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Network Updates, 30 May 2017

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We have changed our publication schedule, and will now be sending KF Network Updates and eBulletins on Tuesdays, instead of Thursdays.

Upcoming Events

Log into TENx for complete details and RSVP information for all KF events, unless noted.

  • June 11-16: Summer modules & Vesting Day (graduation), Classes 20-22
  • June 23: New York Regional Chapter breakfast
  • September 14: KF Women’s Group breakfast. Hosted by Miriam Rivera (Class 15) at her private residence.
  • September 22: NY Regional Chapter breakfast
  • December 8: NY Regional Chapter breakfast
  • International Summit, April 22-27, 2018: Tel Aviv & Jerusalem, ISRAEL

Can’t log into TENx? Contact Remi Morita or John McIntyre for assistance or event details.


  • Brian Jacobs (Mentor Class 11) writes in VentureBeat on the benefits of employees who live “outside the box”
  • Rob Kornblum (Class 4) explains that midlife founders aren’t the exception, they’re the rule
  • Mala Gaonkar (Class 2) co-founds Surgo Foundation, a new approach to development philanthropy
  • Ezra Galston (Class 18) offers a primer on online marketplaces in TechCrunch
  • In Xconomy interview, Juliana Garaizar (Class 18) discusses the influence of family
  • On the move: Jigar Raythatha (Class 10) to rejoin Constellation Pharmaceuticals as CEO
  • Portfolio happenings: Ken Horne‘s (Class 17) Symic Bio closes $30M Series B • Jonathan Lehr (Class 19) on Work-Bench’s investment in Merlon Intelligence
  • Podcasts & speakers: Grace Sai (Class 21) on BBC’s Business Matters broadcast • Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) to speak at Texas Conference for Women • Ezra Galston (Class 18) & Brad Feld (KF BOD) contribute their podcast picks to Inc. article
  • This week’s blog selection: Carl Fritjofsson (Class 21) offers the first of a series on the future of work, this week from the perspective of the organization
  • Job opportunities: (NEW) Alchemist Accelerator startups are looking for talent • Matter Ventures is hiring Program Coordinators for its accelerator in SF & NYC
    (CONTINUING) Accel seeks a Partner in its London Office • PropelVC looks for Analyst, Associate, and Partner hires in London

Brian Jacobs (Mentor Class 11) Writes in VentureBeat on the Benefits of Employees Who Live “Outside the Box”

VentureBeatIn a VentureBeat story, Brian Jacobs (Mentor Class 11), co-founder of Emergence Capital, explains why “Software Firms are Actively Seeking ‘Neurodiverse’ Employees.” Brian discusses the pioneering role now being played by the software industry in hiring “neurodiverse” employees, those “whose brains are wired differently than the average person.” The most familiar example of neurodiversity is autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. ASD most often makes the news as a disability, yet the condition often also comes with beneficial abilities, such as the ability to focus longer on details, identify patterns more efficiently, and perform repetitive tasks that neurotypical workers often find exhausting.

Companies with neurodiversity hiring programs—including Microsoft, HPE, and SAP, among other big names—report additional benefits such as dramatically high retention rates (HPE reported 98%) and company loyalty among ASD employees. And as it is with gender and ethnicity, greater diversity in neurotypes brings in more ways of thinking and solving problems, which is ultimately better for the bottom line. As Brian says, “It’s just easier to think outside the box if you already live there.”

Rob Kornblum (Class 4) Explains that Midlife Founders Aren’t the Exception, They’re the Rule

It's Never Too Late to Startup book coverIn a video interview with Entrepreneur, Rob Kornblum (Class 4), author of It’s Never Too Late to Startup, explains why “Midlife Founders Aren’t the Exception, They’re the Rule.” Contrary to popular perception, “mid-lifers are in fact more successful than young entrepreneurs,” because they have several decades of work and life experience to apply to their startups. To would-be founders he says, “The most important thing is to realize that you can do it.”

See this video and its accompanying commentary from Kauffman Fellows CEO Jeff Harbach (Class 16) on the Entrepreneur website.

Mala Gaonkar (Class 2) Co-Founds Surgo Foundation, a New Approach to Development Philanthropy

Surgo Foundation logoMala Gaonkar (Class 2), Managing Director at Lone Pine Capital, is co-founder of The Surgo Foundation—not a think tank, but a self-described “action tank.” The foundation’s mission includes focusing first on people’s values, wants, and needs; then understanding their cultural and behavioral influences; and finally looking at the existing systems whose forces shape the issue being addressed. By investigating the whole “ecosystem,” the foundation believes that effective and often simple levers of change can be identified. The foundation funds and partners with “organizations that are pushing the boundaries of development” and helps them “kick start high-risk initiatives.”

In the W Magazine interview “Meet Mala Gaonkar and Sema Sgaier, the Women Troubleshooting the World’s Crises,” Mala explains what led her to co-found Surgo. It began in India, when she and her fellow donors returned to check on the outhouses they had funded to improve sanitation—only to discover that most were now storage sheds and chicken coops. “It made me realize that if you don’t actually listen to people and find out what they really care about, you’re not helping anyone.” But Mala isn’t limiting herself to poor or developing nations: “The tools we use to get these insights about health care are generalizable to a lot of different areas,” including affordable housing in the US.

Ezra Galston (Class 18) Offers a Primer on Online Marketplaces in TechCrunch

TechCrunch logoEzra Galston (Class 18) wrote “Anatomy of a Managed Marketplace” in TechCrunch this week, discussing managed marketplaces. What exactly are “managed marketplaces”? It’s easiest to start with what they’re not: eBay, Etsy, and CraigsList. These services facilitate peer-to-peer selling and take a cut of the sales price (or not, in the case of Craigslist). They do not assume any risk or carry inventory as a middleman, and provide a very basic user experience; trustworthiness comes from user ratings of other users.

A managed marketplace provides something more. “Lightly managed” services include Airbnb, Shutterstock, and Grubhub. In these cases, the companies “invest resources in quality assurance, background checks and verifying reviews,” says Ezra. The resources spent on them, however, are not a significant cost to the bottom line, but these services do allow the company to have a larger “take” from each transaction. A “fully managed” marketplace, Ezra explains, entails a much larger risk to the company, usually by carrying inventory itself, and a much higher level of service to all parties in the transaction. The take-rate for such a value-added intermediary must be high enough to cover the costs of both the added risk and service provided (with some left over for profit). One example of this type is the real estate marketplace Opendoor, which purchases properties from sellers and holds the inventory until a buyer is found. It allows homeowners to complete a sale within days, in exchange for a commission rate that’s ~50% higher than standard.

Read the full story for Ezra’s analysis of the different types of revenue models, revenue model-fails, use of AI in reducing costs, and the importance of competitive defensibility.

In Xconomy Article, Juliana Garaizar (Class 18) Discusses the Influence of Family

Xconomy logoJuliana Garaizar (Class 18), Managing Director of the Houston Angel Network, answers “Five Questions For … Houston Angel Network Chief Juliana Garaizar” for Xconomy in a personal interview. Juliana attributes her drive to the strength of her mother and other women in the Basque culture where she grew up. Family also shaped her path in life; as a kid she was drawn both to the banking industry through her grandfather and to traveling through her father’s annual globe-trotting trips. Now, as an investor, she finds those passions merging—recently she took her family with her “to Chile to help launch a new angel network in Latin America.” The natural world is also close to her heart, providing her vital regeneration and clarity: “I would need to be in a park under a tree, with a book and I can totally replenish.” Read what she’d say to Marie Curie, as well as what advice she has for new graduates, in the full interview.

On the move:

Jigar Raythatha (Class 10) is set to rejoin Constellation Pharmaceuticals as President & CEO. Jigar says, “I am pleased to return to Constellation at a time when the company is poised for breakout success.” Most recently he was Chief Business Officer and the first employee at Jounce Therapeutics, and before that had an earlier tenure at Constellation as head of corporate development. Constellation Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage company developing novel tumor-targeted and immuno-oncology therapies. [Press release]

Portfolio happenings:

  • Symic Bio, led by Ken Horne (Class 17), just closed a $30M Series B, bring their total capital raised in the last 3 years to $73M. Symic now has two products in Phase 2A trials. Says Ken, “Additional funds will allow us to efficiently advance our two clinical candidates into later stage development and support some of the exciting research we are conducting in other therapeutic areas with our matrix regulators.” [Press release] [EndPoints News story]
  • Jonathan Lehr (Class 19) writes on Medium about Work-Bench’s investment in Merlon Intelligence’s recent $7.65M round. Merlon is a player offering significant efficiencies compared to existing technology in the areas of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance, using machine learning. The firm will be growing their business out of Work-Bench’s space in New York City.

Podcasts & speakers:

  • Grace Sai (Class 21) was a guest on the BBC World Service’s Business Matters broadcast, discussing trends in social entrepreneurship. Grace’s segment starts at the 30-minute mark in the episode titled “US Markets React to Political Turbulence.”
  • Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) will speak at the 18th annual Texas Conference for Women on November 2, sharing the stage with names like Anita Hill and Sheryl Sandberg. The conference offers “opportunities for business networking, professional development, and personal growth” with “sessions ranging from personal finance to health and wellness to career advancement.”
  • Brad Feld (KF BOD) and Ezra Galston (Class 18) were both asked to contribute their picks in Inc. magazine’s “7 Podcasts That Will Make You a Smarter Leader.” See all seven, get smarter.

This week’s blog selection:

Carl Fritjofsson (Class 21) wrote the first article in a mini-series on the future of work: This installment tackles the topic from the perspective of organizations: “Adapt or Die — 5 Changes in the Workplace which Will Impact All Organizations.”

Job opportunities:

If you are a Fellow or Mentor and would like to post a job at your firm or portfolio company, please email us. Jobs are shown here for 4 weeks unless otherwise requested.

Do you have a news story to share? Please email us: news@kfp.org.

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