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The Journey (Notes From Feb 25 – March 3, 2019) March 22, 2019

Posted by Anthony in cannabis, education, experience, Founders, global, Hiring, medicine, questions, social, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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I wanted to focus on the variety of journeys that these amazing people have been  on. All different, all learning. The commonality of assessing one’s place and moving strategically to take advantage of an opportunity that allowed each of them to do what it was, at that time, that they wanted to do or focus. I believe that is an innate skill.  Some have to build up to have the confidence to assess what they want. Others let it sit in the back of their mind until someone brings it out.

As a founder, I believe that becomes even more of an important skill. You have to not only know what you want to chase, but also where you want to go. Then, follow that up with being able to creatively attract others to do the same – whether they’re investors, customers, or potential employees/partners.

  • Julia Silge, co-author of Text Mining with R (Data Skeptic 2/22/19)
    cover

    • At StackOverflow now, phD in astrophysics, astronomy
      • Worked in academia and went to edtech start-up for academic development
      • Transitioned into data science – had needed to brush up on some of the skills and updated machine learning
      • Data scientist for 3-4 years
    • Did some public work for her portfolio, worked with state stuff on Drought, etc…
      • Thought about NLP for analyzing Jane Austen texts (public, projectgutenberg), and opened it up
        • Which parts of book have narrative more sad / joyous and sentiment analysis with heat maps
      • Started to develop TidyText package and R build with a friend – bridging text and R analysis
    • Using R as data science
      • Tidyverse database, messy real source & into the form she needs quickly
      • Mature community for statistical modeling in R
      • Text classification – regex as building blocks for effective results
    • At StackOverflow – texts every day and statistically analyze the numbers
      • Developers survey as one of the largest projects
    • Book for people who may have tried other approaches with text
      • 1st half lays out concepts, common tasks in text mining
      • 2nd half is beginning to end case study – eda, what’s in dataset, implementation of model
  • Brian Wong, Founder at Kiip (20min VC FF018)
    230px-kiip_logo_image

    • Started after university at Digg (laid off after 6 months) before starting Kiip, focused on mobile rewards network
    • People he truly knows are the ones he’s been with over 5 years
      • True Ventures, Relay Ventures, AMEX ventures, Hummer Winblad
    • Founder-friendly in his terms: creating services and ecosystem of the founders among the invested, not taking a massive chunk immediately
      • Services as you’re getting formed, early on
    • Quiet with his board – once every two, three months meet up, depending on financing
      • Sources for him if he needs others, find specific customer or advisor, analytically looking at problems
      • Trained by True Ventures initially about dealing with the board
    • Gamification tactics derived from Predictably Irrational book
    • “Nothing is ever as good as it seems and nothing is ever as bad as it is”
    • Jason’s Calacanis blog – seems to agree with a few
    • Inspired by a few founders: Elon, Elizabeth Holmes; moreso maybe less loud founders, Mike (one of his investors – NASA scientist)
    • Favorite apps: Tinder for dating, Evernote, Box app (storage – mobile app is awesome – faster than DropBox)
    • For Kiip, ad-blocking fever-pitch and being ones that can help – MasterCard as one of their big partners, usage / app data that they’re sitting on
  • Matt Lerner, Distro Partner with 500 Startups (20min VC 082)
    i9jumtd3_400x400

    • Runs the London office, specializing in conversion optimization, analytics engagement, retention
    • Helps them build and grow (Distro team) to growth engines and scale
    • Worked at PayPal in 2004, marketing director initially before later
    • Skype calls over 45 minutes, brainstorm over tests with a cycle time and see results in 48 hours – 2 days
      • Was told he could do this full-time and enjoyed it (Distro Dojo – growth to product-market fit)
        • Invest in post-seed, pre-series A typically – early stage / accelerator program for earlier
      • In London, he looks for live, functioning product with corpus of people out of beta
    • Talked about Mayvenn (connecting to the NEW episode about Series B) – Series A here
    • Where in the funnel do you need to focus on?
      • Understand the business, then brainstorm in the “dojo” – all kinds of ideas
        • 20% CTA button change occasionally – not always
    • Just invested in Fy, Founder Tom in Berlin – built entire business with growth in mind
    • Anna Kerenana “Happy families are all alike but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own special way.”
      • Companies don’t get their product out to customers in a way
      • Measuring / optimizing for wrong targets
      • Tactical things to ensure spend is done properly
      • Way to test quickly – 4 Hour Workweek – Bought 5 different ad-words and checked his titles for unpublished book
      • Paid acquisition in way that CAC is much lower than proven LTV of customer, can go quickly through advertising
        • Most businesses need organic acquisition channels over paid
    • Ultimate growth hacker – David McClure (his boss) – pirate metrics talk (viewing of video)
      • Sean Ellis (from DropBox, GrowthHackers.com owner) – mentored him at PayPal – attachment too big for email, send DropBox
      • Eddie Johns (Growth at Wealthfront, before at Quora and Facebook)
      • In London, Millen Paris?
    • Favorite growth hacking tools: MarTech talk, 500 Startups for best tools
      • Deck in show notes, Top 35 and Top 10
    • Books: The One Thing You Need to Know?
    • Tamatem – exciting startup in Dojo, Middle Eastern mobile games publisher
      • License other successful games, translate them, half the revenue and found money for developers
      • Don’t have to be good at making games – just need to have the database and quick adoption of other games
  • Chuck Smith, CEO / co-founder of Dixie Brands, Cannabusiness (Wharton XM)
    dixielogo

    • Discussing CBD vs THC products and difference in integration / vertical distribution
      • THC requires state and full distribution
      • CBD can be sold online
    • Keeping the brand as a reputable one and making sure it sees plenty of time
    • Partnership with Latin American company for full integration / distribution channels, laying foundation for easy process
      • Ventures with other companies to engage quickly or acquisitions
  • Solomon’s Code authors (Wharton XM)
    • Olaf Groth, Mark Nitzberg
  • The Ultimate Side Hustle – Elana Varon (Wharton XM)
    • Different types of start-ups and trading compensation (time vs money)
  • Marvin Liao (@marvinliao), Partner at 500 Startups – SF accelerator (20min VC 083)
    • 10+ year vet at Yahoo!, came to Bay Area/Silicon Valley in 1999 tech boom, laid off  2001
    • Left Yahoo in 2012, did angel investing and speaking at conferences, mentoring
    • Learned investing game by angel investing, though, to his wife’s scolding, didn’t do well
      • Operator as investors – used to be in the same role – lots of services
      • Online marketing / sales experts in accelerator in the portfolio
      • Both models-Greylock, Accel vs 500 Startup & First Round,service-based)
    • Why 500 Startups? Strongly focused on sales and marketing – fit for him, especially being international (global)
      • First 2-3 meetings or intros are free, but after that – some value returned
    • Went from 1100 companies down to 36 for the accelerator
      • Seed fund – 12-30 cos a week, one inv ~2 weeks – not necessarily random
    • Average check size is $50-100k – doesn’t take board seats but gets board observer rights
      • Look at pre-launch phase, consumer mobile phase wants to see traction (10mil vs 1mil downloads)
      • Won’t look at enterprise SaaS pre-launch, wants to see $10-15k mRR in established space
      • Different industries requiring different attention
    • Industries that he’s looking at – marketplaces / platforms (SkillBridge), digital health
    • Challenge in his 2 years: cycles of learning (shocked that there are arrogant investors), still treats himself as a complete novice
      • Great investor and develop the instincts, thesis and to risk being wrong a majority of the time
    • Favorite book: Art of Worldly Wisdom, Dune (science fiction – key) – SingularityHub
    • Calend.ly and Evernote, Amy.X.AI (?)
    • Take on Yahoo: “They’re toast.” No disrespect to Marissa – trying M&A and most big companies aren’t good.
    • Challenge for 500S: scaling @ quality, going from 2 accelerators to 4 in Silicon Valley
      • Lucky and systematic difference to get to that point
    • Interested in the most recent batch: Neighborly (batch 10, fintech – hates Wall Street so disrupting this), AgFinder (agtech – not much attention but such a vital part of the global problem)
  • Ashley Whillans (@ashleywhillans), Asst Prof at HBS in Negotiations, Orgs and Markets (Wharton XM – Time Poverty)
    • Went through study in Canada with subjects that would receive $40
      • One group subjected to restriction that it has to be spent on “time saving”, other could be whatever
        • Measured happiness after each day (with a call)
      • Time saving could be fast food of some sort, hiring a neighborhood boy to shop, etc…
      • Happiness was higher with the $40 spent for time saving
    • Check the white paper for time saving and happiness
  • Elizabeth Hogan, Brand Dev at GCH, Cannabusiness (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing various levels of products – CBD vs THC and other treats
    • Company founded by Willie Nelson in 2015
      • Willie’s Reserve (flower, edibles, vape products at both med and rec dispensaries)
      • Willie’s Remedy – CBD oil-based products – talked about the neuroscience behind activation with cbd products
    • 8 oz cups of coffee with 5mg dose of CBD – often bring as product demos for concerts, festivals, events
    • Marketing is difficult because of federal regulations and the big marketing channels – Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc
      • Some influencers have been used but have to be careful – can lose their accounts if wrongly done
    • Plenty of organic marketing currently, but looking for paid channels has been a difficult task
  • Hooked author, Nir Eyal, (Wharton XM)
    • Habit building – playing on pains
      • 4 different ways to take market shares
        • Velocity, frequency (think)
      • Pains as psychological effects – pleasure as a result, and minimizing pain
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Flawed Financial Decision? February 28, 2017

Posted by Anthony in finance, Uncategorized.
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This article has brought praise: SingleMomPaysRentforYearUsingTaxReturn. However, a basic understanding of future/present value is skipped in this story. I believe she’s choosing to be “responsible” in paying rent vs spending it on vacation or unnecessary items for her kids, but it also illustrates a lack of understanding for fundamental financial details (that should be MUCH more important to learn early on). Opportunity cost of losing the money for the year, or going into details of how she received so much for her return in the first place (lent FAR TOO MUCH money over the previous year).

About 5 years ago, there was a larger push in the financial services industry to bring an analyst/advisor to every high school to have “qualified” (debatable, but at least licensed) experts (this word is becoming annoying, as well) teach fundamental financial information to the future masses. I cannot attest to generations before me, but as far as my high school career went, CHEE (child, health, and something) and economics were the extent of in-school teaching. I was lucky enough to have a family that provided me an environment of numbers, games, and finances, as well as schools that pushed early for branching out. That doesn’t mean I have been without my own transgressions in a monetary realm, but can say that the high school classes didn’t scratch the surface of what I learned previously.

From students I talk to and teach in school now, I don’t believe the basic individual finances are taught, still. It could be a flawed forum in economics (as opportunity costs are discussed), and business courses go over concepts, but neither focus at an individual level. It needs to get better, and I’m not sure when anyone is or will be required to take these courses. I have friends out of MBA’s/Law School and Med Schools that never took courses on it. Luckily, for the curious and responsible ones, there is a wealth of information available now online, and as more people see larger and larger parts of networks, you hopefully become more comfortable to discuss them. For those that don’t, hopefully trial and error occurs earlier than later.
And people wonder how the debt continues to rack up…. That topic I’ll leave for another day. SingleMomPaysRentforYear

Keep asking “what’s next?” May 9, 2016

Posted by Anthony in experience, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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Been a while since I posted anything, but that’s not for lack of material. My mind has raced, and I’ve had a number of drafts that I saved and left to the side. They didn’t seem quite right.

A list of problems that cyclically affect everyone that could use (better) solutions – of which I am working on one.

  • Traffic: especially in the Bay Area, where there appears to be more and more cars on the road each day.
    • Hard fix: A friend of mine & I joke that Musk should simply work on infrastructure in the form of a “Tesla Road” that was built on top/above existing roadways. It would appear we are headed for autonomous cars as a larger percentage within the next 3-5 years. Infrastructure could create an environment that would entice a majority of people to switch to automated cars, eliminating the minor parts that cause the initial build-up of traffic.
    • Simple fix: release the brake #RTB. It appears that too many people love using a pedal – if it’s not the gas, it has to be the brake. So wrong! Japanese researchers recreating shockwave traffic jam – simply by a brief brake or slowdown. It appears that few people have been taught (or put into action) that speeding up briefly and braking behind a slower car simply doesn’t save any time, and causes time in traffic for everyone else with an application of their brakes. Selfish. People do this when switching lanes (brake and go) or exiting off ramps. Release the break and your brake pads, people behind you, and your foot will thank you.
  • Personal finance: Credit card debt, better investing, mortgages or even small business loans.
    • I have done work with a fintech company that attempts to create an effortless process to personal lending. Granted, effortless is subjective. Growth in the industry as a whole seems to stagnant, despite a plethora of companies that have jumped in, due to a combination of minimal profit margins (investors are prioritized) along with a lack in the creative sense to alter the public’s general understanding of WHY these companies are helpful.
    • The biggest example today of a failing company in the space is how hard Lending Club has been hit since its IPO, punctuated by the resignation/firing recently of their CEO and founder. Link to CEO resignation May 9
    • From what I gather, the industry as a whole needs to focus on the education for why someone/anyone SHOULD look into how debt restructuring can be a positive thing, but it takes time and pointed goals. As it stands, unless someone does their due diligence or had a friend talk about one of these companies, many just hope for the best and don’t want to spend the time to educate themselves.
    • With a potentially impending social security / pension shortage with the increases in health and aging, this education will be paramount in coming years. Additionally, when the US doesn’t seem to care about furthering the budget into the red, why should any of its citizens care? That scares me a bit more – the possibility of an event cratering the credit system due to rates/QE and a carelessness thought of ‘too big to fail’. Technology bubble in early 2000s was (mostly) limited to stock market and companies that were popping up. Housing crisis in 2008-2009 affected many more people, but ‘only’ threatened the system. A credit shock would threaten the global set-up.
  • Education: the way that high schools and universities push forward does not appear to be as efficient a major system that educates the masses should be
    • I was lucky and had a scholarship for tuition before I took a gap year my Junior year at UC Berkeley, so my family and I were spared that expense. Up until the start of 2016, I was paying the [small but not insignificant] loans off that I took out for housing / books / living expenses from my first 2 years at Cal, totaling a minuscule (comparatively) $12k. My senior year, I paid for my final 2 semesters and a summer of tuition and saw that they were between $4500 and $5000 each, right before the big hikes of the UC System. When there are more and more applicants each year applying to the awesome and improving UC’s, the regents still decided to increase tuition for undergrad nonresidents. For the whole story from last year’s Regents Last year’s undergrad resident tuition was a base of $11,220, plus whatever the total is now for student fees / taxes. That’s an increase of over 7% in the 4 years that I’ve been out, well surpassing that of inflation over the time frame. Eesh.
    • I’m torn and haven’t seen / heard, but I believe that universities should be set up more like a vocational-type, where students enter needing work credits for graduation, either working for a company aligned with their major or through a mentor of some sort. Yes, many students do this anyway, but I feel like where universities should give advantages to others would be in the way that this could be set up. If students have active work experience from the onset of their freshman year over a semester or summer, more people would know if they wanted to continue down that path or switch.
    • In a world that appears like we’re driving toward an automated approach for many things (if we can figure out how to do so), then many jobs will be expired at some point, maybe in this lifetime. Having the necessary work experience and knowledge of multiple fields may be beneficial in the long run.

Now, I was going to include another bullet about misinformation, but I can save that for another post. I plan on making this push in momentum to continue posting about how I may improve or reach out to figure out how to inform myself of progress in these areas. And I encourage everyone again, #ReleaseTheBrake

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