Alex Song, Founder & CEO of Innovation Department

We are excited about today’s Edition of The Takeoff. Today’s interview is with Alex Song, Founder & CEO of Innovation Department.

Innovation Department helps build exceptional companies. In order to streamline the entire process, Innovation Department uses proprietary acquisition and distribution channels to optimize the path to product-market fit. Innovation Department uses a platform-based approach to company-building, creating a process that maximizes potential for success.

Prior to founding Innovation Department, Alex was an Investment Analyst at Pershing Square Capital Management and an Associate at Goldman Sachs.

The interview took place via a call between Alex and Michael Spiro (Founder at…


Kristen Anderson, Founder & CEO at Catch

We are super excited about today’s Edition of The Takeoff. Today’s interview is with Kristen Anderson, Founder & CEO at Catch.

Catch is a personal benefits platform that “is redesigning benefits to put people at the center of their own financial stability and security.” Catch handles tax withholding, long-term investment savings, and more for freelancers, contractors, and other workers without access to employer benefits.

To date, Catch has raised over $8.1M in funding from leading investors such as Y Combinator (W19), Nyca Partners, recent The Takeoff interview guest Jeff Morris Jr., Ground Up Ventures, Kindred Ventures, and Khosla Ventures, among…


After seeing many of our friends and classmates lose internships and summer plans due to COVID-19 and the current economic situation, The Takeoff decided to look for interns for Summer 2020. We crafted a role that would offer our Interns a lot of autonomy, while also helping The Takeoff promote our mission and expand our reader base. Most importantly, we crafted a role that could help our Interns as much as possible in their career development.

(You can find the job description, here)

We received a number of great applications, interviewing applicants whom we felt would be the best fit…


Ryan Choi, PM & Engineer at Y Combinator

We are excited about today’s Edition of The Takeoff. Today’s interview is with Ryan Choi, PM & Engineer at Y Combinator. He focuses on YC’s Work at a Startup, a site to help students and full-time engineers find great roles at YC companies, from 2–5 person startups to larger ones like Instacart and BREX.

Y Combinator is a startup accelerator that invests in a large number of startups twice a year. Companies selected to participate in one of Y Combinator’s batches receive $120k in exchange for 7% equity. …


(Max Bennett, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer at Bluecore)

We are excited about today’s Edition of The Takeoff. Today’s interview is with Max Bennett, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Bluecore. The interview took place via a phone call between Max and Michael Spiro (Founder at The Takeoff) in early April.

Bluecore is a “retail marketing technology that reimagines how retailers communicate with their customers through email marketing and website personalization.” Bluecore’s customers include leading brands such as Sephora, Nike, Gap, Perry Ellis, Pendleton, and Tommy Hilfiger, among many others.

To date, Bluecore has raised over $63M in funding from investors such as Norwest Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Felicis…


Logo made by Adam Schwall.

Hi — I’m Michael. I’m a junior at WashU and the Founder of The Takeoff, alongside my incredible co-founders Roshan and Lukas.

The Takeoff is a new, student-run publication focused on inspiring the next generation of startup and technology leaders. We interview leading founders, operators, and investors, asking questions designed to help college students + recent grads who are interested in careers in startups, tech, venture capital, etc. We then release these interviews via our Substack publication so that all of our subscribers (and the public) can learn from our guests.

The Takeoff wants to become the go-to resource for students looking to learn more about startup-related careers and for founders, operators, and investors looking to give back and inspire the next generation.

Now that you have a better understanding of what…


(Rich Dredge, CEO & Co-founder at Thumbraise)

We are excited about today’s Edition of The Takeoff. Today’s interview is with Rich Dredge, CEO & Co-founder at Thumbraise. The interview took place via a phone call between Rich and Michael Spiro (Founder at The Takeoff) in early April.

Thumbraise is “a mobile-first venture network, where startups find investors using short pitches.” The company is headquartered in St. Louis, MO and is backed by founders and operators of companies such as Square, Zynga, idealab, Answers.com, and LionTree.

We hope you enjoy today’s Edition.

Subscribe: Be sure to subscribe to our Substack to have future Editions of The Takeoff sent…


(Ashley Brasier, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners)

We are excited about today’s Edition of The Takeoff. Today’s interview is with Ashley Brasier, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Ashley is a member of Lightspeed’s consumer investing team. Prior to joining Lightspeed, Ashley worked as a Senior Associate Consultant at Bain and a Category Manager at Thumbtack. She is a graduate of Duke University (BA) and Stanford GSB (MBA).

At Lightspeed, Ashley is part of one of the world’s leading venture capital firms. …


(Domm Holland, Co-founder and CEO of Fast)

We are super excited about today’s Edition of The Takeoff. Today’s interview is with Domm Holland, Co-founder and CEO of Fast!

Prior to co-founding Fast, Domm was the Founder and CEO of Tow, an “on-demand vehicle towing platform in Australia.”

Fast is the world’s fastest online login and checkout platform. Since being founded in March 2019, Fast has raised over $22.5M and just recently closed a $20M Series A round led by Stripe, with participation from other firms including Index Ventures and Susa Ventures (You can read more about Fast’s recent Series A, here).

You can find Domm on Twitter


I was born in 1999 — making me part of Gen Z. I am currently a junior in college.

I love learning and my intellectual curiosity is something that drives me every day. I love sports. I love technology and startups. Family and friends will always be what is most important to me.

I’ve been isolating in my house for 34 days now — like pretty much everyone else. I recently thought it would be interesting to observe and analyze my information consumption patterns during this time. I’ve highlighted some of my key findings, thoughts, and observations in this post.

Michael Spiro

Learning, investing, and building. Incoming Investor @ JMI | Founder @ The Takeoff

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