Jalak Jobanputra – Founder & Managing Partner, FuturePerfect Ventures

Jalak Jobanputra is a founding partner of FuturePerfect Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund in New York City (NYC). Previously, she was the director of mobile investments at Omidyar Network, a philanthro-capitalist fund started by Pierre Omidyar, co-founder of eBay. While there, she created a mobile investment strategy, invested in an East African mobile tech incubator, invested in an Indian mobile classifieds site, and closed Omidyar’s largest for-profit investment ($5 million) to date in Latin America. She has over 18 years of experience in venture capital, media, and technology. She was previously senior vice president at the New York City Investment Fund (NYCIF), a private economic development fund founded by Henry Kravis, where she managed the fund’s technology and digital media venture investments. While there, Jalak spearheaded the formation of NYCSeed in 2008, a seed fund dedicated to funding early-stage tech entrepreneurs in NYC. She also was on the selection committee and served as a mentor and speaker for NYCSeedStart, NYC’s first summer accelerator program, and helped launch the FinTech Innovation Lab, which has since been replicated in London. Jalak worked closely with the Bloomberg administration and NYCEDC to implement initiatives to help diversify the NYC economy through NYC’s growing tech/digital sectors and served on Governor Paterson’s Small Business Taskforce. Her portfolio at NYCIF included outside.in (acquired by AOL), Imagespan, Thumbplay, and TXVia (acquired by Google), in addition to seed investments Magnetic, Ticketfly, Enterproid, and SeatGeek.

Prior to NYCIF, she was a principal at New Venture Partners (NVP), a $300M early-stage venture fund which commercialized technology out of corporate labs. At NVP, she founded and served as interim CEO of Real Time Content (spun out of British Telecom), a personalized video ad platform, and was a director of Procelerate Technologies, a SaaS workflow management tool for the aerospace industry. She also incubated a range of other technologies, including speech recognition/NLP, 3D displays, video surveillance, 4G wireless broadband, and music recommendation software.

From 1999-2003, Jalak was at Intel Capital in Silicon Valley, where she invested in enterprise software, Internet and digital media startups, including Demantra (sold to Oracle), Extricity (sold to Peregrine), Viacore (sold to IBM), R Systems (IPO), Financial Engines (IPO), Yodlee and Zinio. In 1997, during the early days of Silicon Alley (in NYC), she launched and managed product development for online financial information startup Horsesmouth. She began her career in media, telecom, and tech investment banking at Lehman Brothers and Broadview in NYC and London.

Born in Nairobi to Indian parents, Jalak has invested, and traveled extensively, in North and South America, India, Europe, Africa, East Asia, and Latin America. She is also active in supporting education reform and social entrepreneurship and served as a trustee of Achievement First Bushwick Charter Schools (Brooklyn) and sits on the executive committee of the Social Investment Council of Echoing Green. She is on the board of directors of the Center for an Urban Future, advisory board of L’Oréal’s Women in Digital Initiative, and Access to Capital subcommittee member of the U.S. Secretary of State Women’s Leadership Council. She served as a mentor for the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder in the summer of 2010, a summer accelerator for social entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2003, she took a year-long sabbatical from venture capital to consult on replication strategy for Gates Foundation funded charter schools, including the Big Picture Company. Jalak spent four months setting up microfinance programs and training women entrepreneurs in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania after receiving her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management in 1999. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Communications from the Annenberg School and a B.S. in Finance from the Wharton School.

Jalak was selected as an Outstanding 50 Asian American in Business in 2010 by the Asian American Development Center. She was selected as a U.S. State Department delegate to Indonesia in the summer of 2011, where she met with entrepreneurs, angel investors, and business leaders to promote tech entrepreneurship. Jalak is a Techstars NYC mentor, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator mentor, charter member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), advisory board member of Astia NYC, the Wharton Private Equity Network, Kellogg Entrepreneurs, and is a frequent speaker and judge at entrepreneur and venture conferences, including Mobile World Congress, CTIA, TechCrunch Disrupt, Bloomberg and AlwaysOn. She has been asked to speak on entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems by the Obama administration at the White House, as well as governments worldwide.

1. How do you define success?
To me, success is staying true to your ideals and the life you set out to live (as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else). I see too many people who are living a life that others have prescribed for them, whether it is society or another person. Life is too short to do that—a teacher in a small town who works part-time to also spend time with family and a CEO of a major corporation are, in my eyes, equally successful if they are doing what they want to be doing and treating those around them with respect.

2. What is the key to success?
First and foremost, I believe self-awareness is key to the type of success I’ve defined above. Positivity, hard work, passion and resilience are also important components of success.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I was raised to follow my passions—in that sense, I knew I would always be successful. Whether it was working in the slums of Kenya, consulting with charter schools, working on an M&A deal in the boardroom of a Fortune 50 company or launching a VC fund (which I am doing now), I have, at any given point in time, done what I’ve wanted to be doing. If you love what you do, the inevitable obstacles you encounter along the way become surmountable. If you treat others with respect, you will find yourself surrounded by people who will support you—and you will be successful.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I was born in Nairobi and grew up traveling to the developing world when plumbing and electricity were luxuries. When you are exposed to those environments at an early age, you don’t take much for granted. I am constantly aware that I am fortunate to have the opportunities that I’ve had—and that puts any adversity I face in perspective. Additionally, my parents left a good (although politically tenuous) life in Africa and moved us to the United States—it’s a sacrifice I am so grateful for. Any adversity I face pales in comparison to starting completely over in a new country (with a family dependent on you).

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Life is too short for negativity or pettiness. I’ve lost quite a few people close to me over the past few years—some my age, some younger, and some older—and it makes you realize that health and good friends and family are gifts to be treasured. Any time you spend away from positive influences impedes the quality of your life. I’ve rooted out a lot of negativity—whether people, words or situations—and believe this is an important component of my success and happiness.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Along the same lines, I treasure spending time with friends and family. Traveling is a big passion of mine—especially off the beaten path and in nature. I’m quite adventurous—I hitchhiked around Burma in 2007 by myself and also went to Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to see firsthand the devastation that has transpired there. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda was an unforgettable experience. Bali is one of my favorite places to rejuvenate, and I love the food in Italy. I’m pretty much up for going anywhere and seeing as much of the world as I can.

7. What makes a great leader?
I’m going to go back to self-awareness. I think knowing what you know and what you don’t is paramount to being a great leader. That way you can surround yourself with people who complement you. You also need to be a good listener—too many people are too quick to talk and judge when they’d be better served by listening and learning.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Be open-minded and willing to learn. Don’t forget that everyone starts somewhere and that it’s a long-term game. I worked 100+ hour weeks in investment banking out of school, but learned so much and pitched in wherever I was needed. Some of the people I worked with back then are now investing in my fund, and others have become some of my closest friends—and this is 20 years later.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

John McAfee – Founder, McAfee Software

John McAfee is best known for founding McAfee Associates in 1987, a global computer security software company which he initially operated out of his house in Santa Clara, California. His company was the first to distribute anti-virus software using the shareware business model. He resigned from his company in 1994, and sold his remaining stake two years after the company went public to go on to other business ventures, including founding Tribal Voice, which developed one of the first instant messaging programs, Pow Wow. He also invested in and joined the board of directors of Zone Labs, makers of firewall software, prior to its acquisition by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. in 2003. Even after his departure from McAfee Associates (now McAfee, Inc.), the company he originally founded remains one of the world’s largest antivirus companies today.

1. How do you define success?
Making it through life with the fewest number of enemies. Most problems with any business venture come from competition and the arguments it generates. I try to make it through without pissing a lot of people off.

2. What is the key to success?
Doing what you love with a full heart and mind.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
Absolutely not. I didn’t even think I’d make it to see the age of 30 because of alcohol. Life is full of ups and downs. The person who works hard with a full heart and mind will be successful.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I’m not sure; it’s something from within me. The higher the pressure, the more focused I become. There are two types of people: those who thrive under pressure, and those who don’t.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Love is a very rare thing. It’s very difficult to attain and it’s the easiest to lose.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have not had any spare time. I always have 10 times as many projects as I could anticipate. I just recently got cable television. For the most part, I haven’t had any spare time for the past 30 years.

7. What makes a great leader?
Someone who understands that they work for everyone in the organizational structure. Someone who knows to value all of their employees, because they work for them.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Make your own path. There’s the 9-5 existence, working for an organization five days out of the week until retirement, which I’ve never valued. Or, you can look around you and ask, “What can I do?” and then do it.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

John Chow – Founder, JohnChow.com

Blogger, speaker, and entrepreneur John Chow rocketed onto the blogging scene when he showed the income power of blogging by taking his blog from making $0 to over $40,000 per month in just two years—and he did this working only two hours a day.

Today, John Chow dot Com is one of the biggest blogs on the Internet, with over 200,000 active daily readers and followers. John Chow dot Com is ranked #16 on the AdAge Power 150 list and #1 on the list of the top 50 Canadian Internet marketing blogs. He also is the founder and CEO of TTZ Media, Inc.

John is the author of Make Money Online: Roadmap of a Dot Com Mogul, which rocketed to #1 on Amazon.com within the first week of release. He has been featured in such publications as The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Ming Pao Magazine, and BC Business Magazine. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows, like The Lab with Leo Laporte and Global Morning News.

1. How do you define success?
Someone who makes more money than his wife can spend.

2. What is the key to success?
Passion, belief in what you’re doing, and a super-supportive wife.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
Yes. I was raised with the attitude that my life is decided by me and no one else.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My family.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
If you can make something for a little less than your competition and sell it for a little more, then you’re doing okay.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Hanging out with friends, spending time with family, traveling, and brainstorming.

7. What makes a great leader?
You measure leadership not by how greater the leader is, but the quality of the people who follow him. Great leaders have great followers.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. Hold on to them and guard them. Above all, take action to achieve them.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

Bobby Genovese – Chairman, BG Capital Management Corporation

Bobby Genovese is known for his lust for life and knack for making money. The Bahamian resident founded his first company, Investor Relations Group (IRG), at the young age of 25, which he sold in 1995. He then formed BG Capital Group Limited and BG Capital Management Corporation, merchant banking and asset consolidator firms headquartered in Barbados, with over $200 million in assets and $150 million in revenue, and with associate and management offices in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Florida, Bahamas, Los Angeles, California, Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, B.C.

That’s not all. In 1996, Bobby also built one of North America’s top-ranked polo teams by founding Vancouver International Polo, which has won the Canadian Open and numerous American, Argentinean and Chilean tournaments in the years that followed. Bobby was also the star of his own American television show, Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist, which premiered in 2008.

In 2012, he developed and launched BG Signature Properties, a portfolio of 12 exclusive retreats in the U.S., Canada, Bahamas, Europe, and South America, including its flagship property, BG Equestrian Resort in Ocala, FL.

1. How do you define success?
Doing what you love to do.

2. What is the key to success?
If you love what you’re doing, then you will be successful.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I always knew that I wanted to be successful, but what I’ve accomplished was beyond my wildest dreams.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The fear of failure.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Never give up. Every time I feel like I lost a deal, I always wind up right back into it.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Playing with my children.

7. What makes a great leader?
Enthusiasm. People want to be heard and want to be loved. That attitude of acceptance and support inspires them to be the best they can be.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Back to questions 1 and 2. Look in the mirror and figure out what you love to do. Play your strengths. Success will come if you love what you’re doing.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

Jane Wales – CEO, Global Philanthropy Forum

Jane Wales is CEO of the Global Philanthropy Forum and the World Affairs Council, vice president of the Aspen Institute, and host of the nationally-syndicated National Public Radio interview show, It’s Your World.

Previously, Jane served in the Clinton administration as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council. She simultaneously served as associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where her office was responsible both for advancing sustainable economic development through science and technology cooperation and for developing policies for securing advanced weapons materials in the former Soviet Union. During the Carter Administration, Jane served as deputy assistant secretary of state.

In the philanthropic sector, Jane chaired the international security programs at the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the W. Alton Jones Foundation, and she directed the Project on World Security at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. From 2007 to 2008, she served as acting CEO of The Elders, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and founded by Nelson Mandela. In 2008, Jane also chaired the Poverty Alleviation Track for the Clinton Global Initiative.

1. How do you define success?
When opportunity is not only seized but shared, individuals are empowered and their lives are improved. Enabling others to excel is not only a privilege, but also a joy.

2. What is the key to success?
Collaborative leadership. We never really walk alone.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
My parents taught my brothers and me that not only can you make a difference, you must. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I heard a problem described as “too large to think about.” Large problems are the ones that require us all. And, even if our individual contributions are so small as to be imperceptible, they are needed nonetheless.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The very fact that there is adversity and there are needs to be met. A powerful motivator is the sense that the solutions require us all.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
There are two. The first lesson is that opportunities arise from unexpected places in unanticipated ways. When we launched the Global Philanthropy Forum in 2001, the word “global” in the title referred solely to the issues that GPF members sought to tackle. Most were American. Many were the beneficiaries of globalization. All wanted to see its benefits more evenly shared, and its dangers addressed throughout the Global South. Fast forward to today, when the GPF’s newest members are path-breaking philanthropists who have emerged in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as economies are opened and enterprise is privatized. Several of them have helped to form GPF’s newest affiliate, the African Philanthropy Forum, with the bold goal of Africa meeting its own development needs. Like their American counterparts, these philanthropists will not settle for economic growth that is robust; they want it to be broad-based. And they will use their giving, their investing, and their policy access to assure that outcome. Because of change agents like them and those they support, the next great wave of philanthropic innovation will likely stem from emerging economies. And the transfer of knowledge will not only flow from north to south, or west to east, but rather the other way around, creating an unprecedented opportunity for us all to learn.

This opportunity to learn, improve, and enjoy will be seized if we act on a second lesson—taught to me by a Ghanaian woman, whose name I have never known—and it is that, “the ground is never insulted by poor dancing.” So, give it a try whether you believe you will succeed or fail.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Lots of laughter. A seven-year-old named Luke. A five-year-old named Aliya—and three rescue dogs named Pogo, Wags, and Blue.

7. What makes a great leader?
In a world characterized by fast-paced change, leadership requires the combination of collaboration and determination, agility and strategy, empathy and audacity—and a listening ear. These are the qualities that allow individuals and groups to adapt and inspire. Today’s philanthropists have the opportunity to support extraordinary innovators who have these leadership qualities. And the philanthropists themselves, while bold in their objectives, are increasingly collaborative as leaders. They form networks to learn from one another. They partner with governments and harness capital markets to their social goals. When faced with complex, difficult problems, they make big bets on local and global leaders who change lives.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Welcome change. Take pleasure in the success of others. Excel by helping others to do the same, and enjoy it every step of the way.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.