On the evening of May 21, 2019, The Webb Schools hosted its first ever Innovator’s Edge event at the Techstars office in Los Angeles, Calif. The evening was an opportunity for students, educators and professionals in the field to listen, learn, connect and collaborate with leaders and visionaries related to today’s tech scene. Head of Schools Taylor Stockdale began the evening by introducing the panelists and saying a few words about Webb. Jeff Cripe ’08, CEO and Founder of Cargo, moderated the first portion of the panel discussion, calling upon his fellow innovators to share stories of their early days and how they have continued to thrive in the increasingly complex technology industry. Assistant Head of Schools Theresa Smith moderated the second portion of the panel discussion, where she asked student generated questions before opening the floor for some impromptu questions from the audience.
Each speaker brought a unique perspective to the conversation and their individual expertise in combination made for a robust and meaningful discussion. While each panelist had their own methodologies and keys to success, it was very clear that company culture and ethics are central to their success. For Sameer Dholakia ’91, CEO of Sendgrid, “The Four H’s” (Happy, Honest, Hungry and Humble) are at the core of the company’s values and he accredits The Webb Schools Honor Code for shaping his style of leadership.
Samantha Ainsley ’07, Senior Software Engineer and Technical Lead at Google, brought a strong female voice to the panel and noted that she is no stranger to being one of the few women in the room. According to Forbes, of the proprietary software jobs in the United States, only 28% are held by women and female executives only make up 11% of the total at Fortune 500 companies. “It’s not a numbers game, it’s a cultural change.” said Ainsley. She believes that hiring more women is only step one. Creating a culture that emphasizes equity and cooperation regardless of gender is the ultimate goal. Ainsley’s work speaks volumes as to why we desperately need more women in tech.
Cripe spoke about the founding of Cargo and how he originally got the company off the ground. He started by partnering with five drivers and giving each a box of snacks, gum, water and some cellphone/iPod accessories and a credit card swiper to take payment through their mobile device. Based on the data that he collected from this test group, he saw massive potential in the business on a large scale and is now well on his way to being a global distributor, with products stocked in vehicles throughout the United States and most recently in Brazil. “Starting a business is like jumping off a cliff and trying to build an airplane before you hit the ground” said Cripe, encouraging any entrepreneur to get their product or idea out into the world and collect tangible data that you can then use to generate funding.
Following the panel discussion, attendees had an opportunity to network and chat with our panelists. A big thank-you to all our speakers for sharing their stories with the Webb community and inspiring our students.
Innovator’s Edge Panelists:
Samantha Ainsley ’07
Senior Software Engineer and Technical Lead at Google
Co-founder and CEO of Stealth
Ex-CSO at Twitch
Jeff Cripe ’08
CEO and Founder of Cargo
Sameer Dholakia ’91
CEO of SendGrid
CEO of Tinder