Founder Real Talk

Founder Real Talk
From GGV, this is Founder Real Talk, where we get real about the challenges that founders and startup executives face, and how they’ve grown from tough experiences. Check out for more information on the podcast and how to reach us with your founder questions. Hosted by Glenn Solomon, Managing Partner at GGV Capital.

Armon Dadgar, Co-founder & CTO of HashiCorp, on Evolving from Open Source to the Enterprise
Jul 30 • 36 min
Armon Dadgar is the Co-founder and CTO of HashiCorp, a commercial open source company that provides the fundamental building blocks around infrastructure and automation that developers need to create scalable, secure, high-performance applications…
Mitchell Hashimoto, Co-founder and CTO of HashiCorp, on Growing a Company With a Fully-Remote Workforce
Jul 30 • 50 min
Mitchell Hashimoto is the Co-founder and CTO of HashiCorp, the leader in multi-cloud infrastructure automation software. In this episode, which was recorded during a GGV live webinar, we learn how Mitchell and his cofounder, Armon Dadgar, built…
Israel Series Part 4: Nati Davidi and Uri Alter, Co-founders of VDOO, on Securing Connected Devices and Trust
Jul 15 • 37 min
Netanel (Nati) Davidi and Uri Alter are two of the Co-founders of VDOO, the only end-to-end IoT security solution for connected devices. Nati and Uri have had quite the journey together. They first met in the Israeli military service in 1999 and went on…
Israel Series Part 3: Shlomi Ben Haim, Co-founder & CEO of JFrog, on Growing an Israeli Startup into a Billion-Dollar Global Business
Jun 17 • 35 min
This is the third episode in the Founder Real Talk Israeli Entrepreneur Series, a group of episodes dedicated to getting to know Israeli founders and their companies. Known as Startup Nation, Israel per capita than any other country, with…
Israel Series Part 2: Slavik Markovich, Co-founder & CEO of Demisto, on Listening to Your Gut and to Your Customer
May 28 • 38 min
Starting from his early days in the Israeli military, Slavik Markovich shares his thought process while walking us through his impressive journey. From founding his first company, Sentrigo, in 2006 to moving from Israel to the Bay Area in 2008, to…
Israel Series Part 1: Roy Mann, Co-founder and CEO of, on Building a Product People Love Globally
Feb 27 • 38 min
This episode kicks off our Israeli Entrepreneur Series, four episodes dedicated to getting to know Israeli founders and their companies. In this episode, we learn how Roy Mann and his Co-founder, Eran Zinman are scaling, the fastest growing…
Sarah Nahm, Founder and CEO of Lever, on Managing Relationships with a Designer’s Mind
Feb 6 • 43 min
Sarah Nahm is the Founder & CEO of Lever, a recruiting software company that is tackling the most strategic challenge that companies face: how to grow their teams. Sarah’s commitment to diversity & inclusion runs deep and inclusion is ingrained in Lever’s…
Dheeraj Pandey, Founder & CEO of Nutanix, on Refactoring to Earn the Trust of the Enterprise
Jan 9 • 40 min
Dheeraj Pandey is a Ph.D. dropout from University of Texas (Austin), where he was a Graduate Fellow of CS. That didn’t stop him from founding the fastest growing startup in history in 2009. In 2014, Nutanix eclipsed 100 Million in revenue. In this…
Michelle Zatlyn, Co-founder & COO of Cloudflare, on Trying an Idea to Building an Enduring SaaS Company
Dec 2, 2019 • 40 min
In this episode, we learn why Michelle Zatlyn turned down a job at LinkedIn to pursue an idea that started as a school project with Matthew Prince and Lee Holloway at Harvard Business School and ultimately turned into Cloudflare. Among Michelle’s…
Mark Mader, President and CEO of Smartsheet, on Staying Accountable and Scaling a High Growth SaaS Company
Nov 14, 2019 • 36 min
Learn how Mark Mader grew Smartsheet from a six-employee startup to a publicly traded company with over 1000 employees serving 82,000 customers. How did Mark and his team convince investors and customers that Smartsheet was solving for what spreadsheets…
Aghi Marietti, Co-founder & CEO of Kong, on Scaling an Open Core Offering for the Enterprise
Oct 24, 2019 • 55 min
In this episode, we learn from Aghi how he and his Co-founder & CTO Marco Palladino decided to move to an open core model. Kong Inc. was born from the first API marketplace, previously known as Mashape. Today, Kong has 75k downloads for its open source…
Assaf Wand, Co-Founder and CEO of Hippo, on Staying Resilient and Modernizing Home Insurance
Sep 13, 2019 • 37 min
In this episode, we learn how Assaf Wand and the team at Hippo are modernizing the $100 billion home insurance industry. Now at unicorn status, Hippo is using data to deliver better and cheaper insurance policies to homeowners. Assaf talks about the…
Erica Brescia, Chief Operating Officer at GitHub, on Trusting your Gut While Bootstrapping and Scaling Open Source Companies
Aug 22, 2019 • 40 min
In this episode, we learn how Erica Brescia went from balancing a Y Combinator interview while caring for her then 2-week-old baby to growing Bitnami’s team to about 100 people with little outside capital. Erica explains why taking her current role at…
Kunal Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO at Unravel Data Systems, on Managing Big Data Applications and Momentum
Aug 8, 2019 • 38 min
In this episode, we learn how Kunal Agarwal and his Co-Founder, Shivnath Babu, convinced top notch talent with cushy jobs to make sacrifices for a common vision at Unravel. He shares how Unravel has kept its cultural values in check while growing from 11…
Anne Raimondi, Chief Customer Officer at Guru, on the Power of People in the SMB Tech Space
Jul 18, 2019 • 26 min
In this episode, we learn from Anne Raimondi why face-to-face engagement with customers and prospects is critical and why we should stay in cross-functional pods for as long as possible. Anne encourages founders to hire inherently curious “evangelists”…
Max Levchin, Founder & CEO of Affirm, on How HVF (Hard, Valuable, Fun) Has Guided His Founder Journey
Jun 27, 2019 • 56 min
In this Founder Real Talk / 996 crossover episode, we learn how Max Levchin, Founder & CEO of Affirm, used the guiding principle of HVF (Hard, Valuable, Fun) to found his company. Max talks about writing a pivotal note to self to crystalize what he wanted…
Rich Waldron, CEO & Co-Founder of, on Managing from Startup to High-Growth with His Two Best Friends
Jun 6, 2019 • 43 min
In this episode, we learn how Rich Waldron, CEO & Co-Founder of, and his two co-founders and lifelong friends, Ali and Dom, built a competitive product and high growth company with customers the likes of Lyft, Forbes, and New Relic. Rich explains…
HashiCorp CEO Dave McJannet Reveals the Secrets of Commercializing Open Source, Selling to Enterprises and Building Successful Relationships with Founders
Apr 25, 2019 • 28 min
In this episode with HashiCorp’s Dave McJannet, we dig into HashiCorp’s growth and how it balances open source communities and enterprise revenue models, Dave’s journey to becoming the CEO and his relationship with HashiCorp co-founders Mitchell Hashimoto…
How Live Experiences Bring People Together – the Secret Behind the Success and IPO of Eventbrite
Apr 4, 2019 • 32 min
Kevin Hartz is one of the few leaders in Silicon Valley who has had an incredible career as a repeat founder, business builder and investor. In this episode, we mainly talk about Kevin’s journey in creating and building Eventbrite, including the spark…
Tips on Scaling an Enterprise Company in a New Market, with Tom Turner, CEO of BitSight
Mar 21, 2019 • 34 min
Tom Turner, CEO and President of BitSight, has worn many hats in his time at BitSight, including EVP of Sales and Marketing, COO and CEO. In this episode, he walks us through how to navigate relationships with founders as an incoming CEO, how to use…
How to Build a Brand and Other Comms Tips from Caryn Marooney, VP of Global Communications at Facebook
Feb 21, 2019 • 34 min
This week we are joined by Caryn Marooney for a salon episode that focuses on PR and communications. Caryn shares tips on how to build a brand, when to take PR in house, and how to handle a publicity crisis. Find out more at…
Changing the Way People Listen to Music, with Tim Westergren, Founder of Pandora
Jan 28, 2019 • 33 min
Pandora Founder and former-CEO, Tim Westergren, joins Founder Real Talk to reminisce on how his experiences playing in a band prepared him for running a company. From the first moment of product-market fit, to the right partnership that doubled growth…
Starting and Building High Growth Start-Ups, with Elad Gil, Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of Color
Dec 12, 2018 • 36 min
Serial entrepreneur and Color founder Elad Gil joins Founder Real Talk to share insights and his experiences in starting and building high growth start-ups. We talk about how a founder’s role changes over time, how to build a team that scales, and what…
Developing Global Infrastructure for Online Commerce with Will Gaybrick, CFO at Stripe
Nov 27, 2018 • 37 min
Will Gaybrick gives an inside look at Stripe, one of the most valuable venture-backed startups in the U.S. In this episode, he talks about Stripe’s developer-first ethos, how the company is expanding into international markets, and how to run a great…
The Secret to 40,000 Brand Ambassadors, with Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO of LIVELY
Nov 13, 2018 • 34 min
Michelle created a movement to empower women from the first piece of clothing they put on in the morning. She shares the secrets of how she built a culture-driven business that has inspired more than 40,000 brand ambassadors, the role of customer feedback…
From Open Source to Paying Customers, with Mitchell Hashimoto, Co-Founder of HashiCorp
Oct 30, 2018 • 34 min
Mitchell Hashimoto turned his hobby into a business that now serves 100 of the Fortune 500 companies. In this episode, he talks about how he grew the HashiCorp open source community, monetized an open-source product, and decided to bring on a CEO.
How to Hire in a Competitive Marketplace and Other Talent Questions, with Jen Holmstrom, Head of Talent at GGV Capital
Oct 24, 2018 • 35 min
Jen Holmstrom shares her experience working with start-ups as a talent and search specialist and answers all your most pressing questions. This episode is the first of many salon episodes where we feature an expert from the field who has worked…
How to Thwart Terrorist Attacks and Help Save Countless Lives, with Jay Kaplan, CEO and Co-Founder of Synack
Oct 2, 2018 • 33 min
Jay Kaplan started his career at the NSA and brought his love of uncovering cyber vulnerabilities to the private sector through Synack. In this interview, Jay gives his perspective on how to find product-market fit in cyber security, how early customers…
How to Build Community in a New Category, with Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight
Sep 19, 2018 • 40 min
Repeat CEO Nick Mehta joined Gainsight in its Series A and has since grown the company into the customer success management category leader. In this episode Nick shares what it takes to build an industry leading company in a previously non-existent…
How to Build a Winning Sales Team, with Kelly Wright
Sep 6, 2018 • 37 min
Kelly Wright tells the story of how selling books door-to-door shaped her approach to start-up sales and how she went from the first sales person at Tableau to becoming the EVP and scaled the company to nearly $1B in revenue.
Eric Wu, CEO and Co-Founder of Opendoor, on How to Build a Plane While Flying and Other Tips for Founders
Aug 22, 2018 • 34 min
In this episode, Eric talks about building a capital intensive business across multiple geographies and how he balances speed vs. scale. He also discusses his controversial take on hiring, how poker influences his outlook on business, and how to…
Edith Harbaugh, CEO & Co-Founder of LaunchDarkly, on Building an Enterprise Software Company
Aug 10, 2018 • 34 min
In this episode, Edith shares her story of founding LaunchDarkly. She walks through the valuable lessons learned from disastrous product launches to first pitch meetings. Nowadays she has a podcast called “To Be Continuous” about continuous delivery and…
Barmak Meftah, President & CEO of AlienVault, and His Advice to Enterprise Founders
Jul 25, 2018 • 43 min
In this episode, Barmak discusses product-market fit, go-to-market strategies, and how to beat incumbents in the enterprise space. AlienVault was recently acquired by AT&T. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed but as shareholders, GGV Capital is very…
Mikkel Svane, Co-Founder and CEO of Zendesk, on Humility, Diversity and Never Getting Too Comfortable
Jul 11, 2018 • 37 min
In this episode, Mikkel talks about how three guys from Copenhagen found themselves in Silicon Valley before people invested in foreign companies, and how they were able to turn that around by creating a new category in the SaaS space and take Zendesk…
Jackie Reses, Lead of Square Capital and People Lead of Square, on Talent, Culture, and Hiring for Fields That Don’t Exist
Jul 2, 2018 • 35 min
In this episode, Jackie shares how she brought the rigor of private equity to People Operations at Square. Along the way she talks about how she found an entrepreneurial opportunity within the company through Square Capital, how she built a team for a…
Stewart Butterfield, Founder & CEO of Slack, on the Secret(s) to Slack’s Success
Jun 14, 2018 • 39 min
In this episode, Stewart tells Slack’s origin story and the hard decisions it took to get there, elaborating on when to follow your dreams and when to “stop banging your head into the ground until you bleed out.”
Laura Behrens Wu, CEO & Co-founder of Shippo, on Why Culture is Not a Fluffy Word
Jun 4, 2018 • 35 min
In this episode, Laura talks about her experience being a young CEO from a different country, how she built Shippo’s culture from the top-down, and how her executive coach made her more like Steve Jobs.
Russ Fradin, CEO & Co-founder of Dynamic Signal, on building 6 companies in 22 years
Jun 4, 2018 • 36 min
In this episode, Russ tells the stories of life as a serial entrepreneur, including knowing when to pivot…or not, how to build delightful company culture, and how to be unapologetic about work-life balance.
Nate Blecharczyk, Co-founder of Airbnb, on Selling Breakfast Cereal and Other Growth Hacks
Jun 4, 2018 • 34 min
In this episode, Nate chats about how to get out of the “trough of sorrows” through finding product-market fit, growing a global marketplace, and thinking outside (or inside) the box on building a business.
Sarah Friar, CFO of Square, on Innovation, Leadership and the Value of Understanding Your Customer’s Struggle
May 30, 2018 • 37 min
In this episode, Sarah chats about how to not ruin someone’s day, or livelihood, the importance of staying ahead, and how leadership inspires change across an organization.