Dare to Disrupt

Discover Penn State alumni who are innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders, and the stories behind their success, on the Dare to Disrupt podcast.

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Episode 17: Cheering On Women Warriors with Haley McClain Hill

Haley McClain Hill is the CEO and Founder of TORCH Warriorwear, a subscription, direct to consumer military apparel and lifestyle brand that celebrates, empowers, and serves current and future women warriors. She shares her experiences leading a 300-person Air Force squadron during the pandemic, cheering in the NFL, and launching her apparel company.

Episode 16: From Wall Street Trader to Facial Authentication Innovator with Ryan Owen

Ryan shares his experiences as a Wall Street trader, the unique internship opportunities Penn State connected him to as a student, as well as his experience being in the World Trade Center on 9/11. He then shares the twists and turns that led him to founding his two current startups: Wicket, a software company that specializes in facial authentication solutions for venue operators and facility managers, and Cast Iron Media, a premier sports and entertainment streaming solutions company. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in Information Systems.

Episode 15: Increasing Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment with Doug Leech

Doug Leech is the Founder and CEO of Ascension Recovery Services. Doug talks about his own struggles with addiction and subsequent recovery, and how that led to the development of a passion for helping those suffering from the disease of addiction, and how he set out to increase access to SUD treatment across the country. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in accounting.

Episode 14: Empowering Underserved Communities with Former NFL Player Garry Gilliam

Garry Gilliam is the Founder and CEO of The Bridge Eco-Village, a sustainable, mixed-use community ecosystem in Harrisburg, PA. The Bridge Eco-Village will feature solutions to many of the problems facing underserved communities. Prior to launching the Bridge, Garry played in the NFL for five seasons for the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. He graduated from Penn State in 2013 with degrees in business development, psychology, and advertising.

Episode 13: Making Sustainability Convenient with Zander Isaacson

Zander Isaacson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Xeal, a technology-first electric vehicle (EV) charging company operating at the intersection of real estate, mobility, clean energy, and IoT. The company secured $40M in Series B funding in November 2022 after closing an $11M Series A in 2021 by leading proptech and climate tech VC funds. Zander was the founder & president of Happy Valley VC. He graduated from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business.  

Episode 12: Empowering Patients with Ro Founder Rob Schutz

Rob Schutz is the Chief Growth Officer and Co-founder of Ro, a direct-to-patient healthcare company providing high-quality, affordable healthcare without the need for insurance. Rob guides Ro’s growth, marketing and communications functions to tell Ro’s story of putting patients in control of their health. Rob earned his B.S. in Management Information Systems from Penn State.

Episode 11: Rejecting the Label of Disabled with Susan Robinson

Susan Robinson is a speaker, consultant and leader making an impact on the world in a truly unique way. She masterfully blends over 25 years of multi-sector leadership with her experiences being legally blind to shift thinking, elevate potential and inspire action. Susan graduated from Penn State in 1994 with a degree in health policy and administration, and received her masters of public administration in health policy and management from New York University. 

Episode 10: Innovating the Environmental Insurance Business with David Rosenberg

David Rosenberg is the former Executive Vice President and Principal at Environmental Compliance Services (ECS). David and his two partners grew ECS from a small 12 person, $5 million agency to a 500 person, $200 million agency and a leader in the environmental insurance business. He received his bachelor’s degree in individual and family studies from Penn State. 

Episode 9: On the Forefront of Digital Advertising with Infolinks Media CEO Robert Regular 

Robert is a serial technology and media entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in digital media and marketing. Robert’s current company, Infolinks Media, is an exclusive ad marketplace helping emerging publishers grow and succeed. Robert received his bachelor’s degree in communications and business from Penn State.

Episode 8: Gaming your Health with Litesprite Founder Swatee Surve

Swatee Surve is the founder of Litesprite, a health tech startup developing award-winning digital therapeutic purpose-driven games for chronic conditions. She received her MSME in Control Systems and Biomechanics from Penn State. 

Episode 7: Revolutionizing the Real Estate Industry with Sean Black

Sean Black is the Co-founder & CEO of Knock.com, and he was part of the founding team for the online real estate marketplace site Trulia. He graduated from Penn State in 1996 with a degree in international business management. 

Episode 6: Disrupting the Mattress Industry with JT Marino

JT Marino is the Chief Disruption Officer at Serta Simmons Bedding and the co-founder of Tuft & Needle, which merged with Serta Simmons in 2018. He studied math and computer science at Penn State. 

Episode 5: Building Weebly with Founder David Rusenko

David is the Head of eCommerce at Square and founder of Weebly. He talks about how we went from writing code for 16 hours straight at a time to having his website building platform acquired by Square in 2018 for $365M. He graduated from Penn State in 2007 with a degree in Information Sciences & Technology.

Episode 4: Connecting Consumers and Local Businesses with Bruce Aronow

Bruce Aronow graduated from Penn State in 1987 with a degree in accounting. He talks about how he built eLocal, a performance-based advertising company whose mission is to connect consumers with local businesses, specializing in the home services, legal, medical, financial, and insurance verticals.

Episode 3: Shaping Cultural Change with Jess Weiner

Jess Weiner graduated from Penn State in 1995 with degrees in theater, women’s studies and classics. She talks about how she built her brand consultancy Talk to Jess, through which she has been a strategic partner in culture-changing moments such as Dove’s campaign for “Real Beauty” and the evolution of Barbie.

Episode 2: A Pioneer in Tech: Building the Interviewing Cloud with Mo Bhende

Mo Bhende graduated from Penn State with honors in 2001 with degrees in math and economics. He talks about how he built Karat, which conducts highly predictive technical interviews for clients.

Episode 1: Riding the Founder’s Wave With Matt Brezina

Matt Brezina, a 2003 Schreyer and College of Engineering grad, shares the stories behind starting software company Xobni and greeting card company Sincerely.

Season 1 Teaser

Catch the season 1 teaser for the brand new Dare to Disrupt podcast.

You don’t want to make a wave, you want to ride one. That’s a founder’s job.

Matt Brezina, ’03
Founder, Xobni and Sincerely

Do you know a current Penn State student who’d be an awesome guest?