Samira Stalks: Entrepreneurship | Business Education | Innovation | Impact
By Samira Sohail: Business Strategist | Reckless Dreamer
The podcast that brings you interviews with reckless dreamers and their stories of entrepreneurship, innovation and impact. Each week, we’ll talk to dreamers from an eclectic mix of fields- the arts, sciences, education, digital, social enterprise, sport, retail- you name it! We’ll weave through their professional and personal journey to uncover the secrets to their success but sure to talk about failure too! You’ll pick up the business education you need, from funding, strategy, and operations to marketing. It’s all to help you follow your own reckless dream so if you’re curious, creative and ready to make an impact on this world then this is for you! Inspired by StartUp, TED and Desert Island Discs. www.samirastalks.com. Hosted by Samira Sohail.
Shine is a self-care app for millennial women - the largest growing share of the workforce. Shine operates in the wellness space in over 165 countries. Leveraging the power of text to reach people with a 98% open rate, Naomi and March found a way to recreate the feeling of a hand on your shoulder every morning.
“Align yourself with marketing efforts that can be repeated and if you see something that's working, press that button as fast as possible.” In a world of access not ownership, Nisha co-founded a Classpass for co-working spaces in NYC to empower users to work from anywhere. Born out of frustration with nowhere to work on ideas at the weekends, teaching herself to code and tired of overpriced pastries - this startup story is the modern day version of Friends. Croissant now has over 200 spaces signed up across 10 cities and has been through the 500 Startups school.
“The feeling of being a migrant is a universal one” explains Mohsin Hamid, the award-winning novelist of Exit West and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. With the rise of technology, globalisation and fake news, we’re living in an absurd present and uncertain future. In this episode, we journey through stories from Mohsin’s books and his writing form to explore the concept of migration being a fundamental human right. The interview provides a fresh and diverse voice on the state of international politics today, the global immigrant crisis and highlights the role of fiction as the human species evolves from storytelling around campfires to glowing screens.
“I know the power of finding a book that changes someone’s life.” Tired of having to justify his seat at the table, Nikesh Shukla wrote a book curating 21 essays from upcoming writers from diverse backgrounds. They unravel British culture, explore self-identity and question the legacy of imperialism to provide an open space to discuss race. Against the backdrop of increased hostility to immigrants at a global scale, it sold 50k copies and accidentally became a reference pillar in the post Brexit debate. Crowdfunded by Unbound.
“Artificial intelligence will move software from being passive to active, the software will be expected to make decisions on our behalf.” Dennis counted he had scheduled 1,019 meetings in a year! With big data startups under his belt, he deployed artificial intelligence techniques to create Amy, a virtual assistant and is on a mission to harness the power of AI to increase human potential. Hundreds of thousands of meetings have been scheduled automatically and it’s raised of $40m of Venture Capital investment. In this episode, he divulges the technology underpinning Amy, jobs of the future, and the the morals and ethics behind bots - from bad behaviour, empathy to personalities.
“For one client, we improved the prediction power from 23%, worse than chance, to 86% confidence on what people were going to eat for dinner.” With a bout of microfinance experience in India, a PhD and a client trying to invent a new tea flavour, Tugce founded Streetbees to give consumers a voice when brands design new products. Today, Streetbees is a UK startup disrupting the $45bn market research industry by providing grassroot insights for global clients with access to over a million ‘bees’ on the platform in over 80 countries.
Against the backdrop of Airbnb, citizenM has come to the fore as a boutique hotel for the modern mobile citizen. Born out of the frustration of the fashion traveller, this startup hotel deploys user centered design to solve for modern luxury. 12 hotels later, 40% repeat business and artwork such as Andy Warhol casually placed around the sites, citizenM is a fresh burst in the hotel industry.
“With education, the people you learn from aren’t just your teachers, it’s your peers as well.” Refusing to lose the magic of his Harvard business school network after graduating, Beri embarked on creating a social university for adults. It facilitates lifelong learning with access to the leading minds of our time with events across the globe.
Firing off an irreverent note to attract non-techies to an event, Sam Parr had never envisaged he would resurrect email to start a media company - The Hustle - a daily email newsletter. A young gun set to be the next media mogul uncovers bumping into Tim Ferriss walking his dog and writing amazon romance novels to journey through The Hustle’s own hustle. Today, The Hustle has over 0.5m subscribers, a cash positive balance fuelled by advertising and over $1m in funding. Available as podcast in iTunes (Apple), Spotify and Stitcher (Android). Sign up to the Samira Stalks mailing list for written summary.
Monzo is the latest challenger bank on the UK fintech scene, racking up half a million customers with half of them under 30 years old and raising £1m in under 96 seconds from its customers. With its seamless user experience, open dialogue with customers and friendly nudges - we hear how it’s got young adults excited about their personal finances. The post #27 The challenger bank for the smartphone generation with Monzo, Tom Blomfield appeared first on Samira Stalks.
An insight into how the tech industry can be a disrupter for good to meet refugee needs. Follow the show @SamiraStalks The post #26 The tech community response to refugee needs, Techfugees with Josephine Goube appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“In the UK, 31% of adults fail to save with 50% of UK households without a budget... these habits start young and out of school.” Taught as an 11 year old kid to manage his own finances by his diligent accountant parents, Alick spent his adult life observing most people had no clue when it came to personal budgeting and saving. He set out to create a kids bank Osper to address the endemic spending crisis and instill healthy financial habits early on in life. Today, Osper has over 100k kids banking and spending with their own debit card through a subscription service. Follow the show @SamiraStalks The post #25 The kids bank that turns pocket money into lifelong spending lessons, Osper with Alick Varma appeared first on Samira Stalks.
With an unheated room in an English castle, no fintech experience but a watchful eye on Kickstarter, two former colleagues decided "startup investing should not be just for the rich". Today, Crowdcube has created a platform for the 'rest of us to invest' The post #24 Empowering the crowd to startup invest with Luke Lang, CrowdCube appeared first on Samira Stalks.
Fusing fashion and technology together, Saif has invented the closest thing to an invisibility cloak. Listen to the story of the scarf with a magical symmetrical pattern. In a world of eroding privacy, it has gone down a treat with celebrities such as JAYZ, Cameron Diaz and Jaden Smith. Put the scarf on - take a flash picture - POOF! - the face disappears. Saif is now turning his hand to deploy fashiontech to power clothes with solar energy in the developing world. Available as podcast in iTunes (Apple) and Stitcher (Android) Sign up to the Samira Stalks mailing list at www.samirastalks.com for written summary The post #23 The invisibility cloak made with fasiontech by Saif Siddiqui, ISHU appeared first on Samira Stalks.
Chris is an entrepreneur who has invented a better way to navigate by taking on the address, GPS and postal space. He’s divided up the world into 57 trillion 3m squares and assigned 3 words to each one - a giant grid and the simplest way to communicate a location. Available as podcast in iTunes (Apple) and Stitcher (Android) Sign up to the Samira Stalks mailing list at www.samirastalks.com for written summary The post #22 3 words to invent a new address system with Chris Sheldrick, What3Words appeared first on Samira Stalks.
Join Cedric Dahl, an early investor in Bitcoin who has the classic story of being in right place at the right time. After buying bitcoins in Starbucks for himself, he helped friends get in on the action, then angel investors and finally VC firms. He went on to found Buttercoin- a bitcoin exchange taking on the financial regulation systems. Not averse to failure, nor volatility we’ll hear his tales from Silicon Valley, starting then folding Buttercoin and understand the new world order of cryptocurrency. In this episode, we’ll journey through: - How the internet is becoming distributed - His views on the next protocol to hit mass adoption - The case for why bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are a better savings investment - Lastly, his approach to rejection- he’s done more interviews at Y Combinator- the infamous Silicon Valley incubator- than any other human on the planet! Available as podcast in iTunes (Apple) and Stitcher (Android) Sign up to the Samira Stalks mailing list for written summary The post #21 Is bitcoin a better savings investment? Cedric Dahl, Bitcoin expert appeared first on Samira Stalks.
"It was only music, it was only grime... poetry was my way to tell stories to my peers." A lyrical genius - Suli is on a mission to express his views on education, politics, work and other social norms- a refreshing voice for the youth. Suli rose to the public eye on YouTube after launching a viral video titles ‘Why I Hate School but love Education’. His love for the lost art of poetry has earned a reputation as hard-hitting, poignant and thought provoking. His efforts have been rewarded with a diverse fan base- performances at TED Global and London last his sold-out headline show, Not A Role Model. Lastly...listen to how he stalked his way to have breakfast with Will Smith- actually Will stalked him to be fair…. Enjoy! Available as podcast in iTunes (Apple) and Stitcher (Android) Sign up to the Samira Stalks mailing list for written summary The post #20 A spoken poet word saving youth politics with Suli Breaks appeared first on Samira Stalks.
Ever wondered where the canvas tote bags, which we’ve become so reliant on for everyday errands, come from? In the episode, we hear from Smruti Sriram from Supreme Creations, the world’s largest ethical manufacturer of reusable bags with 50,000 clients across Europe. Originally a business set up by her father, she was the pioneer behind shifting perceptions of these sustainable bags by partnering his fashion labels to make them somewhat of a fashion icon in their own right. The post #19 How the canvas tote bag became a fashion statement with Smruti Sriram, Supreme Creations appeared first on Samira Stalks.
In this episode, we’re joined by Harry Stebbings- the 20 yr old who has become somewhat of a star in the Venture Capital industry. He set out to make his mark on it after watching Peter Thiel invest in Facebook in the The Social Network movie as a teen. Harry is the host of the 20 Minute VC podcast where he has interviewed over 600 investors and thought-leaders, he’s amassed over 100k subscribers and has sponsors queuing up to put their services in front of his audience. The post #18 How a 20 yr old became a Venture Capital star, Harry Stebbings- The Twenty Minute VC appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“At the most basic level, the thing that makes movies at Pixar unique is its dedication to story.” In this episode, we’re joined by Danielle Feinberg, the Director of Photography at Pixar who has created stories with heart, soul and wonder for 12 Pixar movies and counting! We go behind the scenes of Pixar classics including A Bug’s Life, Wall-E, Brave, Finding Nemo (and Dory) to discuss its infamous creative process and the edge between believable and fantastical. Like all of us and Pixar’s lovable characters, she’s on this adventure called life and we delve into her passions of weaving maths, code and art together to make enchanted worlds that truly turn imagination into a reality. Talk about impact – who hasn’t been tear-jerked by a Pixar classic?! Available as podcast in iTunes (Apple) and Stitcher (Android) Sign up to the Samira Stalks mailing list for written summary. The post #17 How Pixar makes imaginary worlds real with Danielle Feinberg appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“Kids are born scientists, born explorers, born tinkerers! They touch, they feel, they ask questions – that’s how they learn.” Sahar Meghani is one of many girls who enjoyed science growing up. She was bored of the lack of sophisticated toys on offer for her nieces and couldn’t understand why houses in the UK aren’t full of craft kits, like the US. She’s on a mission to teach kids with Trunkaroo– a subscription box with hands-on DIY arts and science maker kits for the home which both entertain and educate the little ones. In today’s episode we’ll hear about: - Making that painful switch from a stable career in finance to tech startups - Why hands-on learning is back on the rise in the age of instant gratification as the iPad becomes the modern babysitter - The need to instill a maker mindset in kids through gender neutral toys - The key factors in nailing a subscription model as every e-commerce business aspires to become the next Dollar Shave Club! The post #16 Harness the maker mindset in kids with a hands-on kit subscription box, Sahar Meghani appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“I used to watch young men and pigs fight for the same resources on a rubbish dump- just being moved by it was a totally inadequate response.” Rocco Falconer is in my serial entrepreneur category with a handful of agricultural companies across West Africa. He founded Planting Promise a farm which feeds profits back into schools in Sierra Leone, educating over 1500 kids and is just at the start of bringing Ghanaian coconut water to shelves in the UK, US and South Africa. Not even 30 yet, he had a quintessentially British upbringing in London, attended Cambridge, spent a short stint in the army with a thirst for adventure and a north star to solve social global issues. The post #15 A farm feeding profits into schools with Rocco Falconer, Planting Promise appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“We like misfits here! There’s a big streak of anti- authoritarianism in British comedy… people who are a bit flawed and not that self aware”. Fancy yourself a bit of a comedian? Join Shane Allen who heads up Comedy at the BBC- the UK’s public service broadcaster. He’s sourced and collaborated with mavericks such as Ricky Gervais, James Cordon and Sacha Baron Cohen and is the mastermind behind some of your best loved shows with a hand in Ali G, Peep Show, The Inbetweeners to more recently People Just Do Nothing. We’ll journey behind the scenes through his escapades in the media industry to understand what makes something funny! The post #14 Ali G, The Inbetweeners and People Just Do Nothing- the mastermind behind British comedy w/ Shane Allen BBC appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“I was spat at, abused and told I would never work in this town again… but it made sense to me and the women I wanted to help.” We discuss fashion, business and social impact with my guest – Leah Rodrigues- the founder of Holi, a premium outerwear fashion line for women. She was one of four raised by a single mother who instilled what I call graft! Born in New Zealand and turning up in London with a bag and a couple of hundred pounds, she worked literally any job to the pay the bills to be able to start her own designer coat line, Holi. The post #13 Bossing a fashion line- the city, Cambodia and designer coats with Leah Rodrigues from Holi appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“We experienced the frustration of being a small startup so went back to the vision of it’s about the people and stories can help us transcend cultural barriers” Hear Franco’s story of DreamAfrica – it curates stories from local African communities, animates them and whips them together in a digital subscription service reaching kids, families and schools across smartphones, tablets and laptops. It wants kids to grow up with a more diverse selection of stories, more relevant to them and importantly shedding a new light on Africa. The post #12 The digital Disney of Africa video subscription service- DreamAfrica with Franco Abott appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“At the same time I started meditating at 14, I built a prototype in 2005 for the Calm app but never launched it.” Join Alex Tew – a serial entrepreneur- the founder of the Calm mindfulness app and one of those who made his $1m in his bedroom, whilst in his teens, with a marketing viral hit called the Million Dollar Homepage. A meditator since the age of 14, he’s bringing mindfulness to the masses through the app- the latest craze in the wellbeing space for happier, healthier living. It’s taken the western world by storm, starting with just 10 minutes a day- its no wonder it has over 5m downloads and is in the top 150 of the Apple’s highest grossing apps! The post #11 Keep Calm and Meditate- there’s an app for that! with Alex Tew appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“I had a hard time selling my first company to Groupon… I always wonder what could have been.” Join Sheel Mohnot- a serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley- who has not one but two startup exits under his belt. His first venture was structuring one of the highest stakes auction of our time where the likes of Amazon, Google and others went head to head in a battle over internet domain names! Currently a Partner at 500 startups and an angel investor focussed on FinTech, we will journey through his mission of bringing “finance to the rest of us”. The post #10 Bringing finance to the ‘rest of us’ with Sheel Mohnot appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“Whilst running, I had the chance to reject my own shame whilst free-bleeding but millions don’t- only 12% of women in India have access to sanitary pads…” Shake s&!t up! We hear from another crazy, badass lady on the show- Kiran Gandhi- a drummer, activist and music artist. Still under 30, she ran the marathon free-bleeding, after being on tour with M.I.A as her drummer, whilst at Harvard Business School. We’ll hear her story of: - what touring the world with MIA was like whilst studying for an MBA at Harvard; - as a rising activist, we’ll get into what drove her to run the London marathon last year free-bleeding - - whilst on her period- she ran with blood dripping down her leggings to raise awareness of menstruation issues in the developing world… Eyebrows raised? Me too- we’ll hear how she dealt with the media aftermath; - lastly, we touch on her her four-step formula for promoting any social justice cause as she continues to move forward the ‘future is female’ campaign, inspiring young women across the world through her own solo music career as MADAME GANDHI The post #9 Run to the bloody beat with MIA’s former drummer, Kiran Gandhi appeared first on Samira Stalks.
“The allure of the unknown is far more comfortable than the known – go further. More important than leaving a legacy is that my ideas will remain behind in the minds of people. Let’s be proudly human – let’s do things that makes us a proud species” In this episode, we hear from aspiring martian Adriana Marais, one of the last one hundred finalist’s of the Mars 1 mission, hoping to jet off to Mars on a one way ticket in 2026. Born and raised on Earth in South Africa, she is one of the many who had hopes of becoming an astronaut but one of the few who carried through with it. Currently an academic researcher with scientific pursuits in the emerging field of quantum astrobiology, she read about the mission to send humans, on a one way ticket, to Mars at breakfast one morning…Her body shivered as she knew at that moment, she was going to attempt to leave Earth and dedicate her own life to the advancement of human knowledge. The post #8 Why I’m on a one-way ticket to MARS!!! with Adriana Marais appeared first on Samira Stalks.
The podcast that brings you interviews with reckless dreamers and their stories of entrepreneurship, innovation and impact. Each week, we’ll talk to dreamers from an eclectic mix of fields- the arts, sciences, education, digital, social enterprise, sport, retail- you name it! We’ll weave through their professional and personal journey to uncover the secrets to their success but sure to talk about failure too! You’ll pick up the business education you need, from funding, strategy, and operations to marketing. It’s all to help you follow your own reckless dream so if you’re curious, creative and ready to make an impact on this world then this is for you! Inspired by StartUp, TED and Desert Island Discs. www.samirastalks.com
"In the UK we find failure harder to accept than in the US". We hear from Taymoor Atighetchi- a serial entrepreneur- on building a digital brand in personalised goods, Papier which is looking to disrupt the cards gifts and stationary space in the UK. We’ll hear his commitment to being a serial entrepreneur, starting from selling art as a child, building a media company, The Tab, at university to the launch of Papier itself. We discuss how he bucked the Silicon Valley trend of being a sole founder without a co-founder partner in crime and lastly his views on the new school wave of the more risk averse entrepreneurs that are bubbling up.
"Love is proportional to will power..." Stemming from a throwaway Instagram photo of strangers on a plane talking about what love means, Chrissie - a change-making fashionista- has created the LOVE IS bracelet. It follows a Toms' type model- produced by Maasai tribes and distributed on mass scale by American Eagle and Whole Foods. We’ll hear her story of how her passion for concept design, a sabbatical and how she was keen to create jobs rather than charity through this work.
"The language in which we interact with machines is only going to become more relevant – robotics, AI, machine learning… the next generation needs to be prepared." I’m joined by Yonatan Raz Fridman from Kano. If any of you have been around toddlers or kids recently, you’ll be flabbergasted at the speed at which they can use digital devices! Some can’t even talk yet but can play a Youtube video of their favourite sing along! Kano is on a mission to make the world a place where anyone can make, learn and play with technology. It’s right at the forefront of disrupting the education landscape by empowering kids to make their first physical computer- it’s claimed to be as easy as Lego – on top of that it’s teaching them to code in a fun and playful way. The post #7 Giving kids superpowers with Kano – a computer kit teaching kids to code without them knowing it! Yonatan Raz-Fridman appeared first on Samira Stalks.
"One of the ways we approached this… we always said it is worth it even if it’s a complete flop as we’re making a product that we think is a good one! It doesn’t matter if it fails!" In this episode, we hear from with Mark Jenner, an ardent cyclist who’s created Beeline- a new navigation product for urban cyclists for greener, cleaner living. It helps them find those quiet nugget routes in cities that they otherwise wouldn’t find using Google Maps. The post #6 Making a Beeline for cleaner, greener living by inventing an urban cyclist navigation product with Mark Jenner appeared first on Samira Stalks.
"Early on I took one job as an art consultant but it was a total disaster, it was a complete scam… but out of it, at least I found my future gallery partner." I was joined by Alexander Warder who runs a contemporary art gallery Bosse and Baum with another young lady in Peckham, London- a mecca for young businesses. The post #5 The tale of two young women shaking up the contemporary art scene with Alexandra Warder appeared first on Samira Stalks.
"There is a huge grassroots entrepreneurial spirit in Uganda but the bureaucracy is miles behind." I was joined by Henry Blanchard earlier this week who launched the first international marathon in Uganda – now in its second year. He’s starting a meaningful travel movement with a week long immersive experience including community outreach and a festival-marathon mashup in the district of Massaka, west of Lake Victoria, in central Uganda. The post #4 How to mashup the first international marathon, a festival and meaningful travel in Uganda with Henry Blanchard appeared first on Samira Stalks.