Case Studies

Customer Spotlight: Matt Walters, Managing Director at Runway

June 8, 2015

Written byOlof Mathé

Customer Spotlight: Matt Walters, Managing Director at Runway

Matt Walters, Managing Director at Runway.

What’s Runway?

Runway is a community of entrepreneurs. We have a communal space of over 30,000 square feet, which is not just an office but an incubator of ideas.

What do entrepreneurs love about Runway?

They love the buzz. Physical office space has become a commodity. We’re more than just a space. Today we have 220 entrepreneurs working on 73 different companies. They form the backbone of Runway and we make sure they cross-pollinate.

We have a set of ‘extracurriculars’ as well. This week Nir Eyal, who wrote the book "Hooked: making habit forming products” is coming in, and we’re just about to start a policy series to educate the broader startup community about the legal matters startups face. We also provide massage and acupuncture. We try to provide all of the amenities of a major tech company, but without having to work at one.

How did you end up as the Director of Runway?

I have a background as both an entrepreneur and an investor. I co-founded Topicmarks, a company in the natural language processing space. Upon selling the company in 2011, I transitioned to a VC firm, Ardent Capital, making early stage investments in Southeast Asia. I later helped launch Expansive Ventures, a Palo Alto based VC firm which makes global early-stage investments. Runway got started in 2013, and I was recruited to run it in October 2014, given my experience of both building and investing in companies.

Fridays at Runway

Fridays at Runway.

What’s next?

We’re firing on all cylinders right now. We’re launching an EdTech accelerator, paired with a fund, focusing on startups in the higher education space that are helping students who typically don’t do well, mainly because they don’t learn best with traditional methods. There’s still so much we can do with technology to adapt to each student’s learning style. Education and social impact are important to us. Joe Vasquez who is leading our EdTech initiatives used to be a teacher with Teach for America, and I used to be an educator myself.

We’ll also be doing more with hardware. We’re going to help hardware startups with fulfillment and have exciting news to announce in Oakland soon.

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That’s an impressive agenda for the rest of the year. What productivity tools do you rely on to get stuff done?

When you say productivity, I mainly think of task management. Personally, I use Wunderlist and as a team we rely on Trello. We’re big on Google Apps and Google Docs which we typically share in Slack. We’re Slackers, both in the team running Runway and within the Runway community.

How has Mixmax been most helpful so far?

I send out my availability at least 5 times per day. A lot of what I do in my job is meeting folks, so the scheduling is critical for me. It’s just easier when it’s integrated into my email. I like to have some degree of control over when meetings take place so I can structure my day properly, none of the AI solutions help with that.

On a personal note, I like that I can create a more visual narrative in Mixmax. This past weekend, I had a getaway with my girlfriend down in Carmel, and it was great to share our experience with my mom using Mixmax. Instead of just having blue links, the visual previews enlightened the email.

Any protips for running meetings?

Well aside from the obvious of knowing why you’re meeting, it’s key to figure out how much time you’re willing to spend in meetings every week. Set aside non-meeting time. In a job like mine where you make a lot of connections you need to take control of your calendar!

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