Monetate CEO Lucinda Duncalfe Kicks SaaS

Monetate CEO Lucinda Duncalfe Kicks SaaS


Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Aug 6, 2015

Lucinda Duncalfe finds that training in the martial arts is a lot like running a company. “You have to be willing to be vulnerable, the same way as when you come to full speed in an attack in martial arts. Women in particular are terrible at this. We ask for less money, we worry about what people will think. Just GO.”

With a tenure that includes a string of successful CEO gigs in the tech industry as well as a vegan meal delivery service, this Wharton Business School grad has always enjoyed a good match. Starting out at SEI and Infonautics, she formed relationships that would follow her throughout her career.


A consulting gig with Elverson-based online banking software company Destiny Software led to her first CEO-ship, which was a surprise. “Destiny founder Skip Shuda called me on a Saturday to talk about doing marketing for them, and I told him what he really needed was a CEO. On Monday, he called me back and said, ‘we think you’re right–we do need a CEO–and we’d like you to do it.”


On Money
Lucinda advises wanna-be entrepreneurs to keep their lifestyles in check so they can be fearless. “At SEI, I was making a lot of money. When I went to Infonautics, I took a 50% pay cut, and when I moved to Destiny, I took another 50+ percent cut. I’ve always lived well below my means, so I could do that without it being a problem.”

“I like to do what I like to do. You can do that if you make a lot of money, or you can do it if you don’t spend a lot of money.”


When the tech bubble burst in 2002, Lucinda sought out her next endeavor. She and a partner founded TurnTide, an anti-spam tech company. “We bought the technology with stock from our new company. And 6 months later we sold it to Symantec for 28 million bucks.”

“I believe that if you keep doing the right thing, then the connections will happen.”


Lucinda joined Conshohocken-based Monetate in 2008, citing her excitement about the big scale and international presence. “There is a whole new set of lessons to learn when you’re working on something that you didn’t build yourself.”

Monetate marks her fifth stint as CEO. “I believe that if you’re good, it just sort of works out. At the end of the day, it’s about results. If you’re good, just keep being good.”


Real Food Works
The film Forks Over Knives changed Lucinda’s life. Extolling the virtues of a plant-based diet and condemning big pharma and factory farming for making people sick, the 2011 documentary “made me really politically angry,” she says. “If you don’t know about the power of food on our lives, go watch that movie.”

Struggling with arthritic joints since early adulthood, the lifelong athlete was at a point she needed to do something. “I was too young for knee replacement. After seeing this movie and doing research, I changed my eating. In about 3 weeks I was pain free.”

Her dramatic results inspired an idea to make those dietary changes accessible to anyone, leading to the formation of Real Food Works, a plant-based meal delivery service partnered with Forks Over Knives. “Real Food Works uses the excess resources in the existing food infrastructure to make a healthy meal-delivery service. We make it easier to get people eating healthy food every day.”

Launching Real Food Works has had its own challenges. “Food is a cash flow business and it’s not super scalable. It was tough.”

She called in favors. “One of my contacts said, ‘you have 3 passes and you’ve used one. Is this another one?’ And I said ‘yes it is.’” But Lucinda thinks Real Food Works is ready. “We have 17,000 people on a list ready to sign up for the service.”


On Doing What You Love
“I’m 52 and I’m still passionate about doing this. When I look around at other people my age, there is a small percentage of us who are all still engaged doing what we love. There then is another small percentage doing something totally different. And then I have a whole bunch of friends who are kind of going on cruise control.”

“As my mother is fond of telling me, I gave up napping at a year old and haven’t looked back since. I’m not one to go on cruise control.”


The Future
Teaching is on the horizon. “I want to start a CEO school. There are specific things that you need to know how to do.”

Like managing risk. “One thing I always tell people who say that entrepreneurs are risk takers. Not at all. Entrepreneurs manage risk, but we don’t get emotional about it. People tend to be afraid of all the stuff around a “thing” that happens, and not the actual thing itself.”

John Bacino Holds the Slippery Coat of Innovation

John Bacino Holds the Slippery Coat of Innovation


Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 29, 2015

If you’ve ever marveled at the way food slides out of your frying pan, you can thank John Bacino. The same goes for Glide dental floss, with its talent for slipping effortlessly between your tightly spaced teeth. He’s even the man behind the sinfully smooth feel of those Elixir strings on your guitar. And anyone who raced a mountain bike in the late 1990s remembers the maintenance-free magic of RideOn shift and brake cables.

“Knowing a need and filling it was an early lesson I learned,” says John. That lesson led to a long and illustrious career at W.L. Gore, and spurred him to launch a company in his retirement.


It’s Not About Mushrooms
“I grew up in Avondale on a mushroom farm,” muses John. “I knew there was one thing I didn’t want to do, and that was mushroom farming.”

Instead, he focused on inventing. “I started making Teflon-type dispersions and spraying them on an industrial scale, taking the powder and turning it into a spray.” With his method, he was able to produce a thicker coating of Teflon, perfect for applications in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and semiconductor industries.

He sold several of his patented ideas to W.L. Gore in 1981 and joined the team, eventually moving into developing membrane material. “All of a sudden I became a person to go to in order to develop a new material.”

The first generation of the material was intended for computers, but John—and the Gore philosophy—didn’t stop there.


The Ingenuity Team
John and his team wrapped the thin, flexible material around bicycle cables, and RideOn cables were born. The sealed braking and shifting systems virtually eliminated the traditional maintenance cycle of cleaning and lubricating. Mountain bikers loved them, but so did other people. “Somebody at a company in Florida saw the cables and asked if we could make the material for puppet strings.”

John formed the Ingenuity Team at Gore to explore new uses of the products. The durable, dirt-resistant membrane found its way onto guitar strings and even into dental floss.


John retired from Gore last April, but he’d already been plotting a retirement filled with innovation. “I was at the gym working out. I noticed that everybody who came up beside me, the first thing they’d do was to untangle their ear buds. It was minutes of wasted time.”

The relentless inventor in him decided to take a shot at designing a solution, and HOOP-IT was born. Holding up a Ziploc bag filled with early prototypes, he describes the first version. “I glued 2 magnets to a cog belt. You could open it with one hand. Other versions on the market use Velcro or a snap and need 2 hands to open.”

Size matters. “I used silicon wrist bands, but I needed a smaller size. So I found children’s wristbands.

Durability matters, too. “Every time I glued magnets on they fell off.”

He finally got a version he was happy with, made a bunch, and took them to a fitness club in Hockessin to sell them. “I sold 50 in 2 hours at $8 a piece. Another guy came back and bought 14 to give to his kids and people at work.” John new he had a hot seller.

Even today, as he thinks about scaling up for mass production, he’s still tinkering with the design. “The inventor in me is never happy.”

6 Things We Learned at #RAIN2015

6 Things We Learned at #RAIN2015


Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 24, 2015


We ABSOLUTELY loved the#RAIN2015 energy @UCScienceCenter. Chris and I attempted to build a list of 5 things that we learned, but there was too much goodness! So, we added one more to the list.


1. We need more selfless outreach across our entire Ecosystem:



2.  Philly’s competing on a global stage:




3.  People pleasing will get you nowhere:



4.  Collaboration is not limited startups:




5.  Corporations require some serious flexibility:



6. Be mindful of the ‘David and Goliath’ heuristic:




If anyone out there is thinking to themselves: “Hey Ben! You put you’re own tweet in that blog you made.” My response is,”I know, I know.. only because no one else tweeted this quote”. See you next year!


Night Owls Demo w/ myZyp

Night Owls Demo w/ myZyp


Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 23, 2015 @myZypInfo @HSamant01 What was the problem your app aims to solve? “Communicating and sharing address and location information, on social media via mobile devices or even verbally, involves the creation and exchange of address information (house #, street, city etc.), sometimes along with landmark based directions, and cryptic links to maps. An even bigger issue in the developing world is that there is no structured addressing scheme, making address location extremely difficult.” How does your app solve this problem? “myZyp wants to change this, and make zyptags (that begin with an &) as easy to create, share, and find, as hashtags. However, unlike hashtags, zyptags also store rich location information (geo-coordinates, postal address, landmark based directions etc.) on the back end, which allows the person looking up the tag on the myZyp app, a quick and easy way to find and get directions to the location. Another cool feature is that the creator of the tag can change the address or location behind the tag, which is great for people or events that relocate or move. For example a food truck that moves around need not update its customers about its location every day – just update the location info at & JoesFoodTruck.” What’s next for your app/ goals/ vision for this year? “While the iOS app and website are now live, we will be releasing on Android and Windows soon. We are also working on a bunch of new features to enhance search, and deeper integration with social media. Our ultimate vision is to make the zyptag as ubiquitous as the hashtag, when it comes to locations.”

Ben Franklin Technology Partners and The Importance of Funding

Ben Franklin Technology Partners and The Importance of Funding


Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 15, 2015


Last Thursday, Mark DeGrantpre travelled to West Chester to speak on behalf of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of South Eastern Pennsylvania. The topic of the briefing was commercialization and investment. As Mark spoke, there appeared to be a hunger in the room. The large crowd that had assembled sat tentatively and eager to devour any information Mark divulged about his company.

Ben Franklin talkAs their website states, “for over 30 years, Ben Franklin Technology Partners has been the leading seed stage capital provider for the region’s technology sectors, investing over $175 million in more than 1,750 regional technology companies, many of which have gone on to become industry leaders.” A partnership with Ben Franklin can make a huge difference for a new or established business. In the last three months Ben Franklin has invested in BioBots and ROAR, both of which had their founders speak at WSL as part of the “Startup Meetup” series.

“Are they doing something new in science, engineering , or technology, and would our money be used to help grow the top line? If those two things are yes, then you’re automatically a company that could be right for us,” Mark DeGrantpre stated when a member of the crowd asked what qualified a company.


Even if an inventor or entrepreneur has a revolutionary idea that doesn’t ensure a fitting monetary reward; the most recent Startup Meetup speaker, Rob Morris, is a perfect example of such an entrepreneur. Rob developed the first multimedia program with his partner. The program was well received and even attracted the attention of Microsoft. However, Mark’s development team consisted of just two people, and because Mark lacked the capital to expand his team he was unable to create a working version of his program, thus destroying a possible connection to Microsoft. Rob’s story serves to highlight the importance of Ben Franklin’s investments and what a huge difference funding can make.

“If you come to us I hope that you understand the process, how to get through the process, and the time it takes.” Mark DeGrantpre said as he finished his presentation. Anyone interested in utilizing Ben Franklin as a source of investment should take a look at the slide presentation below to learn about the fine details of the program. You can also watch Mark’s full presentation here.