Speakers Mentors

FailCon 2013 Speakers

Jessica Bruder


BIGGEST FAIL: Trying to live in Portland. For 18 months I put up with that cloud cover. Then I had to bail.

Jessica Bruder wrote "The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship" for Inc. magazine's September issue. She teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and is the author of "Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man." In previous lives, she was a senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and wrote Start, a New York Times blog on new ventures. She lives with a spaniel named Max in Brooklyn, N.Y. and on the Internets at jessicabruder.com.

Gleb Budman

Co-Founder & CEO, Backblaze

Gleb Budman is CEO and co-founder of Backblaze, a leading online backup service that automatically backs up unlimited computer data for $5 per month per computer. Gleb bootstrapped Backblaze to millions in revenue and profitability. Previously, Gleb led the product team from pre-funding through acquisition at Kendara and MailFrontier, and founded three prior companies. He received his MBA from Berkeley’s Haas School and has been a speaker at GigaOm Structure, Ignite: Lean Startup, FailCon, CloudCon; profiled by Inc. and Forbes; a mentor for Teens in Tech; and holds four patents on security.

Jon Crawford

CEO, Storenvy

Jon is the founder and CEO of Storenvy. With a background in engineering and design, Jon ran a web development shop in Kansas City, MO, before being struck by the unnecessary pain involved in setting up online stores. Jon spends his day-to-day jumping among product, engineering and “CEO stuff” while trying to talk to customers as much as possible. He is passionate about making complex things simpler, and his current objective is to turn regular people into successful online merchants via Storenvy. Jon lives across the street from the “Full House houses” on Alamo Square Park in San Francisco with his wife, daughter and little white dog.

Michael A. Freeman, M.D

Psychiatrist and Executive Coach

BIGGEST FAIL: As a CEO, I failed to respond quickly enough to a rapid consolidation and rollup of our customer base.

Dr. Freeman is a psychiatrist, psychologist, consultant and former CEO who serves on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. His clinical practice is focused on the treatment of people with mood and anxiety disorders, and his consulting practice is focused on entrepreneurship and performance enhancement coaching for leaders and key contributors. Dr. Freeman’s research addresses the mental health issues faced by entrepreneurs. He has held CEO and C-level leadership positions in several public and private sector health care organizations.

Anik Guha

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Anik Guha, a senior associate in the San Francisco office, is a member of the Emerging Companies Group, which advises emerging companies and venture capital firms. Mr. Guha represents emerging growth technology companies and venture capital firms. Prior to receiving his J.D. from New York University School of Law, Mr. Guha taught English in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Jonathan Hoyt

Software Developer, GitHub

Jonathan Hoyt is a successful entrepreneur and professional programmer. Hoyt was 14 when he borrowed $10,000 and started his first business, which promptly failed. Seventeen years, 3 businesses, one successful exit, and one successful acquisition later Hoyt is working at GitHub solving problems for their business teams.

Julia Hu

Founder & CEO, Lark

Julia Hu is the co-founder and CEO of lark technologies. Named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative CE Companies in the World by Fast Company, lark is a mobile and wireless technology company that uses behavior change to personally coach people to feel great. She has an engineering degree from Stanford University and half an MBA from MIT Sloan (a dropout, though they were kind enough to make lark a case study). Earlier this year, Julia was recognized by Inc Magazine as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30.

Miki Johnson

CEO, Parsecco

BIGGEST FAIL: Realizing too late the difference between a get-big-fast startup and a "lifestyle" company. Turns out, I wanted the latter.

Miki Johnson: grew up on a hippy farm in Ohio; lived in Costa Rica after high school; studied journalism at Northwestern; was a senior editor at American Photo Magazine in NYC; started an online photo magazine for a website company in SF; consulted with creative professionals about online personal branding; started and ended a startup in Chicago to improve creative collaboration; currently is a program manager for a small, social-focused marketing firm in SF; likes watching humans and asking hard questions.

Dale Larson

Executive Coach, Startup Happiness

Dale Larson is a veteran of ten businesses as a founder or early employee (variously hacker, hustler, and CEO). In those roles, and as a consultant and advisor, Dale has helped build and bring to market hundreds of products and services over the past 30 years. Now a full-time Executive Coach, he works with many venture-backed tech startup CEOs. He helps high-performing leaders to be happier and more successful in all aspects of their work and life; continuing to learn and grow while they build outstanding products, teams and businesses. His second book is forthcoming: Inner Game of the Startup CEO: Success Secrets of Top Silicon Valley Leaders

Victor Lombardi

Founder & Author, Nickel

BIGGEST FAIL: Not joining Amazon.com back in 1995 when I had the chance.

Victor Lombardi is an award-winning product designer, contributing to over 40 Internet projects since 1994. His writing has appeared in several publications including Fast Company and Interactions on topics ranging from generating concepts for new products to website evolution over time. His new book is Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures. Victor earned a master's degree in music technology from New York University and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Rutgers University. He co-founded the Information Architecture Institute and the Overlap conference, and has taught design at the Parsons School of Design and the Pratt Institute.

Mike McDerment

CEO, FreshBooks

Mike McDerment is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, planet earth’s #1 cloud accounting specialist for small business owners. In 2003, Mike built FreshBooks for his design firm, then moved into his parent's basement for 3.5 years to get FreshBooks off the ground. Since then over 5 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing and collect billions of dollars. Mike and his team dedicate themselves to executing extraordinary experiences everyday for small business owners who want to focus on the work they love, instead of on their paperwork.

Anamaria Nino-Murcia

Entrepreneur Coach, Foothold Coaching

BIGGEST FAIL: Directing marketing at my last startup to focus on operations and branding details, instead of on scaling awareness and converting sales.

Anamaria Nino-Murcia is an entrepreneur coach who works exclusively with startup-CEOs and other early-stage founders. She has coached Julia Hu (lark CEO/Founder) since 2011. Over the last two years, Anamaria has helped Julia stay sane amidst the crazy ups-and-downs of startup life, and grow as both an entrepreneur and leader. Anamaria founded Foothold Coaching on the belief that early-stage entrepreneurs—the scrappy revolutionaries on the front lines of business—should have access to the same professional coaching usually reserved for corporate executives.

Jason Shen

Co-Founder, RideJoy

BIGGEST LESSON: You will have lots of uncomfortable conversations with your cofounders. Every time I avoided one, I regretted it.

Jason Shen is the cofounder of Ridejoy, a Y Combinator backed startup that's helped tens of thousands of people share rides across the US and Canada. His blog The Art of Ass-Kicking has been featured in Vanity Fair, Mashable and Lifehacker. While at Stanford, he was the captain of an NCAA championship-winning gymnastics team — these days he more likely out for a run or doing a personal fitness challenge.

Jackson Solway

Co-Founder, Parsecco

BIGGEST FAIL: Assumed my co-founders wanted a VC-track startup. They actually wanted a small business, which I refused to hear until they suddenly quit.

Jackson is a startup guy with experience managing products in the consumer web and new media spaces. After a rocky period as a freelance photographer, he edited photos at McSweeney's, he founded Once Magazine in '10, and he cofounded Parsecco in '12. His initials are JCS, which, sadly, don't stand for Jesus Christ Superstar.

Marcy Swenson

Co-Founder, Startup Happiness

"Marcy Swenson is an executive coach who works with venture-backed tech startup founders. She loves to dig into the leadership, communication, and personal challenges facing leaders at high-growth companies. Prior to becoming a coach, she was a co-founder with multiple successful exits; at CPTH (Nasdaq), she built the technical team that led to IPO. Forbes names CPTH the fastest-growing high-tech company in the world in 1999, which explains her fascination with growth and its accompanying challenges."

FailCon 2013 Mentors

Misha Chellam

Topic: Staying Happy In The Face Of Chaos & Uncertainty

Misha has launched a range of different projects over the past 13 years including a rock band, a commercial real estate company, a startup accelerator, a medtech startup, a sports league, and a school. He's experienced varying degrees of success and failure in these endeavors but still enjoys the thrill of starting up.

Solana Crawford

User Experience Designer
Topic: Designing An Experience

Solana is a UX Designer, an entrepreneur, an influencer, an industry award winner and judge, and yes... an actor. A designer at the university, a user experience freak at heart and everything else just happens, she's the heart and soul of DaT and currently being hired as a UX Consultant or as interim Head of UX to help companies get jump started with the right foot, and with a higher chance of success.

Alexis Finch

Founder, JobTosser & GraphiteMind
Topic: How Drawing Dinos Improves Performance

Alexis is a self-described Defenestration Expert – often called a 'UX-er' or 'Product Person' – consulting for startups. Her job is to recognize and eliminate feature creep and zombie users, while using sketchnotes to make obfuscated ideas and complex problems relatable and actionable. Previously, she Co-Founded Parsecco, and was Founder / Creative Director of TyK. Alexis is also a UX mentor for WIMAccelerator and PariSoma, and teaches visual thinking workshops.

Janice Fraser

Co-Founder, Luxr
Topic: 4 Tricks for Getting Big Groups To Make Great Decisions Fast

Janice is one of America's leading experts on Lean Startup, having advised many successful companies including Task Rabbit, Lyft, and Sharethrough. She has twice been called to The White House to train administration staff on innovation, and her workshops have been sold out around the world. Luxr.co provides on-demand workshops from a wide range of startup coaches. The company also provides curriculum to top accelerators and has coached more than 50 Silicon Valley startups.

Jason Fraser

Co-Founder, Luxr
Topic: Define Success through Actionable Metrics

Jason is an ops guy and has done everything from managing phone systems to running production, fulfillment, and customer service for a venture funded startup. At Luxr, Jason manages business operations and leads the global business development strategy, working closely with accelerators and partners to ensure that Luxr products support the growing ranks of entrepreneurs worldwide.

Michael A. Freeman, M.D.

Psychiatrist & Executive Coach
Topic: Emotional Support for Founders

Nathan Gold

Founder, The Demo Coach
Topic: The Pitch - Captivate An Audience in <30 Seconds

Nathan started The Demo Coach because he believed he could help other people learn to give more compelling and memorable presentations and product demos. Since then, he has coached people all around the world for high stakes opportunities and presentations for key-notes, sales meetings, board meetings, trade shows and venture capital fund raising. He is the speaking coach for FailCon 2013.

Rachel Ben Hamou

Founder, AgileImprov
Topic: Using Improv to Supercharge Your Learning

Rachel Ben Hamou is a British improviser, trainer and agile enthusiast. She has a blast using improv techniques to super-charge organizations like Riot Games who want to harness the deep and enduring value of play. When not training, she loves to tweet and blog about creativity, collaboration, improv, training and democratic businesses. @AgileImprov

Kyle Hill

Founder, HomeHero
Topic: Scaling with a Distribution Partner

Kyle is the founder/CEO at HomeHero, an online marketplace for in-home senior care (and portfolio company of Science Inc). Kyle has a web/graphic design background and was previously a founder at Flowtab, a mobile ordering and payments app for nightclubs and bars. Before Flowtab he was a UX engineer at Kaleazy Creative, a design firm specializing in web, print, SEO and ecommerce services. He stays highly involved with startups in the mobile payments, hospitality and health care industries

Steve Hoffman

Co-Founder, Founders Space
Topic: Avoid the Pitfalls & Mistakes of Raising Venture Capital

Steve Hoffman is a high tech serial entrepreneur and cofounder of Founders Space (http://www.FoundersSpace.com). As head of Founders Space, Hoffman has seen hundreds of startups deal with rapid growth, go through the fund raising process, and develop critical strategic relationships. He also spent nearly a year working inside one of the top VC firms on Sandhill Road, as his company was being incubated. He understands exactly how the decisions are made and where startups get stuck. Hoffman is also a founding member of the Academy of Television’s Interactive Media Group, was Chairman for the Producers Guild SF, and served on the Board of Governors for the New Media Council.

Matt Hunt

Founder & CEO, Stanford & Griggs
Topic: Creating A Failure Forum

Matt Hunt is the CEO and founder of strategy and innovation consulting firm Stanford & Griggs. With over 20 years of business and technology experience, he has demonstrated excellence in business strategy, innovation, and leadership development. During his time at retailer Best Buy Matt recognized how much easier it was for an organization to cover up their failed initiatives than to address them. In 2007, he started an internal initiative called the “Failure Forums” where leaders would share the lessons learned from their failures with the entire organization. The goal of this initiative was to recognize that failure was part of the innovation process and that only by actively addressing our failures could we ever hope to learn from them. Over the years Matt has gleaned some best practices for organizations wanting to implement their own version of the Failure Forums.

Dave Kashen

Leadership Coach, Unleashed
Topic: Building a Great Startup Culture

Dave is a Leadership Coach and Culture Development Consultant for Unleashed, the premier leadership development firm for startups. He spent the last five years partnering with CEOs and executive teams of the most promising, fast-growing, venture-funded technology startups to help them build successful, values-driven companies with strong, aligned cultures that bring out the best in their people.

Russell Klusas

Founder, Tradekraft
Topic: Keeping Your Team Motivated When Times Get Tough

Russ is the founder of Tradecraft, a school that trains smart people to fill traction-related roles at high-growth startups. He previously launched companies in a variety of verticals including: technology, real estate, manufacturing and sports. He has experienced the joys of entrepreneurial success and the sorrows of miserable failure, but has never lost his love for creating something out of nothing.

Diane Loviglio

Co-Founder & CEO, Share Some Style
Topic: Deciding When to Call It Quits

Diane is the CEO & Co-Founder of Share Some Style and a Resident Mentor at 500 Startups. She was the first qualitative UX Researcher at Mozilla, co-produced FailCon and co-founded a clean tech startup, Wattbot. She has freelanced as a user researcher for technology, consumer web and healthcare startups such as Authentic8, Bump, Cisco, Foodspotting, Splunk, and VMware. She received her Bachelors in Architecture and Anthropology from Carnegie Mellon University.

Stuart McFaul

President & Founder, SpiralGroup
Topic: Startup Marketing Mistakes… And How to Avoid Them

Stuart McFaul is the founder and president of Spiralgroup, a brand marketing firm that specializes in branding, public relations and social marketing. Built on more than 30 years of brand communications experience, Spiralgroup has served over 100 Fortune 50 to startup high-tech ventures in North America, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. The company has offices in San Francisco and Shanghai.

Anamaria Nino-Murcia

Executive Coach, Foothold Coaching
Topic: How To Resolve Tension With Your Co-Founder

Roger Royse

Founder, Royse Law Firm, PC
Topic: The Legal Mistakes That Could Kill Your Startup

ROGER is the founder of Royse Law Firm, PC, a business and tax law firm with offices in Northern and Southern California. Roger practices in the areas of corporate and securities law, domestic and international tax, mergers and acquisitions, and fund formation.

Kate Rutter

Founder, Intelleto
Topic: 3 Simple, visual ways to learn from your failures.

Kate is an entrepreneur-designer who companies and customers together through visual methods, lean strategies and user-centered design. Kate is Principal at Intelleto, where she creates visual explanations that make complex ideas simple, memorable and shareable. A rampant sketcher, she believes every person has a product idea that can be made great and drive a sustaining livelihood.

Robert Siegel

General Partner, XSeed Capital
Topic: How To Conduct Yourself When It All Goes Off The Rails

Robert Siegel (@robsiegel) is a General Partner at XSeed Capital and faculty at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Prior to XSeed, he was an executive at GE Security, Pixim (acquired by Sony), and Intel. He has co-authored several articles for California Management Review, and served as lead researcher for Andy Grove’s book "Only the Paranoid Survive."

Shervin Talieh

Co-Founder/CEO, Drumbi
Topic: Authentic Customer Conversation for Building Product

Hi. I'm Shervin. I like to solve problems and build things. But most of all, I love to meet new people and share ideas. Over the past 5 years, I have been focused on the changing nature of consumer-to-busininess communications, and how mobile and social are changing the way we discover, engage and transact with brands.

Hilary Weber

Founder, Opportu Startup Leadership
Topic: Are Your Leadership Techniques Setting You Up To Fail?

Hilary Weber is passionate about startups because they will shape the future of our world. Her mission is to “do whatever it takes” to enable them to grow and thrive. She is a Berkeley-Haas MBA, seasoned business leader, entrepreneur, leadership consultant and experienced professional coach.

Justin Wilcox

Lifestyle Entrepreneur, Customer Development Labs
Topic: How to Choose, Find, Interview & Understand your Customers

Justin left a cozy gig at Microsoft to start his first company – the wrong way. After losing piles of money, and years of his life, he’s now found success practicing the science of entrepreneurship. Justin mentors for Startup Weekend NEXT, Founders Institute, and a number of accelerators around the world.