Shanna Tellerman

Shanna Tellerman

Shanna is the founder and CEO of Modsy, a home design service that allows you to visualize design ideas in the context of your own home. Previously, Shanna was a partner on the investing team at Google Ventures.

San Francisco, California, United States
Accredited investor
Member since May 17, 2019
  • About
Investor interests
Type of investor Angel
Typical investment size Under $25,000 $25,000 - $50,000
Typical investments in a year 1
Locations of interest
Credentials Accredited Investor

I am a(n):


Companies I've founded or co-founded:
Modsy, Sim Ops Studios
Companies I work or worked for:
Google, Autodesk
Achievements (products built, personal awards won):

One of BusinessWeek's best young entrepreneurs
Featured in the book “Creating Innovators” by Harvard education expert Tony Wagner
One of Silicon Valley Business Journal's Women of Influence

If you're an entrepreneur or corporate innovator, why?

I want to change the world.

Why did you start your company or why do you want to innovate inside your company?

I moved into a new house with my husband in 2014, and we were excited to start the decorating process but quickly became overwhelmed by the abundance of inspiration options available. When we did see things we liked, we were unable to visualize exactly how pricey new furniture items would fit in the space so ultimately we ended up with a half-finished home that we didn’t love. I knew this was an issue many faced, and recognized a technological hole in the interior design market. Anyone should be able to see things in our homes before buying. So I drew on my background in 3D development and brought together an eclectic group of creatives, scientists, artists and thinkers to create Modsy. Five years later, there are still so many inspiration options out there when it comes to home design but finding ways to visualize items in your real home is still a challenge and something Modsy is unique to solving.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

I would call it more of a challenge and reward vs. frustration but for me it's people. At Modsy, we are building something extremely impactful in the industry but it’s the journey that gets you up every day. We will never be a household name if the entire team of people doesn't show up for our vision. When you build a great team, it’s so, so rewarding, but it’s not a constant state. It’s a living organism, there’s always a challenge in recruiting, maintaining a strong culture and keeping talent motivated and excited. Sometimes in those moments it’s challenging but ends up massively rewarding.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

It's simple but being afraid to make mistakes, is a mistake! You cannot let the fear of making a misstep stop you from making decisions. You will make mistakes. That is a fact, but if you're able to turn it into a growing opportunity then you'll be much better off and likely way more successful in the end.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1. Establish a deep level of trust and vulnerability with the people you work with. Without it, collaboration and communication falters and everything else nosedives from there. As a leader, it is your responsibility to constantly evaluate whether you have created an environment for your team to thrive and this often means showing your own vulnerability to seek and receive feedback about what is and is not working.This can be difficult but it pays off tremendously when your team has a shared sense of purpose and passion.
2. Build a strong network. For me, when I was starting out, It was a total boys club. None of my female friends were starting companies. In starting both of my companies, I leaned really heavily on the network of men and women I did have — they were some of my first investors. From there, I started a women's summit that meets annually to connect female entrepreneurs and investors with each other. I'm constantly connecting people with other people and asking for introductions to people I want to learn from. I believe that for women to have a seat at the table, we need to connect with other women and men, share knowledge and build a strong network of mentors and mentees.
3. Don't second-guess your path. I've had the opportunity to go from entrepreneur to investor back to an entrepreneur and learned that in these transitions and big undertakings, the important thing for me was to be confident in the choices I was making. Otherwise I would have been paralyzed by the fear of change and risk. I always remind myself of my capabilities and don't overanalyze on any shortcomings. Of course I have made plenty of mistakes along the way, but have grown tremendously from them, making me more and more confident along the way.

Full bio

I am passionate about the intersection of design and technology, and I love working with talented people to turn vision into reality! I'm currently working on a new startup combining my passions. Previously at Google Ventures I was focused on the future of the retail experience, 3D technologies and SaaS platforms. In my spare time I launched a new program at GV to connect the Fortune 500 with relevant startups. I founded my first technology company, Sim Ops Studios acquired by Autodesk, out of graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. At Sim Ops we launched a cloud based 3D game platform called Wild Pockets with a mission to democratize the creation process of 3D content. Following the Autodesk acquisition, I was the Product Line Manager responsible for the initial launch of Autodesk Cloud which we launched within 9 months after joining. I frequently speak on a range of topics including game development and women in technology for organizations such as Astia, Women 2.0, Girl Geeks, Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, etc. In 2009 I had the privilege of being named one of BusinessWeek’s best young entrepreneurs. In 2014 I was named one of Silicon Valley's top 100 women of influence. I received both a Master’s in Entertainment Technology and a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. While attending CMU I co-authored a paper titled “Emergent Stories in Massively Multiplayer Online Games: Using Improvisational Techniques to Design for Emotional Impact,” (International Conference on Entertainment Computing, 2004). In my spare time I love to be active - running marathons, triathlons, yoga or anything outdoors. The 2014 Boston Marathon will go down as one of the most memorable events I've ever had the honor of participating in. Specialties: Vision to execution, start-ups, entrepreneurship, strategic innovation, 3D technologies and gaming, leadership, women in technology