Story In A Bottle Podcast

Prita Kumar boasts an impressive resume where her academic accolades are only surpassed by her practical experience. As a NYU Stern graduate, her trajectory seemed clear as she embarked on a life in the world of finance. However, an incessant need to problem solve paired with an MBA from Harvard Business School drove her to create a product she truly believed in. Over glasses of Chardonnay provided by Alphabet CIty Wine Company (, she discusses how her concept for Booya Fitness - a streaming group exercise class experience - immediately caught on, winning grant money and sponsor backing, gaining an audience, and potential investors. Booya’s a momentum was fueled by Prita’s hard work facilitating all parts of the business, a drive that kept Booya moving forward in an uphill battle against the saturated intersection of content and fitness. Unfortunately it was a battle that Prita ultimately realized was going to prevent her from ever reaching critical mass. This Story in a Bottle shows the excitement of potential success, but illustrates the true challenges of how to stay afloat and even pivot when you desperately believe in your idea and just need that “one more thing” to keep you going - and how to pick yourself up when that one thing arrives too late.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How wearing multiple hats as a founder can ultimately inhibit the business
  • The challenges of running a business for three and a half years on a shoestring budget
  • Navigating the the myriad advice you receive as a founder - because everyone has some and not all of it is right for you
Direct download: SIAB_PKumar_v3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT

Jesse Middleton is, at his core, a problem solver. Early in his career, he used this ability, in addition to his natural curiosity of the internet, to found and “pivot” several companies. Ultimately, his trial and error  of his businesses lead him to partner with the then-budding coworking space, WeWork, adding to their suite of offerings as co-founder of WeWork labs. However, as the company grew exponentially, so did Jesse’s role, and in that growth,opportunity struck again. Now, as a VC at Flybridge, he uses his valuable problem solving skills along with the knowledge he’s gained as an operator to invest in and advise the companies seeking his support. Over dirty martinis, he explains the key characteristics that have helped his career thrive: the importance of a familial atmosphere when approaching business, overcoming the obstacles of being an introvert, and through it all, why every major decision he’s made ultimately comes down to what feels right.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why being suspended from school is not always a bad thing
  • How transparency with your investors is core to your relationship
  • How problem solving is a unique skill in and of itself - especially for operators
Direct download: SIAB_JMiddleton_v3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:41pm EDT

While Jocelyn Leavitt has had a clear goal throughout her academic and professional career - to make education more accessible - her path to achieving it has been anything but. The spark was ignited while she was majoring in geography at Dartmouth, however, since then she’s spent her time teaching the underprivileged in Hawaii and New York, earning an MBA from Columbia University, pursuing a path in private equity and real estate before ultimately starting in the software space. It’s this varied experience and drive to bring inclusivity to the tech world that’s given her a unique set of skills suited to create Hopscotch - the only application optimized to build and consume apps exclusively on mobile. Over micheladas from ABC Beer Company, she describes their growth since launching in 2013, and the success in continuing to inspire kids ages 9-12 in their early stages of programming to create and play games and hopefully start a lifelong love of making.

About this episode:

  • Why not having a technical background shouldn’t deter anyone from innovating within the space
  • The differences in the startup and tech scenes in New York versus San Francisco
  • How computer science can and should influence younger generations
Direct download: SIAB_JLeavitt_v3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07am EDT

Nihal Mehta has been investing in the mobile space for the last 15 years, long before he became General Partner of Eniac Ventures. In fact, he started his career founding one of the earliest mobile ad products, long before the smartphones and ad buys we know today. In those early days he invested his time and effort chipping away at the potential the mobile space offered. After seeing many successes and failures as a multi-company founder, exits to companies like Omnicom and Google, and the evolution of technology and honing his expertise, he now spends his days advising companies with founders who share his passion for the industry. Over Pinot Noir he explains what inspired him to get started in this, then, largely uncharted territory and how his experience as a founder makes him uniquely qualified to invest today.

What You'll Learn:
- What early stage companies should do before they raise
- Why former founders make optimal VC partners
- How investing in early technologies can pay off

Direct download: SIAB_NMehta_v3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:36am EDT

It’s been said that “knowledge is power” and no one embraces that more than Elizabeth Green. She has dedicated her life and career to bringing information to the masses in the hopes of bettering the US education system. Over Campari and Soda provided by Alphabet City Wine Company, she remembers very distinctly the moment in highschool when she realized the educational inequities amongst her own group of friends. From then on she was compelled to a path of journalism - with the aspiration of shedding a light on this increasingly complicated industry. However, when the traditional newsroom fell short in it’s support of the coverage she felt so passionately about, Elizabeth took matters into her own hands to create a publication that would cover it correctly. Now, as the cofounder and CEO of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization with the goal of keeping regional educators abreast of policy within their industry, she faces a new set of obstacles. All this while still finding the time to continue to be a thought leader in the community and writing a New York Times Book Review Notable Book: Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone)”

What You’ll Learn:

  • How and when journalism can effect real change
  • As a founder: the importance of empowering a team to put their best work forward
  • The anxieties of being a startup founder and business owner at different stages of her company’s lifecycle
Direct download: SIAB_EGreen_v3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53am EDT