Coaching helps startup leaders

Gain a powerful foothold and get the timely support you need to achieve your goals.

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“My mission in life is to help passionate companies run better. I coach startup leaders because they care deeply about the same things I care about: solving problems effectively; learning through experiments; and enabling others to thrive”
“My mission in life is to help passionate companies run better. I coach startup leaders because they care deeply about the same things I care about: solving problems effectively; learning through experiments; and enabling others to thrive”

Anamaria Nino-Murcia is the coach behind Foothold.

Anamaria founded Foothold Coaching with the belief that startup leaders should have access to the same professional coaching enjoyed by corporate executives.

Since 2011, Anamaria has coached hundreds of startup founders and leaders both one-on-one and in group settings. While there are dozens of executive coaches in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, Anamaria is among a select few who specialize exclusively in working with startups.

Anamaria trained as a leadership coach and earned her MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. A scientist by training, she also holds a B.S. and M.S. from Stanford in Earth Systems.

She maintains active ties to Stanford as a regular senior facilitator for the Interpersonal Dynamics course at the GSB, and as an occasional guest lecturer/coach at the GSB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Technology Ventures Program in the School of Engineering.

Anamaria is also the co-founder and co-leader of T-Groups For Startups—a transformative weekend-long program that trains startup leaders on emotional intelligence; interpersonal skills and team dynamics.

A former entrepreneur herself, Anamaria was employee #3 at ElliptiGO, a successful startup producing the world’s first elliptical bicycle. Her team started in a storage shed and worked its way up to multiple product-lines and profitability before Anamaria left the company to pursue coaching full-time.

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Perfect for founders, startup executives or anyone who leads/manages a team of people at a startup.

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Coaching for whole teams or groups within a single startup or for an organization that educates entrepreneurs.

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T-Groups and interpersonal dynamics training through “T-Groups for Startups” weekends and the Stanford Business School.

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Sample Client Stories


Jared Simon

COO and Co-Founder of HotelTonight

“Like many fast-growing tech startups, HotelTonight has many first-time managers who were previously individual contributors.  Anamaria’s relationship with us began when she created a completely customized leadership coaching program for these new managers, combining group, individual and peer coaching.  This was so successful, we invited her back to create a group coaching program for the entire company. I had no reservations about the value of coaching, but from experience I had plenty of concerns about implementing a coaching program that was not pragmatic and action-oriented at its core.  As soon as I met Anamaria, those concerns were shifted to the back burner, and as soon as I saw the real and immediate impact the coaching had on my team’s ability to do their best work, those concerns disappeared entirely. Our team, from top to bottom, has learned more about themselves and has become more comfortable and confident in their relationships with other team members, whether in terms of collaboration, feedback or management.”

Julia Hu

CEO and Founder of lark

“As a startup founder, I used to spend most of my time running around with no time for guided introspection and self-improvement as a person and leader. But over the last three years of working with Anamaria — she has helped me learn and grow so much from my startup CEO “roller coaster” journey. When I encounter challenges, I’m not someone who just wants to vent and do nothing. I also don’t want someone telling me what to do, because it turns off my brain. Anamaria is both excellent in that she listens to me without judgment—even when I’m sharing unfiltered emotions—but then she also helps me figure out how to solve the problem and move on. She has also helped me negotiate many important business deals and hard employee conversations. I often know what I want to say, but I don’t know how to frame it well. By talking it through with Anamaria, I always come out feeling stronger and with clearer intentions about what I will say.”

Ilana Stern

CEO and Founder of Weddington Way

“Anamaria and I worked together at a very important stage of growth in my company (growing from 7 to 15 employees over a 6 month period), and she was an incredibly valuable advisor through that change. As we were growing our team, while a culture of open feedback had always been a part of our company, we realized that we needed to institutionalize a feedback process so that we were creating an environment where employees could learn, grow and perform. Anamaria worked closely with me to develop a 360 degree review process for my team and me based on what we wanted to accomplish. As an additional service, she also conducted the performance review for me after interviewing my board as well as my team. This was an incredibly value exercise for me as CEO as well as for my team. The work she and I did together laid the foundation for a higher performing team with clear goals and a sense of where we can each improve and grow. I trust Anamaria completely and always appreciated her intent listening, thoughtful questions and open mind as she helped me face key people management challenges as our team doubled in size over a short period of time. Anamaria is a great resource to a CEO who needs an objective third party (outside board, advisors, etc.), who will listen and coach without judgment as you face really tough challenges that you’re not sure how to address or whom to talk to.”

Ben Knelman

CEO and Co-Founder of Juntos

“Anamaria has been coaching me for the last 3+ years, and her sessions have been some of the highest-return hours I have ever spent inside or outside of work. From the sessions, I have gained insights that have changed the way I see myself and changed the way I view situations in my work. I come out of sessions with a new sense of opportunities to lead my team and engage with my work not just more effectively, but also in ways that give me a greater personal sense of fulfillment and growth. As everyone who has done it knows, there are certain parts of the entrepreneurial journey that are lonely – certain challenges and doubts can be difficult to share with teammates or advisors who are looking to you to lead them with strength and confidence. Outside friends and family are there, but often can’t understand – and often you don’t want to burden them with the stresses and worries from your work. Anamaria gives founders and startup leaders a space to have those conversations – it is hard for me to convey the sense of discovery and relief that the conversations with her have brought me.”

Curious to learn more about Ben’s coaching experience? Read the whole story on Medium


Romain David

Co-Founder of meexo

“I used to think that coaching was a luxury that only executives of middle to large companies could afford. Anamaria proved me wrong. Today I would recommend every founder of early stage startups to consider having a coach. Yes, you have your co-founder(s), advisors and friends to guide you, but having someone neutral who is concentrating on helping you become a better leader can make a big difference. In addition to coaching, Anamaria offered to help me prepare our pitch for the 2012 SXSW Accelerator competition. Her coaching certainly made a difference and helped us make it to the final round of the competition. By taking the extra time and making herself available for us, she went out of her way to help us succeed, and I will never forget that.”

Jennifer Cain

Founder of omghow

“Over the last year of working with Anamaria, I’ve come to value her startup coaching experience and how she can draw on those experiences with other founders to be more valuable than a regular executive coach would be. Anamaria has been especially helpful to me in thinking through how to approach difficult conversations, and I feel like I’ve gained specific tools to use when I approach similar problems again. More specifically, I have gotten better at giving others critical feedback and having firing conversations. I also have felt more confident because I am better about checking my own negative self-talk. I think my company has done better because I have been more focused; I’m able to prioritize better; and I have nipped problems in the bud more quickly. More generally, Anamaria just “gets” people and has no problem giving it to you straight, while also being kind and empathetic. She does a great job at challenging my assumptions. And she’s also just a fun person to be around.”

Brad Heritage

Director of Business Development at Funding Circle

“My primary reservations about coaching were mostly around the cost and the unknown impact.  Having never been coached before, I didn’t know what to expect. I began working with Anamaria in Spring 2014 and we worked together for four months. Now, I can say that I strongly feel the results of my time spent working with Anamaria certainly justified the time and resource devoted to the effort.  We worked together through what was a very formative time for both me personally, as well as our business, and she was an invaluable resource through that growth. Anamaria’s approach is personal, deliberate, and emotional, yet it doesn’t feel incredibly hands-on or invasive—as those former adjectives might suggest. She has an innate ability to help you get to the answer you’re looking for, but without imparting any of her own beliefs, biases, or experiences.  That was incredibly powerful for me, because I don’t necessarily know whether I would have walked out of each session feeling as empowered if I hadn’t arrived at the conclusions/decisions on my own. To me, that was what really defined my experience working with Anamaria.”

Diane Loviglio

CEO and Co-Founder of Boon + Gable

“I first started working with Anamaria in 2013 and we worked together for six months. Through our work together, I gained more confidence—which led to raising more money for the startup. When I first started working with her, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to point to specific breakthroughs. But in our first session we outlined what a successful coaching relationship would look like in a few months and that made it feel very action oriented unlike a therapy venting session. I think every founder needs a therapist and a coach—and I’m proud to call Anamaria my coach. She’s also highly connected to other founders and if she knows someone that can help you, she’ll offer to introduce you to them whether it’s for a 15min phone chat or an email exchange to help you through a specific problem.”

Tina Seelig

Executive Director of Stanford Technology Ventures Program

“Anamaria led workshops on Effective Communication for Startup Teams for our Accel Innovation Scholars at their Leadership Retreats in 2013 and 2014. We received feedback from AIS scholars who graduated and started companies that the interpersonal dynamics and communication skills they learned with Anamaria have a huge impact on the day-to-day running of their companies and are just as important — if not more important — to the company’s success as the technology. Anamaria brings a wealth of knowledge and an innovative and thoughtful approach to teaching effective communication for startup teams. She specializes in coaching startup founders and brings a unique and particularly relevant curriculum and experience to budding entrepreneurs. Interpersonal communication in startups can make or break a company. Anamaria teaches a vital component of entrepreneurial education and has a multitude of real-time examples to draw upon.”

Laura Weidman Powers

Co-Founder and CEO at CODE2040

​“Anamaria lead a group coaching session for CODE2040 staff on how to give and receive feedback particularly in a small, close-knit, mission-driven work environment.​ There was some reluctance initially amongst the team about taking an afternoon away from work during a busy time, but ultimately everyone came out of the feedback retreat feeling like it was time extremely well spent. It actually made people feel more close to their co-workers and more supported by the organization, I think, and gave them new tools and vocabulary with which to work together. During our team coaching session, Anamaria gave clear, precise instruction on how to give and get feedback and why it is important. She struck a great balance between pushing people out of their comfort zones and creating a safe space where people felt supported. The team came out of the session feeling empowered and committed to more openness and growth.​”

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