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Podcast | The Founder Formula

About The Founder Formula Podcast

This is The Founder Formula: Every passing moment, a tech startup disrupts life as it was. In humanity’s pursuit of faster, better, and higher capacity, fresh companies are tackling old problems and modern complexities, all while pushing the bounds of the future. The Founder Formula brings you in—behind the curtains and inside the minds of executives at Start-ups that have traditionally only been found in Silicon Valley—and the Venture Capital Firms that fund them. Each interview will feature a transformative leader who’s behind the wheel at a fast-paced & innovative tech firm. They’ll bring you an insider's look at what it takes to create a technology company, scaled it, and lead it into the future. You’ll hear topics that cover cybersecurity, AI, blockchain, IoT, quantum computing, cryptocurrency, immersive experience, VR, and overall digital transformation. From time to time, you’ll also hear from Founders outside of the technology industry.

"Most start-ups fail launching 1 product...we were starting 8."Episode 33 Armon Dadgar

- Armon Dadgar


33: The Founder Formula
Armon Dadgar, HashiCorp
Big tech companies have their pros and cons; but compared to the freedom found in startups, the choice was a no-brainer for Armon.

In this episode, we interview Armon Dadgar, Co-founder and CTO at HashiCorp, about how his company gained success through a balanced relationship with the co-founder, seed money from trusted investors, and changing hats as the CTO to best fit the specific concerns of the quarter.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Armon’s journey to startups & HashiCorp’s origin.
  • Startup success & funding through friendship.
  • Changing hats as a founder.
  • The HashiCorp Employee Exchange and COVID-19 epiphanies.
  • Building an open source business vs. open source project.

39 Min. Released August 16, 2021

"The combination of technology and business is what makes an entrepreneur."Episode 32 Amir Ben-Efraim

- Amir Ben-Efraim


32: The Founder Formula
Amir Ben-Efraim, Menlo Security
Menlo was founded, in part, because five cybersecurity experts were fed up. Security products should stop bad things from happening — but they didn’t.

Founding his second company on the premise of “Hey, we can do better” has taken this entrepreneur all the way to validation in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant within a decade. Discover lessons learned from the acquisition of Amir's first company and the wild success of his second one.

Other topics discussed:

  • Menlo Security’s origin story.
  • The balance of business and technology in entrepreneurship.
  • What Amir learned from founding Altor.
  • Validation from Gartner and tracking the competition.

43 Min. Released August 2, 2021

"Passion is non-negotiable but doesn't carry you through everything."Episode 31 Andrew Rubin

- Andrew Rubin


31: The Founder Formula
Andrew Rubin, Illumio
Celebrating a massive milestone - $225 million in Series F funding for Illumio - our guest today is startup guru and network security expert, Andrew Rubin. Illumio is at the bleeding edge of the cybersecurity maelstrom with their groundbreaking work in Zero Trust Segmentation.

Andrew offers up his entertaining insights on cyber security, his history as a successful entrepreneur and fashion investor, and paying it forward by mentoring up-and-coming founders.

This episode covers:

  • Leveraging the “zero trust” strategy.
  • The importance of segmentation to prevent catastrophes.
  • CEOs and entrepreneurs are constantly trading notes, and constantly asking each other for advice.
  • The exciting world of investing in high fashion & being part of the Tory Burch phenom.

52 Min. Released July 19, 2021

"My true calling is to teach."Episode 30 Mike Pfeiffer

- Mike Pfeiffer


30: The Founder Formula
Mike Pfeiffer,
For this Founder, getting out of the cubicle and teaching completely changed his life and his career.

Mike Pfeiffer is the CEO and Founder of, the most immersive cloud and devops learning community in the world. Mike realized as he was working in tech support and cloud architecture that his true calling is to teach, but on his own terms.

Our conversation on this episode covers:

  • The importance of training and evolvement for businesses and individuals in technology.
  • The learning experiences that ultimately lead to entrepreneurship.
  • How to build an audience and continue impacting that audience.
  • The real scoop on authoring a book.
  • And, the rules of the dog park, as told by Todd Gallina and Sandy Salty.

41 Min. Released July 5, 2021

"I have the greatest job in the world."Episode 29 Brian Wheeler

- Brian Wheeler


29: The Founder Formula
Brian Wheeler, Morpheus Data
Why would you launch a company when you’re already working at your dream job?

If you’re Brian Wheeler, the answer is simple: you can stay a partner at your dream job, while also able to Branch out and launch a new company. It was a win/win.

On this episode of The Founder Formula, we talk to Brian, who is a partner at Bertram Capital, and the cofounder of Morpheus Data, a cloud application management platform company, all about:

  • Why he felt comfortable taking the leap and launching a company while working at his dream job.
  • The journey from creating an idea, to making that idea a reality.
  • Why you MUST be willing to put your own money into your idea if you’re going to be taken seriously.
  • Why there are SO many smart people in Colorado.

44 Min. Released June 21, 2021

"The most important things about core values is to repeat them until they're boring."Episode 28 Ian Tien

- Ian Tien


28: The Founder Formula
Ian Tien, Mattermost
How do you know when you’ve built a winning culture? More importantly, how do you know when you’ve succeeded in instilling your core values across the entire company?

We’re talking this week to Ian Tien, CEO at Mattermost, an enterprise messaging workspace for teams to collaborate securely and effectively. Ian's career has taken him through various areas of the entertainment industry including founding Spinpunch, an independent game studio.

Our conversation on this episode centered all around:

  • Building a company to address a customer need when YOUR company is the customer.
  • Listening to the market.
  • Building open source platforms and why they’re so beneficial.
  • The 5 core pillars of culture at Mattermost and why each one is crucial to their success.

43 Min. Released June 2, 2021

"We strive to build an engineering paradise."Episode 27 Evan Macmillan

- Evan Macmillan


27: The Founder Formula
Evan Macmillan, Gridspace
When was the last time you or your company made a product video?

If you’re not using video to communicate your message, odds are that you’re missing a huge array of potential investors, consumers, and users. And before you make excuses about your company not being exciting, or your product not sexy enough for video, take a listen to this episode of The Founder Formula.

We’re talking this week to Evan Macmillan, CEO and Co-Founder at Gridspace, an AI-driven, voice automation company. Evan has an incredibly rich background. He was born in Silicon Valley, and his dad worked at Sun Microsystems and rubbed shoulders with legends like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Evan went on to Stanford University at the same time as another famous alumni, Mark Zuckerberg. Evan even spent some time at Stanford's version of the Harvard Lampoon called the Stanford Chaparral.

Our conversation on this episode centered all around:

  • What Silicon Valley USED to be like before it became the tech playground that it is today.
  • What he learned from Product Design.
  • Seeing a problem that needed solving… Better voice based customer service.
  • leveraging video as a MUST for your company and your product.
  • What it looks like to scale, and the hardest part of scaling effectively.
  • lessons learned from his previous successful start-up.

48 Min. Released March 30, 2021

"Companies that take themselves too seriously will fail.Episode 26 Nolan Bushnell"

- Nolan Bushnell


26: The Founder Formula
Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari
In part 2 of our interview with Nolan, we’re covering the second half of his career. With someone as storied and experienced as Nolan is, he wasn’t content to just sell Atari and fade into the background.

The second part of our conversation centered around:

  • Nolan’s first adventure after leaving Atari.
  • His fascinating relationship with the iconic Steve Jobs.
  • Why Chuck E Cheese was more of an arcade business than a restaurant business.
  • The technology that he sold that became the bedrock of Pixar.
  • Did Nolan actually solicit help from his Buddy Steve Wozniak?
  • How would Nolan describe their relationship?
  • What percentage of Apple did Steve offer Nolan when seeking investment?
  • Why did Nolan turn him down?

26 Min. Released March 11, 2021

"A lot of times things that are truly revolutionary require more time.Episode 25 Nolan Bushnell"

- Nolan Bushnell


25: The Founder Formula
Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari
We pulled out all the stops and invited one of the most famous founders in Silicon Valley history for a two part extravaganza. If you spent any amount of time in the 1970’s & 1980’s playing Atari, you have our guest, Nolan Bushnell to thank.

Nolan founded Atari, and brought video games to the home user, selling over 30 million units. As if changing the video game industry wasn’t enough, Nolan also went on to found Chuck E. Cheese, which at the height of its popularity, had over 200 locations. Not to mention the countless boards he sits on, advisory roles he’s taken, and incubators he’s founded.

The first part of our conversation centered around:

  • The history of Atari and what led to it’s founding.
  • The concept of “eat your babies” (Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like).
  • Straddling the line between leading a company and inventing forward at the same time.
  • How the University of Utah & Silicon Valley had equal impact on his career.

26 Min. Released January 29, 2021

"We put enough pressure on ourselves; external pressure needs to be ignored.Episode 24 Renen Hallak"

- Renen Hallak


24: The Founder Formula
Renen Hallak, VAST Data
In 2019, Renen Hallak was honored for entrepreneurship by Goldman Sachs at their annual Innovator Summit. His company also recently made the news by raising $100M in Series C Funding — so it’s safe to say that Renen knows a thing or two about being a successful founder.

We discussed, among other things:

  • The key differences between the hardware and software company and how those experiences differ greatly.
  • The journey to four successful fundraising cycles and why the most recent $100M cycle was so unique.
  • The complex decisions that go into selecting a board of directors for your company.
  • Making company culture a foundation from day 1.

39 Min. Released December 16, 2020

"Do not start a company for an exit. Start it to CREATE VALUE.Episode 23 Rehan Jalil"

- Rehan Jalil


23: The Founder Formula
Rehan Jalil,
Rehan is a successful three-time founder, holds an AMP from Harvard Business School, has over 25 patents either granted or pending, and was named one of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year finalists. So it’s safe to say that Rehan knows a thing or two about the founder’s journey, and we were blown away with the wisdom and practical advice he had for us during this interview.

We discussed, among other things:

  • What to look for when assembling the winning founding team.
  • The most important part of the pitch.
  • The most gratifying moments for a founder.
  • The lessons he’s learned along the way that all founders should keep in mind.

43 Min. Released November 19, 2020

"We're not building a unicorn. We're building a workhorse.Episode 22 Justin Borgman"

- Justin Borgman


22: The Founder Formula
Justin Borgman, Starburst
As a 2-time founder, Justin saw entrepreneurship as a way to have an impact on the world. He & his employees wanted to do something to help fight against COVID-19, so they made their whole enterprise solution free to COVID-19 researchers. That’s true impact. That’s wanting your work to do good in the world.

What we talked about:

  • His impetus for entrepreneurship arrived at age 12.
  • The differences between his 1st and 2nd companies.
  • Company culture & values (not “the Silicon Valley mentality”).
  • How he views his competitors.

40 Min. Released September 1, 2020

"Think Young and Think Small.Episode 21 Todd Mostak"

- Todd Mostak


21: The Founder Formula
Todd Mostak, OmniSci
When I asked Todd what clued him in that he was destined to become an entrepreneur, he said, “Intense curiosity.” The first-time founder taught himself Arabic, programming languages, data science, and entrepreneurship.

What we talked about:

  • Winning a contest for his first $100K.
  • Thesis at Harvard, research fellowship at MIT, and Verizon Wireless as an early client.
  • The mismatch between early hires, culture, and startup nimbleness.

40 Min. Released July 21, 2020

"We needed a lot more possibilities people and a lot less parameters people.Episode 20 George Kurtz"

- George Kurtz


20: The Founder Formula
George Kurtz, CrowdStrike
George Kurtz is the President, Founder, & CEO of CrowdStrike, but his journey to the CEO of a $20B+ company isn’t one that a lot of people would expect.

We sat down with George to discuss:

  • What nearly got him fired from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
  • Why his lack of collegiate tech background makes him a more effective tech CEO.
  • How CrowdStrike had a remote workforce model in place before COVID19 hit.
  • Why the IPO is the green flag for a company, not the checkered flag.

33 Min. Released June 30, 2020

"We didn't have to pivot, but we DID have some bets we needed to STAY TRUE to.Episode 19 Jon Oberheide"

- Jon Oberheide


19: The Founder Formula
Jon Oberheide, Duo Security
After growing up in Ann Arbor and attending the University of Michigan, Jon Oberheide and his partner Dug Song started their career as offensive security researchers. They soon found that it’s really easy to break things in the security space but it's a lot harder to build something resilient.

Jon joins us on this episode of The Founder Formula to share the story of their journey, and some of the simple solutions they were able to identify early on such as:

  • Changing the customer experience.
  • Making free trials available.
  • Offering a solution that can deploy in 5 minutes.
  • Purchasing with a credit card (which at that time was unheard of!)

41 Min. Released June 05, 2020

"Culture is effectively the operating system of a company.Episode 18 Craig McLuckie"

- Craig McLuckie


18: The Founder Formula
Craig McLuckie, Heptio
"The only reason to launch a start-up is because you have to!"

In this episode, we talk to cloud entrepreneur and innovator Craig McLuckie. He talks about the time to launch a startup when you see 2 things:

  1. A total addressable market.
  2. A moment of disruption.

42 Min. Released June 02, 2020

"It was back-breaking, gut-wrenching work, but the most fun I've ever had.Episode 17 Cindy Padnos"

- Cindy Padnos


17: The Founder Formula
Cindy Padnos, Illuminate Ventures
Cindy is unique in that she founded her own tech company that was purchased by Oracle. She then found her second company, one that funds entrepreneurs. Her advice? Focus on the things that matter - then go off and build a great business!

Cindy believes she has founder genes in her DNA - always thought like a founder. She launched her first company Vivant because, as she put it, she had no more excuses. When describing starting a company: It was back breaking, gut wrenching work - and the most fun she’d ever had!

What does she look for in a founder? Someone scrappy, resilient, who demonstrates the ability to attract talent and knows how to celebrate wins. If you take away fear and uncertainty and focus on building a solid business you’ll be the better for it. Focus on getting a few things right then when the uncertainty is lifted you’ll be in a much better position.

31 Min. Released May 29, 2020

"When asking V.C.'s for money, you need to answer two questions:
Why you? Why now?Episode 16 Lior Div"

- Lior Div


16: The Founder Formula
Lior Div, Cybereason
“Software is a weapon." And the thing about weapons is, they can be used to attack. Or they can be used to defend. And if you know how they can be used to attack, it only makes them all the easier to defend when the time comes.

We sat down with Lior Div, who traded his life in the Israeli army, for a life as a CEO & Co-Founder of a cybersecurity company. We talked all about:

  • His time in the Israeli army and how his experiences there set him up for a career as a CEO.
  • What it was that prompted him to start his own company.
  • Why it’s not a matter of IF you get hacked, but a matter of WHEN.

39 Min. Released May 26, 2020

"Absorbing shocks, being agile, and adapting is key to a start-up.Episode 15 Gaurav Manglik"

- Gaurav Manglik


15: The Founder Formula
Gaurav Manglik, CliQr
While it might seem like the worst possible time to be throwing your energy, time, and money into starting a company, what if this were the best possible time to embark on this crazy journey? Gaurav Manglik thinks this might just be your time. And it’s not just about starting a company. If you are starting, what do you need to do? How can you increase your chances of getting funded?

Gaurav was a guest on The Founder Formula recently, and was kind enough to talk with us all about:

  • Some of the most common myths about working for a VC.
  • Why your business plan could be the thing that makes the difference between success and failure.
  • What it was like having your company purchased by one of the largest enterprise tech firms in the word: Cisco.

37 Min. Released May 20, 2020

"Racehorses race with blinders on for a reason - they need to focus on winning the race.Episode 14 Tim Delisle"

- Tim Delisle


14: The Founder Formula
Tim Delisle, Datalogue
Tim’s first gig was executing the ideas of others. He soon realized the Data Science and Insight work he was doing wasn’t solving the pain point that was creating usable data.

The solution didn’t exist. It needed to be created – and he knew how to do it. Tim started his company at just 25 years old. He did his first pitch between college classes with sharpies from his backpack.

On this episode, we discuss:

  • Finding his co-founder at a Hackathon.
  • Building culture by cooking and eating together.
  • Not knowing any VC’s when he started.
  • 3 keys stages: Seed Stage, Series A, and large growth rounds.
  • Translating gut instincts into clear communication.

30 Min. Released May 5, 2020

"At a start-up, you're going to work a lot of hours...12-14 hours a day.Episode 13 Jack McCauley"

- Jack McCauley


13: The Founder Formula
Jack McCauley, Oculus VR
What happens when you get the chance to sit down with someone who was the co-founder of Oculus VR, and was one of the chief IP leads for the famed Activision franchise Guitar Hero? Someone who has made a career out of innovation and knows what it takes to succeed in the startup world? You drop everything and have that conversation.

On the Season 2 kick off episode of The Founder Formula, we sat down with Jack McCauley to talk about:

  • The story of the development of Oculus.
  • The soft skills needed to survive in a startup environment.
  • Advice for folks who want to hang on to their IP.

44 Min. Released April 22, 2020

Episode 12 Jake Knapp

"We had a prototype in front of customers in one weekEpisode 12 Jake Knapp"

- Jake Knapp


12: The Founder Formula
Jake Knapp, Designer, Advisor, & New York Times Best Selling Author
Jake is someone who cut his teeth on Microsoft Encarta. Who remembers Microsoft Encarta? For those of you under the age of 30, it was essentially Wikipedia on a CD-ROM. You’d buy it, and then at the end of the year, it would get updated and you’d have to buy it again.

On this episode we talked about:

  • The theory behind The Sprint.
  • What he took away from Google and Microsoft.
  • Success stories from companies that have embraced The Sprint.
  • How to write a book on the side while still being amazing at your job.

40 Min. Released November 26, 2019

Episode 11 Ben Hindman

Our first pitch was a massive fail.Episode 11 Ben Hindman

- Ben Hindman


11: The Founder Formula
Ben Hindman, D2iQ (formerly Mesosphere)
After founding a company with buddies from high school, would you undertake a CEO search and an entire company rebrand?

If you did, here’s what you’d learn:

  • Why founding a company with high school buddies is a great and terrible idea.
  • What it’s like to search for a CEO.
  • The process of rebranding.

42 Min. Released November 19, 2019

Episode 10 Nir Polak

"Folks are rooting for you to fail.Episode 10 Nir Polak"

- Nir Polak


10: The Founder Formula
Nir Polak, Exabeam
Nir mentions that founders of tech solutions should sign design partners. Not beta testers.

What we talked about:

  • Design partners and how they’re superior to beta testers.
  • Benefits of refining your product market fit early in your to market process.
  • Creating a heat map of scaling communications.
  • Starting with mockups.
  • Finding investors.

35 Min. Released November 12, 2019

Episode 9 Elik Eizenberg

"The most important thing a startup has to have is focus.Episode 9 Elik Eizenberg"

- Elik Eizenberg


09: The Founder Formula
Elik Eizenberg, BigPanda
Elik Eizenberg speaks with us about his enduring love for data algorithms.

The more you think about founding a company, the more you don’t want to do it. At some point, you’ll have to stop analyzing all the reasons not to and get started.

What we talked about:

  • Why analysis will keep you from founding your company.
  • The kind of people you want to found a company with.
  • Elik’s process of finding his target market.
  • Starting with mockups.
  • Why “Panda”?

37 Min. Released November 05, 2019

Episode 8 Jyoti Bansal

"The Idea is 1%, Execution is the other 99%.Episode 8 Jyoti Bansal"

- Jyoti Bansal


08: The Founder Formula
Jyoti Bansal, Harness
As an entrepreneur, the hardest part about taking a chance on an idea often isn’t when the idea doesn’t work out. It’s when it does work out. Jyoti was kind enough to fill us in on what it takes to prove your startup plan is worth a billion dollars.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Being a first-time founder.
  • The toll entrepreneurship can have on families.
  • Solidifying a convincing pitch for VCs.

37 Min. Released October 29, 2019

Episode 7 Hayes Drumwright

"You'll never be sorry that you made a bet on yourself.Episode 7 Hayes Drumwright"

- Hayes Drumwright


07: The Founder Formula
Hayes Drumwright, Serial Entrepreneur
Hayes has a new wine company as a passion project called memento mori--which is latin for “remember you will die.” It is a great metaphor for how he views life and entrepreneurship. Their company is a call for customers to remember to live. On the other hand, they also want to honor the struggles of their customers. Memento Mori, as a company wants their customers to do two things: be vulnerable and be brave.

For Hayes, entrepreneurship is tough because you are making a bet on yourself, and when you start a company you force a lot of people to also bet on you. He also shares what he believes is the myth of entrepreneurship: most people think you need an amazing idea in order to achieve a lot of success. But in reality all you really need is an unbelievable level of commitment to do it better than anybody else.

38 Min. Released October 22, 2019

Episode 6 Raja Mukerji

"You need two things to start a company: Curiosity and Grit.Episode 6 Raja Mukerji"

- Raja Mukerji


06: The Founder Formula
Raja Mukerji, ExtraHop Networks
There is only one purpose of any company: to provide VALUE to its users. In order to do that, you need a maniacal focus on the customer right from the outset of founding a company. In this episode, Raja shares his thoughts on:

  • Showing up in Gartner’s upper-right hand quadrant.
  • The 2 most important characteristics you need to start a company.
  • The biggest myth about startups.
  • Why it’s important for your investors to appreciate the “Art of the Possible.”

30 Min. Released October 15, 2019

Episode 5 Mohit Aron

"You can only have great people if you have a great culture.Episode 5 Mohit Aron"

- Mohit Aron


05: The Founder Formula
Mohit Aron, Cohesity
Mohit was employee #600 when he joined Google in early 2003. When he left, four years later, Google had 30,000 employees. He worked there during a romantic era and it was an amazing ride. Now, Mohit is CEO and Founder of Cohesity and gave us incredible insight into:

  • How Google prepared him for entrepreneurship.
  • Why 80% of data lies beneath the surface.
  • How Cohesity is becoming the “smartphone” of enterprise data.
  • Why company values are the most important part of building a culture.

40 Min. Released October 08, 2019

Episode 4 Guru Chahal

"All startups are a series of mini pivots.Episode 4 Guru Chahal"

- Guru Chahal


04: The Founder Formula
Guru Chahal, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Guru told us he looks for three key things in founding teams:

  1. Entrepreneurs who have a background in the market they want to take on.
  2. The ability to execute.
  3. The ability to monetize the technology.

39 Min. Released October 01, 2019

Episode 3 Kumar Ramachandran

"Our job is to singularly make our customers heroes.Episode 3 Kumar Ramachandran"

- Kumar Ramachandran


03: The Founder Formula
Kumar Ramachandran, CloudGenix
Kumar talks about the balance between pivoting and persistence, why Silicon Valley is a special place for startups, the joy of making your customer the hero, and how to maintain your company culture as you scale and hire.
42 Min. Released September 28, 2019

Episode 2 Phil Tee

" may still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. You've GOT to keep the dream alive.Episode 2 Phil Tee"

- Phil Tee
(Borrowing from Cat Stevens)


02: The Founder Formula
Phil Tee, Moogsoft
Phil tells the story of Moogsoft’s name, why he intentionally tries to make the company’s culture different than other tech startups around San Francisco, and how he’s managed to keep the ethos of the company intact after several years. “There’s a fantastic line from a Cat Stevens song: you may be still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. You’ve got to keep the dream alive.”
33 Min. Released September 19, 2019

Episode 1 Mario Ciabarra

"Digital transformation has no start and no end.Episode 1 Mario Ciabarra"

- Mario Ciabarra


01: The Founder Formula
Mario Ciabarra, Quantum Metric
Mario tells his story about working nights and weekends to make his entrepreneurial dream a reality. He also gives advice on how to hone your pitch messaging for VCs, why the messaging for pitching CIOs is different, and the three most important attributes the core members of your team need to possess.
34 Min. Released September 19, 2019

Episode 0 Mark Campbell

"If I could only know one thing about a company it would be who's the founder.Episode 0 Mark Campbell"

- Mark Campbell


00: The Founder Formula
Mark Campbell, Trace3
One of the leading indicators for technology that’s going to hit the market is whether or not it comes out of the major VC firms. It’s very rare that the proverbial unicorns come out of a vacuum or one angel investor. Typically the path runs through one of the top 50 VC firms in the world. On this podcast, host Mark Campbell, Chief Innovation Officer at Trace3, shares the journey of some of the founders who have taken that path. He'll talk to founders from all stages of the journey: those who are just starting, those who are just now hitting the market, and those who are hitting the inflection curve as their companies grow.
10 Min. Released September 19, 2019