Profile: @erenbali, CEO of the fastest growing healthtech co in America.

Eren grew up in post-1980-coup state terror, dad expelled for political dissidence, his mom the only teacher in the village

Since, he's founded 2 unicorns @udemy + @carbonhealth

This is a wild story 👇🏾
Eren’s parents were political activists and teachers, members of the Kurdish minority that has been persecuted in Turkey for generations.

They moved back to Durulova (pop. 330) to help teach the local population bc nobody else would.
His dad was regularly detained for months w/o charges due to his political activism. His mom raised 3 kids in a 800sqft house + taught grades 1-5 at the local school.

There was just 1 room for all grade levels. No heating or power.

Puts Snowpocalypse in Austin in perspective 😅
Eren’s grandparents died early so his parents took care of his dad’s 8 younger siblings. The entire family lived in tents and worked in apricot farms during summers to make ends meet.

The youngest child, Eren's job was to herd cows + fetch water from the wells via mule.
Eren, a self-taught math prodigy, eventually won a silver medal at the world's biggest math competition, the Int'l Math Olympiads.

US universities courted him, but his family couldn’t afford it.

Eren attended Turkey's top eng. school: Middle East Technical University (METU).
At METU he found entrepreneurship. By day, he hacked away with friends on startup ideas. By night, he worked on odesk (now @upwork), starting at $10/hr!

I have no idea how he had time for school.
Alongside his best friend from his hometown, @caglaroktay, he created "Knowband" - a live video education platform.

They raised some money from the Turkish government, wrote 100,000 lines of code, and eventually ditched the project.

We'll get back to Knowband later 😏
Eventually a Silicon Valley startup named SpeedDate hired him. After many battles with immigration, Eren relocated to Palo Alto where he became Head of Engineering.

He and Oktay continued to work two jobs: SpeedDate by day and their own startup by night.
Due to their visas, this Turkish duo was ineligible for incubators like @ycombinator or @techstars.

Luckily, @adeoressi’s @founding accepted part-time founders who still had day jobs and Eren joined up.

This is why Eren is passionate about immigration reform: he’s lived it.
At Adeo's urging, Eren resurrected Knowband and renamed it Udemy, the “academy of you”

@adeoressi gave him one more piece of advice: “get a business co-founder who can sell and talk to investors.” That’s how I came into the picture.

Udemy was a wild ride. Eren fired me: “We were both rookies and I didn’t know how to manage you”.

Later, the board fired him. Instead of getting pissed, he maintained his relationships and treated everyone with respect.

In fact, he took the failures as lessons for the future.
“I was a B- CEO. I had the right ideas about product, but I didn’t pay enough attention to building an organization, and a long-standing culture.”

Eren remained Chairman of the board at Udemy and started Carbon, tackling the massive healthcare industry.
Carbon was surprisingly hard to fundraise for. You’d think a serial founder would have it easy, but investors categorically rejected anything involving brick & mortar.

Luckily, Eren’s previous investors said yes. @iPaulLee and @russfradin believed when few others did.
Carbon runs tech-enabled Urgent Care clinics.

Eren spent years finding the right model, eventually succeeding due to his ability to bring together disparate disciplines into one organization (doctors, engineers, designers, finance, sales and customer support).
When COVID happened, Carbon was in the perfect position to help. They quickly became a national leader in COVID response:

Testing 1M+ people
First open-source clinical dataset
First at-home testing kit
First mobile testing center
First COVID-positive rehab program
As California struggled to get vaccines out, Eren’s Carbon has come to the rescue: within 31 hours of being asked, they converted Dodger Stadium into a vaccination “supersite."

They are leading the charge in getting shots in arms.
Recently, CA has thrown a curveball at Carbon's progress.

Despite helping book over 400k vaccinations and administering 250k in LA and San Mateo County, the CA government is insistent on pushing a too-little-too-late system.

Read Eren's thoughts here:
Incredible public service led to insane business growth. Carbon grew 12x in 2020 and expects similar growth in 2021.

The company is on track to have 1500 locations by 2025 and is the fastest growing healthcare technology company (10-100x faster than the next fastest)
How did they do it?

Eren credits the organization’s ability to work across disciplines in a highly agile way. His company values document is a masterclass in leadership:
1. Assume Karma Exists: Continually doing the right things will lead to disproportionate rewards.
2. Respect The Craft: Value the collective wisdom that has been accumulated by people who have been doing the job for a long time.
3. Put Yourself in a Position of Insight; No amount of data, and research can replace the intuition of people develop experiencing problems.
4. Hire People Who Genuinely Care: There's no replacement for having people who care deeply about solving the problem we're hiring them to solve.
Today, Eren lives in Hillsborough with his wife and three children. I’ve personally met hundreds of CEOs and think he is one of the best out there.

His Twitter is also 🔥: @erenbali

If you want more profiles like this, follow me and tell me in the comments!

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More from @gaganbiyani

13 Feb
Fundraising for first-time founders. This is a first principles thread on fundraising that should help any new founder understand how to raise money and what steps to take.

I've personally raised about $70M from 1500 investors & this synthesize a lot of my advice.

**Read On**
Step #1: Understand Venture Capital

So many founders message me asking for advice on raising capital, yet they haven’t bothered to actually understand how VC’s work. If you don’t understand why investors invest and what they look for, how will you convince them?
VC is a hits-driven business that relies on the top 1% of companies to succeed. Show them that if you do succeed, you’ll be huge by sharing:

1. You have product/market fit, or a path to getting there.
2. If you’re right about #1, you could eventually be a $1B+ company.
Read 16 tweets
2 Feb
Introducing “Superpowers” - the underlying skills that help you succeed at anything

I spent nearly 6 months building this list and almost wrote a book on the subject

Instead, I’ve condensed that work into a pithy (and punchy) Twitter thread

**Read On**

Learn how to learn. If you do, it unlocks everything else. The deeper your learning practice, the more you can learn.

This is the ultimate superpower: not only can you learn new subjects; you can even learn to change your mind, your preferences and your mood.

Dispassionate self-awareness helps you improve, grow, and be happy.

Feedback is a gift. Inconsistency is growth. The more of your imperfections you accept, the less imperfect you will be.
Read 24 tweets
22 Jan
Before Udemy could succeed, we had to solve a chicken and egg problem.

These problems are a constant dilemma for founders. (ie. Funding is needed to scale but scale is needed for funding.)

Here's how we bumbled to a solution that kicked off our $3B business.

**Read On**
At Udemy, we needed instructors to attract students, but instructors would only come if they could sell their courses to students.

How could we get one party to show up without the other?

To compound this issue, we had no money, no credibility and no backers.
Step 1: Fake the Chicken

We had 0 courses but a built-out product. @erenbali created a crawler that went on YouTube and built courses out of YouTube playlists.

Now we had talks from Marissa Meyer & Mark Zuckerberg on our site so any users who came on had something to learn.
Read 16 tweets
12 Jan
I’m amazed at how many high-performers have serious or chronic health issues like TMJ, severe muscle pain, carpal tunnel.

I’ve dealt with my share of health issues; imho it all comes down to stress.

A story about stress and what I’ve learned from managing it...

**Read On**
I woke up with a pain in my side that wouldn’t go away. Hours later, the doctors were performing an appendectomy.

I was out for 2 weeks and it hurt like hell.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was fired 4 months later:

After Udemy, I got healthy and built a fitness routine.

My physical health was better than ever, and people noticed. I was the perfect brand ambassador for a healthy food company.

Problem solved, right?
Read 20 tweets
30 Dec 20
OK a bunch of you have asked how I got to 60K followers. Thought I'd share some 7 quick lessons:
1) Tweets keep your followers engaged, but threads get new followers.

Just 3 key threads earned me 70% of my 60K followers:
Thread 1:
Thread 2:
Thread 3:
2) Provide more value than you take.

If you are promoting a company or service, make sure that's less than 50% of your tweets. For me, its probably around 10-25% promotion and 75%+ value.
Read 8 tweets
9 Dec 20
This crowdfunding campaign has me thinking about my start in the Valley.

I knew nobody and had few marketable skills.

I didn’t know the difference between an API and a VC.

Within 3 months, I’d met @erenbali and@caglaroktay and we had started @udemy.

**Read On**
I graduated during the 2008 recession. I was sure I was gonna lose my job at Accenture.

My mother had just lost hers, & I was freaking the fuck out. All first-year analysts were joking daily about the situation.

One day, I got the ominous email from Accenture management...
... The good news: I still had my job.

The bad news: I had to relocate to Washington DC.

I had one friend in DC: Vikrum.

I told him about my dream of working in tech. He gave me my golden ticket: “Check out TechCrunch, that’s what all my tech friends read.”
Read 17 tweets

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