Teaching Team


Steve Blank

Defense Business Board

Over the last 35 years, Steve has been part of, or co-founded eight Silicon Valley startups- from semiconductors, video games, personal computers, supercomputers and enterprise software.

Known as the father of the Lean Startup his summary of “Why The Lean Startup Changes Everything” was the cover story of the May 2013 Harvard Business Review. Read it here.

In 2011 the National Science Foundation adopted this Lean Launchpad class as the standard for commercializing research via the NSF Innovation Corps.

Steve also teaches Hacking for Defense and Hacking for Diplomacy. He will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Spring Quarter.


Jeff Epstein

Operating Partner @ Bessemer Venture Partners

Jeff Epstein is an operating partner in Bessemer Venture Partners’ Silicon Valley office where he primarily works with chief executive and financial officers to share and implement best practices.

He is the former executive vice president and chief financial officer of Oracle, one of the world’s largest and most profitable technology companies, with a market value of over $150 billion. Prior to joining Oracle, Jeff served as chief financial officer of several public and private companies, including DoubleClick (sold to Google), King World Productions (sold to CBS) and Nielsen’s Media Measurement and Information Group. Earlier in his career, he was an investment banker at The First Boston Corporation. Today Jeff leads the CFO Advisory Board at Bessemer where more than 100 portfolio company CFOs meet in person and online to help each other improve their effectiveness.

Jeff specializes in marketplaces and B2B software companies. He serves on the boards of directors of Kaiser Permanente, Twilio, Shutterstock and several private companies.

He holds an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar, and a BA from Yale College, where he graduated summa cum  laude, Phi Beta Kappa.

Jeff will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Winter Quarter.


Mar Hershenson

Managing Partner @ Pear VC

Mar Hershenson is passionate about soccer but mostly about FC Barcelona. More than 20 years after immigrating to the U.S. from Spain, she enjoys few things more than watching Blaugrana prevail in a close match with Real Madrid. As a co-founder and managing partner at Pear Ventures, she brings operational and technical expertise to the investment team. After earning a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1999, she had developed a ground-breaking technique for optimizing the design of analog semiconductors.

Having combined a hardware/software focus during her studies, she spent the next 13 years co-founding three startups in the mobile/e-commerce, enterprise software, and semiconductor industries, work that led eventually to her registering 14 separate patents.

Mar has been recognized by MIT Technology Review as a Top Innovator Under 35, named a Champion of Innovation by Fast Company, included by EE Times in its listing of the Top 10 Women in Microelectronics, and awarded the Digital Automation Conference’s Marie R. Pistilli Achievement Award.

When she’s not at work, she’s frequently quilting, a hobby that allows her to combine her loves of art and geometry, ­­two elements that feature heavily in her ability to identify and nurture promising entrepreneurial ventures.

Mar will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Winter Quarter.


Steve Weinstein

Co-Founder of Kinetrope

With a background that spans technology, product development, and entertainment, Steve Weinstein has been focused on where media meets technology. Currently Steve W is the founder and CEO of MovieLabs, the research consortium of the 6 Hollywood major studios focused on exploring and investing in emerging technologies to advance the consumer experience in the new media environment.  Steve W is also the co-founder of KineTrope a small design shop for small consumer and professional electronics. Additionally, Steve W is currently teaching entrepreneurship at U.C. Berkeley.

Previously, Steve W served as CTO of Deluxe Entertainment, a 6,000 person post production house, and CTO at Rovi Corporation where he guided the transition from physical technologies to e-commerce, connected home, secure and subscription services.  Additionally, Steve W held the role of Chief Technology Officer at Vicinity, a mapping company acquired by Microsoft in 2002. Steve W was also a founding executive and Chief Strategist and Technologist at Liberate Technologies, an interactive television software company.

Further back in his career, Steve W held executive-level positions at Microprose/Spectrum HoloByte (game company), Electronics for Imaging (print processing), and Media Cybernetics (image processing).  Steve W also was chief architect at Ship Analytics for real time ship, sub and helicopter trainers. Steve W started his career at Naval Research Laboratory in the area of advanced signal processing, computer language design, and real time os development.

Steve W. will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Spring Quarter.


Tom Bedecarré

Former Co-Founder & CEO of AKQA

Tom Bedecarré was Co-Founder and CEO of AKQA, the leading and most-awarded digital advertising agency. Tom built AKQA into a global company which now has more than 2,000 staff in 20 offices in the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Tom was also President of WPP Ventures, exploring Silicon Valley investment opportunities for WPP, the world’s largest communications services group.

An innovator and pioneer in media, entertainment and communications, Tom was named “Silicon Valley’s Favorite Adman” by Fortune magazine and he was recognized in 2013 as an EY Entrepreneur of The Year.

Tom earned his BA from Stanford and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. He has been an active mentor to Stanford students and startups, and in 2018 Tom received Stanford’s Outstanding Alumni Mentor Award. Currently, Tom is a Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Tom will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Winter Quarter.


George John

AI-focused Investor, Advisor, and Board Director

George John is currently an angel investor who looks for companies that will clearly benefit humanity, with technically and commercially strong founding teams and futuristic product ideas, particularly AI and robotics. He has been a venture capitalist at Khosla Ventures and a board member at futuristic companies like Blue River (robot farming) and AliveCor (a cardiologist in your hand).  Prior to investing, George was an executive who worked for three startup companies, all of which went public: Epiphany, Salesforce.com, and Rocket Fuel which he founded in 2008 and led as CEO and Chairman until 2015. Rocket Fuel had the strongest software IPO of 2013 and was ranked #1 on Deloitte’s Fast500 list of fastest growing companies in North America. George led the company to a peak of over 1200 employees worldwide, $400M revenue and $2.5B market cap.

In addition to startup experiences, George led intrapreneurial groups at Yahoo and IBM where his divisions grew from single-digit to 100+ people and became significant businesses. He holds several patents on the use of AI in predictive and autonomous systems, and has authored over 20 conference papers, journal articles, and book chapters on AI, with over 16,000 citations. He holds a BS, MS, and PhD with distinction in teaching from Stanford University, all in Computer Science with a focus on Machine Learning, with his PhD supported by an NSF fellowship.

George will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Winter Quarter.


Heidi Roizen

Partner, Threshold Ventures

Heidi Roizen is a venture capitalist, corporate director and ‘recovering’ entrepreneur. Today, Heidi is a partner at leading technology venture firm Threshold Ventures. She is currently also a corporate director for DMGT (LSE:DMGT), Invitation Homes (NYSE:INVH), Planet, Memphis Meats, Lumity and Polarr.

Heidi is also the co-lead of Stanford’s Threshold Venture Fellows Program in the Management Science and Engineering department at Stanford University and serves on the advisory councils of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) and Stanford Technology Ventures (STVP). She started her career as co-founder of software company T/Maker and served as its CEO for over a dozen years until its acquisition by Deluxe Corporation. After a year as VP of Worldwide Developer Relations at Apple, Heidi then became a venture capitalist in 1999. She has undergraduate and MBA degrees from Stanford and is the proud mother of two kids and two rescue dogs.

Heidi will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Spring Quarter.


Jennifer Carolan

Co-Founder of Reach Capital

Jennifer started her career as a classroom teacher where she taught for 7 years in traditional districts. She moved to the Silicon Valley in 2000 to attend Stanford University and was inspired by all of the entrepreneurs working on their ideas. She found a way to use her teaching experience to support these founders.

She worked at NewSchools Venture Fund for 9 years and taught Innovations In Teaching at Stanford University for 3 years. She co-founded her first fund NewSchools Seed Fund in 2011 and co-founded her second Reach Capital in 2015 and Reach II in 2018. These funds have aggregated more than $167M in capital to back amazing entrepreneurs who are passionate about creating exceptional tools for teachers and engaging curriculum for kids. Through their investments, they are creating opportunities for kids and young adults who might think of themselves as underdogs because of background or challenges. Jennifer currently sit on the boards of Nearpod, EdSurge, PeopleGrove, Outschool and FreshGrade.

Jennifer will be on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad Spring Quarter.

Teaching Assistants

Winter TAs
Stephanie Grayson (graysons@stanford.edu)
Anand Lalwani (anandl@stanford.edu)
Andrew Hojel (ahojel@stanford.edu)
Rayouf Alhumedhi (rayouf@stanford.edu)

Please contact us if there are any questions!