Caneel's Story

Dr. Caneel Joyce is a sought-after speaker, women’s movement maker, and startup culture builder. She has consulted with some of the world’s most transformative entrepreneurs, including leaders at Snap, Slack, Amazon, Scopely, and numerous early stage startups spanning space exploration, holographic imaging, AR/VR, healthcare, fintech, and new media. She is also a passionate mother and wife.

With over 15 years of experience working with startups in roles spanning growth, product, marketing, operations, and strategy and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, Caneel draws on an expertise in social psychology and human behavior. She has taught Organizational Change, Leadership, Negotiations, Design Thinking and Designing Creative Organizations at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the London School of Economics and the Stanford Design School.

“I get to witness and support the transformation of organizations, and the leaders who run them.”

My clients don’t need more data, more consulting, more ideas, or more strategy. In fact, they don’t “need” anything at all – except more time and the ability to get more out of the resources that they already have. And an unbiased, supportive, skillful ear to help them more quickly arrive at solutions that allow them to grow beyond the limitations of today.

My own startup career started in the late 90’s when I helped lead two different companies that were part of the first dot-com explosion. In my second startup, we had rapid growth that generated more clients than we could handle, but an unsustainable culture and internal conflicts meant that each new client drove us into a deeper crises.

In those days no one really knew what was ahead for this emerging ecosystem, and when the bubble burst in the early 2000’s, taking the stock market and thousands of companies with it, it was anyone’s guess what might happen next. I wanted greater clarity and ability to help create this future, but I didn’t want to wait 20 years to do that. I decided to apply to the prestigious Haas School of Business. As I earned my PhD in in Organizational Behavior, I also had the privilege of working with and teaching some of the best of the next generation of tech founders, from Revolution Foods to Indiegogo. After earning my PhD, I took a faculty position at the London School of Economics.

Yet I was still looking in the wrong place for clarity – I was looking for solutions. What, I wanted to know, reliably created scalable success? It wasn’t long before I realized that academia didn’t hold many answers; they knew which questions to ask, but there was little consensus about how one could create, scale, and grow a startup reliably.

It was time to move back to where the action was, and so I left my job as a professor and returned, with my husband Roy and newborn son Soren, to San Francisco and the heart of the tech startup scene. Now working as an executive, I helped lead my third startup (Britely) to acquisition by Groupon.

My inbox began to do something odd: it started filling up with requests to advise and consult for other venture-backed founders and executives, and so I founded Kickass Enterprises as a startup growth consulting company.

In 2015, I conceived my second child, a daughter, and brought my practice to my hometown of Los Angeles to be closer to family, and closer to the emerging of the Silicon Beach startup ecosystem. After some time to reflect inside of the spaciousness of my maternity leave, I realized that I had learned something profound:

The secret was right in front of me.

As I worked with leaders in becoming better, more authentic versions of themselves, their businesses exploded in sustainable growth. Great work, I had come to realize, was a spiritual journey, not just a business one. The initial shift for them wasn’t external but internal.
While I still do strategy and organizational design, my love is in coaching startup execs and founders. Strategies and tactics are critical for companies to scale, but a leader’s deep personal transformation is what really moves the needle in all areas of a business – and creates iconic companies that change the world. Much of this work is facilitated by my partnership with the coaching and culture firm Evolution, as I both draw on their expertise and contribute to it.

Today, I work with an incredible team of coaches, facilitators, trainers, and culture builders to transform organizations and the leaders who run them, so that you can bring the full power of your vision to the world, at scale.

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