Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Kathryn Gould, Co-founder of Foundation Capital: A New Opportunity When at a Crossroads

Kathryn Gould sat smiling and engaged, ready to respond to the questions posed by Mike Malone, a seasoned tech industry author and journalist. Gould, a well-known Valley entrepreneur and one of the first women venture capitalists is now enjoying semi-retirement at her country ranch home. She is the co-founder of Foundation Capital and started her career working at Oracle. It was there where she learned many of the foundational skills that would prove useful throughout her career such as how to sell. A firm believer in the idea that “chance favors the prepared mind” she was always open to opportunities.

One of these opportunities presented itself after a less than cordial encounter with Oracle founder, Larry Ellison, in which Gould was asked to leave the company. Realizing that unlike in times past, Ellison was serious, she found herself at a difficult crossroads. Rather than taking this as a setback she saw an opportunity to begin her own executive search firm, leveraging the connections she had made working at Oracle for many years. Having successfully placed thousands, she eventually decided to create Foundation Capital so that she could begin to invest in these quality people she so carefully sourced and placed.

Looking back upon her journey thus far Gould reflected upon her investment philosophy. Proudly, she recounts that rather than investing with the idea that maybe one out of every ten companies would be successful, she genuinely believed that every one of her investments was going to be a winner, and many have. It was not an easy task to found a new investment firm and required determination and hard work. Gould firmly believes, “it’s not the calls you take, it’s the calls you make.” It is this attitude that has enabled Gould to carve out an illustrious entrepreneurial career as one of the most respected and prominent women in Silicon Valley.

By Chad Kamisugi

For more information on ETL, visit our website here


Alon Cohen, Co-Founder of Houzz: Realizing the American Dream

Alon Cohen, an immigrant who came to the U.S. in his thirties, first asked the room, “How many of you were born outside of the United States?” To everyone’s surprise, half of the students in NVIDIA raised their hands. In a room filled with people who identify as immigrants, entrepreneurs, or in some cases, both, Alon’s story was particularly inspiring – a vivid example of the American Dream.

Alon worked at eBay before taking a risk and starting his own company with his wife, Adi Tatarko. It didn’t make much sense to leave a stable job while raising a family, but Alon identified a problem that he wanted to solve. When discussing this transition, he smirked and said, “Of course I had trouble explaining it to my mom.”

Sometimes the most rational decision isn’t the best one.

A few years back, Alon and Adi wanted to remodel their traditional ranch house and were surprised to find that there was no efficient way of doing so. They spent hours at Borders shuffling through dozens of books and magazines to combine ideas and come up with a vision for their home. In the 21stcentury, when everything is streamlined, from online grocery shopping to connecting with someone who lives 10,000 miles away, this was an anomaly. Alon wanted to make the process of home remodeling easier. His motto is to try and “make complicated things simple.”

6 years later, his company Houzz, is disrupting the interior design industry and is one of the hottest startups in the Bay Area. Alon explains that there were many instances when he hit a wall along the way, but he had to keep moving forward. He bootstrapped through every hiccup. Although he knew that raising money and monetizing where important parts of the process, he couldn’t stress the value of the team enough. Alon and Adi personally interview every potential employee who walks through the door in order to decide whether they are the right fit for the company’s culture. His two key pieces of advice: 1) pick the people you work with carefully and 2) no matter how talented you are, work incredibly hard.

Alon’s story shows that there is no secret sauce to starting your own company. Sometimes, you just have to pinpoint a problem, take a leap of faith, and be persistent in trying to solve it. Whether you are oozing with Silicon Valley ideals, or feel like an outsider in this little bubble, you have the ability to make something complicated in this world just a little simpler.

For the full lineup of ETL, visit the website

By Zabreen Khan

Architecture as Vehicle for Expression: Jeanne Gang at ETL

If Jeanne Gang were a bird, she would live in this kind of nest.

She flips to an image of suspended, teardrop shaped forms hanging from the branches of a tree. The design of these nests is perfect: they push the boundaries of their material, and they create community.

Though unorthodox, this was probably a clear window into her thought process and a great way to begin the talk. How do we experience the spaces around us? How do we elevate space and craft it to achieve an ideal? She is a slim woman with dark hair, simple clothes, and an even voice. She is also a MacArthur Fellow and the founder and driving force behind Studio Gang Architects. Studio Gang has reimagined skyscrapers, boathouses, schools, and lakefronts. The Folsom tower rises and ripples on the San Francisco skyline, and the Arcus Center for Justice and Leadership is a tangible representation of the configurations that break down social barriers. Each work is the physical manifestation of an idea, and showcases remarkable intelligence, sensitivity, and creativity.

We don’t often think of bird nests as the greatest achievement in user-centered design, nor can most of us wrap our minds around manipulating physical space to evoke an idea. But as potential creators there is something delicate and definite that we can take away from Jeanne Gang’s architecture.

Both a bird’s nest and a building can be sublime.

By Vivian Hare
Photo: Zabreen Khan.

BASES Challenge KickOff…And We’re Live!

The BASES Challenge season has officially sprung into action.

BASES Challenge is Stanford’s oldest and largest student startup competition. As an annual startup competition, Challenge awards funding to aspiring Stanford entrepreneurs. Students and alumni enter their business or social venture ideas to compete for $100,000 in prize money and developmental opportunities. The application process begins with an electronic written application and culminates in two rounds of live judging.

Naturally some might find this process intimidating, perhaps even unattainable. As sophomore Simar Mangat spoke at the event on Monday, he described being a Freshman last year with little formal knowledge of entrepreneurship, but simply found some friends, united over a fiery passion, and just went for it. His novice team actually went on to win Challenge.

And, it’s true. BASES hopes this opportunity is a learning process in itself—one that anybody and everybody can get immersed in with innumerable chances along the way to make industry connections, get your name out there, develop closer bonds with fellow student entrepreneurs, become inspired, and, of course, strive for that ultimate gold at the end of the rainbow that could truly kickstart your venture.

In parallel with BASES’ goal to lengthen the reach of the competition to a wider audience, a couple new initiatives have been launched this year. Perhaps the most exciting is the initiative, BASES Funds. In the words of BASES Co-President, Brandon Garcia,”BASES Fund is a new initiative we’re piloting with the objective of eliminating financial constraints from students’ endeavors to work on their own projects. The fund seeks to distribute grants to students doing legitimate work. All we ask for in exchange is regular updates to our blog to keep the wider community in the loop about the technologies being developed.” There is also a greater chance for social ventures to take home money with this year’s altered Challenge prize structure.

As the evening concluded, those at the Kickoff last night got to hear some frank advice from Michael Baum, CEO of Founder.org and entrepreneurial enthusiast who left the audience with 8 thought-provoking tips for any entrepreneur to keep in mind while starting a startup. He described the lifestyle of an entrepreneur as something like no other than a lifestyle that “ is so worth it in the end.” He encouraged everyone in the audience to leverage the innumerable resources Stanford University has to offer while we are still students here—from the Maker’s Lab to opportunities like BASES Challenge to meet industry professionals to, of course, the rich diversity of minds we have the opportunity to be surrounded by everyday. So, why not take a chance?

Garcia and Michael Longoria, Director of Challenge agree that “Kickoff brought together future participants, past winners, and industry professionals to share their excitement for the BASES Challenge competition. A great keynote by Michael Baum, awesome demos from incredible Challenge alumni, and a great audience contributed to a successful 2015 launch of Stanford’s largest and oldest venture competition.” And with that, here’s to another season of BASES Challenge pitches, creativity, uncertainty, memories, and passion.

As Mangat encourages, “you won’t get the chance to go through something like BASES Challenge again. The timing is never “perfect” so even if you’re on the fence…just go for it!”

Apply to BASES Challenge!

Want more specifics about the prize structure? Find it here

Curious about BASES Fund. Apply here!

BASES Challenge Timeline

Jan 19: Applications go live

Mar 07: Applications due at 11:59pm

Apr 09 – Apr 10: Initial Judging Round

Apr 12 – May 1: Workshops + Office Hours

May 08: Finale Event

By Divya Saini

BASES Startup Career Fair – 79 Companies. 900+ Students

Last Thursday, the BASES Startup Career Fair attracted 79 companies, featuring up and coming startups like Travelnuts to more established companies like Intuit. From 11am to 4 pm, over 900 students arrived at the lawn between Gates and Mudd to seek summer opportunities and even permanent positions with premier companies in the valley.

“The BASES Startup Career Fair is a great way to get yourself out there and find new opportunities,” said freshman Isabela Becerra. “Although this is my first career fair, and I didn’t know what to expect, there’s so much energy. I’m having a great time.”


Having a lot of freshman in attendance was a new highlight in this year’s career fair. Although upperclassmen typically compose a majority of the demographic, many underclassmen have already started looking for summer opportunities.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by the number of freshman here. It’s great to see so many underclassmen interested in startups even early on,” said BASES Co-President Andrea Sy.

Sy also noted that this year, there were a lot of startups present that wanted to disrupt older industries like healthcare and construction.

“It’s fascinating to see what types of companies come to the BASES Startup Career Fair each year. I think it’s interesting to see how well the change in industry focus of attending startups correlate with the changing entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Sy.

From a company’s standpoint, many were excited to be exposed to the incredible pipeline of talent: Stanford students. Shay Fidel, Stanford alumnus and head of growth operations at Plan Grid, “loves how Stanford fosters entrepreneurship,” in its students and “is trying to incorporate this in Plan Grid’s culture.” On the other hand, Oracle recruiter Amanda Johnson notes that “Stanford students are from so many different backgrounds,” so it makes her job “easier and exciting.”

“The BASES startup career fair was a great opportunity to engage with passionate students and get them excited about or mission. I love how Stanford students are both entrepreneurial and technically inclined,” said Upstart CTO Jonathan Eng.

After talking to a wide variety of companies, many students walked out feeling satisfied, some even getting interviews immediately afterward.

“After talking to a wide range of companies today, I already received an email about a potential opportunity. This event was truly worthwhile,” said freshman Natalie Ng.

For those of you who couldn’t attend the event, the startup career fair talent portal is still open for you to submit your resume! Click here. 

Complete list of all companies at the event can be found here

By Valerie Huynh

Government for the People, by the People

We are fairly wrapped in Silicon Valley culture–striving to be the best and solve the hardest, most interesting problems. Jen Pahlka’s talk is a startling reminder that simple clarity of thought is all that is really required to enact widespread change. Pahlka’s experience with government agencies gives her a clear picture of the problems that were produced when their complex, archaic philosophies were applied to technical solutions. In many cases, resources aren’t lacking, but rather the fault lies in the structure that is meant to distribute them to those in need.

Whether those resources are answers to simple questions about getting your Driver’s License in Hawaii, or actual physical food that is being held from you because of a problem with your CalFresh account, the resources exist. What Pahlka and her team of Code for America programmers do seems like something close to heroism. In what would be considered a blink of an eye in government time, Hawaii’s practically unusable government site became a place where simple questions could be simply and reliably answered. Similarly, CalFresh’s interface was cleaned and beautified until it was beyond recognition, and thousands of hungry citizens gained access to a consistent source of food. But Pahlka reminds us that the work that Code for America is involved in does not require superhuman talent, but rather simple design, clean code, and common sense.  Streamlined, intelligently designed technical solutions allocate resources were they should be allocated. With that in mind, heroism has never seemed so attainable.

By Vivian Hare

Coming Up This Quarter in BASES

At the heart of Stanford entrepreneurship is BASES. We are constantly working to provide unique opportunities to meet the best minds of the Valley and develop the professional skills necessary to become an entrepreneur. We are kicking off the year with some exciting events, and we would like to take a moment to share the highlights of this quarter with you.

BASES Career Fair


Polish up your resume for the largest startup recruiting event at Stanford this Thursday, January 15 from 11 AM to 4pm on the lawn between Gates and Mudd Chemistry buildings. With more than 1200 attendees and 62 companies in 2014, the annual BASES Startup Career Fair is your chance to find a summer internship or network with the most innovative minds of the Valley. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with some of the fastest growing companies, including familiar faces such as Snapchat and Pebble. Submit your resume here. Need some tips? Check out this article on advice for attending a career fair.

After meeting passionate entrepreneurs this week, look forward to BASES Startup Lunches later in the quarter to continue developing these professional relationships.

BASES Challenge Kickoff


BASES Challenge is back with even more exciting opportunities to offer. If you are unfamiliar with BASES Challenge, it is our premier entrepreneurial competition that brings Stanford startups into the spotlight before industry leaders and investors. This year, Stanford-affiliated entrepreneurs will have a chance to compete for their share of the 100K in prize money and mentorship opportunities while gaining valuable networking opportunities, professional feedback, and immersion in a community of startups.

Not sold yet? To get more details, head over to our Kickoff on Monday, January 19th from 6:00-8:00 pm at Paul Brest Hall (RSVP here). The Kickoff will be headlined by our keynote speaker, Michael Baum, Founder & CEO of Founder.org. At the event, you can also interact with past finalists, meet our VC sponsors, and potentially find your own team with which to compete. Food is provided!


This year, we are introducing Stanford’s first national hackathon. TreeHacks is gathering 500 of the most talented programmers, designers, tinkerers, and creators and bringing them together for 36 hours of pure creativity and collaboration. This capstone event will take place from Feb 20th-22nd, and is guaranteed to be a memorable experience for everyone that partakes.

Applications and registration will remain open for Stanford students until January 25th, so grab your sleeping bag and your hacking arsenal and register today.


The new quarter brings new stories to the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders (ETL) speaker series co-hosted by BASES and Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP). This quarter’s diverse lineup of speakers includes Shah Selbe, National Geographic Explorer, and John Collison, co-founder of Stripe. Stay updated on the blog for spotlights about the upcoming speakers! Check out the full lineup for the quarter here.

Enroll in ETL this quarter and engage with passionate leaders in business, finance, technology, and philanthropy on Wednesdays, 4:15pm – 5:30pm in NVIDIA Auditorium.

These are just some of the events that BASES will be running this winter, so stay on the lookout and be sure to keep up with BASES events as the quarter rolls along.

By Kameron Riley Butler and Vincent Chen