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Engineers, Research & Starting Up! Also, Women in Work (Notes from Week of Nov 12 – 18) December 4, 2018

Posted by Anthony in education, experience, finance, global, questions, social, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Hello all! Hope everyone’s Thanksgiving went well and the start of December hasn’t been too cold. By California standards, we’re freezing. Literally only for a few minutes (frost warnings) and no snow in the bay area, but we’re used to much warmer weather. It’s delaying my morning routine. May have to zoom to Chicago and colder weather this weekend just to come back and act like it’s warm (comparatively). It’s definitely part of my hesitation in doing client engagements east of California.

The past few weeks were busy! Now that I have my Surface up and running again, though, we’re back in business. The week of notes came from a variety of people, primarily researchers we’ll say, who dove into businesses that sprung from that work. What did they learn in their time as operators? What did they learn in building / searching for funding?

Later in the week, as I was driving back to the Bay Area and attempting to avoid smoke inhalation, I caught the end of a women at work segment on Wharton’s Business XM channel with George Yancy (author of #MeToo article) questioning the foundation / construct of our environment that’s fueled the movement, as well as a very quick (but didn’t catch the name) piece of SheEO and HeyMama founders/members (?) that I’ll need to search further for. The women there were entrepreneurs that wanted a community of like-minded successes juggling family, life, work and everything in between. I bookmarked it as something to pass along to my sister and those I know who are questioning that juggling while venturing into family life.

Let me know what you think!

 

  • Fabrice Grinda, Super Angel at FJ Labs, BeepBeep (20min VC 072)
    • 200+ investments, start-ups, FJ Labs, former co-founder of OLX
    • Treats himself as an entrepreneur vs investor – built ebay-type company 18 years prior (late 90s)
      • From start, other entrepreneurs would come for advice as he gained traction and notoriety
      • Increased volume and pace of investments at start of 2000s (up to 20-30 in 08-09 and more)
    • No time to sit on boards – 200+ investments
      • Few % of ownership, don’t often lead rounds – lead VC A, seed and maybe a later one (3-5 board members only)
    • Deal flow from all kinds of people, LinkedIn, websites, etc
      • Has invested in 200+ companies which lends them to 500 founders and they can talk to them that way
      • Other countries where they may be able to invest, as well
    • Mentioned his 2014 book of What If?, Think Like a Freak
    • FlexPort and freight forwarding where B2B platforming, product people inline with end to end consumer bases
  • From Research to Startup, John Hennessey – chairman of Alphabet (a16z 10/6/2018)
    • RISC – sentence with hard words vs clear, precise English for faster computing
      • IBM and Deck in 1980s, first thing you had to do to find info was go back east and ask
      • Early 1980s initially invented architecture, dominant nearly flipped in late 1980s
    • Server cost is first, then the power or energy cost is next
      • Embedded space was the one where RISC made a breakthrough because of computing necessary
    • He was a reluctant entrepreneur (had a paper and figured people would take it and run – they didn’t because it didn’t sell east)
      • Gordon Bell came to him and said John would have to run a company
      • Said he thought engineering should get 50% of revenue (quickly learned sales needed them)
      • Selling to people was easier than to give it away and have impact
        • More you charge, more successful the implementation – people will have to commit
    • Had cut from 120 people to 80 and then give a TGIF speech on being a “great company”
      • 28% of Stanford’s endowment disappeared in financial dot-com bubble and meant the company couldn’t spend how it had
      • Decided a big cut to lean out was the method to continue forward
    • Technology licensing is like extracting blood vs being partners with the entrepreneurs (unis should get tech out there – be respectable of faculty, as well)
      • Wider range of experience and students will typically go into industry vs education
      • Universities are the hub of innovation starting – Silicon Valley elsewhere
        • SV has gotten larger over last 15 years (he said, no doubt, China is 1)
    • In leadership, humility as important, as long as you maintain ambition
      • “If I show weakness, my people will lose faith in me” – humble with a decision made
      • Talked about expanding Stanford (and now, changing education) – “Everyone should watch more Shakespeare”
        • How to leverage technology to get cost of education down, otherwise more and more expensive since they’re less able to save
          • Bryan Caplan’s “Case Against Education” (7/8 of education and out, don’t get 7/8 of value so the value is in the signal of the finish)
        • Interdisciplinary and how comp sci is a meta-discipline (algorithmically thinking)
    • Has been a shift from research at universities to industry, driven by data at Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon
      • Prior industry research with IBM, Bell Labs pre-1980s, they had long-term driven research because they were all monopolies and could afford it
      • Waymo winning self-driving car with DARPA project was tipping point, Cisco as a different form of acquiring businesses with interesting tech
        • Spin-ins that have been immensely successful (send team out to develop, build a company, and then bring back in)
    • Computer Science and Women in the Business
      • 1980s they dominated the field until it absolutely blew up in the 1990s, and now it’s getting closer to critical mass
      • Tools are much more sophisticated and being able to learn
  • Author of #IamSexist article, George Yancy, prof of philosophy at Emory (Women@Work, WhartonXM)
    •  Author of Dear White People and the #IAmSexist articles that tried to deconstruct some of the inherent biases that many people grow up with
    • Clearly a majority of people aren’t blatantly racist or sexist, but rather it’s a construct of our environment that we’ve grown up in
    • He declared himself an Antisexist Sexist (has to fight his notions each day)
  • SheEO  & HeyMama (Wharton XM)

    • Community of empowering mothers / women in business, connecting them to discuss their problems/solutions juggling successful careers with life
  • James Borow, Chief Product Officer at Brand Networks (20min VC FF013)
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    • Planned on being a lawyer – was at Vanderbilt, took off a year before graduating, and worked for an internet company
    • Deferred Georgetown (de-risked because he could do this), eventually met his co-founder of Shift
      • Created Buzzfeed before Buzzfeed (GirlsGuideToo?)
      • Had to programmatically get advertisers onto the social platforms before it was accessible
        • Educating clients in new market as difficult – reached a whole new audience as part of value pop
      • One marketing platform for all stakeholders and across all social networks (now vs then)
    • Make bets and invest to grow, mentors to help – not looking to reinvent the wheel (but can waste years figuring out your way)
      • Giving up equity to people for help – want investments and a piece to motivate them to help
    • Approached by Brand Networks because they were better at content – James’ team better at payments
      • As product focus, he can pay attention to things he wanted to do in the past
      • If weak in finance or product or anything, tell cofounders/advisors and get help
  • Karl Friston, Wired article
  • Shane Parrish
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Changing What We Expect From Medicine (notes from Nov 5 to 11) November 22, 2018

Posted by Anthony in experience, finance, global, medicine, questions, Uncategorized.
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I have mentioned Singularity University a number of times over the last month or so, in addition to suggesting books that have come out of it. I had the pleasure of listening to a number of the conference talks from the Exponential Medical Conference that was held in Coronado, CA over the first week of November. You can find many of the talks available at that site above, also. This was the theme of the week, along with a few listens to a16z on cryptocurrency and 20min VC on seed investing. Hope you enjoy!

  • Moira Gunn, Professor at UCSF (ExMed Live Conference)
    • Tech Nation Health on NPR radio podcast, International Bio Conference
    • Makes a good point of competing for attention, not ears anymore – everyone is everywhere
    • Top biotech/biopharma trends: protein degradation
      • Biopharma as part of Big Pharma
  • Rachel Thomas of Fast.ai (xMed Live Conference)
    • 5 myths of AI
      • Needing “Big Data”; Deep learning only works for very limited problems;
  • 3 Common Myths About Crypto with Katie Haun (a16z, former fed prosecutor) and Paul Krugman
    • Crypto is anonymous (only criminals)
      • Dark net markets in 2012 were 30%+ of value of Bitcoin transactions, now down to only 1%
      • Pseudonymous – government can easily trace crypto, as well as some individuals
      • Financial institutions spending $20bn to fight and stay AML compliant – 99.9% launderers succeed anyhow
    • Besides speculation, no use
      • Speculation as loaded term – wheat farmers, ex
      • Venezuela 10% of localbitcoins transactions there
      • 2bn unbanked people, 86% in Middle East – bitcoin was an option (one of Time’s Top 100 who employed women s/w eng)
      • Cryptocurrency allowing transfers that would often lose out 7.5% (avg) or up to 30% in fees to Western Union or other agents
      • Stores of value – digital as photos, songs, music, etc..
        • Gold vault compared to bitcoin
    • Crypto is just about currency
      • Stores of value, intermediary removal (or transfer), dapps (tokenization and scale)
  • Salim Ismail (xMed conf)
    • Disruption of institutions (marriage, religion, education, taxis, etc…)
      • Marriage updating of institution
      • Pope trying to update religion – where you’re selling the afterlife
      • Education and cramming topics into students heads
      • Higher education where you try to study tech that, when done with program, is outdated
    • Music, car, energy industries that will go from physical to informational service
      • Cut middle men as you go end-to-end – deflationary effects are massive (used music as example from peak to trough)
      • Humans are poor in recognizing linear vs exponential paces
    • Drones, lidar, 3d printing (35+ years)
      • Price per performance dropping quickly
    • “Any company designed for 20th century success is doomed to failure in the 21st century” – Ghoas
    • MTP and mentioned GitHub / Microsoft purchase of $7.4 bn for company with no assets, workforce or ip
    • Advice to large companies
      • Transform leadership (mindset, education)
      • Inspire ExOs at edges (change makers at edges and next to market) – Apple’s true innovation is organizational
        • Nestle has research on creating diets based on DNA, Corona into marijuana, IKEA into vertical farms
        • “Exponential Transformation” as opensource, FastTrackInstitute – try to solve problems for 1/10 cost (project: corruption in Medellin)
      • “We can’t fix that, it’s too big” – regulatory issues (think, people leaving to do stem cell research elsewhere, or ultrasound opioid addiction)
        • Retrofitting to the legacy challenge – set up a clinic outside of the hospital or other corporation and spin it off (Nestle and Nespresso)
  • Nicolas Chirls, Founder and Partner of Notation Capital, Pre-seed Investing (20min VC 071)
    • Pre-seed investing in pre-growth startups
    • Fascinated with the company – find a way to join the company regardless of the role (For him, that was BetaWorks)
      • Seed investing business start – knew very little, but others had already left so he got in to learn to the basics
    • His mentors – Andy Weissman, Collaborative Funds
    • Notation Thesis (had started a year prior): NY can produce $1bn exits (Etsy, Mongo, Tumblr, etc…)
      • NY has a critical mass of talent, engineering and designers
      • $150k checks into pre-seed rounds ($500k or less – don’t need millions to show traction and a big team for early product-market fit)
    • Running fund for 6 months and made 8 investments – thinks he can work with top founders disciplined with money raised early
      • He counters that repeat founders are best founders (they often choose to raise more – compared to first timers who don’t)
    • Has interactions with founders (likes in person) about capital raising and product architecture
    • Not a fan of demo days – prefers meeting and getting to know founders
    • Has a fund of $8mln – initial checks range from high single digit ownership % and follow ups
      • LP universe is hard to navigate as opacity increased
    • Blog – Wait, But Why (profiling various topics/authors)
  • Jay Parkinson? (xMed before Laura Jana)
    • Eugene Debs (president candidate garnered 5% of vote, from prison) talked about people that ended up being wrong in new ideas were the majority
    • Healthcare moves very slowly – 20-30 years – but advantage is that there’s a framework / playbook for improving this by other industries
  • Andrew Pelling, U of Ottawa (xMed)
    • Just stretch (mechanical force) as cells start to destroy other cells, physical (dye) difference meant they changed or separated
    • Little Shop of Horrors – Ideal biomaterial
      • Sustainable/ethical source, minimal foreign body response
      • Example of apple-ears (and other type), “designers for ears or other body parts”
      • Regenerative medicine
    • Plant cellulose as being overlooked (flesh, bone, spinal tissue/nerves)
  • David Karow, Health Longevity CEO (xMed)
    • Discussion of various diseases rid from stem cell
  • Osman Kibar, Samumed CEO
  • Bob Hariri, Celularity
  • Group of 3 above – 23&Me, Ancestry – 1000 medically significant variants (but they only look at 3)
    • Layperson algorithms that integrate quantitative data with the actionable

Funding Environment Experiences (Notes from Week of Oct 29 – Nov 4) November 14, 2018

Posted by Anthony in education, experience, finance, Hiring, social.
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Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to really dive deep or go back and listen yet to some of the segments I happened to catch in the car. However, I included what they were for those that would love to check the companies out! On the ones I was able to sit through a majority of the segment / podcast, I did include more notes – and that was the theme for the week.

Different start-ups and founders had opinions from what they took from their experiences and how they pushed forward in building. Whether this included VC capital or what it took to get to that point varied.

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On to the notes:

  • CEO of NURX, Hans Gangeskar (Wharton XM, Bay Area Ventures)
    • Birth control and PrEP delivery to your doorstep – telemedicine platform offering birth control
  • CEO of Brex, Henrique Dubugras (Wharton XM, Bay Area Ventures)
    • Talking about not worrying about dilution – x% of $0 is nothing
      • How helpful YC was and why they thought it was worth it
    • Networking to full effect with his Brazilian heritage (reaching out and connecting for ~1 month initially, before making move)
  • Netflix article – Radical Transparency and Blunt Firings WSJ by Shalini Ramachandran (Wharton XM)
    • Reed Hastings and how he handled employees – very public firings with no counter to the claims
      • An executive or someone leaves, a letter gets sent out describing the transgressions
        • Can be detrimental to that Netflix career/network thereafter
      • How to improve upon everything
    • At Netflix, everyone is rated quarterly/monthly? To determine if they’re capable of staying longer with the company
      • Always wanting the best people
      • High turnover for Netflix but longer average time, due to growth rates
  • Do Investors in California Outperform the Rest – Eric ver Ploeg @everploeg (20min VC 070)
    • Founder of Adknowledge – EE PhD at Stanford with MBA, started Angorra and had hired his replacement as CEO
      • Had a board member that reached out to him for venture – his initial thought was that it was ~40 hours a week, even less without golf hours
        • Post dot-com crash, hadn’t maybe understood how bad things would get
    • Guys at VantagePoint (investors for Angorra) brought him in to the business
      • Without strategy, he compared a plethora of businesses available as having an AK-47 and being told to “shoot something”
        • With dot-com crash, he was able to hone in on what he should strategize with
    • 2 start-ups – 1 good, 1 bad (years of time that eventually went to 0)
      • Recognized that company CEOs working 60+ hours a week in a sector are the ones that have the expertise
        • He needed to recognize why only 20% of his suggestions would truly work compared to the other 80%
      • Role of board member would be to provide rationality and reason – be human if mistakes, potentially
    • Founders looking to raise – $ depends on business model, what you need to get to revenue traction or risk-reducing milestones
      • Don’t be outside the norm of valuation stages (cash flow positive, 18 months burn)
      • Later stage can take more money to scale faster, or grow slower but maybe cash flow positive
    • Talked about (deca-)unicorns – they would’ve long been IPOs and now they’re still private
      • Pension, hedge funds and institutional investors can’t get into small equity high growth in public markets
      • Have had to transition to private space
    • 37% of angels based in CA went to series A compared to rest of the world as 21%
      • He can see venture guys if he just goes to coffee shop in the bay area – advantage being there in general
    • Overhyped and underhyped sectors: he doesn’t understand food-delivery systems, blockchain and distributed authorization
      • Reduce transaction costs and remove friction for websites or other things (say, $.50 or $1 to process)
    • Mentioned Tomasz Tunguz’s blog that he reviews (excellent data and insights – less fluff)
  • Uberland author Alex Rosenblat, Researcher at Data Society (Wharton XM)
    • Interestingly enough – contractors / drivers are not capable of requesting the price
      • They can request a lower wage but not higher – so they wouldn’t do it
  • CEO and Co-founder of Benetech, Jim Fruchterman (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about how social good corporations will often be 20+ years behind the times
      • There is a need to change this – and can be done easily
  • Author of Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, Mark Goalston (Wharton XM)
    • Procrastination arouses such a weird dynamic for people
      • People realize they procrastinate but then will compare how ‘awful’ (re: awesome) they are – weird brags
  • Lea Dunn, Uwash professor (Wharton XM marketing)
    • Impact of Fear on Emotional Brand attachment
      • There is an association with items that you may see during fear-inspired events
      • Mentions Doritos strategy of 10+ years ago where they created a spooky game to play and had Doritos as a corner item, just the brand
        • Turned out there was a strong brand affiliation for the connection made in the game, despite not having it present in storyline
    • Did a study with volunteers seeing clips of movies (comedy, scary, action?) and then had some form of brand that was in the room with them
      • In the scary ones, the brand was more recognizable – food, candy, drink items, for instance
  • Straight Talk for Startups book, Jantoon Reigersman / Randy Komisar (Wharton XM)

Problems Require Passionate Solutions (Notes from Oct 22 – 27) November 6, 2018

Posted by Anthony in education, experience, finance, global, Hiring, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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This was a week for venture, seed investing combined with a number of episodes diving into psychology and differences of people.

Week of October 22, 2018

  • Jeremy Gilbert, Strategy and Product Initiatives at WaPo (Work of Tomorrow, Wharton XM)
    • Talked about how automation has helped free up some of the repetitive processes for journalists and editors
    • Can never have too many editors – who say that there can always be more journalists
    • WaPo has looked to scale the number of stories, and that’s allowed them to provide smaller stories to more people
    • Automation in the form of Heliograph system for the election – newsy material that updates automatically
      • Don’t want journalists spending time on curation or number-gathering, should be on analysis and interviews and getting the story
  • Defy.VC co-founder, KP Trae Vassallo (WhartonXM)
    • Talking about seed stage venture and series A – 7 in less than a year and closing fund
      • Doesn’t care if bootstrapped or crowdfunding, though her and partner have invested/worked with 5 of 7 founders teams
    • Institutional start-ups have boards that could be very beneficial in identifying business models, proper ear but doesn’t exclude others
    • Co-wrote Elephant in the Valley, on women / diversity harassment in the Valley
      • Did a short poll of other women ~50 when she realized she wasn’t alone for the culture in the valley
      • Not a feeling exclusive to SV – very prominent in Hollywood, Madison Ave, Wall St, etc…
    • Doesn’t care about failures if founders have generated a learned knowledge for how to avoid or change what went wrong
  • Using Facebook to Understand Depression, Andy Schwartz and Johannes Eichstaedt (Wharton XM)
    • Surveyed some 1500+ people, actual data and analysis in World Well-Being Project
    • Went through Facebook to determine usage of certain words and language that gave indicators of depression
      • Ex: me/I when used often typically signified a higher sign of depression
      • Usage of the word ‘alone’, at all, may be a signifier (but multiples didn’t seem to enhance case)
    • Data questions of health – if you assess the subjects’ mental health status (or in general), that information becomes subject to HIPAA and other privacy laws
      • Had to control who is looking, every stroke gets logged and people must be hyper aware of what it is they’re a part of
      • If this can be used for treatment or further diagnosis, ramifications of data privacy and health are a big challenge
  • Debra Mashek, Professor of Psychology at Harvey Mudd (Women @ Work, WhartonXM)
    • Talked about how 60% of college students are women but not taking the higher-paying wages still (or majors that’d pay that)
      • Mentioned HMC’s success: Dean/President is woman and 54% of CS and 56% of Physics majors are women, going to better things
    • Often, women were deterred by initial hurdles
      • Survey/study where an online course had a pre-quiz: women that performed poorly would drop the course; males – no such thing
      • How to fix this, and make it so they aren’t put off
    • Online platforms enable women professors to be scaled (women will take a course or be drawn to it with a woman professor)
      • Easier because there still aren’t enough or haven’t been enough women in the field to draw the necessary influx of women talent
  • Javier Sotero, Corp VP of Outlook @ Microsoft (20min VC FF012)
    • Moved to Outlook after his startup, Accompli, was acquired by Microsoft for $200mln
    • Was chief architect at a startup, where he partnered with other 4 engineers at the company to buy out the product they built (for $1)
      • Company was failing, but they believed in the product and market there and transitioned into that
      • Company was called Hypeeric (sp?)
        • Sold in 2009 when they had 1000s of customers, $10mln+ in revenue, to VMWare and wound up as CTO
    • Accompli started as EiR at Redpoint, failure was Covalent (tremendous amount of capital)
      • New game, new rules (but they fell prey to old stuff – top down, Seibel-style business)
        • Showed him that you can have top tier money and intelligent people and actually fail still
      • Bootstrapped for multiple years before taking institutional money
    • Good investor for him: pushes founder to think and achieve more than you may have thought
      • Growing business with 0 capital, $15million to build already and got it for $1
      • Respecting the amount of capital brought in
      • Investors as being very helpful through the crash in 08 – maintaining build, product and the customers
      • Find a simple, straight forward approach: vitamin product, painkiller product, viagra product (blog post, not his)
        • Vitamin: not felt immediately – felt down the line (hygiene for instance)
        • Painkiller: attractive (everybody needs to fix pain) but “tolerance” or how “long-lived” product is – churn issues
        • Viagra: previously thought impossible become possible
    • His belief: venture capital as fun sheet bs and an illogical attraction toward terms
      • Remembered at Hypeeric that people would ask about valuations and he hated it
      • Incestuous, passing deals back and forth (“VC is not a true market”) – limited number of players managing flow
        • Amazing part of US and global economy – “great valuation” not a marker for anything from the business side
    • Reasons for selling to Microsoft – middle of transition from deeply loved, widely-adopted to enterprise business (and really make money)
      • Fortunate to already have multiple $ of sales and customers – 2 in Europe, 1 more in UK, and 2 in US to work closely and craft Accompli service
        • He was already familiar with that and growing up as team/company
      • Says nobody was searching app store for Accompli, so they needed to somehow deal with marketplace, such as Microsoft
    • Wait But Why blog
  • Jeff Clavier, King of Seed Funding (20min VC 069)
    • Founder and Managing Partner of SoftTech VC, closed 150 investments
    • Born and raised in France, did a start-up in fin services that was acquired by Reuter’s in the UK
      • Moved in 2000 to SV to a venture capital firm – partner at Reuters Partners fund
      • Started SoftTech in 2004, focused on early stages of industry – gap for people in few $100k’s for funding vs millions ($10mlns)
    • Been working for a few years, FitBit was his investment – ~15 per year
    • Asked if it was efficient to build hardware companies on cheap capital – introduced to founders as he was finding out about this
    • 250 microVC funds have gained $4b in funding
      • Thus, understand the type of company, location and market of your start-up
        • This should narrow your VCs that you want to target for funding/partnership (~5-10) that should have interest in what you’re building
    • SoftTech is a B2B and SaaS investor, vertical/horizontal/mobile and marketplaces, as well as connected devices (home, payments, healthcare)
      • See 3000 companies and only invest in 10-15 of them
        • Prioritize deal flow, typically, with in between connections (can get on calendar much easier with them)
    • It’s been said they’ve “forced” larger seed rounds – they look at roughly an 18 month runway (hiring eng, product to market, traction, few iterations)
      • Growth path should follow and clear the series A hurdles – ($2mil – $4mil – hardware taking more time, usually)
    • Only build a start-up about something you’re very passionate about
    • Best thing about being a VC – seeing the world through the lens of some of the most crazy and expansionary minds

Upstarts in Old Industries (notes from 10/15 – 10/21) October 28, 2018

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I went to Tahoe last weekend with some of the family. It was a blast! My dad’s cousin had a few cool spots that we visited in the Sierras that had a bunch of trails and creeks/snow run-off flowing. Setting up a picnic there was a blast. I mention this, though, because he often comes that way to fish on his own. This day, however, was a bit easier than others. Why? Well, as we arrived, there was a family exiting – upon seeing my cousin’s pole, the father promptly exclaimed “Rough day – the kids and I tried and didn’t get any to bite”.

As we neared the creek, you could see the fish in mini schools. You could have brought a net and caught some fish by accident. Certainly the lumbering, aging trout. [Yes, I see that’s technically not a “bite” but the father could have easily said “caught”.] Undeterred, my cousin dropped the first few casts. Fish on!

Sometimes, the oldest industries and things most entrenched are the best ones. And not because they run efficiently, but likely because they’re running efficiently enough to stay. These can be ripe for innovation – optimizing, digitizing and cleaning to make them run smoother. The big feeder fish who have been a bit comfortable in a deeper part of a creek instead of flowing with the rest.

Pablos Holman of Singularity U and Intellectual Ventures had a recording of his live stream from the recent DataScienceGo conference go live. He talked about some of our stagnant fish above / low-hanging fruit where we should be using data in more impactful ways.

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Michael Ovitz stopped by the a16z podcast episode and discussed his bold entry into the entertainment / creatives industry when he founded CAA. They talked about the barrier to entry and large moat that could be traversed.

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Wharton XM radio had on Shanna Tellerman who talked about what sort of insights she had as she took AR/VR to the interior design space with her company Modsy. You can do the ‘virtual browse’ to see how pieces may fit a room or fit each other. Then, using that data, could make a room and drive customer interactions for more sales. Again, a space that wasn’t going anywhere – people have to inhabit places – and they prefer to make it their own.

Hope you enjoy. My brief notes from the week are listed below on those segments and a few others:

Week of October 15, 2018

  • Pablos Holman of Singular U / Intellectual Ventures Webcast / Livestream at DataScienceGo Conference
    • Finding the proper problems to build solutions for
      • Hindrance of some in the US (the 99% of America are in the top 14% globally)
      • Malaria outbreak and data forecasting, for instance – deployment of proper vaccination schedules, nets, etc…
        • Madagascar video
    • Uranium nuclear reactors as 0.3% efficient – nuclear waste in Kentucky, if efficiently used, could power 1000 years including growth
      • Building nuclear reactors for uranium waste
    • Silicon dioxide in tube with Helium balloons as option C or more to improve solar ray reflections
    • Machine vision as diagnostics (humans in cervical cancer detection – ~50%)… 95%+ accurate with machine
    • Vaccinations in Africa delivered in styrofoam coolers, building cooler for long travel and safe keeping
    • AI as tool for humans choosing what to do with it – building a future that we want
  • New Upstarts in an Old Industry, (a16z podcast – 9/25/18)
    • Michael Ovitz founded Hollywood talent agency with Ben, Hanne Tidnam
      • Firms had been well established with the greats and was trying to create a new, successful talent agency
    • Fundamentally reconceived the idea of an agent and what they are – going back to tradition of service
      • Couple with the talent back in the driver’s seat
    • Control was from 4 American studios, 5 book publishers, a scattered amount in Europe
      • Had a giant barrier to entry for new people compared to now
      • They decided to do a very deep, guidance and direct service
    • CAA was a different, systematic network – agencies took clients
      • Built in advice (marketing, technical, business)
    • “We don’t know the answer, but let us get back to you” was new initially in the space
    • Changed leverage from clients to talent
    • The Fox, Disney and other big guys in the space in 30s-50s were blunt, bold and doers
      • Admired these people who did what they said
      • Jurassic Park (no big movie stars – dinosaurs in present day) – gave it to Speilberg who read it in 12 hours and said I want to do it
        • Called other studios and writers who were annoyed because they had never gotten the chance to look at it
    • Enjoyed to know the end result as he was building pictures/screenplay/books/records
      • Foundation, then framework and getting the roof up (his house analogy)
    • Difference between SV and LA valleys – LA didn’t want anything to do with mistakes
      • Tech and valley always wanted to know, so they could avoid them
  • Shaun Francis, author of Eat, Move, Think and Founder/CEO of MEDCAN (Work & Life, WhartonXM)
    • Thought process, actual eating, moving and being active
    • Noted that when asked about his habits, he mentioned the eating and moving (but was prompted for the thinking)
      • Possibly much harder to be aware/cognizant, at least in a vocal way
  • Paul Harrington, PhD, professor in School of Ed and Director for Center for Labor Markets & Policy
    • Drexel studies, new report on “Skills and Earnings in the Full-Time Labor Market”
      • Report has more details on the detachment between college graduate rates and skill efficiencies
      • If bachelor’s degree wasn’t obtained, there was little difference found between earnings of college attendees and high school graduates
        • Conversely, skills weren’t determined by levels of education – though the skills gaps often widened
    • *Note to self to go back and listen to the episode again*
  • Founder of Modsy, Shanna Tellerman (Wharton XM)
    • 3D-based start-up acquired by Autodesk in 2010 and was with Google Ventures
    • Interior design solution for 3D capture and computer vision tools to enable seeing interior design with VR
    • Norwest Ventures was very helpful
    • When looking at the data of purchase history and tendencies, Shanna saw people were more likely to purchase more when people have option to see pieces go together
      • Compared to a couch that sticks around for 8-10 years and nobody buys another
        • Tech enables you to buy lamps, tables, accessories to go with everything else in the room
  • Hunterwalk’s blog by Hunter on Homebrew

Week’s Notes: Entrepreneurs Solving Their Own Problems and Taking Action October 16, 2018

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Another week flew by! Last week I fell behind – I plan on posting or scheduling these weekly on Tuesdays, not Thursdays. Whoops! Life happens – we know this.

My XM radio was stuck on Business / Wharton’s channel, seemingly. A number of segments drew me in as to how some entrepreneurs started their journeys or continued them – always asking how they could improve what they were doing, or destress, or build because they were bored. Ideas come aplenty when you’re having discussions with friends, spouses, colleagues! I do find it entertaining to catch a few segments that have founders claiming opposite approaches – this week it was on funding levels. One passionately believed that if a team is focused on funding repeatedly or the necessary amount to land the funding, it would take away from the proper product building. Another talked of his experience talking to ~200 different VCs and investors to land the funding he believed was necessary to push his company further into growth. Different strokes for different folks – and it’s fun to listen to each of them use their investing or fundamental beliefs in saying that it was the right way.

I’m going to include a shout-out for DataScienceGo – a data science convention headed by Kirill Eremenko (@kirill_eremenko) and the SuperDataScience he has fostered and created with a number of partners. From people posting and the discussions I’ve had, it maintained its level of excitement and continued to foster the community further! Congrats and hope it was a blast for everyone that went!

On to the notes:

Week of October 8, 2018

  • Aly Orady, Founder of Tonal Fitness (Wharton XM)
    • Had quit his job, was making him stressed and said he needed to focus on himself, somehow
      • Wanted a family and figure out what he could do
      • Took 9 months to lose 70 pounds and was feeling much better – strength training vs cardio
    • In deciding what he wanted to do next – wanted something that was out of his need to train and not having the information
      • Trainers do exist out there but good ones are fully booked – others don’t have the experience or the knowledge or practical knowledge
  • Farhad Farahbakhshian, CEO and co-founder of Naked Labs (Wharton XM)
    • Home body scanner, out of necessity and not having information to do this
    • “Honest feedback” on how fit they are and their own body – can see adjustments in privacy of home or with gym partners, etc…
  • Syed Hussain, Chief Commercial Officer for BANKEX, global fintech firm (Behind the Markets, Wharton XM)
    • Trying to get banks on blockchain for security and transactional setup
      • Host thought it was ridiculous that 2% charge and 3% charge for customers of banks, between banks and transaction companies to consumers
        • Should be 2-5 bps, if blockchain can bring that charge down, worth it
    • Background in IB with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch
  • Phil Libin, CEO and Co-founder of All-Turtles (Wharton Launch Pad)
    • All-Turtles, AI startup studio looking to partner with founding teams to build products
    • Before starting All-Turtles while at General Capital, was CEO and starter of Evernote (~8-9 years)
      • Talked about not having a great story, very difficult to obtain funding initially
        • All funding outside of him and co-founder came from very active users/first adopters
      • He really wanted to build a “100 year start-up”, what would that look like? Product that he could be fine with, but wasn’t ultimately looking for an exit between he and his co-founder
        • However, he also realized he wouldn’t need to be CEO forever. Wasn’t until meeting with GoPro founder who asked “still having fun?”
          • If not having fun, then it was likely due to not doing the things he was good/great at and needed to get rid of those responsibilities
  • Donna Hicks, Leading with Dignity (Wharton XM, Women @ Work)
    • Talking about why many lose their dignity, due to others
    • Leading requires understanding humans and how to lead with dignity
    • She’s an International Conflict Resolution Advisor
  • SC0x Week 3, Lesson 2
    • Transportation and transshipment problems
      • Variability of demand – what to incorporate
        • More to bring in, more the model becomes difficult to solve or interpret
      • Simulation is descriptive, not prescriptive model
      • Transportation model is source nodes or demand nodes
    • Transshipment involves demand and supply, but also adds intermediate nodes
    • Anything that doesn’t supply or demand flow (enforcement of in vs outflow)
    • Data requirements of modeling problems
      • Where the modeler draws the line of complexity:
        • Realistic problem vs realism/practicality
      • Cost structure- variable costs at nodes, fixed cost/combination, concave/nonlinear?
      • Single or multiple commodity? Separate or family of SKUs?
        • Common unit, like cases? A ton of product? What’s the flow variable?

Notes on 4 Segments – back to late ’15 and People in Work October 12, 2018

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*/ Note – I think I’ll start including one of the logos/marks from one of the segments in my notes as features. Draw some more attention to these interesting companies/people!

Sometimes, I lament the fact that I only catch some of the radio segments midway or further through. I always wish I have the time to go back and finish or research more of the information. However, my notes initially are simply what I catch and then remember once I’m in front of my laptop again. So, if they seem incomplete – they are! However, it does remind me to go back and check it out at a later point (or when I can catch other parts of the segment in repeats).

With that said, here we go:

Week of October 1, 2018

  • Sean Seton-Rogers, founding partner at PROfounders Capital (20min VC 068)
    • VC fund for entrepreneurs
    • Learned the most during 2000 after crash, workforce reduction and doing everything to survive
      • Biggest lesson was that you need to have laser focus – doing too much is scary – must deliver one product amazingly well
    • At time, influx of US capital in European markets – got very expensive to get into high growth companies
      • Arbitrage play initially but now he thinks that there are lots of resources available for big companies ($1-10bn)
    • He looks to invest $1-3mln pounds, 7-10 people and invests early – prove his value to founders (definitely higher capital engages founders)
      • Bar is higher for proving your value for next rounds of financing
      • Have to be good to get next rounds, belief that company can grow
      • Early stage – he says that location does matter, meeting face to face in crucible – first proper employees, business dev deals, early stage
        • Bounce and converse ideas with – top level CEO and key management – PROfounders tries to be there for them
    • Europe was leaders in global music during 50s, 60s and still are – SoundCloud, Spotify, others
      • Fashion is another leader as a vertical – Milan, Paris, etc… still providing global leading fashion companies (List, etc…)
      • London is financial tech but Berlin is also up there
    • Talked about immigration issues in London or Berlin for global talent acquisition for the big operations and scaling people
      • Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc….
    • Crowdfunding, as Harry’s passion
      • Can skip the many meetings and questions of VC, less equity that they have to give up, different type of investor though (cash only)
        • Have to weigh if the different investor costs or if they want to raise more or price more
      • Sean said it can be great for entrepreneurs and it’s a challenge for investors (as competitors)
      • Quality of companies on crowdfunding platforms are increasing
    • Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and Influence: Psychology of Persuasion (human body conditioned to respond)
    • Mike Morris at Sequoia as most successful of old, Chris Sacca of new people
  • Ben Nader, Founder CEO at Butterfleye (20min VC FF 011)
    • Born in middle east, migrated to United States, studied electrical engineering / hardware and electrical
      • Moved into product management, opened his eyes up to camera/videos while in college, though
    • Personal frustration toward products in market when he wanted peace of mind for his bikes in his garage (2011-2013)
      • Design decisions by the shortcomings of these products
      • Wanted an industrial designer to look/feel good product
    • In designing team, he lived in the Bay Area
      • Networking and friends of friends, angelist, LinkedIn for most connections
    • For the product, most cameras did 24/7 passive recording – decided to put a brain in camera for making sense of content (humans, pets, beings)
    • Connected devices – 20-30 people to give feedback (but he noticed 3-5 people would be enough because the rest would respond similarly)
      • Feedback on features being useful or not
    • Kickstarter and Indiegogo (they used this) was a great way for him to go and get customers – early adopters and shaping the last 10% of product
      • Can change software side, especially – had a chance in SF (indiegogo was closer to collab – both teams local)
    • Good angel investors – business case scenarios vs bad (asking what-ifs)
      • Jason C as first one (reached out on Angelist, initially) – talking about idea actively, what are you building, no stealth mode
      • Featured on Angelist – generated traction via feature – friends rounds for first investing checks after he put his savings in
    • Mentioned BeatsByDre and GoPro as good consumer brands (funny with GoPro tanking after public)
  • Danny Leffel, CEO and Co-founder of Crew App (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing how communication was crucial, end of the discussion
    • Belief that there should be very limited time spent on pitch decks or setting meetings
      • Said that he would spend capital trying to hire the right people – it’s the VC firms job to seek out start-ups they want to found
      • Startups become interesting because they have traction, interest and a place in people’s minds
    • He said that his role has been hiring the right people and getting the right metrics into place
  • Sally Thornton, founder and CEO of Forshay (Work Wharton XM)
    • Work/life blend and discussions with many people over past 7 years in work
    • Knowing clients and how they prioritize people and work culture
      • My question: is there a place that will publicly share team-by-team people metrics and match them with candidate metrics?
        • Can this be done? Has it been done?
      • They mentioned Apple is much more private team-wise than Google, for instance

Interesting Notes from Last Week October 4, 2018

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First week of my initial interesting thoughts on segments I listened to over the past week! Copying my notes below:

Week of September 24, 2018

  • Co-founder, CEO of Glow Michael Huang (Launch Pad Wharton XM)
    • Discussed working with his co-founder as Head of Product at Paypal – credibility in financing
    • Fertility, infertility community – massive growth for scale in China (post-single child, aging)
      • Applications, connecting community with providers (some large fertility clinics, some small and personable)
    • Large funding rounds and how difficult it was to initiate a feeling of what it’s like to go through these experiences
  • SC0x MIT Video 6
    • Why is it so difficult?
      • Metrics – how do you measure a system?
        • Trade-off of Breadth vs Validity of metrics
        • Outcome-based logistics – perfect order, perfect shelf
      • Politics and Power of Players – Who Wins?
        • Mom and pop vs megastores
        • Mega retailers vs mega CPG manufacturers
      • Visibility – who can see what and how quickly
        • Data stored separately
        • All parties don’t have equal access to data
        • Massive data does not equal shared and accessible information
      • Uncertainty – who knows what’s going to happen?
        • Variable demand of product (shorter lifecycles)
        • Variable manufacturing yield
        • Unreliable sourcing of raw materials
        • Inconsistent transit lead times
      • Increased complexity – why is it getting harder?
        • Exploding number of SKUs
        • Higher and diverging customer demands
        • New and merging channels (omnichannels) – online, stores, replenishing, different chains
      • Global operations – Why don’t we ever close?
        • Most firms source and sell globally
        • Multiple regions, time zones, languages and cultures
  • Steve Johnson, author of Farsighted (Knowledge at Wharton)
    • Discussing why there isn’t really an update to pros/cons list
    • Long-term decisions – how do we decision map
      • Considering alternative solutions, especially when it’s a ‘do this or don’t do that’ initially
      • Processing out “what if / how does this go poorly?”, “what about if it’s best?”, “what makes it weird?”
      • Ex: moving for a job (uses his own case of moving to bay area)
  • Gina Fyffe, CEO of Integra (Dollars & Change)
    • Talked about a discussion with a Serbian Uber driver who was concerned about the dependency Serbians back home had on aid
      • How do we better get rid of dependencies in times of crisis?
    • Mentioned a case where a simple task like building a water well close to villages can save a ton of time, but more importantly
      • Build it with a shovel and show them how to do this instead of Caterpillar tractor or something that would be too expensive to maintain
    • They’ll offer money to people that have a passion to do something meaningful, but it doesn’t always pan out
      • Therefore, they don’t write initial big checks
  • Mike Todasco, Director of Innovation at PayPal, (Work of Tomorrow – Wharton XM)
    • Increasing the creative output of employees across company
    • Before PayPal, he was founder/CEO of eCommerce marketplace Sketch Maven
      • Spent 4 years as Director of Strategy, heading up m&a and strategic planning at NewPage, portfolio company of private equity firm Cerberus

 

One thing I recognized for the week is that I didn’t get a chance to listen to any podcast episodes (20min VC, a16z or Data Skeptic). I did, however, start EdX’s MIT Supply Chain Analytics course, which has been a good, fairly comprehensive foundation (for me, review) of optimization and how it applies in various parts of the supply chain. Gina’s segment was fascinating to me in finance and how different many countries are in their services and day-to-day lives. There are a ton of opportunities in other countries to just simply “catch up” to things we may be used to, but this has to be done in an intelligent manner. Then, I added Steve Johnson’s Farsighted to my book list – simplicity repeated is important, and he discussed our decision-making plans or maps haven’t changed dramatically.

Short Notes on Initial Presentations September 24, 2018

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It’s time! My process through the week consists of plenty of personal notes – some from podcast episodes I’ve listened to, my key takeaways from radio segments (mostly Wharton XM’s channel), courses I’m going through/reviewing, webinars I get the opportunity to attend, or books that have engaged me. Outside of a few tweet or LinkedIn shout outs, I keep these to myself. Bit selfish, no?

So, this will be a first intro to my quick notes on doing an initial presentation/consult (whether a pitch, training or a client & manager meetings). Hell, could be just networking or keynote speaking. These are top of mind for me as I go into these. I don’t want to waste my time, let alone others’ – so I’ll get to sharing!

  1. Presentation
    1. Storyboard lays the foundation for consulting report
    2. Structuring:
      1. Start with your point first
        1. Mento Principle (Barbara Mento from McKinsey) – present ideas organized as a pyramid under a single point
        2. Answer first, then summarize your supporting arguments, and logically order supporting ideas
      2. Focus on Highlighting Data Visually
        1. Hard data as evidence for building credibility and selling solution
        2. KISS – avoid graphics that are overly elaborate
        3. Print charts in black/white, never use 3D graphics, One message per chart

                               iii. Elevator Test Scenario

                                                                           1. Be able to deliver your presentation in 30 seconds

Lessons from Jack Ryan, S1 September 11, 2018

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Summer is nearing an end. As September dawned, Amazon treated us to their series release of Jack Ryan, starring Jim from The Office [re: John Krasinksi] and Wendell Pierce (of The Wire, Suits or Ray Donovan fame). Pierce plays James Greer, the new head of TFAD for Jack Ryan, though not necessarily by choice. Why do I bring James in, other than being a powerful actor? The answer is the dichotomy that is so quickly evident between Jack and James. Without revealing too much [I will try to avoid big spoilers],  each made a major mistake that placed them into their position where we jump into the story arc.

jryn_s1-ep101-jm_0946-fnl-_cb1528402416_ri_sx940_

Analysis Paralysis

In the workplace, there are many types of people. We get to witness this firsthand, especially early on. Jack plays a quiet role, trying to “blend” in without attention. However, he is still deeply rooted in his quest to make up for a mistake and provide the most concrete, clear analysis that he can. I think MANY people, including occasionally myself, fall victim to analysis paralysis – the idea that there is so much to analyze or go into decision-making that you don’t take action, or don’t make a decision. Brutal for results! Especially if one is on to something in the first place. Jack Ryan is an economic analyst working for the CIA, lording over a ton of financial and transactions data of key targets / suspected affiliates. We see that he owns his data and recognizes tons of patterns [in the books, there’s a deeper insight that we read about but in the show, we merely get a glimpse]. However, it takes a massive push in a meeting to say that he has something. Again, he was unsure – a product of his new persona [post-mistake Jack] and wasn’t certain of what his analysis ultimately meant, yet. Too much data or limited communication or, due to his mistake in the past, hesitation for fear of being wrong kept him from making a conclusion or actionable communication.

jack-ryan

Communication

A memorable episode and collection of scenes for me occurred between Jack and the director of the French intelligence agency. He was frozen in a few moves, both personal and what they should do next for finding the bad guy. He explicitly states that he isn’t sure because it isn’t certain – the viewer can see the discomfort in him not being able to figure out the course of action. Thankfully, only a very few of us have life/death situations sitting on these decisions. Although, that doesn’t discount the many decisions that are still important.
Some find it much easier to communicate what they’re doing than others. Some are comfortable making mistakes and owning them [or not] and others want to be absolutely certain that they’re comfortable in whichever way a decision will go [because their data / reasoning supports it]. Much of what we do can never be 100% certain or right. Communication is extremely important. But it has to be thoughtful. Additionally, we all benefit from clear, concise [business] questions decided ahead of diving into the data or exploration. That way, there’s a goal in mind – teams can get on the same page to know what they’re working toward and how. Developing this skill or coaxing it from team members can be the difference between success and failure, both in the show and our own work environments.

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Individual Action

This goes with both of the lessons above. Individuals can excel on their own, but even the most individual jobs require communication and supporting evidence to complete them. Whether it’s a back and forth between clients or customers and even team members, I’d imagine the people who produce to succeed most often are ones that can involve the right people at the right time in the process. Better yet, we should all try to leave a trail of production / processes so that we can decide how to operate better in case of a mistake, or repeat the process if there is a success. Allow others to share as necessary. This was in short supply in the series – Jack and James, though together, worked far too often as individuals when chasing (resulting in getaways). As they adapted to each others’ styles, there became a better understanding of each other, guided by their common goal. Hopefully, in the next season, we see them further gel as a duo while growing as individuals, continuing to learn and make up for their past mistakes.

Despite some cheesy scenes and a few plot holes, I found this first season a necessary prelim to what I believe will become of Jack Ryan – seeing what he tries to improve as an analyst, operative and individual. I enjoyed being able to see a character struggle through these lessons that so many of us encounter in our everyday lives.

 

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