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Derek Distenfield, GSD Venture Studios: “it is the problem you must fall in love with, not the solution”


There are many people around the world who have a powerful skill set and great knowledge to become an entrepreneur, however, they lack opportunities to spread or promote their business.

Especially due to the pandemic locking everyone at home, people had more time to start new businesses. And while some people have great product or service ideas, their startups could use some extra hands to help them spread their message on a wider scale.

That’s why Cybernews invited Derek Distenfield, the COO, CFO, and Co-Founder of GCD Venture Studios – a company that invests in and helps startups go global, to discuss the entrepreneurial environment.

How did the idea of GSD Venture Studios come about? What has the journey been like?

GSD Venture Studios is the culmination of both mine and Gary Fowler’s entrepreneur careers in technology companies. We had the belief that intellectual capacity is evenly spread throughout the world and opportunity is not. In this way, Silicon Valley is like a garage filled with amazing cars, but the keys are only available to those already inside.

Some companies are trying to crack open these doors by taking the Silicon Valley business model and applying it in other parts of the world. GSD Venture Studios has been doing just that for years, helping companies #GoGlobal by using Silicon Valley as a port to the rest of the world. It's time to let everyone drive.

Can you introduce us to what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

GSD Venture Studios creates companies that have the potential to dominate new categories and that have the power to make a major impact on the world. We seek out entrepreneurs with bold visions, who are passionate about making those visions a reality. Our 15-week accelerator has had 70+ companies, our portfolio companies include those from AI, Fintech, and medical fields and 38 countries.

What do you usually look for in a startup? What industries are your main fields of focus at the moment?

GSD travels the world looking for resilient entrepreneurs that are bold enough to #GoGlobal. We especially love artificial intelligence, Web 3.0, the future of work companies, and quantum.

How do you think the pandemic has affected the startup scene?

It’s important to mention that great companies were made during the 2008 and 2009 crisis and I expect the same result to occur during this pandemic because it has reminded people that cash is king and being profitable matters.

What are the best practices do you think companies of all sizes should adopt nowadays to maintain smooth and secure remote operations?

You should use a workspace as a service provider like our portfolio company https://www.simplecloud.io/en/. Their benefit includes cloud adoption in a secure vault allowing employees to work in the cloud but not store anything on their workstation. Additionally, a non-technical person can add a new workstation quickly.

You often mention that a successful company must follow the five lines of effort model. Would you like to share more about this vision?

To be successful, companies must engineer five things to be successful – product, sales, marketing, influence, and investors. Oftentimes, companies are good at one or two but you must be good at all five at the same time.

In your opinion, what cybersecurity details are often overlooked by new business owners?

Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and more were not foreign actors but employed by the government. Your biggest threat is usually internal to your organization, not external.

Let’s say someone has an idea for a business that they strongly believe in. What would be the first steps an entrepreneur should take?

You should confirm that you have identified a problem, not a solution. It is the problem you must fall in love with and validate.

And finally, what does the future hold for GSD Venture Studios?

GSD Venture Studios will continue to make sure the best talent in the world pops the Silicon Valley bubble so we can make brides to the entire world to #GoGlobal.


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