The Startup Playbook

Connecting you to the best entrepreneurs, investors and resources from around the world

Ep144 – David Lemphers (Co-founder & CEO – Code Pilot) on exits, thinking big and creating gold standards

My guest for Ep144 of The Startup Playbook Podcast is the Co-founder & CEO of Code Pilot, David Lemphers.

Dave has recently returned to Australia after spending 12 years in the US.

He initially moved there to be an early member of the Windows Azure engineering team, before jumping out and launching his own startups.

To date Dave has co-founded and successfully exited 4 AI startups including; ZenDeals which was acquired by RetailMeNot for $22M just 2 years after launching and his last startup, Code Pilot, which was acquired by AngelList.

If that wasn’t enough, David has also authored 3 US patents on AI and ML and serves as the CTO in residence at Techstars.

In this interview we covered a wide range of topics including:

  • Dave’s Lessons from founding, growing and exiting 4 companies
  • Particularly how to setup and negotiate an acquisition deal
  • Lifting the lid on what happens after the acquisition goes through
  • How to attract great talent
  • How to create an environment of flow state for your team
  • How to create and set gold standards
  • & much more!


  • 1.59 – Davids’ journey from growing up in Melbourne to making an impact in the startup industry and working with some of biggest companies in the world 
  • 4.32 – The impact of and learnings from living and working in the U.S.
  • 9.58 – The difference between Australia and the U.S. start up culture
  • 13.14 – How and why David had the desire to begin his first startup venture
  • 17.03 – Why founders should go to the U.S. to experience the local startup culture and the value of in-person interaction
  • 21.01 – Recreating the startup culture in Australia 
  • 25.55 – Davids’ introduction to machine learning and getting buy in for upcoming technologies 
  • 32.57 – Hiring for potential over existing skills and building a great team 
  • 38.28 – Understanding no two businesses are the same and finding the right cultural fit for your team
  • 39.32 – The process of being acquired and the challenges of due diligence – reference to acquisition of Zen Deals by RetailMeNot 
  • 51.34 – Advice for founders to prepare for a successful acquisition
  • 56.12 – Building a successful company and incorporating practises in preparation for acquisition 
  • 57.43 – The importance of diversity in skill, knowledge and expertise especially in the early stages of a startup 
  • 1.04.29 – Sharing company vision to attract great talent and important things to consider when looking for work at a startup
  • 1.10.52 – Creating challenging work to encourage a flow state within a team 
  • 1.16.25 – How to get in contact with David 

Links Mentioned

Davids’ Links 



Past Episodes 

Special Thanks:

Special thanks to Shreyas Karnik and George Chondros for their help with research for this interview 🙏 .

Feedback/connect/say hello:
@RohitBhargava7 (Twitter)
/rohbhargava (LinkedIn)
@rohit_bhargava (Instagram)
My Youtube Channel


Music: Joakim Karud – Dreams

Other channels:

Don’t have iTunes? The podcast is also available on SpotifySoundcloud & Stitcher Audio Player.

Leave a Comment