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Interviews

Microsoft: Intrapreneurship and corporate investing

As we expand our series on corporate innovation and startup investing, we wanted to interview Microsoft and one of its innovation leaders. As many know, Microsoft is an active supporter of startups around the world. It’s initiated a wide range of programs to reinvent its internal culture while growing its brand with the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Jim Brisimitzis is currently General Manager for US Startups at Microsoft, and was formerly the Director of Operations for Microsoft Ventures. In addition to spending more than a decade at Microsoft, Jim successfully founded a startup within the corporation (and raised >$1 million for the project,) while growing a team of specialists to facilitate corporate engagement with startups in key markets across the US.

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Watsco: Corporations and the open innovation model

Today, we continue our corporate innovation and startup investing series by heading south to Miami where Watsco — one of the world’s largest HVAC companies — is pioneering the next generation of their business.

Ivan Rapin-Smith currently leads Watsco Ventures and is on a mission to invest in new technologies and business models. He formerly ran the startup accelerator program at the Venture Hive in Downtown Miami, and co-founded the first startup accelerator in Belgium. Ivan brings more than twenty years of experience in startup creation, mentorship, and strategy to his role as a corporate investor.

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Harnessing your city’s angel potential

Marc Nager is the Chief Community Officer of Techstars. Prior to that, he was the CEO and CoFounder of Startup Weekend and UP Global (acquired by Techstars) — organizations that bring change to the lives of entrepreneurs. Marc and his team expanded Startup Weekends to over 150 countries and are still growing. They’ve built a network of thousands of volunteers who support hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs. Marc has both witnessed and fueled the global surge of entrepreneurship.

Marc sat down with us to share some of what he’s learned as part of a two-part series.

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Achieving productive intrapreneurship

We are beginning a new series that explores the role of corporations in startup investing and best practices in corporate innovation. For our first interview, we sat down with Lori Anne Wardi of Neustar to discuss her experiences in corporate innovation and ways to achieve productive intrapreneurship in the corporate space.

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Investor Q&A: Janet Bannister

Janet Bannister is a General Partner at the early-stage Canadian VC firm, Real Ventures. Previously, she founded a startup, headed a consulting firm, and had positions at eBay, Proctor & Gamble, and other notable companies. Below, she talks to us about her transition from being an entrepreneur to being an investor.

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Angel Q&A: Rudy Gadre

Rudy Gadre is one of Seattle’s most prolific angel investors. Originally a lawyer by trade, he spent a number of years as a VP at Amazon and General Counsel for Facebook during some of their fastest growth years. After Facebook, he returned to his hometown of Seattle and took up angel investing as a way to grow and support his community. Rudy sat down with us to talk about some of his experiences and offer advice to the next generation of angels.

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