The Fundable Founder Podcast

From IP strategy to sales to product management, tips for first-time founders in short, incisive interviews with dozens of business experts. Because you don't know what you don't know....!


When you’re launching a new tech business, there is a lot to learn, and if you're like many first-time founders, you may be unaware of the gaps in your knowledge. (We certainly were when we launched our first businesses, once upon a time!)

The Fundable Founder was created to help first time tech entrepreneurs quickly find and fill the gaps in their know-how. It covers key topics from IP strategy to fundraising to sales & product management to executive leadership.

The Fundable Founder takes the interviews from our Commercialization Accelerator and puts them in a podcast, along with deeper dive interviews focused on fundraising, to make it easier for you to access all our content whether you’re sitting at your desk, driving your car, or washing the dishes.

Find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts! Subscribe or follow us to get weekly episodes in your feed.


50. Pison - Dexter Ang

Dexter Ang, founder and CEO of Pison, talks about the challenges of raising venture capital. "Do VC discovery quickly and find the ones that will fall in love with you instantly. Our backers were obvious fits."


49. Planning and Launching a Product

Ready to launch a new product? How do you build a customer base and scale up your sales? Yael Avidan, senior director of product at Chewy gives topline advice to first time #founders in this episode. Learn such tips as: 1) Be specific with your hypothesis for customer need so that you can measure your progress, 2) Fall in love with a problem, not a solution, 3) Measure, measure, measure! 4) Be objective with your data.


48. Product Management 101

Developing your MVP as a startup can be challenging. You need to be data-driven, good at understanding business needs and technical requirements, and ruthless at prioritization. And you also need to be able to communicate with diverse groups and motivate a team while having empathy for customers. In this episode, Kaitlyn Kirkaldy, senior product manager at Zipcar gives excellent advice on how to succeed at product development.


47. Orienting Around a Mission

Serial founder Greg Segall discusses what drove him to found Alyce, a mission-oriented business, and why that's important. Segall talks about the benefits, including attracting the right talent, building a tighter company culture and gaining competitive advantage as a business.


Episode 46: Importance of Culture

As a startup, how do you think about and build culture? And how do you hire for it? Joshua Summers, CEO & cofounder, clypd, inc. shares fascinating insights with Charlie Hipwood in this episode.


Episode 45: Fairmakit - Kevin Frechette

Kevin Frechette, co-founder and CEO of Fairmarkit, talks about the challenge of growing a business while raising venture capital. "Don’t oversell where you are at as a company."


Episode 44: Priya Yadav - Building Engineering Teams

As a tech startup, being able to innovate and deliver complex projects on a dime is essential for growth and revenue. And to do that, you need a resilient, effective engineering team. Before joining MassVentures as VP of Investments, Priya Yadav grew and managed an engineering team, from 3 to 350 people, at Intel. In this episode, she offers advice for building and managing effective, resilient teams. "You have to constantly work at it, evaluate the gaps, put processes in place to address the gaps, and don't underestimate the importance of it. Leave no stone unturned."


Episode 43: Greg Segall

Founder and CEO of Alyce, Greg Segall, sits down with Charlie Hipwood to talk about his fundraising journey. Segall discusses the importance of creating a company around core pillars and a mission. “(If)you are a product-based CEO, you’re job is to say no…focus is success."


Episode 42: Diversity and Inclusion

Diverse organizations outperform is MassVentures' investment thesis. And research backs that up. But how do you build a truly diverse organization, and maintain that diversity as you grow? It takes intentionality, time, transparency--and a lot more, but the rewards are well worth it. In this episode, Charlie Hipwood discusses how MassVentures puts its investment thesis into practice.


Episode 41: Lambent Spaces - Julie Johnson Roberts

Julie Johnson Roberts, co-founder and CEO of Lambent Spaces (fka Armored Things), sits down with Charlie Hipwood to discuss her fundraising journey. Roberts discusses the importance of building the right team to raise venture capital. "Fundraising is like a Sisyphean task but it is achievable," she says.


Episode 40: Choosing an Independent BOD Member

As a busy startup, managing a board can feel burdensome. But getting a really good independent director can help you manage the board, says Vinit Nijhawan, Managing Director, MassVentures in this episode. It's a critical role to fill. Nijhawan touches on: What qualities you should look for in an independent board member, how do you find them, how do you compensate them, and why you need them.


Episode 39: Customer Success - Managing Change

Growing your business and adding products and/or customers can be chaotic for startups. How do you manage customer success through that change? How do you proactively engage your customers, solicit their feedback, and set clear priorities as you scale? In this episode, Sarah Webber, VP Client Success at ClearGov, formerly with Constant Contact, discusses best practices for ensuring customer success during the chaos of growth.


Episode 38: Customer Success 101

Growing your business is about more than just landing new customers. You also need to invest in your customers' experiences during pre-sale and after they buy to ensure that they have positive experiences and return for more--and speak highly of your brand. In this episode, Phil Pergola, CEO Cloud Zero, goes over the fundamentals of customer success: What is it, how do you build and maintain it, and how do sales and customer success teams work together?


Episode 37: BoardOnTrack's Marci Cornell Feist

Marci Cornell-Feist, founder and CEO of BoardOnTrack, sits down with Charlie Hipwood to discuss her fundraising journey. Cornell-Feist focuses her advice on raising a successful venture capital funding round. "Raising money is a lot like theater," she says.


Episode 36: Intro to Press Releases and Press

Got a big news announcement to make, but don't know where to start? Independent journalist Meg Wilcox -- who's worked in both #public relations and journalism--gives topline advice to startups on the basics of writing a press release, finding and targeting the right reporters, working with PR agencies, and other important tips for getting your story out.


Episode 35: Chris Bullock and Bryan Burdick of ClearGov

ClearGov co-founders, Chris Bullock and Bryan Burdick, discuss the best advice they received from a venture capitalist. "Your goal should not be raising venture capital. Your goal should be to build a great company and a great product," they say.


Episode 34: Marketing 101

Pamela Erlichman, Chief Evangelist Officer at Jebbit, discusses the art and science of marketing. Topics covered include the role of marketing in a startup; how to acquire customers and turn them into advocates for your brand; responsibilities of marketing vs. sales; and how to set up, properly resource, and grow a marketing team.


Episode 33: Government DoD Sales 101

The DoD's needs are vast and span from cleantech to cybersecurity to AI to vision tech, to fabrics and materials, to data management and more. The government can also be a fantastic, reliable customer. In this episode, Stephanie Hutch, consultant at UMass Lowell Research Institute, NorthStar Campus, an incubator for startups, discusses the benefits of working with the DoD, and how to find and win solicitations and opportunities.


Episode 32: Dual Use Technologies 101

It's not easy to build a tech business that creates products for both civilian and military uses—but it does reap big rewards. In this episode, Stacy Swider sits down with Dexter Ang, chairman & co-founder of Pison, to talk about he navigates the complexities of dual use ventures. Topics covered include: plusses and minuses of working with the defense industry, product market fit for dual ventures, business models for tapping into DOD funding/markets.


Episode 31: Paerpay CEO Derek Canton

Paerpay founder and CEO, Derek Canton, gives very candid and personal advice on launching a company and seeking funding. “The worst time to start preparing for the marathon is during the marathon.”


Episode 30: IP 101 Part 3

What do you do when you think someone is copying or stealing your patented idea? Hamilton, Brook, Smith & Reynolds, P.C. IP experts Lawrence Cogswell, Ph.D. and James Coe, now with Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. provide topline guidance in this episode on IP Infringement. Part 3 of our IP 101 series covers: How do you prevent patent infringement from the get-go?, What legal recourses do you have when you suspect infringement?, What's involved in establishing that an infringement has occurred?


Episode 29: Kytopen - Paulo Garcia

Kytopen Co-founder and CEO, Paulo Garcia, sits down with Charlie Hipwood to discuss the biotech startup's fundraising journey. Garcia discusses finding complementary co-founders and his hacks for winning non-dilutive grants. "The fundraising process is intense." Spun out from MIT, Kytopen has since raised more than $30M.


Episode 28: IP 101 with HSBR Part II

So you're ready to file a patent to protect your intellectual property, but how do you go about it? Veteran patent lawyers Dierdre Sanders and Mark Solomon, both Principals at Hamilton Brook Smith and Reynolds, overview the process and key questions you'll need to answer to secure a strong patent.


Episode 27: Building a Sales Organization

Every founder should be on the frontline of sales early in the organization, but when and how do you start building a sales team? Sales expert Kevin Frechette, Co-founder and CEO Fairmarkit, gives topline advice. Among his tips, your first hire should have a trailblazing, founder mentality and believe in you and your mission. But how do you find that person? How do you grow the team? How do you measure success? Listen in for his excellent advice.


Episode 26: First Sales Hire

Why is it so hard to get the first sales hire right? Kent Summers gives excellent advice to help founders avoid common pitfalls and find the right person to help them grow their business. Learn: Why it's so critical to get the first sales hire right, What qualities/criteria you should look for, How to know you've found the right person, What you, as a founder, need to do to ensure your new hire succeeds.


Episode 25: Working with the Board

Contrary to popular belief, startups and their boards don't have to butt heads. Bryan Burdick, President and Co-founder of ClearGov, discusses how startups can best develop a collaborative relationship with their boards. Selecting the right investors and board members for cultural fit and shared vision are key. So are transparency, effective communications, strategic planning, and consistency in meetings.


Episode 24: Concerto Bio - Cheri Ackerman

As an academic entrepreneur, how do you spin out of the university and raise capital to bring your innovation to market? In this episode, Concerto Biosciences CEO and Cofounder Cheri Ackerman tells her story. Ackerman discusses how she and her colleagues transformed their biotech research at MIT into a thriving startup that harnesses the power of microbes to benefit health. Ackerman discusses: How do you take that first step out of academia? How do find the right VCs? How do you create the FOMO that makes VCs want to invest in your startup?


Episode 23: Product Led Growth

What is product-led growth and how can it help you grow your startup? Tom Coburn, Co-founder and CEO at Jebbit explains the power of this model for growth and why his company has chosen it over sales-led growth.


Episode 22: Accounting Dos and Don'ts

Do you need to file taxes if you experienced a loss? Absolutely! says Scott Goodwin, CPA, of Wolf & Company, P.C. in this episode on Accounting Dos and Don'ts. Goodwin gives topline advice for first-time founders on what to do and what not to do when setting up accounting systems and accounting infrastructure. Getting it right from the start is important for fundraising.


Episode 21: SBIR I Won, Now What?

Congratulations, you won a coveted SBIR award! Working with the federal government can have its quirks. In this episode, SBIR expert Stacy Swider walks you through the steps you need to take to access your award as quickly as possible so that you can hit the ground running. She also covers how to manage the money properly for reporting purposes.


Episode 20: SBIR insight from former NSF Director

Former National Science Foundation SBIR/STTR director Rick Schwerdtfeger offers key insights on how to succeed when applying for an SBIR grant. Learn: What type of innovations spark SBIR interest?, How does the judging work? Are you ready to apply--have you done your homework? What are your chances of getting funded? Why does it take so long?


Episode 19: Early Marketing - Words and Website

How do you build your brand as a new #startup? Marketing and PR expert Bobbie Carlton, who runs Innovation Nights, gives excellent advice on key steps right out of the starting gate. Learn: How to pick a company name that tells customers what you do, How to build your online presence to maximize your visibility, What do you need to do to attract customers and keep them engaged?


Episode 18: Hiring Senior Managers

VCs invest in teams. As a founder, it's really important that you get your hiring right for senior managers. It will enhance your fundraising efforts and enable you to succeed overall as an organization. Hiring the wrong person can be incredibly costly. In this episode, MassVentures CEO and president Charlie Hipwood gives advice on how to ensure you hire the right senior managers. What questions should you ask? What qualities should you seek? What resources are available to guide you?


Episode 17: Building a Sales Organization with Adam Honig

As a new founder, how do you build a sales organization? Serial entrepreneur Adam Honig, CEO & Co-funder of Spiro.AI makes the pitch that founders themselves should do sales at the start. That way, you appreciate what's involved and understand what/who you need when it comes time to hire. Learn: The fundamental dos and don’ts of sales, good resources to guide first-time founders, how to structure and compensate your sales team, and how to measure success.


Episode 16: Strategics as Investors and Customers

What value do strategic investors bring startups and how do you work with them? Davide Marini, CEO of Inkbit, gives excellent advice on navigating the complexities of acquiring and working with strategics, who could be early customers or potential acquirers. Learn: How do you approach strategics who could be competitors? What’s the advantage over traditional VC? Why is it important to engage with multiple strategics? What can you do to maximize the relationship?


Episode 15: Venture Debt 101

Are you raising your first institutional seed round, and need some extra non-dilutive dollars? A venture debt loan may fit the bill. Will Kidston, formerly with MassDevelopment and now Chief Investment Officer & Partner at Kenston Capital Partners, gives the fundamentals of venture debt: What is it? How does it differ from traditional debt? What kind of companies are eligible? What are the benefits and possible negatives?


Episode 14: University Spinouts (Part 2)

So, you’ve filed a patent and you’ve talked to your university’s licensing office, what’s next? How do you spin out a business from the university? In part 2 of this conversation, entrepreneurial champion Vinit Nijhawah lays out important next steps, from exhausting all the resources your university has to offer, to nailing your proof of concept with non-dilutive, translational funds, to getting your pitch deck ready for investors.


Episode 13: SBIR 10 Keys to a Winning Proposal

What does it take to win a coveted Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to help get your research into the market? SBIR expert Stacy Swider has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs with their proposals. She provides concrete and invaluable advice for putting together a proposal that will stand out in this highly competitive program.


Episode 12: SBIR Overview and Eligibility

Got a promising innovation you’d like to move into the market? SBIR, the Small Business Innovation Research Program run by the Small Business Association, can help. It’s a “get to commercialization program” that aims to help entrepreneurs convert their lab innovations into small companies and prepare them for raising private capital. In this episode, SBIR expert Stacy Swider overviews the program and discusses the criteria for eligibility.


Episode 11: Go to Market 101

Need advice on your go-to-market strategy? In this episode, startup executive & advisor Mike Volpe, (former CEO, now acquired by Capital One) offers invaluable advice. Topics covered include: How do you link your product to customers?, Who are your customers and where do you find them?, How do you set your pricing? How do you integrate sales and marketing with your services?


Episode 10: Boston Materials - Anvesh Gurijala

Anvesh Gurijala, co-founder of Boston Materials, discusses how he grew the startup from a Northeastern University spinout to industrial-scale production and sales to customers -- all in just 5 years. Gurijala describes key moments on the journey that got him to where he is today. Boston Materials aims to transform and significantly decarbonize both the transportation and electronics industries with its low-carbon advanced materials with applications from EVs to mechanical reinforcements for airplanes.


Episode 9: Setting up Finance, Ops, HR

You've got investors, and the pressure is on to move fast -- as a new startup. How do you set up robust systems for finance, operations, and human resources that can grow with your business? Investor, CFO/COO, Advisor Michelle Breitman Hipwood, now with Mable, offers best practices, resources, and invaluable advice in this episode.


When you're getting your business off the ground, it's easy to make unwitting mistakes that could cost you later. Robert Bishop, partner at Goodwin and board member at The Capital Network gives high-level advice on Legal Dos and Don'ts for startups.


Episode 7: HomeWork CEO, Rahkeem Morris

HomeWork (formerly Syrg) Founder and CEO, Rahkeem Morris, shares his personal story that motivated him to launch HomeWork , as well as his fundraising journey. HomeWork is a network for hourly employees, where anyone can work at anyplace, anytime. It targets Quick Service Restaurants like MacDonalds and TacoBell. HomeWork helps people get back to work and has been especially helpful to businesses coming back after the pandemic shutdown.


Episode 6: JobGet Founder Tony Liu

Tony Liu talks about how he overcame fundraising challenges and grew JobGet from a mobile marketplace used by 8 employers to a platform used by more than 5,000 employers. JobGet's mission is to allow job seekers to find a job within 24 hours by allowing them to quickly connect with employers. The platform aims to remove the resume requirement for individuals seeking employment in the hourly space, or entry level jobs that don't require extensive experience.


Episode 5: Intellectual Property 101

Looking for patent advice and don't know where to start? Hamilton, Brook, Smith & Reynolds, P.C. experts Deirdre Sanders and James Coe, (now with Keurig Dr Pepper Inc.) cover the fundamentals: 1) How do you know what patent type is right for your startup?, 2) When is the time right to get patent protection? 3) What criteria are important to consider in patenting your product? 4) How can IP protection benefit your business??


Episode 4: From Basic Research to Billions

Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc. cofounders Jason Kelly and Reshma Shetty talk with Charlie Hipwood about their journey from academic #spinout to a nearly $4 billion, publicly-traded company. Get their top advice, from peer-reviewing your work, to continually running experiments, to "weaponizing diversity."


Episode 3: Fundamentals of Sales

So, you got the meeting with a potential customer. Now what? Try some "foreplay" to make the sale says Brian Sarr, an award-winning account executive at Comcast. Get topline advice on the fundamentals of sales in this episode.


Episode 2: University Spinouts - Part 1

Is your research ready for commercialization? How do you know? Entrepreneurial champion Vinit Nijhawan gives topline advice for university spinouts, including: How do you know when your research is ready?, How do you find your beachhead market?, What are the steps you should take with your TLO office? and the importance of finding an entrepreneurial champion, or business coach.


Episode 1: The Do's and Dont's of Pitching a VC

Need help pitching investors? Want to learn what can sink your presentation---and alternatively, what makes it sing? Get invaluable advice from Jason Allen, an investor with MassMutual Catalyst Fund and former VP of Investments at MassVentures.

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