Marco Annunziata and Michael Leifman
Conversations with startup CEOs with technology that can change how the economy functions.Hosted by Marco Annunziata and Michael Leifman
This is the final M4Edge episode of 2021 an we are finishing this year with a bang, Our guest is Alex Rodrigues, founder and CEO of Embark Trucks; he is a Forbes 30 under 30, and more importantly, at the tender age of 26 he has just brought Embark public through a SPAC deal valuing the company at over 5 billion dollars.Embark is right up the M4Edge alley, where we look at technologies that change the way the economy works: Embark develops software for self-driving trucks. Alex Rodrigues has a long-standing interest in automation: his passion for robots started when he was 11, so even though he’s only 26, he is already kind of a veteran in robotics. In our interview he revealed a number of interesting insights on the present and the future of automation, and some of them are quite surprising. How is this for a nugget: here we have the founder of a self-driving trucks company predicting a bright future for truck drivers!We had a great conversation on where and why self-driving trucks could create – or at least preserve – jobs; but also on where they will be deployed first, and what they could imply for the future of logistics and distribution, quite an important topic given the recent dramatic supply chain disruptions.Alex also explained why the development of self-driving trucks might be very different from that of self-driving passenger cars; we talk about road safety and cyber-security, and about Embark’s business model: they don’t actually produce trucks, they are a SaaS company.And we close with Alex’s reflections on the future of robotics and automation. This episode has everything we – and you – like best: an enthusiastic and deeply knowledgeable guest, cutting edge technology, business model innovation and important implications for the way we live and work. Thanks for listening, Thanks for Being Curious, and as always, please share the episode and if you have a few minutes, leave us a review. We’ll be back in 2022 with a brand new series we’re planning, so…enjoy the holidays and STAY curious!
52 min 30 sec
After a long absence, we’ve returned with a very fun episode and right in line with the M4Edge theme. The startup we focus on today is really micro, in the weeds, you might say, with some very macro aims, and it’s about as edgy as can be.You probably know that we’ve done several episodes on ESG or impact investing, and we’ve also done quite a few food-tech and ag-tech episodes. This episode is part of that series, but with some cool twists .We interview Dror Tamir, the CEO of Hargol Food Tech. Dror wants us all to be eating grasshoppers. Yes, I know, it sounds gross. Dror knows that too. But not everyone feels that way! It turns out that in many parts of the world, they are a delicacy. But Dror doesn’t expect those of us who grew up with Western diets to crunch on wings and legs, instead Hargol grinds up the grasshoppers into a powder, which you can blend with other foods, or even put in gummies. What’s the big deal about grasshoppers? They are tiny little nutrition machines, so part of Dror’s vision is protein for the world. There’s a climate angle too, since reducing beef and poultry consumption will reduce emissions; there’s a water angle, since growing this form of protein uses FAR less water than other animal production; there’s an animal cruelty angle, since Hargol takes pains to kill the grasshoppers in a humane way. The stats on how healthy grasshoppers are for people and for the planet are frankly mindblowing. Beyond that, Hargol has internal ESG goals unrelated to their product, for example around hiring people with disabilities. Dror sees his mission as being an element of the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam - repairing the world. Oh yeah, this is the Jewiest episode we’ve done, too. Marco compares Jewish grandmothers to Italian grandmothers, I talk about kosher laws, Dror explains a Hebrew pun and Marco even vocalizes an excellent chet. But all you goyim and our faithful M4Edge devotees shouldn’t worry; it’s an ecumenical episode - there’s plenty in here about Hargol’s approach to their market, their production process, their place within the booming food-tech scene and more. We know you’ll enjoy the episode.And since you’ll enjoy it, please share it with others, rate us on Apple Podcasts, post it on social media - you know what to do - spread the word. And as always, thanks for being curious!
56 min 16 sec
It’s not often that a small startup has ties to Google and Bill Gates. Our guest today, Michael Sachse, the CEO of Dandelion Energy inhabits that rarefied atmosphere.Dandelion Energy was originally part of Google X, Alphabet’s so-called moonshot factory. And very recently, Dandelion received substantial series B funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which is the VC arm of a Bill Gates – led organization whose mission is to help get the world to net zero carbon emissions.So what’s so special about Dandelion that it attracted this sort of attention? They are tackling one of the hardest clean energy problems we will face as we decarbonize, namely how to heat our homes without fossil fuels. Dandelion harnesses geothermal energy – which is itself not a new trick – but the way they do it and deliver it is indeed new. There’s tech and business model innovation involved, and since this is M4Edge, we’ll of course explore some policy issues, some labor issues and more. And you’ll learn what kind of outright ban Marco thinks would be in the public interest.Enjoy the episode, and thanks for being curious!
54 min 28 sec
We seem drawn to Agtech and impact investing. And good-tasting fruit.We kicked off our 2021 season with a discussion on impact investing or socially responsible investing, including with a startup (EcoRobotix) that produces solar-power farming equipment for AI-based precision application of herbicide. We've done a few episodes in the Agtech space, including with a startup (Strella Biotech) that uses sensors to determine optimal fruit ripening in storage, reduce food waste and make our avocados not crummy. In this episode we continue these trends, and learn from TrueAlgae CEO Nathaniel Jackson about how their product can improve crop yields while simultaneously improving the sweetness and nutrient density of fruit, all while saving farmers' money and helping reduce the GHG impact of agriculture. This company is a true "double bottom line" company, or more like triple bottom line. Nathaniel himself was an impact investor at the Inter-American Development Bank, and has strong personal stake in seeing the impact investment sector succeed.Please share the episode with your friends and ... thanks for being curious!
50 min 6 sec
We kick off this season with a deeper look at the meaning of our phrase “changing how the economy functions,” specifically examining what you may have heard of as “social entrepreneurship,” which is the idea that entrepreneurial ventures should measure themselves not just by revenue but also by metrics that capture their broader impact on the social and natural environment.Impact investing takes many forms. It can be venture firms seeking out so called “double bottom line“ or even “triple bottom line” returns, meaning financial & social returns or financial & social & environmental. In fact, there is a venture firm called DBL Partners - double bottom line - one of whose portfolio companies we’ve had on the show- Zola Electric. DBL invested in another company you may have heard of - Tesla - which is probably the most high profile, but not the only proof point that impact investing is not charitable giving. Impact investing can also refer to the idea of investors screening for or against certain types of activities. The institutional approach is the idea of ESG investing. ESG stands for environmental, social, governance. ESG investors are typically mutual funds or financial companies with specific funds that invest in companies that are promoting those aims or perhaps which are improving their own internal practices. How big is ESG? According to Morningstar, there are about 275 ESG open-end mutual funds and ETFs available in the U.S.. And according to Deloitte, 75% of investors applied ESG principles to at least a quarter of their portfolios in 2019. Another sign of how far this idea has come is that the incoming director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, most recently led BlackRock’s ESG investing, in other words, one of the most prominent economist positions in the country is about to be inhabited by an ESG guy.Some of the more well known impact VCs include DBL, and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest, whom we’ve also featured on M4Edge. There are many other examples, all with ambitious aims, including the HEED fund, The Impact Engine, SustainVC, Village Capital, Better Ventures and many more.We’ve decided to delve into a few of these areas, with the help of three guests. First, we’re joined by Sonal Shah, the Executive Director of the Beeck Center at Georgetown. Sonal is so steeped in the world of impact that we asked her to cohost this episode. Sonal interviews Lisa Green Hall, the Impact Chair at Apollo Global Management, but has held many roles in this space, as is really one of the pioneers of the field. But we’re technophiles here at M4Edge, so we also interview Steve Tanner, the founder and CTO of EcoRobotix, a Swiss ag-tech company whose mission is to “develop, produce and sell innovative farming machines that require low energy and that reduce the negative ecological impact of modern agriculture, while keeping costs competitive.”
1 hr 6 min
We are joined again by our friend and former colleague Ricky Buch. We’ve had Ricky on the show several times as small segments we called Ricky’s Reports from the Edge or sometimes full episodes we called Ricky’s Startup Reality. Ricky started a clean tech company - now the term of art is climate tech – called Loctricity. It was a great idea started by a smart guy with skills, knowledge, industry connections, in the right place and in the right time. But Loctricity is now on pause, and in this episode you’ll hear why, and how Ricky is still pursuing business opportunity in the distributed renewable energy space. The idea behind Ricky’s Reports and Ricky’s Startup Reality was to give listeners and inside view of what it’s like to start a company from scratch; in this episode, Ricky shares some thoughts about that process which I think are among the most insightful and sort of soul bearing that he’s shared so far.It’s been about a year since we last checked-in with Ricky, and what a year it’s been. We hope M4Edge listeners and your loved ones have stayed healthy, safe and sane, during 2020. Thanks for your loyalty, and we wish you – and everyone else – a MUCH better and happier 2021. Enjoy the holidays, enjoy the episode and, as always, thanks for being curious!Geoff Oxnam, American Microgrid SolutionsPositive Capital Partners
In this episode, the third in our series on startup strategy, Marco and I interview Guy Levy-Yurista , the chief strategy officer of Sisense. Sisense is an unusual business analytics or business intelligence (BI) startup, and Guy is an unusual, well, guy. Before becoming a CSO, Guy’s career included being a CTO, VP of Product, a PhD in physics, a sommelier, and more. So he brings a wealth of expertise and perspective to his job and to this conversation. We talk about what strategy means and what it means for a startup; we talk about how startups take risks; we talk about the methods for strategy; and how the job of a strategist gets done. But we also talk about AI and the singularity, what it means to think for a living , we of course talk about SciFi- but also the role SciFi plays in exercising our minds. Guy says that for him being a good strategist is all about curiosity. For M4Edge listeners, that should be a familiar refrain. Enjoy the episode and Thanks for Being Curious. Thank you to MyIpadRocks for their review on Apple Podcast. They wrote that M4Edge has an “exceptional list of guests and are on the cutting edge of thought leadership on how the use of data and manufacturing technology is evolving.” Thanks MyIPadRocks! Please write us a review, and we promise to read our favorite on the show and give you a quick shoutout for your troubles. These reviews do help, so please add yours.
1 hr 4 min
Our miniseries on startups strategy continues today with Ron Carucci. Ron is a renowned strategy consultant with three decades of experience in large and small companies, and currently he is the owner and managing partner of his own strategy consulting outfit, Navalent. Ron is also a Harvard Business Review contributor, and a TED speaker.Through the lens of his extensive experience, Ron shares his views on the different strategic challenges that companies face, starting from some very basic questions: When and how does a company realize that its strategy no longer works and needs to be revamped? What are the classic blind spots, the cognitive biases if you will that can prevent a company from realizing that the strategy is no longer on track? We discuss with Ron the best techniques to identify and tackle the key challenges, and the tricks needed to bring everyone on board. We discuss the most typical transformational challenges that companies face, and how they can different across industries and between start-ups and larger companies. We also discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic and the current focus on social issues can further complicate corporate strategy, and how companies can adapt and respond.Companies today face unprecedented uncertainty across multiple, inter-related dimensions: the pandemic, economic disruption, geopolitical turmoil, and accelerating innovation. Developing a well-designed and flexible strategy has never been more important, and it’s never been harder. Ron has seen it all; listen to his advice.Enjoy the episode and thanks for being curious!
51 min 33 sec
Today we kick off a new, special miniseries on strategy. We’ll unpack the different aspects of business strategy that a startup needs to develop, discuss how strategy evolves through time as a start-up goes to market and starts to grow, and talk about how strategy for a startup differs from strategy for a large corporation.We wanted to go well beyond our own strategy experience and expertise, and bring you a wide range of different viewpoints and fields of expertise. So we have assembled an incredibly diverse set of guests for this series.They include Sue Siegel, former Chief Innovation Officer at GE as well as the CEO of GE Ventures; Ron Carucci, a top strategy consultant, Harvard Business Review contributor, and TED speaker; and Guy Levy-Yurista, Chief Strategy Officer for tech startup Sisense. And, today's guest, who is just waaay too cool for us, Elma Beganovich. A crucial aspect of a start-up strategy lies in identifying your target customer base, understanding it and knowing how to reach it. So we were delighted when Elma accepted our invitation. Elma is the Co-founder and COO of Amra & Elma, a digital marketing agency she co-founded with her sister. Elma and Amra are two influencers with an impressive stack of academic credentials (a JD and LLM, in Elma’s case), and have worked with several top large companies as well as start-ups. We discuss influencer marketing, how to successfully develop brand recognition and how to build an effective PR strategy. We also delve into the challenges and changes brought about by the pandemic, and how companies can best adapt.The broad range of perspectives we bring you in these four conversations will show you what YOU need to develop a successful strategy – and to identify the companies most likely to succeed in this new environment. We’ve learned a lot in these four episodes, and hope you’ll enjoy them too! Thanks for being curious!
49 min 44 sec
Our guest today is Sandeep Ahuja, co-founder and CEO of Cove Tool. Sandeep has been named to the Forbes’ prestigious “Thirty Under Thirty” list; the recognition has given her a great boost in exposure and credibility, but it can prove to be a mixed blessing in the construction industry, as you will hear. Sandeep founded Cove Tool to help fight climate change, and here are the two numbers she wants you to focus on: worldwide, buildings account for about 40% of energy consumption and carbon emissions, and yet about 50% of buildings are designed without even thinking of energy efficiency. Why? Mainly because addressing energy efficiency in construction is devilishly difficult. So Sandeep developed a web-based platform that helps optimize energy efficiency in a holistic way, taking into account all the elements that contribute to a building’s energy consumption; and it helps identify the most cost-effective way to reach specific energy-efficiency targets. What’s more, Cove Tool is accessible to pretty much anybody, not just big firms but small contractors, individual homeowners. We also discuss the role of generative design, the impact of regulations, the dismal state of productivity growth in the construction industry, and whether the rapid global adoption of software tools like Cove will cause buildings to look increasingly alike around the world. Sandeep has an infectious enthusiasm for transforming one of the oldest industries in the world, making for a very high-energy podcast. Enjoy the episode, share it with your friends and colleagues, mention it in your countless Zoom meetings…and give us a review on iTunes! Thanks for being curious.
54 min 37 sec
M4Edge is about startups with technologies that can change how the economy functions. There’s very little that is as central to a functioning economy as energy, and that’s one reason why climate change is such a deep societal problem. There are also very few industries that are as important to a growing economy as the construction industry. And so today’s episode is one of a two-part miniseries on technologies that are aimed at the greening of the construction industry. Interestingly, both of our guests were recently named to the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list, for energy. Today’s guest is Apoorv Sinha of Carbon Upcycling Technologies, or CUT. CUT takes captured CO2 and then basically stores it, but not underground, as is one popular solution, but in commercial products. In fact, the presence of the carbon in the products, like cement, for example, actually makes the products more cost effective to produce because you use less original material, and it gives the products some enhanced qualities. It’s the trifecta. Better cost efficiency, better product, better environment. This is the kind of solution where, if it manages to scale, could be deeply impactful.Please review our show on Apple Podcasts and please share with anyone you think might be interested!As always, enjoy the episode and thanks for being curious!
59 min 36 sec
Our episode today is about the future of ____. We left that last part blank because you can decide for yourself. We interview Jay Rogers and Vikrant Aggarwal who are, respectively, the CEO co-founder and president of Local Motors. I could tell you that Local Motors is an automotive manufacturing company, but that would be criminally uninformative. Local Motors makes vehicles that are unusual, and makes them in an unusual way. Their marquis product, Olli, is a fully autonomous, electric vehicle shuttle bus. Their manufacturing process relies on Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing, and is designed around "microfactories" – hence the local in local motors. This conversation is about the future of mobility, manufacturing, work, supply chain, energy, you decide. And, on what other podcast can you get a CEO talking about Nobel winning Harry Markowitz, Michael Porter, Nassim Taleb, Oprah Winfrey and the Wolverine movies?If you haven’t yet rated and reviewed our show – Please do! It only takes a minute, and it really helps. Starting with the next episode, we'll read our favorite review left for us on Apple Podcasts, so make a it a good one.
1 hr 2 min
Today's bonus episode is about the multiple layers of uncertainty we are all facing right now. More specifically, the episode is meant to give you some insight into how M4 Strategy Garage can help your business untangle those uncertainties as you try to navigate the murky waters ahead. We have categorized the covid recovery uncertainty into five elements, and within each element have identified several variables we believe are important to monitor, in order to understand how the economy will respond to the pandemic over time. We've come up with three scenarios, which each comprising a combination of those variables in differing degrees. Listen to the episode to get a taste of what we're thinking and how we can help you. Reach out to us for some deeper advice. Forward the episode to people at your company who you think can benefit from our framing of the uncertainty. Post the episode on social media to help us spread the word about M4Edge. Rate the episode and review the show on Apple Podcast and ... Stay Curious and Stay Safe!
28 min 40 sec
On today's episode we speak with Paul Appleby, the CEO of Kinetica. Paul has held leadership roles in some very prominent tech companies, including SAP, SalesForce and C3, and he's now at the helm a big data startup, so he’s definitely been at the center of our changing economy, and has a lot to reflect upon. We recorded our interview with Paul in early March of 2020 and we’ve delayed the release a bit because we wanted to give room for some of our M4 Corona Combatants mini-episodes to get some airtime and some of your mindshare. If you’ve not checked those out, please do. Of course, as you heard in the teaser quote at the top of the episode and as you’ll hear in the interview, Kinetica’s power and its platform can certainly be applied to many of the problems at hand in battling the Coronavirus. Kinetica’s strength is its ability to take massive amounts of structured and unstructured data from diverse sources, and do the analytics in real time. Kinetica offers a glimpse into some of the imagined capabilities we’ve seen in movies for years, whether it’s analyzing banking transactions on the fly or the millions of pieces of real time data flow from a fully automated traffic system to tracking the unfolding of a pandemic. As Paul says, they’re at the crossroads of data, business and AI, and it’s an exciting place to be. You’ll see that this is a classic M4Edge conversation. We cover a lot of ground from pandemics to terror threats to banking to dynamic supply chains, but also to what this all means for the future of work. We know you’re a curious lot, but even for us conversation really traversed a lot of ground, so buckle up. PLEASE write us a review on Apple Podcasts, it really does make a difference. And PLEASE share an episode or the show links with a friend or on social media, and help us build or community of Curious Listeners.
This episode is number 3 in our Corona Combatants series. In this series we’re trying to amplify the efforts of our guests and their companies who are using the tools at their disposal to help fight the sprawling battle against Corona. If you’ve not heard the other episodes in this series, please check them out – they include distance learning resources from Legends of Learning, accelerated lending and distance lending from Boss insights, and a Maker based effort to produced PPE by CU Denver and Make4Covid. In this episode, we highlight the work of two companies - 3DHubs - we'll hear from Ben Redwood, and Sorcero -we'll hear from Nnaemeka Osakwe. 3DHubs bookended our 2019 miniseries on 3Dprinting, and Sorcero was one of the first companies we ever had on the show, and one of our first repeat guests, so it’s heartening that both of these companies – very much part of the M4Edge community - are helping fight this fight. More of these Corona Combatants mini episodes are on the way – please really do share these with others, especially if you know someone who can help. Stay curious and healthy!https://covid19.sorcero.com/https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-manufacturing-fundhttps://www.m4edge.com/strategy-garage/
7 min 45 sec
As the coronavirus forced governments to shut down large parts of the economy, ordering workers to stay home, one of our first questions was: where are the robots when you need them? So we invited Brad Bogolea to come on M4Edge. Brad is the co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics and they produce…well…robots. Their most well-known robot is named Tally, and has already been widely deployed across major retail chains, especially grocery stores. Tally goes up and down the aisles and uses image recognition to take a real time inventory of the items on the shelves. The information Tally collects is then used to improve supply chain management, but also to gain insights on consumer behavior and sales trends. Improving inventory management and supply chain management is crucial today, now that supply chains have come under enormous stress because of the Coronavirus disruption. In this podcast, Brad tells us what he is seeing in the retail sector today, and how Simbe and its robots are helping grocery chains meet our needs in this difficult time. The value of Simbe’s robots extends well beyond the current emergency: it is estimated that in normal times, inefficiencies in inventory management cost the US retail industry over 1 trillion dollars!We also discuss with Brad other areas where robots will eventually be able to contribute, and the technical and psychological aspects of human-robot interaction. Up until a few weeks ago we all feared the robots would take all the jobs. Today we almost wish they had taken them already. It’s a great time to understand better how robots and humans can work together, and how we can reach a balance that makes us all better off, including by making our economy more resilient to shocks like the one we currently face.Enjoy the episode, share it, review it on Apple Podcasts, and thanks for being curious!
49 min 17 sec
Our guest today is Keren Moynihan, founder and CEO of Boss Insights.Our conversation with Keren is especially timely, as we recorded this podcast on Monday, March 16th, 2020. Just the day before, Sunday March 15th , the US Federal Reserve held an emergency meeting and announced a set of monetary policy measures to support the economy during the #coronavirus crisis. The measures are strongly focused on the need to keep lending flowing to both businesses and individuals, to help them through what we all hope will be a temporary period of serious economic difficulty.This is where Keren comes in: Boss Insights has developed a set of tech applications and solutions to make lending faster, cheaper and better. In a nutshell, Boss Insights helps lenders like banks and credit unions to get fast and easy access to relevant data from the businesses that are borrowing from them or would like to borrow from them. This is especially relevant for private companies, which don’t have the same reporting requirements as publicly listed companies on the stock market. With these data, BossInsights can help banks understand their clients better. This means they can have a better assessment of the risk of the loans they make, but also of their customers’ evolving needs. For example, lenders can better anticipate whether a business will need foreign exchange services, or other financial services to manage its employees or its supply chain. The current crisis highlights how important it is for lenders to have a better, real-time understanding of their customers. The extreme social distancing measures adopted in the US and in some European countries will have a very negative impact on some sectors of the economy, and small businesses will be hit especially hard.The Fed has emphasized that banks should keep lending, to help their customers through this difficult period. For banks then it becomes crucial to be able to understand which customers face only a temporary disruption because of the shock, and which ones instead might have a more structural problem in their business model – because they need to focus their help on those businesses that can stand on their own feet once the crisis is over.Keren also talks about how the #Fintech revolution is transforming the financial sector, the role of Ai and more. It’s a great conversation on the prospects of finance and lending not just through this crisis but beyond it and well into the future.Enjoy the episode, share it with friends and colleagues, and if you can spare a few minutes do write us a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for being curious, and stay safe during this difficult time!
1 hr 3 min
This is a very special edition of the M4Edge podcast, and a part of our Corona Combatants series: we speak with a team of people who are striving to leverage 3D printing resources to quickly supply hospitals and care centers with some of the equipment they need to handle the covid-19 emergency. Our guests are all affiliated with the University of Colorado Denver, and the Anschutz Medical Center through a novel project called Inworks, which as one of our guests says, is like a maker space on steroids. Inworks seeks to create innovative solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems, and so stepping up for Covid response was what they were made for. And they are really stepping up the challenge.Their efforts are currently focused on Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. This is — in the definition of the Food and Drug Administration, protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, face masks and/or respirators or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness.In the fight against the covid-19 virus, health care workers are a crucial resource, and protecting them from contagion is a top priority. As the number of covid cases rises, some hospitals have already been running short of some personal protective equipment.Everyone who can, should try to help. Some automakers have switched their production to ventilators, in coordination with the FDA.As our guests explain, 3D printing has two characteristics that can help address this challenge: its speed and its distributed nature. Using 3D printing and an open source design approach can allow us to quickly develop important pieces of equipment—in this case, face shields. And leveraging the distributed nature of the 3D printing market community across the country can allow us to produce at scale and close to the health care providers in need.This podcast is also a call to arms: our guests will emphasize the need for makers, fabricators, designers, engineers and health care experts to join the effort, and explain one way of coming to help. Coordination is crucial, to learn from each other, to diffuse best practices, but also to make sure that help reaches hospitals in the most efficient way possible. Our guests have helped to launch an online platform, make4covid.co to facilitate this effort. Neither one of us is a health expert; our guests are not medical experts either, and they will underscore the importance of coordinating with the regulators and following all the FDA’s prescriptions and guidelines. Theirs is one spontaneous effort, and others are doubtlessly sprouting elsewhere around the country.In a situation that requires to have all hands on deck, we thought it would be valuable to show how 3D printing and the maker community have quickly jumped in to help, and to publicize this effort so that others can join in or reach out to our guests to exchange insights, share advice and help each other help our health care system.So this is an episode you really should share, and quickly, because it might help. If you are someone who could help, get in touch.Stay curious, stay safe and stay healthy, everyone.
37 min 50 sec
M4Edge is about startups with technology that can change how the economy functions, and nothing has quite as potentially dramatic an effect on the economy as a Pandemic plus a possible recession. But some of our guests’ companies can help. In times like these, it’s very easy to despair, but it’s important to find as many ways as we can to find reasons to be hopeful, and more importantly, to create reasons for hope. We realized recently that some of our guests – these awesome entrepreneurs - are creating reasons for hope, and we wanted to amplify their efforts by sharing them with you. We’ll be releasing some mini-episodes of our entrepreneur’s forms of Corona combat. We urge you to share these, not because we want the listeners, but because these offerings and solutions will ease suffering. So please, really, spread the word. Today’s M4Edge Corona combatants are Sandy Roskes of Legends of Learning, whom we had on the show last year, and Keren Moynihan of BOSS Insights, whom we interviewed recently and whose episode hasn’t even dropped yet. Listen, and share. Stay curious and stay healthy.
6 min 33 sec
Our guest today is Katherine Sizov, Founder of Strella Biotechnology. This is our third Ag-tech show in our young 2nd season. We opened with Allison Kopf of Artemis, and this episode follow Hunter McDaniel of UbiQD. There will be more; it's one of our themes this season, and is increasingly important in the age of Corona-driven changes and challenges to our economy and supply chains.The first thing you should know is that Katherine is fresh out of college, and she founded Strella Biotechnology while she was still a student at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied molecular biology and chemistry. And by the way, she was also on the fencing team. Now to us, that’s quite impressive. Katherine decided to tackle an issue that affects every single one of us: food waste. Did you know that over one third of produce never reaches the consumer? Add in the share that does reach, but that we find unsatisfactory, and we are wasting close to one half of the fruit and vegetables harvest. And that’s in a developed country like the US, with the best refrigeration technology and transport infrastructure. Imagine in the developing world. If we want to address environmental sustainability and world hunger, we must reduce this waste. To do this, Katherine tried to figure out—as she puts it—how to hack a fruit. In this podcast, Katherine explains how fruits and vegetables talk to each other, why the expression “one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel” is actually scientifically accurate, and how Strella developed specialized biosensors to reduce food waste across the supply chain. This is a fascinating and sparkling conversation, full of surprising facts and insights on the fruits and vegetables we eat every day (at least we should) and how they get to our table. Plus you will hear directly form Katherine what it’s like to become a startup entrepreneur in college – what lessons has she drawn?Strella Biotechnology is one to watch –and so is Katherine, who is just getting started.Enjoy the episode, share it with friends and colleagues, and if you can spare a few minutes do write us a review on iTunes. Thanks for being curious!Another link to follow on Food Waste: John Oliver's masterful take on the problem a few years ago, which opened many people's eyes to this travesty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8xwLWb0lLY
55 min 44 sec
Today's guest is Hunter McDaniel of the company UbiQD. As in ubiquitous, but the "QD" stands for quantum dots. Today's episode is one of those wide ranging talks that has become a hallmark of some of our best M4Edge discussions. We cover not just what a quantum dot is and what UbiQD does, but the Department of Energy's National Laboratory system and the importance of basic science in the innovation process. We talk about solar power generation from your tinted windows, and we even talk about cannabis. UbiQD makes quantum dots, which are so small they're kind of impossible to imagine as you'll hear Hunter describe. Their size; their existence at the nanoscale or, more precisely, the quantum scale makes them effective at absorbing a broad spectrum of light and then converting that energy into emitted light of specific colors that you can choose or "tune" with a precise manufacturing process. So, for example, you can tune the dots to emit an orange kind of late or blue late or whatever you want. Much like our 2020 kickoff guest, Alison Kopf of Artemis, Hunter and UbiQD have chosen the indoor agriculture industry as a good first target market, including the fast booming cannabis market. But the potential for QD is enormous, including energy efficiency and lighting, solar power from the walls and windows of your skyscrapers, thinking and pigments and more. It's pretty fascinating; imagine these tiny, tiny things that could have a huge, huge impact on how we power our economy. https://www.lanl.gov/https://www.energy.gov/national-laboratories
59 min 28 sec
Our guest today is Sam Kimzey, co-founder of Chaac Technologies. That’s a pretty unusual name for a tech company – Sam will explain where the name comes from and why it is so relevant to Chaac’s mission.Chaac’s technologies has developed an innovative solution to address simultaneously two of the biggest sustainability challenges the world faces today: access to clean water and access to clean energy. In places like the US and Europe we tend to take access to water for granted, but it is a major challenge in many parts of the world, a challenge we need to solve to improve living standards and boost economic growth. The solution that Chaac technologies has come up with is the most imaginative we have come across so far; we’ll let Sam describe it to you. We’ll just say that it’s out of the box ideas like these that give us confidence that we’ll eventually be able to put global growth on a fully sustainable path.Chaac technologies is also a perfect example of an early tech startup: two cofounders, both with a background in the military, and one big idea to help millions of people. Chaac technologies has already struck several high-profile affiliations—this is a company to follow very closely.Enjoy the episode, share it with friends and colleagues, and if you can spare a few minutes do write us a review on iTunes. Thanks for being curious!
46 min 8 sec
We decided to kick off the new year, the new decade and our new season with the basics: food. Our guest Allison Kopf, founder of Artemis, set out to tackle a fundamental challenge -how to make sure the world can feed its rapidly growing population in a sustainable way. But Artemis approaches this grand problem in a very nuts-and-bolts way, namely by digitizing the agriculture supply chain so as to eliminate inefficiencies and reduce costs.Moreover, Artemis’ software enables traceability across the supply chain, which means greater security. If something goes wrong, someone gets sick, Artemis’ software will enable you to trace every step where the contamination could have occurred – and without blockchain! We also talk about the specific challenges of traceability in a biological chain, the key role of labor in agriculture and the impact of policy and immigration changes, and the challenges and opportunities for urban farming. This is a great conversation packed with insights on a sector that touches our daily lives like no other. We hope you enjoy it, pass it along and write us a review.In this episode, we also include a brief plug for our new venture, the M4 Strategy Garage. We have created a series of strategic advisory offerings tailored to startups in their growth phase. To learn more, send us a note to StrategyGarage@M4Edge.comhttps://artemisag.com/
1 hr 1 min
We’re closing out our first season with three bonus episodes. In each of these bonus episodes, we check-in with our first three guests on the show, Greg Mulholland of Citrine Informatics, Dipanwita Das of Sorcero and Randy Altschuler of Xometry. Innovation is moving faster than ever, so we want to keep the pulse of the market and see how much progress our guests are making. It’s been a year since we first interviewed these companies, and each has had a banner year. In this update episode we catch up with our very first guest, Greg Mulholland of Citrine Informatics, a company that leverages AI to accelerate progress in materials science. Citrine encapsulates the nature of the digital-industrial revolution, the merging of bits and atoms, digital and physical innovation. Greg talks us through Citrine’s impressive progress over the last twelve months, including new funding and partnerships with major industrial companies. We discuss how AI is playing a more and more important role across the board; Greg points out breakthroughs not just in new materials, but also in new use cases for existing materials; and he stresses the importance of R&D as a strategic long-term play forcompanies. Enjoy the episode, Happy holidays and ... Please write us a review!
28 min 20 sec
We’re closing out our first season with three bonus episodes. In each of these bonus episodes, we check-in with our first three guests on the show, Greg Mulholland of Citrine Informatics, Dipanwita Das of Sorcero and Randy Altschuler of Xometry. Innovation is moving faster than ever, so we want to keep the pulse of the market and see how much progress our guests are making. It’s been a year since we first interviewed these companies, and each has had a banner year. In this episode, we catch up with Dipanwita Das of Sorcero. You might remember that Sorcero leverages AI to improve knowledge management and learning within companies. Our first episode was rich with Sci-Fi references, and this update does not disappoint: Dipanwita kicks it off talking about dragons… In the year since we first spoke, Sorcero has gone from four employees to fourteen, raised VC funding, and is not part of the Plug and Play accelerator program, the same that helped Paypal and Dropbox get off the ground. Dipanwita talks about Sorcero’s focus on Natural Language Processing, and the prospects for AI to replace experts – a topic where Marco finds himself veering closer to Michael’s pessimism. Enjoy the episode, Happy Holidays and ... PLEASE write us a review on Apple Podcasts!
32 min 56 sec
We’re closing out our first season with three bonus episodes. In each of these bonus episodes, we check-in with our first three guests on the show, Greg Mulholland of Citrine Informatics, Dipanwita Das of Sorcero and Randy Altschuler of Xometry. Innovation is moving faster than ever, so we want to keep the pulse of the market and see how much progress our guests are making. It’s been a year since we first interviewed these companies, and each has had a banner year. In this episode, we catch up with Randy Altschuler of Xometry, a Manufacturing-as-a-Service platform. Randy was one of our first guests on M4Edge, and over the past year Xometry has experienced tremendous growth, has raised another important round of funding, has expanded its global footprint including with a new partnership with China’s Alibaba, and developed a new service to help its partners procure materials and parts more cheaply and efficiently. Randy talks us through what this means for Xometry, and how Manufacturing-as-a-Service is helping companies deal with the increased uncertaintyand more frequent shocks that characterize the global environment—and how hopefully it will help address climate change through more efficient supply chains. Enjoy the episode, Happy holidays and ... Please write us a review!
29 min 19 sec
It's been a bit over a year since we launched M4Edge, and we've had the opportunity to speak with many startup CEOs and CTOs and VCs. We've also had the opportunity to reflect on what we've learned, and we've come up with a theory for how technology is changing and shaping the economy. We are calling the new economy the RAPID economy.R is for RemoteA for AutomationP is for Productivity and PervasiveI is for Individualized and Individuated, but may also stand for InequalityD is for Digitized, but also Decarbonized and potentially DehumanizingWe'd love to know what you think of this framing - send us a note! (AND write us a review? Please??)Wishing you a great and peaceful holiday season and happy 2020,Marco and Michael
55 min 59 sec
We're trying to make the "Ricky's Startup Reality" segments into micro-episodes. That was difficult for us - especially Michael, who had many questions he forced himself to not ask. This is a small episode with big news for Ricky!And, since this is so short, you have plenty of time to write us a review on Apple Podcasts...If you've not listened to previous episodes of Ricky's Startup Reality, or Ricky's Reports from the Edge, as it was called until recently, you may need to go back and listen to a few, just to get the context. That doesn't excuse you from writing a review, though!
5 min 15 sec
Our guest on today’s show is Andy Maggio of D6VR. That’s VR as in virtual reality. The D6 stands for 6 dimensions, and Andy will explain what that means. We’ve all heard the term virtual reality for years, but usually in science fiction, or more recently for serious gamers who want immersive experiences. But VR is maturing and is now being used for serious commercial purposes too. D6VR’s product is actually intended for data analysis, a far cry from the world flying or dinosaur fighting or roller-coaster riding you may otherwise associate with VR. Andy explains why and how VR can be powerful for business applications and collaborations. Moreover, D6VR the company is also part of a novel startup venture called the Glimpse Group, and you’ll hear a little about that today – it’s a clever way to spread investment bets within one sector, but also kind of an incubator. As you can imagine, Andy’s pretty bullish on where VR is going and what it means for the future of work, he talks about how quickly the tech has advanced in recent years, and where he thinks it’s going, and he talks about the confluence of different technologies that are involved. And Marco does NOT talk about Star Trek’s holodeck.Here's a video that gives a small taste of the D6VR experience, and here's another. Andy also provided us a video of D6VR used to analyze the US inflation rate, which is of course right in the sweet spot for M4Edge.Some other links:https://futurism.com/vr-app-replace-officeshttps://www.barrons.com/articles/tradings-future-arrives-with-a-pair-of-goofy-virtual-reality-goggles-51544837643https://medium.com/@GlimpseGroup/the-workspace-of-the-future-1e8dbc29ffd6
49 min 17 sec
Our guest today is Anson Kung, former CTO and co-founder of A&K Robotics. (See below for "late breaking news" on Anson's role at A&K.) Today’s episode has our most thoughtful discussion so far of the impact that the robot revolution is likely to have on our lives. Anson is a first class roboticist, and has a deep insight in how quickly robots are improving, and which tasks they will likely take over in the near future. Michael, as you know by now, has a very pessimistic perspective—he is a true “robo-phobe”. I (Marco) have a more optimistic view, but in this episode you will hear me express quite a few concerns of my own. Speaking about the fear of robots in the job market, would you expect trade unions to be in favor of robots, or against them? Listen to Anson, and you might be surprised. You also probably don’t expect goats to feature in a discussion on robotics…but then again, we are not your average tech podcast…The robots developed by A&K Robotics are of the helpful and non-threatening variety. They help clean hospitals and other buildings, and they shuffle people around crowded airports. They don’t look like us, but in some ways they are surprisingly human: Anson will tell us how they manage to orient themselves in messy and crowded environments by recognizing landmarks. Their “infrastructure-free” navigation abilities imply that there is no need to retrofit buildings with beacons and sensors. And they learn fast—I found this especially impressive because my poor sense of direction is the stuff of legend among friends and family. Our admiration for these robots’ abilities sets the stage for a rich discussion: are they already stealing jobs from humans, or just making human workers safer and more productive? Maybe both? What additional capabilities will robots evolve in the next few years? And as robots take over more tasks, will we graduate to more productive and rewarding activities, or will we be relegated to low-paying service jobs?Anson is a robo-optimist and Michael a robo-pessimist, but they are united by a shared enthusiasm for the RoboCup, a soccer competition for robots (that’s football for our non-US audience). Once again, sport brings us all together.Finally, Anson, tells us why he believes we are at an inflection point, where the convergence of AI and robotics will deliver exponentially accelerating progress, similar to the one that in 60 years brought us from the Wright Brothers’s first flight to the moon landing.[LATE BREAKING NEWS: When we interviewed Anson several weeks ago, he was still the CTO; we learned only by happenstance today, while putting the final touches on the episode, that Anson is no longer in that role. Startups change personnel quite frequently, even leadership personnel, so this isn't a total shock, but this was the first time that one of our interviewees left their role before we aired the episode. A&K issued the following statement: "In the time since the interview, Anson has stepped aside from his role, and A&K has an interim CTO in place, as they are looking to grow the company from 50 to 200 in the next year."]Enjoy the episode, please write us a review on iTunes, and share it with friends, colleagues and on social media. Thanks for being curious!
58 min 55 sec
Ricky's Reports from the Edge has a new name: the running series featuring Ricky Buch and his nascent startup Loctricity is now Ricky's Startup Reality. This episode is a great one for a name change, because the news Ricky shares may also prove to be a watershed for his business. Some unusual macro conditions may provide just the right opportunity for Ricky to go from idea to launch customer.
17 min 50 sec
Our guest is David Yang and he is the founder of a company called YVA, which is the subject of today’s show, but he’s no novice in startup world. David has founded TWELVE companies, starting in 4th grade, and including ABBYY which you may not have heard of but is actually pretty huge; it has offices in 11 countries and more than thousands of enterprise customers in 200 countries , so you can be sure that David thinks YVA has some serious potential. The World Economic Forum named him as one of the top 100 World Technology Pioneers. David’s resume and story are fascinating, but that’s not what makes this episode so good. It’s because YVA represents much of the great potential of AI but also embodies a lot of what makes people really uncomfortable about AI’s power. YVA is an AI offering in what’s called “People Analytics” which to me sounds vaguely Orwellian, but it’s a real domain and there are other companies in that space. David calls YVA an “MRI scanner for organizational health." It improves the quality of life at a company, improves efficiency, and generally makes the company a better place to work. But of course, in order to get that data, like an MRI, YVA peers deep inside, and analyzes many, many things you do at work, for example not just what words you use in your email or instant messaging app, but when and how often and to whom you write. M4Edge is about tech that can change how the economy functions, and YVA goes right to the heart of our workplaces. Is this big brother and too intrusive or is this simply a more efficient way to doing what HR does anyway, all while making employee’s performance and company performance better? As you’ll see at the end of the episode, David is very Gung-Ho about having AI in our lives. Do you think you’ll be as comfortable? Will you have a choice?
58 min 51 sec
The World Bank was gracious enough to host us for our 2nd live audience show. Along with the World Bank Global lead for Energy Access, Dana Rysankova, and Jon Exel, the Global Lead for Mini-grids, we interviewed Bill Lenihan, the CEO of Zola Electric.We discuss the challenge of electrification: close to 900 million people still have no access to electricity at all, and over 2 billion don't have reliable power. Bill explains how Zola has brought power to 1 million people (and counting) in 5 countries. We discuss the trade-offs of extending the grid versus providing off-grid solutions, we discuss the difficulties of scaling business models in developing countries, and we discus the Bank's experience in multiple countries. Lots of really meaty discussion, both on building the business and on the policy and economic problems involved. Enjoy, share the episode!Additional links to follow:World Bank stats on Electricity AccessEnergy Data Info, including link to new tool mentioned by Dana during the showWorld Bank research papers
1 hr 17 min
Today’s episode is a return to Ricky's Reports from the Edge, where we check back in with Ricky Buch and his startup Loctricity. Ricky shares some of the frustrations of just trying to get meetings when you’re pitching an idea, and also shares with us some of the latest evolution in his thinking for what Loctricity’s value proposition is.Please share the show with friends on social media, and please rate us on iTunes!
21 min 54 sec
We cap our mobility mini-series from a different perspective: that of Mike Granoff, Managing Partner of Maniv Mobility, a venture capital firm that specializes in...mobility and the future of transportation. As an investor, Mike has to look at the entire mobility landscape, and his success and reputation are not... 'riding' on a single solution.We kick off the podcast with our trademark "why on earth are you doing this?", and the answer will surprise you. It will also explain why Mike takes a very broad and strategic view of the disruption to mobility and transportation. The code word, he says, is diversification: different ways of powering vehicles, shared transportation, buying miles traveled rather than cars, leveraging different modes of transportation. A broad-ranging, digitally-enabled transformation of a transportation model that had remained static for over a century.We discuss whether ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft are actually adding to traffic congestion and whether they will continue to do so; whether the hype on driverless cars is too far ahead of reality; cybersecurity issues; and how to address the biggest market failure in this space—the failure to price road space appropriately.It's a fascinating, broad-ranging conversation that ties together the ideas, innovations and disruptions we discussed in the first three episodes of this miniseries. A brilliant way to take stock of how mobility is changing, and what the future of our mobility will look like.Enjoy the episode, and please share it on social media and with friends and colleagues!
42 min 46 sec
Our guest today is Sampo Hietanen, the CEO of a Finnish company called MAAS Global. MaaS stands for Mobility as a Service, and they are the makers of Whim, an app-based platform for MaaS. Whim provides a single way to access all forms of mobility - everything from cars to trains, scooters, bikes and buses, through a subscription. Sampo's influence extends way beyond Finland, in fact he is widely viewed as the ideological father of mobility as a service. As you’ll see from the conversation, Sampo has big dreams for how we might get from place A to B to Z, what it means for car ownership and the car industry, what it means for cities, and urban regions, and what it means for the environment. If you listened to our previous conversations in this miniseries, you’ll recall Israel Duanis explained that Fleetonomy was all about optimizing the use of fleets of vehicles and that Shai Suzan explained that WayCare was all about optimizing the flow of traffic. MaaS' vision includes both of these, I think , and more; their dream is about optimizing the experience that people have as they travel through and within a region.We hope you enjoy the episode - please share it with other like minded curious people, and write us a review on Apple Podcast.
1 hr 3 min
Ricky Buch is back from Ghana and Ricky's Report is back for another M4Edge episode. We discuss the viability of minigrids as a solution to energy poverty, Ricky introduces an idea to help minigrids scale, and Marco complains about ordering water with his cheeseburger.
31 min 13 sec
With today’s episode we continue our exploration of the Future of Mobility: how technology is starting to impact—hopefully for the better-- the way we move around our cities and beyond.Today we talk to Shai Suzan, Cofounder and CIO of WayCare Technologies. When we think of mobility, we think first and foremost about speed and safety. We want to get from point A to point B quickly, without getting stuck in interminable traffic jams; and we want to get there safely. Waycare Tech uses Artificial Intelligence to deliver exactly this. It has already notched up some impressive achievements, reducing accidents and congestions, and improving the response time of emergency vehicles when accidents do occur.How does Waycare Tech do it? They have developed a software that can link together a city’s Traffic Management System with a number of other relevant data sources, from traffic lights to connected vehicles via navigation apps. Waycare Tech’s AI turns those data into predictive analytics, and translates them into real-time advice. Looking at real time traffic patterns, it is able to identify spots where congestion is about to occur, and advise drivers how to avoid them; it can pinpoint areas where accidents are more likely to occur soon, allowing city authorities to deploy emergency vehicles in the vicinity—this saves lives by getting accident victims to a hospital faster. The predictive aspect is key. Existing navigation apps can already tell you when a segment of your commuting route is already backed up— but Waycare Tech can tell you if it will be backed up by the time you get to it.We discuss cybersecurity and privacy concerns, how connected vehicles can act as “virtual sensors” complementing the existing infrastructure, and how these technologies can already help the sprawling megacities in emerging markets.There is a lot to absorb and think about in this episode, and all of it maps directly to our daily experience.As always, we ask that you share the episode with a friend, share on social media, and help us spread the word!
58 min 51 sec
With today’s episode, we kick off a miniseries on “mobility.” In today’s tech parlance and in city planning parlance, mobility includes a bunch of different issues, but they have one thing in common: they shape the quality of our everyday lives. How we get to work, to school or to our friends’ house can make the difference between a pleasant daily city experience and a barely tolerable one. And one way or another, it’s going to change because of technology. So the “Mobility” umbrella covers lots of things, including autonomous vehicles (AVs), but actually we're not covering those directly in this mobility miniseries. But artificial intelligence plays a role in other parts of mobility, like, for example, fleet management, for which you can imagine optimization algorithms would be crucial. The company we discuss on today's episode is called Fleetonomy, and they are building fleet management systems specifically with autonomy in mind. Fleetonomy’s offering is designed to maximize vehicle utilization, which is the key to fleet management. It does this by leveraging data from the car itself, from the fleet owner’s data, and multiple public sources, and then layering on machine learning algorithms. Fleet management is part of that landscape of mobility, but both the domain and that word include other forms of getting around. Mobility includes e-scooters, ride shares,bike shares, electric vehicles and their charging stations, traffic management, road congestion pricing, and more. In addition to Fleetonomy, this miniseries will include Waycare, a traffic management company, and MaaS Global, makers of Whim, the first mobility-as-a-service provider. When you put all these together, you can begin to envision a really different transportation future, one in which how we move around, when, with whom, in what mode, and maybe even to where, can be dramatically different. Given how crucial mobility is to economic activity, this sector’s transformations can really reverberate widely. Once we’ve aired all three episodes, Marco and I will add a brief post-game conversation discussing mobility and the three companies together. We hope you enjoy and thanks for being curious.P.S. Please share the episode with a friendP.P.S. Here's a 1 minute tutorial on how to write a review and give us a rating on Apple Podcast.
50 min 42 sec
Did you know that using video games as a teaching aid improves students’ engagement, helps them learn faster, boosts their test performance and stimulates their critical thinking? These are just some of the results of a study carried out by Vanderbilt University in partnership with Legends of Learning.In this episode, Legends of Learning Co-founder Sandy Roskes explains why games can be a powerful learning tool in a school environment. Legends of Learning has developed a marketplace for learning games, a Netflix-style platform that leverages the creativity of an extensive network of game developers. Legends of Learning curates the content, ensures that the games are technically sound and cover the targeted content, but they don’t rate or judge the games—it’s the market, in this case the teachers and students, that determines a game’s success.We discuss the business model, the specific challenges and rewards of dealing with the education sector—with quite a few unexpected insights, including a few reasons why new technologies like learning games could help inequality in learning and education opportunities. We debate whether using video games for teaching might have any adverse unintended consequences—Sandy does not think so, but Marco’s concerns linger and carry over into the post-game discussion with Michael, so stay tuned for that!If you care about how we can improve the education system and give young generation a better chance, don’t miss this episode—enjoy!PS - This episode is jam packed, as we also include the latest update from Ricky Buch in Ricky's Reports from the Edge.
1 hr 40 min
Growing up, Jessica Trybus, Founder and Chief Games Officer of Simcoach Games knew she was going to be a CEO. But she also wanted to be an actress, so she studied acting, majored in theatre and went into the film industry. Then she moved to Silicon Valley, and then back to Pennsylvania, to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. With this kind of background, she was bound to come up with something unusual and out of the box. Doing a Master’s in Entertainment Technology at CMU, Jessica realized that the principles of good games design mirrored those of effective learning. So she started developing videogames that companies could use for internal training. Large companies were quick to see the value: they need to train a younger generation to replace their aging workforce. Plus, videogames turned out to be a lot more effective at changing behaviors than the old traditional methods used for example for safety training. It turns out that driving a virtual forklift off a ledge and killing your avatar in the process is a lot of fun, and leaves you with a very vivid impression of why you should be careful with the real forklift…Jessica then pivoted to games aimed at a younger generation, students getting ready to enter the workforce. She developed the Simcoach Skills Arcade, a powerful platform with games that allow you to test your skills for different manufacturing jobs, and to acquire the basic behavioral skills you will need at a job interview. Playing the games you discover what you are good at, you accumulate badges, and the platform will give you information on what job opportunities you might have in your area. Similarly, your badges can show a potential employer that you are “pre-qualified’ for a specific career. Jessica makes a compelling case that gamification of learning will transform education and training. We put her games to the test: tune in to hear Michael and Marco’s crushed egos…and more importantly Michael’s kids’ reactions. Enjoy the episode!
1 hr 18 min
And now, for something completely different… Our show today was recorded live at American University, with Professor Jeff Sosland and the students in his International Business—Global Entrepreneurship class. And our guests today come from another side of the tech world: the Venture Capital on which entrepreneurs rely to turn their ideas into a successful business. We talk to Anna Mason and David Hall, partners at Revolution Ventures’ Rise of the Rest Fund.We talk about strategy, and what VCs look for as they try to identify the next big success story, the ideas worth funding among the many pitched to them every day. What makes a successful strategy? How do you build the right team starting with limited resources? Should you focus on perfecting your technology and protecting your IP, or on growing your market share as fast as possible? Anna and David will give us some enlightening examples of how some of their portfolio companies have evolved their strategy over time, identifying new opportunities and quickly adapting to capture them.Rise of the Rest seeks to fund startups outside the traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Boston. Anna and David explain why they believe the companies located in less tech-dominated areas might well have a better chance of disrupting some of the large traditional industries, from manufacturing to agriculture. And indeed some of the companies we have already hosted on M4Edge fit the description—can you spot them in our episodes list?Professor Sosland and his students get a chance to pepper Anna and David with questions at the end—and to decide whether all they’ve heard makes them more or less likely to test their mettle as entrepreneurs. What about you? After you hear from two experienced VCs the good bad and ugly of startup ventures, do you feel more or less tempted to give it a try? Drop us a note on info@m4Edge.com and let us know!
1 hr 18 min
Our show today is part 2 of our interview with Ben Redwood of 3DHubs. Ben is bookend-ing our miniseries on Additive Manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D Printing. In part 1 of our interview with Ben, we spent most of our time discussing many of the different additive manufacturing techniques, which was a great intro to the next set of episodes. Ben has also written a book about 3D Printing, and M4Edge listeners can get part of that book for free by going to https://www.3dhubs.com/podcast/m4edge/ . Also on the 3DHubs site, you can check out their really useful trends report about what‘s happening in the industry, by going to https://www.3dhubs.com/get/trends/. In between parts 1 and 2 of the Ben interview, we spoke with 4 fascinating founders of additive manufacturing companies, each with a really amazing technology, each markedly different from the next. They were Greg Mark of MarkForged, Bob Swartz of Impossible Objects, Nanci Hardwick of MELD Manufacturing and Blake Teipel of Essentium. If you’ve missed those, I encourage you to go back and give em a listen. Today we close the miniseries with Ben and discuss 3DHubs' business model, which is manufacturing as a service, we discuss the 3D Printing industry and its place in the global manufacturing chain, and of course, since Marco can’t help himself, we discuss SciFi.NB: It turns out that if you live outside the US, chances are that Marco and I haven't seen your review. Please let us know if you've written one, so we can give you a shout out on the show - send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
32 min 36 sec
Where else will you find a podcast on 3D printing that references cassette tapes and cowboy hats???In this new episode of our 3D Printing series, we talk with Blake Teipel, CEO and cofounder of Essentium. Blake is perhaps the best person to explain how the success of 3D printing relies on the synergy of machines, software and materials. He started as a design engineer, went back to school for a PhD in materials science, and then set out to create 3D printing solutions that can better solve the hard design problems faced by engineers. Before co-founding Essentium, Blake worked at two large industrial companies, John Deere and Caterpillar. Based on this experience, Blake concluded that the primary advantage of Essentium’s 3D printing solutions had to be speed: only speed can allow 3D printing machines to produce large numbers of parts at lower cost, and make them economically competitive at large scale against traditional manufacturing techniques. For Blake, this is the secret sauce that will allow 3D printing to play an increasingly large role in industry. In the episode, we discuss cybersecurity, and how Essentium uses software to check the materials and the production protocols, including for example the extrusion temperature, so that the parts produced can be certified, protecting against counterfeiting (and without using blockchain, to Michael’s great satisfaction and relief…)We also discuss how 3D printing will transform global supply chains, shifting production closer to the ultimate consumers. While at the moment this has supported reshoring of manufacturing to the US, as in emerging markets wages rise and consumers get wealthier, we should see more production move closer to these increasingly attractive developing markets. An important note: don't forget to stick around for our Ricky's Reports from the Edge segment, at the end of the show.
1 hr 4 min
Our journey into the world of 3D Printing continues today with Nanci Hardwick, CEO of MELD Manufacturing Corporation—Last year, MELD was voted the Most Disruptive New Technology Award at the R&D 100 awards.3D Printing includes a variety of techniques and processes, each with their own advantages and each best suited for a different use. (You can learn about several of these technologies in the first episode of this miniseries, with 3DHub's Ben Redwood.) So what makes MELD unique, and what is it best suited for? Nanci argues that MELD offers two key advantages: its ability to produce large-size parts and seond, the fact that MELD machines can operate out in the field, not just in a controlled environment.MELD machines are not what you would use to print the nifty, intricate, paper-weight sized metal objects that you often get handed if you visit a 3D printing shop. No, MELD comes into its own with big parts like a 30-feet long tractor-trailer rail. Other 3D printing companies we have interviewed on our show say that they can reach large scale thanks to the speed of their machine. When they say “scale”, they mean the large number of parts they can print in an hour or in a day. When MELD boasts about scale, they talk about the actual size of an individual part—though it can’t print an entire spaceship yet… We also discuss with Nanci how additive manufacturing—3D printing, that is—will change our lives, and why you should encourage your children to pursue interdisciplinary passions. Nanci’s vision of the future was truly inspiring.Don't Forget: please share the episode with a friend!
51 min 40 sec
Today’s episode is a conversation with Bob Swartz, the founder and chairman of Impossible Objects. Although that title does a disservice to his resume. He literally grew up in in the manufacturing business, watching his father figure out how to design and build things; he’s been a consultant to the MIT Media lab, he’s got several patents, which he’s licensed to major corporations … through his own patent licensing company; he’s founded and operated software companies, advertising companies, telephony companies; he is a true polymath. He’s also something of a philosopher, which makes for a wonderful conversation.As for Bob's current company, Impossible Objects, It uses a composite based additive manufacturing process - CBAM - which yields superior material properties. Like the other additive manufacturing companies we interview for this miniseries, Impossible Objects is aimed for the big boy manufacturing market – some of the users they brag about include Ford and the US Air Force. But this conversation with Bob is about much more than their customers, its about technological change, psychological lock in, economic ripple effects of new technologies, and more. AND, outside of a fantastic and fanstastical scene in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, this conversation has my favorite use of Marshal McLuhan to make a point. :)If you haven’t already done so, you may want to check out episode 1 with Ben Redwood of 3DHubs, both to help you understand some of the technical terms used in this conversation – Ben goes through many of the different technologies that make up the current universe of 3D printing, and to get the URLs for some free material about 3DPrinting, created by 3DHubs. Ben also talks about the industry at large, which may give you some useful context. One last thing – immediately after the conversation with Bob, we’ve got a quick update from Ricky Buch, so stick around for Ricky's Reports from the Edge.
54 min 40 sec
For the second episode in our miniseries on Additive Manufacturing, we interview Greg Mark, founder and CEO of Markforged (along with their Director of Communications Trak Lord).Deloitte recently ranked Markforged 10th in their 2018 North America Technology Fast 500 Rankings. Forbes put them on a list of next billion dollar startups. But the company's success isn’t the only thing that makes this interview interesting. Business economists should listen closely to what Greg says about, for example, the increased economies of scale. And investors should pay attention when he talks about massive consolidation that inevitably will hit the industry. And technologists should be on the lookout for his predictions on breaking technology barriers and the certainty of advance. And manufacturers should pay attention to the things that his technology can do. And for the rest of us – just keep being curious!If you've not yet listened to episode 1 of this miniseries with Ben Redwood of 3DHubs, you may want to go back and listen, as Ben explains some of the technical details of the industry and different types of 3D Printing technologies. AND, 3DHubs has made available to M4Edge listeners two free resources about 3D Printing; you can hear the URLs for the downloads in the episode.P.S. PLEASE forward this episode, or one of your favorites, to a friend. We want to build this community and we need your help.
In our view, 3D Printing - also known as Additive Manufacturing - ranks up there with Artificial Intelligence as one of "those technologies," meaning one of those that truly holds potential for fundamental changes in how the economy functions. To say that 3D Printing represents a new way of building things is like saying that commercial aviation represented a new way of getting places. 3D Printing will change the who, what, where and how of manufacturing. The “when” is starting now.Our interview with Ben Redwood of 3DHubs is split into two parts. In this episode, we use Ben as our technical expert, and he’ll explain to us all the different kinds of additive manufacturing processes that exist, go over some technical terms, and talk to us about the industry in general. It’s a bit technical at first, but there are two rewards for listening through to the end of the episode. First: Ben’s written a book on 3DPrinting, two chapters of which are being made available for free, to you. Second: later in the episode Ben reveals insights from their latest Future Trends report, which is also available for free, and we dive into a discussion of how 3D printing will change everyone’s life. In part two of the interview, which we’ll air in a few weeks, we’ll talk to Ben about 3D Hubs, where he’s the Director of Supply Chain. In between, we’re going to hear from the founders of 4 of the most interesting and promising 3D Printing startups out there, including Greg Mark of Markforged, Nanci Hardwick of MELD Manufacturing, Bob Swartz of Impossible Objects, and Blake Teipel of Essentium.
1 hr 9 min
3D Printing is coming. To a factory near you. And a garage. And a desktop. And to the M4Edge podcast. Next up: interviews with 5 companies in the space.
This week's M4Edge is solely a Ricky's Reports episode. Ricky talks about how his idea continues to evolve, and we discuss whether forcing startups to chase the $Billion dollar idea is a barrier to entry.Stay tuned: Marco and I are preparing a mini series on Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D Printing. We have a great line up for you, including guests from Essentium, Impossible Objects, MELD Manufacturing and MarkForged, as well as 3DHubs, a Manufacturing as a Service company based in Europe.
15 min 41 sec