
This week, the SphereCast team interviews Alex Balderstone, Co-Founder and CEO at Kaiku. Alex’s London-based startup features a data-driven scouting tool for venture funds, infused by artificial intelligence. Kaiku, which was founded in late 2019, works with over 300 venture funds across 50 different countries. The platform is already boasting a matchmaking accuracy score edging ever closer to 100 percent. And as Kaiku continues to find successes for its clients and enriches itself with data, that error margin will inch lower and lower.As a non-technical co-founder, Balderstone offers a fresh perspective on the founding of a technology company. On the podcast, Alex walks through his unique role in the building of his platform, including the hand he had in the choosing of Kaiku’s tech stack. Along the way, Alex also shares a wealth of knowledge around meeting market needs and gives a helpful commentary on the current state of the venture capital industry.  Noteworthy Quotes:"Go and get feedback before you build anything. Make sure there's a market need — some element of market validation.""Don't forget business development. Don't forget partnerships. Don't forget community. Because you can build a lovely solution, but then not have any people to pay for it.""Focus is key. Feedback is key... Can you narrow down on who you're focusing on and why you're focusing on them? And do you have feedback to make sure you're building something users really want?""No day is ever the same. That's what keeps things fun."Bullet List of Resources – Alex BalderstoneLinkedInKaikuCompany WebsiteInstagramFacebookLinkedIn
Making Sustainability Simple — Iris Skrami
Aug 27 2021
Making Sustainability Simple — Iris Skrami
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Iris Skrami, Co-founder at Renoon — the smartest tool for conscious fashion shoppers. Founded in February 2020, Renoon is the first global app that sources items from across the Internet and assigns sustainability attributes to them. Ultimately, the platform empowers consumers to realize their sustainable lifestyles and values when shopping fashion. Since its founding just over a year ago, it has processed over three million products and has attracted the attention of some of the top fashion industry veterans.Iris is an incredibly successful entrepreneur. In addition to sitting at the helm of a rapidly growing startup, she recently breached the Forbes Italia Under 30 list of 2021. However, Iris would be the first to tell you that the road of entrepreneurship is one filled with challenges. But the hardest challenge? Just taking that first step. On the podcast, Iris shares her vision for Renoon and discusses the difficulties of entrepreneurship — most notably mustering up the courage to start.  Noteworthy Quotes:"The most important thing to do in entrepreneurship — and the hardest thing — is to start. Because, sometimes, we're so tied to what we're doing. But then you have this burning thing that you can't stop thinking about... And once you've started, you need to be consistent.""As with many other startups, it's so important to start with a problem  — a burning problem. So one of the first things I did was check that other people had this problem as well.""Team is the number one thing when you're building something.""It's important to do an MVP step-by-step. From the idea, you get the funding. You need to show that you can execute and build something with the resources that you have. At the beginning of your startup, you're never going to build something amazing. But you have to start with what you have and make it work to get to the next stage.""Schedule your days. Make sure you have things you want to get done every day. And measure that." Bullet List of Resources – Iris SkramiLinkedIn RenoonCompany WebsiteInstagramPinterestMedium
Stagnant Technology is Ineffective Technology — Kwaku Yeboah-Antwi
Aug 20 2021
Stagnant Technology is Ineffective Technology — Kwaku Yeboah-Antwi
This week, the SphereCast team interviews Kwaku Yeboah-Antwi, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at DIZZBO. Kwaku’s company is revolutionizing an industry in desperate need of disruption — logistics. And through technology, DIZZBO is allowing its customers to get connected with shipping providers through a process that takes a matter of minutes, which is a far cry from the status quo of days or even weeks.Kwaku’s company has experienced early success. In fact, since its founding in 2018, DIZZBO has already reached profitability. However, Kwaku would be the first to admit that their earliest technology prototypes were no match for the volume they’ve experienced since opening their doors. And, now, if they want to expand their footprint on the logistics industry, their technology has to evolve. On the podcast, Yeboah-Antwi walks through DIZZBO’s entire journey, shares some advice on how to manage time, and discusses the importance of never being satisfied with your current technology.  Noteworthy Quotes:"We're never done. Just because we're serving you right now doesn't mean we can serve you the exact same way tomorrow... With technology, you have to run in place. That means keeping aware of what's happening from the technological side... Product market fit is never achieved. The market is always moving.""One of the things we realized is that, as we were building, we never thought far in advance. You don't think about scalability when you're building your first MVP. So now we need to engineer this as we move ahead.""The challenge in business is always convincing people, 'Yes, it can be done. And this is how we're doing it. And here's how it is foolproof.' Yes, the biggest challenge is always that human side — it's trust. Yes, you can trust us that it's going to work.""When you're trying to digitize an industry, one mistake can set you back years. Every step we took was very purposeful. It was a life and death type of thing.""For us, we're lucky. We have a lot of experience in the domain. It makes our customer conversations much better, knowing that some of our people have spent 40-plus years in the industry. And we are really transparent. We're open about our problems and what we can do." Bullet List of Resources – Kwaku Yeboah-AntwiLinkedIn DIZZBOCompany WebsiteLinkedInXing
Focus on your Superpower — Lucy Mullins
Aug 6 2021
Focus on your Superpower — Lucy Mullins
This week, the SphereCast team speaks with Lucy Mullins, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at StepLadder UK — a social FinTech company that is helping people feel empowered about their money. Specifically, StepLadder seeks to unify those who are saving money for housing down payments so that they can hold each other accountable and raise money faster together.Lucy, who was an executive coach prior to founding her current company, is a firm believer that every person possesses his or her own “superpower” — a collection of talents and abilities that can help themselves or their peers achieve their goals. And, as a coach and now as a co-founder, her life goal is to help others discover their superpowers and take advantage of them. On the podcast, Lucy deep dives on the story of StepLadder and how she’s helping her coworkers find their superpowers and, ultimately, help their end users achieve their own financial goals.  Noteworthy Quotes:"[When founding a company,] all you can do is focus on your superpowers... In an ideal world, you'd go out and hire an amazing technical person. But obviously that's not always possible. So you just get as far as you can on the superpowers that you've got. And I feel like we did that really well.""Everybody should think about what their purpose is in life. You should do something that aligns with your purpose and not just puts money into your bank account.""If you put something out there that you're really proud of, then you've waited too long. You just have to throw something out there. There's no place for perfection in starting a business.""You want to know a bit and be prepared and be resilient. But, if there's anything this past year has taught us, it's that you can never know what's coming along. You have to be flexible and ready to adapt to whatever challenges or unpredicted obstacles that come your way.""The biggest challenge for me as a non-technical co-founder is how much do you need to know versus how much can you allow your team to do?""We have a rule here at StepLadder that it doesn't matter what mistake you make. But, the moment you spot it, just shout it out.""In an ideal world, technology can help your business decisions. And your business decisions back up the technology that you're using... You always have to think about how technology can augment your business decisions. Don't just use technology for the sake of technology.""I'm really passionate about what we do at StepLadder, and I'm always passionate about what we're doing. And if I'm not passionate about it, I don't do it." Bullet List of Resources – Lucy MullinsLinkedIn StepLadderCompany WebsiteFacebook