Interview with Yida Gao, Managing General Partner of Shima Capital
Yida Gao (Forbes 30 Under 30) is the Managing General Partner of early stage crypto investment firm Shima Capital. Yida formerly co-ran Struck Capital, an early stage industry agnostic venture fund, and also DDC (Divergence Digital Currency), a multi-strategy crypto fund. Prior, Yida served as a technology investor at New Enterprise Associates, a $25Bn+ venture capital fund, and as an M&A investment banker at Morgan Stanley. He graduated from MIT with degrees in mathematics and computer science and dropped out of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business to pursue crypto investing full time in 2017. He teaches the 15.492: Crypto Finance course at MIT.
Where did the idea for Shima Capital come from?
As crypto-focused VC’s continue to raise massive billion dollar plus funds, we identified a pocket of opportunity to support Web3 founders with their first institutional checks that are considered too small for other investors. At Shima Capital, we take the opposite approach and spend the necessary resources to provide our portfolio companies with surgical support typically found only with larger funds.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
We run a large fund in terms of number of investments made, so my days are often split between calls and meetings with our founders, and meetings with my own team.
As time permit, I try to get a workout in, to keep my mind and body sharp so I can be at 100% for our portfolio companies.
Given that our industry is so global, there is also a lot of travel to developers and industry conferences.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In the regular meetings I have with my team, we always discuss new ideas and how to implement them. I am very process driven, so if we can hammer out a solid plan and the idea seems feasible, I’ll always encourage my team to bring it to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I really enjoy following technology trends and how fast new tech is not only conceived but built and implemented. A recent example is AI and how ChatGPT took off in the public consciousness. The potential of this technology is truly unknown, which is both concerning and inspiring.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One thing I am very particular about is scheduling my day properly and fully so I can maximize my time and efforts, while minimizing headaches. Everything from calls with portfolio companies to catch-ups with my team to even dinner with friends. It’s all in my calendar and no minute is wasted.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would simply tell myself to keep on the path I started from an even younger age and make sure to have balance in life that includes strong, healthy relationships with my body, mind, friends, and family – this is easy to forget when work is stressful but also easy to regret later in life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The financial and banking industries are not completely broken, but they can be greatly improved with proper implementation of blockchain technology.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always urge my team to be process driven in everything they do. The way to become great at any one thing, no matter how big or small that thing might be, is to do it well, to do it over and over again, and repeat until you can do it in your sleep.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of the best decisions I made with Shima Capital is hiring the best of the best for my internal team. By bringing in specialized experts in finance, technology, gaming, research, and so on, I’ve built a superhero team that can help our portfolio companies with any problem they encounter day to day.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say that any one failure stands out, but every day brings its own challenges. The way I’m able to keep going and to overcome obstacles is by making every opportunity a learning opportunity, both positive and negative. If a process doesn’t work, we fix the process. If a strategy is resoundingly successful, we try to replicate it so all of our portfolio companies can benefit from the lesson.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As a venture capitalist I’m always on the lookout for unique projects and ideas to invest in. The hottest topic in tech right now is Artificial Intelligence, so find a unique way to incorporate AI into existing tech to make it 10x better or develop a unique data set that the larger tech companies like Google and Microsoft do not have.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Given the industry we invest in, the best money you can spend on yourself relative to our industry is on a proper cold storage crypto hardware wallet. I really like Tangem’s offering to keep your hard earned funds safe!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Shima Capital uses a messaging service called Telegram. It’s free to use (with a paid Premium option) and it keeps most of our internal and external communications in one easy-to-use place. It has texting functionality with added features like folders to keep conversations organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham is an obvious classic that’s very relevant to my day to day life. Great place to start.
What is your favorite quote?
Speaking of intelligent investors, Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most famous and successful investor, once said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” At Shima Capital, we try to be the ones also providing value for our founders so that we can increase positive investment outcomes.
- In venture capital, as with any industry, invest in your team as thoroughly as you invest in your portfolio companies.
- Always learn from everything you do; you can take positive lessons from positive experiences, too.
- Have a healthy balance in your life across relationships with your mind, body, family, friends and colleagues.
Interview with Adrian Tobey, Founder of Groundhogg: Insights on Entrepreneurship and Marketing Automation
Table of Contents
- What inspired you to start Groundhogg?
- What makes Groundhogg different from other marketing automation tools?
- How do you think marketing automation will evolve in the next few years?
- What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
- What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?
- How do you balance your personal life and work as an entrepreneur?
- What are your future plans for Groundhogg?
- Closing Thoughts
Adrian Tobey is a marketing automation expert and the founder of Groundhogg, a WordPress plugin that allows businesses to automate their marketing and sales processes. With over 10 years of experience in digital marketing, Adrian has helped numerous businesses grow and scale their operations through automation. In this interview, Adrian shares his insights on entrepreneurship, marketing automation, and the future of digital marketing.
What inspired you to start Groundhogg?
I’ve always been passionate about digital marketing and helping businesses grow through automation. When I saw how expensive and complex some of the existing marketing automation tools were, I realized that there was an opportunity to create a more affordable and user-friendly solution that would be accessible to businesses of all sizes. That’s what inspired me to start Groundhogg.
What makes Groundhogg different from other marketing automation tools?
Groundhogg is unique in that it’s a WordPress plugin, which means it’s seamlessly integrated with the WordPress platform. This makes it easy for businesses to use and manage their marketing and sales processes without having to switch between multiple tools. Additionally, we’ve focused on creating a user-friendly interface that doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise, making it accessible to a wider range of businesses.
How do you think marketing automation will evolve in the next few years?
I think we’ll see a greater emphasis on personalization and segmentation in marketing automation. Businesses will need to tailor their messaging and communications to specific segments of their audience in order to stand out and engage with their customers. Additionally, we’ll see more automation tools that are specifically designed for smaller businesses, as these businesses become increasingly reliant on automation to manage their operations.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
My advice would be to focus on creating value for your customers. Don’t get too caught up in the latest trends or try to replicate the success of others. Instead, focus on creating a product or service that solves a real problem for your customers and provides them with tangible value. If you can do that, success will come.
What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as an entrepreneur is managing my time effectively. There are always so many things that need to be done, and it can be difficult to prioritize and stay focused. To overcome this, I’ve had to develop strong time management skills and learn how to delegate tasks effectively. I’ve also learned to say no to things that don’t align with my goals and priorities, in order to stay focused on what’s most important.
How do you balance your personal life and work as an entrepreneur?
Balancing personal life and work as an entrepreneur can be a challenge, but it’s important to make time for both. I make sure to schedule in time for my family and personal hobbies. I also prioritize my work tasks based on their level of urgency and importance. I’ve found that setting boundaries and being intentional about how I spend my time has been key to achieving a healthy work-life balance.
What are your future plans for Groundhogg?
We’re always looking for ways to improve and expand Groundhogg. In the near future, we’re planning on releasing a range of new features and integrations that will make the platform even more powerful and user-friendly. We’re also looking to expand our team and grow our customer base, in order to continue providing value to businesses of all sizes.
Adrian Tobey is a true expert in the field of marketing automation, and his passion for helping businesses grow is evident in everything he does. If you’re interested in learning more about Adrian Tobey and Groundhogg, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.
Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Alex Malebranche
Interview with Alex Malebranche, Insights on Entrepreneurship in the Aviation Industry
Table of Contents
- What inspired you to start PlaneAhead?
- How did you validate the business idea and find your first customers?
- What challenges have you faced as a founder, and how have you overcome them?
- How do you differentiate your services from private jet charter industry competitors?
- What is your vision for the future of PlaneAhead, and how do you plan to achieve it?
- What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the aviation industry?
- How do you balance your work and personal life as a founder and CEO?
- Closing Paragraph
Alex Malebranche is the founder and CEO of PlaneAhead, a company that provides private jet charter services. He has a degree in finance and marketing from the University of Miami and started his career in the financial sector before transitioning to the aviation industry. The passion of Alex Malebranche for aviation and entrepreneurship has led him to build a successful business that caters to a high-end clientele. In this interview, he shares his journey as a founder, the challenges he’s faced, and his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
What inspired you to start PlaneAhead?
My love for aviation and entrepreneurship inspired me to start PlaneAhead. I’ve been passionate about airplanes and flying since I was a child. I started flying lessons when I was 16 and got my private pilot’s license at 18. After working in finance for a few years, I realized that my true calling was in aviation. I saw an opportunity to combine my passion with my business skills and create a company that provides a better experience for private jet travelers.
How did you validate the business idea and find your first customers?
To validate the business idea, I conducted extensive market research and engaged in conversations with prospective customers. I attended aviation industry events and trade shows to network and get feedback on my concept. I also reached out to existing private jet charter companies and learned about their operations and customer needs. Once I felt confident that there was a demand for my service. I started reaching out to potential customers through my personal network and online advertising. Our first customers were primarily referrals from friends and family. But as we grew, we started getting more business from corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals.
What challenges have you faced as a founder, and how have you overcome them?
As a founder, I’ve faced many challenges, including raising capital, building a team, and navigating regulatory hurdles. One of the biggest challenges was building a brand and establishing credibility in a competitive industry. To overcome this, I focused on providing exceptional customer service and building relationships with customers and industry partners. I also invested in marketing and PR to raise awareness of our brand and services. Another challenge was managing growth and scaling the business without sacrificing quality. We overcame this by hiring experienced professionals and implementing processes and systems to streamline our operations.
How do you differentiate your services from private jet charter industry competitors?
We differentiate ourselves from competitors by offering a personalized and customized experience for our clients. We take the time to understand their needs and preferences and tailor our services to meet their specific requirements. Our investment in technology and data analytics enables us to offer our customers real-time information and valuable insights. Additionally, we have a network of industry partners and suppliers that allows us to offer unique amenities and services, such as in-flight catering and ground transportation.
What is your vision for the future of PlaneAhead, and how do you plan to achieve it?
Our vision for PlaneAhead is to become the leading provider of private jet charter services globally. We plan to achieve this by expanding our network of aircraft and destinations, investing in technology to enhance the customer experience, and building strong relationships with our clients and industry partners. We also plan to focus on sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint by investing in eco-friendly technology and initiatives.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the aviation industry?
My advice would be to gain as much knowledge and experience in the industry as possible before starting a business. This could include working for an aviation company, getting a pilot’s license, or attending industry events and conferences. It’s also important to do your research and understand the market and competition. Finally, you should be prepared to work hard and be persistent, as building a successful business takes time and effort.
How do you balance your work and personal life as a founder and CEO?
Balancing work and personal life can be a challenge as a founder and CEO, but it’s important to prioritize self-care and time with loved ones. I try to maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries and delegating tasks to my team. I also make time for hobbies and activities that help me relax and recharge, such as traveling and flying.
Alex Malebranche’s passion for aviation and entrepreneurship has led him to build a successful business that provides exceptional private jet charter services. His journey as a founder has not been without its challenges. Still, his dedication to building a strong brand and providing personalized service has set PlaneAhead apart from competitors in the industry. Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from his experience and commitment to excellence. You can follow Alex Malebranche on his LinkedIn profile or visit PlaneAhead’s website to learn more about their services.
Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Omer Molad
Interview with Omer Molad: Insights on Building a Startup, the Future of Hiring, and Staying Creative
Table of Contents
- What inspired you to start Vervoe?
- How does Vervoe differentiate itself from other hiring platforms?
- Can you tell us about a significant challenge you faced while building Vervoe and how you overcame it?
- What advice do you have for other startup founders?
- What is your vision for the future of the hiring process?
- Can you share a project or initiative that you’re currently working on that excites you?
- What do you do outside of work to recharge and stay creative?
- Closing Paragraph
Omer Molad is the co-founder of Vervoe, an AI-powered hiring platform that helps employers hire the best candidates for their open positions. Prior to starting Vervoe, Omer Molad worked in marketing and analytics for various tech companies, including Waze and Google. He has also served as a mentor and advisor for several startups.
In this interview, Omer Molad shares insights about his experience as a startup founder and his vision for the future of the hiring process.
What inspired you to start Vervoe?
My co-founder David Weinberg and I were both frustrated with the traditional hiring process, which often relies heavily on resumes and subjective evaluations. We wanted to create a more objective and efficient way for employers to assess candidates, and we saw an opportunity to do that with AI. Our vision was to build a platform that could evaluate candidates’ skills and abilities through real-world simulations, rather than relying solely on their past experience or education. That’s how Vervoe was born.
How does Vervoe differentiate itself from other hiring platforms?
One of the key ways we differentiate ourselves is by using AI to automate the hiring process as much as possible. Our platform can evaluate candidates’ skills and abilities in real-time, which means employers can get a more accurate and objective assessment of their capabilities. Additionally, we provide a library of customizable assessments that are tailored to specific job roles, so employers can ensure they’re evaluating the right skills for each position. Finally, we provide a candidate management system that streamlines the entire hiring process from start to finish, which saves employers time and resources.
Can you tell us about a significant challenge you faced while building Vervoe and how you overcame it?
One of the biggest challenges we faced early on was getting the word out about Vervoe and convincing employers to try our platform. We knew we had a great product, but it was difficult to break through the noise and get noticed. To overcome this, we focused on building relationships with potential customers and showcasing our product through demos and case studies. We also leveraged content marketing and social media to raise awareness about Vervoe and the benefits of our platform. Over time, we were able to build a strong customer base and grow the business.
What advice do you have for other startup founders?
My advice would be to stay focused on your vision and don’t get sidetracked by distractions or noise from the outside world. Building a startup is hard, and there will be many ups and downs along the way. But if you believe in what you’re doing and stay committed to your goals, you’ll be able to weather any storm. It’s also important to be adaptable and open to feedback from customers and the market. Listen to what people are telling you, and be willing to pivot your strategy if necessary. Finally, surround yourself with a strong team of people who share your vision and are committed to helping you succeed.
What is your vision for the future of the hiring process?
Our vision is to make the hiring process more objective, efficient, and fair for everyone involved. We believe that AI has the potential to revolutionize hiring by providing a more accurate assessment of candidates’ skills and abilities. We also think that the traditional resume-based approach will eventually become obsolete and that employers will rely more on real-world simulations and other objective measures to evaluate candidates. Ultimately, our goal is to create a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to showcase their skills and get hired based on merit, not just their credentials.
Can you share a project or initiative that you’re currently working on that excites you?
We’re currently working on a project to integrate Vervoe with other HR technology platforms, such as applicant tracking systems and video interviewing tools. This will allow us to offer a more seamless and integrated experience for our customers and their candidates. We’re also exploring ways to use machine learning to analyze candidate data and provide insights that can help employers make better hiring decisions. I’m excited about the potential of these projects to make a real impact in the hiring industry.
What do you do outside of work to recharge and stay creative?
I’m a big believer in the power of exercise and mindfulness to recharge and stay creative. I try to work out regularly and make time for activities like hiking and yoga. I also make a point of disconnecting from work and technology for a few hours each day, whether it’s by reading a book or spending time with family and friends. Finally, I find that travel is a great way to gain new perspectives and stay inspired, so I try to take at least one big trip each year.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Omer. Where can our readers learn more about you and Vervoe?
You can learn more about Vervoe and Omer Molad. You can also follow me on LinkedIn at for updates on our latest projects and initiatives.
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