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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.



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.

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