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The Protagonist

Hugh & Crye

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The Protagonist
The Protagonist

The Protagonist

Hugh & Crye

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The Protagonist is a weekly podcast featuring interviews with founders and CEOs who champion change. Listen and be inspired as they swap stories from the field with host Pranav Vora, founder of Hugh & Crye.

Latest Episodes

Ep 14: Building The Netflix of Stock Video Footage With Joel Holland of VideoBlocks

Joel Holland, founder of VideoBlocks, talks about establishing a Netflix-style, members only site for stock video, cultivating office culture around both long and short term goals and weighing the intangibles behind successful venture funding. Joel, a Washington DC area native, started VideoBlocks as a Junior in high school when he began selling burned DVDs of self-produced DC attractions and monuments footage. In 2003, he deferred enrollment to Babson College for one year to travel the United States, shoot video and lay the seeds for Video Blocks growth. Using his undergraduate education, Joel pushed the company towards a subscription based model that quickly exploded in popularity. With 34 million downloads, 100,000 users, and over 10 million in venture funding, Video Blocks continues to grow and recently expanded into stock music and graphics. In this episode, we talk to Joel about the VideoBlocks concept emerging from an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the fear associated ...

69 MIN2015 SEP 22
Comments
Ep 14: Building The Netflix of Stock Video Footage With Joel Holland of VideoBlocks

Ep 13: Growing beyond the kitchen to create a lifestyle brand with Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto

Erik Bruner-Yang, owner and head chef of DC Based Restaurants Toki Underground and Maketto, talks about finding his place among the DC food scene, celebrating the importance of the neighborhood ramen shop and expanding his brand to something beyond the kitchen. Erik, a celebrated Washington DC chef, began his District career as the General Manger of Sticky Rice in 2008. Having worked in restaurants since the age of 15, Erik ventured out two years later to sign the lease for a small, second story space on H Street that would eventually become Toki Underground. Since opening Toki, Erik has been named a finalist for a James Beard award and opened Maketto Marketplace and Honeycomb Grocer. Completed this past April, Maketto creatively blends food, coffee and retail into a large, multi level space made possible through communal investment on FundRise. In this episode, we talk to Erik about the bootstrap effort it took to get Toki off the ground, both the generational and cultural inspirat...

44 MIN2015 AUG 19
Comments
Ep 13: Growing beyond the kitchen to create a lifestyle brand with Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto

Ep 12: Using data and analytics to disrupt legislation and regulation with Tim Hwang of FiscalNote

Tim Hwang, founder of FiscalNote, talks about creating a critical product for every office and organization, fostering a transparent political and legal system and exploring new avenues for corporate growth. Tim, an internet entrepreneur and politician, began FiscalNote through an accelerator program during his final year at Princeton during the Summer of 2013. His work founding the National Youth Association and serving on the board of the Board of Education for the Montgomery Public School System helped Tim to identify a void in the public's understanding of legislative decisions and implications. From working out of a Motel 6 for three months to securing funding from Mark Cuban, Tim has grown FiscalNote into a robust legal analytics platform with seemingly endless opportunity for growth. In this episode, we talk to Tim about his personal interest in the intersection of Government and Technology as the impetus for starting FiscalNote, as well as his daily life and the nuances of r...

45 MIN2015 JUN 26
Comments
Ep 12: Using data and analytics to disrupt legislation and regulation with Tim Hwang of FiscalNote

Ep 11: How a school experiment became a way to fight food waste with Kavita Shukla of Fenugreen

Kavita Shukla, founder of social enterprise Fenugreen and creator of FreshPaper, talks about overcoming self-doubt as an entrepreneur, approaching partnerships thoughtfully, and the grassroots movement that brought FreshPaper to market. Fenugreen is an emerging social enterprise a decade in the making. Inspired by a trip to visit her grandmother in India, Kavita invented what would become the "ingenious" FreshPaper—sheets infused with organic spices that extend the life of fruits and vegetables. After struggling for years to find support in the non-profit world, Kavita took her creation to the local farmer's market. It was there that she learned that FreshPaper had a place in the U.S. and global markets as a tool to fight food spoilage and waste. Today, FreshPaper can be found in Whole Foods, Wegmans, and soon Bed Bath & Beyond stores across the country. In this episode, we talk to Kavita about the origins of FreshPaper, the challenges that almost caused her to give up on her inven...

39 MIN2015 JUN 10
Comments
Ep 11: How a school experiment became a way to fight food waste with Kavita Shukla of Fenugreen

Ep 10: Empowering health and wellness one meal at a time with Patrick Smith, Founder of Power Supply

Patrick Smith, co-founder ofPower Supply, talks about the intersection of health and wellness, authentic company values, and the criteria and motivations for West Coast expansion. Patrick Smith, a developer turned entrepreneur, beganPower Supplyas a personal exploration into the improvement of his own health and wellness. With no prior experience in the food service industry, Patrick leveraged his tech background to create a system of independent chefs committed to producing weekly offerings of highly nutritious, single-serving meals. With successful growth into the DC CrossFit, yoga, and broader fitness communities, Power Supply has now turned its attention to expansion into Los Angeles. In this episode, we talk to Patrick about his own motivation for starting Power Supply, and how his founding principles guide the simple company ethos of awesome chefs, ready-to-eat meals, and continued health and wellness. Listen here andsubscribeso you don't miss an episode! :: LINKS Find out mor...

45 MIN2015 MAY 14
Comments
Ep 10: Empowering health and wellness one meal at a time with Patrick Smith, Founder of Power Supply

Ep 9: The grit (and credit cards) it takes to build a truly disruptive start-up with Tobin Moore & Adam Vitarello of Optoro

Tobin Moore and Adam Vitarello, co-foundersofOptoro,talk about the evolution of their companyfromeBay resale shop ina Georgetown garageto one of the fastest growing start-ups revolutionizing the retail returns industry. More than 15% of all goods are returned or never sold, a costly problem faced by virtually all retailers, thanksin part to the ever-popular money-back guarantee. That's close to$500 million dollars in revenue lost, not countingthe amount of physicalwasteadded to landfills.Optoro, founded by childhood friends Tobin and Adam, is on amission to revolutionize the antiquated process andbecome the leading platform for returned and excess inventory. A client list oftop national brands, team of 200+employees, and recent$50M Series C Fund all indicate they're well on their way to achieving it. In this episode, we talk to Tobin and Adam about valuable guidancefrom bothpawn shop owners and angel investorsalike; the importance of building sustainablesupply chains; and how they a...

46 MIN2015 APR 16
Comments
Ep 9: The grit (and credit cards) it takes to build a truly disruptive start-up with Tobin Moore & Adam Vitarello of Optoro

Ep 8: Providing a tech-saavy solution to gourmet food delivery with Alan Clifford of Galley

Alan Clifford, co-founder of gourmet food delivery appGalleyand aformer LivingSocial exec, talks about balancing supply and demand as a young startup, approaching recruiting like a marketing problem, and bridging the gap between tech and food startup. Now the secondLivingSocial alumto be featured on The Protagonist,Alan Cliffordwas one of the first employees at the deals company almost six years ago (back when it was Hungry Machine). During his time there, Alan went from product manager to head ofHR to consumer marketing VP. Now, he's ready to forge his own path in the startup world as the co-founder ofGalley, a new gourmet food startup that delivers fresh, chef-prepared meals at affordable prices. While the company is relatively new, they've seen considerable growth over the last five months. In this episode, we talk to Alan about lessons learned at LivingSocial, and how Galley is redefining "delivery food" using quality, convenience, and incredible customer experience. :: LINKS Fi...

34 MIN2015 APR 3
Comments
Ep 8: Providing a tech-saavy solution to gourmet food delivery with Alan Clifford of Galley

Ep 7: Building startup ecosystems and hosting President Obama with Donna Harris, Co-Founder of 1776, a DC Incubator and Seed Fund

Donna Harris, co-founder of DCstartup incubatorand seed fund1776,talks about buildingstartup ecosystems across the US, the relationship between government andentrepreneurs, and the single skill all founders need. Donna Harris is the co-founder and co-CEO of1776,a startup incubator that introduces entrepreneurs from around the world to the political, social, and financial leaders of DC. Leaders likePresident Obama. She's also the founding member of the K Street Capital angel network, and actively invests in startups. Before starting 1776, she worked atStartup America Partnership, founded three companies which were ultimately bought, and raised more than $35 million in capital. It's safe to say she knows a thing or two about startup life. In this episode, we talk to Donna about how startups are an underutilized resource in DC, theChallenge Cupglobal competition, and how government and entrepreneurs can work together to rethink education, healthcare, andtransportation. :: LINKS Donna c...

39 MIN2015 MAR 12
Comments
Ep 7: Building startup ecosystems and hosting President Obama with Donna Harris, Co-Founder of 1776, a DC Incubator and Seed Fund

Ep 6: What it means to be a serial entrepreneur with Eric Koester, Founder of Main Street Genome and Zaarly

Eric Koester, founderofMain Street GenomeandZaarly,talks about serial entrepreneurship, how Zaarly went from idea to app in a matter of weeks, and his dedication to the small business economy. Eric Koesteris what many would call a "serial entrepreneur." He spent several years as an attorney at Cooley LLP working withhigh-growth startups before taking the leap himself. After a serendipitous 54 hours atStartup Weekend, he co-foundedZaarly, a marketplace to locate local small businesses and service providers which Fast Companynamed one of the "50 Most Innovative Companies in the World." Today, he's the founder and COO ofMain Street Genome, a technology startup developing tools for the small business economy. In this extended episode, we talk to Eric about what it means to be a Chief Operating Officer, the definition of "startup," his time at Zaarly, and aspirations for Main Street Genome. Listen here andsubscribeso you don't miss an episode! :: LINKS Eric can be reached at@erickoestera...

71 MIN2015 MAR 5
Comments
Ep 6: What it means to be a serial entrepreneur with Eric Koester, Founder of Main Street Genome and Zaarly

Ep 5: Pivoting from a marketplace business model with Sam Pollaro, CEO of Venga

Sam Pollaro, CEOofVenga,talks about pivoting his second startup, the yin and yang between co-founders, and learning the value of "hire slow, fire fast" the hard way. Sam Pollaro founded and sold a subscription service startup before companies like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club had even been born. While the acquisition was finalized, he already had his eye on his next venture: Venga, a CRM business intelligence platform that improves the relationship between restaurants and their guests. In this episode, we talk to Sam about the growth of DC's startup scene, giving100 percent, and joining astartup incubator as an 18-month-old company. Listen here andsubscribeso you don't miss an episode! :: LINKS Sam can be reached by email at sam@getvenga.com. Venga@GetVengaandwww.getvenga.com. The Protagonist@hughandcrye, #theprotagonist.

37 MIN2015 FEB 26
Comments
Ep 5: Pivoting from a marketplace business model with Sam Pollaro, CEO of Venga

Latest Episodes

Ep 14: Building The Netflix of Stock Video Footage With Joel Holland of VideoBlocks

Joel Holland, founder of VideoBlocks, talks about establishing a Netflix-style, members only site for stock video, cultivating office culture around both long and short term goals and weighing the intangibles behind successful venture funding. Joel, a Washington DC area native, started VideoBlocks as a Junior in high school when he began selling burned DVDs of self-produced DC attractions and monuments footage. In 2003, he deferred enrollment to Babson College for one year to travel the United States, shoot video and lay the seeds for Video Blocks growth. Using his undergraduate education, Joel pushed the company towards a subscription based model that quickly exploded in popularity. With 34 million downloads, 100,000 users, and over 10 million in venture funding, Video Blocks continues to grow and recently expanded into stock music and graphics. In this episode, we talk to Joel about the VideoBlocks concept emerging from an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the fear associated ...

69 MIN2015 SEP 22
Comments
Ep 14: Building The Netflix of Stock Video Footage With Joel Holland of VideoBlocks

Ep 13: Growing beyond the kitchen to create a lifestyle brand with Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto

Erik Bruner-Yang, owner and head chef of DC Based Restaurants Toki Underground and Maketto, talks about finding his place among the DC food scene, celebrating the importance of the neighborhood ramen shop and expanding his brand to something beyond the kitchen. Erik, a celebrated Washington DC chef, began his District career as the General Manger of Sticky Rice in 2008. Having worked in restaurants since the age of 15, Erik ventured out two years later to sign the lease for a small, second story space on H Street that would eventually become Toki Underground. Since opening Toki, Erik has been named a finalist for a James Beard award and opened Maketto Marketplace and Honeycomb Grocer. Completed this past April, Maketto creatively blends food, coffee and retail into a large, multi level space made possible through communal investment on FundRise. In this episode, we talk to Erik about the bootstrap effort it took to get Toki off the ground, both the generational and cultural inspirat...

44 MIN2015 AUG 19
Comments
Ep 13: Growing beyond the kitchen to create a lifestyle brand with Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto

Ep 12: Using data and analytics to disrupt legislation and regulation with Tim Hwang of FiscalNote

Tim Hwang, founder of FiscalNote, talks about creating a critical product for every office and organization, fostering a transparent political and legal system and exploring new avenues for corporate growth. Tim, an internet entrepreneur and politician, began FiscalNote through an accelerator program during his final year at Princeton during the Summer of 2013. His work founding the National Youth Association and serving on the board of the Board of Education for the Montgomery Public School System helped Tim to identify a void in the public's understanding of legislative decisions and implications. From working out of a Motel 6 for three months to securing funding from Mark Cuban, Tim has grown FiscalNote into a robust legal analytics platform with seemingly endless opportunity for growth. In this episode, we talk to Tim about his personal interest in the intersection of Government and Technology as the impetus for starting FiscalNote, as well as his daily life and the nuances of r...

45 MIN2015 JUN 26
Comments
Ep 12: Using data and analytics to disrupt legislation and regulation with Tim Hwang of FiscalNote

Ep 11: How a school experiment became a way to fight food waste with Kavita Shukla of Fenugreen

Kavita Shukla, founder of social enterprise Fenugreen and creator of FreshPaper, talks about overcoming self-doubt as an entrepreneur, approaching partnerships thoughtfully, and the grassroots movement that brought FreshPaper to market. Fenugreen is an emerging social enterprise a decade in the making. Inspired by a trip to visit her grandmother in India, Kavita invented what would become the "ingenious" FreshPaper—sheets infused with organic spices that extend the life of fruits and vegetables. After struggling for years to find support in the non-profit world, Kavita took her creation to the local farmer's market. It was there that she learned that FreshPaper had a place in the U.S. and global markets as a tool to fight food spoilage and waste. Today, FreshPaper can be found in Whole Foods, Wegmans, and soon Bed Bath & Beyond stores across the country. In this episode, we talk to Kavita about the origins of FreshPaper, the challenges that almost caused her to give up on her inven...

39 MIN2015 JUN 10
Comments
Ep 11: How a school experiment became a way to fight food waste with Kavita Shukla of Fenugreen

Ep 10: Empowering health and wellness one meal at a time with Patrick Smith, Founder of Power Supply

Patrick Smith, co-founder ofPower Supply, talks about the intersection of health and wellness, authentic company values, and the criteria and motivations for West Coast expansion. Patrick Smith, a developer turned entrepreneur, beganPower Supplyas a personal exploration into the improvement of his own health and wellness. With no prior experience in the food service industry, Patrick leveraged his tech background to create a system of independent chefs committed to producing weekly offerings of highly nutritious, single-serving meals. With successful growth into the DC CrossFit, yoga, and broader fitness communities, Power Supply has now turned its attention to expansion into Los Angeles. In this episode, we talk to Patrick about his own motivation for starting Power Supply, and how his founding principles guide the simple company ethos of awesome chefs, ready-to-eat meals, and continued health and wellness. Listen here andsubscribeso you don't miss an episode! :: LINKS Find out mor...

45 MIN2015 MAY 14
Comments
Ep 10: Empowering health and wellness one meal at a time with Patrick Smith, Founder of Power Supply

Ep 9: The grit (and credit cards) it takes to build a truly disruptive start-up with Tobin Moore & Adam Vitarello of Optoro

Tobin Moore and Adam Vitarello, co-foundersofOptoro,talk about the evolution of their companyfromeBay resale shop ina Georgetown garageto one of the fastest growing start-ups revolutionizing the retail returns industry. More than 15% of all goods are returned or never sold, a costly problem faced by virtually all retailers, thanksin part to the ever-popular money-back guarantee. That's close to$500 million dollars in revenue lost, not countingthe amount of physicalwasteadded to landfills.Optoro, founded by childhood friends Tobin and Adam, is on amission to revolutionize the antiquated process andbecome the leading platform for returned and excess inventory. A client list oftop national brands, team of 200+employees, and recent$50M Series C Fund all indicate they're well on their way to achieving it. In this episode, we talk to Tobin and Adam about valuable guidancefrom bothpawn shop owners and angel investorsalike; the importance of building sustainablesupply chains; and how they a...

46 MIN2015 APR 16
Comments
Ep 9: The grit (and credit cards) it takes to build a truly disruptive start-up with Tobin Moore & Adam Vitarello of Optoro

Ep 8: Providing a tech-saavy solution to gourmet food delivery with Alan Clifford of Galley

Alan Clifford, co-founder of gourmet food delivery appGalleyand aformer LivingSocial exec, talks about balancing supply and demand as a young startup, approaching recruiting like a marketing problem, and bridging the gap between tech and food startup. Now the secondLivingSocial alumto be featured on The Protagonist,Alan Cliffordwas one of the first employees at the deals company almost six years ago (back when it was Hungry Machine). During his time there, Alan went from product manager to head ofHR to consumer marketing VP. Now, he's ready to forge his own path in the startup world as the co-founder ofGalley, a new gourmet food startup that delivers fresh, chef-prepared meals at affordable prices. While the company is relatively new, they've seen considerable growth over the last five months. In this episode, we talk to Alan about lessons learned at LivingSocial, and how Galley is redefining "delivery food" using quality, convenience, and incredible customer experience. :: LINKS Fi...

34 MIN2015 APR 3
Comments
Ep 8: Providing a tech-saavy solution to gourmet food delivery with Alan Clifford of Galley

Ep 7: Building startup ecosystems and hosting President Obama with Donna Harris, Co-Founder of 1776, a DC Incubator and Seed Fund

Donna Harris, co-founder of DCstartup incubatorand seed fund1776,talks about buildingstartup ecosystems across the US, the relationship between government andentrepreneurs, and the single skill all founders need. Donna Harris is the co-founder and co-CEO of1776,a startup incubator that introduces entrepreneurs from around the world to the political, social, and financial leaders of DC. Leaders likePresident Obama. She's also the founding member of the K Street Capital angel network, and actively invests in startups. Before starting 1776, she worked atStartup America Partnership, founded three companies which were ultimately bought, and raised more than $35 million in capital. It's safe to say she knows a thing or two about startup life. In this episode, we talk to Donna about how startups are an underutilized resource in DC, theChallenge Cupglobal competition, and how government and entrepreneurs can work together to rethink education, healthcare, andtransportation. :: LINKS Donna c...

39 MIN2015 MAR 12
Comments
Ep 7: Building startup ecosystems and hosting President Obama with Donna Harris, Co-Founder of 1776, a DC Incubator and Seed Fund

Ep 6: What it means to be a serial entrepreneur with Eric Koester, Founder of Main Street Genome and Zaarly

Eric Koester, founderofMain Street GenomeandZaarly,talks about serial entrepreneurship, how Zaarly went from idea to app in a matter of weeks, and his dedication to the small business economy. Eric Koesteris what many would call a "serial entrepreneur." He spent several years as an attorney at Cooley LLP working withhigh-growth startups before taking the leap himself. After a serendipitous 54 hours atStartup Weekend, he co-foundedZaarly, a marketplace to locate local small businesses and service providers which Fast Companynamed one of the "50 Most Innovative Companies in the World." Today, he's the founder and COO ofMain Street Genome, a technology startup developing tools for the small business economy. In this extended episode, we talk to Eric about what it means to be a Chief Operating Officer, the definition of "startup," his time at Zaarly, and aspirations for Main Street Genome. Listen here andsubscribeso you don't miss an episode! :: LINKS Eric can be reached at@erickoestera...

71 MIN2015 MAR 5
Comments
Ep 6: What it means to be a serial entrepreneur with Eric Koester, Founder of Main Street Genome and Zaarly

Ep 5: Pivoting from a marketplace business model with Sam Pollaro, CEO of Venga

Sam Pollaro, CEOofVenga,talks about pivoting his second startup, the yin and yang between co-founders, and learning the value of "hire slow, fire fast" the hard way. Sam Pollaro founded and sold a subscription service startup before companies like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club had even been born. While the acquisition was finalized, he already had his eye on his next venture: Venga, a CRM business intelligence platform that improves the relationship between restaurants and their guests. In this episode, we talk to Sam about the growth of DC's startup scene, giving100 percent, and joining astartup incubator as an 18-month-old company. Listen here andsubscribeso you don't miss an episode! :: LINKS Sam can be reached by email at sam@getvenga.com. Venga@GetVengaandwww.getvenga.com. The Protagonist@hughandcrye, #theprotagonist.

37 MIN2015 FEB 26
Comments
Ep 5: Pivoting from a marketplace business model with Sam Pollaro, CEO of Venga

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