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How can founders use their entrepreneurial skills for good?

In the first episode of our Founders Counsel, Doug Mandell, our podcast host and global head of our founder practice, explores this question by examining how five top founders have responded to Covid-19 by launching their entrepreneurial initiatives. Each guest was compelled to step away from their jobs and families to join the fight against this virus. Why did they do this? How did they draw on their backgrounds to create options for others that didn't exist before? How can you make a difference like this in your own life? Where did they find the courage to "just show up" and help?

In this illuminating episode, our guests share their inspiring stories and shine a light on what drives them – whether they are building companies or helping to save lives. All of our guests on this episode know each other well from the Silicon Valley eco-system and are friends, something which contributes to the unique vibe of this show.


Robin Chan – General Partner at Goat Capital, Special Advisor at Bird, Angel Investor in Alibaba, Bird, Twitter, Square and Xiaomi, Advisor at Flipboard, Uber and Expa. Co-Founder and CEO of Operation Masks, a group of entrepreneurs in the US and China working to bring urgent PPE to the medical frontline of Covid-19 and inventing a new health care supply chain to get supplies to those in need.

Jyri Engeström – Co-Founder and General Partner at Yes VC, an early-stage venture capital firm based in San Francisco who has founded and sold companies to Google and Groupon. Led an initiative in Bolinas, California to test all residents for Covid-19 antibodies and interrupt local transmission.

Raj Kapoor – Chief Strategy Officer & Head of Self Driving Business at Lyft, prior VC at Mayfield and founder of several companies including Snapfish and Fitmob (now ClassPass). Shared publicly that he contracted the virus and launched World Without Covid, a nonprofit public health initiative based in a free registry that matches volunteers with opportunities to participate in clinical trials for vaccines, treatments, testing and blood plasma transfusion.

Raina Kumra –CEO of Juggernaut, Partner at The Fund LA and co-founder of Mavin, Inc. Launched text hotline initiative to get domestically available masks and supplies to front line healthcare workers that is going national through a partnership with GetUsPPE, and working on similar supply delivery to seniors, homeless shelters, and foster care.

DJ Patil – The nation's first White House Chief Data Scientist and regarded as one of the top data scientists in the world, Head of Technology at Devoted Health, a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School, and former senior executive at RelateIQ and LinkedIn. Working with the state of California and governors across the country to model the potential impact of COVID-19 for scenario planning.

Episode notes

World Without Covid

Mental Health & Covid-19

Project N95

Originally published June 9, 2020.

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