35 min read

Innovation Coffee Break: John Zeratsky, co-author of Sprint

Vijay Rajendran

Head of Portfolio Value



We’re excited to welcome John Zeratsky, designer and co-author of Make Time and Sprint, to this week’s Innovation Coffee Break.

In conversation with Vijay Rajendran, 500’s Director of Corporate Innovation & Partnerships, John covers a lot of ground. We touch on topics including:

  • What he learned working with over 200 different startups, including Slack & Uber, during 6 years as a design partner at GV
  • The “OATS” rubric – What he looks for in the startup founders he works with
  • Designing products in an era of uncertainty – how to use content to prototype business ideas
  • Implementing a design sprint process at an early stage startup
  • How to retake control of what you pay attention using sprint principles

This transcript has been edited for clarity:

Vijay Rajendran: Welcome to your Innovation Coffee Break. I’m Vijay Rajendran, the head of Corporate Innovation and Partnerships at 500 Startups Ecosystems Group. We join leaders with unique perspectives in the world of innovation and startups. And in the time you need to sip a cup of coffee we’ll have some unique conversations.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this conversation today. We’re excited to be joined today by John Zeratsky, designer and investor. John, also known as JZ, is a designer, investor, and author of multiple books like Sprint and Make Time. And it is a real treat to have him join us. So welcome John.

John Zeratsky: Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Vijay Rajendran: Awesome, we can’t begin this conversation without sharing a little bit more about John and his extraordinary journey. John, can you share with folks about the path you’ve taken now from designer to Google to your current route?

John Zeratsky: Yeah, I was a kid who grew up in a small town. And there wasn’t a lot going on. So I got into tinkering with computers and tech and taking things apart and putting things together like so many of us did. And so when I went to college the natural path was to go into engineering. But I found that I really didn’t like it. I didn’t like the way that it was being taught. And so I was really fortunate to fall in with a group actually in the journalism department. This was at University of Wisconsin, where I went. I was fortunate to find a professor and she had a grad student who was really interested in—this was sort of the early days of blogging and online publishing and online expression in general right around that time like late 90s, early two-thousands, when that stuff was getting totally disrupted and was kind of this new sense of what was possible to do in terms of publishing and sharing information online and just kind of springboard it from there into web design, development, and writing. I ended up getting a degree in journalism.

So it was sort of a chance to hone my writing and editing abilities and that led me into a job at a startup in Chicago, FeedBurner, that some old timers might remember. I did everything from product and marketing design and web development through essentially product management—we didn’t really have dedicated PMs—to even some customer support and just whatever needed to be done. I was one of the first employees there. It was the typical startup story. Then we were acquired by Google, that was 2007. I worked on some of Google’s enterprise ad products in the Chicago office and then moved out to the Bay Area and started working at YouTube, which had already been acquired by Google at that point.

I was part of the team that created the YouTube channels platform, sort of when YouTube was going through that transition from just being a website where you can make an account and upload a video to being this real platform where you could build an audience and build a brand around a channel. Then I transferred yet again, within Google to Google Ventures and I think within Google, GV was really set up from the beginning to be kind of an independent fund. It was funded solely by Google or later Alphabet. But we wanted to compete against the Sequoias and Kleiners of the world. We didn’t want to be sort of bucketed into the world of corporate venture capital. And so one of the things that we did to really try to stand out and be unique was establish this really strong operating team. And I was one of the first hires onto that team. And I was in a role where basically, I got to go inside all these cool companies after we invested. I got to work with Slack and 23andMe and Uber and One Medical Group and Flatiron Health and it all in all close to 200 different companies.

Vijay Rajendran: 200 different companies? And that’s over what range of time?

John Zeratsky: That was about six years. I spent six years at GV. Part of how I was able to do that was we did all this design sprint process and that you mentioned the book Sprint, but it was really a way for us to kind of templatize and replicate the work that we were doing with companies and because we had this model to sort of show up at a company where we didn’t know anything. And really work with them to help guide that team through the process of finding answers to whatever big questions they were struggling with as opposed to us showing up and giving them the answers trying to be the experts or whatever. But really being more of a facilitator because we had that process, we were able to basically just jump from company to company and do it week after week.

And so some years I remember like 2014, 2015, we would run like 35 sprints, one week designed sprints in a year. So essentially back to back once you pull out kind of like holidays and bumper weeks and stuff like that. So so that was just a super amazing learning experience for me. We ended up writing the book, which came out in 2016. I took some time off did some traveling, and then the last like 18 months or so. I have basically been focusing on the core of the work that I was doing at GV, facilitating, coaching, consulting, doing some advising work and angel investing. And it’s been fun to sort of take the work that I was doing there and apply it and a lot of different contexts to not just startups but big, big corporate clients and nonprofits and universities.

But I think especially in the last six to 12 months, I’ve felt myself sort of pulled more and more strongly back into the world of startups. And it’s been really cool to see the community that’s grown up around the design spend process and to have founders to say, hey, I ran design sprints when I was first starting my company. And I’d love to connect with you and see if I can get your help on something. So like sort of I guess it’s once you become known for doing something you tend to get kind of pulled back into that thing. And in this case, I’m really happy to be sort of getting pulled back into the startup world. And just have the opportunity to talk to founders about how they could answer some of those big questions. I know it can be scary and there can be a ton of uncertainty. That’s kind of my whole life story.

Vijay Rajendran: It’s a rich one and deserves to be explored with regard to sprint. As you mentioned, there is a whole community around that book and people who love it. I did a sprint with my team earlier this year. And just when I said, we’re going to do a sprint, people just lit up. Oh, Sprint!

Love the book, this is a great way for us to do this. So it’s special and it can become something you bring into all kinds of different organizations. As you said, you’re spending more time with founders right now. I’m curious. What do you look for in the founders that you’re choosing to spend time with?

John Zeratsky: I tend to be very methodical about how I do things. Perhaps that won’t surprise you given the work that I’ve done. I’ll answer your question but to add context, a big part of the design spend process and actually something that I got some exposure to at GV was thinking about how to make decision processes as good as possible. So how to set up the structure and the process and the context for making high quality decisions, whether that’s about what product idea, or prototype to move forward with or whether it’s about an investment decision, which was the case that at GV or in the case of now who I want to spend time with who I want to work with as an advisor and make an angel investment in. So I actually have a rubric that I use that has like different categories. I keep it on a little I don’t have in front of me that I keep it like on a little note card and it’s like stuck inside my notebook and I keep it in front of my computer monitor and I go through it. And so I think like I can run through it really quick. I’ll try not to get too detailed.

The acronym is OATS. It’s O for opportunities. So it’s really just about what’s an opportunity in the market. What’s the problem being solved? I really look for founders who have a sense of mission because I think that your vision may change or you may find that what you thought was going to be true in the future turns out to not be true. I think founders get too attached to their vision, often they get led astray by that vision, but on the other hand, I think it’s really important to have a really strong sense of mission. To me that mission is tied to the opportunity. It’s something that keeps pulling you, keeps you moving when things are crazy and things are difficult. So that’s opportunity.

I try to assess the approach of, does the product make sense? Does it seem high quality? Does the go to market strategy make sense? I think I definitely used to fall into the trap or earlier in my career of like, oh, if it’s better people will just want to use it, like I especially as a designer, I was like, oh, this way that people do things is so annoying and bad and inefficient. If I can design a better version, then people are going to magically use it. But obviously, that’s not true. So I want to know that there’s a unique approach to reaching customers and acquiring customers.

The T is for team. I touched on sort of mission versus vision, obviously skills. I want to work with people who aren’t going to have to outsource all of the real work of making things happen. And this is tricky because there’s a lot of great would-be founders out there who have some deep domain expertise but I think if they don’t have the capability to do the work that’s necessary to move forward either themselves or their co-founder it’s going to be really, really hard for them to learn at the rate that they need to learn and that’s not to say that everybody knows how to code or everybody needs to be a designer or anything like that because the tools now for building prototypes for even building sort of basic functional the ones with no code tools and stuff like obviously, the tools are better than ever. So it’s not that they need to be an engineer, but they need to have demonstrated this ability to hack stuff together and be moving forward no matter how great their understanding of the space is. So those are some of the things I’m kind of the team or the individual and then the assets for success so far. So it’s really like there just needs to be some inkling of like I tested this with a couple people and they all loved it. Or I’ve been writing a blog about this and people are going nuts for it, or I started this newsletter. Like it just has to be like some little spark or a little inkling of success or progress. And anyway, that’s my nirvana.

Vijay Rajendran: Yeah and I think on that S, like the proof point. It can mean very different things to different investors in different stages certainly. Yeah, I wrote a blog post or I did something shows a bias for action, and it shows that there’s some receptivity depending on the stage and looks of course, so it’s different across the landscape.

John Zeratsky: Yeah and I think I mean, I think now is kind of a golden era for essentially you starting to validate business ideas through content or through a community, even before building something. I’m working with a founder right now who’s got, he comes from the world of Pharmacy and he’s working on a business that’s all around personalized health information. But his first stop, the thing that I’m helping with and what he’s doing first is basically kind of prototyping his vision for the product in the form of a newsletter. So instead of having this custom software that would do this personalized health information he’s going to offer a newsletter that sort of dissect some information that you see in the news about something that’s going on with help.

And then he’s going to have the ability for people to pay to subscribe to be like a premium subscriber where he’s going to manually go through and personalize the information to their situation. The best thing that could happen is in a couple of months, I can’t keep up with, There’s too many people for me to personally manually personalize every email he’s like. And I know that that doesn’t scale. That’s a thing that he can do to get started and start to validate and I just think it’s right. There’s so many tools. And so many new networks for exploring ideas in that way.

Vijay Rajendran: Yes, so what you’re essentially describing is just have a prototype, you don’t have to like build the perfect scalable version of the product right away. And that discipline of prototyping is a course, a big part of design. And I guess I can prototyping and design in general, be a good tool for founders to be using. And for all of us to be using to manage this time of uncertainty.

John Zeratsky: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think that we have adopted and I say we meaning that the tech community, the sort of world of tech entrepreneurship. I think that we have adopted inadvertently kind of a bit of dogma or orthodoxy around what it means to prototype or what it means to build your MVP. There’s a very specific picture that people have in mind when they talk about that. And I think that in some cases for some kinds of businesses like that is the right having this sort of minimal feature side of like a functional live product that’s built on production code that’s like in the market in some cases, that’s the right thing to do. But I don’t think it’s the only first thing to do. And in fact, I think there’s a lot of things that you can do in like a couple of days, whether it’s a clickable prototype or whether it’s the marketing for your product or whether it’s content or community that you’re building around a particular opportunity or an idea. I just think, as a designer and as somebody who’s worked with so many companies. I don’t really view design as the, it’s not the output. It’s not the end of some process. It’s hard to say, Oh, that thing is well designed. I think a better way to look at it is design is the process that you go through. And one of the essential tools of design and one of the essential mindsets is, how can I very quickly create a prototype of this idea. What can I do quickly to make sure that there’s legs here. And so I think that there’s this part of the art of doing scary new things building new products, new companies is understanding that matching between for this question or this unknown what’s the kind of product or what kind of prototype do I need to make to answer that question? I think that founders who sort of have that fluency and have that grasp of how to be really nimble and matching those things. They’re just able to move. So much more quickly, and they’re able to learn. So much more quickly.

Vijay Rajendran: Yeah, try stuff, learn stuff, do it a little bit faster. Keep writing. That’s true. I think that was what was very eye opening for people with the book Sprint is that notion that within a few days, I can try this and particularly for myself included coming from a more traditional product design background where you might spend a lot more time getting deeper into the ethnography of your customer, and then taking slightly waterfall approaches before you start seeing something real come together the express version of that can actually like laser focus on what you want to do.

For folks who aren’t familiar with the book Sprint we will have a link in the little profile in description below the video so that you can go to the Sprint website and learn more about exactly what we mean with this like process that happens over a few days.

When we think about like startups and how they were using the sprint process. Yes one thing that’s worth clarifying is when you were at GV what stage would those companies typically be in terms of like product versus scaling where they refining a product like? And then where do you see the other stages where it could be applied?

John Zeratsky: Yeah when I first joined GV which was in 2011 the firm was only two years old. So starting in 2009 I joined in 2011 and I think we had like 50 portfolio companies already at that point. But they were pretty early stage like we were doing a lot of seed investing in those early years at gv and one of the companies that comes to mind for me is sort of the perfect example of how to use the design sprint at a super early stage to help answer big questions is Digit. And I’m sure some of your audience will know about Digit. It’s the tool that connects your bank account and determines how much money you can afford to save. So really it helps people who know they should be setting aside some money every month but would really struggle to do it. And I knew the founder Ethan just kind of through the design startup community in San Francisco and we ended up investing in digital and their seed round. And then I got to work with Ethan and with his team, which I think was just like five people at that point, with a couple of design sprints and what we did with them was basically, they had been hacking on a prototype. There’s sort of a functional kind of data version of the product itself and making sure that the like sort of rudimentary AI that sort of monitor when money was coming in and going out like making sure that it wasn’t going to overdraft the account or whatever. But they hadn’t really given a ton of thought to the launch strategy. They knew that they had something there, and they had a collection of beta users who were finding it valuable, but they hadn’t really thought about how they’re going to launch this, how the messaging is going to be and what the onboarding is going to be. So we did a sprint with them, and figured out a bunch of those things, and really got into like, how do you get somebody to trust a totally new product they’ve never heard of with their bank log in.

For example, and just like all these objections that people would have. And then how do we address those objections proactively. So that super early stage. But then as GV got bigger and bigger and the fund sizes got bigger and bigger necessarily we started moving in later and later stage. And I had question or a concern about whether the design sprint process would be as useful at those later stages. And I found that it was because like when you’re building a startup even if you’re at late stages. The questions never go away. They might be different questions, but you still have plenty of questions. I mean, as long as you’re trying to do new things, there’s going to be unknowns. That’s just the nature of building new stuff. So an example of that is like working with Slack. They had GV invested in their series C, maybe they were already rocketship growth. It’s doing super, super well, but they were kind of at this turning point where a lot of their early customers were other tech companies where there was lag there was a level of sort of understanding of, OK, we get what Slack is it’s a chat room like we’ve used things like this before. But now that we’re at this precipice where it was like, OK, time to go sell Slack to the rest of corporate America and like get law firms and like newspaper editorial offices and all kinds of businesses to sign up.

We worked with them doing some design sprints to help them igure out, how do you go to market differently for that category of customer than you had been doing before. And then, of course, we’ve seen since the book came out, we’ve seen all sorts of huge, huge corporates and all sorts of big organizations embracing the design and sprint. I think as long as you’re doing something that’s going to be really tough to execute where there’s a lot of uncertainty involved, then having a process to methodically identify the challenge, capture solutions, rapidly prototype and test as long as you have an approach to do that. I think that it’s useful kind of throughout any stage.

Vijay Rajendran: That’s awesome. Yeah and certainly within our accelerator we’re used to working with folks on topics like customer discovery and how to think about growth. And so forth. Those are tools and disciplines in themselves, the process of design and then the moments at which you want to deal with unknowns never go away. And so I think that that’s a good thing for folks to internalize and be ready to do again and again.

John Zeratsky: Yeah you kind of go through these loops where you go through these really intense periods of uncertainty where you’re like when you don’t know what to do. Like we have plenty of ideas. But we don’t know which one is going to work. And then you maybe coast for a little while because you’re like, OK, we figured that out. But then like very quickly. It’s like, OK, next. Next unknown, next question. Now we have to throw this thing out. OK, let’s crank and figure that out. OK, we’re good for like a couple of weeks. What’s the next thing. Maybe those moments get spread out a little bit as you get to later stages. But yeah when you’re just starting out, when you’re at seed stage, that’s like that’s like your whole life, it’s intense, but it’s fun.

Vijay Rajendran: That’s right. It’s definitely fun. I want to switch gears and talk about another book and talk about Make Time. So my copy of Sprint I lent to someone before the pandemic, and then who knows if I’ll get that back. But I do have my copy of Make Time handy and it’s been a great book to return to as we are in a particular time in all our lives where we feel very starved for time and starved of fresh energy and having a number of competing demands. And so with that I’d like to really ask you about how you wrote the book to certainly to get people to create more time and be effective when it comes to the things that matter. How did you come to write that because it’s a very different kind of book than Sprint?

John Zeratsky: Yeah it is very different. It’s for individuals and not for teams. It’s sort of like a cookbook, like it has a whole bunch of stuff that you can kind of look through and try as opposed to Sprint is like a single recipe and Make Time like a whole book of recipes. But the philosophies are pretty compatible and I think that’s really our motivation. I wrote both books with Jake Knapp who was one of my partners at Google Ventures and one of my good friends and we still work together today. I think a big part of our inspiration was that we would run these design sprints with companies and we’d say like that was an amazing week, intense for sure, but it was amazing because everybody had this sense of focus and sense of purpose, clarity. We knew what we were doing and why it mattered. Then we’d go back to our normal job and we’ll just be like complete madness of like emails and back to that call all that stuff.

We’re like, is there anything we can take from these really special really focused moments we’re getting in sprints and apply that to everyday life? And that became the basis for Make Time. One of the big ideas that we took from the sprint process is to choose for each day, what’s the most important thing you’re going to do that day? We call it a highlight and it sounds really simple, but it actually makes a huge difference. It was something we did in design sprint. So I say, OK like Thursday, all we’re doing on Thursday in design sprint is building our prototype. That’s the only thing that matters. And so you can say in your everyday life like, what is the thing that matters most to me today. Like is it doing this interview. Is it meeting a friend for coffee or whatever that thing is like identifying that can really get a sense of kind of clarity and structure to the day.

Vijay Rajendran: It doesn’t have to be a deliverable right? It doesn’t mean, yeah, I shipped off this DAT Query. We did this release of our product. It’s an activity right?

John Zeratsky: Yes and sometimes it is deliverable sometimes. It is something very productive. Other times it’s not for me. I like to go through cycles where I do a few days and sort of really focus. there’s specific things I want to get done. But then I might have a couple of days where I’m still working. I’m still doing things. But like maybe my highlight is something else, something in my personal life. We also saw like in design sprints that we would work essentially without distraction like we wouldn’t have it like people were really like on their computers or like checking stuff. While we were working. We like that. That’s amazing like that in and of itself. And so in the book Make Time, we give a bunch of suggestions for ways that you can kind of retake control over what you pay attention to. So you’re not just like reacting to whatever notification appears, keeping email open all day long and just sort of jumping on top of the first thing in the last.

Vijay Rajendran: That’s awesome. And as I recall from the book Jake worked on Gmail itself, right? So I guess so long as he says it’s OK to close your email down and do other things, it must be fine! We can all not have that sense of FOMO that I think is pervasive.

John Zeratsky: Yeah totally. And I think like I mean, every time I talk about this stuff. There’s people in the audience who say that’s nice, but like let’s be realistic here. I don’t think we can all just magically say, I’m not going to pay attention to email, but I think the underlying idea is valuable and important, which is that when you’re doing something, be focused on doing that thing and take it seriously. I have days where email is what I’m doing. I have catch up days where I’m just like spending the day on administrative stuff, on email cranking through things. I go through periods where, for one reason or another that I’ve got a ton of meetings where it’s like much more I’m sort of a rapid fire. If that’s what I’m doing, if that’s what’s important to me at that phase I’m going to focus on doing that stuff. It doesn’t mean that every day needs to be this beautiful zen moment of like email closed, meditating, like it’s really about just directing your focus and being intentional because I think too often because the things like email and other tools are so pervasive. Obviously especially now during the pandemic when we’re spending all day on screens. They’re one click away. I think that too often, we fall into the trap of where we’re not really doing anything 100% We’re doing like maybe like five things 20% But the windows are open or budget tabs or whatever.

Really the core philosophy of Make Time is about identifying what that thing is that you really want to make time for, you really want to focus on. And then setting up your environment to be able to spend time on that.

Vijay Rajendran: I think that is a really important takeaway for a lot of us. Regardless of what we’re doing is to create an environment where we can do that. Working from home with family members around us with whatever has broken a lot of that. I think nothing that presents a silver bullet as you said, it’s a set of recipes right? For those of us who need really high productivity out of our days that the time has come, I think to not just set aside distraction, but to just really drill down into doing these things in such a way. So I really encourage people to check that out and we’ll have a link in the description to Make Time. And I highly recommend for folks to check that out.

Is there anything you would update in a COVID edition?

John Zeratsky: I think I don’t know if I would necessarily update anything. But I think it might change that emphasis a little bit. A couple of the ideas that we’ve heard from a lot of people that have really resonated during the pandemic have been this idea of choosing a daily highlight. So, I think we’re all getting a bit better at dealing with this life as we know it today. As versus like in April, it was just like, super, super crazy and over fight or flight mode all day every day. Now of course, people are still struggling in a lot of different ways. But I think in general, we at least know what we’re dealing with now to a certain extent. We’ve heard from a lot of people throughout that like their days can kind of feel like a blur. The highlight is something that has really worked for people.

One thing that’s actually been super well received, particularly for families not with super little kids but with somewhat what somewhat older kids is this idea of making a plan for the day, and making a schedule for the day either for yourself or for your family.

Jake was actually talking about this a few times how he and his wife and their two sons to sit down in the morning and plan out the whole day and see who’s got this going on at this time who’s got a call, who’s got a meeting, who’s going to go walk the dog, just sort of planning it all out because I think it just gives us a chance to think proactively about what we’re going to spend time on and how we’re going to navigate some of the frictions that might come up when we’re all sharing space instead of waiting until we’re in that moment, then reacting or freaking out or getting frustrated or whatever.

Vijay Rajendran:I love the idea of the family stand up.

Yeah, finally, what I would probably emphasize a bit more in the current edition of make time is just like we talked about it quite a bit. And Make Time. But it’s really leg drive home like how important it is to take care of yourself like your whole body and your mind. Because like with sort of limited opportunities to go out and do stuff, just being more sedentary and not having access to gyms and stuff like that, I think it’s easy to spend 12 hours sitting in front of a computer and like snacking and not really doing those things that make us make us feel good and energized.

I think it, especially if we had previously constructed a routine, we had a set of habits and a lifestyle that worked for us in that realm for that stuff to then get kind of blown away. Now we have to recreate it. It takes a level of tension and proactive thinking to make sure that we’re prioritizing our health and our energy because otherwise we default to the easy thing, the path of least resistance is not going to make us feel good. It’s going to make us feel tired, stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, which is then going to just make everything else harder and everything else works.

Vijay Rajendran: That’s true. It’s so easy to think if I just grind at this particular moment, that I’m doing the right thing, but being able to have that refresh is super helpful.

And then I want to close by asking you a little bit about your move from the Bay Area back to your home state of Wisconsin and we’d love to ask you about what you’re observing in that ecosystem and if you see any similarities or contrast it back to life in the Valley?

John Zeratsky: Well, it’s mostly contrasts as you can imagine. The tech ecosystem here—I live in Milwaukee, the biggest city in the state and there’s a lot of people here starting companies. There’s VC firms and there’s big companies who are hiring engineers and staff and there is also a bunch in Madison but in general, it’s nowhere near what it was used to in the Bay Area. In terms of the volume, there’s nowhere near like what you see in New York or LA. Those are all bigger cities so that’s to be expected to some extent.

I think that Wisconsin has historically been a place where the economy was very much based on manufacturing, on these really stable long term businesses. That’s kind of baked into the psyche and so what we’ve been seeing is that there’s a lot of interest, which is really good, and it’s across the board. It’s like there are people here who are super interested in starting companies, there are investors who are really interested, whether they’re located here or not there are people who are interested in investing in the Midwest. There’s big companies who like seeing an opportunity to higher distributed tech teams. There’s a lot of local organizations and governments who are trying to make things happen.

But to be totally frank, it’s not quite clicking yet. I think that there’s a lot of people who have done a lot of great work. I’m really grateful that they have been on that path and I’m excited to be joining them on that path. But I think we just haven’t seen that kind of spark of building an ecosystem here that a lot of other places have seen. So it’s early days, it’s ground floor. But I also think we have some advantages like the fact that we’ve got a really low cost of living. We’ve got a really easy pace of life. Because of the pandemic, it’s more and more possible to work remotely and to be located anywhere. I personally, in addition to my wife. I know we have a handful of friends who have moved here and work in tech from the Bay Area, from Seattle. If those people stick around and they think about what they’re going to do next, that seeds the next generation of potential entrepreneurs and potential confounders. It’s definitely still nascent, but it’s exciting to sort of be on the ground floor of the ecosystem here.

Vijay Rajendran: That’s super exciting for us. At 500, we believe in certainly the spread of entrepreneurship of innovation and startup growth all over the world. We certainly see that ecosystems need to exist for that to be the case. That involves attracting talent, developing of folks who are there with the right knowledge and expertise that you can connect to now so much easier and so much faster from around the world. And of course, finally, the capital part as well. So exciting to see that and starting to take shape as you said. And so glad you’re playing a role in that.

John Zeratsky: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I like I feel like all the pieces are here. And if anything, maybe they just haven’t all been totally connected in the right ways are enough. But the pieces are here. I mean, there’s great accelerator programs. There are great universities, there are great ambassadors, there are big companies who are investing a lot. It’s exciting, and I totally agree with the mission. I think entrepreneurship is just such a powerful way to make things better, to serve people, to help people to create new value, to create wealth. I think it’s easier now than ever to start a business. As we talked about earlier, the tools that exist today and access to information and resources and education about how to do things that have never been done before is—it’s just so far beyond what we’ve had in the past that it’s a pretty exciting time despite all the other challenges in our world.

Vijay Rajendran: You’re absolutely right. And that I think is the highlight of this whole conversation, which is probably the highlight of my day. So thank you so much for making the time, sharing with us and showing us a couple of different disciplines and approaches that we can all bring into our lives. So thanks, everyone, for joining us and appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation with everyone.

John Zeratsky: Cheers. Thanks, everyone.



Vijay Rajendran

Head of Portfolio Value

Vijay Rajendran is Head of Portfolio Value at 500 Global

Recent news & articles

See all articles →
A Framework for Strategic Prioritization
7 min read

A Framework for Strategic Prioritization

Startups need to navigate the challenges of building a successful company with limited resources. Tim Chae, Managing Partner at 500 Global ideated a concept he calls “Pillars” and it can dramatically change the way you think about the work you do everyday at your startup.
Read more →