Story In A Bottle Podcast

It’s said that true innovation is the reduction of complexity, and if that’s the case, Naama Bloom is an innovator amongst innovators. Most recently acclaimed as the woman who brought the period to virality status, she has made a business of taking the often overly complex conversations of women’s health and milestone moments (which were reserved for whispers or clinical jargon) to the tens of millions of views on YouTube and furthering it to content and newsletters via her company HelloFlo. However, while demystifying these conversations amongst women seems like a “no brainer,” it is not without a sharp strategic mind and business savvy that it has been executed.

As a tech vet, for better or worse earning her nickname as “the Closer,” Naama spent majority of her early days jumping from digital company to digital agency and over again as they folded in the early nineties, which inspired her to eventually go to Cornell Business School. Upon completion, she emerged with more solid footing in the business world and began to climb the ranks as a marketing executive at both American Express and Harvest before she was inspired to take on founder life full-time.

Over a bottle (or two) of red Zinfandel from Sonoma County, Naama shared her experiences of starting a company with just a great idea and great chutzpah, the importance of choosing a cofounder with complementary skills, and the painful battle of raising money while trying to build a brand (and the battle of maintaining a two founder household with her husband, David Bloom). True to her nature as an innovator, she tells her story without euphemism or pleasantries and for that and more, she is truly commendable.

For more from Naama, she tweets as @NaamaBloom and be sure to check out Camp Gyno and First Moon Party on YouTube.

Direct download: SIAB_NamaBloom_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29pm EDT

We at SIAB call Gene DeRose the “O.G. of the New York Tech Scene.” In his 25 year career here, he’s surely seen and been a part of his fair share of the evolution of the industry. Hailing from Westchester and going to school in Virginia, he landed back in NYC originally in the pursuit of journalism. However, as the tides shifted, he steered a new course (well, with a brief stint as a bartender) and became the co-founder of Jupiter Communications; taking it from a newsletter to the media success it became, and then taking it public. Beyond that, he’s consulted and founded a number of interesting projects, harnessing digital-virtual power and bringing it back to the real world with both Mouse and House Party.

Gene joined us for Herradura Añejo on the rocks (with a little lime) and bestowed his saga; from those early journalistic experiences, surviving the “digital winter” of the mid 2000’s, taking a company public (and maybe not doing it soon enough), making good and bad investments, and the “borderless internet” he’s working towards now. Gene’s is a true founder’s story and we can all take a page from his experience.

You can find Gene on Twitter @genederose.

Direct download: StoryInABottle_GeneDerose_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:50pm EDT

Kristen Hawley

Kristen Hawley has one of the most diverse and inspirational stories we’ve heard to date. With a journalism degree, background in media, love of epicurean culture and experience dabbling in the tech world, she’s created a path for herself which only begins at the intersection of these things. However, her agility and strategic perspective has lead her to create Chefs + Tech, offering an interesting and unique spotlight on the emerging technology trends in the culinary world.


Kristen has certainly earned her chops along the way by navigating various industries and cities; circumventing the treacherous publishing and media world at Hearst in New York City and skimming the tech scene at PopSugar and Twitter in San Francisco, she ultimately decided to combine the two things she’s most passionate about - food and media - to create her ideal job. Her story encourages us to follow our gut and remain adaptable, and do not be fooled. What she calls “luck,” is really her tenacity to adapt quickly and to create the next best opportunity (when it otherwise doesn’t exist).


Oh, and she changed our minds about Pinot Noir, as well!

Get in on the latest on Chefs + Tech here. And more from Kristen: @kh.

Direct download: SIAB_KristenHawley_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59am EDT

Soraya Darabi

This week's episode features our friend Soraya Darabi, the co-founder of Zady. Zady is the online destination for conscious consumers. They source and sell and make stylish apparel for men and women, and detail the stories and origins of the items produced. Much more than a fashion startup, her company is a brand and a movement towards responsible manufacturing, global sustainability, and human rights in the apparel industry.


However, before that, we follow her journey from working as a College Marketing Rep for Sony Music, to jobs in media, both bringing journalists at The Washington Post into the digital present and discovering the NYC tech world while at Conde Nast & The New York Times. Ultimately, she found her way to become an entrepreneur at startups like, foodspotting and now Zady. Her path is in no way ordinary and extends beyond the “tech socialite” description she’s been ascribed. Oh, and she also offers up the secret to a mean mango mimosa.

Hit her up with follow up questions at @SorayaDarabi.

Direct download: SIAB_SorayaDarabi_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:34am EDT

Rex Sorgatz

Rex Sorgatz is a jack-of-all-trades; self-described as a media collector, product strategist, creative technologist, culture hacker, writer, designer, advisor, and consultant, but who is currently spending his time as the Founder & Partner of Kinda Sorta Media.


He joined us for homemade cider, which he made and provided (a SIAB first), and told us about his very fascinating path; from starting as a Pultizer-prize winning journalist in North Dakota to working at a print magazine ABOUT the internet (yes, this is a thing), and how he became @fimoculous. From there, he’s made his way through different parts of the digital industry, with “view source and hack it backwards” beginnings, and offers a unique point of view because of it. At the end of the day, Rex is fighting the good fight to find the balance between being an expert or generalist (and probably both).

Rex’s musings can be found here and he also contributes to a Medium group dubbed the Message.

Direct download: Story_In_A_Bottle_-_Rex_Sorgatz_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Christina Mercando

Christina Mercando is the founder of Ringly, a wearable technology company based in Brooklyn, New York which launched in June of this year. However, with 10+ years in the technology industry, Christina has taken quite the interesting path to get here.


She joined us for sparkling wine and shared her early experiences in tech; helping her dad manufacture medical CD roms in their home in Irving, New York and her days working through video projects at HCI at Carnegie Mellon. Christina ultimately found her way into the professional realm working in the music marketing industry and finally doing user experience and design at Hunch, which was later acquired by Ebay.


However, Christina always had the ambition to do her own thing. Now, with Ringly, she’s able to take the lessons she’s learned in working in both large- and small-scale companies and continue to evolve with the future of technology. To other entrepreneurs: “take a risk if you can.”

To hear more from Christina, follow @jetpea on Twitter.

Direct download: SIAB_ChristinaMercando_final_20141119.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Tom Clifton

Tom Clifton is co-founder and head of B2B at Animoto, a subscription-based web and mobile platform that enables businesses and consumers to create dynamic, professional videos. Launched in 2007, Animoto has grown through several rounds of funding to over 10 million users and has won every major industry award, including two Webbys, a Crunchie, and a SXSW Interactive Award, as well as being chosen as Crain's Top 25 Best Places to Work in New York City.


However, getting to this point has not been without its many steps; Tom joined us for Negronis and told his story -- his tech beginnings as a 12 year old in Seattle pitching & building websites with his brother, an academic career including bible, computer science & music schools, and ultimately co-founding Animoto with a group of entrepreneur friends. All the while learning that building and working with a great team in order to make a great product is one of the keys to finding balance as an innovator.

For more on what Tom’s up to, check out @Animoto.

Direct download: SIAB_TomClifton_final_20141112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Amanda Payton

Amanda Peyton is the co-founder of Grand St., a marketplace for creative technology that was recently acquired by Etsy. Peyton is a technologist at heart and has worked at the intersection of technology and design for her entire career. She is an alum of MIT Sloan, Northwestern & Y Combinator and currently lives in New York City. But that’s just scratching the surface.


Amanda “classed it up” with Bulleit Rye on the rocks and shared her beginnings as the “5th grader with the side hustle,” living in China, becoming the “queen of the geeks” in Texas, and ultimately her three-startup-strong experience. All the while maintaining a DIY, entrepreneurial spirit and embracing the mess of the startup world by seizing the opportunities it has to offer. Her story is certainly as bold and strong as her drink of choice - cheers!

You can check out more of her musings on the internet via @amandapey.

Direct download: SIAB_AmandaPayton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm EDT

Brooke Hammerling

Brew Media Relations founder, Brooke Hammerling, has created one of the go-to PR companies in the tech world. Her clients have included GroupMeGeneral AssemblyOracle & Refinery29 and her philosophy about working with growing companies - young or old - is one any leader could learn from. Her path to where she is, from growing up in the suburbs of New York City to founding the company from her apartment on W10th Street in NY's West Village, was not a predictable one. We sat down over "the wine of the Gods", Domaines Ott Château De Selle Rosé Coeur de Grain and talked about how she went from an early '90s club kid without direction, to one of the most successful, creative and innovative voices in tech. 

You can hear more from her on Twitter at @Brooke.

SPONSOR: This episode is brought to you by SUMO Heavy, a premiere NYC development and consulting firm specializing in eCommerce. SUMO is growing their team and looking for talented developers. Apply now at with the subject line Story In A Bottle.

Direct download: Story_in_A-Bottle-Brooke_Hammerling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05am EDT

Rick Webb is currently the VP of People Operations at Percolate and one of New York's most well known and respected figures in technology. As the co-founder of The Barbarian Group, an angel investor, a partner at Quotidian Ventures and a mentor to so many, he's been a fixture of the tech world for over a decade. We had he pleasure of talking to him for our innagural episode. For an hour, over a Malbec mixed with soda water (Rick's drink of choice), we heard about his upbringing in Alaska, his migration east and the lessons he's learned by going with his gut.

You can find him on Twitter at @RickWebb

SPONSOR: This episode is brought to you by SUMO Heavy, a premiere NYC development and consulting firm specializing in eCommerce. SUMO is growing their team and looking for talented developers. Apply now at with the subject line Story In A Bottle.

Direct download: SIAB_-_E01_-_Rick_Web_v7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Scott Beale

Scott Beale is the founder and primary tentacle of Laughing Squid, as well as advisor to and All Power Labs. Scott took his early beginnings in film to create one of the biggest art, culture and technology blogs and hosting companies (which boasts a record 1MM visits in a single day). From growing up and delivering pizza in Dayton, Ohio to pursuing a documentarian career to a stint at Burning Man and ultimately growing Laughing Squid to where it is today, his experience is both entertaining and inspirational.

We joined him for his favorite cocktail, the Bloody Gin and Tonic (made by his wife, Lori Dorn), to hear his perspective of the industry but found even more with his insightful perspectives on authenticity, sensationalism, memes, and common mistakes on the internet.

You can hear more from him on Twitter at @ScottBeale.

Direct download: Story_In_A_Bottle_-_Scott_Beale_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

Richard Blakeley

In this week’s episode we hear from Richard Blakeley who is an award-winning internet innovator and entrepreneur. However, most noteably to us, Blakeley has pursued a career of pushing the boundaries of content as he navigated through the digital world; starting with a personal Live Journal, to founding the over the top food blog turned book This is Why You’re Fat, and eventually rising through the ranks of media world as Editor-in-Chief of Gawker.TV and heading Content & Strategy at Thrillist. Not to mention, he extends the limits of the online realm as the founder of Internet's biggest annual party, The Webutante Ball.


He joined us for 2 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc (prompting him to suggest our show be called ‘Story in a Bottles,’ touche) and he recounted to us how his relentless drive to see ideas through myriad experiences has helped him disrupt the status quo of both content and digital products, and reminded us that so long as you’re learning, no day is ever wasted on the internet. Cheers to that.

For more from Blakeley: @blakeley

Direct download: Story_In_A_Bottle_-_Richard_Blakeley_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28am EDT