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The Power of Stories for Startups


Tuesday, October 29, 2013 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT)

The Power of Stories for Startups

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Event Details

For startups, stories are 100% critical.  Your idea or product is only as good as the story behind it, and it’s no secret that powerful story-telling makes the difference between getting funded or not.  Beyond getting funding, stories are also crucial to building a killer brand, winning the hearts and minds of customers, and inspiring the team around you.  We’ve brought together some of the most gifted storytellers in Tech to discuss how entrepreneurs can successfully leverage the power of stories in their ventures.

Session 1:  How to Build a Great Story in a Data Driven Age

Speaker: Rebekah Iliff, Director of Product for AirPR , technology blogger for The Huffington Post and Columnist for Entrepreneur.com

In a recent talk given by Geoffrey Moore (the author of “Crossing the Chasm”, a best-seller marketing guide), Geoffrey noted that in an age driven by data, it is still imperative that we understand the importance of qualitative information to drive our decision making and to build our brand.  At the first session: “How to build a great story in a data driven age”, our featured speaker, Rebekah Iliff will share the secrets to building a great story in a data driven age, including:

  •     Why do entrepreneurs need to build a good story?
  •     How to build a great story?
  •     What are the key techniques?
  •     How to get your story on the front page?

Session 2:  The Power of Storytelling

Panelists:  Chris Yeh, Paul Madera, Ravi Srivatsav, Ron Hirson, Saad Khan

We have assembled a stellar panel (notable VCs and successful entrepreneurs) to share their direct experience and insights on how stories make a difference in building businesses.  You will learn about:

  •     How stories can help build your team
  •     How stories can help in getting funding
  •     Shaping your brand and engaging customers through stories
  •     Examples of how successful entrepreneurs used stories in their journey


Our Featured Panelists:


         Chris Yeh                        Paul Madera                        Ravi Srivatsav     


       Rebekah Iliff                        Ron Hirson                          Saad Khan



5:00PM         Check-in/Networking

6:00PM         Opening Remarks

6:10PM         Session 1: How to Build a Great Story in a Data Driven Age

7:00PM         Break

7:15PM         Session 2:  The Power of Storytelling

8:30PM         Closing Remarks/Networking

9:00PM         Adjourns


Food & Drinks:

Hors d'oeuvres & drinks will be served

Speakers Bios:

Chris Yeh, VP of Marketing at PBWorks, Partner of Wasabi Ventures

Chris was on the founding team of pioneering Internet companies such as United Online Services and Merrill Lynch’s Intelligent Technologies Group.  He has founded, advised, or invested in dozens of startups, including Ustream and PBworks.

He was the first investor in and interim CEO of Ustream, which provides an open and distributable platform for live interactive online video. He also helped start numerous other companies, including Symphoniq Corporation, TargetFirst, and Juno Online Services and FarSight Financial Services.
Chris is a much-quoted thought leader in the field of marketing and entrepreneurship; his research and publications have been incorporated into the Harvard Business School curriculum, while his projects have received press coverage in Fortune, the Financial Times, and the New York Times.  He writes a popular blog on entrepreneurship and venture capital, Adventures in Capitalism and contributes to blogs such as TechCrunch and VentureBeat.

Chris holds two degrees from Stanford University, and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was named a Baker Scholar (High Distinction).


Paul Madera, Managing Director of Meritech

Paul was a founder of Meritech in 1999, and is listed as #7 in Forbes Midas List of Tech’s Top Investor in 2012. He currently focuses on the SaaS, storage, e-commerce, financial technology, digital consumer, and medical device sectors.

Paul has led Meritech's investments into Salesforce, Facebook, Yammer, 2Wire (Pace), Acopia (F5), BlueArc (Hitachi Data), DataStax, DealerSocket, Force10 Networks (DELL), Glaukos, Homestead Technologies (INTU), IntraLase (AMO), Openlane (KAR), Panzura, Prosper, Riverbed Technology (RVBD), Tegile, Tensilica (CDNS), Topspin (Cisco), Wonga, and 21Vianet (VNET).

Prior to Meritech, Paul was Managing Director and Head of the Private Equity Group at Montgomery Securities/Banc of America where he assisted tech and consumer-based startups in raising capital. He began his career in finance as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley & Co. in New York. Before joining Morgan Stanley, he served in the United States Air Force as an F-16 Instructor Pilot based in South Korea, Spain, and Utah. He also spent a tour at the Pentagon as a member of the Air Force Legislative Liaison Office.

Paul holds a B.S. from the United States Air Force Academy and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and currently serves as the Chairman of the US Air Force Academy Endowment. Paul spends his off hours cycling the hills west of Palo Alto to prepare for "century" rides as well as jogging throughout the San Francisco Peninsula.

Ravi Srivatsav, CEO/Co-founder of ElasticBox

Ravi is the founder and CEO of ElasticBox, one of fastest growth, venture-backed startups in cloud space.  ElasticBox is transforming enterprises through next-generation cloud applications and.  Ravi brings over 15 years of experience in software development, product and program management, and startup incubation. He has held senior engineering and product management positions at large enterprises like Microsoft and IBM, as well as in several successful software startups. Ravi's experience spans software infrastructure, developer platforms, and applications for enterprise and social networking segments.

Most recently, as VP of Product at Social Gaming Network, Ravi was instrumental in driving rapid adoption of the flagship gaming application MindJolt. Prior to that, Ravi led enterprise software applications and platform services at Rational Software, IBM, and Microsoft.

Ravi has a BS in Computer Science from University of Mysore.

Rebekah Iliff, Director of Product for AirPR/ technology blogger for The Huffington Post/Columnist for Entrepreneur.com

Rebekah Iliff is the, a technology platform to increase PR performance. Previously, she was the CEO of talkTECH Communications, one of the fastest growing, launch-only PR firms in the US. As co-founder of talkTECH, she created an industry-first methodology for emerging technology companies, which led to top tier client coverage in outlets such as Forbes, CNN, The Today Show, USA Today, WIRED, Inc, FastCompany, TechCrunch, Mashable, and VentureBeat.

She is currently a technology blogger for The Huffington Post focusing on trends related to startup culture and job creation and a columnist for Entrepreneur.com. She has authored articles in technology publications such as Mashable and VentureBeat, and PR industry focused blogs such as PR Daily and PR Sunrise. Rebekah is a mentor for Startup Weekend Bay Area, an instructor for General Assembly San Francisco, and an advisor for startups at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and StartX. Rebekah holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, and an M.A. in Organizational Management and Applied Community Psychology from Antioch University at Los Angeles (AULA).

Ron Hirson, VP Product at DocuSign, Co-founder of BOKU, EIR of Khosla Ventures & Mayfield

Ron Hirson is an entrepreneurial executive who is currently at DocuSign as VP of Product. He was most recently an EIR at Khosla Ventures and Mayfield Fund and prior to that co-founder, President at BOKU, where his responsibilities included creating and managing the BOKU product/service, go-to-market plan, marketing, public relations, business development and corporate development. Previously, he served as Vice President of Product Management at AT&T Interactive, and was responsible for Product Development, UI design, HCI and the priorities and specification of the company’s new and existing products and features that generated $1B in revenue annually.

Prior to the acquisition of Ingenio by AT&T, Ron served as Vice President of Product Management where he led the product management team for Ingenio. He began his career as a management consultant with Price Waterhouse. 

Ron is an inventor on 25 issued patents and 140 filed patents. He holds a BA from UCLA where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa.

Fun Fact: Ron has completed the Alcatraz Swim 3 times; twice under 37 minutes and most recently alongside his wife, Lorie.

Saad Khan, Partner at CMEA Capital

Saad Khan is a Partner at CMEA Capital where he invests exclusively in bad-asses. That includes leading all seed and early stage investments in the people behind Zaarly, Blekko, Luminate, Jobvite, MediaSpike, Evolution Robotics (now iRobot) and some awesome others you’ll hear about. Prior to CMEA, he was a Venture Partner at Garage.com where he helped build Silicon Valley’s first startup incubator. In addition to his day job, he co-founded the Film Angels (working with actors and producers like Carlos Santana and Barrie Osborne, producer of Lord of The Rings). He is also an Advisor to Lending Club, SamaSource (micro-work for the next billion), and the Thiel Fellowship’s 20 under 20 program.

Saad has been a guest lecturer at the Stanford Design School (the Liberation Technology Program) and the UC Berkeley Business School. He is a frequent speaker at the US State Department and served as a delegate for the Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP), the initiative started by Hillary Clinton to improve the US ties to the Muslim world. He can be found supporting the cause of entrepreneurs from GEP Turkey, Startup Weekend in Egypt to “Silicon Valley Comes to Malaysia”. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Forbes, who recently gave Saad a Silicon Valley Makeover (he's also an advisor to Forbes 30 under 30).

Saad grew up between Pakistan and the Bay Area, attended an American high school in Karachi where his soccer tournaments and theater performances were often played out in locations including Kathmandu, Delhi, and Islamabad.

Saad went to Stanford University where he was a President’s Scholar. He can be found on Twitter (@saadventures), and you can also follow his blog (SaadWired.com).


Have questions about The Power of Stories for Startups? Contact CSPA

When & Where

Gunderson Dettmer
1200 Seaport Blvd
Redwood City, CA 94063

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT)

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The Power of Stories for Startups
Redwood City, CA Events Conference

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