Each year, we feature the most relevant entrepreneurs who can provide actionable advice for your startup and share their tricks and secrets on funding and growing a tech startup.
Jyoti Bansal is a serial entrepreneur and a Silicon Valley technology visionary who believes passionately in software’s ability to change the world for the better. He conceived BIG Labs as a vehicle for “parallel entrepreneurship,” where he can co-create companies that can help define the future of software and technology.
In 2008, he founded AppDynamics, an application intelligence company that provides enterprises with real-time insights into application performance. Jyoti led the company as Founder & CEO for the first eight years, and as Founder & Chairman for the last one year until its acquisition by Cisco for $3.7 Billion in January 2017.
Jyoti has been a recipient of many leadership awards, including Forbes’ “Best Cloud Computing CEO to Work For”, and “Best CEO” by San Francisco Business Times at the Annual Tech & Innovation Award. He was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year™ for Northern California in 2016.
Jyoti received his BS in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Prior to founding AppDynamics, Jyoti worked at various silicon valley startups as a software engineer and architect. Jyoti is the lead inventor on 20+ US patents.
Adeo Ressi is CEO of the Founder Institute, a startup launch program that operates in nearly 200 cities worldwide, and he is a recognized mentor for fast-growing technology businesses. He has pioneered innovations in the protection of founder rights, the raising of early-stage capital and the scaling of new businesses.
Previous to the Founder Institute, Adeo has helped to create nearly $2 billion in shareholder value by founding or running nine businesses, including TheFunded, Game Trust, Xceed and Total New York. In addition, the Founder Institute has helped to create approximately $25 billion more in shareholder value by launching nearly 3,000 technology companies that have raised an estimated $1 billion from investors.
Adeo previously served on the Board of the X Prize Foundation to pursue his interests in space exploration and techniques to motivate human achievement. He studied architecture and spent time living on a commune to explore his interests in designing better ways to live. Adeo is passionate about inspiring people to achieve greatness.
Ali Vahabzadeh started his career in investment banking, ultimately serving as a Vice President of Equity Derivatives for Banc of America Securities in New York and London over nine years. He moved to San Francisco in 2010 to head up a real estate tech startup that was the first to develop an algorithm that ranked and referred real estate agents based on their statistical performance in the marketplace.
In 2014, inspired by successful, informal mass transit he experienced throughout the world, Vahabzadeh founded Chariot (chariot.com) in San Francisco. Chariot is a VC and Y Combinator funded startup that invites the public and enterprises to crowdsource new commuter routes then launches a twice-daily service when a critical mass of riders between neighborhoods want a faster and more reliable commute. The company uses 14-passenger vans and employee drivers to provide its appbased service now used by tens of thousands of commuters daily. In 2016, Chariot sold to Ford Smart Mobility, becoming Ford’s first mobility acquisition and the cornerstone of its mobility strategy, specifically “Microtransit”.
Over the next 18 months, Chariot expanded to six cities including New York and London. Mr. Vahabzadeh stepped down as CEO in February 2018 after successfully pivoting Chariot’s strategy from consumer (B2C) to an enterpriseled gotomarket strategy that now serves companies, hospitals, universities and several cities as its primary customers. He regularly consults the company, remains on Chariot’s Board of Directors and is currently exploring launching a new venture in mobility services.
Mr. Vahabzadeh graduated with honors with a B.A. in Economics from Vanderbilt University and lives full time in San Francisco.
Mada leads marketing as a co-founder of Branch, the mobile growth platform for today’s top companies, powering mobile linking and growth for over 30,000 apps and 2 billion monthly users around the world. Born and raised in Romania, Mada came to the US to study Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University, and then earned her Masters of Engineering and MBA from Stanford. Mada enjoys playing the latest viral mobile game, binge watching the hottest sci-fi show, and photographing Branch events. Mada regularly speaks about mobile growth at top tech events like Websummit and Saastr, and she was included in Linkedin’s Next Wave, 150 top professionals in 15 industries all under 35.
Eric S. Yuan founded Zoom in 2011. Prior to starting Zoom, Eric was Corporate Vice President of Engineering at Cisco, where he was responsible for Cisco’s collaboration software development. As one of the founding engineers and Vice President of Engineering at WebEx, Eric was the heart and soul of the WebEx product from 1997 to 2011. Eric proudly grew the WebEx team from 10 engineers to more than 800 worldwide, and contributed to revenue growth from $0 to more than $800M. Eric is a named inventor on 11 issued and 20 pending patents in real time collaboration. In 2017, Eric was added to the Business Insider list of the 52 Most Powerful People in Enterprise Tech. Eric is a graduate of the Stanford University Executive Program.
In 1999, Tom Villante founded YapStone with the simple goal of converting bills commonly paid by paper check into online electronic payments. Today, YapStone processes over $18 billion in online and mobile payments and has raised over $110 million in capital. As Chairman and CEO, Tom leads the strategic vision, operational execution and global expansion of the company. With his experience and expertise in the FinTech industry, Tom is focused on positioning YapStone’s innovative and proprietary payments platform to meet the needs of global marketplaces and large vertical markets.
Prior to YapStone, Tom was a Partner at The Seidler Company, a private equity firm, and an investment banker with S.G. Warburg (now UBS) and William E. Simon & Sons. In addition to his role at YapStone, Tom is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (Santa Monica Bay) and has served on the Boards of local schools and charitable organizations. With 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, he is an active angel and real estate investor, frequent speaker at FinTech and Leadership conferences as well as a contributing writer to notable business publications. Tom earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University.
Augusto “Aghi” Marietti is an inventor, technology entrepreneur and angel investor. Augusto aims to help to create the API economy by changing the way software is built and consumed.
He is the CEO and Co-founder of Kong, the Microservice and API company on a mission to broker world’s information. He drives the vision, strategy, and long-term growth. Kong is the most widely-adopted open-source API Gateway with over 20M downloads and one of the fastest growing open-source company. Kong is backed by Andreessen-Horowitz, Jeff Bezos, Index Ventures, CRV, NEA, Eric Schmidt’s IE and Stanford University and it received many awards including being nominated #5 enterprise startup to bet your career on in 2018 .
Prior to Kong, Augusto was the CEO and Co-founder of Mashape, the largest API Marketplace, which was acquired by RapidAPI in 2017. While finding ways to keep Mashape alive in the early days, he had to live like a homeless for several months . Mashape eventually raised several rounds from tier-1 investors while pioneering the concept of using APIs as a business and backbone of software infrastructure. At the time of acquisition, Mashape had over 300,000 developers and was powering 20,000 APIs. Prior to Mashape, he founded MemboxX, the first European cloud service for storing documents and sensitive personal data.
Augusto received his BS in Economics from the Catholic University of Milan (now listed as notable alumni) and studied briefly at UC Berkeley. Augusto is the lead inventor on five US patents, angel investors in over ten startups and he’s fluent in four
Hello, my name is Michael Seibel. I am 33 years old and have lived and worked in the Bay Area for the past 10 years. Currently, I work at Y Combinator as a full-time partner and CEO of the YC accelerator program.
Previously, I was a co-founder and CEO of Justin.tv from 2007 – 2011 and the co-founder and CEO of Socialcam in 2012. During 2012, Socialcam participated in Y Combinator, raised angel financing from a group of amazing investors, and sold to Autodesk Inc. for $60m (link). Needless to say – it was a busy year. In 2014 Justin.tv became Twitch Interactive and under the leadership of Emmett Shear and Kevin Lin sold to Amazon for $970m.
Before getting into tech, I spent a year as the finance director for a US Senate campaign and before that I graduated from Yale University with a bachelors degree in political science. Today I spend the large majority of my free time cooking, reading, traveling and going for long drives. I live in San Francisco, CA with my amazing wife Sarah.
David Hornik is a General Partner at August Capital where he invests in consumer and enterprise software and services. He has worked closely with startups for the last 20 years. Prior to joining August, David was a litigator at Cravath Swaine & Moore, and corporate and licensing attorney at Venture Law Group and Perkins Coie. David is the author of the first venture capital blog, VentureBlog, and the first venture capital podcast, VentureCast. He is the founder and producer of The Lobby conferences, a series of events that gather the thought leaders in consumer and enterprise technology. David teaches entrepreneurship and venture capital at Harvard Law School, and has taught extensively at Stanford Business School, Law School and School of Engineering.
Drew Houston is CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, and has led Dropbox’s growth from a simple idea to a service used by hundreds of millions around the world.
Before founding Dropbox, Drew received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 2006. After graduating, Drew was endlessly frustrated by carrying USB drives and emailing himself files. In early 2007, he teamed up with fellow MIT student Arash Ferdowsi and the two began working on the project that would eventually become Dropbox.
The vision for revolutionizing how work gets done led Leah Busque to pioneer the concept of “Service Networking,” forging a leading role in the Collaborative Consumption movement. Since bootstrapping TaskRabbit in 2008, Leah has expanded the company internationally, raised $50 million in venture funding, and inspired legions of startups to launch in the Collaborative and Service Networking space.
Selected as a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum in 2014 and named one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business,” TaskRabbit was named “The Next Big Thing in Tech” by the New York Times. Prior to founding TaskRabbit, Leah was a Software Engineer at IBM, working in the Messaging and Collaboration Software Development Group. She lives in San Mateo, CA with her husband, daughter, and cuddly black lab, Emerson. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Sweet Briar College, where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science.
Ben Parr is the author of the best-selling book Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention – named the top marketing book of 2015 by Strategy+Business Magazine and Small Business Trends. He is Co-Founder and CMO of Octane AI, the easiest way to create a bot and engage your audience via messaging. He sits on the advisory boards of Lufthansa Airlines, Rebelmouse, AngelHack, UploadVR, LeadIQ, DropIn, and Ustream (acquired by IBM). Previously, Parr was a general partner at DominateFund, a columnist and commentator at CNET, and Co-Editor and Editor-at-Large of Mashable. He is a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30.
I am a founder and Chairman of AngelList. I’m also a Venture Partner at MetaStable. I previously co-founded Epinions (which went public as part of Shopping.com) and Vast.com. I’m an active angel investor, and have invested in dozens of companies, including Twitter, Uber, Wish, Thumbtack, Postmates, Kraken, Yammer, Stack Overflow and OpenDoor.