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Prioritizing Personal Projects (Notes from December 23 – 29, 2019) June 1, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, Gaming, global, Leadership, marketing, social, sports, storytelling, Strategy, Time, TV, Uncategorized.
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We overestimate what we can do in a short time but underestimate what we can do in a longer period. This has been reiterated by Jamie Siminoff, Bill Gates, many others. It’s telling but a great mantra if you can zoom out and high level back off. Scheduling makes this so much better.

I have wanted for the longest time to get Spotify or another podcast to listen to me in the car and allow me to say something basic like “Make a note 30 seconds ago” and let me review the notes later. This could work for audiobooks or podcasts. Even allowing ebooks and articles to bookmark this type of stuff for where the page is would be useful. But maybe that’s through an API in the podcast or Kindle? I’ll have to see and report back.

In light of planning further career-wise, I have taken it upon myself to take on projects that I plan on making public for analysis sake. As an external consultant, much of my work has been NDA / kept private in general for good reasons (VC firms and start-ups are likely some of the more controlled privacy-wise). Some aren’t, and those are typically the ones that I’ve noticed have a much better, transparent brand or have less questions around their business models. A few things have stood out to me about predictions/forecasting, especially in annual or quarterly time frames that publications will release. I have focused on ML/Fintech/Edtech/Data companies over the last 5 years more heavily, so looking through the Fintech 50, Next Billion Dollar (Unicorn) Startups and Hottest 50 LA Startups. Outside the bay area / silicon valley, scanning through the different ecosystems can be an interesting landscape for focused, scaling and growing startups. LA because it’s still in California, somewhat close proximity but ultimately an alternative driving force than typical elsewhere (namely the bay).

So, I’ll have a chance to update my preliminary thoughts on the year-to-year changes – how many startups dropped off, which proceeded to move up the list, any funding raises, product progress or expansion. Hope you enjoy the notes!

  • Decade in Tech (Wharton XM)
    • 4G entering 2011 compared to 5G now
    • iPad introduction – better than netbook
      • Tablet rampup – Microsoft following with the Slate
    • Social media launching
      • Instagram launch in September 2010 – 2 guys at Stanford
      • Taking photo class from a plastic camera that a professor had given him – best, soft focus and filtered photography
      • Offering to buy Instagram in April 2012 for $1bn
    • Tesla as “gift of light” Model S – first time supercharging across the country
      • Musk took CEO role in 2008 (Model S 2012)
    • WeWork – likeminded individuals wanting to work with others outside of making money
      • Sharing space to be something bigger
      • $16bn in 2016 to pulling IPO in 2019
      • Strength as marketing capability, not necessarily management
    • Controversial events
      • Kendall Jenner at BLM Pepsi commercial
      • United – offering money for ‘volunteers’ until 4 people get off flight
        • $400 voucher and up to $800 – escalation, dragging the Chicago doctor kicking and screaming
        • Many other airlines improving overbookings
    • Ice bucket challenge for ALS – 70k tweets per day at peak
    • A/R rise as it started with Pokemon Go
    • Cutting the chord – rise of unbundling
  • Brant Pinvidic, author of 3-Minute Rule: Say Less to Get More (Wharton XM, Career Talk)
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    • Mostly reminding people of what they’re doing badly / guilty – awareness but wanted to change it to make it productive
    • Help you get as much info in 3 minutes as possible since “elevator pitch” doesn’t really work anymore
      • Meaningful engagement or not now
    • Small ideas not actually small ideas – respect the knowledge of your audience
      • Your excitement is a long history of building information – feed them piece by piece
        • Ex – AirBnb for horses: people that travel with horses need to stick them where they’re going
      • Clarity as super compelling – complications are messed up
    • Don’t open with the hook – audience needs to build into the potential
      • Katy Perry example: more Guinness book of World Record accomplishments, for instance
    • Selling a show in 12 minutes in Hollywood as junior producer between Simon Cowell and Mark Burnett – had gotten down on himself
    • People looking for hook – less dynamic personalities (biotech, oil & gas) that pulls the nervous energy out for why it will be great
    • Bringing an idea to life on post-it with just a few words – see the value come together
      • 25 bullet points to pitch his show as well as he did (core piece of information)
    • Halfway to understanding what the hook is when you can place the hook
  • Jonathan Lai (@tocelot), cnsmr team; Joel De La Garza, CIO at Box (16min on  News #17, 12/20/19)
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    • Star Wars trailer premier in Fortnite – JJ Abrams coming out of Millennium Falcon and asked to choose which trailer
      • Interactive and persistent collaboration with Avengers and now Star Wars (lightsaber)
      • 12 million people showed up for Marshmello’s in-game concert (of 250 million users)
    • Scarcity in a world of abundance – getting people there
    • Brand advertisers have a limited set of options to reach Gen Z – no display ads, billboards, maybe Snapchat or TikTok
      • Hundred hours of watching YouTube or Twitch or in-game events that eventually go out after to share
    • Fortnite’s Chapter 2 server downtime of 3 days as “Black Hole” that went viral and video
    • Security and backdoor encryption – creating escrow keys to get backdoors
      • Can’t create backdoors undermines the trust in general, even if good guys
    • Any discussion around weakening crypto doesn’t make sense
      • Conflation between a few things: we have systems that are built and they should provide backdoors/access to law enforcement
        • Backdoor to phones, for instance
      • Phone uses strong cryptography and backdoor there – focus on cryptography
      • Phone and put in safe – nobody talks about the steel of the safe – access
    • End-to-end encryption vs getting phone stolen, for instance
      • Roger Stone investigation: WhatsApp and Signal to communicate but iCloud turned on which saved all messages anyhow unencrypted
      • Metadata and other encryption can tell you far more than even the messages themselves
    • If you build devices, how much gov access do you want to provide?
      • Joel (grad student, involved in CDN – bad actors, like pedos, would use and work with Interpol to find them)
  • What to Know about CFIUS (a16z 12/23/19)
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    • Committee on Foreign Investment in US on Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, updated in September ’19
    • Katie Haun interviewing Michael Leiter (law firm Skadden Arps) about function to review any foreign investment in US business with natsec concerns
      • 13 agencies ran by Dept of Treasury split between 2 camps: want foreign investment and concerned about security (intelligence, NSA, FBI)
      • Semiconductor moving from US to Japan, for instance, that would limit Japanese investments
    • CFIUS limiting in 2006 for Saudi Arabia and Emirates and now is Chinese investment in the US
      • Changes in technology, expansion of data and things that weren’t present even 10 years ago
      • Tech, data touch, real estate, work with US gov or anything else (dog food sold to SEALs)
    • Everyone working in fintech, credit reports, broad financial data will have more than a 16-digit credit card number and will be subject
      • 1 million people for arbitrary amount of data
    • Prior to CFIUS reform, if Alibaba acquired someone, it was up to both parties to submit to CFIUS – vast txns were never seen, no req
      • Both parties come together, transaction description, foreign acquirer, motivation, business reason
        • Good, very bad (president can veto using Article 2), can impose mitigation for sec risk (board of US citizens, data controls, etc)
      • Pieces of reform that are not voluntary – fines and compliance possible
      • Mandatory if company operates in sensitive sector listed, or produce/design export control tech
        • Includes encryption, investment over some size – mandatory filing
        • High-end types of LIDAR – controlled vs standard for automobile, not controlled
      • Could range from (ER99 not, or export-controlled) – computing power, battery storage, sensors
      • Software tends not to fall under CFIUS unless encryption
    • WSJ civil military cooperation – some stuff is mandatory and more stuff will be
    • US business – interstate commerce, could be French office with US office in US – CFIUS gets to look at US element of transaction if French company is picked
      • Green-field investments – foreign investments can be made and won’t be looked at, really
      • Ultimate parent and ultimate ownership of acquirer or investment (private equity, capital)
    • More than 9.9% equity or some other controlling interest – board seat, for instance
  • Josh Sapan, CEO AMC Network (Wharton XM)
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    • Challenging to get through people’s gateways to get to audiences
    • Base incumbent business for United States – affiliates, selling ads and that represents their financial fundamental part of company
      • Video prices coming down in different options
      • Spending less money on AMC Networks in the skinny bundles
    • Toughest marketplace for Netflix to deal with – Indonesia, as CEO said
      • Vertical scaling vs horizontal
  • Adam D’Augelli (@adaugelli), Partner at True Ventures (20min VC 12/16/19)
    true-ventures-logo

    • Investments in Fitbit, Peloton, Hashicorp, Splice, Ring, Automattic, Tray.io
    • Instructor at Uflorida in Business Finance, founder of Perfect Wave Records (donations)
    • Full-time in June 2010, 10 people total about to invest in second fund
      • Met them through vstocksolutions portfolio company (had worked there internship)
      • Reached out potentially – didn’t know where to start at intersection business/finance/tech – UF not as well-known
      • Phil had offered a role – we like you but haven’t hired someone as junior so come and we’ll see
    • Joining as a young one – new firm where you have a ton to do and roles not really defined, structured
    • Thinking about portfolio construction and business models (under-represented in vc discussions)
      • Fund-level returns for partners – funds at True are around $300mln with specific institutional capital at pre-seed, seed
      • Investments $500k-$3.5mln targeting 20-25% ownership, $2mln for 22.5%
      • Self-selection bias for why they have a better way for them
    • They back founders early, invest $1-3mln and try to own 20-25% where the downside is 1% and it will be a maximize risk for timing
    • 28 people twice, 8 people three times for the founders they’re backing now
    • Amy Errett – starting Madison Reed, wanted $2mln to get off ground for equity
    • In ’06, convincing founders to try not to raise as much
    • Lead investment amount – meaningful bias for single lead with deep pockets
      • New group of firms that will work with emerging founders where they can bring others in, potentially
    • Ring or Splice are interesting businesses now, but in earliest stages, True able to support them through risks at start
    • In each fund, make 45-50 initial investments and reserve heavily
      • 1 or 2 founders, investment in company, will generate the whole fund and 6-8 will be fund-level return (25%+)
      • Inputs to each investment: founder taking tons of product, market size market-risk at their price and raising their type of money
    • Culture at True: decisions done by protagonist with support of 1 or 2 others in nonconsensus way
      • Support for whole team and company – investment loss as part of process for repeatable out-performance
      • 1 of 10 says the company fits the model, bring on team and then get excited
    • Investing at seed stage – 65% near or at company inception, 1 to 3 founders super early
      • Board is access to True, investment team and founder network – monthly call for an hour or so, call me when you learn
      • Board coffees – 15min conversations on this – enable for speed
      • Take board seat at series A – 90 minutes every 8 weeks, roughly, when they have multiple investors, etc…
    • Select funds – pitch to founders: be here day 1, continue to invest as you go further, what’s best for company
      • He was on board at Ring during acquisition – partner John still on at Peloton
    • Learned a ton from Jamie Siminoff – how fast you can grow is much faster than you think
      • Taking asymmetric risk early on within business is valuable – ex. DoorBot – Jamie rebranded
        • Ring.com domain found, was going to raise $3.5 mln – ultimate cost was $1mln ($200k on that day)
    • Favorite book: Doing Capitalism in Innovation Economy by Bill Janeway and Carlota Perez Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital
    • Biggest challenge in role: Doing more doesn’t correlate with improved performance – Mitchell and Hashicorp had left a portco and later invested in him
      • Steve and Splice – met in Bogota at a conference and happened to meet him in NYC for breakfast after
      • Don’t know which activities are the right ones
    • Knowing more about a market – false sense of security to catch up with knowledge
      • Investing in the Unknown and Unknowable – academic paper – markets in many unknowns where knowing more leads to worse decisions
    • David Scott at Matrix – software metrics and repeatable business growth
    • Randy Glide at DFJ Growth – embraces risk and has a human approach
    • Andy Wiseman at USV – small significant syndicate being a great co-investor
    • Pat at Sequoia – depth of knowledge on being a great board member and partner to CEOs
    • Recent investment: MemBio – mission-driven bio and positive impact creating red blood cells outside the body

Listening and Encouraging (Notes from December 16 to Dec 22, 2019) May 21, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Data Science, DFS, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, Gaming, global, Hiring, Leadership, NFL, NLP, RPA, social, sports, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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Sometimes it doesn’t work. Asking the right questions to people in conversations to get a sense of what they’re truly passionate about gives me hope for those that may eventually try something different, new. However, unless I followed up repeatedly, most people let their passion slowly pass, or just remain in thought.

This is a big part of how I learn, engage and stay passionate for the things I’m curious about. Other than being scared of stagnation, hearing people come up with ideas, test them, build and hopefully succeed repeatedly gives me an energy to try to convince others to do the same. I understand the difference between being told of something that has been mulling around in someone’s head or even light discussion among friends compared to prototyping or validating with potential customers or asking people in the field if something’s viable.

A few examples of ideas people have told me they wanted to start and hadn’t (yet some that I believe have done well, just have room in the market) include an HR in Tech stories podcast, traveling medicine / tourism aggregator, and a d2c ecommerce diamond shop (which I’ll go into more detail), more social podcast sharing among friends, and still a market-taking happy hour app (yes, I had to insert my own – I’m leaning toward Glide.app through Google Sheets).

For diamond shop – this was by someone who graduated with entrepreneurship degree, had a validation for the idea and then was told by others it wasn’t worth doing because it’d be high cost. Granted, that was a few years ago, but it would’ve been hackable then. It’s certainly easier now with ecommerce shops via Facebook/Etsy/Shopify and other support, not to mention the audience you’d be in front of. The premise is that a diamond historically took the role of what a pearl represented because of the hardness – you could pass this on as an heirloom to further generations, and you know it won’t be breaking. It’s yours. There’s a legitimate attachment there that defines a core part of the worth/value. For the idea – it’s increasingly cheaper to 3D print a model you can build/customize on CAD (or related tools). This would be printed in plastic that can be melted to be replaced by silver – these rings would be sent to customers that are ordering (possibly with a small down payment / shipping covered, ie $5-20). It’s a model of what the ring would look like, just without the diamond part – but as far as sizing/size/bulk and the other key parts of the ring, customers can try them on and feel it. There’s an emotional attachment here that should occur. If they’re loving it, or have requests for changes, they can do that. Possibly a back and forth could take place, but once it’s settled, the wax/plastic mold can be printed as they would normally do a custom ring and use the materials that have been requested. We’ve removed the in-shop aspect and made it personal, simply by removing much of the fixed costs and labor costs that would go in to this. She was an expert in jewelry and had years of experience. Someone just told her no. 3D printing is now a hobby and can be done there. Many jewelers have other shops do the molding. I’ve been thinking of helping her start by just simply creating a mockup of the site. Can certainly figure out the rest.

Anyhow, let’s see the notes.

Week of December 16, 2019

  • Tyler Willis (@tylerwillis), angel investor (20min VC 2/16/16)
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    • Raised with seed companies at Index Ventures, Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures
    • Port co’s include Lyft, Patreon, Change.org
    • First co that he was on founding team on was acquired by Oracle, then had a friend raising a seed round for concept in CV
      • Preproduct, premarket where he did a small investment (decided it was bad to keep all eggs in one basket)
      • Decided to invest in Patreon, Loungebuddy (Airport lounges) and ShopApp inside of Shopify
    • Rocketship – valuation doesn’t play a role but ID opps for big (10x path, seed > 10k)
    • Customer acq and growth as a lightweight process to get a core part of the company
      • Optimizing for experiments – 1 week to test compared to 8 week deployment
    • Founder type – uniquely insightful to the place they’re in
      • Bias for people when he can sit down and get a high-octane thinking / smarts – hard to hang out to the rocketship
      • False dichotomy of domain expertise – could have learned wrong lessons or may not know anything in enterprise, for instance
    • East of Eden, Innovator’s Dilemma as great books
    • Favorite investors – Naval, Sam Altman, Gus Tai at Trinity Ventures
    • Favorite app – Omni (stuff storage), Delectable (learning about wine)
  • Ash Fontana (@ashfontana)- GP Zetta, Leo Pelovets – GP Susa Ventures (Venture Stories 12/17/19)
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    • Getting pricing power – need to find balance between incentivizing founders and price, but not a big deal
      • If they get 80% of company, 20% for founders – may not keep them looking ahead
    • Company and VC differences – companies have different roles but VC has very similar, solitary roles
    • On non-investing side, COO or Head of Ops to run operations but not particularly CEO or investing side needed
    • Working with best founders, LPs aren’t as important (but they are the primary VC customers)
      • None matters unless you have results for LPs and providing value – founders need the platform or help
    • If you were an LP, what would you want to be in: YC, First Round or Benchmark?
      • YC for Ash – lots of opportunity for capital deployment at many different levels
      • Benchmark for Leo – very large differentiated returns, ~30x according to Leo (YC may be 5x-7x possibly)
        • More variance because of smaller portfolios in Benchmark
      • YC may be beatable but it would be in losing their way as a general accelerator
        • Ash brought up operational risk for LPs – more points of failure because of all the touchpoints
    • AngelList as trading to be profitable and dynamic system for new things
    • LinkedIn as insurmountable lead in enterprise/business space of social network (as opposed to consumers)
      • Hard to disrupt with multiple verticals
    • Requests for startups: data generation/building data (synthetically) – ex w/ params
      • 10k examples of chairs that are brown that have 4 legs, in low light, at this angle
      • Weather climate, also
      • AutoML – making it easy for non-specialist engineers to experiment with ML
    • Leo Requests: ISA with bundling with coaching, training, VISAs – realigning incentives
  • Ben Tossell, founder Makerpad, Sahil Lavingia (@shl), founder GumRoad (Indie Hackers 11/11/19)
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    • No-code vs code – building a solution to a problem without being technical
    • First web-sites like Dreamweaver and tables for no-code – like WYSIWYG
      • Halfway things like WordPress where you can customize or use framework
      • Building a newsletter, can use Substack, for instance – Marc Andreesen
    • Sahil’s opinion that we’re unlikely to see a billion dollar start-up without a code base
      • But likely to see many creatives build on their own, have the options
    • Choice of no-code compared to code – using Circle as their integration testing methods
    • Nontechnical founders that had cofounders for developers or finding for cheap
    • Ben as bringing up Lambda School (Airtable, Slack, Zoom, Notion) and Makerpad member who was just starting to say it’s breaking
      • $150mn in Series A to get to worry about things breaking first
      • “What’s my Airbnb version look like?” but should focus on the first $10, 100 before there
      • gumroad-logo-retina
    • GumRoad as being built in a weekend – not competent enough for him to do no-code
      • Ben argued it was easy to do in no-code but they’re each discussing the same thing from different experiences
    • Queries on data for code – tools like Clay/Retool where you can work together – can run queries easily
      • No-coder does query and can recognize it to manipulate
    • Powerful for on-code is git and version controls – clear log of security, feedback, quality of code
      • Apply it to other things – pull requests/merge (conflicts)/conflicts in document setting on Notion, for instance
      • 100+ tutorials in MakerPad now – what’s interesting or grab attention
    • No-code as Patreon/Cameo/Airbnb/Uber where the overhead for coding sucks so much value from (Patreon at $30-40mln burn)
      • Creator would be interesting with price-motivating factors because you could have a more affordable option
      • “What’s the point of trying if I can’t even get to the ceiling?”
      • Meetup clone – need the “this is how you build it” – go look at the tutorials
    • Not enough answers for “Where can it go?” because they haven’t seen enough
  • Niccolo De Masi (@niccolodemasi), CEO and Chairman at Glu Mobile (20min VC 2/18/16)
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    • Kendall and Kylie game (#1 at app store at time), Kim K game, Deer Hunter and others
    • Was CEO at Hands on Mobile as well as CEO at Monstermob Group Plc
    • No money to be made in games in 2003 because they were for feature films, polyphonic, true tracks and he ran a public co before selling in 2007
      • Raised money to get bid for Glu from Hands on Mobile but got a call from Egahn Zander to transition to paid from f2p as CEO
      • Original IP value with games specifically for mobile on hardware
    • How will you make money in late-stage startup for future? Next year or two vs past.
      • Forward looking and professional managers – no founders anymore. Built from 350-850 people.
    • Moore’s Law as quite predictable but believes there are different models, utilities, and price models
      • Last gen console power in pockets now
    • Barometer of quarterly calls driving placements and interim 6 week calls for how they’re doing
      • If transparent in bad times, you may have quick punishment vs window-dressing
      • Rewarded more quickly in the upside, as well – private markets vs public markets
    • New startups as worth more than incumbents – bay as more regular here
      • Well ahead in private markets compared to public markets (his counter – at least they have earnings)
    • No BD or CorpDev – scour market and wait for inbounds of compellingly priced assets (often distressed), significant private markets
      • When Glu is $6-7, they can pick up companies easily but not so much at $2-4
      • Savings to be had for core customers when they have scale within Glu (mentioned PlayFirst)
      • “retirement community for young people” – startups subsidized, food, clothing and sharing app
    • By 2020 – more discipline in different sectors potentially – overvalued will have to come in line
      • King that was acquired by Activision Blizzard – consolidation forced by VC funding and people flow
    • Better to be #1 in smaller market than #10 in a larger one – be great w/ you’re good at
  • Tim Draper (@timdraper), founding partner at Draper Associates and DFJ (20min VC 2/22/16)
    logo-color

    • Original suggestion for viral marketing in web-based email to geometrically spread an Internet product to its market
      • Standard marketing technique now
    • EE at Stanford before going to Apollo Computer as assistant to President before HBS
      • Came out and wanted to be a VC (grandpa/father both were VCs and didn’t want to do it) – wanted to be a consultant / cheerleader
      • Helped him having an entrepreneurial base but some can certainly do it if it’s your goal
    • Borrowed money from gov to get started – knocked on doors with software on them
      • Most VCs needed others to help fund a company so they worked together – moreso now for angels, but not necessarily VC because of money
      • VC has gone global and has enjoyed that expansion – affecting the whole industry
    • His son’s accelerator, Boost, focusing so they can accelerate any business – he enjoys investing in 2-3 people with a good mission
      • Get people set up in the right way – medical, eshares, network accounting, and other operational methods
    • Favorite pitch – Nicholas Zenstrom at Skyper – most smooth, effective way and he’d agreed before calling and changing business model
      • Enthusiastic, quiet confidence for the enormous successes – Robin Lee (Baidu), Hotmail’s founder, Martin Everhart (Tesla)
    • Draper Uni of Heroes (entrepreneurs/founders) creating school during crash for better people
      • Give these people the confidence + tools while ridding them of shielding
      • DraperUniversity and StartupU – great marketing for school
    • Bitcoin interesting for a year ahead of the time, and then post-Mt Gox hack it went down only 20% so he jumped in
      • Micropayments, fees in journalism and podcasting as well as ending credits and cross-country
    • Enjoys hearing Andreesen, Moritz, McClure at 500 Startups, Plug-n-Play as first incubator, Ron Conway
    • Reflects on The Startup Game (his father’s) and Rothschild’s Bionomics and concept of evolution of econ and bio
    • Recent investment Laurel & Wolfe (interior decorating as best furniture for crowdsourcing) – closed update Dec ’19
    • Also invested in Favor, marketplace food delivery – acquired by HE Butt Grocery
  • Brandon Deer (@bdeer26), VP of Ops & Strategy at UIPath (20min VC 12/20/19)
    og-image-orange

    • Using RPA combined with business processes for automation
    • Using Gary Kasparov’s loss to IBM in chess before saying it’s no longer a chess or human – combination where average + average is optimum
    • Having growth and breaking things
  • Wharton Moneyball, Ken Pomeroy and Brian Burke (@bburkeespn) (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing the biggest predictors, NCAA basketball or in football
    • Pomeroy and how he’s adjusted his football predictions

Organizing the Mind, Studying (Notes from Dec 9 to Dec 15, 2019) May 6, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Data Science, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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As I try to stay organized overall, and especially in our current environment, it does seem that I have hit a snag in where/how to curate all information. I’ve attempted to settle on Roam to do notes since it keeps bi-directional links and essentially enables a personal wiki. However, this is awesome once we get to enough notes/details/lists. It’s a pain in the ass until then because it’s just not set up.

Until I get to the point where I can export all of what I want and stylistically group it, it will be a very large work-in-progress. Why? Well, I started to list a few things of what I like to keep track of. Here’s a few off the top of my head:

  • Notes from Podcasts/Webinars that I usually keep in OneNote (top include 20min VC, FinTech Insider, a16z, Wharton Moneyball, The Indie Hackers podcast, among others)
  • Book notes that are either in OneNote if they’re older or, if in my Kindle, potentially on Readwise/Overdrive
  • Daily/weekly updates including investment research via Crunchbase, lay of the land from a16z, Futurism interesting stories, StockTwits Daily Rip, Makerpad/Product Hunt updates, as well as Beta List products
  • Newsletters and Trends – Morgan’s Blogging, Nat Eliason’s Medley and other notes, Justin Gage’s Technicality, Trends report from The Hustle, Polina Marinova’s The Profile
  • Then there are the finance and investment articles that go to my RSS feed (OfDollarsandData, Ritholz, Datanami, Tomas Tungaz updates, plenty of others
  • Last but not least – bookmarked websites, Twitter likes/bookmarks that I just don’t get a chance to go back to, GitHub starred pages, anything shared in Slack or LinkedIn groups

How the hell do I organize all of that? Well, we’re trying and I’ll update you on where we land. All I know is that I should curate it down to my favorites or just try to learn less. Who wants to do that, though?

Week of December 9, 2019

  • Yaron Kniajer, Jared Kash, Cofounders of Sababa Ventures (Wharton XM)
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    • Discussing how safe and nice Tel-Aviv is
      • Rising of AI and tech in Israel ecosystem
    • Bridging the gap between entrepreneurs and investors
    • Talkspace – mental health app from Israeli creator
    • 18 million in revenue to New York, knowing the market and opening doors
    • Host, Randi, is a GP
  • David Sinclair (@davidasinclair), Prof in Genetics and Aging at HMS (Kevin Rose Show, 10/30/19)
    • Cofounder of 7 biotech co’s, co-editor of Aging journal, boardmember and 25+ patents
    • Book – Lifespan most recently Book link
    • Genes in yeast cells for aging while 29 entering Harvard finding red wine part
      • Media swinging from “wow we’ll live forever” to the opposite
      • Mice had a healthy longevity even if obese on wine part (caloric restriction without)
    • Sirtris Pharma – 2004 started and focusing on activators of Sirtuins – GSK purchased in 2008 for $720mln
      • 2010 people at Pfizer and Amgen published saying their research was wrong
      • 1 amino acid and 1 protein in living mouse as not living longer for resveratrol
      • Scientific debate limiting patients, potentially (needs to be taken with fat / drug-like molecules at GSK)
        • Patent life is 20 years and he doesn’t have the extra $20mln to get the clinical trials going again
    • For his book, we age similarly to yeast cells aging – loss of information (1 is genetic and other is, fragile, analog)
      • Backup copy of information for aging / cells came in 2018
    • Claude Shannon as one of his heroes – backup copy, need an observer and the rest of backup (when he did computer science/internet)
      • Remembering in 1999 that he woke up in middle of night to write out the theory of aging
      • Gene therapy doesn’t work in the eye – compared to a clock for memory of time, cog, removing hands or resetting
    • Nanoworld and subatomic in DNA – if secret is there, Methane compared to subatomic
    • Going as fast and safely to get it to humans – eye regeneration for a few cases
      • Nerve crush (spinal damage), glycoma in mice and restore vision, 1 year old blind mice with gene therapy can see
    • NAD and InsideTracker for genetic results and following the mixture / output
    • Nuances to how CGM and monitors react to individual foods (brown rice vs others, for instance)
    • NR, NMN and NAD checking for longevity and how to raise NAD
      • All cells need NAD to grow – if you put them up to levels of younger, you likely won’t cause cancer
      • Guesses for couple hundred thousand people on NMN supplements and nobody has died, to date
    • Pulsing and hormesis – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
      • Information on trees where older ones will send a notice to younger ones that a danger is coming
    • His father as 80 and healthiest in a while – post-stroke, heart attack and had heart disease
      • Taking metformin, NMN, resveratrol for a bit now
      • 500mg metformin with resveratrol and yogurt (stomach gets upset a bit) in morning – may have some in evening
      • 1g a day of resveratrol – 150mg typical (he mentioned knowing 14 years of research on animals, toxicity and human trials)
        • Min dose from animals at 250mg typically – liver enzymes are fine
  • Ryan Caldbeck (@ryan_caldbeck), founder & CEO of CircleUp (20min VC 2/11/16)
    icon-facebook

    • Online investing platform that allows to invest in consumer companies
    • Previously, worked in consumer product and retail-focused p/e at TSG Consumer Partners and Encore Consumer Capital
      • Hundreds of investment firms that love consumer retail and its returns, love cash-flow characteristics, only after $10-15mln revenue
      • 3.5x average in ~4 years for younger companies – not enough money in that space
    • Crowdfunding as group of people coming together to fund something (debt, equity, product, donations)
      • Separate as an investing platform so the investors should thrive
    • Title 3 of JOBS Act – if company raises capital there from non-accredited investors, the hoops you have to go through aren’t worth it
      • Less cost to going with accredited investors without benefit – Title 3 will require the yearly book opening
        • Majority of companies don’t need the significant amount of users 100-200 to make a dent in what they’re looking for
      • Would have to prove to a company before taking on the cost – more likely that companies will fail at accredited investors and go to unaccredited
        • Maybe a tech raises up for the inefficiencies to solve this, but not so far
    • Lack of institutional capital in the sector of crowdfunding – for Ryan, explosion of institutional on the platform
      • Average in 2012 was $12k individual accredited to 2015 where the check was $100k into one deal and half is institutional
        • Similar to LendingClub growth as individuals to ind, then family offices, small funds and larger funds
    • Seed round was with Maveron and Clayton Christenson after ~60 some investors that passed (hard to get them excited)
      • Union Square had said they would never invest in online equity investing platform and changed view for Series A – marketplaces solve need
      • Series B was 30 days from start to invest and series C was easier
    • When someone else doesn’t believe in him, he further believes in himself – energizes him (when teammates believe in him and opponents don’t – at his best)
      • Very small details for most meetings that are still vivid for him – uses as fuel
  • Arielle Zuckerberg (@ariellezuck), Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers (20min VC 2/14/16)
    kpcb

    • Joined in 2015 and focuses on early stage investment in digital practice
    • Started as PM after CS and Philosophy at Claremont McKenna
      • Wildfire Interactive acquired by Google in 2012 where she then worked on social ads
      • then went to small startup called Humin for 2 years and started angel investing
    • A lot of investments since you chase after 1 company that likely returns the portfolio
      • How to evaluate the team, market, differentiated product, terms of valuation
    • Being a great listener – give them feedback and they would come back every time with a better pitch
      • First few months of venture – personal challenge for thinking of people based on their intellectual capital
        • How can they be helpful? Will this person be helpful toward portfolio? Will this person be a potential founder?
        • Struggles with this as she’s becoming more transactional. Didn’t experience it as an angel investor.
    • While interviewing for firms, many people offered to give her introductions (warm, mostly)
      • Small handful of interviews – conversational in nature, questions on background – what motivates her and how she’d fit
      • Taking Tyler’s class gave her energy for VC
    • Google, AI and CV – AI as a service – ubiquitous as in the cloud
      • Many industries being productized for first time – likes blockchain and smart contracts
    • Goals: Source a deal for Kleiner within a year that will have invested where world is better place/impactful
      • Inspire more women to be in VC and female founders – although talked about finding and talking with many women in VC
    • NYE: blog more for 2016, had concrete resolutions for doing a pull-up and moonwalk – did at firm holiday event
    • Favorite book: The Symposium by Plato
    • Respecting founders who have a belief that others don’t really have – ex: Evan Spiegel as phones being more a camera than anything else
      • John Doerr and Mary Meeker
    • Best part of VC – talking to amazing people and hearing other opinions (as youngest of 4 siblings)
      • Introduction of creative conflict, vision for where future is going
    • Firm’s recent investment – team execution is crazy, tons of time with customers, great listeners, improved deck 20% each time
  • Barry McCarthy, CFO of Spotify (former CFO of Netflix), Stacey Cunningham, Pres of NYSE (a16z 12/10/19)
    netflix-300x170-1

    • Direct Listings, Myths and Facts – architecting the direct listing as it currently stands and how they talked to the SEC
    • The Street interpreting compared to guidance and what to expect – analysts wanted to BEAT guidance instead of get something close
    • Pricing inequities – price discovery in direct listings compared to offerings
      • Large portfolio (AUM) has IPO immaterial – first day pop is meaningless and they have limited ownership in IPO but not direct listing
      • Institutional investors can dump the truck for direct listings for how they want
    • Lock-ups are artificial constraints
    • DMMs and financial advisors exist anyhow – still need s1 and filing/investor days involve same people
  • Michael Salfino, Ben Baldwin (Wharton Moneyball 12/11/19)

The Parallel for Company Building (Notes from Dec. 2 – Dec 8, 2019) April 13, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Data Science, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, medicine, NLP, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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Keeping this short because I’m working at putting the idea together. Love the parallel for a gym atmosphere and company building.

I bet it’s already forming in your head. Imagine the big class at a big box gym, the personal ones, classes, aggressive combat, cycling, different personalities in weight lifting, cardio spending and all the pairs of trainer + clients you can imagine. It’s in the works!

I do hope you enjoy the deep dive and notes I took in hearing Buck Woody’s AI podcast. You should also review Louis’s app for Total Brain. Wrap that up with Dustin Dolginow’s review on how to utilize the power of the internet to own the VC and investing interest.

Week of December 2, 2019

  • Louis Gagnon, CEO, Cofounder of TotalBrain (Work and Life, WhartonXM)
    BRAND •    Medium size • No tagline • v2 copy

    • Talking about each person having different brains, therefore different treatments
    • Making sure that the brain is merely a part of you, not all of you – racing
      • In these years, it’s a large amount of stress – good or bad
  • Buck Woody (@buckwoodymsft), Applied D/S at Microsoft (Data Skeptic 12/3/19)
    acastro_180507_1777_microsoft_0001.5

    • Lots of intricacies in bonsai trees
      • Last thing you get to learn is the watering can – easily under/over-water trees
      • Scissors as the primary tool
    • ML/AI/BI and advanced data analysis – rigor of right spread, amount, representation, statistics things are the watering can
      • If base data is wrong, the model is pointless
    • He works in the industries teaching classes on MS platform for SQL Server (which contains Spark and many other things), data science
      • Simply looking at the data – where did I get this? Say, financial projections: financial data (how do you know it’s here)
      • Predictions as pedantic/boring: preventative/maintenance predictions – wanted to ensure units wouldn’t fail
        • Half the time, predictions worked well, half the time, worked awful
          • How did the data report from the machines? Had to go to manual of machine (there was older, newer) to see data
          • Anomaly was that the older machine was reporting every 60 minutes, not minutes (which the newer was doing)
    • Works with many users – fraud and anomaly detection
      • Use case example of gaming company with cheating and making sure the data was good
    • Regionalized languages – programming as how you think of your solutions
      • Big things to do: Kubernetes and Containers – be very familiar with environments to make sure infrastructure is done well
    • Looking through data science process – who wears what hats, data engineers and DBA having overlapping roles
      • Many he comes across that don’t know that database guys can do much of what they’re looking for
      • Often the requirement, if given to data scientists late, will be multiple projects
    • Containers run-time – (docker) vs Docker
      • Text file (yaml) with Python 3.5, MySQL and code as file – compose into an image (gathered up version of those runtimes)
        • Tell Docker to run it – container – description to image to container – not representing memory and disc, just using that on station
        • Docker smart enough to recognize that it will run similar versions
    • Kubernetes – KAS
      • Another yaml file and engine, on a node (physical or virtual) with docker runtime, couple of services (networking, part of cluster) with

Master node that makes sure everything is happening – wrangles everything for you in a persistent volume for the pod since storage was an issue

  • Thinking of SQL as declarative language – select * from mytable isn’t what we do
    • Containers are declarative language for computers, essentially
    • Kubernetes is the platform or network for a full declarative network
  • Business intelligence in 90s – specialized people as parts of it with only some people knowing how to use, prechew for users and it took months
    • 5-6 years ago, this still remained – data scientist would spend 99% of time in economic data or weather data or whatever model, version or experiment
      • Walk out with tablets, thus save the data – maybe another she was working with, maybe not
    • Data engineer is most sought after job title – “everything but the algorithm” at Microsoft (LinkedIn)
      • Link – aka.ms\tdsp, defines out team structure for data science team with guides – devops, mlops, aiops, mlops
      • People are used to BI projects – one cube, answer lots of questions but with a data scientist, if you question “this and this and this..” – separate
        • 2 or 3 different data sets, can’t answer clustering question with regression algo, how many of these vs which things do they belong to
  • For large orgs: Do you know if you have a DB team? All data in its forms.
    • Showed someone SSIS done after a minute after they started pulling up R and his algorithms – “wizardry”
      • Used to work at NASA, talked of a friend scientist who landed a round camera on the moon ahead – had to turn it away from sun because it’d melt film
      • Some of cast of Star Trek would show up all the time at NASA, large glass rooms (lab coat, tie, white shirt)
        • James Doohan, Scotty was gonna show up. Scientists would go to break room and watch Star Trek in 60s (debate whether or not stuff was possible)
          • Mentions automatic door as someone being off camera in the 60s, possible or not on physics
        • Taking notes and turns camera back on – “Fascinating” from Leonard Nimoy on the outside of glass
    • He wants to make people know that they have people that can fold into data science team
      • Cultural that DBAs think they’ll need to be data scientists and data scientists that are territorial (don’t want people messing around)
  • Young: computational basics, logics, data processing
    • High level math – stats/linear algebra
    • Domain expert: particular vertical like healthcare, finance or patterns available for a width of an application of a tech
    • Learning to learn: how to pick up and put down knowledge – pace of learning something (can’t be an expert in the timeframe)
      • Pick language you like and then figure out how you’re learning it – then, do it again for others
    • Hours of studying that can be pre-chewed – lack of focused time, spend too much time on all of it
      • Confs where people get away to focus on a topic (until they get on their phone and blow it)
  • Where’s AI going? He says – going away. “Nobody says they have computers at the company anymore”
    • “I” or “e” in front of company and get funding anymore, same with cloud – just ubiquitous, computing/drive
    • Predictive/prebuilt AI now – text analysis, image processing, predictions
    • Need to know how to trust it or trusting it too much – aka.ms\ai-ethics
    • Flash fill, for instance, in Excel – Microsoft Research done in PROSE AI in the cell, disappears into product
  • Ex: PowerPoint presentation coach with mic on and it will critique you
  • Dustin Dolginow (@dolginow), GP at Maiden Lane (20min VC 2/10/16)
    ttcp_web_portfolio-update-logos-small_230x150_maidenlane

    • Online venture fund using AngelList as its o/s, capital partner to best angels in the world, investments in Getable, PipeDrive, Beepi
      • Also venture partner with Accomplice, was previous operator at Social Swipe allowing merchants to gain value from txn data
    • Went to college in East Coast, Wall Street at Lehman Brothers during crash and decided to do a product idea in payments for 1.5 years
      • Product dev, front-end and shifting from finance world – introduced to partner Jeff (running Atlas Ventures, renamed to Accomplice)
    • Started taking introductions to companies as Nidhi, Naval and AngelList would be giving them – since 2010 and normal user
      • Atlas lead the AngelList series A and every round since – 2012 moved to SF and make VC legal – 2013 for syndicates start
        • Lead a syndicates fund only in 2013 with Jeff – learn by doing and figure out what it meant – $25mln named for Maiden Lane in SF
          • Irony was AngelList HQ was on it, one of bailout funds for Goldman Sachs real estate was Maiden Lane
      • Figured Syndicates could be impactful for institutional investors, also
    • Moved to SF in 2014 to close the fund, April started investing in the fund
      • Native app on AngelList – (like saying Uber is Apple because on Apple) – put in their docs 50% off-A/L, 50% on but realized it was moving quickly
      • AngelList as unbundling the activities of VC – funds are containers for capital / infrastructure
        • AngelList has more flexibility but it’s a small container – box – they’re doing product first with data that it creates
    • Working with set of angel investors that take their money and invest on their behalf – share carried interest within GP’s (30% carry, no mgmt fee)
      • 15-20% of carried interest goes to syndicate leads – driving brand, operating within company, adding value, interacting
      • His goal is to shepherd to create resources for community (most syndicate leads have other jobs) – live work loft, for instance
    • Community and flexibility is a big part of it – consensus-based decisions, non-consensus (conviction for solo), LPs as direct investments for bigger broader
    • Entrepreneurs as understanding users’ needs – great community done by Ryan Hoover at Product Hunt
    • Most overhyped – prescription delivery, underhyped – Canada as country, developer tax credits
    • Goal for Maiden Lane – kickass set of syndicate leads that get called upon by lane
    • Last impression from a book: Development is Freedom by Amartya Sen
    • AtVenu – as most recent investment

If You’re Not Sure, Ask (Notes from Nov 25 – Dec 1, 2019) March 26, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, social, sports, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Hopefully everyone is staying safe in this current environment of CoVid19. A wild start to the year and March, especially. Seems prescient to identify those of this week of notes, especially with Domm at Fast trying to make things easier/painless in checkouts for ecommerce, Iman at Incredible Health trying to gain power for nurses and the healthcare workers on the front lines, as well as the investment questions we should be asking with Rob Carver and Meb Faber.

Before jumping in, though, I just wanted to reiterate something I’d heard in a few times across forums/channels and communities I participate in – just ask if you have a question or hesitating! It’ll be worth it – or you’ll be in the same position you’re in now. Social interaction and discussion will be key in how we come out better than where we started. I implore you – ASK. Anyone. Hope you enjoy!

  • Domm (@domm) Holland, founder and CEO of Fast (20min VC 11/15/19)
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    • Raised seed round from Jan Hammer at Index, Susa, Kleiner Perkins, Global Founders and angels (Inc Harry)
    • Director at Tap Tins and CEO/Founder at Tows
    • Introduced at 15, started programming and in Australia when it wasn’t cool, building was what he enjoyed
      • Had a large startup in Australia for a bit
      • Wife/him were in the hospital looking after son/daughter and he was home with the wife’s grandmother when she couldn’t order
        • Forgot her password and wouldn’t take credit card because of arbitrary string – pw-less solution, auth as simple solution
        • Put it on ProductHunt and it was #2 for the day
      • Doesn’t make sense that customers can’t move between businesses with their authentication
    • Ran out of money in a legal battle with Tows – $17mln that government decided to not pay
    • Many people don’t want to solve the problem – they do band-aid fixes, complex solutions
      • Build network of independent contractors of tow trucks
    • He just looks at what he’s doing as solving problems, solutions – Stripe gave businesses the infrastructure to process credit card payments
      • Built critical infrastructure that others didn’t have – similar to authentication, Shopify, etc
    • Everyone has been building payment, authentication, registration forms all first-party and customer tokens
      • Alternative business models and sharing data conflicts with their independence
    • Deciding to be SF-based – he only has certain hours in a day, but limited output and larger market and tech companies
      • People in SF value equity far more since Australia has issues with company stock and issuing options
      • 50, 100, 150 bp in SF to make it worthwhile
    • Had done an angel round of $600k Australian, ~$400k to continue product development and areas he didn’t have expertise in
      • Put out job ad for remote role thinking they’d get 1 or 2, had a fantastic applicant from Nigeria for talent
      • Money was so much less than what was budgeted – average earnings, paying 50% above market and fantastic employee
        • So much so, they have 10 employees there – Nigeria with 190 million people, remote and solid advocates
      • Managing engineers in person/remote are similar anyhow – adjusts his time zone to them, checks in to each daily
      • Structured time for functional areas and 15min calls to go over work regularly
    • His differentiator is speed, time – act promptly, efficiently and doing things early by operating in that manner
      • Walks 3-4 miles through Tenderloin in SF to make sure he sees inaction as a reminder
    • Thirst for knowledge – difficult to not come across new things (Twitter as a tool for exposure to people, tools)
  • Frank Fiume (@frankfiume), Founder and CEO of i9 Sports (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about burnout – body’s anticipation of requiring a form of change
      • Entrepreneur burnout – results not meeting expectations for an extended period of time
    • Using behavior tests to filter out the people who may be too similar once you’re looking to hire for expansion
      • He made mistake of hiring people he liked and matched with, as opposed to those that he needed
  • Meb Faber (@mebfaber), founder of Cambria Investments on The Road Less Traveled (Resolve’s Gestalt University, ep.05 6/27/19)
    image1

    • Discussing with Adam about his bs meter – how crazy it is to be overweight US equities
    • Canada is worse – 86% of advisors
    • Global allocation and strategy – always keeping files on board for ETF, not sure when they are needed or will be used
    • Launching 2006 with trend following paper and opening ETFs as broadly better managed strategy/fee structure
      • Agnostic – just wants to offer best client experience, strategy
      • Holding for long periods as how the strategy should be assessed, not weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly
        • Managers tough to judge on this long time frame
    • Being on call with asset managers where they ask what the best funds are – why? So to avoid them?
    • Currently, tax efficient in emerging small/medium cap for long-term 15+ years
    • Market cap as terrible way to weight portfolio – as you select highest cap-weighted company, they don’t often stay there
  • Jon & Justin, cofounders of Transistor.fm (Build Your SaaS – bootstrapping in 2019, 11/26/19)
    transistor_social

    • Building and looking at Transistor.fm and other podcasts
    • Dropping the revenue numbers on Baremetrics – not just competitors, but eventually there won’t be 50% mom growth
  • Mythology Manager (Marketing Matters)
    • Marvel and having a different marketing aspect for big films and otherwise
    • Different projects and input for actors/characters
  • Rob Carver (@investingidiocy), Systematic Money, author (ReSolve’s Gestalt U ep. 03, 5/9/19)
    • Discussing different risk metrics – hard to predict or calculate Sharpe ratios so he assumes they’re the same, often
      • Sharpe as primary vs secondary metric – meta-factor
    • Construction of portfolio as time frame and strategy – used to start with $100k (first book), most recent book with $500 capital
    • Performing out of sample vs in sample – binary strategy vs weighting
    • If you don’t select a strategy, you’re biased against it – “Three Judases”
      • Properly keeping strategies in the files/repo to backcheck (if you get rid of some that you’ve used and got out of, others can’t replicate)
      • Proper weighting would be signals that activate / de-activate strategies, maybe keeping the ones above a threshold
    • Private equity and private assets discussions – what’s optimum? 1, 2, 10, 50, 100? Take on risks for this, should be rewarded appropriately.
      • Is it 5, 10% of portfolio? Size matters and type of assets. Mentions GE as having a bunch of minor bets on the private side with more liquidity.’
  • Beth Hendler-Grunt, President and Founder at Next Great Step (Career Change, Wharton XM)
    ngs_logoc2ae_tag-rgb_100

    • College attendees going after internships early – not just through career fairs
      • Not everything career-wise is linear, can be creative
    • Portfolio & value add – “What happens if you didn’t return tomorrow, next week, etc…?”
  • Iman Abuzeid (@imanabuzeid), CEO and founder Incredible Health (a16z 11/28/19)
    1_kmyfqswiaz2vja0ziuvbvw

    • Nursing Today, From the Bedside and Beyond
    • 2018 Biggest industry in terms of number of workers – clinical workers are 60% nurses – 3million of them
      • Regulated in California where the ratio is 5 patients to 1 nurse
      • Beyond 12 hour shift, 2.5x more likely to make medication errors – documentation as well
    • Shortage of faculty, nurses and all cities – also pays well, compensation-wise (California $100k, SF $140k, LA $120k)
      • Magnate certified is hospitals with majority of nurses bachelors recipients
      • When overstaffed, higher cost of overtime to contractors and less patients (in a thin margin business of hospitals, ~3%)
    • Talent / HR teams as inefficiency across the board – haven’t changed since ’90s
      • Tech tools don’t work for specialization/unique cases – job platforms are just ziprecruiter, indeed, LinkedIn but not matching certs/degrees
      • If you’re trying to fill oncology nurse, CEO and sales – one horizontal platform vs vertical platform
    • Most healthcare workers aren’t on LI, search and discovery is hard and fields aren’t specific enough, InMail response is < 10%
      • Narrow vertical, one job description and complexity is enormous – takes level of focus and optimization to add value to healthcare system/nurses
      • Incredible Health: Employers apply to talent, automated screening of certs/licenses/experience/skills with tech, custom matching
    • Hospital/health systems are able to fill positions in < 30 days when average is 90+ days – topline benefit
      • Churning nurses costs more on patients, complex environments for matching, high-stakes in retention (moreso than others)
      • 20% turnover with tight labor market – overworked, burnt out, better staffed, commute times, 90% women, higher pay
      • Hired in 11 days – have their act together and higher employee engagement
    • Hospital recruiters have a 7 day countdown for interview requests, scarcity for competitive nurses
      • Only platform that nurses get to make their profile and sit back after for interviews

When Innovating Away Staleness (Notes from Nov 18 – Nov 24, 2019) February 25, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, finance, Founders, global, medicine, Politics, Strategy, training, Uncategorized.
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Entrenched. The longtime incumbents. When industry becomes too single-minded, others may start to notice. Each of these individuals from the podcast episodes are in very different industries – media/news, investing/venture, monetary policy system, and regulatory updating of provider-side healthcare. All very large, important systems that beget those that have lived the longest.

Each of the guests, however, saw opportunities in how stale an industry had/has become and attempted to take advantage. Whether that’s building something on their own directly (Jon Steinberg with Cheddar News Network) or indirectly (Gil Penchina with Flights.vc), they have a penchant for seeing innovation through. I loved hearing a few of them mention that it’s nuts to have the incumbents stagnate over some of the most advanced couple of decades we’ve ever seen.

I hope you enjoy the notes for how they structured the framework for the innovation, what opportunities they tried or came to realize, and which crazy people do you back.

  • Jon Steinberg (@jonsteinberg), COO of Cheddar News Network (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
    cheddar-logo-16x9-1

    • Large appetite for live news and sports, very few people had done any in 20-30 years
    • Younger, faster, better as a business network
      • Younger, diverse anchors & audience in their 20s, 30s, 40s vs 60s and older
    • First round raised was $3mln, no big iron of typical broadcaster – different look and feel, same structural format for guest formats
    • Former president of Buzzfeed (2010-2014), DailyMail after – CNBC and live production as the best production
    • Lightspeed Capital friend who wanted to give him a first check – being part of a startup management team that’s successful to go from there
      • His first success was with Buzzfeed – played a role with many others, but combined his luck and effort to get the check
      • Gave up 20% for the $3mil
    • Showed up at the WeWork with Peter Gornstein, first partner and Chief Content Officer – looked at each other and “What now?”
      • Bought computers, then what now? Looked for vendors for equipment and build set.
      • Shot a 3min sizzle reel – shot sample video packages.
      • Next, go live from 9-10am one hour a day, basically – then how to ramp it up to 3 hours and more
    • Facebook Live launched, then they enabled the API so they could connect professional network equipment to it
    • Carriage fees – ESPN gets several dollars for every cable subscriber
      • Cheddar does advertisers and partnerships for their money and business
    • Purchasing Ratemyprofessor, MTVU – college market and network
    • Competitors are part of the network and counterparties still
    • Runs all news and advertising for Altice (after being bought by Viacom)
  • Gil Penchina (@gilpenchina), Founder at Flight.vc (20min VC 2/7/16)
    658877-89ccd88502db9d964a651ecba6f86d9d-medium_jpg

    • Note that this was the first day Harry had been to SF (meeting Jason Lemkin)
    • Network of AngelList syndicates that covers a wide range of sectors, SaaS, security, geographies
      • Biggest raise for syndicates to date – PayPal, LinkedIn, AngelList, Indiegogo – nominated for Angel of Year at Crunchys
    • One of early engineers at eBay (100 employees to 15000, 8 years)
      • Ran a spin-off of Wikipedia called Wikia – consumer content site, went to Fastly and angel investing
      • Wanted to work with entrepreneurs to fund small checks to other entrepreneurs as a community of helping
        • Didn’t want to do the full-time thing and thought he didn’t want to focus on terms all the time
    • At Flight, at time, they have 25 syndicate managers, 100+ volunteers to join the list – 2 groups – 1 analysis/learning companies, other sales/scouts
      • 3000 backers and they ask them to help their companies, small tasks (AngelMob) to improve or give introductions and recruiting
    • 5 years time – become a place for consumers to invest and save
      • Expansion fund and new projects – Eric working on traditional venture fund for follow-on in angel investments
    • 15 years ago, cost $10-15mln to get a website now and now it’s $10 or free for URLs (Reed’s blitz-scaling)
    • Next sector to be disrupted – education (investment seed and B into Allschool)
    • Start a syndicate – come up with thesis, going out and finding the deals (1 click to start), getting traction is hard
    • Investment ethos – people that are actually crazy
    • User of Nuzzel – best content for all of his friends
    • Similarity of Happn to “Chance Encounters” from newspaper – hoping someone sees it and reacts
  • Patrick Harker, President of Philadelphia Fed (Behind the Markets, Wharton XM)
    frbplogo1line

    • About 1/5 of jobs are at risk of being automated out – minorities and women in his district
      • Creating and destroying jobs with automation – not necessarily ridding them, but training will be important
      • Philadelphia Works – job training model for America, partnering with Comcast
        • Typically, it’s been “train and pray” – training and upskill, Comcast will reimburse out of the HR budget if successful
    • Biggest surprise – outside the lens of monetary policy – breadth of what they do is stunning
      • Largest collection of economic talent for all sorts of issues that aren’t celebrated
  • Pharma Drones, Veteran Health (16min on the News #14, 11/15/19)
    • Venkat Mocherla – market dev on bio team, GP Julie Yoo, Joel de la Garza security operating partner a16z
    • Pharmacy-patient relationship is highest volume/frequency interactions with healthcare system, owning node is good
      • Lots of startups on logistics on pharm, last mile and full-stack delivery/pharm, nontraditional care centers
      • Medicines/therapeutics work for patients, compliance is one of the biggest pains
    • MediPlus, Whatsapp your prescription and you can get delivery within 24 hours
      • Fastest regulatory arbitrage – where are opportunities – Zipline in Rwanda, for instance
      • Antiquated for brick-and-mortar to innovate, but instead mobile-first and digital distribution
      • Pills, small molecule drugs that are cheaper, chronic that can be easier
    • Last mile delivery solution is cost – one-off deliveries to patients to homes has cost issues – more expensive
      • All come to hub because of delivery efficiency
    • Apple opened up health records service to vets with iPhones – give them access to their medical information regardless of provider
      • VA is mired in healthcare challenges (came up with EHR)
      • Knock on digital health industry – great for pilots but unable to scale so far, VA and NHS populations are one-go scale
        • Not bastions of innovation but more captive population (1mil to 10-20mil)
      • Last decade, provider-side heads down for data that’s digitized but not interoperability
        • Get at the data is not a given, Apple unleashing data to consumers is great but is there utility in it? (no imaging data, limited)
      • Match data to patient, or doctors, scheduling appointments – technology for technology’s sake isn’t usually great
    • Voice commands as being sent by light – specific microphone design that’s vulnerable to the attack
      • Area of research to use frequencies of energy to affect systems – light to mimic sound, for instance
      • Advent of radio has been different research – cathode ray tubes, radio surveillance
    • Enabling hardware manufacturers to guard against this – microfilms or filtering fraud and security

Back from Vacation (Notes from Nov 11 to 17, 2019) February 11, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, cannabis, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, gym, Leadership, marketing, NFL, NLP, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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It had been a long while – 9? months since taking more than 1 day off extra and closer to 20 months since I’d had a week off in a row. I visited the Big Island in Hawaii and stayed primarily on the west side of the island. Gorgeous weather and awesome beaches will bring me back, hopefully shortly.

I want to write a bit further about the escape, but I also want to get these notes out, so I’ll write further in later this week – Thursday.

Enjoy these notes on some of the fascinating people of Eniac Ventures, other investors, founder of EasyPoint, ReSolve quant, research professors, former professional football player and a Nascar driver.

  • Hadley Harris (@Hadley), Founding GP at Eniac Ventures (20min VC 2/3/16)
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    • First mobile venture, Soundcloud, Airbnb, Vungel
    • 2x entrepreneur in mobile – Vlingo (acq by Nuance for $225mln) and Thumb (acq by Wipulse)
      • Was one of first employees and execs running marketing and bd while working with product
    • Worked at Samsung and Charles Rivers Ventures
    • Studied engi & math as undergrad @ Penn, joined MSFT & Samsung
      • His 2 really good friends at Penn and him came together for Eniac in 2009
      • Mobile – next place for computing – cleantech was hot at that time, as well
    • SF was 50%, NY as 25% and the rest was elsewhere – won’t lead but will do a pro rata and be key in fundraising for next
    • Living & breathing the co – coming to right valuation, inevitable for down or flat rounds
    • 18-24 months from seed to series A or pre-seed to seed – funds becoming more institutionalized
      • Leading rounds for Eniac at $1.2 – $2mln
    • Favorite book: Freakanomics, read it in one sitting
    • Tools: gmail, relayedIQ for deal tracking, as todo list, also
    • Don Valentine – godfather of VC, great investors but great entrepreneurs and fund raisers
    • Favorite blog: Nuzzel – curation of reposts
    • Underhyped: mobile enterprise; Overhyped industry: big fan and he does work in social, but lot to weed through
    • Most recent investment: Phhhoto – knew the founders, they’d known each other for a while, great design and numbers – self-funded
  • Zach Resnick (@trumpetisawesom), founding EasyPoint (IndieHackers #130, 10/28/19)
    easypoint2

    • Iterating your way to founder-product fit, currently at 10 people, 5 full-time, $600k ytd with 15% yoy organic growth
    • Traveled, worked and lived abroad in Jerusalem before school, infected with wanderlust
      • CC churning and manufactured spending while he was learning at school in Ohio – VISA gift cards to $1k
    • Banking often makes more money on the chance that you’ll become a customer for other areas of business (mortgage, checking account, brokerage, etc)
    • Started when he was 19 – would give advice to parents/family/friends on the year before getting an hourly rate for paying customer as consultant
      • Enjoyed his help, he liked helping others – he was getting $1k/mo from hourly before going up
      • Consulting clients – he was helping optimize for business or vacation trip for the points
    • Started Land Happier to solve a problem of having everything in one place
      • Cultural norms, transportation, 6 other things for information in a fun and compelling app product (MVP on app store)
      • Wasn’t solving a problem that nobody has, but nobody would pay for – product/founder fit wasn’t there, either
    • What he wants – enjoys negotiating, strategic thinking, interesting conversations and sales moreso than product focused than customer focused
    • While working on Land, he productized his consulting – generally was helping family friends that were parents’ age
      • Amount of effort he was putting in compared to the value wasn’t the same – not high enough
      • Started to focus on small business or medium enterprise owners to put spending on the right cards and get 6 figures on spend return
      • Focused on people he knew through referrals, points optimization plans for small owners – acquisition and spending for more value
    • Early stage owners – hey, this isn’t free
    • Playing poker for relatively high stakes – teaching important principles, statistics, risk management and psychology
    • Consulting to productized consulting service – had a family friend with small business who would see a $50k in increased return on spend
      • He could do a quick analysis and understand business more, try to get a customized points optimization plan for points
      • Small business owners are leaving 1.5%, maybe 2.5% on the table – using points better for things you already want to do
    • Providing value but people didn’t know what it is or weren’t hurting – show them math for 5 figures within a year saving
      • Guarantee: if you sign up points optimization plan, if he doesn’t get you double what his fee is within first year, he gives money back and $10k
      • Making people aware of the problem was going to be a lot of work – never really got off the ground for outbound
        • Was just a way to make money, not necessarily grow it really fast – customers’ needs
    • Concierge service now (v3 EasyPoint) focusing on business and first-class international long-haul service
      • Over whatsapp and telegram groups – makes a flight request and they get back to them 24/7
      • They use miles and points that they buy from clients and then use those to book for others
      • Brokers buying all kinds of points and miles – so the arbitrage there contained issues with ToS and such
        • They’re buying transferable points like Chase / AMEX directly to frequent flier accounts
    • Working for someone else – interned with The Points Guy and when he was looking at doing it, he posted on the Facebook group
      • Cameron, now their COO, was very good – would he want to have his hires over for dinner?
      • Team of 10 now: Cameron manages concierge, growth marketing (5 on team, looking for Asia now)
        • Part-time business development consultants, full-time that have been searching
      • Revenues and loans for growth/cash flow, venture debt and possibly equity raise
    • Concierge service with product-market fit and being focused – enterprise value of $100mln probably but not billions
      • Not much needs to be tweaked for core product – fund raise would be for a different product
        • Help consumers decide on if they want to use their points or cash when booking – trying to automate this for concierge/back-end
        • Chrome extension and booking engine to use or not – this may be billion dollar opportunity
  • Andrew Butler, ReSolve’s Head of Quant Research (Gestalt University, 10/2/19)
    podcasts-thumbnail-300x300-1

    • Machine learning in markets: Silver bullet or Pandora’s box
      • Unsupervised, supervised and reinforcement learning differences in application or finance
    • Student of mathematics, physics in undergrad, keen on not memorizing a lot of stuff – enjoyed the applied side
      • Oil reservoir simulators that modeled tidal flow in Bay of Fundy, wind turbines in giant field for optimization
      • Next step was working on a sub problem of simulators – complex, computationally expensive and trying to optimize NPV in 60d oil field
        • Navigating the nonlinear, nonconvex solutions – how to make a reasonable model approximation by sampling sparse reps of simulator
    • How would simulator/emulator apply to financial world in momentum and moving averages
      • Sample distribution would fit well to out-of-sample distributions in physical world but finance wouldn’t – nonstationary
      • Caused him to use simpler models, momentum models (and transformations) and ensembles of simple factor models
        • Mean-variance optimization, error maximizing, in-sample won’t perform well out of sample
    • Wanted formal training in financial engineering, so went and got a MFE
    • Practitioner compared to theorist – after a conference talk, his construct was mean-variance was same as regression
      • Subspace reduction and regularization as identical terms for mean-variance
    • Machine Learning as 3 subspaces
      • Unsupervised learning -> clustering and dimensionality reduction
        • Targeted marketing, customer segmentation and in finance: signal processing, optimization or portfolio construction
        • Trying to uncover relationships/groupings/clusters contained within a dataset
      • If total error is dominated by bias, it’s likely overly simplistic – X as model complexity and Y as Total Error (Bias / Variance)
        • Increase complexity, bias term can decrease, increasing the variance (instability/overfitting)
  • Kelly Peeler (@kellypeeler), founder / CEO NextGenVest (20min VC FF#034, 2/5/16)
    nextgenvest_ai_serieslogo_blue

    • College Money mentor, empowering students to live full lives, history of financial crisis for motivation to start
      • Went over to Iraq, started and enabled some companies to build there in 2012
    • Went to JPMC after graduating to make some money before starting NGV for students
    • Financial organization to financial efficiency – going from Mint (organizing money for a user’s financial lives)
      • Now people need efficiency – time priority, optimizing time through automation and personalization
        • Leverage trust to improve time in the background (automation and not wanting to have to look)
    • High school trust and students have nobody they can trust for guidance – 8% trust banks and financial institutions
      • If you can build a product/service, on your way to building trust
        • Save users time, money, customized experience
    • Serving their customers with SMS and Snapchat – smarter push notifications for the right service in the right way
      • Couldn’t customize communication inside an app, so they did channels that they chose
    • NGV clubs at high schools across country – new high schools brought in, engagement and grassroots
    • First product that they brought on was for the financial literacy test that 17 states need
    • Favorite book: The Thank You Economy – best people outhustle to get more customers
    • As visual person, can focus on 1-3 things at a time – preps in the evening, large index cards
    • Adam Nash at Wealthfront – build trust with dynamics of product and the culture of company
    • Spent too much time at focusing her weaknesses but has tried to get better on that side
  • Sam Yagan (@samyagan), Starting OkCupid, Sparknotes (Wharton XM, Marketing Matters)
    • Turning down consulting job for OkCupid start – told he was crazy but wanted to take the chance
      • Free model and how do you value customers but competitors were Match and eHarmony
      • Had to get enough people on all sides of the market and then could use the data to help
    • Internet wasn’t designed to take an expert’s ideas and just use those – bigger than that
      • “You know what you want.” We’ll pull it out and figure it out.
      • Google comparison – index all the pages and figure those out to place on first page
      • Creating a platform to ask all the questions and focus on them
    • Sold Sparknotes in 11 months, took OKCupid 8 years (sold to Match, was there for a year)
      • Got the job running the company for another 3.5 years as Match CEO and created Tinder
  • Rob Gronkowski (@robgronkowski), All-Pro tight end (The Corp, 10/1/19)
    • A-Rod investing into Rob’s brother’s, Chris, company Ice Shaker
      • Were able to put money in, along with Mark Cuban, when they were on Shark Tank (all brothers)
      • Rob, upon retiring, bought Arod out of his shares in the business with Chris
    • Fitplan – Arod gave Rob a discount on the shares in Ice Shaker and he just wanted Rob to look through his company
      • Rob invested with Arod – parents were in business (gym equipment for retail/commercial for 28+ years)
    • Kraft being an owner for the team and being around the game – interested in everything
      • Rare to see owners in the locker room and talking with players – many players say they’ve never seen others
      • Brady, Kraft and Belichick as being the greatest people and diagnosing problems/plays and adjusting
    • Rob wants to travel – done a lot in the US
      • Traveling a week from that day to Israel with CEO Barry of CBDMedic there
    • Being reckless as single Gronk in the NFL (loves Camille now, though)
  • Horst Simon (@hdsimon), Chief Research Officer at LBNL (Curious Investor 9/3/19)
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    • Difference between ML and programming – validity of an email, for instance
      • Computer looks for “@” and domain name, iterative of if-then’s, marking valid or invalid
      • ML – give details of valid and invalid email addresses and have the computer figure it out with a statistical model for rules
        • Relationship between information
      • ML more as being able to see if something is a cat in a picture – hard to program that
    • Helped establish the Berkeley supercomputing center – big role all across the world now to complement theory by simulations
    • More data than ever before, 90% of digital data created in last 2 years – more in 2018 than all of human history
      • Finance can’t generate more data like autonomous cars, for instance (100 cars means 100 more data points)
      • Markets/economics are dynamic – return predictions of signal:noise approaches zero
        • Driven by economic features of markets – competitive, profit-seeking traders that act on it
      • HFT as real barriers to entry so they’re less efficient and more predictable, potentially
      • Quantitative traders don’t use raw data – they use transformations such as log of equity, cross-sectional rank of book to market ratio
        • Neural network tries to find what the best transformations are (X -> Y and explore all the connections)
    • Bonds example: predict if issuer will default or not with firm information using random forest
  • Rajiv Shah (@rajcs4), Data Scientist @ Data Robot, Adjunct Prof UChicago (DataSkeptic, 10/22/19)
    1024x528

    • Started engineering, studied philosophy and law, PhD in Comms before doing research as academic
      • Worked at State Farm and Caterpillar before going to Data Robot
    • Deep learning applications in motion data like NBA player data, motion tracking arms and legs (PoseNET, for instance)
      • Nature paper published that used deep learning to study after-shock patterns for earthquakes
    • Going through paper – simple starting point or baseline model was skipped – how much value is really added, then?
      • Looking at the 6-layer problem – approach wasn’t unexpected when using keras to add layers
      • Results generated: AUC of 0.85 compared to naïve benchmark of simple, physical model – AUC of 0.58
      • When he reproduced it, test set results were higher than training set – yellow or red flag for model
    • Group partitioning – 130 earthquakes happening right after each other, near each other and related
      • Make sure the information for an earthquake/customer doesn’t get split between training / test sites to avoid leakage
      • Basic grounding of fundamentals for setting up initial training data, partition based on time to avoid that, as well
    • As community, ensure that there are best practices and guidelines – reproducibility as a large problem lately
      • How to police boundaries for the general field – influence of institutions in publishing (for this, Harvard/Google/Nature mag researchers)
      • Good from them: the data and model for the code was freely available and he could do it on his laptop / notebooks
      • Academics from the earthquake field reached out to him with some qualms and he’s partnered with them for a blog on efforts
    • Interpretability focus trade-off with accuracy – that he’ll speak on at Open DS Conf
      • Lots of tools for explaining models with transparency now, though
  • Julia Landauer (@julialandauer), NASCAR driver (Stanford Pathfinders, Wharton XM)
    • Being on Survivor (suggested by a friend while Soph in college), racecar driver
      • Picking Stanford because of so many people that were awesome / ambitious
      • Mentioning Andrew Luck saying that this was why he chose it – people wouldn’t particularly care
    • Driving at such a young age and in Manhattan – not getting a license there until 18 on campus
    • Having to pitch and learn how to pitch at a young age for sponsorships, running a team and the cost, even at minors – $500k+
    • Some 12 female drivers and being competitive

Find Your Own Value (Notes from Nov 4 to Nov 10, 2019) January 21, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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One of my favorite pieces and follows on Twitter of the last 3 months has been Tyler Tringas, founder of Earnest Capital. He came to realize that there existed a massive opportunity to fund companies that may not require or need the VC model of capital infusion – just a starter amount to do testing, easiest when people look to make sales and revenues early (maybe not the model for certain industries – marketplaces/user-dependent network effects not-withstanding).

Wild for micro and seed funding, when companies have yet to establish a true product-market fit or business model each time, typically stick with one financing style. I wonder how much innovation has been restricted by the funding style. There are advantages and disadvantages for each of those. But I’ve yet to come across more than 2-3 VC’s (out of 1000s) that do multiple and have a separation / adjustment. Makes sense from the LPs sense, but not necessarily if you want the companies to be SOMEHOW getting to a growth/scale that fits.

Less Annoying CRM Tyler King was cognizant about the capital and efficiency standpoint in business – everyone that doesn’t create value seemed expendable. Those that did will make it. I find that an important takeaway and general attitude toward either doing your own thing or being a part of a bigger company.

Hopefully each of these excite everyone enough to check the fantastic people/content out further!

  • Tyler Tringas (@tylertringas), founder of Earnest Capital (Indiehackers #131, 11/1/19)image02

    • Funding for entrepreneurs, founders, outside of the ecosystem – profitable and sustainable
      • Not competing with other options – just found a large group of bootstrappers that aligns with the goals
      • RBF doesn’t work for some
    • Green field space in the past – no competitors and could gobble the market – big risk early but if it’s worked, it can be massive
      • Launching and building became cheaper and more niche for diversifying the opportunities – limiting VC scale
      • When he sold his first business, he handed over his Stripe account, Github and Roku
    • Software companies – no retail shop meant your option was “raise money” = “raise venture capital”
      • If you were doing a bakery or something, you had a plethora of options
    • 5 years ago, he was one of the loudest critics and blogger
      • If he was bootstrapping, can you work backwards and what would you have wanted to work with
        • Is it actually a fit for you
      • No board seat, mentors for long-term
    • Raise money when you believe the money will unlock value in the business
    • Had Storemapper – where he figured out what he wanted to do next
      • Derek Sivers – Tarzan move – need the second vine before letting go of the first vine
      • Pivoted to finance to do finance models behind wind/solar farms
      • Then to micro SaaS Indiehacker before noticing people struggled to get businesses off the ground early (his $50k cc debt)
    • His basic bet is that it’s not an iron law of physics that 90% will fail
      • His fund will fail if it is an iron law – and his investors are aware of this
      • He believes the VC model is circular in that if you require growth is 11% a month for 12+ months, more likely to become unicorn
        • But if they don’t hit that, then they’re failing
    • Really interested in niche markets for a piece of software that serves a market – eg Hostify, Endcrawl post-production credits, etc
  • Tyler King (@lessannoyingcrm), cofounder of Less Annoying CRM (Indie Hackers #128, 10/21/19)
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    • Bouncing between companies after college, had joined a startup that grew after Series A, only to be acquired
      • Everyone was fired except for 5 cheapest employees (including him)
    • Marketing channels not working – word of mouth, sometimes paid ads, Google AdWords or Facebook
    • Customer support – competitive advantage as going slow, not being held to revenue standards
      • Can focus on customer service and product features
  • Maren Bannon (@maren_bannon), cofounder & Partner at Jane VC (50inTech Podcast #11)
    https3a2f2fblogs-images.forbes.com2fcarisommer2ffiles2f20182f102fjane-vc-logo-text

    • Cold-pitching VC – for cold emails, take time to research the investor and explain why they’d be interested
      • Adjacent industries, past role in competitive area, resonating project
    • Nailing the one-liner / 10 second offering in a sentence
    • Bullet points, succinct including certain things
      • Traction for user/revenue/notable customers
      • Advocates, angels with industry expertise
    • Why you? Brief description for the ideal team.
    • Include an ask – why are you contacting? Advice, seed round, etc…
    • Include right materials (letter can be brief, but more info attached or deck or 1-pager)
  • Ok Boomer, Microtransactions (16min on the News by a16z #13, 11/3/19)
    • NYT Taylor Lorenz – (perennially behind others but gets credit for the writing of it)
    • Taking on a meme, protest for what’s rigged – Gen Z affected by Boomers “hurting us”
      • How memes can turn into clothing, sales for songs, be further monetized
      • Social media generating social phenomenon and transactions and merchandise
        • V1 was ad-based, then quasi-based for sponsored ads (protein powers and such), direct transactions for monetizations
        • Can get demand and feedback for multiple types of merchandise before launching and sending out efficiently
    • In China, commerce is already in the app – button after 2nd loop you can complete purchase inside the app
      • Close the loop on-platform in China
    • Marketplace on games for platform – supporting size/scales that fraudsters can open up accounts and quickly find monetization structure
      • Build false economy and cash out quickly – advanced fraudsters for automation, maybe with virtual trades and purchases
      • If it’s $10k, they’re wrong – probably multiple millions, if not more
  • AI in B2B (a16z 10/23/19)
    189-1892846_people-ai-logo-png

    • Oleg Rogynskyy from People.AI, for sales and marketing
    • Very few users that give you private, anonymized data is much harder to make them comfortable with this data
      • How valuable is the promise you’re making to customers vs the cost to achieve it
    • For entrepreneurs: if there is human activity that generates data for how they do it that isn’t being captured, there’s a ripe opportunity
      • Shipping containers, wind farm, location of Uber driver – reliable data, aggregate and figure out what may be the next best action would be
        • Significant growth and acceleration for these actions once network effects apply
      • More sensors, edge computing, salespeople, drivers in network – more data collected and more patterns you can see
        • Smarter the graph becomes, better the predictions may be allowed to become – then, more money and lures in other network participants
      • Wind farm operators: know it will break after it breaks but someone in comes in that was there collecting data ahead of you, they are up still
        • Competitor automates process, you can go to same vendor and catch up but if you miss AI, you can’t catch up
      • Oleg mentions that he thinks AI is zero-sum and that the Fortune 500 will look very different in 10 years
    • All customers benefit from generalized data – first customers have to do a lot more than others
      • People writing contracts: only sell to me, but customers would be relics
    • When the data model changes, systems of records die – Andreesen
      • Hierarchical first, then on SQL, then cloud SQL and Salesforce
        • Next gen data model should be graph – federated shared graph model – instead of you pulling data and searching, it will push to you
        • Personalized actionable insights – pushed through the channel you’re most likely to engage with – maximum focus
      • Level of intent for the user should be known – don’t have to expose the complexity but you can be shown and execute that
    • Difference between autopilot and co-pilot
      • As human, something mundane or repetitive – automating the functions to make it more efficient use of your neurons
      • Augmenting ability to make decisions – racecar that may know what’s around the curve, making us super-productive – more human
    • Needs to be 10x on the platform vs off the platform if you’re afraid of the set-up
    • Sales & Marketers specifically
      • Shifting how they work – day-to-day: 1/3 of time on manual data entry, 1/3 on prospecting (classic problem), 1/3 on face-to-face doing selling
        • First should be gone, 2nd should be done with help on ML and AI for value-add prospecting and automate outreach
        • Face-to-face: Machines can’t replace this but may be able to help out
      • Training on the end point – best way to sell, unbundling learning management system
    • Wants to do bottoms-up but currently top-down – through standard procurement channels
      • Users will demand data-hungry approaches and solutions – apps that built AI on user data but not merging with enterprise data
        • Have easier time for value adding in these cases because you just want data to increase (single player can do single player)
    • Biggest surprises: inside sales for Oleg starting in 2006 pounding phones, went out and did a software change before downturn
      • Learned timing matters at that time.
      • Then started Symantria – sentiment analysis API in 2011, size of market matters – 20-30 companies needed it (80% of market)
      • Remembered that he was put into a conference room with COO (head of sales), cleaned Salesforce and within a month it was in ruin again
      • Couldn’t understand sales team when he took over, why it wasn’t ramping up quickly, losing deals, hiring more people but productivity was fine
        • Supposed to have data in CRM but never had it
  • Martin Mignot, Investor at Index Ventures (20min VC 2/1/16)index-ventures-768x469-1

    • Investments including Deliveroo, Blablahcar, Algolia, SwiftKey, others
    • Worked on 50 transactions like CodeAcademy, FlipBoard, Soundcloud
    • UBS Investment Bank on TMT team and co-founded beauty subscription company called Boudoir Prive (acquired by BirchBox)
      • Comes from entrepreneur family and action/doer and the creative
      • VC seemed to be between acting and thinking part of the job as he’s followed it for 10-12 years
    • Split on idea of career VC without operating experience
    • 3 ways to look and slice companies: at Index, they have thematic and geographical approach since they need to have ppl on ground in Europe
      • Stage-focused: seed / growth
      • Thematic: fintech, adtech
      • Geographical: Germany, France, London, Amsterdam and building the network there with angels, seed funds
    • 6 hour drive test or drunk test with founders – no formal founder test to determine invest-ability
      • Are they able to attract and hire the people they need
      • Trying to decide if the risk is worth reward – not beholding themselves to a valuation cap if they believe
    • Favorite book: I have America Surrounded by Tim Leary
    • Investor who has shaped his theses is Fred Wilson – being right, companies and sharing insight, communicating as USV and himself
  • Elaine Beak, consulting and HBS (Career Talk, Wharton XM)

    • She wasn’t too scared but whenever she had problems, the solutions would arise
      • For others, the security blanket is the scariest for most people when she tries to help them on decisions or convincing them
    • Writes her books in 2 weeks each – written and published 80+
    • Word of mouth, should have 6 months saved up, and have 50 people that you can contact for saying you’re going out on your own
    • Following own rules:
      • Billing clients the same day that you finish a project.
      • Clients may have 30 day billing window, so if you waited 2 weeks, they’ll forget or not be as appreciative.
    • Don’t discount, add to the service instead – charge more
      • Bad reputation for discounting.
    • Go for the big fish – large companies but the time to get smaller companies is the same for larger. Repeat business is there
      • Repeat business and more of a budget to continue work.
    • Learn to say no. Non-paid speaking engagements should be limited.
    • Manage your time well – make sure it pays off.
      • Find ways to automate things – invoices, payroll, accounting, responses to common questions
        • Make a standard paragraph or find an app/template once you have these
    • Project will end but not relationship – stay until the end and do a good job for the client.
    • Incorporating, LLC for sure

Reflect After, Not Before (Notes from Oct 28 – Nov 3, 2019) January 14, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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I was a madman and finished through StartUp Podcast and their Gimlet story during the week of these notes. Pretty cool to hear a play-by-play for what was going through their thoughts, especially when they’re simple questions but hold such a vital block until the next challenge. It’s comforting, as well, that many people go through this. It truly doesn’t matter the size of a company or the hoopla associated at the start, there is a huge weight on the shoulders of first-time entrepreneurs coming from full-time employment. Even with the best managers or people in their roles, there are so many things that go into building – and it’s always changing.

Thankfully, there is an increasing amount of resources now to help you. A large number of people who have scratched the entrepreneur itch have produced reflections, notes and strategies to succeed/fail/avoid mistakes – all through the eyes of those who have succeeded marvelously, exited, failed spectacularly or even quietly. We’re lucky that we’re in this time, now, simply for the reason that all it takes to DO is just that – ACTION, DO. No longer is there a lack of playbook for the particular road to the madness. More tools, more options and it’s whatever you decide to go with. So, the biggest problem is probably now analysis paralysis. Want to make an educated guess as to what may work BEST, but it’s hard to know that. Experiment where you can and take leaps everywhere else.

I should take more of my own advice, and I’m glad I heard a few podcasts that push me further into this train of thought. The ideas will eat at you until you do it. Don’t want to regret inaction – hard to regret action since it’ll be what you did and how you took that path. Hope you all enjoy the notes / podcast in each of these paths.

  • Jeff Seibert (@jeffseibert), Sr Director of Product at Twitter (20min VC FF032)
    crashlytics-logo

    • Former founder of Crashlytics, 2011 with Wayne Chang for 300mil users worldwide
      • Acquired by Twitter in 2013 for $259mn
    • Cofounded Increo in 2007 and served as COO and lead architect until acquisition by Box in 2009
      • Build, share and innovate on their ideas – idea-sharing (doc-sharing, feedback, collaboration)
      • Had raised seed $500k in early 2008 – thought it would last about 18 months – for 2009 start, had 6 months to raise
        • Investors were pulling back, taking meetings but not investing – met with 34 / 36 firms on Sand Hill (says it was too much)
    • Grew up in Maryland, got Mac for Dummies and had visual application where he changed “Hello, World” to orange color
      • Went to Stanford for college, wanted to think about startups so started group
    • Transparency – full may be healthiest culture but it’s crazy high, crazy low (so CEOs should moderate) – entire team through cycle is actual stress
      • Productivity can dip if whole team feels this – at Increo it was very transparent
        • Acquisition discussions meant they had 2 months of not being productive – founder has to swallow the ups and downs
          • Box – still was furthering the mission for the acquisition – they had tons of documents and could provide lots of value
    • For Twitter acquisition – their executive team had a deeply nuanced view of the mobile ecosystem
      • With one of largest apps, had tons of connections, users, and feedback – lead them to have a good scale and vision for the next few years
        • Mobile developers and could succeed in that environment – could provide Crashlytics to grow team and build out products
      • Twitter was acquiring 2 companies a month – total transparency of motivations for acquisition and why they were in plans
        • Why was it being considered by company – couldn’t guarantee technology, headcount but they were open
          • He moved out to SF because they wanted rep for the company
    • For Crashlytics – he took both coast moneys – Flybridge (Jeff Musbridge who suggested a question for how he met cofounder)
      • Wayne Chang – few big startup events that people go to – friend had invited Jeff, was talking about side projects – agreed to meet later
        • He had a very deep understanding of the technology and intuition for mobile developers
          • Gave him a list 3 weeks later out of the blue with mobile apps, their lead, interview notes for feedback and commitment to use beta
          • Executes like crazy – fantastic relationship
      • Thought they were set up for success when they were acquired and reporting to VP of Eng – didn’t anticipate that they had a re-org
        • May put you on other location, lose some activity – should have been a “we want 6-9 months to report / integrate”
      • Goal for Crashlytics was to solve mobile bugs/crashes – 100s of millions of devices, 10s of k’s of customers
        • Could leverage Twitter name and offer the product for free – so instead of doing freemium and enterprise, they could do free everyone
        • Total distribution – it was the perfect opportunity – now have 1billion devices
      • Have entire team (save for 1) and it has tripled
      • He spent 2 years after deal leading developer’s platform (all over world on Twitter’s services) before moving to consumer product (BlueBird, Twitter app)
    • Daring Fireball (Apple fanatic) for favorite blog, career highlight was speaking at Stanford (one of student coordinators originally for Entrepreneurship)
    • Acquihires – not a fan for startup perspective, but understands from other side
  • Gimlet 8: Our New Show (StartUp Podcast 11/22/14)gimlet-and-spotify

    • Hiring new people that could be superstars – TLDR hosts WNYC
      • Offering lower salary than before but a revenue sharing – “incapable of feeling joy, has had an anxiety stomach ache for the past 5 days”
      • They had a bunch of questions: Editorial/managerial relationship (bosses), ad spots for numbers, CPM rate, $ for ongoing web support, logo
        • Had gone through budget stuff initially – PJ & Alex had been part of a union, stability – 6 months later – can they get a commitment?
      • Tough to give security if they don’t have the security – 4 year vesting plan
  • Gimlet 9: We Made a Mistake (StartUp Podcast 12/6/14)
    • Uploading first episode of Reply All – new podcast show
    • Making a terrible mistake of not clarifying an ad intention for “This American Life” for a son’s Minecraft website for Squarespace
      • Having a discussion with Ryan’s (son) of Laura, who eventually came on to talk with Alex about how she’d felt and interpreted
      • Establishing processes and policies for the advertisements
  • Gimlet 10: Mixing Art and Business (StartUp podcast 12/22/14)
    • Not wanting to add to spending part of business (75% pay cut for Alex)
    • 3 months of initial episode of StartUp, 1 month for ReplyAll, and 8 employees in an office with salaries/benefits and advertisements
      • Brought in old spreadsheet for month to month project
      • Miscalculated the audience numbers – said they’d have 20k listeners after 4 months and they’re at 10x that
        • Plan was to have 3 shows and then spend a year to build audience
        • That plan is gone for audience numbers-wise, but to do another show would cost more money
    • Ramping up spending is scary if the audience didn’t continue to grow
    • Talked to their first hire, Caitlin, producer and her knowing and shouldering a lot of the anxiety
  • Nick Craig (@nickcraig1), author of Leading From Purpose (Wharton XM)
    covermsall

    • Love as part of purpose statement when he was with West Point staff
      • Love of family, country, service
      • Where service meets purpose
    • Purpose is what everyone can take between business and personal
      • Most people are smart but asked, as fish, to climb a tree (Einstein)
    • Ben & Jerry’s turnaround – schweaty balls flavor – M&A / movement guy that stayed at B&J’s
      • Doubled revenue to $1 bn from 2011-2019
    • Level of uncertainty has risen for almost every company
      • Used automotive example – what are we going to be selling, buying
      • Banks
      • Timelines are shrinking
    • Talking to Bryn Abraham – love to figure out her purpose
      • Figured it out, then she says she wants to write the foreword for your book (what book – his response)
        • Set him up with her agent (Ariana Huffington and Peter Schultz’s), who had taken his Wharton class
        • The agent told him she’d represent him for his book

Wrapping Up the Year (Notes from Oct 21 – 27, 2019) January 6, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, marketing, questions, social, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Happy New Year’s, everyone! Hopefully the holidays treated everyone well. Mine were fairly quiet, filled with quite a bit of driving back and forth with family, though. Good mix and even the added bonus of getting in extended reading time, which I loved – and a good plug for the last podcast episode I had listened to in this set since Ellie Wheeler’s most recent investment at the time was Blinkist – an app summarizing nonfiction books.

Somewhat quick since the majority of the week was spent listening to Alex & Gimlet’s story continue on the StartUp podcast and how he thought about (and questioned others about starting) his podcasting company. From partnership splitting, to fundraising, to naming and branching out. Fascinating early, early stage process and how each day is a struggle of what to do. I saw someone (yes, I forget who) mentioned recently that startup founders/CEOs basically have an infinite to-do list and what makes or breaks the company is determining the order that will most benefit the development forward. Yes. And yes, it’s hard.

Recording that and releasing it was quite the project that probably helped launch the company in general as he promised to get there. Even more fun now that it’s been 5 years since the release and they’ve (check the logo) sold to Spotify. Podcasting still has a ways to go, I feel. In my opinion, audio and the video/reality experience will continue to merge as we go through the next 5-10 years. Few weeks ago, a friend helped try to hack together a form of visual note-taking app (say, pictures every 30 seconds turned to searchable text) – results weren’t great but next iteration would be possible with Snaptacles? Keep you posted. Having to organize everything using Notes / OneNote / Evernote / Notion / Docs / Apple Memo and bookmarks in your favorite browser – chaotic as hell. Shouldn’t be this hard to share relevant and recent readings/listenings. I bring it up because Alex in StartUp podcast discussed in that first episode the vision of how information can be shared. Those that learn and share can greatly accelerate action/excitement and get the flywheel moving if there was a tool (maybe 2) to facilitate this. I’m hopeful for this future – 5G and improvements there could enable the computing power for constant snippets?

The future holds the answers. Happy New Year!

  • Gimlet 2: Is Podcasting the Future or the Past? (StartUp Podcast 9/5/14)
    gimlet-and-spotify

    • Working on his pitching before headed back to California to pitch Chris’ partner
    • Matt had worked at CAA before joining Chris, he’d ran an in-house venture fund to team up with Hollywood talent, get other investors
      • Website FunnyOrDie with Ferrell and McKay to launch it
    • Launching 3 new shows, 100k per episodes
      • Asks “Are you in or out?” – but he says that he wants to spend more time
      • Normally, would give him 3 reasons why he wasn’t interested, but he’s interested in the pedigree to launch into the space
        • Access to build brands and content (really, really hard) – is this entrepreneur the best at what they’re going to build?
      • Question about audience numbers – thinks he can build a larger audience (Landlord was 80mln for FunnyOrDie), even though podcasts aren’t
      • Not a lot of innovation here – is this really the best platform (podcasting) for the shows? App-based ecosystem instead?
        • Aggregator site or podcast – can’t tweet out a moment (clip), can’t figure out which friends are/have listened (can’t)
        • pictures on phone while on podcast, celebrities what they’re listening to – Instagram of audio
    • Audio shows or vs podcasting – name sucks, new way – wife mentions pitching tech guys and getting feedback on tech platform for bigger
      • Scale for him is the largest he can’t envision, and that all seems to be small for Chris and Matt
  • Crypto Regulations, ATM fees (a16z 16 Minutes on the News #12, 10/20/19)
    ah-logo-sm

    • Managing Partner, Scott Cooper, author of Secrets of Sand Hill Road
    • ICOs as regulation, thing may not even exist – SEC fined the company with the ICO – if building blockchain and raise money from public before
      • Can’t sell security unless registered with SEC
      • Howie – did someone give you money? Did someone expect a profit/return? Did the profit come from the efforts of others?
    • When we invest in start-up companies, exemption by accredited investors or register by SEC because no exemption
    • Bill Hineman at SEC talked about mutability for security turning into non-security
      • ERC-20 token was frozen/suspended for Block 1 – eventually received EOS tokens, that persists today
      • Settlement with SEC didn’t impact EOS tokens to trade on the market – in theory, EOS wasn’t a security at the time – efforts for others
    • First time Cooper had seen settlement that SEC distinguished a security in the initial part ERC before turning not a security by EOS
      • No bright-line for what the line is that draws centralization/decentralization
    • ATM fees being the highest they’ve ever been $4.95 – growth of median income up 20% since 1995, healthcare 40%, education 80%, housing 50%
      • Overdraft fees as highest as well – $35bn lost there
      • Legacy banks as tons of fixed costs and infrastructure and people vs startups that can go to market and get the building blocks necessary
        • Anti-money laundering and KYC attention, also
  • Gimlet 3: How to Divide an Imaginary Pie (StartUp Podcast 9/17/14)
    a44614ef903df9d1c336bdc0438fac78

    • Needing a business partner, potentially – wife helping him get to that point
    • Micah Rosenbloom pitching – thing 1 – liked the idea, thing 2 – bet on 2 or 3 people, Finding a business partner – MBA grads, founder dating type and website
      • Settled on his partner Matt Leber, MIT Sloan grad, BCG consultant due for a soon promotion – sneaked around, knew the business side
    • Agreeing on the clarity of the business partnership – going through legal/lawyers to agree on principle for the split of equity
      • People who he talked to mentioned 90-10 split, no more than 15%
      • Matt had mentioned 47% initially, gave an input to ask what he thought was important
        • Matt asks “What is important to you?” – some examples: important to be in charge, be CEO, his company, own 80%+
      • He’s worried about being a sucker, a rube, he got ripped off – though he thought 47% was too high “He’s key to success of company”
        • Wants that to be reflected in the cap table – “Matt is not”, Matt can’t imagine doing it for 10% – he’d treat it as a job
        • Didn’t come to terms with each other, had to go back to their wives
        • Extremely surprised at the number, adding – maybe he was seen as a consultant initially and it persisted – maybe anchored
        • Positional bargaining vs average of 15 and 45%
      • Everyone could come up with their answer – as long as it was fair to each
        • Thought the split should be 60/40 – founder’s agreement at the restaurant – needed to make it worth something, together
  • Gimlet 4: Startups are a Risky Business (StartUp Podcast 9/23/14)
    • Discussing podcast with Matt Mazio – should be able to message back and forth, create new connections / friends, microtransactions, crowdfunding
    • Going back to Micah for a second meeting – brought Alex Davidoff
      • Questioned the number of people (millions vs tens or hundreds – 40mln current was the answer)
      • Hard to be a hotel and Kayak – hard for whatever you do – content vs tech
      • Questioning the CAC and LTV for customers – wanted more than theories but answers for acquisition model
        • Venture scale is $100mln+ scale, opportunity
        • Costs X to produce a show, Y% are hits, Z amount of value to listeners, listeners pay and blended AC is W
        • How to scale because he knows what it looks like – wanted to de-risk the investment – credible theory of venture size
    • Micah had been encouraging and excited to give him intros to other venture capitalists
    • Chicago Board of Trade from school, some colleagues started an investment firm – Mike
      • Podcast newbies – never – bonded over one venture because he’d listened to Howard Stern – great interviewer / new content
      • Definitely different than what they’d focused on
    • Investing partners on one – focused on numbers, other on user growth, different reasons
      • Former financial guy who’d explained to him a toxic asset – $50k was a fan, solid enough business
      • Media innovation fund – perhaps a revenue model for other journalism forms
      • Andrew Mason, Founder/CEO of Groupon ($100mln from there) – started a new company called Detour – guided audio tours
        • Needed content for the tours but had the tech side to build it – had his own project (podcast network)
        • Agreed to invest $100k – exploitative, can learn things, investment in himself to keep close, good at what he does, ppl
        • Hadn’t thought about monetary reason, higher likelihood for profitable business but lower likelihood for 100x
          • If not successful, because he didn’t want it enough – “Have a kid now, it’s an insane amount of work”
    • Went to bank together and had $385k in the checking account – wanted $1.5mln for runway
      • Planning to still launch 3 shows, office space, 18 months runway
    • The name: APC – no, unilaterally – including wife and partner
  • Gimlet 5: How to Name Your Company (StartUp Podcast 10/13/14)
    • Transparency and the name: APC – no, including wife and partner
    • Tried a ton of different options before going to Lexicon naming help
      • We can’t pay but we’ll have it on the air for the podcast
    • Major Gimlet, gimlet eye, gimlet drinks – Matt bought the domain
  • Matt Charney (@mattcharney), Editor at RecruitingDaily (In the Workplace, Wharton XM)
    screen-shot-2014-06-22-at-2.46.49-pm

    • Went over digital numbers for the workplace – IoT as different than Digital Transformation
      • Digital transformation is a $60bn annual cost to consultants – max cash, short on ROIC
    • Mentioning that the top ATS in hiring is still top now – since 1996
  • Gimlet 6: How to Value Your Startup (StartUp Podcast 10/25/14)
    • Valuing your company as a starter for valuation cap, how much of the company
    • Valuation cap set at $10mn with his lawyer – completely arbitrary
      • AngelList had average valuations for a startup in NY at the time between $3-5mn, other media companies had been $10mn
    • Talking to Matt Mazio to check in – had a cofounder now, lots of meetings and having discussions with people
      • Price for pre-launch, content and no real tech – at least 2x what it was
      • Mazio in $100k with Chris Sacca, wasn’t worth arguing the price for $100k
        • $10mn cap would’ve needed a 10x to go to $100mn
  • Gimlet 7: How Listeners Become Owners (StartUp Podcast 11/8/14)
    • Fully funded after going $200k in crowdfunding, getting the Tumblr founder Marco to put in $50k and additional $150k
    • Building the sound booth studio randomly
    • JOBS Act allowing the larger pool of American people to invest in startups, talking to AlphaWorks CEO Erin (had been there 4 days in NYC)
      • AlphaWorks – actual ownership stake, investor
        • Relationship with listeners was the biggest thing for the company – $5k
      • Wire from Sacca was late because original amount went to the wrong account, business in Gardenia somewhere
        • Local police weren’t convinced that receiving someone else’s money was a crime ($33k lost)
    • Having worked for 6 months, quite early and then leaving at 6pm each night
      • Parenting strain now – can’t help even though he did pull more than his weight before
    • Consumer Federation of America – actually, sort of, trying to protect the people
      • Regular people will get hosed is what they said – is it the business of government to look out for what’s best?
  • Ellie Wheeler (@ellie), Partner at Greycroft Partners (20min VC 1/27/16)
    greycroft-logo1

    • Next-gen commerce, consumer mobile, SaaS solutions and investments in BaubleBar, Flashpoint Intel, Eloquii, Plain Vanilla Games

      • Was in a similar position at Lowercase Capital with Chris Sacca
    • No “if you do this, you’ll get into venture” – hers was pre-med, medical school and dropped out before end of first semester
      • Started at Summit Partner – Growth Capital P/E in Boston w/o Excel skills
      • Wanted to understand more in context so she went to Cisco, moved to SF – C/D, M&A, Strategy on Enterprise Software
        • webEx and video conferencing, unified comms
      • Crash happened – $30bn on balance sheet and seeing everything for stunting M&A and tech
    • Business school after Cisco
    • Mobile commerce as off by consultants/analysts by orders of magnitude – conversion rates were still very low
      • Email to mobile as conversion driver – d2c, into funnel and into terrible experience
      • Web or app experiences
    • Wearables – more integrated, into the fabric, athletic gear
    • The Power of One as favorite book, Alan Patricof as the founder of Greycroft
      • Outlook app, Twitter (as blog), Todo list (Evernote, but she uses note cards)
    • Recent investment is Blinkist, mobile summary for key nonfiction books

Love Hearing Some Aspirations (Notes from Oct 14 – Oct 20, 2019) December 19, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, NLP, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Happy holidays, everyone! Hopefully you’re staying warm/dry – whether that’s inside or just generally in a better location. I’ll say I already wish that I purchased into that ski cabin for the holiday since we’ve had a bunch of rain over the last few weeks in the bay area and now fresh powder in the Sierras. But alas, I did not. Next time, next time.

I’m going to keep this brief, but primarily because I have fallen behind in writing and it pains me weekly. Habits break and that may need to be bumped up in the new year – try out substack or something similar. But, I think I’m finally going to launch something that I’ve been meaning to build. CV / Image recognition sourcing into a database to keep track of something that plays a prominent role for many. We’ll see if I can get the prototype usable and I’ll update here.

Aspirations – I love talking and listening to people who have big dreams. I think there are many who hold themselves back for all kinds of reasons. If I catch wind or hear it, I will push you to start – something, anything – for your sake. It’s rewarding to have to dive in and try it out. Maybe it falls off after 6 months. Maybe you run out of money that you allotted to the side. Maybe, you succeed. Or learn  enough to accidentally fail upwards into a better / concrete idea. I hope for it all when people have these ideas. It’s inspiring – helps me go through my own models for how I interpret my world if I have to wrap my head around how friends/colleagues/Tweeps view their own. And how things can become better. Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do with many ideas. Is it a cool new thing? Is it something you wish you had? Is it an observation that you want to test? Build. You won’t regret it if you don’t in the grand scheme, but if it’s a big enough itch, it’s worth the learning experience in a world where not enough of us do (but it’s not for a lack of time).

Hope you enjoy the notes.

  • Patrick / Raamayan, Cofounder of Unify (Wharton XM)
    bgtitle

    • Global meditation, achieving state of flow
      • Could be gym, yoga, prayer, running
    • If you have an hour, you have 15 minutes
  • Brianne Kimmel (@briannekimmel), Worklife Ventures (20min VC 10/14/19)
    nxwkfnsj_400x400

    • Backed by Andreesen, Chris Dixon, Zoom’s Eric Yuan, and friends Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, Matt Mazzeo
    • Teaching General Assembly while operating in performance/growth marketing role at Expedia before Head of Social Media
      • Go-to marketing bootcamp (SaaS school now)
      • SaaS school taught my brand name heads at SaaS top places
    • Started with $25-50k angel checks in Webflow, Voiceflow, Airgarage and built a track record
      • Wanted to build a SaaS-fund to focus on go-to-market from bottoms-up
      • Enjoys building and structuring companies to get into the Venture-sized outcomes
      • Having a fund that’s open enough to maybe do private equity after stuck between $3-5mn ARR
    • Optionality for early stage, inflection points, maybe getting growth PM to scale into CEO
      • $150k checks incrementally grown from $25k
    • Proliferation of funds and capital – investing from own, micro-VC and angels platforms
      • Scouting for VC fund – operators at hot tech company
      • AngelList and Carta as platforms for own angel funds or boutique arrangements (flexibility with checks, numbers, still operate)
    • Celebrities/athletes using investments in startups to match their brand or expand it
      • Intersection of work and life – seeing Faire and Shopify give access to a huge new audience
    • Angels with leverage in cap table – “perfect one” and she grooms founders for this
    • Worklife – services and programs to unlock human potential at scale
      • Hypevsaas – traditional language for b2b is dead, according to her
      • Great saas being built by operators spinning out of consumer tech (Airbnb, Coinbase, Uber)
        • Scaling too quickly where they end up building their own tools before open sourcing or monetizing
      • With self-serve SaaS companies, many APIs and workflow tools, are easy to build – what’s the competitive advantage
        • Your access to tech, building closed products (specific users in line with product vision)
      • Opposite of Hypevsaas as “Scrappy SaaS” – going away slowly, race similar to consumer product for paid marketing
        • Freemium to quickly launch/build but products too easy – race for free users and attempt to monetize later
        • Mirrors side hustle or application as experiment with a possible traction
    • Consumer-grade experiments where users pay from day one – mentioned Superhuman and Rahul’s talk
      • SaaS school discussion about video game design and hook
    • Pace as most recent investment – accessing software with lower monthly rate because they access the contracts
  • Justin Kan (@justinkan), Founder / CEO of Atrium (20min VC 6/21/19)
    atriumlts

    • Full-service corporate law firm for startups
    • Started in 2004 with online calendar a la Gcalendar called Keeko, got into YC
      • Failed and sold it on ebay eventually
    • Then started Justin.tv – terrible idea that mostly failed and eventually made it into a streaming site to do Twitch
      • Sold in 2014 to Amazon, started another company called Exec in 2015 – errand service
      • Became a partner at YC but realized after a few years that an investor full-time wasn’t for him
      • Forced, as a startup founder, to learn things (hadn’t been learning as an investor)
    • 2017 – remembered how painful it was learning things – thinking of ideas
      • Conversation with a partner at a law firm in the city – asked her why they didn’t use any tech themselves
      • Full-stack corporate law firm in US – high growth companies that they’re building for last 2 years
    • Had used legal services no matter what they had – big transactions pay attorneys regardless, stable market
      • Will exist in a downturn because things don’t just stop
    • Remembered that every summer at the start of his startups, he would want to quit – think of new ideas or new things
      • Once out, he’d think he didn’t want to do it again, until it brought him back
      • First 3 months – thought he was great, figured it out due to 10 years’ experience, until stress came back
        • 6 months of stressful period – figured it out that he was still fine, reputation/old job
        • Self-improvement and growth had to come from culture
    • Hard to detach yourself from company as entrepreneur
      • Has attachments and notifications to make sure that he’s being present
      • Having goals in life, company, entrepreneur – board game metaphor – friends play and being engaged
      • Put away a game – do you remember or care what happened?
    • Started seeing a therapist 7 years prior – coach for dealing and discovering about what you’re going through
      • Cathartic, in his opinion – not alone and can talk to people
      • 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Steve from Reddit
        • Radical responsibility – nobody else will come to save you, nobody to blame
        • Radical curiosity – whenever a new situation comes up, you approach it with what you’re supposed to learn
    • Don’t have to suffer for doing a start-up – not saying “Don’t work hard”
      • Building up skills, expectation for suffering isn’t the case
      • Atomic Habits by James Clear for him following working out each day
    • Zone of Genius – cares and loves to focus on, delegate rest
      • At Atrium, focus on business strategy, selling, culture
      • Build the team for the rest of it
    • Much better at recognizing patterns after investing 100 companies
      • Implementing in company, business models and market dynamics
      • Bad – investor attitude (approached Atrium like this)
    • Atrium – up to 150 employees in SF now – happy and proud for the culture and growth
  • Eric Kinariwala (@ekinariwala), founder / CEO at Capsule (DealMakers 10/15/19)
    referral_image

    • Rebuilding pharmacy from inside out – raised $270mn from TCV, Thrive Capital, Sound Ventures, Virgin Group, M13
    • Wharton undergrad, network from there as financial services, banking and decided to go to west coast – Stanford
      • Started at Bain Capital in Boston after graduating – worked in a hedge fund group investing
        • Retail, healthcare, tech – blending framework around business strategy, what makes it a good business
        • Judging management and the synergies – learning how to invest, as well
      • Making right judgment calls – tight feedback loops
    • For Capsule, had moved back to NY, got a headache – called doctor and had a prescription ordered
      • Pharmacy is $350bn – most frequent interaction in healthcare
      • 2nd largest category of retail – 70k stores
      • Got headache and went to go pick up his meds but couldn’t find it, then they were out of stock and it was awful
    • Hard to get advice from the pharmacy, don’t know the price until they go to pay
    • Everybody touching the pharmacy has a headache, typically
    • 3 pillars of Capsule: modern technology platform, emotionally resonant brand, pharmacy how your mom would treat you
      • Prototypical pharmacist as founder, 2nd was highly experienced technologist, 3rd woman that spent building consumer brands
    • Business model – “10x better” than current existing – technologically enabled pharmacy – app with 5 pieces of information
      • 2 hour delivery windows, know price of medication, doctors know what you’re doing
      • Why are there so many pharmacies? Put money spent on rent back into beautiful design and technology to be seamless
    • Launched in 2016, first customer in May – first challenges in early days
      • Strong word-of-mouth from friends, doctors who had learned about Capsule – telling patients and vice versa
      • Early pharmacist was well-versed in regulatory environment for anything that could’ve been broken
    • He had raised in May ’15 to get started – raised $70 million to start
      • Ideal profile / entire business model needs to be aligned with values: objectives, values, strategy and metric
      • Asking to join and leaders need to have alignment in the same way – even the board – share vision and how / why you operate
    • Team is bigger than 250 full-time, all in NYC now – encouraging people to read ahead of joining, also
      • Checklist Manifesto, On Wings of Eagles, Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table, and Who by Dan [Geoff?] Smartt
    • For the future of Capsule – most important thing in your family’s life as healthcare (although I’d argue bank or something)
      • 5x more pharmacy visits than doctor (sheesh) – wants to make it mobile-first and on the home page of phone
    • Piece of advice for his first day: be more confident earlier
  • Gimlet 1: How to Not Pitch a Billionaire (Startup Podcast 4/5/14)
    gimlet-and-spotify

    • Pitching Chris Sacca – meeting at a hole-in-the-wall sushi place for lunch in LA
      • Deck as a crutch and did it outside the lunch – no slides
      • Most people consume audio in radio and are leaving to digital – audio dashboard, podcasts music all there
      • Wants to start company for the content for moving into the digital future
      • One question he asked: what’s the unfair advantage? Explained how to make money (ads, listeners)
        • Freemium – offer an extra for the listeners who want to pay.
        • He answered: making freemium model work – had to tighten it up
      • Chris Sacca – took 2 minutes and did the pitch
        • People willing to pay for this stuff – Planet Money where they gave $600k to buy tshirt with our logo
          • Integrated directly that we can replicate
        • $1.5mn to buy 3-4 guys for podcasts in next 12 months, can get to 300-400k net subscribers
          • Can get to breakeven on ads alone, CPMs where they are – more integration and episodes will be ultimately scale
          • 12-15 podcasts and we can do it
      • Then countered with the audio is a niche market – nonprofit and audio moving toward shorter content
    • Met him on a Planet Money story when he was going over patent system and how it was slowing innovation
    • Strategy/ideas at Google, writing seed investment check in PhotoBucket – didn’t have it, though
      • Just $50k and wrote 2 credit card checks – enjoyed the feeling so much he left Google
      • First investment was in a colleague, Evan Williams, for Twitter as a full-time angel
        • Wrote the check for $25k – was a lot of cash to him, needed it to work – wanted to help out, evangelist
        • Started buying more shares and doubling – believed in the company
    • Kickstarter, Uber, Instagram, etc… looks hard at the conviction of the success
      • Missed on DropBox (Gdrive was going to crush them), Airbnb (someone will get raped or murdered, can’t work)
    • Told him to come back, tighten the pitch and then do it for Chris’ partner Matt who was from the media world
  • Pankaj Risbood (@risbood), founder at Zendrive
    logo_vertical-drkgry2x

    • Discussing leveraging data and making it a platform instead of an app
      • Dealing with partners to ensure they can improve value
    • Mission Street project – 6 months driver flow before and then after shutting down
      • Reducing poor driving / improve driver safety and it was fairly obvious
    • Can deploy this in the form for insurances, as well
  • Jacqueline Courtney (@jac_courtney), Founder of Nearly Newlywed (Wharton XM)
    47315_0

    • Pitching on Shark Tank to grab attention
    • Starting as seeing option in fashion tech for underserved market
    • Tough for Amazon to compete because of the marketplace factor and users are only in for 1 sale, 1 wedding
      • Taking 40% of the sale but trying to maximize the amount of cost for many
      • Realized photos that were posed / models with dresses didn’t sell as well as real wedding photos
        • Started asking customers for them this way
  • Noah Auerbahn (@noahauerbahn), co-founder and CEO of Robin Healthcare (Lindzanity 10/2/19)
    5d00b6c5f8049e595a67e73d_logo-robin

    • Robin as virtual scribe that sits on doctors desks and records video/audio from room – sits in exam room
      • Started with orthopedic physicians – 6 sub-specialties and they cover all of them so far
    • Met Gary, Howard’s partner, when Noah was 21 and starting first company – ExtraBucks (cash back coupons)
      • Came up with at dorms in USC, raised enough money to move to SD with his cofounders
      • Were cash flow positive and had Gary and Alex as advisors – realized he didn’t want to be in ecommerce forever
        • Decided to sell and exit once they questioned it – had raised around $1million, no venture
    • Believed college as what you make of it – did entrepreneurship / business in undergrad but taking it and questioning how to apply it
    • Education, energy, and health were the lists of what he thought may have the most impact – health was the biggest for him
      • He would hire MIT PhD and UCLA MD to come to his office and tutor him – “pretty affordable, like $70/hr” to teach at pace you want
      • He wanted massive optionality within healthcare – not just ecommerce, if he wanted to do pharma, biotech, find the right entry point
      • 100s of research posts, 100s of conversations, started going to conferences (where he met his cofounder)
    • Entire system – center of the system is the exam room – decisions get made there, so he wanted to build something interesting inside of that room
      • Patient, doctor, and EMR (not interested in sharing data)
        • Found out that there was a scribe in 5% of rooms and he asked why they aren’t remote or something
        • Lower burnout rates, better throughput and service, notes/quality control could have issues
        • Decided to tool in a good UX, ML additionally
    • Wanted to do something big, had to raise money eventually but “How many assumptions could he kill or the idea before saving time?”
      • First paying customer, had $40k, webcams, notes (his cofounder doing them), device streaming and did it at his mom’s vet clinic (non-HIPAA)
        • Built own tech, had some handful of paying customers – had taken some friends/family $ that missed on his first company and then real
      • Didn’t anticipate hardware but couldn’t find something that could be used for solving this
        • Security cams aren’t great because of acoustic but could stream all the time
        • Conference ones which aren’t designed to run all the time – ran own software on it, but lot of work to keep it working all the time
        • Sonos speaker guys were helpful in producing what they ended up building (optional video)
    • Device has about 2% of people where they don’t consent – video/audio and can be more in tune with the patient
    • Having offices in SD, Berkeley (his reverse commute from SF) and Austin – where most pre-med scribes are for them
      • Mentioned 30% Stanford Med graduates don’t end up as doctors – go into tech
  • Morgan Housel, co-founder of Collaborative Fund (Lindzanity, 10/9/19)
    deuobz-u8aarwgs

    • Howard’s favorite thinker/writer/storyteller and his interesting career arch – key to writing is writing
    • Effective long-form is rough but when it’s good, it’s bar-belled (10 seconds is better than longer reading)
      • Only books he got through were Shoe Dogs and Agassi’s book – Munger’s “Don’t be burdened by bad books”
    • Cramer’s “Confessions of a Street Addict” as good, as well
      • Coming from nowhere, knew how to write briefly, Howard as superfan – first modern financial professional that had personality
      • Howard feels like it’s an underachievement – Morgan said he’s not a great investor – so much trust built up that he should be running a massive firm
      • Access to people, financial celebrity
    • Fascinated by Motley Fool – when Morgan had hedge fund, had CNBC but Dave and Tom Gardner – hats on, promotional and StockTwit before
      • Went for mom and pops – tremendous marketers, but made mistakes
    • 2007 – dawn of financial disaster, studying econ at USC (his plan was p/e and ib) but finance was terrible
      • Didn’t think highly of Motley Fool – had gone through Yahoo finance boards and saw his friend, Sham Gad, at USC was writing for them
      • Thought he’d do Motley Fool shortly as contract, couple months, and was writing an article a day – (plan was initially p/e but they couldn’t bring him on)
      • For him, he was supposed to be banking industry, and writing other stuff as well – economy and macro issues (unemployment, fed reserve, budgets)
      • No explanation for decisions being rational – before, during, after no good explanations – psychology of investing
    • Psychology of investing will always be there – different layers of edge and vs technical side – can be base of pyramid
      • Smartest analyst or data miner but without greed/fear, nothing would matter (Howard moving to angel – forced to go with it, prices were his weakness)
    • Time split for Howard – 50/50 between public/priv (prices keep him up to date on news)
      • Selling at Uber at $10bn because he wasn’t allowed to sell at $1bn – he was in with David Cohen’s $4mn fund, $50k at $4mn valuation, so he had $2k
      • Sold a lot early and then sold at $40bn and that’s where it is now – public would’ve been very different
    • New banks may be what Andreesen is doing – start as VC & get larger, for next 20 years
      • Citadel starting as hedge fund from dorm and now top-tier investment bank, doing everything – exchange, conglomerate
      • Partnership that can have trading stocks, wealth management, lean beast with trust/access – 2.5% fund without GS
      • Private becoming so large because of the liquidity area there
    • Josh as being equally funny and smart, not caring about markets – gave a sponsor to Morgan and Jesse Livermore (pseudo) and Twitter explodes
      • Motley Fool for 10 years, contractor for 7 years – LA first and then Seattle, then Alexandria for 3 years – only time he’s had a desk and office
      • Wife went to grad school in Baltimore to move them out that way
      • Motley Fool as bigger than you think – P/E mistake, big tool and screwups to learn a lot about mistakes
        • Joining Collaborative Funds (Craig Shapiro splitting time between NYC and SF) was easiest decision, but leaving MF was hardest of his life
    • What really can set you apart is not writing a check anymore – everyone has a checkbook
      • What do people know about you? What do you stand for? What is your vision?
      • If he could write what they wanted to read, it would draw back some attention to what they’re doing and standing behind.
    • Went to plenty of conferences, 4-5 a year and learned to speak – had a CFA Institute where he was the interviewer
      • Did keynotes for Motley Fool, video made it to Washington Speakers Bureau and started to do that
      • Several dozen talks a year now – wasn’t the plan original (2016 as first year)
        • Doesn’t sketch out an idea, write out an outline – just knows that he enjoys some part and how to contextualize it
    • Spends majority of his time going on walks to “write” – tough for him to grind the gears
      • 95% of his investing is house, checking acct and 3 Vanguards funds – saving dollar-cost-averaging there, since he isn’t really writing checks
      • Thinking about “enough” – 8% is fine, 10% would be nice but not worth stressing (says opposite of type A)
        • Odds are low to beat market, same with running – 3 miles is enough for him, doesn’t need to do half marathon
        • Biking for 1 – 2 hours, knows the burn, won’t need to do more
      • Why Howard says Andreesen’s model likely to make a difference
        • For Howard – indexing, 90% there and 10% to try to beat
      • If it bothers you, why are you torturing yourself? If you need to scratch the itch, take a small enough.
      • Hates idea that Vanguard gets to pick the 500 companies for him, not a fan of $5mln raise if you can do on $1mln
        • Similar to Risk gm – don’t start Europe, east Aus is better
    • Indexing as Robinhood vs Vanguard – somewhere in between (not robo), but just de-selecting the companies you may not want to invest in
      • Feel better, maybe hold on more during drawdowns – incentivize riding the wave
      • Example from Morgan about mom hating Monsanto (then he pointed out she owned some – she wanted to sell)

Paralysis of Planning (Notes from Oct 7 – Oct 13, 2019) December 12, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Hello everyone! It’s been forever – a few weeks. That wasn’t my intention and my head’s been spinning around topics. However, nothing was clearing up idea-wise, at least enough to fit something in. As writing is an intentional habit of mine to try to memory-dump and stay organized, the slowdown has been a poor fall off from my routine. We’ll get it back.

I forget where I’d read it first, but there are some long-form bloggers who said just writing to write daily has helped them get to coherent, well-written posts about once a week. I may try a medium there and plan to write 3-4 days, even if it’s brief. Let’s see what comes of that (on initial thinking, I’d like to get 1 or 2 of those data-focused).

Last week, I attended #HustleCon in Oakland, which is focused on entrepreneurs (mostly non-technical) and the strength of pattern recognition and actions on ideas. A few of my prior posts have mentioned the flood of information available, so long as you have a plan to go through it. It’s likely why I found it funny to hear various founders with their “definitive” takes on fundraising, hiring and culture building processes. It’s possible the thing they all agreed on was just to focus on the product/customer feedback. The rest was completely in the air – some swore on fundraising and it was easy, others thought it was only necessary to scale to size they wanted later, some wanted to just get large customer traction, etc…. There’s no single track except your own past experiences. That’s the one track for ‘worked’ vs ‘doesn’t work’. Everything else has examples on both sides.

The commonality aside from product/customer-focus was in reflecting on actions – can you test an idea? Can it sell? Will there be a proper response? Is the response as you expected? Iterate from the basic idea that you had to begin with and see if you can’t improve it further. I am starting to agree that there are many ideas that fix many things we each interact with – our experience (usually bad) influence our ideas to improve them once you have that “I wonder why it can’t be easier – or why can’t it be done like X”. Acting on that idea to see if you can fix it is at least better for you and a handful of likeminded people – “2x improvements”. The iteration to move from that to providing an easier/painless/smooth/updated experience is the rest. And that determines success/fail of the business (if there was one). That’s a large jump but one that I may unpack in the future.

I think the notes below contain a solid mixture of hope for the future, business building, medicine and exploration.

  • Trae Vassallo (@trae), founder at Defy.vc (Wharton XM)
    favicon_200px

    • Looking at focusing in early-stage connected software companies
    • Avoiding stigma of young and white and male – although that’s lore/myth, despite what we see in SF
      • Founders as average age of 40
      • Very diverse, including in their portfolio co’s
    • They lean on founders who they may have backed before
    • Attending Stanford for Bach, Masters and MBA
      • After undergrad, interned at Boeing for summer before realizing corporate wasn’t really for her, true engineering
      • Had more of a design mind – Ideo (design firm) kept intriguing her in SF
    • Niche for funding between big moves and some that don’t want massive venture deals – thought it was common enough to fit
  • Seyward Darby (@seywarddarby), Editor-in-Chief at The Atavist (Wharton XM)
    atavist_logo_2015

    • Discussing paper
  • Amazon to Deliver Healthcare, Google Quantum & VR/AR (16 Minutes on the News #10: 9/29/19)
    • Cost of employer-based healthcare just passed $20k annually for the first time
    • Often hear about “At least Amazon doesn’t deliver healthcare” – their position in the market is the source of fear
      • Haven’t hired nurses or physicians, partnered with Oasis
    • What would counterpart for realities of healthcare working
      • How do you integrate into supply chain of broader healthcare landscape (Amazon as just inserting into primary care, not others)
        • Primary care is a minor part of total spend
      • Game for startups is to get distribution before incumbent gets innovation
    • Oculus – advancing AR/VR very quickly – selling as fast as they can make them with Quest
      • Hand-tracking is working much better, technological advances
      • Verifocal lenses – different ways for seeing 3D
        • Big Screen as watching 3D films – true eye separation, although in VR, you don’t see great depth
    • Eyes trade off high resolution (central) compared to the outside which would be low res
      • Mobile GPU for glasses as less powerful but improving compared to ones that are plugged into the pc
      • Enough users where developers can be incentivized
    • Quantum computing as here – yes, but not broken for cryptography
      • You can run a computation / calculation on quantum computer
  • James Beshara (@jamesbeshara), cofounder at Tilt (20min VC FF#031, 1/22/16)
    crowdtilt-to-tilt-image_28305

    • Micro-crowdfunding platform, founded dvelo.org for crowdfunding loans and donations to poverty-alleviation
      • Then moved to friends funding
    • Khaled as co-founder – said “he’s the luckiest thing that happened to company”, introduced by a friend
      • 26 yr old running strategy at Rackspace – needed someone to develop because he didn’t have the development skills
    • College kids as the largest demographic here – wanted to make crowdfunding very easy
    • Fundraising process for the two of them, trying to get investments from real estate, oil & gas, hardware – didn’t understand
      • Were in ATX and had to do value prop for 90 seconds – duh?
      • Got into YC and grinded until that point, even for raising $500k
      • Helpful for Series A – growth graph that they didn’t have for seed
    • Destination in mind for investors – standalone, durable company (likely public)
    • 5 years away – building crowdfunding platform and taking it mainstream
      • Update: Didn’t make it.
  • Bryan Johnson (@bryan_johnson), founder of OS Fund and Braintree (20min VC 1/25/16)
    braintree_logo

    • Bought by ebay in 2013 for $800mil, and launched OS Fund with $100mil in personal capital to benefit humanity
    • Extend human life, replicate visual cortex, reinvent transportation and food
    • Key question of building technology and the world we want – governmental systems improvement
      • Balancing returns – money is a tool of power and influence
      • Can be decades and he’d be fine with it
    • Interested in materials science and rearrangement of atoms – raw source inputs, business services and how to consume them
      • His portfolio is mostly genomics and synthetic biology
      • Has a sizable chunk of experts that they get advised by on specialties
    • Blockchain technology – thinks of the start to the printing press
      • Tools of creation and platforms of creation are hard to predict what would be next
    • Fav book: Shackleton’s Endurance Voyage, favorite person: Craig Ventur
    • Most exciting recent investment: Ginkgo Bioworks
  • Kamran Fallahpour (Director at Brain Resource Center in NYC) and Geoffrey Woo (CEO, Founder at HVMN) Brain Hacking (Wharton XM, Dot Complicated)b593e157-b9cc-4762-b437-ff43ca3f731e-1498462151992

    • Bryan Johnson on Brain Hacking and founder/CEO of Kernel, not a matter of if / when
    • Coming to Brain Resource Center: both children and adults, ADD, ADHD, brain injury, migraines, anxiety
      • Families with kids with attention issues or doing fine but want an advantage
    • First do a brain mapping using EEG – over- or underactivation
    • For Geoffrey, he had friends after Stanford trying to make machines or robots smarter, better and more efficient
      • He wanted to wonder how he could get humans to perform better – tinker with the body
      • Cognitive functions as being why we’re above the animals – n=1 experimental starts
    • Pubmed research articles on nootropics, reports on Reddit for chemical stacks, substances that were supplements or foods
      • Prescription or off-label, scheduled drugs legal or illegal
    • Improved sleep as best biohack, exercise for cardiac health and now regular exercise/weightlifting as brain cognition
      • Neuroplasticity growth and improving brain functions – any way to stimulate the brain, puzzles/language/out of comfort zone
      • Plateaus when looking at neural feedback
  • Andres Barriga (@andresbarriga), cofounder of Portola Growth Partners (Wharton XM)
    • Chilean venture capital after business school in the states
    • Growth in LATAM – primarily western countries and then up to Mexico for growth
    • Talent is starting to be attracted to possibilities
    • They got 3 US funds to invest
  • CRISPR! Policy, Platform, Trials (16 Minutes News by a16z #11)
    • CCR5 gene as preventing HIV
    • Alliance of 13 companies in the space to not do germline editing, but would still do therapeutic somatic cell genetics
      • Genome that runs the body and the one you pass on to generations – germline
      • Somatic cells will not be passed down to future generations (eyes, liver, etc…) and germline would
    • 1970s had discovery of recombinant DNA – tech to cut/paste genes
      • 1980s had genetic applications outside of the body – initial cut healthy copy of gene and put into virus and stick into humans
      • Late 90s – patient Jessica Zellwinger – can’t randomly do gene splicing
      • Talons – gobbler proteins – zinc fingers took forever to remove mutated genes but would take PhD students months and $10ks
    • Emergence of CRISPR as way to treat disease, in short order
      • Gene therapy, CRISPR, engineered cells to treat cancer, for instance
    • Legislation in California – preemptive for what could go wrong and how to be productive
      • What if the kit is used improperly
    • Applications – ex-vivo vs in-vivo (outside of bodies compared to in)
      • Vehicle/delivery compared to the load – which is ex-vivo and can be Quality Controlled
      • Eye as initial in-vivo CRISPR use since eye is immune-privileged (bacterial components of delivery)
      • CAR-T therapy for cancer patients – usually send cells to get edited and then put back in
  • Sarah Hum (@sarahhum), founder of Canny (Indiehackers #124 10/7/19)
    logo

    • User feedback tool, feeling the pain of the data and trying to combine customer data
    • Just crosses $50k MRR – team of 5, transparent and paying team with money they make
    • Digital nomad – she was in the same place in SF with her cofounder – quit her full-time job but wasn’t making much
      • Team of 2 was easy as she traveled initially, couple

      • Indiehackers Courtland with his brother – know how to argue and disagree
    • Had done quite a bit of hackathons – worked at Facebook for 1.5 yrs before starting
      • Worked on Messenger as product designer – felt limited by what she wanted to do
      • PD is ~20%, she’s learned about marketing and pricing and sales otherwise
    • Started Product Pains as a community for people giving feedback over things – didn’t monetize initially
      • Had a community of 5000 people that primarily did consumer products
      • Rebranded to turn it into b2b and monetize – could change products with Product Pains (give them feedback, for instance)
      • Andrew had worked on team working with React – teammate had asked him after he left about what he was doing
        • Started using Product Pains to get information about developer pains – still a big mechanic
    • Eventually they had companies join Product Pains who asked if they had a widget
      • Didn’t have widget initially, but they asked if they built it, would they pay for it? Basically said yes – $19/mo
      • Had been 3 months after she quit to rebrand and launch as Canny
        • Had to get a pricing page going for payments
    • Get Satisfaction around 2008-2009 as Yelp for customer service / user feedback that got a ton of investor money
      • Raised $10-20mln and cratered in a short amount of time
    • Launched Canny on Product Hunt as a good initial feedback and went to Oct ’17 for profitability (hit Hacker News)
      • May / June talked about digital nomads – week or so before leaving and took off – first little tour of US and then went to London
      • 26 cities in 2 years, Seoul as reliable cafés and wi-fi – Nomadlist and about a month in each place
    • Writing 200 words a day – blogs every week then are almost 1400 words
      • Levers to grow a business (via Patrick Cambell, CEO of ProfitWell)
        • User acquisition – blogging, product via word of month
        • Monetization – pricing, how often to charge, how to upgrade, paid plan, etc
        • Retention – how long do people stick around
    • Pricing strategies: haven’t tried freemium
      • SaaS, thought about – started initially at $2/mo (cheapium)
        • They’d have to chase people for this
      • May be a good time to try again – never set it and forget it – should be able to charge more for it
      • Tried to charge based on people as what they thought it was the business / how much willing to pay / user base
        • As they figured out the market niche, they landed on the best to target
    • Having monthly goals and try to develop features or business things to help achieve those
    • Hiring – her never being a manager
      • Helping people do what they’re supposed to be doing and supporting their jobs
      • Openness as key – working together much of the day and being on the same page, feeling good
      • They do 3-4 meetings a year
    • For 1-2 years, they have quite a bit they want to build, features to grow bigger
      • Can see Canny working for larger businesses that have reached out – catered to small/medium-sized so far
      • Giant impact with very small teams
  • Amir Haleem (@amirhaleem), founder / CEO of Helium (talk on AVC / USV port co)
    5xvzlvyv_400x400

    • Former esports champ in 90s, during dial-up days
    • Dial-up days – most competitive time for internet access, separation of those that provided services
      • US Robotics for modems, ISP like Speakeasy, telephone co like Verizon
      • Once internet got adopted and page loads enlarged, they merged
    • No option to use dial-up, cable appeared – “Internet got terrible”
      • Cable provider merged with ISP – physical lines vs provider
      • Comcast in SF as his example – local loop – LLUs – similar to telephone providers originally
    • Google Fiber – became extremely challenging for them to dig – cities wouldn’t let them dig, so they converted to wireless
      • 75-85% of customers use whatever the cable company gives them
      • Hardware in home – LoRa network or “sharing” hotspots to clog networks
    • Cellular market as too expensive soon, maybe contraction
    • Net neutrality – internet access as common carriers (2015)
      • FTC won’t mandate to cover common carriers
      • Net neutrality was only rules that were in place to rule against – until it died and how we govern ISPs
    • Cool companies in the decentralization of the internet
      • Orchid: tor-like system and rewarding nodes
      • FileCoin: store files anonymously, encrypted and hashed out
      • Brave: forced https and ads blocked, Tor as tab version
      • Helium: how to decentralize wireless links to base, especially with 5G and unlicensed spectrum
        • Blueprint of mesh of open technologies owned and operated by those that own and use the internet
    • Helium: IoT of low power sensors, tracking devices, network devices for access by others
      • Fundamentally do it and reward people with coins for holding it and for others to use it
      • Talking about using applications for the IoT world
        • mentioned the fires in NorCal in ’18 and not being able to tell the air quality within 20 mi radius
        • IoT seems to be ripe for improvement but hasn’t seen the network yet
  • Dennis McNannay, CEO & founder for Curadite, Inc (Wharton XM)736x196xcuradite-logo_long_gry.png.pagespeed.ic_.gqdo0yxdcw

    • Bioscience focus on medicine adherance

Push back from a Raise (Notes from Sep 30 – Oct 6, 2019) November 27, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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In the Bay Area, it’s inevitable to see and come across people celebrating rounds of fundraising, especially via the internet/news/Twitter/tech scenes. Primarily this is the case if you’re involved in start-ups, VC, finance and related meet-ups or online communities. Those are often great results for the investors (probably not celebrating, otherwise), but not exclusively great for the team of the company. Hopefully the raise or exit is by choice, part of the strategy in the short and long-term that the founders/team had in mind to either grow or expand or keep doing what they’d envisioned. Execution of the strategy and for it to go as planned is celebratory, don’t me wrong – but it’s a means to an end, not the end.

I don’t want to complain, but I think, along with many others, that the celebration of these types of wins give the wrong feedback for what constitutes celebration / achievement. This is simply a byproduct of this being the most visible / public part of a company’s journey, and certainly an investor wants to share what they can (especially seeing as they have plenty of updates that they’re often not allowed to disclose). Funding raise and new rounds, once public, allow them the chance to congratulate and feel accomplished on the journey. Though, really, capital is merely providing readiness to the next step.

The opposite side of this would be in sharing numbers, customers and wins outside of funding, a company/founder leaves themselves open to competitors or unfavorable partnerships/cycles/etc. There ends up being an information asymmetry that could be detrimental to the business. Or, worse, put it out altogether. Somehow, I find that even if you’re sharing in an effort to be transparent, at this current business climate and consumption of business/funding, there would be those that may complain even about a seemingly arbitrary high-margin or poke holes in pricing, despite offering a seamless customer experience, high value to a business or create ample time value for the enterprise. I’ve seen a few bootstrapping/side-project companies go from transparent early and once they hit traction, the growth and curve stage will prioritize the privacy of the business going forward. Who can blame them once there is the semblance of confirmation of a growing business potential?

I wanted to bring this up and I hope in the future there’s a designed method to somehow make more company information public/transparent (Baremetrics is one such company trying to make it more accessible). Maybe it will be an aggregation system that anonymizes data but has enough companies in certain spaces that you can compare (sorry consultants, that probably gets rid of quite a few of you). I think that would be a new frontier and create excitement that would get people other than investors and exit/money-focused-seekers on board with the true fun/value of creating something.

Hope you enjoy the rest of my notes!

  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon
    268x0w

    • Ep. 8: We’re Go for Powered Descent
      • Final 13 min begin in this episode
      • The team, on this day, will either land, abort or crash. 102 hours and 12 minutes into mission, 2 minutes 53 seconds to the acquisition
      • 1 million miles away at 1mi/sec moving toward the moon
      • Program 63 to determine when and where to fire off the engine – how to point for the proper trajectory
      • Radio link was lacking once they were in view, again – needed this to get telemetry data, for instance
        • Go or no-go for descent based on stale data and then had to make it through Michael Collins to relay to team
      • Lunar module was going 20 ft/s faster than it needed to be – if it went to 35+, they’d have to abort
        • Radar pointed at surface and ready to lock on – said that it’s going too fast
        • Episode 2 on Steve’s point of view on how the overloading machine – Eagle’s altitude vs estimates sense
      • High stress at that point, 150+ for Armstrong at 12:02, even though they weren’t doing anything at that point
        • Had to prioritize the mission critical tasks and lose some of the computer functions
        • Computer was diagnosed – delta h coming up was problem for P1668 – lot of alarms and wouldn’t have to do operation cognitive load
    • Ep. 9: Tranquility Base
      • Halfway down, about 16000 feet above surface
      • Fuel as critical, but said as Fuel 2 gauge – needed a bit of gas when they land
      • P1202 Eagle computer coding too hard, overloading – repeatedly as they get to 2000 feet and 50 ft/s
        • All flying done by Eagle – thrust, rate of descent and flying (no video displays)
        • LPD (Landing Point Designator) – where to look for landing zone on degrees
      • Gas for hover level and below hover level – timing from controller within 10 seconds
      • 10 years and 400 engineers finally landing on the moon as they hit contact light – fall and shut off with 18 sec of abort time
      • Had dust kick up as falling – caused jerky movement and couldn’t see surface
        • Had to go through stay/no-stay calls to be ready to leave within 40sec of landing
      • Watch used for the timing had changed times because his daughter kept on timing herself as a twirler – he sent it to Smithsonian
  • Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani), CEO of Girls Who Code (Wharton XM)
    eb61dc56f4b5cc4002b007e255d8bb00

    • Author of Women Who Don’t Wait in Line
    • Discussing how her failures running for public office as motivation to continue working
    • Wanting to work at things you’re bad at (compared to an
    • athlete repeatedly being told to perfect)

      • Guys will naturally have these things that they are poor at but continue with them, either out of enjoyment or otherwise
      • Girls often only want to do things they’re good at
    • Not quitting a job, potentially, because of the comfort and not wanting to be bad at something
  • Barry Zekelman, Exec Chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries (Wharton XM)
    0718zekelmanindustries-logo

    • Discussing being nearly broke in 1990s and then again in early 2000s
      • Getting lean, working on the business and margins
      • Got a $bn offer from Russia steel conglomerate in headed into 2008 – fell through with crash
        • Said this was one of best things that had happened to him
    • Having the right people
  • CEO of Mirror.co
  • Patrick Conway, CEO of BCBS-NC, How to Pay for Healthcare based on Health (a16z 9/6/19)
    (@patrickconwayMD)

    • Started as state resource – TX – teacher unions, PNW – timber, NC, and 2 Blues brands (cross / shield)
    • Need a willing payer to drive change, virtually integrated system at a state level (doesn’t think you can do it with single provider)
    • All drivers of health and healthcare – biggest driver of readmission to hospital, couldn’t get transportation home
      • If you had to give a bus token and they had congenital heart failure – chance of seeing primary doctor – some will pick people up
      • Hospitalization and drugs for biggest costs for health care
    • Food insecurity – failure to thrive
      • Hospitalized kid for lack of food cost $40k (could have fed kid for years)
      • Had a for-profit payer that was confused on why they were doing it – huge, positive outcomes for child obese
        • 10-15% of population, churn for term (vs near-term) – insure people often for decades, right thing to do
    • Insure 60-70% of population so they can look at long-term view
      • Some countries will measure outcomes (churns may pay toll, or collect toll) – Medicare Advantage for 3-5 year cycle
        • MA instead of paying for service, you pay for health plan for year and they get better plans for controlled care ($0 premium)
      • Broadening investment window so they’ll take care of you
    • What rarely happens (but more effective) to think about what makes the system better – policy proposals
      • Autism arena: here’s what you need to do in benefits, coverage and here’s a child/mother that brings personal side – data for effect
      • Drugs: pharma says PBM and middleman (senator called him Chair of the Death Panels) – wanted to pay for value for drugs
        • Everyone was against it (pharma lobby and doctors vested in drug prices going up)
    • Interesting areas for real progress
      • CMMI Innovation Center for delivery system reform – bipartisan and paying for value
        • Social determinants – opportunities/drivers for health polls better with Democrat and Republicans (will pay taxes, uncommonly)
      • Effectively coordinating care across silos (especially with food, housing)
        • Ear infection – can click a button and it’s instant but for a kid that’s hungry, it takes forever – needs to be the same
    • One of the board level metrics in company is food insecurity for the state – think they can bring it down 20% (state is 20% – some counties have 9 of 10)
      • Looking at partners for data analytics for screening, identifying and getting the next step – close the gap
        • Any state in America: who in the state is food insecure, needs housing and transportation
          • CDC data measures on an annual basis compared to real-time – needs to be at-scale through technology
          • Build the connectivity – scripts are now all electronic, for instance – clicks button to cosign
      • Benefits for scale across multiple states – investing in same things, data analytics, CX, seamless platforms, tech – accelerate pace of change
    • Second day at BCBS was retirement party for Brad Wilson, former CEO after 20+ years – governors, CEOs, 1000s of people, donations
      • Fundamentally different than a national payer – not the same connective tissue than them for NC and Oregon
      • Partners across state (like theirs with Cambia) does drive value, lower cost and improve value and care
      • If you dominate a market and price set, it has negative effects (can’t recall any 2 hospital systems that merged where costs came down)
        • BCBS reduced individual costs by 5% driven by value-based arrangements with providers – UNC said they were willing, Duke said no
    • Building the link between tech and total cost of care – new shiny thing “AI” and data and ML – what does it do?
      • Connective tissue has to go to outcomes and costs of outcomes – his hypothesis is for the companies to focus on the actual problem to solve
    • Value-based care – independent physician groups (larger, organized) are the best
      • Hospitals are least successful
      • Advanced primary care models – compensation for primary care goes up, including down to provider level – most payers pay 6% (8% at BCBS – 10%+)
        • If you spend 10%, you get better health outcomes at a lower cost – become front door and invest in care management
      • How do you integrate and treat mental health conditions
    • EY’s concentrate on administrative fees – he’ll guarantee savings of $15-30mln “Don’t know”
      • Guarantee he’ll beat them on price, then get them to join – done it multiple times, making it simple
      • “Don’t believe our simple math? Fine, we’ll guarantee it.” Every business is a healthcare business.
  • James Cameron (@jamesdcameron), investor at Accel (20min VC 1/20/16)
    logos_master_accel

    • Focuses on marketplaces, enterprise software, security and fintech
    • Founded BipSync, SaaS-based research platform for investment management and was on tech banking team at Morgan Stanley
    • Corp lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai
    • Aussie originally, wanted to get out and went to London and worked with M&A and IP law in UK
      • Law wasn’t for him, tried some other things like Morgan Stanley – went to SV and Stanford after a few years
    • Pitched at Accel for BipSync and was turned down initially before getting the role he has now
    • Ton of time on planes covering massive geography – methodical, premeditated approach with a prepared mind with ideas/areas
      • Helps identify what they want to find in great companies – prior year, looked at API companies, web hits
      • Uber, HotelTonight, InstaCart all connected and built on other people’s services and API – Apx conference
        • Algolia and Jason Lemkin, French company – CartaDB mapping company by API
    • Opportunistic approach for being at right place right time – relationship driven and warm intros, relationships with VCs or angels, meeting early co’s
      • Approachable, open with events
    • Exciting among B2B and enterprise, IT Infrastructure, security space (from UK to Israel)
      • Docker and container ecosystems – shift from VM to lightweight containers
      • CrowdStrike, Israeli one (country with 8mil ppl with more NASDAQ-listed companies than all of Europe, Japan and China combined)
    • Expanding industries – Ireland, Spain along with typical start-up ecosystems in Europe
    • Reads a lot of history books, Peter Akroyd, classics for Crossing the Chasm – scaling enterprise software companies
    • Favorite blog – lots of Medium articles, but “The Morning Paper” for science explained simply
    • Favorite founder for Will at Deliveroo – sheer willpower
  • Farbood Nivi, CEO cofounder of Coinmine (Lindzanity 9/25/19)
    blockfipluscoinmine-768x512

    • First time on show was in April with BTC at $5k
    • Randomly taking an Ambien or Adderall
    • Coinmine – automating financial world, interoperable mining whatever exchanges to BTC at best rate
      • Handshake mining parallel DNS
      • Facebook and Shopify as the 2 main consumer markets – Shopify makes it so easy, Facebook – he said he’d give $1mil / month
        • Instagram is too good as a physical product and sharing
    • OpenSource wins because of practical revolution – F500 can use them for better software for 200 less engineers
      • All big tech contributes to open source community
    • Original Linux administration / system admin predicting 8th and 9th layers of internet
      • First 4 layers (OSI model) – data and physical layers, wiring, packets, buildings
        • Customers were academics, companies were Cisco, IBM, Deck winners
      • Internet portion – apps, websites are layers 5 through 7
        • Users, session, front end application layers
        • Businesses and eventually went personal
          • IBM, Apple as winners of business chunk (hardware, software, services)
      • 8th layer is finance, 9th layer is governance
        • First protocol was Bitcoin for finance – first solution for this layer
        • Discussion of governance – open protocol (vs closed protocol of army owning / developing it in the first place)
      • Tezos – really defined governance model, for instance
    • Citizen tech for 8th and 9th layers – replacing a functional piece of society with Bitcoin participation
    • What could go wrong? Gutenberg press as example – people sharing nasty things vs lead to Renaissance, Enlightenment
    • Framework that captures societal level – sovereign individual (too big a word, book was good) – citizen / societal
    • Problem with money being pushed in, formal understanding (YC as a factory, don’t leave the machine)
    • Act like the CEO – service worker, just managing people above and below, provide services to entrepreneurs
      • Need to get out and have epiphanies by traveling or face-to-face with people

What’s Important for the Business (Notes from Sep. 16 – 22, 2019) November 5, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, training, Uncategorized.
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Ah, the art of learning. What can you absorb in the time that you allotted? Hopefully it was the good stuff, the one you can apply and remember. We’re not going to retain it all – far from it. Different surveys and studies will say between 10-30%, depending if you’re reading, listening, seeing things. Repetition, talking about details or applying what you’re picking up can improve those numbers – and it’s why there is still a ton of money being raised/made on improving it (Blinkist, Anki, Quizlet, rise of audio books and podcasts). This is all without bringing in the idea that the internet has allowed such a flood of ideas that opposing ones can exist simultaneously, persisting through its strong supporters. So, if you’re not doing research and coming to your own conclusion, it’s likely to be lead to whichever way you resonate with someone/something most (or first).

In reading through Constellation Software President’s letters to shareholders, you see a valiant attempt at conveying how he, executives and board members looked at the business health for the year – and refreshingly so, not explicitly through rose-tinted glasses. He critiques and suggests an option that reversion to the mean is possible based on a lower adjusted net income and cash flow from operating activities per share. Then he went through the shareholders returns on invested capital, average invested capital, and questioned the organic net revenue growth’s performance (as he notes that this is a primary core to the main metric for their performance: ROIC+OGr). Once he goes through the metric and it’s cash flow, he mentions that they’re looking to increase acquisitions, but the environment isn’t conducive to great values, so FCF may not be fully invested at attractive levels for the future. Then, he suggests a metric to cover this with a reasonable pattern, one less subject to shareholder alterations. Open to suggestions while he develops the reasoning for what another member has suggested for a good metric, he settles on FCF increase per share compared to average net income per share.

I loved his breakdown for the shareholders – mentioning half the shares trade for the year. He breaks it down simply as short-term, indexers, enterprising investors (including institutional, but also generally long-term, long-haul holders). He openly asks them to help find directors and members of the board and the difficulty that they saw initially after their IPO. The next paragraph was a big one, so I’ll include it:

Qualified and competent Directors are very rare, and not surprisingly, the track record of most boards is awful. According to the 2017 Hendrik Bessembinder study of approximately 26,000 stocks in the CRSP database, only 4% of the stocks generated all of the stock market’s return in excess of one-month T-Bills during the last 90 years. The other 96% of the stocks generated, in aggregate, the T-bill rate over that period. This means that 4% of boards oversaw all the long-term wealth creation by markets during that period. Even more disturbing, the boards for over 50% of public companies saw their businesses generate negative returns during their entire existence as public companies.

Wow. A) The recognition of wanting to be the best and provide a great board of directors for a long-time and B) genuine concern for the long-term view and suspicion of complacency arising. Both, I’d imagine, lead him to mention that vision / strategy are not necessarily courses of action – instead, perpetual objectives as the guiding point. Whether that’s seeking them out or maintaining what they had, he made sure it was top of mind. He sees that profitable VMS businesses may no longer come to be acquirable, and that he’s on the lookout for other opportunities – without them being attractive, though, he’d responsibly return FCF to investors.

Interestingly, he looked for Constellation to be devoid of “sycophants, mercenaries and spin-doctors” and wanted it to be a place where meritocratic results bring in “entrepreneurs and corporate refugees to invest their lives and and their capital and thrive”. Quite the statement for a business of such magnitude, when, especially from the outside, many succumb to the former (hell, take a look at Tech Twitter these days and a complaint I’ve had is that people seem to be comfortable bouncing between 2-3 companies a year for 5, 8. 10+ years). I’d love to build something that sustained a drive through many levels of employees.

“I find there is no magic to managing and leading. If you are smart, work harder… treat people fairly, do not ask them to do anything would not or have not done, share the credit, keep learning and keep teaching, then pretty soon you have followers. If you make sure that the team members are energetic, intelligent, and ethical people….”

Yup. That’s the way to build a company. Find that and hold on. And then he finalizes with the board requirements (which I’ll include at the bottom).

Hope you enjoy the notes this week.

  • Mike Strasser (@mstrasser), Motiv ring founder (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about the ring and how he knew the wearable would work
  • Lee Thompson (@flashpacklee), Flashpack founder, Marketing on a Budget (Wharton XM)
    flash_pack_logo_block-1

    • Photo journalist for 15 years
    • Talking about creating a brand through pictures, story-boarding, ethos of brand
    • If you can’t tell what your hook / pitch is, probably won’t sell
    • Went on first date with his now-wife from Match, wouldn’t tell him a great business idea
      • Post-wine glasses, she had a business idea for 30+ year olds wanting to travel – friends having too much of a family/kids
      • Adventure travel company for solo travelers in 30s and 40s, not tours via bus and such
      • Next few dates were researching travel industry, setting up a business
    • Book trip as solo traveler, then have others that you are meeting everyone else
      • Boutique hotels, price points established and like-minded – typically well off in careers, cash-rich
    • Launched with $15k each, savings and jumped in
      • Nobody would spend $1k+ on trips for a company that had no reviews
      • Generated a lot of PR, did a lot of viral videos by responding to twitter hashtags
      • Spent on Google ads and lost lots of money – built the website
    • Took a trip to Egypt on a budget, “come to Jesus moment”
      • If I can get on top of that and take a picture (Christ the Redeemer picture of a workman doing damage repair)
      • Wanted to take a picture on top and took a selfie
  • Mehrdad Baghai, Alchemy Growth cofounder & CEO (Mastering Innovation)
    the-alchemy-of-growth-full-1-638

    • Boutique strategy advisory firm advising large companies on innovation strategies
    • Designing organization architecture for growth, 5-10 years
    • Active investor in tech and p/e spaces with Macquarie Group
    • Former partner at McKinsey leading Growth Practice and then 3 years as Exec Dir at CSIR, Australia’s national science agency
      • Dozens of new tech companies
    • Also launched High Resolves with his wife, Roya, in 2005
  • Fred Destin (@fdestin), GP at Accel (20min VC 1/18/16)
    logos_master_accel

    • Former partner at Atlas Venture working with Zoopla (public), Secret Escapes, Integral Ad Science, Dailymotion (acq by Orange), PriceMinister (acq by Rakuten)
    • Studied life as derivatives at Goldman Sachs, first team on credit derivatives
      • Securitization of movie rights, derivatives in Pacific region for about 7 years
      • Opted out when it went from risk hedging to arbitrages
    • Moved to Speed Ventures for investing at really early seed
    • Spending a lot of time hiring the best 1-10 executives because you can’t spend time getting this wrong
      • Take a model that worked in 1 city (like Deliveroo), scaling it to 30+ and got there in under 3 years old
        • Fit consumer model and offering for the ones – brought new kinds of service to non-delivery food
      • Seed companies failing because you hire something you don’t understand – wrong team kills the team
        • Second mistake – overestimating the things you can do in the time – reality doesn’t match
    • Setting arbitrary goals for not being worthy of being funded – most companies run out of money or come close, being patient and empathetic with founders
    • Investors need mental plasticity for adjusting expectations on what to best deliver
    • Founders feeling screwed over because it was never possible for them to communicate the right decisions being made
      • Mix of market difficulty or overambitious of timing – how to improve intimacy and mutual trust
    • He likes to spend 3-6 months knowing founders – wants to do strategic sessions, whiteboard issues how you would solve it – discovery and disagree
      • Can work through disagreements, see how people work collaboratively
      • Engineer a situation of tension – hiring / decision made, create it to see pushback
      • Could we do an 8 hour wine test / road test – can we banter and have a pleasant time being together (Boston to Montreal, London to South of France)
    • Needs to ensure performance and milestones, sounding board, interest of company / employees / customers and investor with fiduciary standards
      • Had to tell guys at Real3D and say that they couldn’t invest – told them early, though
      • Mentioned Boston VC that said he’s said “No” so often that he just fizzles out – Fred said he tries to give constructive feedback but not always
        • He used to send very detailed No emails but would receive replies about not understanding opportunity and pushback – called stupid or not getting it
        • Now he responds with “Busy with other opportunities”, but sometimes he has things fall through the cracks
    • Favorite book: Mastering Margarita, missing and saying No to successful opportunities – doesn’t rue or look back like that because portfolio co’s do well enough
      • Success measure – how long it takes for knowing (16 years for him), took 10-12 for success as investor
    • Wasn’t super excited about returning to London but was pleasantly surprised about how vibrant it was – still US is more tolerant about money and quicker pace
      • Competitors share, acquisitions are faster – Accel moves fast so it’s advantageous but not overall
      • Boston wants to import the well of technical talent and ML – hubs working together in Europe will improve it
  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon
    • Episode 7: Michael Collins: Third Man
      • Command module pilot for the mission
      • Test pilot before being selected as an astronaut – 90% luck he landed in that role
      • Someone wrote to Eisenhower that the best option for selection for astronauts would be experimental test pilots because apt to new scenarios and flight
        • Compared to deep sea divers or others
      • Collins had been turned down the first time to supplement that first 7 – after a year of more experience, selected in class of 1963 with Aldrin
        • First flight was 1966 on Gemini X, rendezvous and docking maneuvers
        • Once LEO Gemini flights were successful, Apollo XI was announced in January 1969
        • July 16, 1969 – launch sequence day – was responsible for launching lunar module to turn it around from Saturn V rocket
      • Was an English major and just did guidance verbs/nouns memorization to control it
      • As they neared moon, they were on far side and lost contact with Houston
        • Takes back everything bad he ever said about MIT – accuracy of system was ridiculous, 3000 ft/s and only had 0.1 ft/s in any one direction error
        • If something went wrong for landing lunar module, Michael couldn’t change his speed but it’d be up to him to figure out what to do
        • Mathematicians were responsible for coming up with a list of 18 variations for problems and what to do – some they hadn’t trained for
      • He felt alone, awareness of being on the other side of the moon, solo after Aldrin and Armstrong picked up speed on their way down

 

CSI Board Role Search Criteria
THE ROLE
Thought Partner – Thought partner for senior leadership.
Long-term Orientation – Unfazed by short term pressure. Focused on CSI’s long-term issues.
Timeframe – Able to serve on the board for 20+ years.
Investment in CSI – Willing to make a significant equity investment in CSI, above and beyond board comp.
THE CANDIDATE
High Quality Business – Understands what constitutes a high quality business.
Autonomy -Appreciates the motivational power of autonomy, decentralisation.
Cultural Fit – Respects and gets along with the current senior CSI management as well as the board.
Ownership – Believes in the motivational power of equity ownership.
High Impact / Low Ego – Will intervene when necessary, contribute meaningfully, but not dominate discourse.
Out of Kitchen – Can resist the urge to get into the kitchen when there’s a chef already in there.
EXPERIENCE
Builder – Helped build or maintain (as a director, manager or major shareholder) a large
organisation (>1000 employees) over an extended period, while providing a superior
return to owners (ideally including employee owners).
Decentralized – Experience with a decentralised company (nice, not necessary).
Capital Allocation – Experience in a capital allocation role (nice, not necessary).
LIKELY BACKGROUND
Family owned business operator or director.
CEO / #2 for exceptional business.
Entrepreneur
SEARCH PATHS
Multi-generational family owned businesses with high ROIC within reach of our
network and ideally local to CSI (increases involvement, eases reference checks, more
likely to know CSI, decreases absenteeism).
High quality businesses with strong shareholder alignment.
Great capital allocators in the corporate world.
CEOs with great shareholder letters and high quality businesses.

Unapologetic You (Notes from Sep 9 – 15, 2019) October 25, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Every Sunday morning comes in The Profile newsletter to my inbox. It’s a great collection of what drew her eye on the week that focuses on profiles for individuals, good, bad, successful, unsuccessful, notorious, secretive, dangerous and generally people of all ilk. They’re almost all interesting, some more so than others. But yesterday, it caught my eye when Polina introduced the newsletter about her personal experience growing up and the first convention of being different. In reading it, I could see a bit of the problems and commonalities in many students I have seen over the years. And more than that – the ones who I’ve had the most enjoyment in teaching – were those that were unapologetic about who they are.

Many, as kids, were still working through it, but they were questioning the very thing Polina had described. And that’s of increasing importance as we get larger and larger webs of interconnected communities. The aggregate and the averages tell us how we should be or what you’re expected to score and how you fit relative to the rest. Rarely, if ever, does the crowd define any/every individual, though. The sooner we can all wrestle with that concept, the more comfortable we should be. Starting and doing a newsletter, for instance, should be as simple as writing what interests you. Yes, as it resonates and draws others in, there may be some curation to optimize what you decide to make it. And further, it’s probably good form to have some consistency in producing it (frequency/length/formatting) but that’s up to you, the individual.

I’d like to think that people want real, genuine thoughts, and less gimmicky writing. As an aside, that doesn’t mean people don’t consume if it’s not genuine – I just would venture that as soon as you break the mold on what APPEARS real (if actually not) would cause an uproar – as we see via YouTubers/Twitch streamers and even in some blog/vlog stuff. An act that is an act has an end, but an audience doesn’t then know what it’s getting. People don’t typically like change if it’s different, even if it may be “better”.

The best part of all of this? You get to choose what you want to do. Make the decision that makes you happiest and assess the aspects of your life that don’t. From there, create and prioritize how you may make the changes that lead you in that direction.

There are many people that I listened to over the course of this week.

  • Jen Stirrup (@jenstirrup), Data Whisperer  & created consulting Data Relish (Data Skeptic 9/6/19)
    ggkl0ilv_400x400

    • Deploying data science and impacting businesses
    • Last mile of analytics problem – interesting work and how to finalize to take to production
    • Cleaning data properly, putting data into dashboards for proper business intelligence – how long does it take to get to reports?
      • When you get reports, how long is your time to question (vs time to answer)?
    • She takes them a health check and tries to check out where they are vs where they should be
      • How clean is data, what are the real problems
    • Microsoft doing ML Ops and how it can fit into support, how to look after something when it’s gone live
      • Humans don’t want to appear stupid, so they want to be correct before starting
      • Start with end in mine: what are you trying to do?
      • Think about quality of data: still sees bad, missing data, incomplete data and things that they don’t use
    • ML Ops examples of solutions – email management, how do you manage it
      • Program can reach the end bound email, what it can do with the email (cs dept with automated service and pass hard emails to people)
    • Good customer success can be a chat bot – limited and what it can do but proper
      • Easing productivity issues – maybe tell me your phone number or putting in information to the chatbot to the crm
      • More and more requests for serverless technologies – spoke to university about container technology
        • Research can give the container with the paper and give to someone else to validate it
        • REST APIs or serverless or others can glaze over eyes if talking to business but others, early adopters, jump on it
  • Natalie Hampton, Founder/CEO of Sit With Us, Inc (Wharton XM)
    57d6e66a1300002a0039b71a

    • Talking about not having any background in coding, her art teacher pushed her to pursue it
      • Wanted to build the app and just found people/classes
      • Bullied and her art teacher was the one who would keep her door open for her
    • Pledge to use the app – figure out that adults were using the app, as well
      • Good for conferences, schools, colleges, workplaces

 

 

  • Henry Ward (@henrysward), founder & CEO of Carta (20min VC 4/12/19)
    carta

    • Carta helping private, public cos and investors manage cap tables, investments, and equity plans
      • $147mln in funding from K9, USV, Spark and Meritech
    • Originally tried a version of Wealthfront and Betterment called SecondSite – never got off the ground
      • Met Manu, who introduced problem for financing infrastructure easily in private companies, providing liquidity and power
      • Noticing executive half-life of about 18 months (say, $20mln – $70mln – then again from $70-200)
        • Companies scaling from 150 to 500 and then after that
      • People scaling linearly but companies scale exponentially
        • If an exec isn’t scaling, they don’t say “Let’s hire a VP of FP&A to support execs weaknesses” but instead “Let’s replace CFO”
        • Why is it true? – Any particular problem in scaling a company, can find someone that’s done it before.
          • Founder is keeper of the mission – can’t replace that but job changes a lot more
            • Smaller, personal relationships and people understood him for best intentions (but he’s a gunslinger and off-the-cuff)
            • Less mulligans for him as they’re larger now – Jeff Lawson at Twilio had ran into someone for printed t-shirts and Jeff said “not a fan of color”
          • His job becomes very specialized – story for employees, candidates, investors and press; 2 – right execs in right place
    • Was sole decision maker in early stage and he still is but he said it was a liability
      • Fewer day-to-day decisions to make but it matters more that they get it right and understand the context
    • Investors thinking of markets in terms of size / how big could it be / what’s competitive advantage
      • Happy going after conventionally small sizes but he looks for 1 of n – microstructure economics / territory will support multiple competitors
        • If you win market, creates a defensive ability and that’s n of 1 – 1 platform (as ‘small’ cap tables)
        • By owning a market of 1, you have the platform to dominate others
          • Markets were too small – any market would run out of oxygen, so you need an org that can go further in places
        • Data network effects could block all other entrants
      1. Have to be n of 1 market
      2. Have to have a business model that creates n of 1
      3. Needs innovation on customer acquisition model to quickly take over market share
    • In b2b – do you have a product that gives entry to commercial businesses?
      • Product and technology advantage are short-lived – best companies own lines of distribution, not great products repeatedly
      • Can go acquire great products and push them through distribution – both through M&A and through manufacturing
    • Their biggest issue – tying all pieces of network together – 10k companies, 400 a month acquired, distribution to vc – managing electronic stock
      • Law firms are power users of product but don’t have product that tie them all together – linearly
    • They love services markets adjacent to what they do – commodity product differentiated by brand – funded administration, for instance – 4-9a analysts
      • Paired a product team behind services group so the 4-9a runs at 70% margins – automate them to software
    • Goal of R&D is how much value can you provide – go build it, otherwise they won’t
      • Of value created, how much can be extracted – like keeping them as independent variables (when to extract)
        • Early stage, add ton of value and then deliberately say they don’t want to extract much – leave a lot of consumer surplus
        • Investor products: want to extract a lot of value but provide a lot of value and change these decisions (as markets mature, get larger)
    • Favorite book: Essays of Warren Buffett
    • Economic discrepancy is enormous and how to bring wealth to more people – Carta mission for more owners
    • Keeping investors up to date monthly and they love getting board members involved in the company (especially when they have 100 investors)
      • Meeting with VPs or execs to do weekly meetings of sorts
  • Joe Banner, President & CEO for Browns, Eagles (Wharton Moneyball)
    • Discussing needing to find udfa at a time when it wasn’t sexy – needed talent, and cheap
      • Only had 5 draft picks, late rounds mostly but had to fill a roster of 22 more
      • Brought in all of the undrafted free agents and eventually had 20% playing, few starting also
    • Making sure to prioritize talent over anything, not overvaluing high draft picks
    • Culture of change with placing a system around high valued guys who others thought were low value
  • Alina Trigubenko, Founder & CEO of Awarenow (Wharton XM)
    awarenow

    • Holistic and integrative nutrition
    • Corporate and enterprise customers – consumers within those that will do it
    • Calm / Headspace – next level and how
  • Shawn Burcham (@PFSbrands1), PFS founder, Open Book Management (Wharton XM)
    pfsbrandsonlylogo_hompage_2018

    • Being from the midwest and going to Tanzania for farmers
    • Keeps open books, shares with employees, prices with farmers
      • Has 60% more return for farmers and will even return cash (after being above fair price and world commodity)
    • Daughters played on same soccer team as John Sacks – read the book and was interested in changing to open book
  • Tim Chen (@timchen82), CEO of NerdWallet (Leadership in Action – Wharton XM)
    nw-default_og-image

    • Going through board – including AMEX former CEO, Jim (both from Series A investors)
      • Board as governance body, weakness on exec team, okay with level of risk
    • Initially believed he had to be smartest in the room but quickly realized the organization had to be working together
      • Have to switch mindset from point guard to coach – from Dalio
      • Investment committee – reasoning behind requests and resources, exec team reads through it and approves or not
      • Executive team depends and changes over time, common for product dev
        • Marketing, Product, Design, Legal, Eng, People, Content Heads
        • Monitoring (leading exec team similar to parenting) – irrelevant for what you say, but seeing what you do is the arbiter of what’s going on
          • Rewarding and punishing as consistent or constructive
        • Culture for what is okay and what is not, role of hiring and inspiring an adequate team to grow company
          • Maybe they don’t have right network for company, maybe can’t inspire
        • Have to be technically proficient in their space
    • Went from very niche product to being widely known once they started covering nearly all financial products consumers cared
    • Seeing around corners to bring himself and the org up the hill and grow
      • Surrounding himself with execs and others, getting named one of Top Workplaces in 2019
  • Adam Davis, CRO at Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment (Wharton XM)
    unknown-4

    • Discussing on-ice and on-court revenue for Devils and Prudential Center
    • Coming and expanding Prudential Center into what it is now – leading entertainment center
    • Up to 49 concerts recently, more than Devils games
      • Data driving who wants to go to games, concerts and how that can be used to improve experience
  • Rare as One Project, CDCN, Dr. David Fajgenbaum (Wharton XM)
    logo-1

    • Partnering with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
    • Collective network and how do you widely adopt principles for other diseases
    • Partnerships with hospitals / care providers
    • Having a different background between Penn and medicine, MBA – not great for those that don’t have 5+ years
  • Nick Johnson (@NLJ1), Principal at Applico (Wharton XM)
    applico_company_logo

    • Author of Modern Monopolies
    • Discussion of platform businesses and linear – trying to combine
    • Encouraging linear businesses to, where applicable, try to get into platform business – didn’t provide any concrete details how
    • 3-5 strategies compared to 5-7, where hard for CEO and board to stay the course without “being 1% of 1% of CEOs”
    • Seemed to only mention Amazon, Airbnb, Walmart, Alibaba, ebay
  • Kulveer Taggar, founder & CEO of Zeus Living (20min VC 5/31/19)
    volcp38g_400x400

    • Raised $14mn from Initialized, NFX, Floodgate, YC, GV and Naval Ravikant
    • Co-founded Auctomatic with Stripe’s Patrick Collison and sold for $5mn
    • Angel investments include Boom, Airhelp, Meetings.io
    • Went to work at Deustche Bank and had a friend who had started a company at 15 selling computers, went to uni and offered a PR role
      • Eyes open to entrepreneurship and SV tech start-ups, just before finals got to come to Bay Area and Google office
      • Cofounder Joe was moving from SF to Palo Alto because his wife got residency – took weeks to try to get home rented out
      • What would be the UX quantum leap for your problem? Joe’s problem sparked the idea
    • Go to website, type address for your home and it gives you a price – you hit rent
      • Inspired by Opendoor, Stripe’s 7 lines taking payments, lot more rental data
        • Offer to sign lease with homeowner, gain data and solve the problem on demand side
    • All being impatient and learned that long-term horizons could’ve been better after hearing Zuckerberg/Bezos
      • Being intentional with culture – lot of fun – 5 guys in 2 br apartment where things may have gotten too far
      • Create collaborative environment
    • When you rewrite code, have to redo processes as well in tech-enabled
      • Acquiring and creating physical things – David Han at Instacart said thinking about output
        • Surface area of inputs: Zeus has to be good at many things
          • ID R/E, Pricing, Assessing, Designing, Furnishing, Marketing, Awesome CX, Marketplace matching
        • Then, you can get the output
    • Garry as having a conviction quickly – sees something that can change and invests quickly
      • CoinBase – liquidity crunch and he wired money instantly and is supportive
    • YC had an experiment funding teams w/o ideas – did it with Srinivas who’d done it
      • Got a check w/o any idea (had done YC in 2007) and YC had scaled a lot
      • NFC technology – was too early for scaling pmf and got into NFX with status app – status on your phone
      • Felt like he’d spent 3-4 years of working on stuff and hadn’t gotten anywhere – taking market risk with what you’re building
        • Instead, create a list of top 20 things by $ amount spent
        • List of top 20 things by $ amount frequency
      • If you have to ask whether you have PMF, you don’t – yanking your head forward with your nose, for instance
    • Did 6 weeks of data experiments, conversions tests, 6 weeks of qualitative research talking to users, investors and r/e
      • After 2 months of diligence and testing, partner at NFX sent him a test: In 6 weeks, get 10 homes on your market.
        • What’s margin structure, is there a market? Strangers controlling home.
      • Took about 4-5 months
    • Vulnerability strengthened his leadership, can’t be perfect CEO with all answers – motivated to go for culture
      • Once a quarter off-sites, “if you really knew me…” building stronger connections, team bonding
      • Work is where you have your professional self and you bring your whole self, manifests in itself
    • Fav book: Midnight’s Children – historical fiction with India told; How The Mind Works by Pinker
    • Change the bragging culture in tech – raised this much, vanity metrics and being counterproductive – not open or genuine
    • Running into a bottleneck will use software to break through – automate something that may have been manual processes
  • Michele Romanow, Founder & CEO at Clearbanc (20min VC 5/10/19)
    • Wants to spend $1bn in 2000 companies for access to capital
    • Founded SnapSaves, mobile savings platform acquired by Groupon and before that, Buytopia, one of Canada’s top ecommerce sites with 2.5mn
    • Engineering, started a coffee shop on campus
      • Figured out worldwide supply sturgeon caviar was down by 95% due to overfishing Caspian Sea – built to east coast for fishery
      • Chefs couldn’t get product, so they had a ton of buyers – giant recession in 08 as 21 yr old in luxury good space
        • Went to ecommerce space, didn’t raise funding, bought 10 competitors – controlled CAC and low
    • Canada’s Shark Tank – Dragon’s Den – do 17 days of filming back-to-back, see 200 startups
      • Had a father and son who wanted $100k for 25% equity – really needed $100k but realized she could do different deal
        • Wanted to see Facebook ad account to make sure ROAS was what it was
        • Companies spending a ton on early CAC
      • Estimate that 40% of VC dollars go to Facebook and Google ad spend and marketing
    • Works for positive unit economics and spending a lot of CAC – any ecommerce company, 70-90% spend cash
      • Subscription boxes, consumer apps/subs, b2b box even – can fund it for way less
    • Data science time has to be very good – not lottery tickets, 6% is ideal for them
    • VC as true risk capital – 0 to 1 risk, crazy piece of AI, solving disease, then it makes sense
      • If you know channels are working and repeatable, should be able to get capital
      • Comparison of Gates at Microsoft IPO or Lyft (50% ownership vs 3%)
      • Just celebrating when founders give up control / piece of company
        • Milestones for products, hitting 1mln users, etc…
        • Funding
  • Antonio Garcia Martinez, author of Chaos Monkeys (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
    • Comparison of Seattle and SF and NY
      • SF being loud, Seattle being quiet but not necessarily huge, NY has less loud but big
    • Good mixture of deciding where to be

Inference Isn’t Just the Data (Notes from Sep 2 to Sep 8, 2019) October 14, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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Internet has enabled more data, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for most. I’ve seen this for all ages – somehow, this deluge of information provides a glut where, instead of doing more research (because more is available), we seem to do less. There’s a laziness that has arisen, where the least amount of work is done because the sources are abundant. And this is problematic. And emblematic for what has transpired over the last decade with the web 2.0.

I say that it is problematic, but I do suspect it’s actually created a ton of wealth. The opportunity of doing a small amount of extra effort to sift through or provide a more nuanced/researched view in order to extract a ton more value from a wider audience is awesome. That’s never before been more evident or available to a wider group of individuals. Especially when, with nearly the world online, communities that would normally (past) not have had markets, all of a sudden have vast reach – internet enabled the connection across many neighborhoods/cities/regions/countries/continents. A magical thing for those that wish to do the research, put in a bit more work, and most importantly here, share the work for the public, at the cost of potential exposure to those that disagree or have reached a different conclusion.

I, for one, am all for this abundance. A sharing of differing opinions and agreement or stories of anecdotes allow us to bring more data into the fold. That should enhance any inference/analysis on the information brought to the table – and real applications, at that. However, like many good things, there will be a small portion of people that are bad actors or looking to just ruin the good derived from a community or topic. Also, may see plagiarism or curation that doesn’t really add anything – worse, monetizing the curation of something where the value isn’t created. For 100 people, 1 bad actor would still be 99% good. 99.9% of 10,000 people is 10 bad. That’s a fair amount, but when you have a commonality among the people where some join for the purpose of providing poor information, or unproductive data or ruin the experience for the rest, it can tear it apart. And that’s becoming harder to gauge, I’d imagine (rise of community managers and insertion of social data and other related ‘checks’ inserted).

So that I can get off this little soapbox, I wanted to bring attention to those that have so far only consumed information – please share and try to bring some new insights. It will hopefully bring in a new person that sees it – refreshing eyes can be useful on new information- we all have different experiences. And for the bad actors, hopefully there’s an end goal that does provide some value – it’s tough early on but the right communities invite opposing views to allow others to draw conclusions. Inferences aren’t merely opinion on the shallowest, easiest data to gather, but rather a collection and reflection on a set that may agree or collectively provide information to allow a deeper understanding.

Enjoy the notes I had from this week! I do suggest going through the a16z podcast 16Min on the News (for news from the week).

  • Apple Card, BEC Scams Fed (16 Minutes on the News #7, 8/25/19)
    • Became available this week – partnering with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard coated white and titanium
      • Apple moving into financial services, no typical sign-up fees or late / overdraft fees
    • Apple as reinventing existing categories repeatedly, so even changing basic stuff like making the transparency feature
      • Reminder of SMS and Innovator’s Dilemma (making money in core with new business on horizon because you’d cannibalize yourself to enter)
      • B2b2c as incentivized to grow – GS not a big consumer lending (Marcus last 2 years), but can drive growth
    • Offering 3% cash back when purchasing from Apple, 2% with Apple Pay, 1% from card – incentivizing payment mechanism
      • Interchange fee is expensive but if they become default payment mechanism, they can pivot
      • Money as emotionally driven vs functional and product – making sense in rational isn’t the move
      • Nobody wants to budget just as nobody wants to diet – instead, automate small financial decisions to help achieve better outcome
        • Self-driving money: not having to make the decisions to optimize your financial life (too high friction or don’t know about them)
    • GS with $350 to acquire customers – traditionally, credit cards have been onerous
      • Future: everyone should have access to payments via unsecuritized debt without great credit
        • People that are creditworthy with great credit scores but those that never pay bills and have bad credit
        • Overly negative in a different sense (ones that are almost wealthy that end up getting in trouble)
    • BEC scams – business email compromise
      • More than doubling each year – big deal on security
      • Sending email messages to send money – better technical systems are now just asking individuals (social eng as most effective form)
  • Ben Lorica, Chief Data Scientist at O’Reilly (Big Data Beard 8/13/19)
    268x0w

    • Future of Big Data with O’Reilly’s
    • Would take handle “5g” or something related for the future
    • Collecting, aggregating and normalizing big data now – business intelligence reports, simple averages or trends
      • What else can we do? Improve or automate processes/workflows or extract higher revenue from systems
      • Natural evolution and what are the bottlenecks for the AI / ML processes (are you early stages, models in production?)
    • Quintessential marketing for hype but developing a use case for the application
      • Tools for labeling data, data programming
      • Mentioned how to do ML with demo and user cases for interacting by Product Managers – SF O’Reilly conf
    • RPA with proper use case and proper implementation (close to the task)
      • Successful organizations have figured out how to bridge that gap – technologists with communication/collab on business side
    • On open source side, TensorFlow and PyTorch as top 2
      • Data science side – announcements about internal data science platforms to work together (share pipelines / features / models) openly
      • DataBricks, one company that he advises, also works on delivering enterprise data science platforms – IBM, cloud vendors
    • MLFlow as DataBricks’ for managing and tracking ML development life cycle
      • Monitoring alerts for retrain model, feature drift, deploy model against live data (simulating on live data but not production)
      • Model governance as tools that excite him – highly regulated industries like banking, financial services – what models and metadata
        • When was it last touched, trained, on what data, etc…
    • Managed services based on open source – managed Spark, for instance – minimal log in
      • If I have a better model but worse data, the better data should win, and that’s what drives competitive advantage
    • Big push toward hardware space – training at the edge or even model training in general – specialized hardware for accelerating DL / ML
      • More researchers working on data cleaning and data repair
      • Snorkl from Stanford researchers – easier for more people to use the product
      • Reinforcement learning – he’s most interested in UC Berkeley’s RISE Club’s REY (sp?) – distributed computation platform in C++ low latency
        • Building on top of REY as Odin – can cover 80% of Pandas, faster and other libraries
  • Frank, Chief Business Officer at Edge Sports/Analytics (Wharton XM)
  • Becky Miller, co-founder & CEO at Tinyhood (Wharton XM)
    858aeebd82f3bb14afd339eda1db

    • Wanting to connect with other supermoms and doing a community
    • Deciding to do parenting classes online and helping subscriptions
  • Josh Phifer, co-founder at Barn Owl (Wharton XM)
    barn20owl2020rgb20_stagexchange_intro20pic

    • From Wyoming / Nebraska ranching, went to Wharton
    • Starting with water sensors but wasn’t quite working or gaining traction, thought drones would work initially
    • Pivoting as they were running out of money to find a product – camera with satellite / cell connection from China sourcing
      • Bootstrapping about $175k from friends and family
    • Camera use case – all kinds of agriculture applications for checking – can send picture via app, timed or on certain amount of times
      • Solar and battery powered
    • Obsession over the problem, not marriage to a solution – feed the need
    • Initial app created with Bubble.io, introduced at Wharton – low code solution with logic programming
      • Hired on an employee – electrical systems who could help with building out full app and logistics
  • Mark Nathan, CEO of Zapari (Mastering Innovation / Wharton XM)
    • Discussion of moving from engineering, building stuff to the medicine / insurance field
    • Not necessarily working on analytics, but collecting and informing consumers and other stakeholders
    • Doesn’t foresee regulation as a hindrance, since what they’re doing isn’t predicated on that
    • Primarily started with SoCal, Medicare and getting adoption from pharmacies – assisting nurses on customer service end with their call center, ex
      • Not set up to deal with pharmacists or customers, can alleviate this and help with people fulfilling prescriptions
  • JD Long, VP of Risk Management for Renaissance Reinsurance (Data Framed #37, 8/27/18)
    renaissancere-grey

    • Starting in R stackoverflow asking questions / answers and building the community with Mark Driscoll
    • Graduated in undergrad, starting masters and asked where PhD’s were going (of Agri Econ): answers AMEX
      • Due to SAS and mainframes, UNIX, R-Cran hadn’t started
      • AMEX was explicitly recruiting in 1996 for these economists because of modeling, coding messy data, crop insurance, regression (econometrics)
    • History of cultural agricultural yields, weather and prices from before 1996 – which was agricultural crop insurance start
    • Simulate and stochastically getting a bunch of results that give you an idea of the distribution of the model
      • He does very little predicting of what may happen next year – looks at shape of distribution for the following year
      • Looking at improbable 1 in 1000 results that may be possible in that distribution
      • Book: “How to Measure Anything” – what’s the highest and lowest estimate
    • Risk vs uncertainty: Risk is understanding underlying distribution but not sure what you’ll get; Uncertainty is not knowing the distribution
      • Flipping a coin has risk – can model the probabilities if you know the coin, but uncertainty would be not knowing if the coin is loaded / biased
      • Auto insurance is type of product that is mostly risk, less uncertainty – predictable patterns, historical distributions and tail events
        • Terror events – historical categorization of events but no reason to see world events as drawing from the distribution of that
          • Unstable random geopolitical events, component of risk vs higher uncertainty
    • Reinsurance with risks that can be correlated based on underlying physical relationships, such as homeowners insurance in NYC should be correlated
      • Hurricane Sandy would be something that hits everything there
      • P&C companies with casualty claim could be connected among multiple companies
      • Legal change in framework could cause claims to increase 15% – have to understand the correlation when aggregating data
      • 2 distributions can be added or correlations using copula – artifact of some other process
        • Model data should be containing it already but this is only way to insert
    • In 3000 BCE, Babylonians had disaster contingency – loans didn’t have to be repaid if losses happened for certain events
      • Edmond Haley (Haley’s comet) created modern-style mortality table in 1693
      • Lloyd’s coffee house emerged for shipping news and buy shipping insurance (turned into Lloyds of London – marketplace now)
      • 1992 – Hurricane Andrew recharged after ripping Florida and hit Alabama and Louisiana – big catastrophe for reinsurance companies
        • Hurricane reinsurance was a gentlemen’s game – big contraction of market after Andrew, filled by crop of reinsurers in Bermuda
        • Became a quantitative analysis market after this – turning point of reinsurance, reasonable proximity for US and capital-free
    • Heuristics that make certain assumptions for the modeling of both finance, insurance
      • More effective models for sharing and coming together with actuaries, risks and methodology
      • Data science examples, actuaries methodology that would be working together (GLM combined with understanding on actuary side)
    • If asker of question made it easier on the question answerer (on example for Stack Overflow)
      • Incomplete code or maybe not syntactically right so the answerer cannot answer it properly
      • Empathy for the receivers of your opinion or problem or otherwise
      • If doing analysis to equip underwriter for a deal – what information does the underwriter need to be well-equipped for negotiating their deal
        • Influences and drives thinking of how to serve that analysis / information
    • “Hacking empathy”: from Agile development method would be User Stories
      • Hugo is a data scientist who is trying to understand X. He needs this tool to do Y so he can understand X.
        • Forces the person to do this to think about that user or other person
        • Think about who is consuming it to give nudges or reminding someone – doesn’t think that way
      • At DataCamp, how active or users or learning profiles that they are aimed at
        • Designing for average, you design for no one from podcast “99% Invisible”
        • Give target audience a name to relate to them; multidimensional space for ‘tyranny of mean’
          • If you have 3 dimensions of human body (leg length, height, hand size, arm length, etc..)
            any 3 with a small margin of error will be merely 6% of pop
    • Where is market opportunity? Met with a headhunter in space.
      • Deep learning and AI for media and ink spill – interesting and have potential for revolutionary changes.
      • Former guest Jenny Bryan who talked of attempting to get people out of Excel – massive movement there, he believes
    • If we don’t ask “Does our analysis change the outcome?”, we can do infinite analysis since it’s all that we don’t know
      • Never drive organization. Leaders should have candid conversations about if the research is going to change the answer of the decisions.
        • If it’s a no – why put resources toward it?
        • What’s the next best simplest alternative? Not comparing to doing nothing.
          • Deploying a complicated model should be compared to old forecasting method or cheaper, faster one. Is the added complexity worth it?
      • Hugo tells them to deploy basic baseline model, do 20 min of EDA and try to make own prediction. Then test the models against that.
        • In public policy, effectiveness isn’t against doing nothing, it’s the next best. Benchmarks are too often done at base.
        • “Plot your damn data”
  • Matt Lieber, cofounder & President of Gimlet Media (20min VC FF030 1/15/16)
    gimlet-and-spotify

    • Produced radio shows Fair Game and On Point, worked as a management consultant at BCG
    • Radio producer was his lifelong dream after being a radio head growing up
    • Met Alex Bloomberg after his MBA and consulting, who is the cofounder – left to go learn business side
      • Distribution to big audience, too many gatekeepers, market-by-market he had to go to program directors to pick up the show
      • Exciting thing, creative, ambitious work was happening there
    • Constraint breeding creativity – raising a series A
      • Had launched 3 or 4 shows in first year, scaling to some audiences and had worked
      • Revenue from start, ads in the beginning – VCs didn’t want to hear about those
      • Believed they could self-fund through profits, growth with revenues – don’t need to dilute, maintain control
        • Would need to build up the company after building some shows
    • Keeping small culture – fairly strong but not explicitly communicating it yet
      • Behavior of leadership and design of signs – started Gimlet Guides around 25 employees for onboarding
        • Gimlet Guides are the mentors for establishing new employee onboarding – lunch once a month, questions
    • Wanted to get a partner for VC who was aligned with the vision, experience investing in media for different return timelines and dynamics
      • Sea of change of how a whole generation will consume radio and shows
      • Simplest, direct way for market – size of radio ($18bn+ in US in advertising alone) – digital for mobile media market
        • Consumption shifting to mobile – advertisement doesn’t work (Gimlet is ~80% mobile)
    • Deciding how to make new shows? Question from someone
      • Mentioned “Surprisingly Awesome” – people want to be entertained and learn something, recent ep was interest rates and economy
      • Teamed up with Adam McKay and Adam Davidson for it
      • Learning, listen and come away with some understanding, a host to connect with and is there a narrative
    • Mystery Show, Reply All, Startup and Surprisingly Awesome are all the biggest shows
    • Favorite book: Great Plains by Ian Frasier, didn’t have an emulator
    • Challenging aspect of creating it: scaling editorial where you create a system to grow and teach editorial material
    • Most excited about the next shows – this case, a podcast about podcasts called Sampler
    • Best advice: Be nice.
  • Abhinav Asthana, Founder of Postman (Wharton XM)
    postman

    • Talking about why he loved building more than what he had done previously
    • Community for that

Fostering a Community (Notes from Aug 26 – Sep 1, 2019) September 23, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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What a crazy couple of weeks! And it’s not likely to slow – I’ll give some more information behind that very shortly. Exciting new things on the horizon, though – and ones I’ll be proud to announce when I can. August provided a lot of clarity in direction – good because it wasn’t exactly restful.

I mentioned it in last week’s post, as well, but I’ve been hyper-aware of the people around me interacting, enjoying and laughing over commonalities. It’s at every level, though I peruse coffee shops far more often than other places. Interesting stories are almost expected. If you refer to my reading list, you’ll notice a new one, Dignity. As part of a book club, I was hesitant and unsure when it took the lead because of the topic – primarily drugs/poverty/downtrodden/unlucky collection as reported, but halfway through I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much perspective Chris provides. I can’t help but draw that fixture of everyone has their own experiences that provide the lens through which we draw conclusions on everything else. Endless and it’s very tough to remove ourselves or step back – especially with things we’re unfamiliar with.

Ultimately, though, everyone wants to share their experiences with others – whether it’s some depth of despair, depression or building a community, religion, or hiring employees to work with or spending time for fun and adventure. We’re human. We spend time with other humans. There’s a reason we’ve survived this long in groups and why the solo artists end up in peril – this is completely generalized but in MY experience, I’d say I see a truth in this.

Kate Shillo, Director at Galvanize, mentioned her journey for Martha Stewart’s media company to Galvanize where they help businesses grow with their people. Morgan Dunbar, at Bendigo Partners, discussed his involvement in AIR – summit and conference for sharing ideas/businesses for financial services to hopefully rise all boats, as they say. Mike Vernal, at Sequoia Capital, went through how Facebook’s earlier years helped him with approaching problems and the finality of decisions – what they’ve fostered for the boards he is now a member of. He tries to understand the start-up and the founders view of the problem after a quick determination of if they know the idea enough. Others, which I only caught pieces of, had similar views.

I hope your community, whatever that may be, is productive and positive – helping you gain what you’d prefer from it.

  • Kate Shillo (@kshillo), Director at Galvanize Ventures (20min VC 1/13/16)
    gavalize-logo

    • Investing in hardware and future of IoT
    • Got an interview with Martha Stewart’s Omni Media and she was temping for her – living in NYC 2007
      • Would have an idea in her company – create, build & continue w/ mini incubators
      • She wishes Marthapedia was made – hasn’t done it yet
    • Wasn’t quite stimulated enough in 2007, she quit and bought a surfboard – 6 months later she was back in NYC
      • Had met Kenny Lerer (around in interviews) – met before Martha with an internet newspaper (Huff Post)
      • Took a huge pay cut to do some research on other startups as Kenny was on the chair for Huffington Post (~30 employees)
        • He was chair at Betaworks at that time, too
      • She was the human tester for Betaworks (only other one to test)
      • Helped launch Ken Lerer Ventures (Lerer Hippeau Ventures) as formalizing process for his angel investing
    • Help of having Huffington Post (sold in 2011) as starting propelled them into NYC market – unheard of at the time
      • Market down, nobody investing in seed – writing small checks at Lerer “Go by Betaworks and Lerer Ventures is there”
      • First content investment was Food 52
      • Consumer tech pics – paperless post, Warby Parker, Bottle Bar, BarkBox
    • Galvanize (continuous learning – helping businesses and their business grow – new archetype in higher ed)
      • Galvanize Ventures with 3 partners – all of elements to provide their startups
      • Early stage – small, idea from pre-seed to series A (seed process), reserving for follow-ons
      • Small markets like ATX, PHX, SLC to get in – coaching co’s along the way
    • 48 investments in 2 years
      • Consumer mobile-heavy so far, her excitement in hardware – starting in 2014 was IoT hotbed
    • Crowdfunding as a bit of advertising, validating customer interaction and capital as gravy – her opinion
      • Shipping product is usually a hurdle – many people don’t want to invest without seeing this
      • Reflecting on Lerer investments – seeing market share of her old portfolio companies
    • Size of fund is $10.2 mln, $100k checks for pre-seed, seed and series A – get priced out for series A
    • Favorite book: God of Small Things, misconception for VC: that it’s easy (no control for company sometimes but exciting when it works)
      • Sourcing vs existing portfolio co’s helping
    • Favorite apps: Moment app, Twodots (betaworks), Slash, Sunrise calendar, Pant, Wildcard and Venmo at the time
    • Recent investment: msg.ai empowering brands for messaging platforms ecommerce
  • Morgan Dunbar, partner at Bendigo Partners (FYI 8/5/19)
    86aeb71777442ba0eadc52ed226d20ee

    • Capital Market Space within FinTech as principal investors
    • Was mostly on sell-side for analytics on portfolio construction – with Citi Group in Tokyo in 2009 running Japanese equities
    • Bendigo – early stage fintech companies with bias on capital markets, retail, middle and back office
      • Advisor practice with institutional, private equity, large enterprise in capital marketers
      • Transaction advisory, operational consulting and strategy around fintech ecosystem
    • Bill Stevenson partner on AIR Summit – 2013 creation for invitation-only for senior buy/sell-side pros to discuss high-level themes
      • Alpha Innovation Required (AIR) – invite ~20 emerging fintech cos to speak to a use case for front office (alpha generative)
    • Traditional VCs have a fundamental lack of operational understanding in capital markets
      • Secondly, long sales cycle in businesses – thousands at enterprise level vs millions in consumer
      • Regulatory that can be scary without expertise
    • Artificial Intelligence as just replicating a process (as opposed to intelligent)
      • AIR focusing on people, organization, talent and cultural alpha
      • Tradition, trust, not new – center for innovation and trying to do something, be empowered for innovation and development
    • Google pushing into asset management other than cloud, data and analytics
      • Asset managers may start looking at Google like Bloomberg – help build portfolios, vendors to tap for alpha
    • If buy-side problem, then sell-side has a problem, fee compression (growth of passive) – active vs passive (value for performance)
      • Robos (whether or not they’re worth valuations) validated demographics looking for low-cost access with simple UI and intuitive
  • Mike Vernal (@mvernal), Partner at Sequoia Capital (20min VC 8/26/19)
    sequoia

    • Citizen, rideOS, Rockset, Threads & Houseparty board
    • Spent 8 years at Facebook as VP of Product
    • Sequoia – Brian, led A to join board for his roommate’s company and his former PM at Microsoft started a co in 2009 and Brian joined
      • Joined Scouts program early on
      • Had first child a week prior to 8 years at Facebook, took paternity leave to reflect
    • Really enjoyed Facebook first few years – tremendous energy and optimism to create something from nothing
      • Early stage founders in a garage for idealism and irrational energy, switched to Sequoia (been there 3 years)
    • Entrepreneurs that can explain entirety of business in 3-5 min, rest of meeting is the details of the pitch
      • Feedback cycle for great and enduring company – decision-making is a short or longer memo and reading through them
      • For his mistakes, thinking and writing and playing out future – each case was instinctually being interested but not trusting instincts
        • Try to be rational and analysis-driven
      • More importantly, internal conviction on a company, founding team and working on
      • If not at Sequoia, would he go work for that company?
    • Terminal and non-terminal decisions – once you’ve made it, you can’t make it again
      • Do something, if wrong, do it again – try to hire, realize mistake, hire again
        • Pick one, roll out to some, figure if it’s working or not, and iterating
      • Venture – most important is decisions – if you pass a round, you’re done maybe until next round
      • In operations, tempo and learning for decision-making
    • Bundling vs Unbundling – past 10 years will be unbundling of SaaS and best in breed
      • SaaS that are more niche – features as something larger, $1 or $2 / ee / mo
      • Thinks there will be a consolidation of the apps, incumbents that will integrate and put them all-in-one (Notion)
      • Meta-SaaS apps that will put them together as the market matures
      • SaaS as software, business software (maybe banks that are on-premise)
    • Book: 100 years of Solitude, almost every startup underprices their product
    • Time management is the challenge – constant battle, reading quickly and get the ones he finds most interesting
    • Verkada as most recent investment – can build a great experience
  • Kash Mathur (@kashmathur), COO of Chewse (Wharton XM)
    chewse-open-graph-e1559782200236

    • Tracy and cofounders starting it in LA originally, in 2011 before bringing it to SF for 500 Startups
    • Attracting Kash in 2016 as they were figuring out SF before relaunching LA
    • Corporate culture, enterprise dealing and owning the customer service – blended marketplace
      • Starting each executive, strategy board with a “One thing most people don’t know about me is…”
      • Connecting between people
    • Why they have connected Hosts for each enterprise – owning the location, service and whole process
      • Important value and differentiator from other catering companies
  • Linda Crawford, CEO of Helpshift (Wharton XM)
    helpshift-logo

    • Being named top 50 SaaS CEO of 2018, joining HelpShift after Salesforce
    • CCO (customer) at Optimizely, as well as Board Member at Demandwise
  • Rob Farmer, Independent Advisor Study and assets at Schwab (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about participants and customers

Your Experience is Your Own, Only (Notes from Aug 19 to Aug 25, 2019) September 10, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, gym, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, NLP, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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I’ve been considering more and more about how my experiences are only mine. Especially when I feel like I don’t share them often. Working so much but not always discussing it with people outside of work (re: almost never). I was reminded of this while I met with a family member who I see roughly once a month or so. When she asks how work is or I mention I’m busy on days when she wants to meet, it often came with a “busy with a meeting at X but can do Y”. Never more. And almost always, I ask how her work is, and she divulges. So when we sat down for dinner and she point blank asked “I have 2 things: 1. Can you help me with something on my new phone? and 2. What is it actually that you do?” I chuckled because generally I don’t care to share that information – I really enjoy valuing start-ups and learning about the space / tech / finance / education changes, but other than high level stuff, rarely does anyone want to hear me talk extensively a la a podcast episode deep-dive or something. They don’t see the relevance, other than it being exciting for me. Same with when I was advising, same since launching the fund and all while working on project deployment in data science for others.

I strongly suggest reading through Colson Whitehead’s essay here about his version of New York City. How it’s interpreted. essay here

Another thing I read through today was Farnam Street’s blog post on asking seemingly simple questions that may be defined or determined by our experiences with those concepts. An example he uses: “What is a horse?” Try to think how we may answer this.
Power questions

 

  • AI in the Past, Present and Future (BDB 7/16/19)
    teradata-logo-social

    • Rod Bodkin, Tech Director at CTOs office in Google
      • Was with BigDataAnalytics, bought by Teradata and grew it from there
    • Grew Google after seeing the field advancing quickly, state of the art as evolving
    • First people to put Hadoop into production – Yahoo was too scared, single algorithm took weeks at the time
    • OpenAI put out state of art compute paper – 4 year paper, 300k X computation (double every 3.5 months)
    • For Google, evolution of cloud in the enterprise is a big deal – consumer side of Google as leading the way
      • Can just put data into BigQuery because of capacity and accessibility of data – increased production 4x on data science team
    • Big investments into Anthos – open source tech to enable cloud-native services in different clouds, GKE (Kubernetes)
      • Edge TPUs as 100x faster to compute a model vs traditional mobile CPU – TPU as accelerator chip for DL
      • CPU is completely general so less efficient
      • GPU has a boost over CPU but behind TPU accelerators (starting GPU chips, Tensor unit)
    • Kaggle Days and Google IO for cloud Pixel modeling and AutoML performing very well
    • Herrari’s book – 21 Problems for 21st Century
  • Tricia Han, CEO of Daily Burn (Wharton XM)
    51w1ctcdszl._sy355_

    • Community of like-minded fitness fanatics
    • Live 365 – 30min shows on working out, regulars
    • In survey, millenials said fitness #1 and health/wellness at #5
    • Fitness had about happiness equal to making $25k more

 

 

 

  • State and Future of Robotics, ML and Digital Celebs (Venture Stories, 8/8/19)
    ht6qfyjc_400x400

    • Michael Dempsey (@mhdempsey) – partner at Compound
    • Read, Listen, Write, Talk – Cunningham’s Law – share something with a strong opinion is likely to get responses
      • More value when shared publicly
    • Robotics, ML as cascading forward – robots broadly, initially – types, how to make them intelligent (2013)
      • Drones, hardware platform (DJI as leader), space and now as unsupervised or self-supervised learning
      • Deep dive on innovation for what he’s spent the last year or two – investments, as well
    • Women’s health as growing market for fertility and experience layer in healthcare system
      • Higher-end service around egg freezing (but was shattered by Tia founders), IVF or embryo screening
      • 2 investments for him already in the space, maybe more after
    • Strategic robot acquisition for Amazon, why now? Major companies in the space – he’s punted in that space, more investors.
      • Didn’t see meaningful differentiation in the space – didn’t see a company that had that from an investing side
      • Food was where he saw robotics as consistent – grew up in the industry
      • Really easy to get pilots but not for revenue – wants full-stack robotics company
      • Robots taking over entire industry – automated X / Y / Z (rebar, construction robotics)
      • Front of house and back of house retail (analytics, stocking)
    • Weird robot applications (in-home, manicures, old person help)
    • If company is built on algorithm being best, company probably won’t survive
      • Must talk to people doing operating – not just reading
      • Self-driving cars – spent time with Daniel Gruber, discussing local maximum and rules to write
        • If you can drive in NY, you can drive in SF, LA, etc…. 2007 DARPA challenge Waymo / Tesla / Cruise as result – path-planning
        • Intelligence approach – what are incentives / agents to accomplish in a car for end-to-end approach to scale
      • 1 model to move them all – enough compute that model can solve it (DL is direct function of this, for Google)
    • Investment in data labeling space – more people moving into production requires more people getting good data and filtering data
      • Larger data builds where it may cause $50-200mln per year to label but 50% is useless
      • Environmental impact and thinking about it – consolidating data but into better (CartaAI and SkillAI)
    • DeepGram end-to-end audio inscription – 80-85% can be good, but if you mess up some key words in certain industries, it’s more expensive
      • Voice side, horizontal players are pretty good – if x% of users will have same questions, simple workflow or algorithms
    • GANs and new generation of faces – Disney and animation nerd for a while – power of IP on agencies, CAA for example and Marvel
      • Stories through animated content, Robot Chicken, others – Robert Dillon – bringing in GANs
      • Watching live action is watching someone else’s story whereas an animated one brings you into the story
    • Trusting the people that have been given permissions – Reddit or being anonymous
  • John Roese, Global CTO of Dell EMC (Mastering Innovation, Wharton XM)
    dellemc2

    • Talking about the 20 year vision to be autonomous but incremental parts until then
      • Driving assist, improved AI in driving, maybe geofenced before autonomous
      • Autonomous vehicles as source of innovation – sensors / LiDar very useful for other industries but too expensive
        • Had talked to studios about virtual studios or conferences – expense should come down with auto
      • Vast problems with uncontrolled or unconstrained problems – already have fully autonomous warehouses or geofenced areas
    • Interested in bio feedback as input to AI or MI systems
      • Used example of video conferences with sensing stress levels – clearer audio, accent correction, more people = more stress
      • Cars already using bio feedback
      • People already wearing sensors via devices – can use that as more input
    • Attacking low hanging fruit because of data ethics or biased data inputs – easier to solve problems that are valuable in neatly constrained
  • Amri Kibbler, Katya Libin, Hey Mama co-founders (Wharton XM)
    • Collaborate and share and support their work for mothers as executives
  • 13 Minutes to the Moon
    • Ep. 06 – “Saving 1968”
      • Apollo II’s first landing – without Apollo VIII, Pathfinder and 250k mi to the moon, maybe gutsiest flight until then
      • Flying VIII before end of year – “We were not ready”
      • 2 deaths of MLK and Kennedy – April had hundreds of cities taking part in riots, thousands arrested
        • 1968 Apollo program was in shock and Saturn V rocket was malfunctioning – troubled test flights
        • Almost busted in all 3 phases the last time it had flown, and the lunar module had slowed down, as well
      • Taking lunar module away from Apollo VIII – former test pilot Jim Lovell said it as Lewis & Clark expedition
        • So many firsts, risks that were enormous on a 100x scale – reason Jim was there in the first place
        • Crews normally had 6 months but VIII only had 4 – mathematicians were responsible for all of the angles and engine durations
      • 1 chance in 3 for mission successful, 1 in 3 for non-crash but unsuccessful and 1 in 3 for not coming back – wife accepted this
      • Media as delivering “death pills” for dying painlessly – respondents would say oxygen would run out and it’d be fairly painless
      • Trans-Lunar Injection – don’t shoot at the duck, shoot out front – wanted to go to 60 mi ahead of where the moon would be
        • Spacecraft needed to get to the right moment, speed, angle and altitude for the moon
        • Human computer – Katherine Johnson – was responsible for the trajectory for launch time (Hidden Figures)
        • Took 3 days from launch to get to target – Lunar Orbit Insertion
      • Astronauts were late on radio contact from dark side of moon
        • Came back to light and could hide behind his thumb – 5 billion people and everything he ever knew
        • Finishing Apollo VIII with scripture and then Good Night, Good Luck and Merry Christmas
  • Bill Clerico, co-founder and CEO of WePay (DealMakers 8/13/19)
    wepay-1

    • Leading provider of integrated payments for software platforms, raised $75mil from SV Angel, Highland Capital, Ignition Partners, August Cap
      • Founders of YouTube and PayPal also in
    • Grew up in NJ, spent time in NY and father worked in Air Force and construction – taught himself computers in 80s
      • Received a scholarship to go to BC, met his co-founder for WePay waiting for the flight for the interview 6 years prior
      • Went to do IB at Jeffray’s – advising tech and software companies with clients, passionate and building for a year to quit
    • Installed a suit rack in his car because he wasn’t going home – long hours, brutal fundraising
    • Group payments that they saw repeatedly at the age of 22 – big market for payments, testing it out
      • Wouldn’t have less responsibilities than at that time – Rich deferred law school and Bill had worked on it full time
      • Tried to pitch Boston investors and failed – less receptive to early stage investing, applied to YC instead
        • Came out to the valley for an interview
    • Spent 1.5 year to invest and took money and sold furniture and drove to the west, taking turns
      • Product was conceptual, pitch deck was opinion and it was hard to prove a market need to investors – conceptual idea
      • In YC, built product by talking to fraternity treasurers at SJSU, ski club coordinators – got them using the product
        • Went to talk to investors by showing them the traction
      • Why would a treasurer to accept payments with different product? Host bbq and invite them over. Go to dorm room and watch product usage.
        • Responsive to requests – take feedback and be better than existing solutions. Gain knowledge in start by doing things not scaling.
    • Group payments were a big problem and needed a solution – weren’t willing to pay, or pay transaction fees
      • Venmo had raised money and had a bunch of momentum by giving away services for free
      • Competitors were taking advantage, 2 years after YC – pivoted but weren’t growing as fast
        • Built an events tool, donation, invoicing tool and an API for customer use – other companies were just doing those
      • Realized they could build an API making payments experience easy and simple and let competitors do whatever
        • Saw huge traction/benefit where they could be brought in via the API (since they had raised $30mln)
        • Needed the business to be grown but expectations were higher
    • 600 lb block of ice for marketing $500 in front of PayPal Dev Conf at Moscone Center – still highest market day
      • Since PayPal had a knack for freezing people’s accounts randomly
    • Pivoted to shut off 70% revenue stream from consumer product, gaining growth on API from other customers
      • GoFundMe used them as a payments processor from when they were 2 person company
    • Prior to acquisition by JPMC – 200 employees at that time, now fintech / bank
      • Asset purchase agreement day – tired – was negotiating final points of deal in person, had some drinks to celebrate
      • Bought a cabin in Mendocino County – deal was valued at $400mln
    • Part-time partner at YC now – helping companies in general – relevant to the next entrepreneurs and the scale
    • Angel investing on the side – much longer and harder and scarier than he ever would’ve imagined
      • Reinforces this to his younger self – startup doesn’t fail unless you give up
  • Evolving Narratives in the Crypto Space with Andreas M. Antonopoulos (FYI 3/12/19)
    • With Arjun Balaji, as well — and similar for me as host, his intro to Crypto space video YT
    • Conflict of Crypto Visions article by Arjun and host
      • Identified closely with unconstrained vision and doing talks on not playing zero-sum mentality
      • Ethereum as different than Bitcoin – evolving directed by design choices
    • Engineering consists of design tradeoffs – choices of optimizing and de-optimizing parts of systems
    • If you want to make something that is Bitcoin-ish, you run into problems for all the strengths that are already inherent to Bitcoin network
      • Differentiate enough to be a new thing from Bitcoin – can’t mingle or occupy that niche
      • Is privacy a big enough differentiator to separate from Bitcoin network?
        • Strong privacy in base layer – can end up with inflation bugs that can damage sound money policy of Bitcoin for the privacy
      • Sound money vs private money – not clear yet.
    • Hard money displaces other forms of money in long term but only if they’re maximalists and logical
    • Friction levels determining switching back and forth on a wallet between utility or store of value tokens / coins in the future
      • Automated backend where they are optimized
    • Interest in Ethereum – tradeoff worth making for smart contracts and applications that aren’t just money outside of Bitcoin
      • How the technology of VM blockchains work
      • Scaling is harder in Ethereum – proof of stake has different security model than proof of work
      • Sharding, beacon chain, polka dot – not sure if it will work or what the security constraints are – could have applicability to BTC
    • Bitcoin critics – make the case for it but then explain value proposition or store of value
      • He has an opinion, others have opinions – none will determine how the market develops
      • Arguing is a waste of time. If you understand the tool that’s best for a job, you’re a better user of tools.
        • Which is the correct tool and how to use it properly – perception is limiting in general
  • Sam Yagan, CEO of ShopRunner (Wharton XM)
    sr_stack_full

    • Founding dating OkCupid and then going to Match and scaling to IPO
      • Going from running a team of 30 to 1000 in a month
    • Ecommerce ShopRunner as retailers combatting Amazon and Walmart – providing scale and guarantees with 2-day shipping for many retailers
      • Joining after Michael Rubin had founded it on premise of “Amazon for all others”
    • Making sure they have AMEX partnership to make it easy for customers
  • Travis Katz, VP of Product at Skyscanner (Wharton XM)
    image1-4

    • Had been cofounder of Trip.com and at Myspace prior
    • Social media giants Facebook and Myspace – selling to NewsCorp and getting revenue compared to funded Facebook acquiring users

Transformation of Innovation (Notes from Aug 12 to Aug 18, 2019) September 4, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, NLP, Politics, questions, Real estate, social, Uncategorized.
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Hello! Hope Labor Day treated everyone properly, whether you snuck in some time-and-a-half pay for work, avoided it altogether or vacationed. I am going to keep the brief at the start short today because there’s a common theme. And I have been considering longer form writing without the notes on other topics maybe once or twice a week.

From last week – I still am working on the 13 Minutes to the Moon podcast – excellent. And it’s engaging as they went through the building and prep work that went in to getting there before decade-end.

The new segment that a16z has produced with the 16 minutes on the news has been fun, especially if you like an audio version of what’s been popular in tech/news. Sonal has done a great job leading most of them. I found the two that I listened it related to the title – transforming innovation. Software as eating the world (any company/product/service that can be digital will force the company to become software company), along with digitizing many of the slowest movers because the pressure has become high enough (re: Fed with ACH Now). At some point, in order to command more control or to make sure you aren’t disrupted out of the market, companies have to compete and give the customers or users what they want – faster, easier transactions in Fed Now’s initiative.

There were also some fantastic investors / founders that are included. How they developed and framed their careers to step from one thing to the next. If you noticed, many of the 20min VC episodes I listen to are in order from 2015 to now 2016. Fascinating to hear the comments made at that time to update to 2019 (as many of the same bullish comments are made with caveats that have yet to come to fruition – and valuations increased accordingly).

Hope you enjoy the listens!

  • 13 Minutes to the Moon
    268x0w

    • Ep 05 – “The fourth astronaut”
      • Intertial navigation – if you have your speed and know where you are, can control where you’re going
      • Self-guiding ballistic missiles that couldn’t get thrown off course via radio or otherwise – knew where it was
        • GPS, primitive computer received navigations and could adjust course if necessary
        • Charles Stark Draper who founded MIT’s guidance instrumentation lab
      • Had been a grad of Stanford and went to MIT and became leading expert in aircraft instrumentation / guidance
        • Dedicated to the astronaut program, so much so that he applied – was turned down
          • Practical application with such sensors to be useful was his expertise – size / practicality in flight control systems
      • Had to convince everyone that the computers would work and be trusted
      • Apollo bought 60% of the chips that were out and being manufactured – huge boost for computer industry
        • Good hardware required good software (an afterthought)
      • Called on programmers for building the software Margaret Ate Hamilton (started as programmer, then was in charge as program manager)
        • Developed a system to write software so that it would be reliable and she sought out the bugs/errors – no way to do it otherwise
          • Right times vs wrong time, wrong data, wrong priorities (interface errors) – we take for granted everything we have now
        • No rules or field at the time (akin to “Do you know these English words?” – yes, you’re qualified)
        • Don Isles – math graduate looking for something to do next who joined in 1966, software had been written initially – app code to fly was starting
          • Lunar landing phase commanding – in retrospect, huge – but it was a job at the time
      • Apollo Guidance Computer – 70 lbs in 1 cu ft, 55 W with 76kb, 16-bit words, 4 kb were RAM R/W memory, rest was hardwired
        • Got to the moon on punch cards – 100 people working on it at the end – submit in one run overnight and run simulations
        • 2 women that worked to keypunch before working as full-time – printed lines of code to turn into punch codes
      • Noun-verb inputs for flying – lunar landing, for instance
        • Built the computer interface with idea of “Go to moon” and “Take me home” but it instead had 500 buttons and was much more interactive
          • First system where people’s lives were at stake with it – fly by wire system. Astronauts didn’t control it, they controlled the joystick, etc…
    • Ep 06 – “Saving 1968”
      • Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin
  • Fed reaction (a16z, 16min on the News, 8/12/19)
    ah-logo-sm

    • FedNow – 24/7 open service for access to checks faster to launch in a few years
      • Half the population lives paycheck to paycheck and should care for the $30 overdraft fees that a ton of people do
      • Massive amount of losses to banks here in the US
    • ACH batches all payments in a day or maybe twice vs instant
      • Realtime payment network – 26 banks but need all banks to be a part of this network
    • Against Fed would say to just run the regulatory part vs the operational side
      • Obligate banks to join ACH, etc…
      • Infrastructure for checks has not updated to the tech advantages that we’ve gotten to now
      • Catching up to rest of world, which is 10 years ahead
    • Death of retail – Barney’s filing for bankruptcy, closing 15 of 22 stores
      • Been around since Great Depression
      • Ecommerce coming and direct to consumer is going toward market share
      • Highly leveraged fixed costs, inventory but can go sales to hemorrhaging money and become unviable
    • Grocery is largest single category of US retail, more than apparel and personal – completely immune to digitization historically
      • Inventory is better served close to consumer, physical grocery as distributed warehouse
  • Philipp Moehring, Head of Angelist EU (20min VC 1/6/16)
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    • First European hire for Angelist since Jan 14, venture partner at 500 Partners and Principal at SeedCamp
    • Angelist Syndicate for his
    • Worked for a bunch of startups during his studies, but realized he didn’t want to work for a large company or consultancy like when he started
      • Worked for a professor that was doing research on VC – did his thesis on same topic, asked for data
      • Fulltime job came from a guy who went off on his own to start firm and he was asked to join
    • MBA in Tech Management and Tech Entrepreneurship, where management is very different there
      • Analyst and associate work can be a great job but it’s not a quick way to partner or anything
      • Seeing founders doing a second business after 7-8 years, even after do great and get raises
        • People don’t usually stay at their first job for 8 years but starting at VC, people will jump to a startup second
    • EU vs US scene – SV where VC started and is much more advanced, simply due to a lack of epicenter
      • Angelist looking to get into Series A (not necessarily leading, though) – movement
    • Certainly London for VC – number one ecosystem in Europe, as the largest metro area, tech and VC and money
      • Hard to copy for other places – culture, politics and what makes the city to be interesting
      • Berlin has the momentum as the number two, as well as Stockholm or in Finland, maybe Paris (inward), Lisbon and distribution of eastern Europe
    • $400mln funding for Angelist from CSC Upshot into syndicates – GPs investing directly
      • Does his 500 Partners role on the side – usually someone with investing on the side and has more firepower
      • Wants the deal flow or coverage in the areas they won’t have
      • Knows an entrepreneur and can get in the chance on seed or small amounts to invest in
    • Known the partners at 500 Startups for a bunch of years and could invest similarly to his Angelist style
      • Could be flexible and born out of the way the fund is positioned and investing
    • Most exciting for him is having people that he’s invested in hitting their stride and succeeding
    • William Gibson as a writer who influences his thinking, Snowcrash as a book that depicts the future
      • Looks more at science fiction for tech advances now
    • Most read blog – too many to count, Brad Feld – has a tool called SelfControl against social media
  • Phil Libin (@plibin), co-founder and CEO All-Turtles (Mastering Innovation, 8/8/19)
    220px-at-logo-red-label-stacked-opaque-2048

    • Discussing real problems with AI

 

 

 

  • Andrew Chung, Founder and CEO Innovo Property Group (Marketing Matters, 8/7/19)
    • Partner at The Carlyle Group, US real estate
    • Started IPG in 2015
  • Stefan Thomke, professor at HBS (Wharton Knows, 8/13/19)
    31ii5kqtk5l._sx330_bo1204203200_

    • Discussing his paper on magic stick of customers
    • Online experiments – running them quickly and decisively

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ivan Mazour, (@ivanmazour) founder and CEO of Ometria (20min VC FF 029)
    ometria_owler_20160227_081547_original

    • Serial entrepreneur, author, investor – Ometria: predictive/marketing analytics platform
    • Born in Moscow, parents PhDs – mom brought him to UK to study math @ Cambridge
    • Started his first thing in property since that was biggest, public industry to get involved
      • Around 26, didn’t utilize any of his studies and data-focused nature, so he leveraged proceeds with his cofounder to make angel investments
    • Wanted to become relevant and learn about tech industry – made 30 investments in 4 years, stopped prop dev, did a Masters in App Prob
      • Refreshed knowledge to build a data company
      • Founding after investing – wrote a blog post as his approach to investment and his dream
        • Build a truly world-leading tech company but accepts lack of experience
    • Thought about how much capital to allocate to invest and how much to invest to be taken seriously – needs to be able to learn from it
      • Angel investor as $20-30k pounds
      • Received a second seed or extension round with Ometria – significantly bigger than seed, but reality is not enough for Series A
        • Hire more engineers, increase team from 20-30. But Series A would be to set up internationally and expand S&M
    • One-sided barbell – huge amount of funding on early, early stage investing
      • Anyone can work to get funding at early, small stage – lots of companies are vying for more eyeballs from bigger ones they need
      • At late stage, if you have the metrics, you’ll have the funding – growing 300%, hit $1m ARR and no question you’d get round, SaaS-wise
    • Launched as an ecommerce analytics company, wanted massive market for data – $3tn ecommerce and retail
      • Launching 2013, analytics was hottest thing (KPMG raised $100mln fund for this only) – by 2015 for big round Ometria, analytics wasn’t relevant/interesting
      • Fascinating to experience – marketing was far more important – actions engaging revenue and data, leveraged
    • First ones to come in were validating – people who he worked/invested with previously
      • Angels that were amazing, AngelLab’s Rachel that was meeting best founders and seeing best companies
      • Had tried to sell Phil as a customer on Ometria and he ended up investing – Alex is on board as 2nd largest institutional investor
    • Pitching angels vs other investors
      • With angels, he had engagement metrics, not revenues – introduced team and had beta user metrics (logging in 7x a day and loving it)
      • Four founders and engagement of platform that allowed closing of round
      • For VCs, chart of MRR that was up and right – increasing growth
    • Several funds liked the company and wanted to consider investing – said he should’ve held off, probably – got excited and continued conversation
      • Waste of time for both sides – hadn’t moved far enough on VC metrics to get a big enough investing for what you’re raising
    • Offline retail – stores won’t go away – thinks there will be an entire platform that will be an ecommerce platform that is based on personalization
      • Product recs, change website and order them – complicated and difficult – best platforms aren’t designed to do that – $1bn company
    • His highlight: sitting in his boardroom after increasing it, Elizabeth Ying (PayPal, head of D/S), Mike Baxter, Allie Mitchel (Huddle founder)
      Looking around that they were talking about his company and making a few investments that he was CEO of and they had 10-20 years experience
    • Favorite productivity tools: ToDoIst, Google Keep for managing main reports, HangOuts
    • Favorite books: Rich Dad, Poor Dad as formulating a way of thinking, and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • David Tisch (@davetisch), MP at BoxGroup, Inc (20min VC 1/11/16)
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    • Also, cofounded Spring – brands to consumers via mobile with his brother, Allen
    • Coded as a kid, kept using the internet, entryway into internet and software – didn’t think of it as investor
      • Went to college and law school, became a lawyer and joined real estate finance in m&a but he did that for a year and wasn’t into it
      • Started a company, experimented and sucked – sold to a larger company and was there for 2 years at KGB
      • Went to TechStars – launched and run the NY program after he had made 3-4 investments
    • Cementing of the NY scene would be a magnet company like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google – huge magnet for talent
    • The Box in NY as a cool club that he hadn’t been to and his first investment was in a company called Boxy
    • A 20th employee is exponentially more valuable than a seed stage investor – tries to be an valuable investor, though
    • Magical utility or happiness for user or incredibly polished path to where you’re going – different from early days of mobile
      • Should happen soon – hasn’t happened since Snapchat/Tinder as consumer
    • Spring for him – exact opposite of sitting above the clouds as VC and strategy – incredible other side with his brother
      • Mall on your phone – 1200 brands directly (Etsy as maker’s story) – single mobile experience to make it better
      • Free shipping and free returns in 2015 for marketplace and working with their partners
      • VIP, customer service, making a single experience
      • Apparent that the opportunity was sitting there – he had told his brother “Don’t start a company”
    • Doesn’t read much – watches a lot of tv and consumes that as a way to learn
    • Finding his partner Adam at Techstars is probably the highlight
    • Reads online a lot – design blogs/architecture/city – Fred Wilson as successful VC in NY
    • Invested in SmartThings – sold to Samsung a couple years prior and built into products
      • Deep affinity for space, so he invested into Nucleus – video intercom in houses but it allows outbound, also
      • Uncomplicates the phone – primary thing on cell (voice, messenger and text bringing into house)
  • John Wirtz, CPO at Hudl (Wharton XM)
    hudl-logo.1de182540fb461fded02ad2cb75963d4945c560d

    • Coaching and products innovation – getting cameras at 50 yd line or in arenas
      • Not so much looking at point-to-point tracking or high speed for baseball, softball
    • More on tracking all high school players and colleges – uploading of highlights and working with coaches
    • 95% coverage now
  • Software has eaten the world (a16z 8/18/19)
    • Marc and Jorge Condo discussing computer science and its eating healthcare
    • Term from his essay in 2011 after starting firm, tech industry is 70+ years old after WWII, packing $500 that used to be $10-15mln
      • Pessimism after recession – Marc held opposite opinion as just starting (platform built)
      • 3 claims: any product/service that can be software product will be software (boomboxes, cameras, newspapers, etc…)
        every company in the world in those products will become a software co
        as a consequence of 1 and 2, long run the best software company will win
    • Incumbents in auto industry – cars are very dangerous, very hard and software companies think otherwise – value of car is in software (500 in 50 mi radius)
      • Surprising innovation fields: legal, insurance, real estate, education, health care
    • Never imagined investing in new car companies – new industry in 1890, 1920s Henry Ford
      • One new major car company attempt by Preston Tucker (Automotive – Tucker movie, catastrophe)
      • Went from hundreds in 1910s to 3 in 1920s and after
    • Profound technological revolutions as ML/DL/AI as incredibly innovative and cryptocurrency
      • Software founders for how to use and those that haven’t – can be quite transformative
    • Fundamental transformation with internet was music industry – triple whammy – people loved music (? Often dogs eat dog food? – not case in music)
      • Isn’t it great customers love music so much? They want the thing – showing consumption. Music executives said no. Suppliers refusing the demand increase.
      • Pricing issue – want 1 song vs 12 songs on label. Price-fixing collusion by the 4-5 labels. Could overcharge by factor of 10.
      • Consumers were breaking law but the correct reasons. Was immoral, illegal by price collusion.
      • Went from Napster, Kazaa, Limewire, Frostwire, BitTorrent (all investor catastrophes as too early since they couldn’t get pricing from labels)
        • Spotify as 15 years later where investors were scarred but time had come
    • When layer commoditizes, the next layer can become massively valuable – focus is on commoditized layer (contraction for recorded music purchases)
      • US market for live concerts grew 4x in aggregate demand – unlimited access to music, so fun is concert and experiences
    • Marc as serving on board of hospital – mission in terms of health care and medical research and school – nonprofit with highly motivated people
      • Design and build a new hospital – finally opening in 2019 (2005 green light)
      • Well-functioning boards that he sees as 7 people vs 25 or so in hospital
      • Quality problems in auto industry in 1950s / 1960s initially, unsafe at any speed – 70s/80s/90s was TQM – debug quality manufacturing
      • Medical compliance issues – 1/3 not filling prescriptions, 1/3 just take cocktails of them
        • Organ transplants are only 60% compliance
        • Assembly line requirements to motion – decode for running properly, maybe do that for hospitals and doctors – Purell, even
      • EMR at Stanford – $400mil one bid, $100mil to Epic and $300mil for implementation system Perot Systems
        • Interoperability and open source, building on everyone’s creativity (except Epic) and APIs
    • Eroom’s Law – price of bringing new device or drug to market doubles every 10 years – VCs in both decided the economic cycles were too different
      • Names now for VC are ones that aren’t the same big firms
      • Founders are different, as well – PhD in bio but programming since 10 or hybrid tech to pitch
      • Missing middle as converging of scientific domains and getting a16z’s new partner, former Stanford professor in the middle who helped spin it up
    • Digital therapeutics, cloud biology, IT applied to Healthcare
    • Defend market or advance innovate market but SV is starting from scratch – experiments in tech, or business (famous train wrecks)
      • Portfolio approach to experiments – 10 experiments in 10 different parts of biotech / industry – look at successes and asymmetric returns
      • If there are big companies that can do obvious things, they’ll be good at increment – industry does different ones
    • Need evangelical marketer or sales – Jobs’ saying how to envision the picture because consumers have no ability to project this
      • Elon’s Model S – no superchargers or charging at home – had to paint a picture to demonstrate it, get enough sales to build the chargers
  • Dan Granger, CEO founder of Oxford Road (Wharton XM)
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    • Advertising in LA helping acquire new customers and branding

Big Goals: Being the First (Notes from Aug 5 – Aug 11, 2019) August 27, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, NLP, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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A friend recommended the 13 Minutes to the Moon podcast. I wish I could shout out that friend, but I currently have no recollection for who it was. Sorry! I’ve been recommending it to anyone that wants an intriguing documentation and story for the decade sprint to putting a human on the moon – and everyone that contributed to that goal. If you need more convincing, Hans Zimmer did the music production, as well. So, it has to be epic, right?

So, that’s what I would strongly suggest everyone listen to. The rest were incredibly interesting, as well.

The co-founders of Original Grain discussed watch making, selling out of backpacks and getting the approval of their military brothers before finally catching on and building the business. Setting out their approach and moving back to the PNW. Co-founders of Lovevery talked about mixing the product, box subscription service with educational, proven research and why Jessica chose this model and building their own over the licensing / branding other toys/puzzles.

Nick Maggiuli, of Ritholtz and Of Dollars and Data discussed why he’ll follow / listen to others that he may disagree with in case something clicks that makes him update his information to change his mind. Then, discussing that the market isn’t zero-share after Ken Fisher mentioned that his firm ($30bn plus) could be wiped from the face of the planet and nobody would ultimately notice when the market handles $50tn overall. 30bps – can aim high and ultimately it comes down to your execution, rarely others.

Then, Morten Lund talked of the EU investing scene, his success early, bankruptcy soon thereafter and deciding what he wanted to see and do. Sometimes you have to toil in decisions before landing what you seek.

Hope everyone enjoys the notes and checks the episodes out!

  • 13 Minutes to the Moon (BBC Worldservice)
    • First episode – ‘We choose to go’
      • Lousy communication as they dropped thrusters to 10%
      • Something happening in computer that caused issues – Armstrong was nervous (rarely)
      • Worry when Sputnik was placed up and a dog in the next month before putting a person there (BBC / Moscow reported)
      • Not having hopeless odds – could do a crash program to get men on moon by 1967, 68
        • German (vonBrown) who set up the rec for the course to get on the moon – recognized Russians needed 10x improvement
      • V2 rocket program – never having wide support but post-demonstration, went to mass production
        • Nordhausen – very aware of concentration camp workers, mistreatment and threat of sabotage
        • Surrendered and Americans were all-too-happy to accept them for rocket program (and space)
    • Second episode – ‘Kids in Control’
      • Steve Bales as the 26 yr old kid who could shut off the mission
        • Guidance officer in mission control team – lunar modules onboard computer by MIT design – controlled flight to moon’s surface
      • Junior technical in backrooms to Gemini flight controller for Apollo by age 23
      • Rapid recruitment style in technical and sciences – just threw them in for trainings and went from there
        • Hiring on rapid basis – bring on board, operations, engineering, training
      • John Aram – math and physics in North Texas to mission control – recalled so many acronyms (never been to a big city)
        • Moved to murder capital of the world, 6 weeks later and told his wife – maybe we need to load up and go back
          • We ain’t going back, she said.
        • Looked over electrical systems and the spacecraft’s electronics.
      • Average age of operators was probably 27 years old, grads of 1964 or so (older didn’t work out as well)
      • Simulations would run 20 different scenarios to demand engaging reminiscent of a fighter squadron
        • Had to trust each other well, kids and wives knew each other – risky things
        • Apollo I that killed the crew in 1967
      • Not enough time at home – many divorces from not being at home and holidays missing
      • In the trench – Gene Crantz: room bathed in blue light by the screens, smell of the room, people in for long time
        • Stale sandwiches, old pizza, full wastebaskets, coffee burnt into the hotplate, but you get feeling something will happen
        • System needed Gene’s toughness, former Marine, constant chain-smoking and needed that guidance from the flight director
      • Calling program error 1210 – never seen it in simulation and Steve had called abort – in actual mission, they got 1202 from Buzz
        • Setting a set of rules for program alarms – Steve got help from a 23 year old in the back – Jack Garmin
        • No call to abort if everything else is good – took 15seconds to push
    • Episode 3 – ‘Long Island Eagle’
      • Slowing descent was the plan, but they ended up going faster
        • Surface wasn’t what they had anticipated
      • Why is the lunar module the way that it is – way it looks? Form follows function.
        • Landing and flying in space – very different than aerodynamics for earth atmosphere
        • LTA1 – cleaner than a surgical room, higher pressure (dust and contamination avoidance)
        • Puncture a hole in skin with a pen – needed lightness and fuel efficiency
        • All engines in lunar modules had to be without electrical failure, so they were just latches with combustible gases
      • Lunar module designed by aeronautical engineers – aerodynamic and smooth, glass but had to evolve
        • Glass was too heavy and crew survival was supercritical
      • December 1968 was supposed to be lunar module flight but they flew around the moon instead
        • Would make it, but it would be close to the decade
    • Episode 4 – ‘Fire to the Phoenix’
      • Fire in the spacecraft – BBC report of Apollo I explosion, January 27 1967
        • Lost 3 heroes – Roger Jaffe, Ed White (first to walk in space in Gemini program), Gus Grissom (piloted Gemini flights)
        • Mercury and Gemini – everyone working there, 350-400 working on Apollo but at the height, it was 400k
        • Management challenge to build the program
      • Here to find out about Mr. Johnson for Block 2 design (Houston didn’t know who was in charge by 1964)
      • First space module in August 1966 delivered for flight testing, behind schedule
        • Jan 26, 1967 with service module perched on top of an Apollo rocket
        • Sitting in pure oxygen for the flight vs testing scenarios (t-shirts, atmosphere at sea level)
        • 30th of January, killed in the first / explosion of the Apollo I rocket
      • Accident had been an awful wake-up call but no national clamor for stopping the program
      • Hatch needed to be redesigned, reduce oxygen while on launchpad, new fire resistant found, electrical circuitry adjusted
        • Heat shields and modules to be tested, Apollo II to be canceled, 21 months to Apollo VII
          • Backup crew for Apollo I was the crew for VII – phoenix patches and honor the first
        • Spent 11 days in space and go around the moon – testing all systems that it could, from engine to navigation
  • Matt Britton, CEO of MRY, Suzy (Wharton XM)
    • Media entrepreneur and consumer trends expert
    • Suzy is ‘Siri for brands’
  • Ryan and Andrew Beltran, co-founders of Original Grain (Wharton XM)
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    • Watch category, growing up in the PacNW and serving in the military (Marines)
    • Trying to find a product that he wanted to start a brand of
    • Going to China to see manufacturing and get ideas
    • Selling the first out of his backpack, initially, to military guys
      • Got buy-in on quality that they stood up but not a ton of traction
  • LovEvery – Love Every – Jessica and Rod, founding partners (Wharton XM)
    loveveryforweb

    • Jessica worrying about giving her babies the best nutrition, and curious about what the brains craved
    • Approaching research and deciding on toys

 

 

 

  • BERT (Bidirectional Encoding Reps from Transformers) (Data Skeptic 7/29/19)
    • Neural network with input arbitrary length of text – minimal form and characters
      • Output is a fixed length vector, numeric rep of the text – can do automated feature engineering for ML
      • Translation step for encoding for the machine using masking
    • Chatbot for question answering – wouldn’t do specialized tools for observe
    • BERT develops a general option (vs ML where there isn’t enough training data)
      • Trained on general knowledge, wikipedia corpus or reddit, etc… and apply transfer learning
  • Nick Maggiuli, Of Dollars and Data (Standard Dev 5/30/19)
    • Head of Data Analytics at Ritholz Wealth – data and interesting
    • Behavioral investor line test – being the 8th person in line and hearing others in Ash experiment
      • People purposefully tell you the wrong matched line and 76% of time, switches idea – changes vision in this case
      • Connecting to fake news in the realm of bias – pie chart that showed top 5 S&P 500 on right side, bottom 282 on left
        • Data just tells you the biggest 5 companies – may be just the 5 largest that represent a total share (consistent)
      • Crowd makes the narrative, often and then people agree and it becomes an echo chamber
    • Following crypto people despite not believing in it because they may know something that he hasn’t seen or know
      • Change minds based on some information. Trend following, for instance (price signal, 200ma – will stop working at times – Corey Hoffstein)
      • Doesn’t believe in technical analysis but has to be convinced by some information to make the jump
    • Blog post: Most Important Asset (host ran the survey) – bet that none of you offered every $ of Buffett wouldn’t want to be him
      • 5%, so maybe 3% are trolls. But he wants to live his life. Human capital and time is the optionality.
    • Best book he’d read about retirement “Retire Happy, Wild and Free” and doesn’t discuss money
      • Financial crisis isn’t the priority – it’s existential – what’s your time that you want to worry about
      • Some people could go to the beach every day and not care, others do differently
    • Trading his time for tasks and outsourcing things – working otherwise and doing it via his hourly wage
      • Anything you’d regret on your deathbed for missing things that you’d want to do – ends meeting, one thing but otherwise, go for it
    • Ken Fisher at Investment Conference (EBI with Barry and Ken talking)
      • “We have no market share” – 30bps as money to be managed out of $50tn when they’re $30bn
        • Could disappear and nobody would notice (except their clients)
      • Enough pie overall where they’re not competing against each other
      • Not interested in the discipline, so any general discussion is improved and bringing people in
        • Rise of politics and twitter probably keeps some viewers away but looking at competition and peers for learning
        • Brian Portnoy writing at the same time, sharing information and going back and forth with same publisher
    • Funniest fintwit: Ramp and Josh Brown, smartest Jim O’Shaunnessey and Jesse Livermore, MMT – “Trusts Cullen Roche”
    • Book that he read early in his career when he was bored – What It Takes by Ellis – best firms in handful of industries
      • If they ‘reject us, we made the wrong choice on the person so it’s good anyway’ – Korbath in legal
  • Morten Lund, seed investor in Skype (20min VC, 1/4/16)
    • Investor, co-founder including Airhelp, 100 other startups
    • Visiting university before getting kicked out – used computer to get premade direct marketing which wasn’t possible prior
      • Turned it into a digital ad agency and made it the largest in Scandinavia and sold to Leo Burnett (ad agency) as digital acquisition
      • Could build company by then
    • Made a small incubator by then with the money he had
    • Called for investments in Kazaa initially – wasn’t comfortable with that because biz model was for iTunes but no power to negotiate with labels
      • Was helping business development at the time
    • Guys had idea of doing Skypr – wifi sharing network – shut down by 10-15 investors who didn’t want to go further
      • Calls couldn’t be afforded so why not do a digital phone with the sound cards – helped fundraise and paid founders’ apartments
        • 300-400k users after 20 days launch – roughly $50k brought back $50mln
        • When it took off and worked, it was exciting – Estonia guys being crucial and understanding p2p from Kazaa, as well
      • Very involved in the brand – ICQ (impossible to understand)
    • Bankruptcy 7+ years prior had to refocus him and figure out what he wanted to do – nothing wasn’t working
      • Co-founding, starting and investing all kinds of 70-80 startups
    • Learning that things will take 3-4x longer and 3-4x costly
      • Founder in mind for admiring – David Hilge (Unity), Reid Hoffman, demonstrating stamina
    • Spending time at TradeShift – empty on cash and barely surviving holding onto his house – internet as media business that was fairly large
      • Every bank has a budget of $1bn in tech spend – immense amount of people running around doing nothing
      • Partners came to him to do digital invoicing structure for English structure and wanted to do consulting (agreed on cloud-based platform infrastructure)
      • Every company has different file formats and being consistent (Christian becoming a rock star) – ability to close huge clients
    • EU fintech community – browser era in 94-95 and nobody knowing how to handle it – legislation is getting easier to deal with
      • Web bank is a media but can do all kinds of interesting things with accounting – unwind IBM and legacy providers from cloud
      • If you want to sell big, have to go to US but if you want to do early or continue building, can be in the EU
      • Becomes obsession for $1bn level – consequence shouldn’t be this, though – not justified without revenue
    • Favorite book: Shantaram, fun with Richard Branson (knowledge exchange), The Economist as blog, Hippocorn – placeholder or executor affiliate

Fun Founder Stories (Notes from July 29 – Aug 4, 2019) August 21, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, TV, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Starting with a discussion of Neuralink (Musk’s… brain-child of a company for neural lace) and how it reminds the a16z crew of invasive compared to non-invasive surgeries / medical tech. How did TikTok vary itself in the social space and explode in popularity? Harry Stebbings of 20min VC had been going on and on about HiringScreen and finally had the founder on which was fun to hear. Richard’s origination story for the company and his path that he took was fascinating.

Then I happened to listen to a few different shoe companies with founders on serendipitous and creative stories. One traveling to a new and different country and absorbing the culture to his story. The others, seeing a problem that seemed to arise and noticing there should / could be a solution. Then catching breaks for each of the 2 companies – including the bootstrapping and doing it on their own as something that was fun enough helping people solve those problems / be happy with their footwear. I strongly suggest looking at Sabah shoes for men’s drivers-ish and Birdies for women who go to parties where they may need slippers or comfortable everyday ones.

E-sports and digital discussion for a16z was fun in how society is adapting to digital experiences or how they meld entertainment. For those that don’t think esports may be viable, it’s easy to argue in the cases where they watch reality tv or even game shows (which have been around since tv). It’s just changed how we consume and perceive it as interactive live games vs recordings. Also, malls that are less successful or in areas have been able to take advantage of the space available.

Vivino’s CEO joined and talked about how he is trying to socialize and give people options in the wine space – which, let’s be honest, is always a good thing. Goldie Chan discussed filling the gap in an employment by consulting, by accident, nearly. She turned it into a full pivot consulting and has taken advantage of her great skills at marketing. Hope there’s something for everyone!

  • Neuralink & Brain Interface (a16z 7/21/19, 16min on the News)
    1200px-neuralink_logo.svg_

    • With Vijay, Connie Chan, JPM
    • Announcement of neural lace – culture sci-fi by Ian Banks – processor & sewing machine
    • Non-invasive vs invasive (femoral artery all the way up to the brain)
      • LASIK as invasive / dangerous (still even, but now much better, accepted)
    • Announcing in rats and in monkeys now (surprising his president)
    • TikTok as 3rd most dl app behind WhatsApp and FB Messenger, 1.2bln MAUs – having huge influence at VidCon
      • Sponsored by YouTube but TikTok had a large presence, the ban in India
      • Short, 15sec videos – 1 hit piece can trigger enough people
    • How would they make money? – ecommerce, restaurants, retail – short videos for ads/commercials
    • FaceApp – probably nothing to worry about – unless high profiled public official, NatSec Space, leverage
      • Someone getting negative information or leakage – accusations of the country in general is silly
      • Countries consider privacy differently – in the US, convenience / UX will trump privacy for 15min of joy
        • Europeans, Germans, Italians for instance are more private
    • iHeartRadio announcing direct listing – before, emerging from bankruptcy or spinning off
      • Repurposed after Spotify / Pandora
  • Mobile malware and Bipartisan drug pricing (a16z 7/28/19, 16min on the News)
    • With Martin Casado, Jorge Conde, Jay Rughani
    • Monacle as mobile malware – March 2016 Android-based application
      • In security, netsec and endpoints – protecting desktops, for instance
      • Attacks phone with 2FA, even, and less secure
      • Can take calendar event, account info and app messages, reset PINs
    • Drug pricing – Medicare Modernization Act – why can’t Medicare use its purchasing power to negotiate medicine prices?
      • Part D – Medicare covering prescription prices, prevents HFS from negotiating any part of the value chain
      • Price of insulin where they get price hikes – new therapy gets $2mln for cures (R&D) differences, conflation
      • Price of successful drugs have to make money for drug and all of the failures
        • Counterargument – US subsidizes R&D for the world
        • Complex industry structure: manufacturers, distributors paid to move drugs through channel
          • Pharmacy benefit manager – who is eligible, who’s not – what are drugs for conditions and prescriptions
            • Helps insurers who gets the drugs – takes an economics layer
          • Insurers reduction drug spends, for $1 spent, manufacturer gets a small %
      • Dropping from $8k to $3100 out of pocket
        • Cap by tying to inflation (for growth) or annual price increases
        • May start higher prices because you can’t increase it much
    • Chain is not transparent, but also complex – tech can have an impact but needs help from policy to drive out some inefficiencies
      • Free market works if there’s transparency – what is a medicine and can you make it fair enough for everyone
      • Current system is not set up for the new medicines (extending life from 10 years to a cure)
  • Richard Hanson, CEO & cofounder of HiringScreen (20min VC FF028)
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    • Founded in Hong Kong in 2015
    • Studied law in Cambridge, did 11 years recruitment consultancy in London before moving to Hong Kong
      • Then created his own recruitment firm – had his own looking at 196 cv’s for an EA for someone
      • Score, sort and select candidates
    • Tech advances in recruiting industry – job boards and sourcing is at all-time highs
      • Barrier to application is all-time low but have too many to look for (especially manually)
      • Psychometric and phone facility stuff to find relevant candidates – get on with themselves
        • Go through rest of funnel to invest in the process in more efficient manner
    • Had always wanted to live in Asia – pretty exciting, bullish for Asia in general
      • Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan as hubs
    • If you have an idea, try to find someone or go ahead and do a view of what it may be executed on
      • He had the idea, went to his cofounder Luke (better at project management side)
      • Prototyping mockups and getting through the first steps efficiently – may hit a dead-end a few weeks in
        • Validating idea as soon as possible – customer or problems for people (heads of recruitment firms for his problem)
    • Making an effort to code or understand a bit of the UX (in his case, CSS and HTML to understand a bit)
      • Compared to languages in a foreign country
      • When his CTO introduces people, he wants to be confident about what the developer has been doing and understanding their past
      • His responsibility to show an effort/commitment in the job role
    • Looking to raise a round – HiringScreen did it in 8 weeks
      • Competitive slides, why you want to raise, how to convey mission statement, skill and productivity gaps
      • Understanding his potential investors, as well
    • Accelerators – choosing the right ones? He’s with the Blueprint Accelerator by Swire properties
      • B2B focus, no equity in startups – working space and Swire network of companies (conglomerate of different co’s in verticals)
      • Sponsored him and tried to help advance the company by talking to other HR talks
      • Mentions Brinc as hardware accelerator near the top
    • Idea of equity early on would depend on your assessment of what the startup needs?
      • Super low cost – accelerator with working space?
      • Product but proven use case – Blueprint to trial product and test it
      • Balance the need with the equity they’re taking
    • The Alliance book by Reid Hoffman for looking at employee and employer workplace, tour of duty principle
    • Brad Feld and Jason Calacanis’s blogs, Reid Hoffman as the most admirable founder – better people to take LinkedIn on
  • Jennifer Golbeck, College of Information Studies and Affiliate Professor at UMD
    • Talking about social media research, truth and justice
  • Carl Ericson, CEO & cofounder of Atomic Object (Wharton XM, Mind Your Business)
    atomic-object-wordmark-500x265

    • Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor software product development company and why he chose there
    • Sails at Grand Rapids Yacht Club
  • Bianca Gates, Marisa Sharkey, Birdies co-founders (Wharton XM)
    m_5a61f34b331627f3f88fe26b

    • Discussing how they started them and Feb 14 – when she landed an article with a SF Chronicle fashion correspondent at a dinner party
    • Driving up to the other in order to get all 2000 orders packaged and sent out

 

 

 

  • Mickey Ashmore, founder of Sabah Shoes (Wharton XM)
    sabahtwotone

    • Doing a 6 month project after Seattle in Turkey – turned into 2 years as the only non-Turk
      • Grew an affinity for the people, culture, food and trends – girlfriend’s grandma at the time gifted him a pair of handmade shoes
    • Returned to NY and beat the crap out of the shoes – wanted another
      • Reached out to the maker (current partner) and bought another pair
      • Ended up getting 5-6 in different colors, customized without the flip – people said they were awesome
      • Ordered 300 – could get 150+ and did a party to showcase them with cocktails, enjoyed hosting
        • Got 30-40 orders on the first night, decided to do it for the rest of the summer “Sabah Saturday/Sundays”