As the Summer Ends, Highland Sends off 14 Companies (full article with pic of team Wellframe here)

For just over two months, 14 teams have been chipping away at their companies in Highland Capital Partners’ Kendall Square and Sand Hill Road offices. And as the Summer@HIGHLAND program begins to wind down, eight or nine of those teams can say they’re currently raising an angel round or will be starting the process within the next 45 days, while the remainder will continue working on their startup, according to Michael Gaiss, Highland’s senior vice president.

“We’ve never had as many teams as we’ve had this year,” Gaiss says, admitting they just couldn’t “make the call” after seeing so many talented applicants. Over 250 university-affiliated startups applied for consideration in this year’s program. Largely because, as Gaiss describes it, “The value proposition keeps going up.”

Not only were admitted teams offered $15,000 and complimentary office space, but they were also given access to a roster of over 40 events, including talks from Matt Lauzon, founder and CEO of Gemvara; Keith Rabois, COO of Square; Bill Clerico, founder and CEO of WePay; Bob Van Nortwick, business development manager at Amazon; Troy Brennan, executive vice president of CVS Caremark; and Victoria Ransom, founder and CEO of Wildfire.

Jacob Sattelmair, co-founder of Summer@HIGHLAND team Wellframe, said he wasn’t initially sold on the events, telling his team, “Let’s just skip them and focus on work.” After attending the first event, however, he admits he was sold and together they went to every single one. “One of the speakers is now an advisor to the team,” Sattelmair says.

Wellframe is currently organizing clinical knowledge and using human-centered design to build a technology-enabled treatment program for cardiovascular disease. Built into the Wellframe app are reminders to take medications, an accelerometer that can track steps, as well as the ability to send messages between the clinician, patient and the patient’s family, among other features.

“We’re re-engineering patient care outside of the hospital,” Sattelmair says, claiming hospitals need to find a better way to facilitate and maintain relationships with their patients in between appointments. The first patients will be entered into the Wellframe system come September.

The Wellframe team — comprised of Sattelmair, Trishan Panch, Vinayak Ramesh and Archit Bhise — come from different schools of thought, ranging from primary care to program management, as well different schools: Harvard and MIT.

When asked whether or not they feel as though they’ve created a network through the summer program, they all responded positively. “We now have connections we never would have had before,” Sattelmair says.

Nine out of last year’s 10 teams are still going strong, according to Gaiss. Just last week, he says one of the teams was in a meeting with a Highland General Partner talking funding. “Once you’re in the family, you’re in the family,” Gaiss admits.

Now, the focus of the program is on getting teams out into the marketplace and finding them a place to work. After hearing the success they’ve already found just after two months, however, they likely won’t have to look very far.

Catch Matt Lauzon of Gemvara on CNBC’s Squawk Hangout (7:11 in the video) discussing the early days of the company, importance of having a really big vision as a young entrepreneur, raising money for the first time, and how they got in the door in the Summer@HIGHLAND program back in 2007.

Monopoly has emerged as the game of choice in the evening hours for many of the Cambridge teams (with guest appearances by Highland’s Robbie Greenglass).  Many nights were spent playing and it was yet another example of some of the strong bonds that formed across teams both in and out of the office. While no clear consistent winner emerged, Ilya of CareDojo will forever be remembered as the one most likely to go nuclear in a desperate attempt to either win or wreak as much disruption to the game as possible. 

Monopoly has emerged as the game of choice in the evening hours for many of the Cambridge teams (with guest appearances by Highland’s Robbie Greenglass).  Many nights were spent playing and it was yet another example of some of the strong bonds that formed across teams both in and out of the office. While no clear consistent winner emerged, Ilya of CareDojo will forever be remembered as the one most likely to go nuclear in a desperate attempt to either win or wreak as much disruption to the game as possible. 

The Brothersport Games work area out in Menlo Park is well optimized for collaboration and team productivity.  That  being said, some may even call it a little messy.  On the latter point, how does that compare to the now legendary London Conference Room in Cambridge that houses Axio, CareDojo and Webcred? Well we shared the pic with some of the residents.  As one put it: “lol they got nothing on us.”  And another more succinctly: “The London is more than just a messy room… it’s a state of mind.”

The Brothersport Games work area out in Menlo Park is well optimized for collaboration and team productivity.  That  being said, some may even call it a little messy.  On the latter point, how does that compare to the now legendary London Conference Room in Cambridge that houses Axio, CareDojo and Webcred? Well we shared the pic with some of the residents.  As one put it: “lol they got nothing on us.”  And another more succinctly: “The London is more than just a messy room… it’s a state of mind.”

A big thanks to Jordan Lee of Collections for summarizing yesterday’s session with Maynard Webb.  A great read and some outstanding advice:

The West Coast Summer@HIGHLAND teams (with Cambridge video-conferenced in) were treated to lunch with one of Silicon Valley’s most trusted operating executives, a man whose driving impulse is to look for the largest, most important fire burning at any given moment and do whatever it takes to extinguish it.

From the earliest days of his career, when he was working as a security guard and angling for opportunities to advance (such as learning how to program and break systems), Maynard Webb lived by one simple rule: chase down the difficult and unpopular challenges that everyone else seemed to be avoiding and deliver results no one thought were possible. From rescuing eBay from the brink of calamity as its Chief Operating Officer (and then helping it to grow from $140 million in revenue to over $6 billion in seven years), to serving as President and CEO of LiveOps and as a senior executive at Gateway, Quantum, and IBM, Webb has never shrank from a challenge.

Still Chairman of the Board at LiveOps, Webb turned his attention last year to a host of new pursuits. He founded the Webb Investment Network, which together with 75 seasoned affiliates invests in and coaches young entrepreneurs who have transformative ideas. He also recently joined Yahoo’s Board of Directors, underscoring his commitment to tackling the toughest problems around, and recently wrote a book called “Rebooting Work: Transform How you Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship,” which will be published in January.

The teams were held in rapt attention as Webb recounted his improbable personal story and drew lessons from his experience, several of which were especially relevant for us:

  1. The danger of complacency – As a company grows, founders should never stop asking themselves, “Am I pulling my weight?” It’s not healthy for a company’s leadership, nor for its employees, if founders become complacent or abuse their seniority and free ride on the work of others. Relatedly, Webb also enjoined us to be our own toughest critics to ensure that we’re really contributing our all, and to be careful not to “confuse action for traction.”
  2. The overriding importance of integrity –  Founders face a raft of unique pressures that risk compromising their integrity. It’s important to look forward many years into the future and ask if you’ll be able to live with the decisions you’re making now. Reputation, after all, is as easy to lose as it is difficult to acquire.
  3. Be brave, bold, flexible, and positive – Nobody wants to work with someone who’s cranky all the time, so keep your attitude in check. And given that change is inevitable, you might as well embrace it rather than resist it. Ultimately, an entrepreneur must be brave and bold enough to see the change they want to see in the world and then work furiously to get there.

At the end of lunch Webb was asked what helped him sort through his many different opportunities and what gave him the conviction to keep going. He paused for a moment and then shared a mental exercise that he would use when he was starting out. Imagine yourself in thirty years on a stage in front of all of the people you admire most in the world. You have to tell them the story of your life, and what you say will be met with one of three reactions. They might deliver faint praise (“well, not bad given the circumstances”), they might be underwhelmed (“that doesn’t quite cut it”), or you could truly knock their socks off so that they’re left scratching their chins in disbelief.

It’s clear that Webb is on track to achieve the third. Hopefully, with a bit of his wisdom adding wind to our sails, we too can strive for greatness.

An outstanding reflection of their continued execution and success as a team.  Hats off to Matt Lauzon and everyone at Gemvara for yet another significant accomplishment!

Looking back to 2007, here’s a picture of Matt and the early team when they were formerly known as Paragon Lake and just moved into the Summer@HIGHLAND program after graduating from Babson College.  Matt has also been terrific making himself available to Summer@HIGHLAND participants and here is a video of our trip to Gemvara earlier this summer.

It was our great pleasure to host Maynard Webb today for a discussion with Menlo Park & Cambridge teams on “Early Stage Company Building & Raising an Angel Round.” Maynard is every bit the technology & Silicon Valley legend and it was an amazingly insightful discussion.
In addition to currently being on the boards of Salesforce.com and Yahoo!, Maynard founded Webb Investment Network (WIN) in 2010 as a seed investment firm.  Prior to WIN, Maynard was the CEO of LiveOps and the COO of eBay.  Before joining eBay, Maynard was SVP and CIO for Gateway, and also held management positions at Bay Networks, Quantum Corporation, Thomas-Conrad Corporation and IBM.  In addition, Maynard has served on several public and private boards including Gartner (NYSE: IT), Niku (NASD: NIKU), Extensity (NASD: EXTN), Hyperion (NASD: HYSL), Peribit (acquired by Juniper Networks), Baynote, and AdMob (acquired by Google) where he was also one of the first investors.
Quite the incredible background and one amazing discussion.  We are thankful that Maynard was so gracious with his time.

It was our great pleasure to host Maynard Webb today for a discussion with Menlo Park & Cambridge teams on “Early Stage Company Building & Raising an Angel Round.” Maynard is every bit the technology & Silicon Valley legend and it was an amazingly insightful discussion.

In addition to currently being on the boards of Salesforce.com and Yahoo!, Maynard founded Webb Investment Network (WIN) in 2010 as a seed investment firm.  Prior to WIN, Maynard was the CEO of LiveOps and the COO of eBay.  Before joining eBay, Maynard was SVP and CIO for Gateway, and also held management positions at Bay Networks, Quantum Corporation, Thomas-Conrad Corporation and IBM.  In addition, Maynard has served on several public and private boards including Gartner (NYSE: IT), Niku (NASD: NIKU), Extensity (NASD: EXTN), Hyperion (NASD: HYSL), Peribit (acquired by Juniper Networks), Baynote, and AdMob (acquired by Google) where he was also one of the first investors.

Quite the incredible background and one amazing discussion.  We are thankful that Maynard was so gracious with his time.

All good things must sadly start to come to an end.  For this year’s Summer@HIGHLAND program, it’s beginning with the departure of Team Webcred.  As they in particular would appreciate it given their software prowess, it happened to adhere to FIFO – (First In, First Out).  Connor & Nam were the first team to arrive back on May 25th, fresh off of completing their sophomore years at Boston University.  They jetted off to Europe last night and we wish them all the best in the coming weeks and years as they continue to build out Webcred and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Come ride with us on the bus to Pescadaro as we spend an afternoon with Steve Blank.

In addition, thanks to team Prawg for the following recap on last week’s visit with Steve Blank: 

Last week the west coast Summer@Highland teams had the opportunity to visit the Steve Blank ranch. Steve Blank is as prolific educator, thought leader, and the author of various influential books outlining the secrets to make the entrepreneurship journey a little less rocky. 

While at the ranch, Steve allowed us to query his brain for a chance to gain a better understanding of how successful entrepreneurs work and some of their secrets. 

Some of the key points that Steve had to share with the Summer@Highland teams were:

  • Successful founders are artists. Each successful founder has the rare ability to start with a blank canvas and have the vision to create something unique. This ability comes from a founder’s ability to have a vision and see the world in a way that others cannot.
  • Founders need to be and attract people who are more productive than normal people. Steve referred to these people as the 100x people. 
  • Steve shared his belief that if you don’t have passion for what you are doing and you aren’t giving it all of your energy, you are better off working at McDonalds, because you won’t make any money as an entrepreneur. 
  • Founders need to have a unique perception and ability to recognize patterns as well as understand their users. By asking the right questions users will share information about problems they didn’t know they even had.

Throughout the evening, Steve was persistent in driving home the importance of the founding team and their ability to have extraordinary potential. He was adamant that if you don’t have these qualities, if you don’t have the passion, and if you don’t believe you are the person who is going to make your success happen, then it is time for you to re-evaluate your position as a founder. 

Getting to go to Steve Blanks ranch and have a fireside chat with him was a remarkable chance for us to hear his incredible story and wisdom first-hand. This was a great experience that we will all get to remember as we continue our entrepreneurial journey and one day hope to become as successful in our own ways.