Tech Uncensored - An Altitude Accelerator Podcast

Altitude Accelerator

Tech Uncensored, Crucial Analysis in Tech, is a weekly podcast brought to you by Altitude Accelerator. Hosted by Hessie Jones, we explore emerging news, and relevant topics that startups care about. We speak to subject matter experts, founders and advisors in Investment: Venture Capital, Equity Crowdfunding, and across Industry: Clean Tech, Biotech, Generative AI, Blockchain, Web3, Privacy, Security etc. who weigh in on the challenges that startup founders face today, as well as the profound opportunities that come with emerging tech and market adoption. read less
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Episodes

Episode 53 The Intelligent City - Towards Progress and Sustainability
6d ago
Episode 53 The Intelligent City - Towards Progress and Sustainability
By 2050, 70% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities. We will evolve into an increasingly urban economy. Urban centers will adapt and evolve to meet the needs of their growing populations. Urbanization can lead to 1) economic growth, 2) improved living standards, and 3) cultural diversity. Some key stats about the rise of the urban populations: The world’s urban population has been rising almost six-fold since 1950, from 751 million to 4.4 billion today. This trend is expected to continue, with the urban population more than doubling its current size by 20502. Now, More than 56% of the world’s population now lives in urban areas.  Increased migration to urban centres can pose other challenges: accelerated demand for affordable housing with risks of overcrowding, pollution, rising conflicts and social inequality.  This calls for sustainable development to build viable infrastructures, transport systems, basic services, job opportunities to ensure that cities are inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Enter Intelligent City, based out of Vancouver, Canada, and founded in 2008 with a mission to empower people to live better urban lives.  This is a company that aims to streamline construction processes and standardize housing, in an effort to create a commercializeable and sustainable alternative. We have the pleasure of speaking to Oliver Lang, Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder, and OD Krieg, Chief Technology Officer to discuss the future of increased urbanization and how Intelligent City is navigating this challenge as the world urgently moves towards more sustainable practices.
Episode 52 Steering Growth Stage Founders Towards Sustainable Businesses
May 3 2024
Episode 52 Steering Growth Stage Founders Towards Sustainable Businesses
David Peterson, known as the Optimization Coach, assists growth-stage companies in 2X their revenue growth to achieve their 10X goal. He helps them become more appealing to investors or (if they choose) achieve their status as a successful founder-owned businesses.  At this juncture, early-stage founders are already generating revenue and may aim to raise a successful Series A round, therefore they will need to focus on revenue quality. They sell a vision of their future business emphasizing the key qualities that investors want to believe in. They must construct a compelling narrative that justifies whether their idea is sound. Understanding the network effects, the market receptivity and more importantly, how founders and their team react to these things are crucial.   While founders are growing their business, they will also run into the challenges that come with scaling. They will incur costs to support their growth. Derisking these challenges as they grow lays a solid groundwork for the company’s future.  Here are some questions that startups must ask themselves as they grow:  Do founders truly understand the effort required to make an idea profitable?   How motivated are they to get out of their own way to do what’s right for the business?  What impact will their decisions have on the culture of the business as they grow or if they have to downsize their team?  Are the goals they’ve articulated in 5 to 10 years achievable? Remember, early-stage success isn’t just about revenue; it’s about building a strong foundation for  sustainable growth. David Peterson has experienced this in his own journey.  Nurturing a company to create an enduring organization is David's sweet spot and where he offers some salient advice.
Episode 51 Make or Break: Establishing Product Market Fit is Crucial to Success
Apr 15 2024
Episode 51 Make or Break: Establishing Product Market Fit is Crucial to Success
Product Market Fit is a make-or-break factor for startups. Even the best products can fail without market demand, while an average product can succeed if the demand exists. What does success look like once companies reach this critical milestone? The product resonates with the market means that: Customer actively buys, uses and recommends the product to others in sufficient numbers... Enough to sustain growth and profitability Investors often demand evidence of product-market fit before investing – demonstrating that your product has real demand and a viable market, especially at the earliest growth stages. Here are some examples of notable companies that have successfully pivoted to achieve product-market fit: Apple’s initial focus was on personal computers but their game-changing pivot to the iPhone, which combined a phone, music player, internet access revolutionized the mobile phone industry. Uber started as a luxury black car service, but realized that the real opportunity resided in ridesharing – a more accessible and convenient model that disrupted the traditional taxi industry. AirBNB initially aimed to provide air mattresses for travelers during conferences but soon focused on vacation rentals, connecting travelers with unique accommodations, they tapped into a market need that disrupted the hospitality industry to this day. Slack was initially a gaming company. They pivoted to create a team communications platform (an application they built for themselves initially) to improve collaboration, synced conversations and productivity. All these companies had these things in common: They all recognized market shifts, adapted to change and stayed attuned to customer needs. They all demonstrated the flexibility and strategic adjustments essential for achieving product market fit. I’d like to welcome Abhishek Mathur, VP of Product Management at Pyte,  is a secure data collaboration solutions provider. He is also one of our advisors at Altitude Accelerator. Abhishek is seasoned in digital media, ICT, and financial services.  From B2B and B2C strategies to business development and product management, he knows how to scale businesses and drive sustainable growth.
Episode 50 Traditional Demand Generation is Broken. There is a better way to Improve Win Rates
Apr 1 2024
Episode 50 Traditional Demand Generation is Broken. There is a better way to Improve Win Rates
Demand Generation is a broad marketing practice aimed at creating awareness and interest in a company’s products or services. It involves using various tactics across numerous channels, such as content marketing, social media ads, and more While the practice has been around for as long as brands have existed, it has undergone some significant changes and formalization over the past few decades. One of the catalysts for the changing sales landscape since the advent of digital has been: Decentralization of information. In the past, companies were primarily the holders of information about products, services and they used traditional marketing materials to promote them. The internet and digital technologies allowed information to become widely available and this shift gave rise to new platforms and channels of communication: communities, micro influencers, podcasts, closed Slack groups etc. Now companies had to adjust their marketing and demand generation --- instead of solely relying on one-way communication they had to engage with potential customers in a more interactive and personalized way. Digital technologies also led to the development of new tools and techniques like marketing automation, predictive analytics, customer intelligence to refine the process of demand generation to make things more targeted and efficient. Matthew Trotter says things NOW things are shifting again: The buyer journey is evolving –  80% of it is happening digitally, prior to engagement with the sales team Gartner Says 80% of B2B Sales Interactions Between Suppliers and Buyers Will Occur in Digital Channels by 2025 The traditional way of thinking about your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) also needs to change What is the new order for demand generation? What do sales teams need to do to improve their win rates to keep up with the evolving buyer journey? Matthew Trotter has 25 years of experience in technology sales & consulting, He is an expert in data, AI, and cloud solutions, with a proven track record of designing, positioning, selling, and delivering large-scale and complex IT programs and projects for the largest enterprises   Matthew is a high-performance Sales Coach and is the co-founder of Signal Led Sales, a groundbreaking sales framework aimed to help GTM teams address selling challenges within the digital buyer journey.
Episode 49 Evolving DEI within Venture Capital with Gayatri Sarkar of Advaita Capital
Mar 22 2024
Episode 49 Evolving DEI within Venture Capital with Gayatri Sarkar of Advaita Capital
Today we’re facing headwinds in this fast-paced tech economy.  There is this global race to win in the advancement of Artificial Intelligence between the East and the West, however there are clear impediments that persist to drive change in current technologies that are hampering the speed to win. There is this realization of the how brittle our systems are because of the harms, the bias and the deep fakes, pervasive scraping of data that have permeated platforms and communication systems creates an increased risk that resulted in more regulatory attention, public awareness in lockstep with the pace at which the technology is advancing. Ethics, Safety are now synonymous with Diversity Equity and Inclusion and is now front in centre when it comes to AI, because it more pervasive across sectors, across culture and society because of its importance in ensuring that technology works for everyone.  This Increasing awareness has bled into Venture Capital. What technologies get funded continues to be dominated by large VC institutions, that have historically not been diverse. Some stats of how DEI is evolving within Venture Capital:Female Representation: Women represented 26% of the VC workforce, vs.  15% in 2016.  The percentage of firms that reported they do not have any female investment partners decreased to 57%, down from 68% in 2018. Black Professionals: Black employees represented 5% of investment professionals in 2023, up from 3% in 2018, while senior level positions held by Black professionals totaled 4%, a percentage increase from 2018. DEI Strategies: Nearly 50% of VC firms surveyed are incorporating DEI strategies (up significantly from 15% in 2016), with 60% of firms saying they have a staff person or a team responsible for DEI.These statistics highlight the ongoing efforts and challenges in improving DEI within the VC sector.Gayatri Sarkar is the owner of Advaita Capital, a series B fund and one of the only growth VC funds in the US, that is a women-led, POC-led Venture capital company in an already small industry.   We welcome Gayatri to talk about the state of VC, especially when it comes to disproportionate investment for underrepresented founders. We will talk about DEI its evolution. Is it working? We’ll also address the exciting innovation they are investing in, where AI is headed.  We also talk about her ventures: Advaita Capital, a series B fund; She-VC, an organization that seeks to level the playing field in curating women and diverse GP’s, LPs to drive change through diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ll also discuss her most recent appointment to the Princess Grace Foundation of Monaco.
Episode 48 Building your Personal Brand as a Tech Leader
Mar 6 2024
Episode 48 Building your Personal Brand as a Tech Leader
These days there has been this surge of people who are developing influence within their specific corner of the market. They are digital creators who specialize in a niche and begin to establish themselves as experts in their field. The rise of influence has been less about celebrity, but these days it’s a strategic advantage for many entrepreneurs who want to build relationships, and ultimately leverage their personal brand to build their businesses Here’s the scenario: You are building your business, building your product and getting some critical traction. You want to move faster and start finding more customers and get ready for potential investment. But you are a small team, have limited social media presence.  One thing you are good at is understanding the real estate industry. You were a former broker and now realize that this sector needs some major disruption. You are passionate about solving this problem. But for the sake of your growth, you realize you need to make an impact by establishing yourself as a thought leader in the real estate space.  How do you do it?  Many startups don’t realize the value of establishing their own personal brands. With the rise of social media, that has closed the gap between promotion and community, there are endless opportunities to establish yourself as a tech leader that helps you and your company as you grow. We were happy to welcome two founders who are effectively building their tech brand on social media. Stephanie Lipp, Cofounder and CEO of MyCoFutures North Atlantic and  Staci LaToison, founding Partner of Dream Big Ventures  We’ll uncover their journey, why they decided to do it, understand the importance of authenticity, a critical ingredient in defining their presence. They will provide advice on how early stage founders can develop opportunities by building their personal brands and establishing themselves as tech leaders.
Episode 47 Startup Resilience Navigating Relationships for Early-Stage Founders
Feb 26 2024
Episode 47 Startup Resilience Navigating Relationships for Early-Stage Founders
Growth Hackers' determined that the greatest indicator of startup success is resilience: “You might feel that things are moving slow in your company – that is natural. You may make decisions, that, in retrospect may lead to undesired consequences, or perceived setbacks in your goal to reach critical milestones. If you are an entrepreneur building a brand new startup, you probably have trouble seeing any light at the end of the tunnel from time to time.” It’s how far startup success is defined by how far an entrepreneur is willing to go and wait to see its startup succeed. One often overlooked reality about startups is that launching and sustaining one is not as straightforward as successful entrepreneurs might lead you to believe. Even with the current resources available to aid the growth and development of startups, persistent challenges remain. As a budding startup entrepreneur, be prepared to navigate numerous obstacles and endure difficulties. Startups face many challenges in their journey to scale.  An entrepreneur’s ability to effectively manage these issues as they surface is a sign of your character as you grow. Many of these challenges are dependent on the relationships you create and cultivate along the way. What stories never get told are the failures that transpire because of these relationships. They could come from opportunistic clients unwilling to pay for services rendered, or from toxic employees or cofounders. They could come from once-enthusiastic partners willing to drive more value through their own relationships, but ultimately default on this promise. For many founders, these failures are hard lessons they take to the new set of relationships they encounter.  Developing the right team Finding the right partners and vendors Selecting the right VC Personally as a CEO, determining your limitations and making the decisions you think are right for the company, in those moments.We were excited to host Devin Ramphal, Sector Manager for Innovation and Technology at the City of Brampton’s Economic Development Office and formerly CEO/Cofounder of Clean AIR which was acquired in 2023 and Jennifer Cameron, Co-founder and CEO of INVRS and formerly the founder of hyperWALLET, which was acquired by Paypal in 2018 for $400Million. Both had important stories as founders who have navigated relationships in their startup journeys and provided some great insight from their own experiences to help founders build resilience.
Episode 46 Is 2024 The Year of Investor Restraint and Startup Resilience?
Feb 16 2024
Episode 46 Is 2024 The Year of Investor Restraint and Startup Resilience?
Will 2024 will be another challenging year for startup founders?  The world bank came out with the following prediction for 2024: “Global growth is projected to slow for the third year in a row—from 2.6% last year to 2.4% in 2024, almost three-quarters of a percentage point below the average of the 2010s. Developing economies are projected to grow just 3.9%, more than one percentage point below the average of the previous decade.” They are dubbing it the “Weakest Half-Decade Performance in 30 Years" This is a so-called recession that never really came (because of low unemployment, despite higher interest rates)  there are indications similar to what we’ve seen at the start of the Ukraine/Russia war (2 years ago) that set off an economic fallout that saw the steep fall of Crypto and NFT and, in parallel massive investment pullout from overvalued startups  that received millions in funding during the pandemic. This time while the global economy is in a better place, mounting geopolitical tensions.  Innovation will take a hit as we’ve already witnessed at the end of 2023 with rising tech layoffs  “Amazon saw the most workers laid off in 2023 (27,410 workers) followed by Meta (21,000), Google  (12,115) and Microsoft (11,158).” This continued as we ventured into the new year with more layoffs from Big Tech In the fall of 2023 David Wright, Investment Analyst remarked, “Investor returns in the VC industry have not always paid up for the risks involved in private investments.” Wright noted that in the last 4 decades, VC fund performance had its ebbs and flows with the mid-to late nineties being the standout period. “The average returns from VC investments have consistently hovered around 9%, comparable to public markets,” but Wright highlights that the more telling metric is the “1.8% returns indicating that there is a disproportionate performance that favors a handful of VCs while the “majority have largely underperformed.” Will investors be more measured and discriminating in their search for promising ventures this year? For founders, what is in store for them as the year unfolds and how should they be managing their businesses to improve growth, increase their visibility to investors, and to essentially weather this uncertainty? We were pleased to host three seasoned startup advisors and investors: Bryan Duarte - Bryan Duarte is a Social Venturist, Serial Entrepreneur, a Professional Engineer and has over 30 years of experience in the Energy Industry. He is the Managing Partner at BlackTech Capital and our newest EIR at Altitude Accelerator. Glenn Nishimura - Glenn Nishimura is the Principal and Chief People Strategist at Nishimura Consulting, based in Toronto, Canada. As an experienced advisor, consultant, and mentor, he helps early and growth stage startups and scale-ups across North America, Asia, and Europe to build and optimize their teams, culture, and people operations. Olga Cruz is a Senior Associate at impact investing firm Good & Well. She leads the impact management practice and sources, analyzes, and invests in early-stage Canadian businesses. Her prior roles involved investing in healthcare and agricultural innovations. She also dedicated her efforts to supporting entrepreneurs in conflict-affected regions, guiding them towards investor readiness. Check out the full article on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hessiejones/2024/01/29/is-2024-the-year-of-investor-restraint-and-startup-resilience-eight-experts-weigh-in/?sh=65a49935678a
Episode 43 Where are the Women in AI?
Jan 19 2024
Episode 43 Where are the Women in AI?
Theodora Lau recently wrote a Linkedin post called "Where are the Women?"This was a timely post that responded to the slap in the face to many women, who have made incredible strides to affect substantive change in AI, who saw the NYT article that snubbed the work of prominent women like Fei Fei Li, Timnit Gebru, Kate Crawford, Joy Buolamwini, Meg Mitchell and others too numerous to mention. This article came off the week of drama that saw Sam Altman re-installed as the  CEO of OpenAI, when 5 days before, he had been fired.What we’re witnessing is an increasing polarization within the industry where, despite the significant efforts of women engineers, data scientists, policy makers and professionals in AI, there continues to be a lack of recognition and respect for their work and their voices in industry, and in the media.   This continues to be contentious and women across the AI world are rightfully angered at this perpetual lack of respect for the cumulation of work that has been done by women, and the non-binary community – the perpetual underrepresentation of these critical voices. This comes at a time when everyone– researchers and mainstream– are worried about the further development of AI technology and its implications for humanity:  jobs, lack of access (knowledge, skills, economic, geography, income), where representation matters as these technologies are built. Theodora Lau is the founder of Unconventional Ventures, a public speaker, and an advisor. She is the co-author of The Metaverse Economy (2023) and Beyond Good (2021), and host of One Vision, a podcast on fintech and innovation. Through her work, she explores the intersection of financial services, tech, and humanity. Theo’s recent blog post  had me nodding my head and questioning why this is happening? I reached out for a much-needed conversation.
Episode 40 The Rise and Fall... and Rise of Sam Altman has Grave Implications for AI Research and Humanity
Dec 13 2023
Episode 40 The Rise and Fall... and Rise of Sam Altman has Grave Implications for AI Research and Humanity
From the sidelines, reading the media reports on the weekend of November 17 it was a series of irrepressible events that unfolded that weekend and the coming days. It was considered a tumultuous weekend, a series of uncontrolled outcomes, each with its own significance to the fallout of OpenAI and its employees. While the world watched this drama unfold online, no one would have guessed the outcome of events that transpired within the course of the coming days: the firing of Sam Altman… the quitting of OpenAI president, Greg Brockman and the threatened resignations from 700 employees of Open AI… to the requested resignation of the Board… to the hiring of Brockman and Altman as new MS employees… to the final decision to reinstate Altman as CEO of Open AI with new board members in tow – all in the course of 5 days. What these events with Open AI and Microsoft have signalled are some unprecedented implications for the AI community, its researchers and more importantly the more far reaching impacts to the society for which AI is built.So what does this all mean... - when a nonprofit side, with no financial incentives is unable to effectively oust an executive because of legitimate safety concerns- when a structure that was put in place to mitigate the risk of unilaterial control of advanced AI  and was essentially was usurped by the same capitalistic forces - this structure were designed to preventWe welcome Christoph Schuhmann, Cofounder of LAION.AI, Large-scale Artificial Intelligence Open Network, a non profit organization, who has a large community of volunteers, data scientistis, researchers, practitioners developing applications in this field, to weigh in on the events of November 17-21, 2023 and what it means to the AI Community
Episode 37 The Distributed Ledger and its Impact on Future Infrastructure
Nov 17 2023
Episode 37 The Distributed Ledger and its Impact on Future Infrastructure
The value of the distributed ledger is baked into the promise of Web3, where equity, access and accountability occur within a shared governance and self-organizing ecosystem; and where creators can truly own what they produce and enable and control new value creation.   We’ve purposely left out the word, “Blockchain” in this title because it has become synonymous with Cryptocurrency. The value of the distributed ledger, in and of itself, creates an infrastructure that may not only increase access, but also mitigate some of the risks we see today. The growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and the connected devices, gadgets and systems will bring the full power of the internet to society and business. International Data Corp. (IDC) predicts that, in 2025, 75% of the 55.7 billion devices will link to an IoT platform of some sort. Though it’s ever-expanding and innovative, it’s not all-powerful. These billions of devices will need more security and efficiency. Today, Generative AI and the mounting bias, manipulation, ownership and data privacy issues add a whole other dimension to how we manage systems as IoT, including the increasing computational load created by these technologies. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Jacob Mendel, who is a seasoned veteran of Blockchain technology, having served as Managing Director of the Blockchain Institute, Tel Aviv University. He is currently Head of Digital Cryptography & Cybersecurity of State Street. We explore the importance of distributed ledgers and why this is critical to the future infrastructure. We will define decentralized technology, how it may solve the problems of central authority, and how emerging AI technologies will adapt to a future in a distributed infrastructure.
Episode 35 Decentralized Identity, Verifiable Credentials and the Future of Privacy
Nov 4 2023
Episode 35 Decentralized Identity, Verifiable Credentials and the Future of Privacy
In a digital environment rampant with adoption of emerging artificial intelligence technologies, data continues to drive considerable value. The risk to confidential and personal information continues to be an ongoing threat.Enter decentralized identity, an emerging paradigm of digital identity that champions the principles such as individuals having control over their own information and being able to selectively share them with others as needed. Verifiable Credentials, a rising standard and enabler of decentralized identity, are gaining adoption by public and private sectors across the world, including the European Union.  Verifiable credentials are a type of digital credential protected by modern cryptography. They contain digital representation of information or attributes about an individual, organization, or thing. These include educational degrees, digital driver’s licenses, employment records or certifications. These credentials can be shared across various services to streamline processes that require proof of identity or qualification while still maintaining the privacy and security of that information.Verifiable Credentials are designed to provide a secure and tamper-resistant way of verifying and sharing personal or organizational data. Together with other decentralized identity technology, Verifiable Credentials are enabling our systems to allow individual data control, and to increase trust by reducing reliance on central authorities. What does this mean to the future of data privacy?We welcomed Lucy Yang, Managing Partner of Identity Woman in Business. Lucy has been working in the decentralized identity space for 4 years and was also Community Director and Committee Chair of the Covid Credentials Initiative, which sought to address privacy issues and concerns of sharing COVID and health information through verifiable credentials. We discussed the principles of decentralized identity and how a community has evolved them into new infrastructures to solve today’s data privacy issues and how this will interplay with the rampant development of Generative AI.