Meet the Team: Jason Sanders
Q&A with Silicon Foundry’s Chief Operating Officer
Tell us about your entrepreneurial path — what are the key experiences that led you to what you’re doing now?
I am both a strategist and operationally-focused executive who, through the use of both traditional and innovative approaches, has consistently been focused on growing and/or transforming companies across a variety of industries. I’ve run operations for companies of various sizes including Couchsurfing (the world’s largest social travel network with 14MM members) and Fifteen Group ($600MM in real estate assets and 300+ employees).
My background in venture capital spans seven years with Crosslink Capital (a leading stage-independent firm with over $1.5 billion in assets) where I was a Partner focused on business and consumer services. Prior to Crosslink, I was an Associate with Advent International, a global private equity firm. After receiving a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, I focused on re-engineering operations of major public and private companies as a management consultant with CSC Index.
What excited you most about joining Silicon Foundry?
I like new challenges and the building, blocking and tackling aspect of my role here. I came on board when Silicon Foundry was just starting to scale people and systems. It’s potential also reminded me of Entangled Group, a Venture Studio that focuses on the educational ecosystem that I co-founded, along with Entangled Solutions, ReUp Education, Practice (acquired by Instructure-INST) and other incubated companies. While the core focus was different, it entailed many similar challenges and opportunities.
How would you describe your leadership style and how has it evolved over the years?
Direct. “Radical candor” well before Kim Scott popularized the term. That said, I’m much more patient now than I was in the past. As you get older, you get exposure to more perspectives and (hopefully) learn how to recognize and respect other approaches and working styles.
What sector or industry trend are you most fascinated by?
I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and thrive in situations that demand curiosity. Therefore, I’m fascinated by anything where I can learn something new or improve upon existing skill sets, especially when related to automation (broadly defined) and its impact on educational/training requirements for those just entering the workforce as well as those displaced by it.
What past projects are you most proud of?
One of the companies we created at Entangled, ReUp Education, helps college students who’ve had to drop out of college (primarily) due to financial, family or health-related issues. ReUp partners with universities and community colleges to locate, engage, empower and coach former students to not just re-enroll, but also navigate a path to complete their degree and achieve their goals. Over the past two years, they’ve re-enrolled 8,000+ students using a proprietary combination of data, technology and coaching.
If you weren’t in this line of work, what would you be doing? Cooking.
Favorite dish to cook? Anything new and challenging. Every New Year’s Eve, I prepare a 10+/- course dinner paired with wine for a very small group of family and friends. The most recent one was influenced by my favorite food town in the country, New Orleans.
What’s your outlook for Silicon Foundry five years from now?
The Silicon Foundry platform was designed to be an extended resource supporting and expanding corporations’ footprints in Silicon Valley and beyond. We help them navigate areas of innovation and growth while strengthening their awareness of and connectivity to the rapidly evolving new economy. Our single most important accomplishment has — and will continue to be — driving impact for our Members. Five years from now, I see this remaining true to our core DNA.
What do you value most in colleagues? Colleagues who have respect for the work and pride in their final work product.
If you had a neon sign, what would it say? “How can I be helpful?”