Listen Here

| |

Conversation
Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Mike Pappas, CEO and Co-Founder of Modulate, a voice safety platform that has raised $36 Million in funding.

Here are the most interesting points from our conversation:

  • Unconventional Path to Tech: Mike’s journey from studying physics and math at MIT, exploring different industries, including a significant stint at Bridgewater Associates, before co-founding Modulate with his CTO, Carter, reflects the importance of diverse experiences in shaping a founder’s vision and approach to building innovative solutions.
  • Bridgewater’s Influence: Mike’s time at Bridgewater Associates introduced him to the principles of radical transparency and continuous feedback, shaping his management style and the culture at Modulate, albeit with a nuanced approach to accommodate different individual needs and foster inclusivity.
  • Identifying the Problem: The inception of Modulate was driven by a desire to improve online interactions. Originally exploring voice-changing technology, they pivoted to voice moderation after recognizing a critical market need for protecting users from harmful content in digital spaces.
  • Customer-driven Development: The transition from voice transformation to voice moderation highlights the significance of listening to customer feedback and adapting the product to meet market demands effectively.
  • Prosocial Voice Intelligence: Modulate’s vision extends beyond voice safety, aiming to enable richer, more meaningful online interactions globally through prosocial voice intelligence. This ambition illustrates the broad impact that innovative technology can have on enhancing human connections in digital environments.
  • Rapid Growth and Learning: Modulate’s growth, including securing major partnerships like Call of Duty and a fourfold increase in annual recurring revenue, underscores the scalability of their solution and the universal need for safer online communication platforms.

 

Actionable
Takeaways

Embrace Diverse Experiences:

Mike's varied background, including his time at Bridgewater, emphasizes the value of drawing on diverse experiences to inform your approach to building a startup. This variety can provide unique insights into team management, culture building, and problem-solving.

Adapt to Customer Feedback:

Modulate's pivot from voice-changing technology to voice moderation underscores the critical importance of listening to your customers and being willing to shift your focus based on their needs, even if it means reevaluating your initial product concept.

Cultivate an Inclusive Culture:

Learning from Mike's experience, it's crucial to foster a culture of feedback and transparency within your organization while being mindful of individual differences. This approach ensures that all team members feel valued and understood, enhancing overall productivity and satisfaction.

Solve the Right Problem:

Identifying and focusing on a problem that genuinely needs solving, as Modulate did with voice moderation, can significantly impact your product's success. It's not just about having a great idea but about solving a real problem that customers are facing.

Understand the Venture Landscape:

Mike's insights into the fundraising process highlight the importance of understanding how venture capital firms operate, including their investment philosophies and the stages of their funds. This knowledge can be crucial in pitching your startup effectively and forging productive partnerships.

Recommended Founder
Interviews

Austin Ogilvie

Founder of Thoropass

Austin Ogilvie, Founder of Thoropass: $98 Million Raised to Power the Future of Continuous Compliance

Fabrice Deprez

CEO of Discai

Fabrice Deprez, CEO of Discai: $12 Million Raised to Build the Future of Anti-Money Laundering Software

Avi Cohen

CEO and Co-Founder of Entrio

Avi Cohen, CEO & Co-Founder of Entrio: $11 Million Raised to Build the Responsible Tech Adoption Category

Jag Lamba

Founder and CEO of Certa

Jag Lamba, Founder and CEO of Certa: $52 Million Raised to Build the Future of Third-Party Management

Jordan Domash

CEO & Co-Founder of Responsiv

Jordan Domash, CEO and Co-Founder of Responsiv: $3M Raised to Power the Future of Legal Research

Nate Kharrl

CEO and Co-Founder of Spec

Nate Kharrl, CEO and Co-Founder of Spec: $30 Million Raised to Build the Future of Fraud Defense

Rob Leslie

CEO of Sedicii

Rob Leslie, CEO of Sedicii: $4 Million Raised to Build the Future of Data Privacy Infrastructure for an Online World

Craig Unger

CEO and Founder of Hyperproof

Craig Unger, CEO and Founder of Hyperproof: Over $22 Million Raised to Pioneer the Compliance Operations category

Naftali Harris

Co-founder and CEO of SentiLink

Naftali Harris, Co-founder and CEO of SentiLink: $85 Million Raised Eliminate First-Party Fraud, Syntheic Fraud, and Identify Fraud

Ravi Sandepudi

Co-Founder and CEO of Effectiv

Ravi Sandepudi, Co-Founder and CEO of Effectiv: $9.6 Million Raised to Build the Future of Fraud and Risk Management

Travis Howerton

Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of RegScale

Travis Howerton, Co-Founder and CTO of RegScale: Over $21 Million Raised to Create the Future of Continuous Compliance