Monthly Archives: May 2017

Episode 21: The Roller Coaster Ride to 40 Million Monthly Users

An honest discussion of the realities of a journey of a of a 5 time successful entrepreneur whose company – Ranker – now reaches 40 million people monthly and is solidly profitable with over 60 employees. Benson will take us through his self-funded beginnings to early angel rounds (partly secured in Pasadena), and funding from “name” VCs like Lowercase, Draper, and Wavemaker, and will discuss not just the success but also the many pitfalls even an experienced entrepreneur faced.

With all his prior success, Benson still did plenty of things wrong in the process of starting Ranker and had to work with less than ideal resources to survive, and eventually thrive. Benson will discuss the challenges of the tech world where massive changes are happening year-over-year and how even disruptive businesses can find themselves quickly disrupted. He will explain how to navigate hype vs reality with investors, and the Silicon Valley investor mentality vs everywhere else, among other topics.



Clark Benson is the founder and CEO of Ranker, the leading digital media company for opinion-based, crowd-sourced rankings on just about everything. Launched in 2009, Ranker is Benson’s fifth startup. Ranker creates editorial lists to vote on about virtually every topic, and the 40 million+ monthly audience’s opinions shape the rankings. Prior to Ranker, Benson’s company, eCrush, an early social network for teens, was bought by Hearst Corporation in 2006. Benson lives in the Hollywood Hills with his wife and young twins.

Episode 20: Business, Risk and Pants-Free Mindfulness

A few years ago, most of us would have thought of “sensory deprivation” as some kind of unique torture experience. But Jim Hefner saw an opportunity for both personal, and business growth, all sans pantalon. Jim will share his experience discovering floating, and turning that discovery into creating the world’s largest sensory depravation center in Pasadena.

After a lifetime of using business to fuel his passions, Jim found himself at the center of a seismic life shift in which opportunity, fatherhood, and mindfulness coalesced. The result was Just Float, the world’s largest and most advanced float center. Since his very first float, Jim has been convinced that floating is a powerful tool for mindfulness and healing, and his journey has placed him in contact with a diverse and committed community of people who are out to prove it.

This journey has been marked by intensely stressful, risk-filled and sometimes overwhelmingly dark moments. But through a lifetime of survival, business experience, outdoor adventure, and inner exploration, Jim has found himself uniquely poised to not only revolutionize an industry, but to profoundly re-shape himself as well.


Jim Hefner is co-founder and visionary of the world’s largest float center, Just Float, located in Pasadena, CA.  He is also a fledgling psycho-naut, serial entrepreneur, MBA, adventure athlete, husband and father, who also happens to be rabid about floating and creating the perfect float environment. Throughout his life, he’s been drawn to hobbies and experiences that require perfect commitment to the moment. Whether on a sheer rock face, a mountain bike, a wave, or in a float tank, what matters most to him is the sacred experience of flow, of absolute attention, and freedom from the noise of everyday life.


Twitter:  @justfloat

Episode 19: Startup Failure Is Not What You Think

This talk explores new ways of looking at failure in the World of Startups. Failure is being presented not as a possible outcome, but rather as a mile-marker that all Startups go through. Specifically it covers a concept of “unfail” or “unfailure”, where Startups try to “unfail” every element of their business on their way to success.

It also examines importance of failure, in its traditional sense, as it pertains to Startups, and analyzes reasons why failure is so common. It emphasizes how Lean Startup principals are connected with failure scenarios and lessons learned.


Before Co-Founding Raken, Sergey served in capacities of Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer and Chief Product Officer. Sergey is a serial entrepreneur co-founding multiple successful Startups focused on Small Business Marketing and eCommerce. Last Startup co-founded by Sergey was acquired by Capital One in 2014. Sergey specializes in implementation of subscription based high volume SaaS platforms, with strong emphasis on early stage product development, product marketing and customer acquisition. Specific areas of expertise include User Testing, A/B Testing, Marketing, Big Data, Video Management, eCommerce, RTB platforms and Cloud Computing.

Sergey has B.A. in Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego, M.S. in Information Technology from the University of Liverpool. Ph.D. in Information Technology Management from the School of Business and Technology, Capella University.