Making Sustainability Convenient with Zander Isaacson



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Dare to Disrupt
Making Sustainability Convenient with Zander Isaacson
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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, and has already partnered with 70+ of the largest real estate companies including Lincoln Property Company, Camden, Greystar, Related, UBS, and Brookfield.

Prior to starting Xeal in 2019, Zander worked as a S&T summer analyst at Citi Global Markets and then full-time in IB at Torreya Partners within the Mergers & Acquisitions division. Prior to investment banking, Zander was the founder & president of Happy Valley VC, the first student-run venture capital fund at Penn State, and was a portfolio manager for the Nittany Lion Fund, a $15M student-run hedge fund. He graduated from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business. 




Windows of Opportunity: Navigating Growth with MITER Brands CEO Matt DeSoto



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Dare to Disrupt
Windows of Opportunity: Navigating Growth with MITER Brands CEO Matt DeSoto
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Be sure to come to our upcoming LIVE podcast episode recording with honeygrow CEO & founder, Justin Rosenberg!

Matt DeSoto is the President and CEO of Harrisburg-based MITER Brands, a family of leading window and door brands designed for residential projects in the new construction and remodeling markets. Under Matt’s leadership, MITER Brands has become one of North America’s largest fabricators of vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass windows and patio doors. 

In this episode, Matt talks about his experience working for Student Painters as a student at Penn State, enduring the Great Recession of 2008, how he and his team maintain top-quality products and service, as well as how he prioritizes giving back to the communities they work in through the MITER Foundation.

At the end of the episode, current Penn State student Ryn Rizer. Ryn is a junior studying mechanical engineering. He works as a technician at OriginLabs, Invent Penn State’s newest prototyping and fabrication space in downtown State College. Ryn talks to Matt about how MITER has implemented robotics and AI to make jobs safer and production and sales more efficient.




Scaling a Stress-free Home Remodeling Business with West Shore Home Founder B.J. Werzyn



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Dare to Disrupt
Scaling a Stress-free Home Remodeling Business with West Shore Home Founder B.J. Werzyn
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B.J. Werzyn is the founder and CEO of West Shore Home, one of the largest direct to consumer home remodelers in the nation. Through a combination of acquisitions and new office openings, West Shore Home has over 38 locations in 18 states with over $750 million in revenue.

In this episode, B.J. talks about how he is revolutionizing a traditionally fragmented and tech averse industry. He talks through how West Shore Home mapped out the 67 processes of home remodeling, removed inefficiencies, and implemented streamlined processes empowered by technology to ultimately make the easiest, quickest, most stress-free customer experience.

At the end of the episode, current Penn State student Jennifer Natale joins the conversation. Jennifer is a senior at Penn State majoring in finance with a minor in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She is the president of the Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society at Penn State. She talks to B.J. about overcoming initial entrepreneurial obstacles. B.J. graduated from Penn State in 1999.




Winter Break Message II and January Episode Preview – West Shore Home



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Dare to Disrupt
Winter Break Message II and January Episode Preview - West Shore Home
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We are taking a break this December, but we’ll be back in late January with an episode featuring B.J. Werzyn, the founder and CEO of West Shore Home, one of the largest direct-to-consumer home remodelers in the nation. Listen to this episode for a quick preview of the interview. Happy holidays!




Putting the ‘Care’ in Home Care with Norm Potter



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Dare to Disrupt
Putting the 'Care' in Home Care with Norm Potter
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Norm Potter is the co-founder and co-owner of Allegiance Transportation, as well as the owner and Executive Director of the Winston Salem branch of Griswold Home Care. Allegiance Transportation is a non-emergency medical transportation provider, specializing in wheelchair and ambulatory transport services. Griswold Home Care provides non-medical home care to elderly adults by referring professional caregivers for personal care, homemaking, and companionship services.

In this episode, Norm talks about why he decided to make a career switch from banking to higher education to now running two businesses in the non-medical home care and transportation industries. He also shares his journey battling cancer and how it has changed his outlook on life.

At the end of the episode, biomedical engineering doctoral candidate Josh Reynolds joins the conversation. His startup, Atlas Biotech, is striving to overcome drug resistance and accelerate drug discovery efforts in the fight against cancer. He recently participated in the Penn State NSF I-Corps short course program and the Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank FastTrack Accelerator. 

Norm graduated from Penn State with a degree in finance and economics.  




Special Commemorative Episode – Daring to Disrupt with Ryan Newman and James Delattre



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Dare to Disrupt
Special Commemorative Episode - Daring to Disrupt with Ryan Newman and James Delattre
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This is a special crossover episode of Dare to Disrupt and Following the Gong, a show that features conversations with Penn State Schreyer Scholar Alumni sharing advice on how to make new connections with a strong network of Scholar Alumni that blazed the trail before you. Following The Gong host Sean Goheen interviews Goldman Sachs Managing Director and Dare to Disrupt host Ryan Newman, ’01 and Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization James Delattre, ’97, both Scholar Alumni, about the entrepreneurial scene at Penn State. This episode commemorates Dare to Disrupt passing 50,000 total downloads.

Ryan and James briefly share their background and time at Penn State. The conversation then covers the origin of Invent Penn State and the incredible resources available for not only students but alumni and community members looking to start, build, or scale a business. Ryan and Katie DeFiore, producer of Dare to Disrupt, share how the Dare to Disrupt podcast came to be, favorite stories, and lessons learned from both the guests and the production process. Ryan and James’ bios and a full breakdown of topics discussed are available below.

 

Guest Bios:

Dr. James L. Delattre serves as Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Office for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization where he leads entrepreneurship program development for the Invent Penn State initiative and leads commercialization strategy, resources and support for Penn State’s startup pipeline and LaunchBox & Innovation Network. He is an alumnus of the Professional Fellows Program of the American Councils for International Education. James is the principal investigator for Penn State’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Program, a member of the advisory board of the Center for Medical Innovation at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine and serves as secretary of the Penn State Research Foundation. Prior to joining Penn State, Dr. Delattre worked in nanomaterials and semiconductor startups in central Pennsylvania and Silicon Valley. Dr. Delattre earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral work at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche at the University of Bari, Italy. Dr. Delattre received his BS with honors in Chemistry from Penn State, where he studied inorganic chemistry and the Russian language.

Ryan Newman is a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, where he co-founded and co-leads a private wealth management team, managing in excess of $13 billion on behalf of Fortune 500 executives, Forbes 400 families, entrepreneurs, family offices and foundations and endowments. Ryan is a member of the PWM Top Advisors and PWM Advisors Council, representing the top 10% of advisors globally at Goldman Sachs. He joined Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst in 2001 and was named a Managing Director in 2019. Ryan earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics with Honors 2001, and served as Student Marshal for Economics during graduation. Ryan is the host of the Invent Penn State podcast, Dare to Disrupt, which he helped launch, and has achieved over 50,000 downloads (as of September 2023). He also serves on the External Advisory Board of the Schreyer Honors College and the Principal Gifts Committee in Development at Penn State. Ryan is also a volunteer with the Smeal College of Business. He was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award in 2011 and the Alumni Fellow Award in 2023.

Episode Topics:

  • Getting to know Ryan and James as they share their Penn State origin stories and the value of the honors thesis in industry, graduate school, and entrepreneurship
  • Pursuing an industry route rather than an academic route with a STEM PhD
  • How Invent Penn State came to be and how it helps bring the University’s Land Grant mission to life in the 21st century for all citizens of the Commonwealth
  • How to get plugged in with the incredible programs and resources available from Invent Penn State
  • How and why to get involved as an alumni volunteer and/or donor, especially in the entrepreneurial space
  • The origin story of the Dare to Disrupt podcast and how it gets made
  • Leveraging success and momentum into more success and momentum
  • Lessons learned from hosting Dare to Disrupt
  • Handling rejections or failures



Anticipating the Waves of Change with Google’s Global Director of Solution Sales Ash Ashutosh



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Dare to Disrupt
Anticipating the Waves of Change with Google’s Global Director of Solution Sales Ash Ashutosh
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Ash Ashutosh is a serial entrepreneur and the Global Director of Solution Sales at Google. His data management startup, Actifio, achieved a valuation of over $1B and was acquired by Google in 2020.

In this episode, Ash talks about anticipating and advancing alongside what he calls the waves of change, in reference to the surges in innovation and technology that occur over time. His entrepreneurial journey reflects those technology surges – he started out in the silicon industry, then moved on to data storage software development. His most recent startup, Actifio, was in the business of managing and securing data. Ash talks about how he had the opportunity to work with some of the largest organizations in the world to better protect and manage their data while at Actifio.

At the end of the episode, third-year student Bianca Wisekal joins the conversation. She is an agribusiness management student who holds a leadership role within the Nittany Entrepreneur Society, Penn State’s student entrepreneurship club. She is also an administrative operations intern within Invent Penn State, and she is a technician and lab monitor at OriginLabs, Invent Penn State’s all-new fabrication space. She talks to Ash about how he stays motivated to keep innovating, as well as his predictions for where technology is heading.




Making a Deal on Shark Tank with FlexScreen Inventor Joe Altieri



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Dare to Disrupt
Making a Deal on Shark Tank with FlexScreen Inventor Joe Altieri
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Joe Altieri is the president, CEO, and inventor of FlexScreen, the world’s first and only flexible window screen, as seen on season 11 episode 10 of ABC’s Shark Tank.

In this episode, Joe talks about how he started his career as an independent sales representative in the window industry and quickly became frustrated with the flimsy aluminum frames found in traditional screens. He shares his experience pitching FlexScreen on ABC’s Shark Tank, and how he walked away with a deal with American television personality, inventor, and entrepreneur, Lori Greiner, “Queen of QVC.

At the end of the episode, recent Summer Founders Program participant Kevin Harris joins the conversation. Kevin is the founder and CEO of WaveBreaker Technologies, a veteran owned and operated business making kayaking more accessible with its top-mounted storage well. Kevin talks to Joe about the challenges of manufacturing physical products and how to make tough decisions about your business as an entrepreneur.




Diving into Fintech with Denim Social CEO Doug Wilber



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Dare to Disrupt
Diving into Fintech with Denim Social CEO Doug Wilber
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Doug Wilber is the CEO of Denim Social, a leading provider of social media management software that empowers marketers in regulated industries to manage organic social media content and paid social media advertising on one platform. A financial services veteran, Doug served in leadership roles with Assembly Payments, PYMNTS.com, Discover Financial Services and Market Platform Dynamics. He graduated from Penn State with both a bachelor’s degree in marketing and international business, and an MBA with a focus on product development and brand strategy. 

In this episode, Doug talks about his experiences on the varsity cross country and track & field teams at Penn State, traveling the country in the Boca Burger-mobile, being intrapreneurial developing new products within Discover Financial Services, all leading up to becoming CEO of Denim Social.

At the end of the episode, Penn State senior Mary Richardson joins the conversation. She is the CEO and co-founder of Bindr, which is providing a mainstream dating experience dedicated to the bisexual community. Mary talks to Doug about finding the right timing to bring on investors, and how he defines success in a startup.