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The Room Podcast

Claudia Laurie, Madison McIlwain

Welcome to the Room. A series interviewing your favorite tech founders and funders. Our guests were in the room where it happened and they’re sharing their stories. 


S4E3: Katherine Salisbury of Qapital on Disrupting Personal Finance
  In this week’s episode of The Room Podcast, Madison and Claudia sit down with Katherine Salisbury, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Qapital, a mobile banking app designed to help incentivize people to save smarter. Qapital’s Chief Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely leverages science to propel people into better money habits. Since its inception in 2015, Qapital has helped millions of users collectively save over $2 billion.    This week’s key themes include navigating raising venture capital with an untraditional background, co-founding your business with your significant other, and when to make your product a paid product in the world of free. Let’s open the door.    Season 4 is sponsored by our friends at SVB and Cooley.    …   Key Theme 1: Navigating raising venture capital with an untraditional background After graduating from Cornell Law, Katherine started her career as a lawyer in New York City before moving to Europe to found and run a sports management company focused on soccer. Without a background in FinTech, Katherine advises founders to just show up and put in the time and energy. It’s a learning curve to work out all the kinks, but you have to be willing to try, be embarrassed, and mess up.    Key Theme 2: Co-founding your business with your significant other Co-founding Qapital with her significant other George Friedman, Katherine gives some tips on how to balance personal and work life. She says it’s sometimes easier to be on the same rollercoaster with a significant other as they share compassion for one another whether it be through the good or bad moments. Katherine also emphasises the importance of turning it off and knowing when to put work aside for the day.     Key Theme 3: When to make your product a paid product in the world of free When deciding the pricing scheme for her product, Katherine and her team went to several pricing experts and ended up developing a lasting partnership with Simon Kucher. They tested different options out and were able to back up Katherine’s initial intuitions with detailed research.  …   Thank you so much for tuning into another week of The Room Podcast. Join us on Clubhouse on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 1:30PM PST to hear directly from Katherine! New episodes launch every Tuesday at 7AM PST.
1 month ago - 29:19
S4E2: Sydney Sykes of BLCK VC on transforming VC and building diverse communities for future founders & funders
 In this week’s episode of The Room Podcast, Madison and Claudia sit down with Sydney Sykes, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of BLCK VC. Founded in 2018, BLCK VC empowers and advances black venture investors by providing a focus community built for and by black venture investors. Out of Harvard undergrad, Sydney joined New Enterprise Associates as an investment analyst before moving on to e-commerce planning with Dolls Kill. Today, Sydney is also studying at Stanford GSB for her MBA.    This week’s key themes and insights include solving the problems you see in the world, the future of direct-to-consumer investing, and the integral role of a unique perspective and driving innovation. Let’s open the door.   Season 4 of The Room Podcast is sponsored by our friends at SVB and Cooley. Learn more about SVB’s Access to Innovation initiative here.   …   Key Theme 1: Solving the problems you see in the world Blck VC is evidence that you have the ability to solve the problems you see in the world. Sydney took her lived experience and passion for building a better tomorrow into action. This passion to unlock more equity in who’s represented in venture led her to create her non-profit. Whether you’re thinking of starting a non-profit or a for-profit business that solves something you deeply believe should change; Sydney reminds us that you are empowered to build for that future.  Key Theme 2:  Direct-to-consumer Brands and their Evolution  Having spent time in operations at Dolls Kill, a venture-backed DTC brand, Sydney has unique insights into the future of e-commerce. As an investor, Sydney is compelled by brands who are taking a more differentiated approach to finding and cultivating community with their customers. She specifically is interested if they’re providing a product or service that no one else is offering. Two driving questions Sydney shared when it comes to investing in DTC are What's different about what I'm building? Why is this going to take off in a way that works for venture capital?   Key Theme 3: The integral role of a unique perspective and driving innovation Sydney believes the venture capital industry’s growth is dependent on unique perspectives and new ideas.    “If a venture capital firm continues to have the same perspectives for long periods of time, or doesn't bring in new networks or doesn't bring in something that gives them a competitive advantage, that firm will fall behind.”   She gives the example that lack of diversity in a firm leads to a massive ecosystem gap. Without any black investors, firms are missing 15% of consumers as well as the inability to relate to and fully understand some of their founders.  …   Thank you to Sydney for joining us in The Room! We will be back next week with a new episode on Tuesday, Aug. 31
1 month ago - 32:10