Major breakthroughs require commitment, time, and the resources to go the distance.

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Rony Abovitz is a serial tech entrepreneur and visionary. He co-founded MAKO Surgical in 2004 — a robotics company specialising in manufacturing surgical robotic arm assistance technology utilised by hospitals worldwide. MAKO was acquired by Stryker Corporation in 2013 for $1.65 billion.

Abovitz went on to found Magic Leap — a spatial computing company which envisaged a futuristic world, many years ahead of its time. Starting out of his garage in 2010, Abovitz worked on Magic Leap at night whilst still working at MAKO during the day. He partnered with award-winning Weta Workshop in New Zealand and assembled a world-class team of creative scientists before building their own high-tech factory in the US. He remained Magic Leap’s CEO until 2020 when he helped recruit Peggy Johnson to be his successor. …


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Shazam Founders: Philip Inghelbrecht, Avery Wang, Chris Barton, Dhiraj Mukherjee

“The number one determinant of entrepreneurial success is persistence. If you are not prepared to go to superhuman levels that are beyond rationality to realize your dream, then your chance of finding success is virtually zero.” Chris Barton

The story of Shazam is one of pure innovation, foresight, and friendship. In 1999, Chris Barton dreamed of a seemingly impossible solution to ambient music recognition and created the team — including friend Dhiraj Mukherjee, classmate Philip Inghelbrecht, and engineer Avery Wang — to make it a reality. …


Interview with Machine Learning Scientist Catherine Breslin

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This is the nineteenth interview in the Beyond Work series looking at how founders and innovators work from home during the global pandemic of Coronavirus. In this interview, we meet Catherine Breslin.

Catherine is a machine learning scientist and consultant based in Cambridge in the United Kingdom. She has a First-Class Honours MEng in Engineering and Computer Science from Oxford University, as well as MPhil in Speech, Text and Internet Technology, and a PhD in Engineering and Automatic Speech Recognition from Cambridge University.

Catherine has a wealth of experience in both business and academic environments including four and a half years at Amazon, where she held the positions of Speech Scientist at Amazon Alexa and Manager, Applied Science, Amazon Alexa AI. …


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Radia Perlman

“Constantly question why things are the way they are.”

** This interview first appeared in my newsletter here.**

I wanted to share an interview from my archive with you. As this year marks 35 years since Radia Perlman invented the algorithm for implementing a spanning tree protocol (STP), I thought it a great time to share her story which originally appeared in my book, Female Innovators at Work.

Radia’s invention (one of many patents she holds) transformed the Ethernet from technology which was limited to a few hundred nodes confined to a single building into a technology that could handle massive networks and thus laying the groundwork for the internet as we know it today. …


How Duane Jackson Turned Adversity into Success — Part III

**This interview first appeared in my newsletter Founder Stories — you can sign up here.**

This is the third and final instalment of my interview with serial tech entrepreneur Duane Jackson. You can read Part I about his childhood in care homes to prison here, and Part II which charts his time through prison and on to his first startup here.

In this final instalment, Duane discusses what it’s really like to be a founder of a growing startup, the highs and lows he experienced whilst trying to sell his first business, and what it feels like to wake up a millionaire. …


How Duane Jackson Turned Adversity into Success — Part II

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Duane Jackson with Prince Charles of The Prince’s Trust

[*This interview first appeared in my newsletter here. Sign up here.*]

In the first part of this interview, we took a deep dive into Duane Jackson’s extraordinary back-story from his mum putting him into a children’s home at eleven to being arrested in the States at nineteen with 6,500 ecstasy tablets.

Here, we chart his life from the court case through prison and out the other side to his first startup — how the lessons from prison taught him how to be a better entrepreneur, the challenges he overcame in the early days of building his startup, and why it’s important to have mentors who have been there and done it. …


How Duane Jackson Turned Adversity into Success — Part I

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*This interview first appeared in my newsletter here. Sign up to be the first to read all my interviews here.*

Duane Jackson is a hugely inspiring serial entrepreneur. But no one could have guessed how successful he would become based on his childhood.

Duane grew up in East London with his mother, brother and sister. At eleven, his mother called the police on him and got him taken into care. At fourteen, he was expelled from school with no qualifications to his name. At nineteen, he was arrested trying to smuggle 6,500 ecstasy tablets into the USA.

But during his stint in prison, Duane turned his life around. Upon the realisation that he is the only person who is in charge of where his life goes next, and with the help of The Prince’s Trust, Duane decided to make his hobby his career. And so his tech entrepreneur path…


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Ryan Hoover taken by Christopher Michel, Hawaii 2018

*This interview first appeared in my newsletter here. Sign up to be the first to read all my interviews here.*

Ryan Hoover is the founder and CEO of Product Hunt — the site where anyone can launch and discover new products. He started it as a side project back in 2013 before selling to AngelList three years later for a reported $20 million. Following the sale, Ryan started Weekend Fund in order to invest in early stage startups.

In this interview, we revisit his childhood, how Ryan got into tech, and how being curious has led him here today.

Here’s his…


This mother took an everyday problem and turned it into a product which has just launched on Amazon

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Sophia Procter is someone I have known for 20+ years after we found ourselves on the same Public Relations course at university.

Sophia went on to forge a hugely successful career in the PR industry, working for companies including Red Bull, Ask.com, and, most recently, a nine year stint at British Airways, before stumbling across a problem lots of parents experience — how to get your kids to sit still and eat. Not dissuaded by the fact she had no experience in product design, she set about creating a product which would help fix the problem parents all over the world experience. …


Founder Efua Akumanyi on life in lockdown, how she stays productive and what opportunities lie ahead

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This is the eighteenth interview in the Beyond Work series looking at how founders and innovators work from home during the global pandemic of Coronavirus. In this interview, we head from Denmark to London to speak to founder Efua Akumanyi.

Efua is the co-founder and Head of Technology at Furnishful—the innovative way to discover and shop for furniture and homeware online. She is also a tech consultant, based in London.

April 2020. London, England.

What does a “typical” day look like for you now?

At the moment, I typically get up between 7–8am (but this is very much informed by my young son!). Work involves a mix of tech consulting and my business — Furnishful. Sometimes, I’m coding which means I need a good stretch of time (at least three hours), sometimes I’m taking video calls to provide advice on other people’s tech builds. …

About

Danielle Newnham

Writer. Founder. Interviewed 300+ founders and innovators and I’m sharing their stories here. 📚 Author x 2.

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