TECHquila Sunrise
Episode 42

Episode Summary

“It’s the founders who are building companies. It’s the founders who are spending years without taking salary. When they’re first building out their companies, like a lot of this stuff is overlooked where we are looking at only the most successful companies where we know that 99% of early startups failed. And with that, it’s founders take incredible risk.”

-Sena Zorlu, Kubera Venture Capital

 

Understanding how investors think about your startup is a mystery. When you’re pitching, what are they hearing? What opinions are they forming? So many founders may think they’re communicating one thing, when actually it’s another, and it may not be at all what’s in the pitch deck, or conversation!

Sena Zorlu and I reveal to founders what investors see, think & discern. Many times, that founders have no idea they even communicated. Founders not only learn about this fascinating founder, investor & new stealth startup leader, they’ll gain insights into how investors tick, and also what founders can do to be more clear communicating with investors, and understanding why investor’s perceptions land where they do.

Sena Zorlu is Venture Partner at Kubera Venture Capital, and a stealth startup co-founder. She has been on both sides of the table and is diving headlong into the startup world again. She has helped me improve my knowledge as a venture capital investor. She’s especially effective at evaluating companies in our work together at Kubera. She’s amazingly insightful, a powerful communicator & a force to be reckoned with. So you need to hear from her.

Listen, imbibe & enjoy the vibe.

Episode Transcript

Greg White (00:07):

It’s time to wake up to TECHquilla Sunrise. I am Greg White, your Supply Chain Tech Adviser. With more insights into what you need to know to succeed in Supply Chain Tech startup, growth, investment, and transformation. So, let’s tip a glass to another enlightening TECHquilla Sunrise.

Greg White (00:41):

Hey, understanding how investors think about your startup is a mystery. When you’re pitching, what are they hearing? What opinions are they forming? So many founders, including me and maybe even my guest, think they’re communicating one thing when actually it’s quite another. And it may not be at all what’s in your pitch deck or the communication you intended. My guest and I are going to reveal to you what investors see, what they think, and what they discern the founders have no idea they even communicated. And by the end of this episode, you’ll not only have insights into how investors tick, but also what you can do to be a bit more clear in communicating with investors, understanding why investor’s perceptions land where they do, and what you can do about it to be more effective.

 

Greg White (01:33):

So, let me introduce our guest, Sena Zorlu, Venture Partner at Kubera Venture Capital and Stealth Startup Cofounder. I can’t wait to hear about that. Look, Sena has been on both sides of the table before. She’s a previous co-founder, current venture partner – along with me – at Kubera. She is my Sherpa, my guide to help me improve on being on the venture capital side of things. When you first start out in this, everything is a good deal, but especially when evaluating companies. In our work together, she’s been amazingly insightful, a really powerful communicator, a force to be reckoned with, a new mom. So, you need to hear from her. So, let’s do it. Sena, thanks for joining us.

Sena Zorlu (02:30):

Thank you for inviting me.

Greg White (02:30):

So, all of this conversation was spawned by an email you sent to me – that I’ve got right over here – that I refer to daily. And a number of the things that you’ve sent over time as we’ve discussed things like thesis and evaluation points, this most recent one was on traction and what that means. So, tell us a little bit about you, what you’re doing today, and maybe a little bit about your founder and investor journey.

Sena Zorlu (03:04):

Sure. So, I’ve been in the U.S. on and off for about 15 years. I came to this country first for college, for undergraduate. And I’ve been mostly on the East Coast. And then, I got to live in a couple of different countries. I went back to Turkey for a little bit. That’s where I’m originally from. I lived in Belgium for a little bit. And I lived in China for a bit.

Greg White (03:34):

I saw Belgium. I did not see China. Where were you in China?

Sena Zorlu (03:37):

So, China, I was doing an MBA program. And since I’ve been an entrepreneur, I didn’t have, like, a corporate sponsorship, so I had to pay for it out of pocket. And MBAs are expensive, so I found an international MBA that was much cheaper. And they had their exchange program in China, in Beijing. And I was like, “Okay. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about what the hell is going on in China. How do they do business there?” And I thought it could give me an edge. So, I was like, “Okay. I’m going to Beijing.

 

Greg White (04:12):

How long were you there?

Sena Zorlu (04:15):

So, I was there on and off. But because it was an executive program, it wasn’t like a standard MBA experience. So, it was like one week off of couple of quarters, where you had to go and complete some classes, but most of it was online. It was an amazing experience. So, that was up in Beijing. And then, later I went to Guangzhou. I wanted to do a couple of manufacturing stuff there. So, I got to see that area. I stayed there for a couple of months. It’s really a different world. Like, that’s another conversation.

 

Sena Zorlu (04:53):

But then, in 2013, I got an offer from Virginia Tech to help them with their partnerships for their executive programs. And then, I realized how much I had missed U.S. and I was like, “Yes. I’m coming back.” So, I was going back and forth between Virginia. And then, I met my husband in 2014, and he had grown up in California. And he was like, “Let’s go to Los Angeles.” And I was like, “No, no, no. I like New York. Let’s go to New York.” And then, we settled in San Francisco Bay Area. We thought best of both worlds. So, we’ve been here since 2015.

 

Sena Zorlu (05:34):

I started building my second startup when I was in Bay Area, working on internet of things, data on the commercial side of things, and I did that until 2018. And that’s where I met Balaji, who’s our managing director of Kubera. He was leading SAP’s early stage program, SAP.io. And my startup was one of the startups in the SAP’s early stage program. So, I met Balaji there. We got to work out in the same office. And then, when he was building the fund, he came to me and he was like, “Do you want to help me build this thing?” And, yes, I’ve been in venture capital officially for over two years, but at the same time it was an entrepreneurial experience to build this fund, you know, from the ground up.

 

Sena Zorlu (06:28):

And there was a lot of learning with, you know, what documents do you create, what are the processes, and all of that. It was incredible learning. So, we got to explore, like, everything from scratch and built our own thesis and investment modeling and everything. So, it’s been an incredible two years.

Greg White (06:49):

So, I’m the new kid on the block, right? I mean, you two are effectively founders. And James, of course, are effectively founders. And I’m the new kid. But I appreciate all the welcome and the help and everything. But share a little bit about – because I think you can do it better than I can – Kubera and, you know, kind of the founding thesis, not too much depth, but the official thesis. I think it’s interesting. It really interested me and inspired me to join you guys when I talked to Balaji about it.

Sena Zorlu (07:25):

So, I would say, at Kubera, our foundational pieces is on two areas. One is, we do invest their early stage. And we invest mostly outside of Silicon Valley. We believe that opportunity is found everywhere. And we would like to focus at people who are coming out of traditional industries and who are coming out knowing all of the pros and cons of those industries. And going back in as founders to digitize and to transform those industries. That is, I would say, our sweet spot for Kubera. And everyone on the team has done the traditional business side of things. And we have seen how digitization, AI, machine learning, smart data, and all of these processes, can really transform how companies are performing. Including from their manufacturing process to their services, agility to human relations, all of that.

Sena Zorlu (08:33):

So, that transformation that we’ve seen, I would say, in the past, like, 10, 15 years. You look at Fortune 100, you look at Fortune Top 10, there has never been a moment in history where those charts have been changing so quickly as to, like, who are the top companies. And we have found that every traditional company in the world needs to evolve into a software company. And that is inevitable. And you can get there now or you can get there eventually in the future, but you will have to get there. So, that was the first focus, where we looked at where Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 is. And when you overlay that on where startups are coming from, there’s a mismatch. And that’s one of the big reasons why these large companies are having so much difficulty transforming their processes.

Sena Zorlu (09:32):

They have innovation officers, whose job it is to build relationships with startups. Maybe, bring some pilots with the business units. But I’ve built enterprise software, it doesn’t work. And it’s so difficult to work between startups and enterprise that we thought these companies need to be built where these problems are actually occurring, where the human capital is. You’re looking at a lot of cities in America where the predominant economic income is still coming from these traditional industries. But there is talent. There’s talent from universities being built up. We found a magical equation with – what we call -subject matter expertise that comes from the industry paired with a technologist that understands what technology can do. And we have found that that becomes a very powerful match made in heaven. So, I would say that’s the first part of the thesis.

 

Sena Zorlu (00:10:40):

And then, second part of it, we do very early investments. And we have decided when we say very early, we mean in the early stages of product development, in the early stages of getting some sort of inkling as revenue. We have always invest at, I would say, sub-$1 million revenue.

 

Greg White (11:05):

Well, that will enlighten a lot of people, won’t it? Because, I mean, you’ve founded a few companies, right? I have too. It’s the million dollar threshold that nobody wants to touch you until you hit that. So, this whole concept – and this was attractive to me too – of seed, pre-seed, seed plus, whatever you want to call it, whatever you have to do, whatever you have to call it so you don’t put a letter next to it, because a letter means that you have to have a million dollars in revenue. I think that’s been a great service to the industry. It has helped a lot of companies get the right kind of investors that can not only provide money, but actual assistance in the founding stage.

Sena Zorlu (11:52):

Absolutely. And, also, once you get out of the main technical hubs, you will rarely find investors that have appetite to invest in these rounds. A lot of the investors are looking for traction, traction, traction. And then, when we see traction – like that email that you were talking about – not all traction is the same. Not all million dollars account do the same thing. So, it’s like, as investors, what we try to look for is the recognition of an early pattern, the recognition of some sort of early signs of go-to market success. Which is very different from just revenue, because you could sell services, you could have one amazing customer that you are solving their absolute need, and 70 percent of your revenue may come from creating the perfect product for them. But that doesn’t mean repeatable revenue. So, not all traction is created equal as well.

Greg White (12:52):

That’s well said. And you said it well here, by the way. I think it’s interesting to think about those topics because, you know, as you’re discussing that, I’m thinking of a slide. I’m thinking of attraction slide or go-to market slide or whatever. And I think about what founders so often communicate, what they expect that an investor wants to hear, or they think they need to say. And it’s difficult for them to get into the mindset. I can tell you, it was a transition for me to sit on this side of the table and go, “Oh, that’s what they wanted to hear.” It really is a difficult transition to make that in your mindset. So, I want to get to that in a second.

 

Greg White (00:13:46):

But I want to understand a little bit about your transition from founder to investor. So, one of the other thesis of Kubera is we want to elevate everyone. We are specifically looking for female founders, people of color, disadvantaged populations, things like that to provide capital to. I don’t sense that you have, like, a crisis story, but tell me a little bit about how you’ve experienced founding and investing as a female.

Sena Zorlu (14:28):

So, one thing that was very interesting to me that I hadn’t quite grasped when I was sitting on the founder side was, how many meetings your investors have to take on a daily basis?

 

Greg White (14:44):

Gosh, that’s a good point.

 

Sena Zorlu (14:46):

This, to me, like when I got a meeting from a fund that I was very interested in, I always thought in my mind, “Okay. Like, this is half of the sale, getting the meeting.” Getting the meeting is not even five percent, and that was quite shocking to me. And I’ve had founders where they got meetings, especially coming out of accelerators because you have these, like, buzz over companies and they book a bunch of meetings because the accelerator arranges it for them. And there’s this false hope of thinking everything is done, which I went through some of this as well.

Sena Zorlu (15:26):

So, one thing is, I think founders need to understand how the funnel is built on their side and how the funnel is built on the VC side. So, a lot of times you hear people talking about when you’re fundraising as a founder, you must have a CRM. You must put a lot of funds into the top of the funnel. And the average, I believe, is about 60 to 100 VCs that you have to reach out to, to get a deal.

 

Sena Zorlu (15:57):

So, I’ll give you a diverse statistic. On the VC side, I have been told that to make investments, I have to source a hundred X of the number of companies that I would like to invest to. So, let’s say, if I’m going to invest in two to three companies a year. Which is, by the way, the average that a VC firm general partner invest a year, two to three companies. Not more, they don’t want to take on more responsibility than that. So, that means, they will have conversations with 200 to 300 companies.

 

Sena Zorlu (16:31):

Now, when I first started with Kubera, I started as an associate. So, I was the gatekeeper. I was the one that screened all of the deals. I was the one that filtered all of the databases and everything. So, my KPI was to screen about 600 companies. And I created a database for us so that we could successfully invest in five to six companies. Now, that’s an incredible number. So, the trick with that is, you need to understand where these deals are coming from. And then, you have to have a quantitative process to understand where the successful deals are coming from.

 

Sena Zorlu (17:08):

So, let’s talk about our case, which a lot of micro funds will be where we have someone like Balaji, who is super connected in the industry. And just by being himself, deals fly to him. See, you and me, we’re not there yet. We can try to get there –

Greg White (17:26):

We still have to grind it out.

Sena Zorlu (17:31):

Yes. But it’s one of those things where, like, whenever I have a shiny new company, most of the time he’s heard about them. There’s a reason for that.

Greg White (17:37):

Or the industry, or, you know, a competitor, or something like that.

Sena Zorlu (17:43):

Competitor. And he has wonderful relationships built with other venture capitalists, which I think a lot of founders are also neglecting. Like, what you communicate with one VC may transfer to another. There’s a lot of conversation, good or bad. But, usually, when we like a deal and when we decide to invest in it, immediately we’re telling our other VC friends, “Do you want part of this deal? We have 500K allocation left.” We are going to give that opportunity to the friends that we like. So, there’s a lot of conversation. And when you come into the industry, you’re not hooked into the conversation. So, that top of the funnel where your partners are bringing you deals, that’s your high quality beats.

Sena Zorlu (18:32):

So, when people say warm introductions matter, they matter. Because if a lead is coming to you from someone who says, “You should take a look at this founder. You should take a look at this technology. They’re building something interesting.” Yes, we are going to be paying attention to that company first. And they may exist on a database, you know, on the same line, but they will not be weighed equally. That doesn’t mean that we will never look at the companies that we don’t get a warm introduction from. But that’s where, I would say, I would suggest to the founders to look at the more gatekeepers of the fund as opposed to aiming for the top managing directors of the funds.

 

Greg White (19:18):

Yeah. I agree.

 

Sena Zorlu (19:21):

I would say, like, you get a lot of cold emails. Greg actually gets a lot of inbound traffic from our website, mostly from this podcast. How many of those emails do you read, the cold emails that you get?

Greg White (19:36):

I try to read them all, but I don’t put them at the top of the stack. You know, if Paul Noble from Verusen sends me somebody, or you send me somebody personally, I do that.

 

Sena Zorlu (19:48):

That’s different.

 

Greg White (19:49):

And the reason for that is, I trust your judgment.

 

Sena Zorlu (19:53):

Yes. It’s pre-screened for you in a way.

 

Greg White (19:55):

It is somewhat pre-screened. Yeah, no doubt. I agree. Look, that’s an important part of life. You’re more friendly to the people you’re more familiar with. Someone who is recommended by a friend is more likely to be your friend. It just works that way.

Sena Zorlu (20:18):

Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, but one disadvantage of that is a lot of these underrepresented populations, they are not in-sync with these traditional friend groups. So, we may get deals from, you know, an ivy league circle than an underrepresented founder may not be part of. We may get deals from people that may look like us, which they may not have had the chance to do so. So, a lot of the time, the most important passage that we need to have is an open communication, and push towards cold emails or web based applications. I try to attend a lot of demo days for female founders. And I see that it may not match my thesis, but I have done a lot of introductions where I thought the founder was pretty strong. And it doesn’t match our thesis. We’re a small fund and we’re a very specific fund. But we make friends along the way.

 

Sena Zorlu (21:30):

And then, we have also, as female investors, we are trying to build our own little group. We have a little WhatsApp group of, like, about 15 female investors and we pass deals to each other. And we do that because we want to excel each other in the industry. And it’s like, if there is this bro culture that shapes the industry, why can’t we build our own subculture in it? And that’s not to say we see ourselves as completely different, but it’s, like, it’s another subset of networking that we can do where we try to find people that may look like us and try to lift them altogether. So, I think it’s changing.

Greg White (22:17):

I think it’s important from a cultural standpoint, from a racial, sex, standpoint, all of those things, but also from a socioeconomic standpoint. Like, I’m a poor farm kid born in a trailer park, so I can empathize with those people who don’t have ivy league connections, haven’t grown up doing this their whole lives, look at entrepreneurship a new way. And I think that’s what’s really powerful about the awareness that’s been created in the last couple of years is, you can see the value of somebody with a different kind of upbringing. And figure out what kind of gifts they bring that complement the gifts that someone with an ivy league education has. And connecting those people, to me, it’s easier than ever before. It is easier than ever before. But we still are really, really [crosstalk].

Sena Zorlu (23:15):

And that’s the beauty of technology. Technology is the biggest democratizer in the world. It’s the biggest opportunity created in the world. So, when you look at technology in that way as encompassing all of us, we can’t have the decision-makers be from one percent of society, because then the products that they will back will not speak to 99 percent of the society. And that’s why it’s so critical to bring diverse voices.

 

Sena Zorlu (23:47):

I think it’s happening. I think the change has started for two things. One is, I think there’s a real shake in traditional industries, and that includes venture capital. Venture capital is a traditional industry. Money is a traditional industry. So, the old institutional money is being shaken up. If you look at banks today, the way they’re being disrupted by digital banks. If you look at Angel Cole, like, syndicates funds. If you look at Republican and other crowd funding platforms. There is wealth creation that’s being democratized right now that will create ripple effects. And that’s absolutely coming.

Greg White (24:33):

Yeah. No doubt. I completely agree with that. And I agree that it is time. And as you said, I’m quoting you on this, “Technology is the great democratizer.” I would say, it’s the great democratizer of relationships. If you think about LinkedIn and Twitter and other meaningful relationship type tool sets, I mean, if someone –

Sena Zorlu (24:59):

I met my husband online.

Greg White (25:02):

Yeah. And, now, since the pandemic, I think LinkedIn – it’s funny, somebody just posted something the other day, Nick Roemer, I think, is his name. He lives in Scotland. And he’s trying to find a place for all of his or many of his connections to physically get together when we can get together. Now, I had an experienced the other day saying that with the folks at Supply Chain Now. Jeff Miller, who was new to the group, came up to me and shook his hand. I wanted to give him a hug because I was like, I forgot that I had never physically met him before. I was like, “Oh, right. We need to introduce ourselves.” It just feels so natural. And I think we’re overcoming that because we’ve had to. And I think we can do the same with social interaction – I mean, socioeconomic interaction with the financial industry. Certainly, we can do it because it’s being done.

 

Greg White (26:00):

For instance, in Africa, 80 percent of the population is unbanked. And yet they have figured out a way for people to pay with their cell phones or, you know, applications or whatever. So, the opportunity exists. It’s just that we, the consumer; we, the mass population, we have to adopt it and then things will change. And when more and more people start to adopt this notion of spreading the wealth, it will happen. It’s just going to happen naturally.

Sena Zorlu (26:32):

It will happen. I think it’s happening already. And I think the first phase of it is sort of like affirmative action, where we have to push to get funding to a lot of underrepresented folk, including female, where we have female specific funds, we have social impact funds, we have LatinX funds, and things like that. So, that’s an essential way to get things going. But as these investments produce results, we are going to mainstream it in a way where they’re not going to call me a female founder. They’re going to call me a founder. So, that’s where we’re going. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.

 

Greg White (27:18):

The sooner the better. Yeah. I agree. So, let’s shift gears a little bit, and let’s talk about you as an investor. Actually, not talk. I really want to ask you some questions about some of the things you see, have seen, think you’ll see as am investor. And, you know, one of the things we’re talking about is, how do founders and investors communicate? So, tell me why do you think it is so hard for founders and investors to speak the same language? You’ve just outlined a couple of great examples of those gaps. What do you think the main impetus for that gap is?

Sena Zorlu (28:05):

I think it could be couple of things. I think one is through, I would say, mostly Twitter. There is this culture of worshiping investors, which I have had as a founder. Like, whenever I met someone that I’ve been following on Twitter and they have, like, hundreds of thousands of followers, you are a little bit fame struck. I think what founders need to understand is, you are on equal terms. And I think even founders are at an advantage, where it always tries to look like investors are at an advantage. You know what I mean? Because they’re more ungettable. But I think it’s the opposite. I think money is a commodity. And are there super angels that put incredible value in the companies that invest in? Of course.

 

Greg White (29:11):

There are small, small [crosstalk].

Sena Zorlu (29:11):

But it’s founders that are taking the risk. It’s the founders who are building companies. It’s the founders who are spending years without taking salary when they’re first building out their companies. A lot of this stuff is overlooked where we are looking at only the most successful companies, where we know that 99 percent of early startups failed. And with that, founders take incredible risk. Most investors do not. First of all, they come from either built wealth or family wealth or whatever that may be, so they are usually more cushioned to take risk in life. An innocent state, these funds are created to invest in a high risk asset class. So, they are doing their job. They’re just investing in high-risk asset class.

 

Sena Zorlu (30:09):

But for founders, I think it’s more profound. I think it’s more life-changing. And I think the risk that a lot of founders take, particularly if they’re engineered. Today, as work is more remote, a mid-level engineer is taking a risk of $150,000 to 200,000 plus benefits by doing their own startup. That is, you know, quantitative risk. So, a lot of companies get to a series A level in about four years. So, let’s say you’re a higher level engineer, you are actually risking a million dollars just by committing to a startup. So, I think that’s less talked about.

Greg White (31:01):

It is less talked about because investors don’t want to give you credit for that million dollars as if it wasn’t investment, right?

Sena Zorlu (31:01):

And there are a lot of investors who are offended when a founder tries to take salary. So, we can’t ask for experienced founders, multi-time founders, and not grant them any of this. Because not all founders have the luxury to live in a bunk bed with five roommates and build. There are a lot of people who are family people, who are paying mortgages, who have a real life. So, a lot of this evangelical view of, you know, hustle, and don’t live for a couple of years, eat noodles, and raise 250K from friends and family. No. A lot of founders do not have the luxury to do these things. So, I think one thing that investors could do better probably is, perhaps, better communication of understanding how startups fail.

 

Sena Zorlu (32:14):

One thing that was astonishing to me was, when I was building a company, it was very difficult for me to see where the white light was. But I’ve met some masters that had experience in exactly what I was building and they knew the challenges that I were going to face. And so, if that communication could be a bit better, perhaps we could save people time, either to pivot or to focus on something that’s meaningful. I think that could be very interesting. But, also, share wisdom where they can help out – like, actually help out.

 

Sena Zorlu (32:55):

One thing that was amazing for me was, when I was building my IOT company, TechCrunch had this special program where they matched promising female founders with the most famous investors in Silicon Valley for, like, office hours. And I got matched up with Bryan Schreier of Sequoia Capital, who is, I would say, one of the most famous investors in Silicon Valley. And I spent 20 minutes with him talking, let’s say 10 minutes of it was me pitching and trying to explain what I do. Those 20 minutes was the best feedback that I had ever got on Sensor, because I wasn’t asking money. And it was just like a very friendly chat. And whenever I think about anything that’s scaling, I go back to what he told me – and I’ll share that for free. What he told me was, “No Sequoia company ever failed for lack of money. They fail for lack of focus.” And that, to me, changed everything. Because the thing is, if your business works, you will find money. That’s a given. That’s a given.

 

Sena Zorlu (34:19):

So, when your business is stuck – well, let me back up for one second. Except for pre-seed when there are too many unknowns. But it’s like, when you come to a point where your business, your startup is a well-oiled machine, it is so easy to find investors that want to put more oil in that machine. Because that’s very predictable. That’s very de-risked. It’s when the machine has problems or the machine is just building up, that’s when nobody wants to invest in you.

Greg White (34:19):

When you’re building, right. Yeah.

Sena Zorlu (34:57):

That’s our stage. We don’t even know what oil it needs.

Greg White (00:35:00):

Right. Is it a machine? We don’t even know if it could be a machine yet or if anyone wants the machine, right?

Sena Zorlu (00:35:06):

Exactly. Exactly. And it’s not always the same. Like, we always assume as founders that money can solve all of your problems. Money can’t solve all problems. So, that’s my biggest learning is, venture capital wants to give money to problems that can be solved with money. But if your problems can’t be solved with money, such as customers not really wanting your product, such as you haven’t figured out who your perfect customer is, such as the technology doesn’t exist, like VR technologies, things like that where it’s like there’s not enough markets for it. These kinds of problems will block you in a way where it’s not about pitching to 200 more investors. It’s just you are blocked for some other reason that you have to figure out. Whether you need to decide that your business is not venture backed and you can run it as a service business or a hobby business, or you can say, “Okay. I’m going to pivot in a meaningful way. And I will find my perfect customer.”

 

Sena Zorlu (36:11):

So, for me, that was the light switch that I hadn’t seen when I was building, because I was so consumed in what I was building. Or like the few customers that I have, I was so consumed by their requirements, and servicing them, and keeping them happy, and the invoices, and everything. That it’s like there is a big picture out there where nobody wants to give you money for being you. They want to power a machine.

Greg White (36:46):

Yeah. Wow, that is fascinating. Sorry. I was writing all that down. VCs want to give money for problems that can be solved with money, right? So, we need more of X. We need more sales reps. We need more engineers. We need more features.

Sena Zorlu (37:09):

Yes. Go ahead. Sorry. No, go ahead.

Greg White (37:15):

This is just like a regular phone call with us, isn’t it? Because people want it. They don’t want to give money to figure out is there something here, is there a market here, do we fit that market, those sorts of things. I have never heard anybody say that before. That is a fantastic insight.

Sena Zorlu (37:41):

So, when it was told to me, it was also, like, light opening. Right now, every slide I see in a pitch deck, every company I look at, I look at their use of funds and I say, “Can their problems be solved with money?” That’s it. Like, everything is so binary for me right now. Like, that gut feeling has developed, I would say in the past two years, where I can see where a company is going to get blocked usually from a pitch deck. But we have seen a lot of pitch decks where we have no idea what the company is building, so that’s another problem.

Greg White (38:21):

That’s the one we were just talking about. Right. But, I mean, that is the gap. If you think about it –

 

Sena Zorlu (38:28):

That is the gap. That is the gap.

 

Greg White (38:29):

– saying that is the gap in communication between investors and founders, is, we have thought in the past, “If I could just get money, I could -” We haven’t thought about, “Is our problem really solved with money?” We just think every problem can be solved with money, right?

Sena Zorlu (38:29):

A lot of startups raise money for runway. And usually that runway is to support for you to be alive. But you haven’t created enough reason for your company to be alive yet. So, it’s like you may have reasons to ask for that money. Of course, every company needs money. But it doesn’t mean it makes sense for you to get money. Because venture capital is the most expensive type of funding that you could ever get for your company if you think about it.

Greg White (39:26):

Yes, that’s right. Because you’re giving away parts of your company for that.

Sena Zorlu (039:30):

Parts of your company for that. Absolutely. And the best money that you could get for your company is actually customer money.

Greg White (39:39):

Yeah. Yes. The saying that I always had was, we don’t have one problem that can’t be solved by more sales. Right?

Sena Zorlu (39:47):

Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. A lot of that [crosstalk] by software.

Greg White (39:51):

It’s interesting that what you just said is, founders think every problem can be solved by money.

Sena Zorlu (40:02):

With time, because time does equal money. And I think a lot of founders, when they raise, they raise to have more time to figure it out.

Greg White (40:13):

Right. That’s right. And that is the kiss of death. That’s something, I think, even I recognized early on, is –

 

Sena Zorlu (40:21):

I’ve done it.

 

Greg White (40:22):

I’ve done it too. I have absolutely done it. You don’t raise money for runway. And people don’t give money. They don’t provide or invest money for runway. They invest money for acceleration, for milestones, for outcomes. So, you have to always present from that standard, that standpoint. And, in fact, you’ve just pre-cursored another episode that I’ve done. So, I do this monthly show, Sena, where we give companies three minutes to pitch their company live on five social channels. And the first time we went through it, I thought, “Oh, my gosh. We just left these people blind and in the dark as to what they should say in three minutes.” So, I’ve created another episode, that is, the seven things you need to do to pitch your company in three minutes. Now, just saying seven things in three minutes makes it sound very daunting, but you can do it very quickly. And with the kind of focus that you have just provided, things like you don’t buy runway, buy milestones, that is incredibly valuable.

Sena Zorlu (41:33):

Absolutely. And I think it’s a good exercise to do even when you’re not pitching to investors. Are you able to explain what you do in five sentences, even less? You know, I’m not saying every company needs to be an Uber for X, but a clear definition of who you are and who is this product for, I think, it’s very critical and it can be very difficult. So, I’ll give you an example. With our previous company, we were a technology first company. So, we had brilliant cofounders who come from incredible engineering backgrounds, who built a technology, and we try to find a place for it in the market. We failed.

Greg White (42:25):

A hammer searching for a nail, right?

Sena Zorlu (42:27):

Yes. We failed. But there are a lot of companies that come out of that phase as well. So, it’s not a cookie cutter solution to any startup, of course. But, I would say, this is cookie cutter for, like, 99 percent of startups. There are startups that are tackling incredible challenges. I’ve been looking at, you know, what’s going on in space. And five years ago, people who wanted to build telco networks in space, they were seen as insane. But today, as you see, billions of devices going through in oil fields, and power lines, and everything. And it’s like people who are living with their RV in the middle of nowhere. And it’s like all of our data and technology is built for what is available today. And we need to prepare the infrastructure for what’s coming tomorrow.

 

Sena Zorlu (43:21):

So, there are startups like that where it’s like, “Whoa. This is big.” And I think we are in the perfect time where there is money for crazy people. There’s crazy money for crazy people. And I use crazy in the best of ways. There is enormous amounts of money available for people who are doing the most daring of things, and I think that’s incredible.

Greg White (43:56):

How can I help you improve your shot at Supply Chain Tech success? Four ways. One, subscribe to TECHquila Sunrise wherever you get your podcast to make sure you’re notified of my new episode every week. Two, follow me on LinkedIn and see my Supply Chain summaries every weekday. Three, if you’re a startup founder or a growth stage leader, and you need an active advisor to propel you through your Supply Chain Tech journey, I’m currently considering select strategic advisory roles. Or four, if you need an incubator or investment for your Supply Chain Tech, reach out to me on LinkedIn and let’s talk.

Would you rather watch the show in action?

Decoding the Mysteries of Founder & Investor Relations with Sena Zorlu, Kubera Venture Capital, Pt 1

Featured Guests

Sena Zorlu is a company builder, and an early stage investor at Kubera Venture Capital. She built three companies and is currently working on a stealth startup. She is based out of San Francisco Bay Area.  Connect with Sena on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Greg White

Principal & Host

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more.  In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.

Patch Reilly

Data Analytics and Metrics Intern

Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.

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Vicki White

Controller

Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Greg White

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Jamin Alvidrez

Founder & CEO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now, Veteran Voices, This Week in Business History

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or singing second soprano in the Grayson United Methodist Church choir.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Allie Krasinski

Marketing Coordinator

Allie is currently completing a degree in marketing with a certificate in entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia. She got her social media start through an internship with Shred, a personal training app, and she’s been hooked ever since. She works to optimize our following base while assisting the team with content creation, influencer outreach and other marketing endeavors. Allie can’t wait to keep growing alongside Supply Chain Now.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Jada Carson

Marketing Coordinator

Jada is a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications with a media studies concentration and marketing minor. Jada got her start producing content at 16 years old, while attending a radio and broadcasting journalism program in high school, and hasn't looked back!  She is an asset to the Supply Chain Now team as a media specialist, podcast and media producer, and production coordinator.  Outside of Supply Chain Now, Jada is a big Lakers fan, and also a music journalist and enthusiast.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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