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Builders for the Future (Notes from Dec. 24 – 30) January 16, 2019

Posted by Anthony in experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, questions, social, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Hello all! It’s good to write again this week! And this one sent us back to the week of Christmas. Appropriate for this edition because I spent mine with my mom. She’s one of the strongest women that I know – the stars of their respective companies/start-ups/brands. They’re asking questions that affect all of us, whether it’s when we literally stay a Marriott Hotel, question our job choices going forward, try to learn a new skill, or even debating on jumping into a start-up with an idea.

I know I took quite a bit of the segments to heart and reflected on them. They covered a wide range of topics but ultimately, how do we move forward in whatever we’re doing.

  • Nicola Corzine (@ncTheCenter), Exec Director at NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center (Bay Area Ventures, Wharton XM)

    • Enabled 7500 entrepreneurs in 65+ countries
    • 49% female and 65% minority as a big driver for her
    • KPIs as solving the business problems that are presented
  • Stephanie Linnartz, Chief Commercial Officer at Marriott International (Wharton XM)
    • Discussed how they had positioned to make sure certain hotels stand by their values
    • After buying Ritz Carlton, keeping it as Ritz Carlton brand
    • Host / rent-type brand and partnership to ensure that they can offer amenities in line with brand
    • Structure of Marriott being franchised, primarily
  • Ellen Ruppel Shell (@EllenRuppelShel), author of The Job (In the Workplace, Wharton XM)
    • What’s it mean to be satisfied at work? Depends on the person.
    • How gig economy changed mindsets – if it did? Many people want consistent paycheck
      • Control isn’t super valuable if they don’t know when the next paycheck is coming
    • Disagreements of people seeking ‘satisfaction’ or ‘meaningful’ employment – falsehood that has been pushed onto workers
  • Alice Bentink (@Alicebentinck), co-founder of Entrepreneurs First (20min VC FF 014)

    • Founded Girls Code
    • Was originally at McKinsey when she started – best way to think about next steps when they were graduating from university
    • Ingredients for EF: exceptional technical talent, co-founders that matter
      • Idea is important but not perfect idea (doesn’t exist)
        • Idea that resonates with you to attack and start to build
      • Non-technical people need to bring domain expertise (used a translation expert with contacts/work in the space)
        • People with years of expertise don’t want to work in their domain – EF is pained by this
      • Selection based on the talent over ideas (changing them 2-3 times)
    • What makes a great founder?
      • Thousands of applications – built companies or startups or products
        • How to keep an open mindset and willingness to learn
    • First time founders worry too much about the startup than the product being built
      • Don’t worry about accounting, incorporation, logo
      • Do built a test product, get feedback, iterate quickly
    • Friends and family rounds can be dangerous if there isn’t an understanding of the risk or time horizon (say, pensions or house deposit)
    • Scaling from 15 companies a year to 40 companies
  • Kirsty Nathoo, CFO of Y Combinator (20min VC 075)

    • Went from PWC in Cambridge, UK to YC and do-everything at a start-up accelerator
      • Got involved with YC through her husband, funded in 2008
      • Had a 3 week window to close up Cambridge and get to SV – was doing a ton of responsibilities
        • Control of all bank accounts, access to everything and it made her more trustworthy
    • First batch she was involved with was Winter 2010 and had 26 companies
    • 10 minute interviews questions – how big does it get? How does it adjust with getting customers what they want?
      • Have the founders thought about enough to make each other learn something new?
    • Obvious business expenses vs controllable business expenses – spending investor money and when to vary / change these
      • Founders can break up and it often isn’t ideal – YC makes sure to pay founders and payroll
    • Founders should be able to report a lot
      • How much $ in bank? Runway? Growth rate? Burn rate?
    • Most impressive interviews are ones that founders can articulate answers to questions because they’re so matched with their mission

Across the Board! Digitization, Health, Systems, and Strategy (Notes from Dec. 10 to 16) January 3, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, experience, finance, global, medicine, Politics, questions, social, WomenInWork.
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Happy New Year’s, everyone! Hope people had a safe, relaxing and fun holiday. I also hope it provided some time to pause, reflect and wondering for what has happened and what may come in the next year.

I’ll preface my notes by informing you that they are short snippets, as you’ll observe. This was not necessarily by design, but necessity. I listened to a higher number than I should have in this week, as I needed to procrastinate – for what, you may ask? – for my MBA Final exam. Knowing how much drop-off in any online programs there is, I was hesitant in sharing this with others. Hate to tell someone you started something and then pause it, right? I sit here, now after receiving my Smartly Institute email saying I’ve completed the program and should receive the MBA Degree shortly!


For those curious about the online program, reach out! Or maybe I’ll sure the exit survey that I am supposed to complete here.

Getting to my notes / snippets of what I listened to during that week, check below! I do think I’ll go back and listen to a couple of the segments fully because I found them very interesting. Whether it was strategy for Hasbro and eSports’ future or the author of Loneliest Generation or the Brightseed founder – some very interesting research and data being collected and reported on for whatever tickles your fancy. Whatever you may in interested in, there are plenty of overlaps. Know this.

  • Hasbro/Wizards strategy for esports, how DnD came about, Magic, (Work of Tomorrow, Wharton XM)
    • Magic was a request on finding a game between DnD games – revolutionized with trading card game
  • HBR article – business models for healthcare: https://hbr.org/2018/11/3-business-models-that-could-bring-million-dollar-cures-to-everyone
    • Business model needs to be reinvented if we’re to have million dollar treatments/cures
      • Ensure that insurance co’s are willing to cover expensive therapy – provide outcome-based results
      • Economics tend to be difficult if consumers are switching every 2 – 3 years with employer switches
    • HealthCoin securitizing improvements in health that can be passed from one stakeholder to another
      • Generates credit like a bond, can sell later to recoup cost
    • Annuity-based model for diseases/costly procedures, collect dividends after monthly premium investments
  • Million Dollar Women, Julia Pimsleur, (Women @ Work, WhartonXM)

    • Changing mindset, upping skillset, expanding network
      • Trying to get them to think bigger and get rid of imposter syndrome
      • Develop their 8 pillars
      • Network by talking 1 on 1 with established mentors in the program
  • Mene founder (Wharton XM)

    • Talking about the gold standard – Reagan’s temporary mission, haven’t come off
      • Inflation has been resigned to just sticking with the faux environment we’re in now – printing money
      • If gold wasn’t a store of value, it wouldn’t have risen from $30 – $1200+
  • Cotopaxi Founder, Davis Smith (Wharton XM)
    • Why SLC? He and his wife were deciding between Seattle and Salt Lake City – she chose SLC (having grown up in Seattle)
    • Created tribe / community of supporters
      • In Korea, someone shouted across the way Cotopaxi – to which he informed them he was the founder
      • Validation for what he had been working to create (although network effect bigger than anticipated)
    • Owning the omni-channels and why he chose D2C (virtual presence a la Warby Parker, Away, etc…)
      • Online and then a retail presence to own their own brand, before moving out to partner with places that help them reach others
      • Had to sell via Amazon as well to own that channel (otherwise someone would definitely be selling on that channel)
      • Partner with REI and other retailers in order to gain visible traction with places that had strong digital presence
        • Not the full catalog, but a few of the higher margin SKUs
      • Talked about how Vans originally rolled out to skaters/surf shops – top of pyramid before moving down to Zumies (frequented by those)
        • After a long while, they’re finally selling in JC Penny’s and others like it (well-established brand first)
    • Vertical digitalization above and then has a very lean business on the other side (outsources much of the fillers, suppliers, distribution)
      • He knows what he knows and then learns from those he works for – lets them do their thing
  • Author of Future Politics, Jamie Susskind (Wharton XM)

    • Why do we insist on allowing politicians to not be knowledgeable in digital age
    • Odd that these are legislators attempting to update the digital companies
    • Should be obvious that we ask the people creating regulation should be involved in the technology that they’re attempting to design around (apparently our votes say otherwise)




  • Loneliest Generation author (not wsj one)
    • Costs an estimate $7bn, more than arthritis or high blood pressure combined
  • Brightseed founder, (Wharton XM, Thurs Dec 13)
    • Search engine with thousands of plants to identify empirical evidence of eastern medicine
      • Which plant consumption triggers improved physical / health properties?
      • Headed to market with one that improves liver toxin fat breakdown
    • Cheaper aspect because they’re plants compared to new drugs which can take hundreds of millions of 7+ years
    • Features of plants aligning with human function

Tech Trends for Business (Notes from Dec. 3 – 9, 2018) December 28, 2018

Posted by Anthony in education, experience, finance, global, medicine, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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Okay, a busy week! Hope everyone had a great Christmas, safe and won all your family games. Earlier in the month, I listened to a couple 20min VC’ episodes that focused on tech trends (episodes from 2016). Looking back, healthcare is still being worked on, and we have definitely expanded into Europe being a larger hub for startups and tech origination.

Then, there remain questions of how we will replace or fundamentally alter the processes that seem ubiquitous such as transaction methods and recording as well as the old rules of portfolio formation.

I hope you guys enjoy some of the notes and feel free to explore further depths on your own!

  • Michael Treskow, Morgan Stanley IB former, VC at Accel Partners (20min VC 073)
    • Investment environment of London vs SF – tons of entrepreneurs in both
    • All else being equal – all experience (prior founder experience) is typically good
      • Gets bug for creating his own thing but then is quickly reminded of how difficult and time-consuming it is
    • He said he looks for market size and ability to attract is what draws him in
      • Obsession for the topic / market / expertise
    • Wunderlist (made in Berlin) for productivity tool.
    • European tech hub: didn’t think there’d just be one – mentions Madrid, Nordics, Tel Aviv and the excitement of all
    • Blog – Term Sheet, big name others


  • Bob Kocher (@bobkocher), Partner at Venrock (20min VC 074)
    • Focuses on healthcare IT, Alidaide / Jif / GrandRounds / DrOnDemand
    • Consultant at Stanford and Harvard Med – served in Obama Administration, prior at McKinsey
    • 20% of economy is healthcare, aligning incentives and getting people to use it is the main challenge
    • Main changes as byproducts of recent: amazing glut of new information, changes to incentives
      • Healthcare was textbook information asymmetry (getting 90% of doctors/hospitals on board with payment models and data coordination)
      • Consolidation on the providers side which has killed competition and innovation, increased prices
    • Way that care is delivered is one of the biggest challenges – matching right person to the right doctor leads to better outcomes
      • No matter how expert a doctor is, they can’t know everything
    • He didn’t believe that regulators are a big challenge because they’re looking to help the right cases
      • Imagination and scoping solutions to be massive
    • Find joy in what you do every day – skipping the ‘do a job for x years before getting into a job that you like’
      • Trying to make healthcare better each day, if possible
      • The System by 1983 Clinton failure
  • Technological Trends with Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures & Chris Dixon, Crypto GP at a16z (a16z from Sep 24, 2018)
    • Cars as software / hardware (talking of Elon’s OTA push for services) when Ford broke down often the innovation was a bunch of service centers
    • Google Maps as the app for ALL car service providers (default interface for dispatch of any medium – cars, bikes, scooters)
      • Wants this to happen for functionality
    • Google made advertising was the monetization of internet usage (explorer, outlook, etc…)
      • Thinks crypto would be the similar disrupter (look at movies from the 1990s)
      • Dotbomb game that turned into nearly ALL the current unicorns – needed bigger broadband
      • Youtube needed social sharing and broadband – existed as destination previously, eyeballs/stickiness that prevented wide distribution
    • Cloud infrastructure still pushing innovation, developer experience (10+ years)
      • Cloud as 3 player game – Microsoft, Amazon, Google and enterprise customers
    • He said 90% of developers and start-ups are on AWS and eventually can move to others
      • In enterprise, you have biggest winner as 3x as second, then 3x as 3rd, etc…
      • More room for players, but people treat it as first-movers or incumbents are the toughest
    • Making it possible for everyone to invest in high growth opportunities in capital growth – ICO is complex
      • Allow early adopters to be early investors with tokens – combining them (Tech & Money)
      • In tech, substitutes aren’t the big battles – it’s the combination of experience, ads appearing (hot dog vs hamburgers or buns)
      • Commerce vs ecommerce (IRL commerce, transition period) – emotes, digital motes and resources, domain names
    • Esports as more innovative – real sports will go by the wayside of vinyl, horse riding, etc…
      • Similar to crypto goods and internet domains
      • Shifting digital scarcity (songs aren’t scarce because you can share them – experience is)
      • Business model innovation
    • Internet move initially was moving media / goods to the internet (newspaper, songs)
      • What’s the NEXT move? Bitcoin – mining/release over time, for instance compared to porting
      • Numerai playing with staking (Skin in the Game – Taleb) – crypto-tokens make it easy to do.
        • Governance, on-chain


  • Carey Lai (@laicarey), Managing Director with Conductive Ventures (Wharton XM)
    • Talked about funding and proper allocations
  • Connecting the Dots author, John Chambers – former Cisco (Leadership in Action / Wharton)
    • 25 years with Cisco, leaders, culture – have to make mistakes with risks
    • Top 3 takeaways included taking risks, know your culture and know your strengths
    • One of the best leaders in talking was the Israeli leader, Shimon Peres, former Pres
    • Kissinger’s quote

Investing Profiles and How Businesses Adapt to Digital Age December 20, 2018

Posted by Anthony in Automation, education, experience, finance, medicine, questions, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Producing valuations over the past couple years has allowed me an easy opportunity to keep up to date with an ever-changing sector – fintech. To see what has been done on the finance side with data as more and more is collected is fascinating. I think it’s great that more people are curating ideas on how it may be best for like-minded people to invest responsibly. Individuals, not just institutions, pensions and private practices should be comfortable in the process and be able to see how they want to be invested.

Happy holidays everyone and travel safe!

On to the notes:


  • CSO of OpenInvest, Josh Levin (@joshlevin11) (Bay Area Ventures)
    • Talked about trying to find exactly what people want in funds
      • Example was green + gender focus (he said they don’t exist together, or they’d be expensive)
      • Gender focus does a lot of Oil + Energy (specifically oil, where women are on boards more often than other sectors)
        • Green energy might be another profile
    • People are increasingly wanting to be aware of what companies are doing and how they’re invested into these companies
  • Book – Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking is Your Best Short-Term Strategy, Rodney Zemmel segment (Wharton XM)
    • Check
  • Grant Geiger, EIR Healthcare (Wharton XM)

    • Started at Siemens Healthcare, eventually developed the first modular hospital room
    • Hospital of the future – rooms that can be converted as needed for patients
  • EQUILEAP founder, Diana van Maasdijk (Wharton XM)

    • Nonprofit foundation for accelerating gender equality in workplace
      • Focused on the ETF/Fund (but failed at statistics aspect of the fund – $2bn market cap ~3000 companies
      • Scored them on various equality / csr requirements, then back-tested
      • Said they outperformed (but didn’t note the survivorship bias)
  • Forbes Marketing, Director CMO, Stephen Diorio
    • How did Forbes continue to market?
  • Integrated Beverage Group CEO Ari Walker (Wharton XM)

    • Former owner of Baroness Wines, grew to largest independent alcohol distributor in CO
    • Focused on innovative process in wine and spirits (engineering the flavors based on input from sommeliers and makers)

30 Years of Work, Automation and Change: Notes from Nov 19 – Nov 25 December 12, 2018

Posted by Anthony in Automation, experience, finance, global, social.
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Hello! Hope everyone is having a great start to December. Mine – not terrible – family is doing an early Christmas but that should be nice after – breaks the holidays apart a bit. I am enjoying the festivities everywhere. Last year I was across the globe exploring hotels (which, admittedly, had some extravagant and crazy decorations). Those don’t quite bring the same feeling of warmth. Happy holidays!

Between moving and Thanksgiving, I had little time to listen, despite the driving I did. In the car, they were repeats, so I defaulted to music. However, the a16z podcast I listened to was excellent – they focused on automation and how that could change the work for the future. What level of efficiency will this bring about and how might that determine the type of work humans do going forward? Then, I listened to Morgan Housel about the Collaborative Fund and his investments, particularly food types. What defines ‘meat’ to people? Is it important that a cow dies or can we grow proteins as long as it matches the texture/flavor (and people’s opinions on driving that aspect)? Lastly, I need to go back and listen to Alissa Quart’s segment on her new book Squeezed, particularly why families are increasingly running into money problems as we imagine things always improving. Hope you enjoy my segment notes!


  • Prasad Akella, founder and CEO of Drishti, Paul Daugherty, CTIO of Accenture (a16z from Nov 5, 2018)
    • Automation and work – Prasad in 1994 at GM about worker health
    • Ford to 1990s operation processes automated to now (work 3.0)
    • Motors and sensors getting better but haven’t married human being cognition with the processes (over last 25 years)
      • Compilers, debuggers, editors to now labeling software (pipelines as new chain)
      • Supply chain layers as data end-to-end
    • Take most popular truck (F150 – trillion build combos of the truck)
      • Automation needs to laboriously get retooled (program the behaviors)
      • Instead, 100 people that could do variations in expertise
    • Chat bot for airline needs to reflect culture and values (AI is defining the brand – different than other companies)
      • Behavior, business and melding with AI form
      • Chatbot as support for an employee and their job, also (rec a customer service rep, for instance)
    • Industrial engineers don’t need to spend 30% of their time anymore doing line balancing or solving – machine can crank it out
      • Interpret and make things easier and improve (estimate is ~33% gets transformed significantly vs 10-15% that will be eliminated)
      • With the same math, would need about 60 million robots to eliminate 250-300 million workers that would be estimated as production/industrial
    • Traveling salesman problem – Waze (hidden AI), spell checker (hidden and we’re used to it)
      • Nothing has moved as fast across organization or head count than AI
    • Problems? How to generalize an AI or architecture that can work across a broader deployment (if you introduced a new rule, data/behavior changed)
      • Every data has bias and processes are inherently biased (Director of Ethics & Fairness in AI jobs popping up)
      • Choosing the right technique to solve the right problem (doing vs using AI)


  • Morgan Housel, Collaborative Fund (Wharton XM)
    • Talked about his 4 funds at Collab – $8mil, $30 mil, $75 mil, $100 mil and the change for sizing
      • Initially 70-100k, then ramped up to now $1mil later stage and how competitive it is now
    • Consumer products and why he focused on how companies have been ethos-driven
      • Chipotle being better than McDonalds in people’s eyes
        • More data has made it easier to have everyone understand end-to-end process
        • Where does food come from? Can I see what’s in it? Do I think that it’s sourced properly?
      • Impossible & Beyond Burger investments – which is better?
        • Comparatively, bocaburgers or veggie burgers don’t try to attract burger eaters
        • These do – hit on texture (impossible as “better” but what determines the meat aspect)
          • Said they’re both dry but they’d be described as “dry burgers”, despite not being sourced from cow
      • Different portfolio company trying to grow the protein directly (wants to see it get sourced / scaled)


  • Alissa Quart (@lisquart), Squeezed author (Wharton XM)
    • High costs of American parenthood have bankrupted the middle class and created a larger gap

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)

    • 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

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.


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

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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.


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.


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?
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