Kate Shillo — Director of Galvanize Ventures

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To read the last interview with Olof Mathé CEO of Mixmax, click here.

In this edition of Traveling Shoes, I’m proud to introduce Kate Shillo. She is the director of Galvanize Ventures. Which in other word means that she is a VC, and have invested in fantastic companies such as AirHelp[Erik works there]. She has an impressive past, being the executive assistant to Martha Stewart and as Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer right hand. She is also featured on CNNs list of Founders.

When did you travel last? And where to?
I traveled to New York City from San Francisco less than a week ago. I live in New York and work in New York, Denver, Boulder, and San Francisco pretty regularly. Wallet[previously Passbook] is on my phone home screen, as are the United Travel app and a company Galvanize invested in called Pana, so clearly I use travel applications more frequently than I do any of the entertainment apps that I have.

Which do you travel in most often business, coach, or First Class? Bonus option: Private jet
My gosh, if I had a jet I would feel incredibly guilty. I’ve had the chance to experience each of those transportation options at one time or another — jet and helicopter being the one time, but I am always in economy. Companies like FreshJets and Blade are making those options more accessible. Galvanize is a startup, so for work travel I am conscious of company expenses, I’ve never taken a work trip in business or first class. On occasion I’m in a middle seat, no wi-fi, crammed in, just getting from point A to point B. There is no glamor in my travel at all.

What shoes do you travel in?
Right now, Vans. I just bought a new pair and they are really comfortable. They have no metal in them, so you don’t have to deal with any security issues and having to take them off through the security panel. Once 3over7’s launch I may switch to those for running through airports.

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What is your best travel hack/tips?
Ideally, I would like to bring many clothing options, and I think most women do. However, I’ve trained myself to bring as little as possible. You could live for a month with what you could bring in a carry-on. I’ve learned how to roll things very tightly, and bring practical shoes. It’s not as luxurious as having more, but you certainly don’t have to check your luggage, and it makes the experience so much easier. New tech-enabled luggage like Raden tracks your suitcase in the event the airline can’t locate it. Bottom line, always bring less than you think you’ll need.

How do you stay productive while traveling?
It’s brutal. After many months of traveling for work, I believe I am much more productive in one space with a routine. It takes a certain person to maintain the same level of productivity when you are on a plane trying to answer emails as you are at the comfort of your desk. I have started to employ dedicated e-mail time every day, making sure to spend a certain amount of time scheduling my calendar, on big issues and research. I’m happy to be stuck in a seat for a long period of time with decent wi-fi because there is nowhere to go, I have to tackle the problem at hand.

If I don’t have wi-fi access — I’ve use MacMail as a browser and set up a bunch of e-mails that will send once I have access. Same thing if I’m underground on the subway, I can do that on CloudMagic, which is a filter that I use for my e-mail. I use Sunrise Calendar they have a great calendar experience, even little icons that recognize when I’m having a call vs a breakfast, very intuitive. In terms of maximizing productivity, I’ve learned that you can’t pick something up, read it, put it down, and say you are going to do it later. You have to attack it when you first touch it. I won’t open my e-mail unless I am prepared to answer because it becomes overwhelming otherwise.

What’s your work set up like when traveling?
Laptop, bottle of water, several power cords, post-it notes, portable chargers and a portable wifi device and my Moment lens for pictures. I just ordered a Batterybox for my laptop, it will change my life, no more searching for outlets — for 13 hrs at least.

Carry on or check in?
Carry on, for sure.

What kind of bag do you travel with?
I have carried a backpack for the last couple years, it saves my back and my shoulders. I don’t use a purse anymore, trying to stuff a laptop, reading material, folders, and whatever else into a one-sided big shoulder bag is just cumbersome. So I look like a twelve-year-old boy when I travel. It is not glamorous at all. For luggage, a Raden suitcase is on my list to replace my current case.

Favourite destination?
Tel Aviv is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, I can’t wait to go back. I’m in love with all of the nooks and crannies in Europe too. If I had endless time and endless funds, I would explore little towns and islands like one that my friends took me to called Ponza in Italy. It was magical, mostly because it was remote and felt like normal Italian life, we befriended the locals and I forgot I was a tourist.

What is your favourite travel gear?
It’s kind of a joke now, but we women can wear active-wear all the time. I appreciate clothing that hold up when I get off the plane and if I have a meeting after a flight it still looks polished. ADay has a sleek fashion-forward line, MM LaFleur’s dresses are awesome, and I like Sonnet James’ dresses for when I want something with more color.

What travel tech do you use?
I take an infinite amount of photos, it’s an everyday thing for me and I stopped carrying a camera around years ago. I’m never without my Moment Lens (full disclosure, an investment by Galvanize). Moment is a small lens that fits on the back of your phone and helps me take killer photos. It has changed the way that I take pictures entirely.

What Apps do you use?
Pana, is really helpful for travel, just like you guys, I feel as if I have superpowers because of AirHelp and Pana. Pana will book anything travel related for me via my phone. If I want to go to Seattle this week and am looking for a flight with Wi-Fi, and I would like to stay at an Airbnb while I am there, they send me back the best three options, and I can purchase right through the app. They will put in all of my frequent-flyer numbers, my passport, and my TSA info. It’s as if I have a personal travel assistant.

How do you keep yourself entertained on the flight?
I download books and podcasts, it’s great to have something in the background if I’m doing work on a flight. I still bring a paperback book or a Kindle in the event I have some free time.

What was the last book you read while traveling?
The Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I was on the plane and I immediately wanted to be back in my home organizing and throwing things out. I enjoy books and articles that inspire and change my perspective. I have Fast Company and Inc magazine in my bag every trip, and Vanity Fair for fun. I’ve been into pieces from Epic True Stories, full disclosure Epic is a Galvanize Portfolio company. Epic recently published Silk Road, which was a very interesting read, it’s fun to get into a longer story that’s researched well.

When you arrive at a new destination, what is the first thing you do in order to get into a productive zone?
Wifi, coffee and a comfortable work space. I am a list maker, I have lists on my phone, lists in moleskins, and on stickies on my computer. I am looking right now at a plethora of Post-it notes on my desk. There is something glorious about crossing things off on a list. I am also an Evernote note-taker, it helps so much when I’m referencing meetings I had 6 months ago.

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What do you dislike about traveling?
The tiny seats on flights, the lack of sleep and travel delays (ahem Airhelp) are all downsides. Even when traveling is the most difficult there is always a problem to be solved, and I find enjoyment in solving it. My sister and I joke with one another that if faced with a difficult travel dilemma we should “just be like James Bond and get yourself out of it.” It’s more fun to pretend you’re on the Amazing Race than stuck waiting for customer service to solve your issue.

What do you do to unwind?
I get outside, workout, ski, hike, see friends, go exploring with my Fiance, do something creative, I try to unplug. New York has everything, all of the time, which is wonderfully overwhelming. It’s easy to separate from the startup world in this area, less so in San Francisco which is a much more tech-focused culture. In SF even when I’m out to dinner on a weekend all around me are tech conversations, people pitching their company everywhere, it feels like being in the show Silicon Valley.

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Who or what inspires you?
My parents do, they gave me the groundwork to appreciate the fundamentals and the value of hard work that goes into making things happen. The way my mother tackles problems is phenomenal, for her there is always a solution.

When I was young I wanted to learn, to be inspired and wanted work for a “genius,” I wanted to be around people of that operated on a high level of curiosity and thought. I had the opportunity to work as an Assistant to Martha Stewart and for Ken Lerer, Founder of Lerer Ventures and The Huffington Post. It’s easy to get bogged down everyday in our to-do lists and focus on productivity, but being around big, big thinkers is an unparalleled experience. It opens up one’s world in a huge way of realizing that the problems you can solve are actually really big, or the things you can accomplish are infinite. It may start out with a small idea, like creating a book about entertaining or a website centered around news and politics, but it just snowballs from there. Being around creative people is the only way I want to spend my days and I’ve been fortunate to have such inspiring mentors and leaders.

Who would you like to see interviewed?
You should interview Jim Deters, our CEO at Galvanize, he’s on a plane more than anyone I know. He probably has some great travel hacks since he’s been doing this while.

Keep up and learn more about Kate on Twitter

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PS: New AirHelp product:
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Traveling Shoes

Traveling Shoes is an AirHelp blog series.

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