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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope everyone enjoys the notes and checks the episodes out!

  • 13 Minutes to the Moon (BBC Worldservice)
    • First episode – ‘We choose to go’
      • Lousy communication as they dropped thrusters to 10%
      • Something happening in computer that caused issues – Armstrong was nervous (rarely)
      • Worry when Sputnik was placed up and a dog in the next month before putting a person there (BBC / Moscow reported)
      • Not having hopeless odds – could do a crash program to get men on moon by 1967, 68
        • German (vonBrown) who set up the rec for the course to get on the moon – recognized Russians needed 10x improvement
      • V2 rocket program – never having wide support but post-demonstration, went to mass production
        • Nordhausen – very aware of concentration camp workers, mistreatment and threat of sabotage
        • Surrendered and Americans were all-too-happy to accept them for rocket program (and space)
    • Second episode – ‘Kids in Control’
      • Steve Bales as the 26 yr old kid who could shut off the mission
        • Guidance officer in mission control team – lunar modules onboard computer by MIT design – controlled flight to moon’s surface
      • Junior technical in backrooms to Gemini flight controller for Apollo by age 23
      • Rapid recruitment style in technical and sciences – just threw them in for trainings and went from there
        • Hiring on rapid basis – bring on board, operations, engineering, training
      • John Aram – math and physics in North Texas to mission control – recalled so many acronyms (never been to a big city)
        • Moved to murder capital of the world, 6 weeks later and told his wife – maybe we need to load up and go back
          • We ain’t going back, she said.
        • Looked over electrical systems and the spacecraft’s electronics.
      • Average age of operators was probably 27 years old, grads of 1964 or so (older didn’t work out as well)
      • Simulations would run 20 different scenarios to demand engaging reminiscent of a fighter squadron
        • Had to trust each other well, kids and wives knew each other – risky things
        • Apollo I that killed the crew in 1967
      • Not enough time at home – many divorces from not being at home and holidays missing
      • In the trench – Gene Crantz: room bathed in blue light by the screens, smell of the room, people in for long time
        • Stale sandwiches, old pizza, full wastebaskets, coffee burnt into the hotplate, but you get feeling something will happen
        • System needed Gene’s toughness, former Marine, constant chain-smoking and needed that guidance from the flight director
      • Calling program error 1210 – never seen it in simulation and Steve had called abort – in actual mission, they got 1202 from Buzz
        • Setting a set of rules for program alarms – Steve got help from a 23 year old in the back – Jack Garmin
        • No call to abort if everything else is good – took 15seconds to push
    • Episode 3 – ‘Long Island Eagle’
      • Slowing descent was the plan, but they ended up going faster
        • Surface wasn’t what they had anticipated
      • Why is the lunar module the way that it is – way it looks? Form follows function.
        • Landing and flying in space – very different than aerodynamics for earth atmosphere
        • LTA1 – cleaner than a surgical room, higher pressure (dust and contamination avoidance)
        • Puncture a hole in skin with a pen – needed lightness and fuel efficiency
        • All engines in lunar modules had to be without electrical failure, so they were just latches with combustible gases
      • Lunar module designed by aeronautical engineers – aerodynamic and smooth, glass but had to evolve
        • Glass was too heavy and crew survival was supercritical
      • December 1968 was supposed to be lunar module flight but they flew around the moon instead
        • Would make it, but it would be close to the decade
    • Episode 4 – ‘Fire to the Phoenix’
      • Fire in the spacecraft – BBC report of Apollo I explosion, January 27 1967
        • Lost 3 heroes – Roger Jaffe, Ed White (first to walk in space in Gemini program), Gus Grissom (piloted Gemini flights)
        • Mercury and Gemini – everyone working there, 350-400 working on Apollo but at the height, it was 400k
        • Management challenge to build the program
      • Here to find out about Mr. Johnson for Block 2 design (Houston didn’t know who was in charge by 1964)
      • First space module in August 1966 delivered for flight testing, behind schedule
        • Jan 26, 1967 with service module perched on top of an Apollo rocket
        • Sitting in pure oxygen for the flight vs testing scenarios (t-shirts, atmosphere at sea level)
        • 30th of January, killed in the first / explosion of the Apollo I rocket
      • Accident had been an awful wake-up call but no national clamor for stopping the program
      • Hatch needed to be redesigned, reduce oxygen while on launchpad, new fire resistant found, electrical circuitry adjusted
        • Heat shields and modules to be tested, Apollo II to be canceled, 21 months to Apollo VII
          • Backup crew for Apollo I was the crew for VII – phoenix patches and honor the first
        • Spent 11 days in space and go around the moon – testing all systems that it could, from engine to navigation
  • Matt Britton, CEO of MRY, Suzy (Wharton XM)
    • Media entrepreneur and consumer trends expert
    • Suzy is ‘Siri for brands’
  • Ryan and Andrew Beltran, co-founders of Original Grain (Wharton XM)
    425133_t810

    • Watch category, growing up in the PacNW and serving in the military (Marines)
    • Trying to find a product that he wanted to start a brand of
    • Going to China to see manufacturing and get ideas
    • Selling the first out of his backpack, initially, to military guys
      • Got buy-in on quality that they stood up but not a ton of traction
  • LovEvery – Love Every – Jessica and Rod, founding partners (Wharton XM)
    loveveryforweb

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

 

 

 

  • BERT (Bidirectional Encoding Reps from Transformers) (Data Skeptic 7/29/19)
    • Neural network with input arbitrary length of text – minimal form and characters
      • Output is a fixed length vector, numeric rep of the text – can do automated feature engineering for ML
      • Translation step for encoding for the machine using masking
    • Chatbot for question answering – wouldn’t do specialized tools for observe
    • BERT develops a general option (vs ML where there isn’t enough training data)
      • Trained on general knowledge, wikipedia corpus or reddit, etc… and apply transfer learning
  • Nick Maggiuli, Of Dollars and Data (Standard Dev 5/30/19)
    • Head of Data Analytics at Ritholz Wealth – data and interesting
    • Behavioral investor line test – being the 8th person in line and hearing others in Ash experiment
      • People purposefully tell you the wrong matched line and 76% of time, switches idea – changes vision in this case
      • Connecting to fake news in the realm of bias – pie chart that showed top 5 S&P 500 on right side, bottom 282 on left
        • Data just tells you the biggest 5 companies – may be just the 5 largest that represent a total share (consistent)
      • Crowd makes the narrative, often and then people agree and it becomes an echo chamber
    • Following crypto people despite not believing in it because they may know something that he hasn’t seen or know
      • Change minds based on some information. Trend following, for instance (price signal, 200ma – will stop working at times – Corey Hoffstein)
      • Doesn’t believe in technical analysis but has to be convinced by some information to make the jump
    • Blog post: Most Important Asset (host ran the survey) – bet that none of you offered every $ of Buffett wouldn’t want to be him
      • 5%, so maybe 3% are trolls. But he wants to live his life. Human capital and time is the optionality.
    • Best book he’d read about retirement “Retire Happy, Wild and Free” and doesn’t discuss money
      • Financial crisis isn’t the priority – it’s existential – what’s your time that you want to worry about
      • Some people could go to the beach every day and not care, others do differently
    • Trading his time for tasks and outsourcing things – working otherwise and doing it via his hourly wage
      • Anything you’d regret on your deathbed for missing things that you’d want to do – ends meeting, one thing but otherwise, go for it
    • Ken Fisher at Investment Conference (EBI with Barry and Ken talking)
      • “We have no market share” – 30bps as money to be managed out of $50tn when they’re $30bn
        • Could disappear and nobody would notice (except their clients)
      • Enough pie overall where they’re not competing against each other
      • Not interested in the discipline, so any general discussion is improved and bringing people in
        • Rise of politics and twitter probably keeps some viewers away but looking at competition and peers for learning
        • Brian Portnoy writing at the same time, sharing information and going back and forth with same publisher
    • Funniest fintwit: Ramp and Josh Brown, smartest Jim O’Shaunnessey and Jesse Livermore, MMT – “Trusts Cullen Roche”
    • Book that he read early in his career when he was bored – What It Takes by Ellis – best firms in handful of industries
      • If they ‘reject us, we made the wrong choice on the person so it’s good anyway’ – Korbath in legal
  • Morten Lund, seed investor in Skype (20min VC, 1/4/16)
    • Investor, co-founder including Airhelp, 100 other startups
    • Visiting university before getting kicked out – used computer to get premade direct marketing which wasn’t possible prior
      • Turned it into a digital ad agency and made it the largest in Scandinavia and sold to Leo Burnett (ad agency) as digital acquisition
      • Could build company by then
    • Made a small incubator by then with the money he had
    • Called for investments in Kazaa initially – wasn’t comfortable with that because biz model was for iTunes but no power to negotiate with labels
      • Was helping business development at the time
    • Guys had idea of doing Skypr – wifi sharing network – shut down by 10-15 investors who didn’t want to go further
      • Calls couldn’t be afforded so why not do a digital phone with the sound cards – helped fundraise and paid founders’ apartments
        • 300-400k users after 20 days launch – roughly $50k brought back $50mln
        • When it took off and worked, it was exciting – Estonia guys being crucial and understanding p2p from Kazaa, as well
      • Very involved in the brand – ICQ (impossible to understand)
    • Bankruptcy 7+ years prior had to refocus him and figure out what he wanted to do – nothing wasn’t working
      • Co-founding, starting and investing all kinds of 70-80 startups
    • Learning that things will take 3-4x longer and 3-4x costly
      • Founder in mind for admiring – David Hilge (Unity), Reid Hoffman, demonstrating stamina
    • Spending time at TradeShift – empty on cash and barely surviving holding onto his house – internet as media business that was fairly large
      • Every bank has a budget of $1bn in tech spend – immense amount of people running around doing nothing
      • Partners came to him to do digital invoicing structure for English structure and wanted to do consulting (agreed on cloud-based platform infrastructure)
      • Every company has different file formats and being consistent (Christian becoming a rock star) – ability to close huge clients
    • EU fintech community – browser era in 94-95 and nobody knowing how to handle it – legislation is getting easier to deal with
      • Web bank is a media but can do all kinds of interesting things with accounting – unwind IBM and legacy providers from cloud
      • If you want to sell big, have to go to US but if you want to do early or continue building, can be in the EU
      • Becomes obsession for $1bn level – consequence shouldn’t be this, though – not justified without revenue
    • Favorite book: Shantaram, fun with Richard Branson (knowledge exchange), The Economist as blog, Hippocorn – placeholder or executor affiliate
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Idea Conversion to Algorithms (Notes from July 22 – 28, 2019) August 14, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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There is quite a bit in this week’s notes to unpack. Most of the stories and experiences provided by the guests, though, premised around testing a hypothesis or quickly trying to solve a problem in a manner that, once validated, could become much more efficient. When trying to make the solution more efficient, whether data or AI-driven, then further questions have to be asked to ensure a proper, scaleable and ethical solution. Lauren deLisaColeman discussed the ML application ethics and what guides them. Karim Galil observed that patient history was stodgy and doctors weren’t in to new things that could save them time because of the catchup time. So he had to produce a solution that could be effective immediately and worth giving back doctors time – he chose oncology to do it in.

Alyssa Dineen discussed profiles as well, but of the dating variety. There were more ways to screw up than attracting attention. At first, she could do it manually before realizing she could improve the work she did and make it better for both business and clients. Khartoon at Spotify talked about how they started at Spotify with freemium model and the streaming aspect before connecting that with all of the data to their corporate and enterprise partners. In turn, the two-way data sharing enabled them to pivot nicely to provide more value and eventually into a paid model that helped the business. Lastly, Max Bruner talked about his hell of a journey where he eventually landed at Metromile, but not before building Mavrx in the best form of dirty solutions – cameras from planes. Then realizing what could be attached and automated to be a full provider to farmers in much of farmland US and improving it. Quite the product path.

Curious about this concept for much of college / graduates.
Idea possibly worth pursuing – saw post on similar idea. Fake VC – take seed or series A opportunities, combine with data plan (via other post). Have various students make their opinions on what to seek, whether funding was good. How to think of next steps? Make action plan, but templated and maybe try to get an argument. Podcast/videos presenting either side. Try to talk to startup that received. Good sourcing examples, data (limited) problems, industry seeking.

Hope you enjoy the week’s notes and check everyone out!

  • Lauren deLisa Coleman (@ultra_Lauren), Digi-cultural Trend Analyst (Wharton XM)
    • Forbes contributor, discussing AI and ethics of ML applications
    • Who makes the rules – is the data guided?
  • Karim Galil, Founder of Mendel.ai (Wharton XM)
    mendel-logo

    • Working in Egypt initially, wasn’t in Cairo but started in Sinai – beach and did surf/kitesurfing lessons deal
      • Talent was not as abundant, but did a project with Pfizer, Dubai government and others
      • Egypt had free healthcare but hospitals couldn’t pay for procedures that may have been experimental – trials would allow it
        • Wouldn’t hear about trials until it was too late in his oncology rotation
    • Observed that you could have a dating record online and perfect match, but not catch up on papers in context in industry
      • Had to start somewhere – landed on oncology – wasn’t a junior vs senior thing – few doctors had the time
    • Losing patients to cancer and messy medical records – trying to improve the healthcare industry
    • Can get a bunch of oncologists to drop everything and work as data scientists
      • Cheaper in Egypt and feasible – fair salaries to do this
      • In the US, very unlikely to happen as oncologists are far above data scientist salary
    • Medical matching service – AI-powered to do trials for language content
    • Paying ~30 employees, where 15 of them are oncologists
  • Alyssa Dineen, Style my Profile founder (Wharton XM)
    style-my-profile

    • Personal stylists online and in NYC
    • Wanting to expand – mentioned Forbes article and expanded 3x
      • Mostly from out of the NYC area
      • Would love to open LA, SF, Chicago, most urban areas
  • Daniel Korschun, assoc prof of Marketing at LeBow Drexel (Wharton XM)
    • Marketing and branding for Kaepernick’s Betsy Ross argument
      • Nike blew opportunity to turn the flag into a very big positive – “Unity” or 13 civil rights activists
    • Owning the branding, making sure to keep it different
    • Making statements or seeing both sides can attribute your opinion without actually doing so
      • Being “informed” by museum after making case for both sides
  • Chandra Devam, CEO of Aris MD (Wharton XM)
    arismdlogo-tealrevised

    • Discussion of iTech NASA competition with Star Trek-surgery
    • A/R and V/R applications – board with the tech
  • Rachel Glaser, CFO of Etsy (Mastering Innovation)
    sell-jewelry-on-etsy

    • Search algorithms to increase sales
    • Etsy as vintage space – defined as 20 years, or handmade materials or put together
    • Have to stay ahead of counterfeit and trends

 

 

  • Sitar Teli (@sitar), MP at Connect Ventures (20min VC 12/30/15)
    ll9ofnkowyknor16pe7t

    • Doughty Hanson Tech Ventures, series A round in SoundCloud
    • Dual degree in MechE and Econ from Duke
    • Taught English in South Korea for a year, 3 years in IB in US – Broadview (M&A, tech focused)
      • Enjoyed working with the companies but not the banking side – best part was to hear how companies started and early days
      • Hadn’t considered London in 2005 when headhunter had reached out
    • Gaming, fintech, music & content, adtech where Europe is producing big, growing companies now (2015)
      • More cross-pollination of entrepreneurs going back and forth or partnering with others
      • IB moving into VC – different perspectives for her 2 other partners
    • Starting a new fund – “one of worst startups you can think of” – competitive against established funds
      • Build brand, reputation, product and designing it (not just money but experience) – how to work with the founders
      • First year – founders aren’t necessarily eager – want a seriousness that came with business cards
      • Allocating $100 – she’d do $90 to the portfolio and investments, $10 to rejections and focus
        • For No’s, make it quick and even in the meeting or cut short
    • Looking for companies
      • Founders that really understand the market they’re building for – how passionate, how much time to understand, experience
        • CityMapper founder – public transport and how they move through the city and how it can help
        • Stockholm-based Oxy – music creation app (prior at SoundCloud) – digital music tech, digital to greater number of people
      • Founders on a mission (other than $)
      • UX-focused and at the center of what they do
      • As an aside, whole lot of $ (maybe at seed) but it’s not the only bucket – ecommerce, adtech, depending on what founders are
        • Thesis: investors can dictate the entrepreneurs and align them
    • Crowdfunding alongside VC – many biz don’t need venture capital but do need capital
    • Amazing Adventures of Kavalier as book
  • Khartoon Weiss, Global Head of Verticals at Spotify (Wharton XM)
    open-graph-default

    • Starting with the streaming service as free and eventually getting into freemium / subscribers
      • Providing value to users and charging for it
    • Analyzing usage data from subscribers and free users to personalize the experience for listeners and serving brand partners
    • Core value of giving creative artists the opportunity to live off their art
    • Advertisers will see data in events that drive music playing
      • For example, an eclipse occurring will produce more song plays with eclipse themes – can drive user advertising for it, connect brands
  • Max Bruner (@maximusbruner), VP CorpDev at Metromile (Wharton XM)
    metromile

    • Talked about Mavrx, geospatial and agtech company
      • Flying drones and then planes over farmland to assess and improve efficiency
      • Didn’t have the initial equipment when they went to South Africa (needed data during US’s winter)
        • Had pilots take their cameras, IR and others
    • Most of clients were in the midwest – eventually sold to various parts of the vertical
    • Attended UW-Madison in econ and Arabic – did a year abroad between Egypt and Qatar (at the time, nice and hadn’t been through revolutions yet)
      • Felt like something was missing so returned to DC where he worked in the DoE under Reinvestment and Recovery Act

Universal Laws: Parkinson’s Law (Notes from July 15 – 21, 2019) August 6, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, Real estate, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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I included in my thrice-weekly newsletter the blog post by Morgan Housel espousing some of the most common universal laws of our world today. Once you know of them, it’s tough to not consider them in your everyday life. I’ll be honest and say that I hadn’t heard / didn’t know the name or origination of a few, including Parkinson’s. However, I wanted to comment on it because of its commonplace position on my timeline (and in the way I generally price much of my consulting work).

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

ML and apps – attention. Phones and apps have stolen hours of attention over the last 3-4 years (Wharton XM blog) — 3 hours to 4+ hours for the average, now

How do they squeeze in more DAILY? Work efficiency, likely. Most probably don’t have 8 hours of real work – ask anyone. What do we think the % is? I understand there are roles that probably see a full day a few times a week or in certain weeks (looking at you, auditors/accountants/finance/strategy/consultants) where projects line up or during busy times. Even retail / seasonal / cyclical has busy seasons – boosts that require full focus. But generally, not.

Work time vs value – if you can finish a project in 24 hours, charge more because the allowable time outside of that is higher or do you take the full time or project out for time in case of a problem / feedback / there? See: consultants working with a client, maybe a new client? Value = price but want to keep them. Can’t do too low. Can’t go outside of the range. Sweet spot of pricing and expand the time. Expensing to look like the time is filling. I can’t knock any firms taking advantage of this, especially when most have derived the business model from value creation, but it does seem that as time goes on, keeping that price premium and time valued becomes less of an advantage used for good and merely an indicator of what they should bring.

Time will tell for those that hang on the longest. Hope you enjoy the notes.

  • Cynthia Muller, Dir. of Mission Investment at WK Kellogg Fdn (Wharton XM, Dollars & Change)
    • Discussing consulting and the people or culture parts (@cynmull)
      • Merger where everything, paper and number-wise, looked like a perfect match
      • Failed miserably – many of the top producers were unhappy and the merger allowed them to leave easily
    • Satya Nadella at Microsoft reimagining the purpose – got to everyone PC-front but had to overhaul
    • Measuring people – upper quintile in survey of 500k employees (~500 companies) – middle management ratings of purpose
      • 7% YoY performance over others – not lower or upper – middle management was determining factor
  • Scott Kupor (@skupor), MP at Andreesen Horowitz (Wharton XM)
    • Discussion of becoming full-shop, including investments and RIA
    • Value add other than capital is very important to him
    • Tries to make decisions and No comes with why?
      • Sometimes they are wrong, see founders again and some have come back with addressing the reasons “no”
    • IPO extensions to 10+ years vs 6-8 – private and liquidity-driven
      • Discussed employee needs as a big reason for why it will stay 10-12 and not increase
      • Can’t compete with Google or others if you aren’t liquid
      • Early on, private companies aren’t worried about that with the people that can take the risks
    • Secrets of Sand Hill Road book, going through that
  • Brian Kelly, co-founder of The Points Guy (Wharton XM)
    tpg-primarylogo-color-28129

    • Selling to Red Ventures – taken private recently, also
    • Partnering with hotels and airlines to build an app in Austin – connect accounts, personalized, direct to airlines/hotels
      • Make it easier and hopefully change it for the better consumer experience
      • Turning it into a tech company moreso than a media one
    • Blogging initially, leaving Morgan Stanley – consumer-focused and not driven by partnerships
    • Only takes credit card partnerships instead of airlines or others
  • Benito Cachinero, Senior Advisor at Egon Zehnder (Wharton XM)
    egonzehnder_logo

    • Former CHRO at DuPont, ADP and leading succession processes
      • VP of HR for JnJ Medical, Corporate HR VP for MA Divestitures at Lucent Tech
    • Born in Spain, knew he wanted out at an early age
  • Eric Hippeau (@erichippeau), MP at Lerer Hippeau Ventures (20min VC 12/21/15)
    lerer_hippeau_ventures_logo

    • Chairman of RebelMouse, co-founder of NowThis Media
    • CEO in 90s of Ziff Davis initially as media company, the publisher of PC mags as well as conferences
      • Being in tech business moreso than media – sold to p/e firm before they sold to SoftBank
      • Before selling, they were about to be 2nd institutional investor in Yahoo but SoftBank made bid for 1/3 of Yahoo before IPO
      • He went to Yahoo Japan which allowed them to get a lot of source just due to the company
    • Sold business in late 90s, joined SoftBank as investor and opened firm in NY with them before his own
    • Backing company or business requires some business experience and growth/hiring and strategizing are all important
      • All partners at LHV have operating background – biggest difference is probably the time horizon (need really long view as VC)
      • Had just closed 5th fund, very satisfied with the work life instead of operating – running as a startup
      • $8.5 mln initially – no full-time employees initially, until the 2nd fund
    • First investments are at seed level, have always kept money in reserve for follow-on
      • 70% of co’s are in NY
    • Value add for LHV, generally – 2 levels of support
      • Product that is a technology platform that they plug everyone into
        • Recruiting and marketing database, best practices, current series A/B investors and what they’re seeking, Comms layer
      • Each company assigned to one partner and associate – bespoke plan and a to/do list for each company
        • Intros, branding, pricing, organizational structure and growth
    • Biggest problems for portfolio co’s – dependent on sector
      • Ex: SaaS: correctly size marketing opportunity for going after the right, big companies – largest/most important get a premium on the valuation
    • First check is typically $750k – $1mln – characterize this as collaboration between other funds
      • As long as terms are acceptable, let others lead or whatever is best when the companies are the best
    • Best pitch: what they’re looking for is the Big Idea – original, large market, tech-enabled, timing
    • Drone Racing League as public, recent investment: fantastic idea as drones are becoming more popular, variety of them, popularity of video games
  • Sumeet Shah (@PE_Feeds), Investor at Brand Foundry Ventures (20min VC 12/23/15)
    • Investments include Warby Parker, Birchbox, Contently
    • Grad from Columbia in 2008, biomedical and went to p/e through Gotham Consulting Partners (engineers at firm, diff industries)
      • P/E as two party system – deal team of firm and the client portfolio company
      • Lots of outside the box thinking, project work for 2 and B/D for 3 years
      • Met Andrew Mitchell who is the boss at Brand Foundry
    • July 2013 moved into start-up with friends with Gist Digital – help with bizdev
      • 6 months in, help with capital – Andrew reconnected – was offered a full-time job into vc
      • March 2014 was when he went full-time and after the first year is active – seed rounds, pre-seed occasionally
    • Paul and Sarah Lacey – series A crunch with tech/software/app-focused
      • Invested into Cotopaxi for $3mln seed round
      • Working alongside Indiegogo and Kickstarter and have invested in crowdfunding
    • Marketer, operator and technician and his due diligence takes between 2-4 weeks, typically
      • Take on doubles/triples compared to unicorn returns that are worth it – Eilene’s opinion to do unicorns
    • Believes over time that building reputation with doubles and triples, will stumble on a unicorn – those are the ones that can make the fund
    • Most value from investors – sign of weakness is not reaching out to investors
    • Different mindsets of East vs West coast
      • NY looks at building sustainable businesses, SV/SF is a $1 to a dream mentality (need this, still)
        • Want to look at revenue streams, traction, etc… but loonshots are ‘safer’ in SV
      • Founders as female-led – 7 of 13 of their investments have female founders and 3 of them are 2 co-founders female-led
    • No general people in the startups that may catastrophically fail in SV, so it’s okay for the funding to be gone
      • Bullish on TechStars Boulder, looking at ventures or accelerators that are growing in that region
    • Things A Little Bird Told Me as favorite book and most recent investment with LOLA – women’s biodegradable tampons
  • Carolyn Witte (@carolynwitte), co-founder & CEO of Tia Clinic (Wharton XM)
    z6kdoir2_200x200

    • Going from a tech AI program / chat – making women be comfortable with talking to a message
    • Before doctor appointments to after, and then having them bring her in with the doctors
    • How to interact – realized that they needed to complete the offering with their own clinic

 

  • Jessica Bennett, gender editor at NYT, “In Her Words” (Wharton XM)
    • Sympathetic attitudes and gender
  • Boris Wertz (@bwertz), founding partner of Version One (20min VC 12/28/15)
    4z_wfx6c_200x200

    • Top early-stage tech investor, board partner at Andreesen Horowitz, COO of Abebooks.com that sold to Amazon in ’08
    • 2005 named Pacific EY Entrepreneur of the Year
    • Internet 1.0 in 1999 – wanted to be apart of it – started JustBooks with some friends
      • Built it to Europe’s market leader and then sold to competitor AbeBooks before Amazon
    • Took proceeds and put into 35 internet and mobile companies – early wins, early exits and decided to do it professionally
      • First fund was $18mln
    • Power of bringing together customers across the world and finding the book – buyers/sellers in small marketplace with hard-to-find
      • Years and years of book fairs or local inventories that they were limited to
      • Passionate customer stories and being part of the company – personal way to see how marketplaces are important
    • Transportation vertical with Uber as unlocked in marketplaces
      • Mobile first, others – and their investments
      • “A Guide to Marketplaces” book by VersionOne
        • Precision for a thought that may have been in your head when you write – clarity
        • As supportive as possible to the startup ecosystem and how to impact entrepreneurs in portfolio or outside
        • What does VersionOne get excited about and how do they contribute or help?
        • 50 page guide put together for a framework and concise – depth but not overly so
    • Attractiveness of marketplaces
      • Fragmentation of supply/demand – more people on either side of marketplace, buyers/sellers
        • Buyers/suppliers sometimes want a monogamous relationship – doctors, cleaning personnel – don’t want to get someone new
        • Cab driver / uber – doesn’t matter who drives A to B as long as it’s safe
        • Transactional relationships vs monogamous
      • Size of underlying market, ebay grew from collectibles to all sort of products
      • Specific niche market – what is the kind of market you can address – specially-crafted goods
        • When he looks – lens of VC that needs a return, so needs to see a return on capital in 5-7 years
        • Operators can be great in this case because it can be very profitable, bootstrapped or friends/family money to get and grow
    • Demand or supply first? Any marketplace chicken and egg.
      • Depends on marketplace but once you have network effects, it takes off
      • Uber paying drivers to be idle just to have people in the area and have the supply
      • Addressing supply – how much to have? Hotspots.
        • Which transactions work really well?
        • Price point? Vertical? Certain buyer/supplier? AirBnb doubled down in NYC higher value rentals. Just needed that initially.
    • Trust and safety becomes more important after some attention – supply side with hobby sellers with a little bit of their inventory
      • Power starters are the ones that are stronger. Professional sellers.
    • Mobile first marketplaces and on-demand marketplaces excite VersionOne the most.
      • Services / products as on-demand (Fueling of cars, for instance)
      • Fascinated by decentralized marketplaces built by blockchain – will they ever make money but can’t generate money on own?
    • Measuring as VC: how happy are entrepreneurs, were ones that they met with taking away stuff, serving/help them and get feedback
    • Favorite book: Hard Things, Blog/newsletter – Fred Wilson’s
    • Overhyped: on-demand, Uber for X thing – underlying drivers for Uber’s success, for instance
    • Underhyped: quicker hype cycles – blockchain, VR/AR, drones and anything new is all over it in few months
    • Marketplace Key Metrics: gross merchandise sales and take rate (revenues compared to the gross sales)
    • Recent investment: HeadOut mobile first marketplace for travel experiences (NY, LA, Chi, SF, LA, Vegas)
      • Upcoming experiences in next 24 hours in that city

Refresh the Old and Tired (Notes from July 8 to 14, 2019) July 30, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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For the abundant discussion on big tech, rise of tech and the valley’s obsession with all of it, there are quite a few industries that have had much longer staying power. They’ve proved their worth, decades and decades in. There are still railways. There are still cars. Manufacturing persists. CPG and everything that that entails last. Walmart, as much as people love (or don’t) Amazon, it’s still a lion’s share of commerce. Tech has improved and allowed them to have this staying power. Additionally, enabling improved efficiencies can allow new players in the industries to fundamentally change how they’re viewed.

Industries include tv – nonpartisan and bipartisan news with Carrie Sheffield. a16z gets into online from offline forms of services, restaurants to tech-enabled deliveries, as well as the rise of CAA and the agency fights. Then we have traffic and building with a consultant in that space. The next industry was making the legal space a little more transparent – provide a marketplace where information becomes symmetrical. I believe these are ways that simple pain points that can be improved through a technological lens give access to a value that wasn’t there before.

Hope you enjoy the shorter posting and the notes as more detailed. Check each of the wonderful people out!

  • Carrie Sheffield (@carriesheffield), co-founder of Bold TV (Wharton XM)
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    • Discussing bipartisan vs nonpartisan
    • Growing up in very conservative areas and then going to the coast – seeing both sides, especially media
      • How it was to be in media
    • Fake news as non-fact-checked as well as actually fake – ~70%+ considering bias
    • Intellectual diversity along with everything else – thinking differently vs looking diverse
      • Used example of Google AI conference canceling on a colleague who was a conservative, black woman
  • Chia Chin Lee, CEO of BigBox VR (Wharton XM)
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  • Initially trying VR and finding it sickening – didn’t work (Oculus)
    • Tried HTC Vive and fell in love – had a room set up and felt enthralled
    • Hardware and platform may get cheaper with tech
      • Opportunity lies in the software side – connecting to others and industries

 

  • Entrepreneurs, Then and Now (a16z 6/29/19)
    • With Marc, Ben, Stewart Butterfield (@stewart)
    • 10 year anniversary for a16z in late June – how has the environment changed?
    • Class of 2009 entrepreneurs were some of the most special: Todd McKinnon, Martin, Brian Czesky
      • To get to that point, needed to earn your stripes
    • O2O – online to offline (AirBNB, Uber, DoorDash, Postmates, etc….)
      • Founders that may be more operationally-focused since those require that
        • Maybe more similar to semiconductor founders from the 1970s, start of 80s
    • Dual discipline people as they got more involved in healthcare or bio-related
      • 10 years ago, Bio PhD wouldn’t know much on computers but now, dual PhD’s
    • Economics + CS – discussion of field of economics with empirical / quantitative economics compared to physics or formulas
      • New inventions by economists with machine learning and data
    • New ideas – thought venture firms had lost way, founders/operators that built businesses who would help out on boards
      • GPs started to get more abstract ideas, professionalized
      • Institution and ecosystem, network and fundamental staffing model – pay at a16z is different than other VC’s
    • If priority was to find best founders at the best opportunities, shouldn’t matter which stage they’re at – miss things, maybe
      • Skype deal early, multiple entry points – working with entrepreneur and being stage-agnostic
      • Tech bubble bursting – “can’t possibly start fund” – 2009 was Khosla and them
        • Mentioned ‘crusty’ or ‘grouchy’ VC’s
    • Much of the tech was at an inflection point – Salesforce as only SaaS, iPhone not quite there yet, Uber, Airbnb
      • Maybe the main response should be “No, this thing is stupid” as more accurate
      • Never thought it was a bubble – prices of companies are always incorrect (future performance, which nobody knows)
      • East coast vs West coast – not obvious, find what each argue about
    • How high is up? Online pet delivery, all actually happening
      • What are the exploratory bets? Are markets ready? Are people ready? Regulators?
        • Sometimes it’s the pioneer, sometimes it’s the last – time and effort for founders, personality, other
    • No individual company gets 25 years to prove something – maybe 5 years for a hypothesis
      • Morale issue losing faith or architecture issue – prior architecture (ex: mobile dev in 2002, system on archaic and aging-in-place)
      • VC’s will do the same thing – kid doesn’t know about failed experiments – VC freeze themselves out (ones who don’t know will often invest)
        • Can you learn lessons from failure – maybe you should learn nothing – “That doesn’t work.”
        • Edison as trying 3000 combinations before the filament, Wright brothers trying many
    • Copying the model from CAA – Michael Lovitz and describing the whole thing – not a collection of individuals
      • Operating platform, system and infrastructure with professionals across the network
      • Compounding advantage year over year – but why can’t they copy? They were paying themselves all the money
        • Nobody wanted to take pay cuts – 80% to hire everyone at such a scale
    • Top end venture investment – need something working (product-market fit, product)
      • Do they know what they’re doing? Can they do their job scaling?
      • Second-time or later founders – can do what they want and figure stuff out?
        • Problem may be with the good idea – investments on that idea or otherwise (fragmented idea with nothing)
      • Idea maze to find out what the ideas are – haven’t gone through that
    • VCs can’t invest more than 20% of funds that aren’t primary equity investments – crypto, for instance (vs RIA)
    • Deadwood as creation of city or state – horrifying obstacles
      • Why History is Always Wrong? (Taleb’s narrative fallacy, for instance – often more complex)
        • Don’t even know body, climate still (too complex) – can converge on science to Newton’s laws, others
      • Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
  • Scott Kuznicki, Pres and Managing Engineer at Modern Traffic Consultants (Wharton XM)
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    • Traffic control tech – California high speed rail vs autobahn style
      • Autonomous lanes?
    • Designated autonomous – level V vs others, depends on density and adoption
    • Thinks parking structures with flat tops could be converted or pay for cost
      • Multipurpose, solar, green or plants etc…
  • Risk, Incentive and Opportunity in Starting Co (FF 027, 20min VC)
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    • Daniel van Binsbergen, CEO and co-founder of Lexoo
      • Online marketplace connecting businesses and lawyers
    • Founded it in 2014, got an investment for $1.7mil
    • Friends always asking for referrals – kept a short list of them
      • Seemed great, “quoted $X – is that good?” – perception of complexities
      • Could put make a marketplace together for transparency
    • Kept 100% of his income boosts – got used to his training salary so it wasn’t as big a risk
      • No kids meant it may have been easier – really disappointed if you didn’t give it a go – decision already made
    • Legal space’s lack of progression in tech – incentives in wrong place
      • Hourly model still for law – if you spend less time on work, you would make less money
      • Risk-spotting for lawyers
      • Senior partners have heaviest voice – not exactly lining up for retirement in the near term vs long term
    • Highest goal may not be senior partner – fixed fee, sharing risk, more open to innovating with own practice
    • Lexoo initially – didn’t have tech skills for it, had a vision in his head but didn’t know best way
      • Didn’t build full-scale solution, did a forum for $15 website, form to fill in
      • Arrived in his email – he would then contact lawyers and fill in Word template – get their responses and quotes
      • Attached the lawyers’ quote and response to a doc and pdf and send back to clients
      • Automated only when he couldn’t handle the workload – hit limit on evenings and quit
        • Lawyers paid 10% commission on the quotes
    • Focus on business ideas – tech isn’t the big solution – market innovation (access to litigators)
    • Investors at Forward Investors – introduced through a friend who knew them through squash partner
      • Difference between FOMO on being convinced vs other investors who have a sense of opportunity
    • Fav book: The Mob Test – how to ask questions to get useful feedback, asking questions to customers in the wrong way
      • Would you use the product if it does X, Y, Z – most definitely? Instead of asking what the customer problems are.
    • A lot of work in Trello, for goals, and Sunrise app – Microsoft’s indispensable for calendar meetings
  • Facebook Bargaining Bots Invented a Language (Data Skeptic 6/21/19)
    • Auction theory and econometrics – equilibrium strategy
    • Neither agent is incentivized to change strategy if the other stays the same
    • Plateau of events in real life – baby, marriage, life changes, job, lease ends in time
    • Discount is a single floating-point decimal, ex 0.99 ^ t
      • Everything known – can calculate based on common knowledge and discounts
    • Gaussian distribution, mean 100k, 10k – ignore tail in negative and renormalize
      • Rubenstein one-sided incomplete
    • Game: don’t know private value now, but can have probability distribution
      • Update with Bayesian with behavior
      • Classic ML: corpus of examples of negotiation, mark up conveniently, objective function to maximize reward (post-agree)
      • Opportunity for RL – patterns for language utterances, insult or compliment or neither – recognizing strategy
        • Character level or nothing to ask it
        • Conversations for language you don’t understand and the reward – can you do this optimally?
    • RL + Roll-out with 8.3 to agent and 4.3 to other algorithms (94.4% agreement)
      • Roll-out was 7.3 and then RL – 7.1 and last place was 5.4 for likelihood model
    • Training data was in English, negotiating over 3 items – shortcut its job, RL wants the short path to reward
      • His example – loses points if you went to pits but to reward – chance at falling
      • Wasn’t worth it to move, so he had to do a penalty for not moving
      • Penalty for Facebook example was agents continued to communicate in English
      • Put a time constraint, maybe
  • Transfer Learning with Sebastian Ruder (@seb_ruder), D/S at DeepMind (Data Skeptic 7/8/19)
    deepmind-1

    • Generally, TL is leveraging knowledge from different tasks or domains to do better on another task
    • Not a lot of training data, may want to pretrain – models to train on imagenet, for instance
      • Language modeling to train on large corpora and use that on a bunch of other tasks
      • Source vs target data: task stays the same but can adapt between source and target, say sentiment of reviews
    • Classic benchmarking, may have ImageNet moments over last year – features of pretrained models applied on more powerful NLP
    • Google XLNet’s most current, BERT and ELMo as others – pace of improvement has been great
    • Difficulty of target tasks – can be good for 100 samples in target source on binary tasks, maybe, 50 even?
      • 200 examples per label, question-answering or reasoning, examples must be increased
      • If we can express target task as a conditional language modeling, can do fewer or even inference
    • Pretraining is costly due to large clusters on your own, but now can be public pretraining where you can finetune quickly
    • Area of common sense reasoning – infer what a question means or expressed depends on what may not be said
      • Grass is green, entity facts (son of a son), inquiries for language model – incorporate to modeling

Sharing, Building and Community (Notes from June 24 – 30, 2019) July 16, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Leadership, medicine, questions, Real estate, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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If you hadn’t noticed or read from the start, you should know that I’ve gone in order from the start on the Twenty Minute VC episodes. Many of the conversations are from 2015 and 2016 so they end up as a bit of a history lesson and window into the mindset surrounding capital / founding at that time. Bubble discussions or higher capital raises are comical when we now know what today looks like – higher, still. Although I’d say geographically, expansion has exponentially grown as it’s become easier and more common for firms to seek out what they really believe is an edge for them. Interestingly enough, people also don’t stay where they were, especially over a few years. As I look them up to refresh and review for these posts, it can be very enlightening to see where they are currently – did they start a new project? Open a new fund? Move on to different industry?

David Teten was one of those switchers, as he was with ff V/C at the time, and now over at HOF Capital. Similar role but perhaps more focused on what he’d like to see. Also, many of the firm founders and partners aren’t heralded for having more than a few roles – some probably for different reasons, but I look at that for myself as a way to stay extremely excited about continuing to learn every day, every week. To believe in yourself to be capable of doing great work, helping to create as much value as possible in the most efficient manner, hopefully. Weird that many people receive flack for multiple positions when many of us strive to follow a few particular, but potentially different, things. For this, I admire David in keeping up with his roles, while keeping us all in the loop of his thoughts, generally, as well.

Next, there were two involved in real estate, housing and construction that were pretty much aligned. What do I mean? Both believed the rising housing (and estate, generally) costs have come as construction costs have increased significantly. This is creating unduly pressure, and making it more difficult for projects to get done. Maggie Coleman went through real estate differences for certain types, while John Rahaim of SF mentioned precautions that are being taken for the coastline and bay.

Then, we had Ryan Hoover, who runs ProductHunt, and is one of my favorite follows. He built what he and his friends wanted – a place to share ideas and products to try. And 5 years later, here he is. I won’t spoil some of the nuggets that he shared, including a few of his favorite books and monetizing once he knew it was real. Not to be outdone, a discussion with Phil Southerland covered how he has built a strong community of athletes born or having diabetes. To demonstrate how they can grow, he helped form a team of all diabetics and professionally rides to bring awareness and improve the lives and conversations surrounding them.

There is important work being done by many people, including ourselves. If we can better someone’s life, it’s likely worth doing it if you’re enjoying it. We can help by just being who we are and doing what we would like to do. I’d love to hear some of your ideas or thoughts regarding the people covered in this week’s notes.

  • David Teten@dteten, Partner at ff Venture Capital, founder and Chairman of HBS (20min VC 095)
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    • Alumni Angels of Greater NY, largest angel group in NY
    • How to Disrupt the Investing Business
    • Grew up in Marin Co, played with computers – consulted and taught Excel as a kid – bah mitzvah on knowledge test
      • Fired when he was 16 from financial services company because they figured out password was pw for admin
    • In college, worked briefly in strategy consulting before investment banking in tech – business school where he started multiple ventures in Israel and US
    • Joined ff VC in 2011 when it was 3 – now 27+ people, as largest headcount seed VC in Canada, Amsterdam, Israel, UK, US
    • Company ff should be generalists – broadest possible but don’t invest in life sciences due to no expertise there yet
      • Can’t predict in advance, so they want companies that are interesting with high growth potential
      • Admires outbound of TA or Summit, but something like SignalFire to look at data for high growth
        • Resources to help founders to reduce write-offs (1 in 6 fail for them) which attracts inbound (2000+ a year)
          • Filters down to ~12 a year to invest
    • Google Ventures / SignalFire and others as algorithmic approaches to source – increasing importance but not validated thesis
    • Loves their model as efficient – frustrations at other vc’s (80% of time with people / co you can’t invest in – partying and not meeting anyone)
      • Nobody at ff has a job as origination, Angelist as disrupting the generalist VCs (those that don’t have added value)
    • Top 3 Important Ways to Support Companies: capital raising, finance acceleration team – CFO acting, recruiting
    • How to determine value add as entrepreneur
      • Reference check
      • Do the math on portfolio: for ff, 60 portfolio co’s (active in 2/3), 24+ ee’s
        • How many people in the team? How many portfolio co’s? How many checks?
          • Use that to determine person-hours you can expect
        • What sort of technology platform to support the company?
      • A16z as huge operational side – finance, marketing, etc…
        • Short list for companies doing this – very capital intensive
      • Believes that there will be some shrinkage in the model in a downturn if it’s not fully thought out
    • Very illiquid asset class (mentioning to LPs) – 12 different academic studies for 18-54% median returns
      • 10+ years for cash returns, lot of institutions aren’t okay with that time range
      • David Swenson (head of Yale endowment) has argued long-lasting liquidity premium for illiquid asset classes
        • Even the most liquid asset classes aren’t liquid when you want them to be (2008, for instance)
    • Indiegogo as seed – crowdfunding space, competitors aren’t invested in – watch Angelist very closely, though
      • Services from Angelist as they look around at different parts of deal flow
      • Encourages member space to get involved in angel investing for next generation of companies – exposure to ecosystem
        • Promote economic growth
    • Research study: Disrupt investing – security, for instance
      • Secure (ID verification), Distill Networks (blocks bots), IONIQ (from Atl, secure cloud usage)
      • New processes and make them efficient: Addapar (Excel/PDF), Earnest Research (nontrad datasets eg: cc info, email receipt mining)
    • VC usage of social media: much more aggressive, judicious but no breakfast tweeting – sell
    • Edward Tufte – Yale prof, must read
    • PandoDaily as top blog – not afraid to make enemies, discuss what they do
    • SkyCatch as most recent – drone tech, set of tools for collecting data via drones – construction use case (Kamatsu client)
      • Monitor exact status of project, imperative they know where everything is
  • Maggie Coleman, MD and Head of Intl Capital at JLL RE (Wharton XM)
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    • Looking at different real estate measures – single family homes, for instance
    • Do different assets in real estate require a different measure to draw attention from foreign investors?
      • Didn’t seem so – would depend on where the capital was coming from (their own environmental basis)
    • Construction costs as outpacing many other costs – affecting many markets

 

  • John Rahaim, Director at SF Planning Dept (Wharton XM)
    • Having to adjust for the changing seaboard – will regulatory measures be taken?
      • No mechanical or living people in commercial buildings on the first floor, for instance
    • Says there are already precautions being taken on the bay – 5-8 feet, for instance
    • Construction costing so much already that it’s been very difficult to get building done post-land acquisition
      • Estimates of $600-800k for this due to inflationary and costs passed from the building companies
      • Said he had some 36? Projects that are being held up
  • Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover), Founder @ ProductHunt (20min VC FF026)
    ph-logo-3

    • Best community builder, Twitter engagement, winner of TC Best New Startup of 2014
    • Just wanted to build a consumer-focused thing to discuss with his friends about app ideas or companies
    • Put it on Quibb and Twitter – manual things initially, set up an email subscription, personal email connecting with people
      • Keep building communities otherwise it peters out
    • First iteration was RoR built over 5 day Thanksgiving holiday – core is the same, people using and community growth
      • Having people tell them and comment on ideas (used it as their new home page)
    • How to plan to go from early adopters to mass market?
      • Eager enough to participate, engage and not necessarily representative of the common users
    • Categorizing Podcasts and putting them on the home page – barrier before, now based on episodes
      • This Week in Startups, Startup Show (by Gimlet founders), Jake Gyllenhaal ep of Mystery Show (Gimlet media) – is he 6′ tall?
    • Worked on Hooked with Nir Eyal, using some in ProductHunt
      • Email digest is the trigger – action is to open / click on something to find inspiration or interesting
        • Built email variability – some consistency, surface different titles and content
      • Follow collection, clicking follow, reward is updates on the collections – permission for emailing to reinforce and come back
    • Ryan’s favorite collections: featured ones, Russ has game collections (browser ones), Julie created bakednight
    • Betaworks kept popping up on their engagement charts – Twitter very active, products (Without, where would he be?)
      • Always tagging the authors and being genuine, personable, funny or light-hearted
    • Monetizing PH – at its core, download/use/purchase products with the right intent
      • Over time, will explore more of this
      • Fundraising: first time for Ryan, different as a side project and growing
    • Quibb as newsfeed other than Twitter and also Crunchies where they announced Shipt but said “Actually, it’s PH”
    • Sunrise as calendar app, Pomodoro – no longer. Favorite book: Art of Game Design by Arty Shell
      • User psychology and game mechanics, how it applies to tech products as well. Game design not always thought about.
  • Brian Solis (@briansolis), author of Lifescale (Wharton XM)
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  • Survey on how social media has changed / warped views for girls
    • Hadn’t fully released yet

 

 

 

  • Phil Southerland (@philsoutherland), CEO of Team Novo Nordisk (Wharton XM)
    novo-nordisk

    • Living with T1 diabetes and bringing awareness
    • T1 and T2 can be helped, dealt with and he’s trying that
    • Cycling team focused on it
      • Full team is athletes with diabetes
        • triathletes, runners and cyclists

Different Ways to Create (Notes from June 10 – June 16, 2019) July 3, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, NFL, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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3 fantastic sounding women to start. One in VC and finance, discussing the difference between NYC and SF for her. The second compared in-house marketing strategy and outside influence. What’s that look like? How much control is there? Last, but certainly not least, was an author who discusses something that I’ve seen with family and my sister – the challenge of raising a child while balancing some semblance of normalcy in work. What’s expected from yourself? What should be reasonably expected from work? What’s a balance?

Those women: Erin Glenn, Julie Scelzo and Lauren Smith Brody.

A few sportsmen discussed data and capital. Sixers Innovation Lab and former exec for And1 mentioned how they think about growth in Philadelphia and the brand, who can they support in the community that can also help with the team. John Urschel, former Baltimore Raven, is a published mathematician now who discussed the influx of data collection and analysis among all sports and teams. What they can do makes a great athlete experience, fan experience and overall performance improves.

A plethora of rising stars followed, from Kanyi of Collaborative Fund to Sofia Colucci of Coors and the co-founders for SHINE text. Hope you enjoy my notes and you check out the podcast episodes!

  • Erin Glenn (@leeeringlenn), CEO of Quire (20min VC FF025)
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    • Entrepreneur as kid – day business for summer camps, then management consulting, IB and took a company public (econ consulting firm)
    • Got bug to start own thing in 2010 – joined KIXEYE in SF for 4 years, video game company
    • Wanted to go to NYC (as kid in OK) – went to meet w Betaworks, fell in love with Quire
      • Mutual conv to join Quire – loved it – equity crowdfund co
      • Venture-back co’s enabling portion to raise for community & mission
        • Min. investment is $2500 – supporting larger investments as well, up to $250k
    • Likelihood for investors to get taken advantage of – Title III discussion (investors with <$100k income/net worth can invest up to $2k or 5% of income)
    • Mattermark study on investor bases that exist and why people do invest
      • Investor and diversity – minority, gender, big differences in those that follow Mattermark or others
    • Crowd won’t provide scaling / grow money (the $50mil+ rounds), but community can help participation at a lower level
    • Motivation to invest, other than financial incentive – supporting company’s mission + founders, spurring economic growth + innovation
      • Real commitment to realize dreams, grow economy
    • Benefits with crowd investing for company – moral and psychological
      • Supporters of the company can invest, which is reinforcing for doing it – customers that are owners of the business spend more, loyal, etc
    • SF vs NY startup ecosystems and CEO role
      • Had joined Quire with 2 suitcases, dog and air mattress after 2 days there
      • CEO role – really fun and exhilarating with challenges daily, gained confidence at eliciting feedback from ideas
        • Coming up with better solutions and getting them to help because we don’t have all answers
      • Intensity and vibrancy, competitive spirit in NY even though it’s smaller-feeling
        • Want to take on SV and not give up the competitiveness
        • More female founders in NY – fashion, finance, media in senior executives trying new things
    • Favorite book: Magic Mountain ahead of WWII in Europe, Switzerland
    • Favorite blog: Fred Wilson’s and Tim Cook as favorite innovator
    • Gimlet Media (first investment), Kano, Duel as others
  • Julie Scelzo, executive creative director at McGarryBowen (Wharton XM)
    mcgarrybowen-logo-2

    • Talking about marketing difference between in house and outside
      • Going from Creative MD for Pandora to take on MGB AMEX
    • Moving from agency to internal at Facebook – not even a salary bump, but just felt right
      • Worked helping clients was rewarding but she missed creating
  • Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester (Wharton XM)
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    • Discussion of parental leave in the workplace – if uneven with your partner, mixing it up or staggering
    • First 6 months as crucial for development – how to best alleviate this
      • Every person is different and has different attitudes
      • Nobody can generally be told how something may feel for them
    • Having the partner available in the first 6-9 months provides evidence that they’re capable, and can understand some of processes
    • First day of work being scary – moreso as a parent – train whole life to be in workplace
      • Can be comforting back at work, not so much for first days as a parent
  • Dilip Goswami, Molekule Air Filters (Wharton XM)
    • Being his father’s son, a typical engineer
    • Developing and deciding what part of product to have in house vs outside
      • Hybrid model
    • Having customer support and knowing it worked – shipping and using that as validation
  • Seth Berger, founder and CEO of And1, Sixers Innovation Lab (Wharton XM)
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    • Discussing how coaching basketball to young adults was so helpful
    • Marrying And1 with his passion for basketball and teaching and being around it
    • Sixers Innovation Lab – knew Josh from the 90s working on a failed internet co originally
      • Helping with capital up to $1mn and seeing 10x returns so far
  • John Urschel (@johnCurschel), Former lineman with Ravens, MIT mathematician (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about the lifelong balance of math / football from his memoir
    • Thinking about where analytics may be super exciting in sports – real-time strategy if they’re allowed the computers / data on-field/court
      • Tracking data is so strong, it’d be interesting to see what coaches may do to get there
  • Nathan Furr, Curtis Lefrandt, Innovation Capital author (Wharton XM)
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    • Author discussing how innovation costs resources
    • Talking with Marc Benioff and others for the most innovative leaders

 

 

 

 

  • Sofia Colucci, VP Innovation of Miller Coors (Measured Thoughts, Wharton)
    • Introducing a new brand, Cape Line, into the world
      • Usually a 1.5 – 2 year process for a corp this size
      • Cut it down and released in 2019, dropped the other project (Project Sprint)
    • Had already done market research, wanted a more healthy, alternative to beer for women – cocktails in a can
      • Packaging and what that would look like after tasting
  • Jennifer Pryce (@jennpryce), President CEO of Calvert Impact Capital (Wharton XM)
    • Impact capital and how they grade different companies on the degrees for investment
    • Infrastructure, seeing them surpass $1bn
  • Marah Lidey (@marahml), Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founders of SHINE app (Wharton XM)
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    • SHINE as a wellness app for meditation
      • Gaining ground with their superusers – seeking feedback
    • Self-care platform, weren’t sure how they attracted so many men – but it’s definitely catered to their experiecne
      • Reached out to one of the first superusers that was male to get his input and to have influencers help
    • Product-market fit and development was always based on how they wanted the app to be- what they were searching for
  • Kanyi Maqubela (@km), Partner @ Collaborative Fund (20min VC 094)
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    • From South Africa originally, investments into CodeAcademy, Reddit, AngelList, AltSchool, TaskRabbit
    • Founding employee of Doostang, attended Stanford Uni & worked on Obama campaign in 2008, as well
      • Dropped out of Stanford, compelled by interest to see other part of world – did a startup, $20mil of VC funding for a couple startups
        • Being young, decision to leave was easy but once he’d left, it was tough
        • Making friendships and lasting connections easily in college – some communities outside, in pro world, was rough
      • Met his partner, Craig, while finishing school and doing work in design – convinced him to help him with CF
    • Investors are those that believe in collaborative economy – nodes, peer-to-peer and nodes for networking
      • Every consumer/employee/companies have obligation to align interests and value sets
      • Looking at companies to focus on impact and values – aspirational culture as outcome of collaboration
    • For the fund – stage specialization or theme?
      • Theme may be time-efficient-oriented. Reminder that many of most successful people have skipped on massive wins multiple times over.
        • Altman mentioned about having a point of view and heuristic to drive decisions (whether it’s stage or theme)
    • Being a partner at 30 – GPs with skin in the game
      • As young, have to have been very successful early or came from money to get into the fund
      • Needs to prove himself but as younger, may have been very risk adverse in the sense he wasn’t free-swinging
        • Facebook went public 7 years (quick for industry, but not necessarily quick for a fund) – feedback loop timeframes
      • Million ways to market as investor, drive value as portfolio, data, theme or stage specific
        • Blog as high leverage marketing for himself, writing is how he clarifies his ideas to himself and the public
    • Limits and is very prescriptive for the networking aspect of VC, conferences – wife in medical school so when she’s free, he makes himself free
    • Accelerator / demo days as good for investing – he likes being first institutional round, but thinks demo day to discover is not their best way
      • Sometimes the due diligence for demo days of seeing what’s out there
      • He uses them to talk to other VCs, see source and deal flow – coopetition – high leverage, high marketing channel
      • His best way in is likely the portfolio companies under them – he looks for connections for new places and vouch for them
    • Naming Fidelity markdown of a bunch of companies – saying that private companies are being treated like they’re public companies
      • Realtime prospects that are valued – can go up or down, financing or not
      • Private crowdfunding to create liquidity, getting to cash flows and thinking about dividends, debt, crowdfunding – IPO bar is so painful
    • Fav book: Brothers Karamazov – Dostoevsky as “fiction bible”
    • Union Square Ventures as the one he looks up to – Benchmark, also (Read ebooks)
    • Concept of Founder-friendly – agency from founders holding them responsible, but becomes messy / complicated
    • Most recent investment at that time: CircleUp was series C, crowdfunding platform for CPG – other forms of financing for orgs will be transformed

Matching Environment to People (Notes from May 27 – June 2, 2019) June 20, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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In this particularly busy week, I found the theme of the week to be particularly amusing, but coincidentally or not, the dominoes fell that way. Normally, a theme arises like that because everyone is in finance or the same segment or conference is aligning. I just happened to catch a week where the insight that I drew from each person reflected similarly.

Meredith Golden, a dating consultant of sorts, discussed how she assesses all levels of dating profiles for her clients. She goes through a process that she’s dialed in to obtain her optimum level of clients as well as the right approaches to proceed. Asking herself what she wanted was key in determining how she’s grown her business, especially as an entrepreneur and CEO.

Chief Instigator Matt Charney. Now that’s a fun title. And I won’t ruin it. He goes through his past with Disney and Warner Bros and why/how he moved into the HR tech doing marketing – what he saw and how it’s different now. Fascinating and fun segment.

Part of the fun of being an entrepreneur is deciding who you want to do business with. But when it’s difficult, especially at the start, you’re most excited to get ANYONE to work with (unless you luck into that massive customer to start – rare rare rare). This is Kyle Jones of iCRYO found out. Then he gained traction, quickly, and realized he needed to be a bit more diligent in who he wanted to work with – what was ideal for the business, as well as the brand moving forward.

David Epstein likes throwing wrenches, I imagine. He authored the book Range, testing the generalist vs specialist question. As a generalist masquerading currently as a specialist, I appreciated what he was talking about the strength of generalists. But I do understand the place that specialists have in our society, especially deep tech, research and other exceptional areas.

Deb DeHaas grew up under the tutelage of her mother who fought the idea of being an accountant growing up to learn and adapt to the idea of being told what she could/couldn’t do wasn’t ACTUALLY an assessment of her ability to do those things. Such a simple, fascinating concept. She could totally be an accountant, engineer, as she pleased. Took a lot of perseverance but she had a manager at Andersen (before folding) who was a woman and told her to always chase what she wanted – now she’s leading the Inclusion and Diversity team with Deloitte’s Corp Governance Arm. Quite the story of growing up and what she learned.

Not to be outdone, Kim Wilford, who acted as General Counsel for GoFundMe, discussed how she came into her role in charge of the nonprofit arm, and what they’ve done in growing the company and its donations. How to connect marketing, wearing multiple hats and helping people help others. Inspirational while metric-driven, not just dream-built.

I hope you enjoy the notes – a few I didn’t write extra here but had fascinating insights into Happiness Hacking, investing in founders and how they grew companies such as Vroom and GoodEggs. Let me know what you think!

  • Meredith Golden (@mergoldenSMS), CEO of Spoon Meets Spoon (Wharton XM)
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    • Talking about having 6-7 clients
    • Ghostwriting messages
    • Client work depends – assessing / diagnosing the problem
      • Not matching (pictures), profile, messaging, getting them to meet, etc…
    • Metrics based on what the initial diagnosis was
  • Matt Charney, Executive Editor – Chief instigator at RecruitingDaily (Wharton XM)
    screen-shot-2014-06-22-at-2.46.49-pm

    • Talking about workplace and conspiracies

 

 

  • Kyle Jones, iCRYO Franchises (Wharton XM)
    icryo-cryotherapy-logo-uai-720x433-5-3-300x181

    • Franchising initially – would’ve been a bit pickier when starting but too excited to land first deals
    • Out of 100 franchises, they’ll go with ~5 or so
    • 10 franchises, working on doing a big deal to launch 100+

 

  • David Epstein (@davidepstein), author of Range (Wharton XM)
    43260847

    • Discussed how Nobel laureates and creative types are often generalists that spend a lot of time learning / making
      • Stumble on new ideas or concepts in their work
    • Generalists aren’t bad – allow to see a different perspective and combine ideas
      • Think “The Quants” – relationship between corn prices compared to research on _

 

 

 

  • Deb DeHaas (@deborahdehaas), Chief Inclusion Officer, C4Corp Gov Deloitte (Women at Work)
    gx-global-center-for-corporate-governance-new-promo

    • Discussed her mother, who had passed away at the age of 90 recently, who was told she couldn’t be an accountant
      • Wasn’t her role – she pursued it anyhow and ended up being an engineer before quitting and being a community leader
    • Worked in Gulf Oil’s accounting dept and helped her husband through med school
      • First councilwoman in her town, elder at the church
    • Deb started at Andersen until it folded, worked for only one woman but she was taught there were no barriers
  • Bentley Hall (@bhallca), CEO of Good Eggs (Wharton xm)
  • Mitch Berg, CTO of Vroom (Wharton XM)
    mb_vroom_id_1
  • Alex Salkever (@alexsalkever), Vivek Wadhwa, authors “Your Happiness… Hacked” (Wharton XM)
    • With Stew Friedman, finding the middle ground of tech with children / teenagers and the happy medium
    • How is it that we find some things appealing but others are a burden
    • Facebook being a publishing agency – aren’t they responsible for what the product? “Newsfeed” example.
    • Google Maps or Waze as a hindrance at the local level – dangerous, maybe?
      • Extremely valuable, still, in new places / out of the country, especially
        • Different, maybe, for walking if alternative is talking and communicating with others
    • Problem with Facebook / Whatsapp – Whatsapp unmoderated group chats and only requiring a phone number
      • Encrypted, but what cost? Facebook – for Vivek, just limits to 1-way action
    • Social media as killing people – think India’s problems
  • Ed Sim (@edsim), FP @ Boldstart Ventures (20min VC 092)
    page_55dc6912ed2231e37c556b6d_bsv_logo_v15.3

    • LivePerson, GoToMeeting are 2 of his biggest investments as lead, exited / public
    • Started a fund in 1998, DonTreader Ventures – left in 2010
      • Idea was to bring SV style to NY – VCs would look at financials / models, but they looked at people and product – focus on markets
      • Most investors were corporate but cratered after 2008
    • Started a new seed fund for sticking with what he knew as well as recognizing a shift in 2007 for open source and cloud – consumer-based
    • SaaSify vertical markets with GoToMeeting founders who wanted to do new things – $1mln, $1.5mln
      • Enterprise people were looking to get a market for small ~$1mln investments
    • Hated starting a fund – “Fundraising sucks.” – Could find a great enterprise and tech entrepreneurs at seed stage – got $1mln and made 10 inv
      • First 5-6 investments were less than $5million pre-$, sold 4 by 2012 – had option values for series A or being sold to strategic companies
        • Entrepreneurs wanted to sell in those cases, but with cloud, definitely found that it was reasonable and cheaper to do SaaS
    • First / second generation founders or single vs others – “No single founders”
      • As the first institutional round, they’re first big money in. Last few investments were second or more founders – little bigger rounds
      • If first-gen founders, funding rounds are smaller – deep expertise in their field (and have to be engineers building product)
    • “Enterprise can be fucking hard” – have to know the industry – he has 20 years, partner has 10 and new partner as building 5 companies
      • Why he went this route? Started at JP Morgan as building quant trading models as liaison Business QA between engineers and portfolio managers
        • Derivatives models to real-time pricing models – feeds from Reuters or others, risk metrics and crank out the other side
      • Enterprise was exciting to him
    • Could take enterprise founders and redo or build a new company by changing the pain point – customers can be repeat because new pain point
      • Harder to do that in consumer
    • Leads come from founders – roughly 75% as recommendations from portfolio companies (wants to be first thought or call)
      • Helps founders get their pick and decide where to go – if you have an analyst report, may not be a great market opportunity initially
    • Environment of seed funding: Jeff Clovier of SoftTech as one of few microVC’s and now it’s 400+
      • Just want to be hyper-focused and being nimble – main value add as understanding the cadence (2 founders coding together to selling)
      • Stratification of VC – best ones have gotten so large that they can’t write small checks efficiently
        • Entrepreneurs don’t want $5-10mil immediately out of the gate – mismatch, looking for less for less dilution
      • Deal flow of crowdfunding: says sometimes they will leave $250k after leading for AngelList or building new relationships
    • Jason Calcanis blog Launch Ticker, trend as rise of the developer (multiple people in company using same thing – buying licensing)
      • Messaging as another interesting trend in the enterprise space – his most used app – Slack (SlackLine – private, external channels)
    • Most recent investment – stealth investment in a repeat founder (founded and sold before) – security focused on developer
  • Kim Wilford, General Counsel at GoFundMe (Wharton XM)
    go_fund_me_logo_courtesy_web_t670

    • Talking about joining, hadn’t considered nonprofit space
      • For profit arm and the nonprofit
    • Mentioning pushing marketing and following metrics for raising vs donations
    • Can influence news stations and push for higher engagement
    • Done almost $5bn in funding across 50 million donations

Leadership: Data and Strategy (Notes from Week of May 6 – 12, 2019) May 30, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, experience, finance, global, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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This was a very fun week for listening. I caught a ton of material and insights from very creative leaders on how they’ve looked at strategy and building great teams, align companies and progress in a successful manner. Their methodologies or frameworks didn’t always align, which was also refreshing to hear. We often get stuck on the same methods if we hear them repeatedly – I’m under the impression that this becomes dangerous if held as a truism when others may question this way or go away from it – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all to building businesses! Especially when information is plentiful, and people / ideas are a few clicks away.

Zeke Zelker is a super-creator who has pushed the envelope of creating and producing engaging videos, whether it’s marketing material or tv or films. Definitely worth checking out, especially as media content in video / audio has increasingly been the mode of consumption.
Benito Cachinero of the Egon Zehnder Leadership program talked about 4 things he looks for and teaches in leadership. Also, he covered the importance of how to strategically allocate resources when looking for growth or expansion, both in economic and human capital.
A CES overview of consumer tech trends by the a16z squad was intriguing! Alarms, smart home and other products that caught their eye as options to drive the future of homes and how we’ll interact on an everyday basis.

Caryn Seidman-Becker  discussed privacy of data and personal biometrics as the CEO of CLEAR – trying to improve the ease of security while fighting the image that people think of when hearing what it is they do to enable this. Brett Hurt was fascinating – building multiple companies early in life and calling up his friends to start a new one. Deciding the name? Hilarious. All of this before getting into Clarabridge’s sentiment analysis with Ellen Loeshelle. She realized how much different types and ways to look at data / text could help in analyzing a plurality of business cases, across many industries – not just customer data for their clients. Last but certainly not least, Stephanie Cohen needs no introduction – but she discussed how she perceives data for company progress and leading the groups needed to achieve her goals.

I hope you all enjoy!

  • Zeke Zelker, Creative Transmedia Branding (Wharton XM)
    • Talks about his films being cine-experiences, and as a DIY videographer how he can control all aspects
      • Considers business along with creative direction – makes sure to align them
    • 4 phases of content: ignite, sharing short form content, main event, reward
    • iDreamMachine – his prod co. & producing Billboard about 4 people living on a billboard
    • Has 7th most viewed drama on Hulu (InSearchOf) – engaging audiences to become a part of the story
    • Encourages people in the environment to create content, whether it’s a blog or short snippets – become part of the overall story
  • Chris Carosa, author of From Cradle to Retirement: Child IRA (Wharton XM)
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  • Making money as child, pre-teen and then teen
    • Child: golf balls selling – golf course, lemonade stands, etc
    • Preteen: babysitting, lawn mowing, card collecting
    • Teen: W2 eventually, card collecting, babysitting and other types – photography, writing
    • Parents can save $ for child by investing in child IRA ~$1k or up to gift amounts of $6k now as long as W2 income

 

 

  • Benito Cachinero, Egon Zehnder Leadership Solutions (Wharton XM)
    • Previous President HR at DuPont HR
    • Discussing potential ~4 factors for leadership (direct contradiction to measurements in being accurate)
    • Aligning resources for growth strategy in new markets – China vs Midwest, for instance
  • Pulse Check on Consumer Tech Trends (a16z 1/17/2019)
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    • With Benedict Evans, Steven Sinofsky
    • Trends at CES – no consumer product themselves, just a lot of all parts of supply chains / manufacturing
      • Batteries in 10k – 100k, so know what you want
    • TVs were not curved (nobody bought curved) – had 3 ft bar and tv came out above it in 10-15sec
      • Or edgeless Samsung blocks “The Wall” where you could make them as large as you wanted – LCD in any shape/size
      • Sizes could be anything now, amortized supply chain and manufacturing plants vs idling
    • Media content providers and apps
      • Pausing / syncing and Samsung apps with Apple video – clunky or AirPlay hardware
      • NorCal vs SoCal or California vs other states (think Apple phone vs the rest)
    • Easiest product to get alarm from 12+ companies for an hour to plug stuff in and it’s done
      • Proprietary electrical wires until they got low energy Bluetooth and now it’s everywhere
      • Lock or other nuts and bolts having SKU proliferation or new homes
        • Have to know gen contractors, Home Depot, developers and fragmented
    • FirstAlert smoke alarms – mesh wifi since they’re hardwired or battery
      • Put wifi in the alarm (to go to phone, etc…) – lots to do it with insurance or risks
    • Alexa chip supplier to connect everything
      • Apple tried to do Home Kit but eliminated everyone because almost nothing was implemented – wasn’t easy
      • Amazon has leverage for hardware but it has to benefit them for Alexa and being useful
      • If all makers saw HomeKit, could join war for Alexa vs Assistant (now that everything has their discovery appliances / connect)
      • Compare electric toaster to holding bread in front of fire and similar progressions
    • Show about running experiments is CES vs show about finding business value
    • Cultural part of CES – Japanese hand clapper
      • The founder of Ukrainian and employee and others that were hustling
  • Caryn Seidman-Becker, CEO of Clear (Wharton XM)
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    • Biometrics and buying Clear
    • Talking about the reactions for people getting to skip lines – make it more efficient
    • Allow TSA agents to work on what is actually important
    • Trying to describe to change customer behavior in the privacy aspect of what they keep
    • Biometric data but encrypted and secure

 

  • Brett Hurt (@databrett), co-founder and CEO of data.world (Wharton XM)
    logo594x144

    • Discussion of Edgecase (Compare Metrics), BazaarVoice (running backend for a lot of ads)
    • How they stumbled onto the data.world site – calling his co-founders of next big idea
  • Rod Hochman, MD and President, CEO of Providence St Joseph Health Leadership (Leadership in Action, WhartonXM)
    • Talking about being a junior member of the board of physicians when he started out
    • Leadership and how he went into the administration side as a young physician
    • Administration for many physicians is beyond the time / scope of many – hard to think of it without doing MBA or taking time
      • Important to combine the two for the expertise and management
    • With this business, how much is going on between clinics or hospitals and the network
  • Sentiment Analysis, Ellen Loeshelle, Dir. of Prod Management at Clarabridge (Data Skeptic 4/20/19)
    clarabridge-analytics

    • How positive or negative a customer may be expressing a review or otherwise, polarity
    • Academically, may have entire text as positive vs negative
    • Clarabridge – helping their clients understand their own customers
      • With hotel experience: could be multiple levels – service, cleanliness, check-in, overall
      • Using a clause, individual tokens, lemmas, parts of speech and how they’re related
    • Dealing with 21 languages natively, and having computational linguists on staff to understand the grammatical syntax or individual contractors
      • Vocabulary can change, but not necessarily syntax (think: sick)
    • Sentiment is rules-based engine as BI tool for her end users – full control / transparency for analysis
      • ML in place with w2vec for tuning rules in the engine since those change based on context/industry
    • Flipping sentiment or negating and modifiers as using the extreme ends of sentiment analysis (-5 to 5 scale)
      • Structured stays similar, but lexicon changes contextually and sarcasm / transcriptions as more difficult unless obvious or explicit
    • Sentiment goes along with their emotion or effort analysis for customers
      • Enterprise tool and APIs for engine on enriching internal systems
      • Considering sentiment analysis as table stakes now – different than when they first started when they were ahead
    • Client in small kitchen appliances used Clarabridge to treat sentiment on competitors, specifically for pressure cookers
      • Eventually saw that the sentiment split for pressure cookers and that pushed them into doing Instapot
  • Stephanie Cohen, Evolution of M&A and Corporate Strategy (a16z 5/7/2019)
    A Goldman Sachs sign is displayed inside the company's post on the floor of the NYSE in New York

    • Stephanie – CSO for Goldman, member of management committee, Was in M&A and investment banking for Goldman
    • M&A is experience-based business, M&A with same people – rarely would be one-and-done – just a method of executing strategy
    • Bad examples of M&A – likely hard to keep up with growth or expectation of growth but tries to buy the growth
    • Her worst example: Fiat Chrysler with government owing, Canada + US and pension
    • Trends: velocity of M&A is greater (cited $1tn of M&A last quarter), amount of private equity has about $1.5tn for buyers (divest vs sell)
      • When she started, needed a strategic buyer – now, just need to provide an answer to how the business is a good alone activity
      • China / Asia as higher volume in general
    • “Anti-trends”: still very analog as M&A, person-to-person; continued evolution may come with digital capabilities
    • Preparing or thinking of selling:
      • Don’t wait too long to sell (assets no longer strategic, more the business will atrophy) – be proactive of business portfolio
      • Build relationships early on with financial or strategic buyers
    • Best M&A banker he’s seen: Tim Ingrassia (analyst originally) – corporations, legal, bankers
      • Friendly, relationships and doing business without ‘playbook’
    • Figuring out strategy, which companies you want to buy and the alternatives (top targets, organic version, next a, b, c plan)
      • What to pay, rumors of what others would pay – what’s it cost to you?
      • Thinking creatively about deal? How to design the right compensation packages? What’s the integration strategy?
      • Clients are thinking of deal with integration people and how to get synergies to work the best
      • “Charm offensive” – ultimately, most sellers make decision on valuation – if you’ve developed best relationships, you get other information
      • Walk-away price
    • Top down vs bottom up strategy – mentions $CAT as shifting toward RR vs sales, and not unique to just financial services
      • Not one instead of the other (fee-based vs recurring) – good deposits bring in other clients
        • Creating and building business with the right economy within various parts of the business
      • Going forward, people running businesses everyday have the best idea of how to exploit markets
        • If client-focused and outwardly-focused, should come up with great ideas together and to push forward
      • Exploration is hard or unnatural – high-energy, client-driven and solving in a creative way
        • Creative and quiet thoughts – leaders need time away, but people have to be exploratory to consider new plans
        • Example for tech and how to have the right conversations based on seeing what other companies are doing
        • She says that with how fast tech is growing, they need to work together and partner
    • Accelerate as trying to push new ideas
      • Committal vs part-time – allowed them to fund and go with their idea, or keep them head of board
    • Belief in fintech for a huge opportunity – have tended to build things on their own, but have pivoted to not do everything
      • What should we buy? What should we build? Want fintech to come and partner with Goldman.
      • Most of life is on phone and it’s almost seamless – but not financial life for mobile
  • Ruth Zukerman, Co-founder of FlyWheel Sports and SoulCycle (Wharton XM)
    • Creative director

Experimentation & Testing (Notes from March 25 – March 31, 2019) April 17, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, global, Hiring, questions, social, training, TV, Uncategorized.
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I know, I know. It’s a bit of a cop out to use a Game of Thrones image on the back of the Season 8 premiere from Sunday. Sue me [please don’t]. And I’ll give credit to the image creator: Instagram @chartrdaily for the fun visualization. However, after listening to Pinnacle Sports’ Marco Blume, I couldn’t help after hearing deployment strategies for their prop bets on popular TV shows, such as who will be left on the Iron Throne or the ever popular “Who dies first?” props. They experiment, hypothesize, post a line with a limit (hedge risk) and let the market decide from there. And boom – we have the theme of the week!

Antoine Nussenbaum, of Felix Capital at the time, mentioned going from private equity to start-ups and venture funding where they had to decide between backing people or belief in the company. He got first-hand experience by starting a company with his wife, successfully gaining funding, and then exiting – only to fail with a different company that wasn’t scaling. How did he go through frameworks to decide on startups to fund or help?

Mark Suster gave his take on how he comes to investment funding – sales, technical skills and being aware of each. How did his entrepreneurship experience influence his framework for funding new start ups? Why is it that there is a sweet spot for amounts based on run rate? Experimenting, failing and adjusting.

Then I had listened to 2 data scientist / researchers in their discussions of NLP parts – what to test, what they assumed to be true, how to approach new methodology and testing this methodology. Is there a limit to the progression that can be made with NLP? Why might it be relevant to decide on testing state-of-the-art further? Then, ultimately, what’s the applications for how we can use that optimization to improve the current status quo?

I hope everyone checks out what may interest them – this was a fascinating and fun week. So much so, that I suggested to a few different students for them to check out different parts (granted, I do this often, but I was quite excited to share these ones).

Cheers!

  • Antoine Nussenbaum (@Nussenbaum), Principal and cofounder of Felix Capital (20min VC 084)
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    • Partner at Atlas Global prior, p/e fund that was part of GLG Partners
      • Working on digital early-stage, venture fund and helped startups bootstrap after missing the tech side
      • Miraki, Jellynote, Pave, Reedsy, and 31Dover as some of his best investments
      • Helped start Huckletree with his wife
        • Looked for investment of $80mln but got $120mln
    • Backing someone vs backing the company initially in early stage funds
    • Raised in Paris in international environment, lived in UK as well
    • Launched 2004 software-on-demand business with 2 friends “that was not scalable at all”
    • Did M&A in the UK after leaving software
    • Felix Capital at intersection of creativity + technology, lifestyle brands: ecommerce and media, enabling tech
      • Stages – flexible capital, but have made investments from $200k – $6mln, focus on Series A + B
      • Geographic – agnostic, as long as backing entrepreneurs
      • Advisory services and focused on helping their investment companies
    • More entrepreneurs that know the playbook and how they can build, grow and scale
      • Looking for more companies that can scale globally or expanding outside with proper funding
    • Using Triangle as an example – bathing suits on Instagram strategy and launching millions of product via digital
    • ProductHunt as a blog he gets lost in – 15 min of destruction
    • Lifestyle-related excitement: food side, better life, marketplaces
    • Hard Thing about Hard Things and Capital in the 21st Century – relationship of wealth and economic wealth
  • Mark Suster (@msuster), MP @ Upfront Ventures (20min VC 085)
    8647fd890a54e10bd320ada2651040c5

    • Was VP of PM at Salesforce.com before Upfront
    • Late 80s – had an interest in development as a student in college in the UK
      • Worked initially as a programmer at Anderson (Accenture) for 8 years
      • Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone – better to start earlier, need to have a fundamental understanding of systems (coding)
        • Python, PHP, Ruby, JavaScript – not trying to become best developer – just knowing the systems
        • Sales experience would be second – telesales or customer support – ask CEO to do an hour a week of calls
    • Started 2 software companies – one in England and then Silicon Valley, selling both – backer brought him in to VC
      • Fred Wilson wasn’t an entrepreneur, but does give you the insight
    • Don’t get the sense of urgency with too long a time – 3 months vs 12 months
      • Too much capital creates laziness and shortcuts that lead to mistakes
      • 18 month run rate for capital – takes 3-4 months to raise (start with 6 months plus)
    • Wants to see early stage companies once a month, roughly.
    • $240mln fund – invest half into companies and reserve the other half for follow-ons
      • 3 year timeframe, $40mln with 5 partners – $8mln per partner
        • Series A, B rounds where each partner is doing 2-3 deals per year when avg is $3-5mln investment
    • On his blog, has the “11 Attributes of Entrepreneurs”
      • Best known post would be “Invest in Lines, not Dots” – x-axis as time, y-axis is performance (any given day, your dot)
        • Interactions create a line that matches a pattern and he can decide if he wants to do business
      • Not a big fan of deal days or investor days where you hype up a company because of this
    • 50 coffee meetings a year – once a week, if you meet 50 entrepreneurs a year, maybe you’ll become close with 5-10 of them
      • Single best introduction is from a portfolio company CEO for an investor
    • He knows and built software company – SaaS-space since he knows how to be helpful
      • Data and video tech industry (has 11 personal investments and 5 are video)
      • AgTech as an underappreciated industry so far – stays quiet until a few investments before hyping
    • Too much company, too much money and entrepreneurs clouding the market for everyone else
    • Book “Accidental Superpower”, how demographics and topology will drive the future and how areas grow
  • Marco Blume, Trading Director at Pinnacle Sports (DataFramed #54 2/18/19)
    pinnacle_logo

    • Got into data science by “sheer force”, building quant team out from Excel going to R
      • Efficiency was by orders of magnitude since R was better than Excel
      • Could do anything with risk management, trading, sports
    • Pricing GoT, hot dog eating contest, pope election and making the lines
      • Use pricing and market analytics to let the people set prices
    • Risk management in general – maximize probability and hedging risk
      • Does the bottom line change? Does it affect anything? Regulations.
    • NBA where all teams have played each other – have a good idea of strength of teams
      • Soccer or world cup – not as much certainty with teams not always playing each other
      • Start of season has a lot more volatility and responsiveness to bets because of uncertainty
        • By end of season, bookmarkers have the price and knowledge, so they’re likely to increase risk
      • Bayesian updating
    • Goals to improve models, open new betting options to clients
      • Low margin, high volume bookmaker – little bit with a lot of options
      • Book of Superforecasting – group of people who are better at forecasting
        • Pays them already at Pinnacle – consultants, betting and paying the price
    • Much bigger R shop than Python at Pinnacle, active in the R community
      • R becoming more of an interfacing language and production language (vs C# or other), can use R-keras or plumbr
      • Teaching dplyr, rmarkdown and ggplot cover 95% of their work outside of specialists
    • GoT as one of his favorite bets
  • Matthew Peters (@mattthemathman), Research Scientist at AI2 – ElMo (Data Skeptic 3/29/2019)
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    • Research for the common good, Seattle, WA research
    • Language understanding tasks – ELMo (embeddings from Language Models)
    • PhD in Applied Math at UW, climate modeling and large scale data analysis
      • Went to mortgage modeling, tech industry with ML and Prod dev in Seattle
    • Trying to solve with very little human-annotated data, technical articles or peer-reviewed
      • Very difficult, very expensive to annotate – can you do NLP to help?
    • Word2vec as method for text to run ML on text, context meanings of say, bank
    • ELMo as training on lots of unlabeled data
      • Given a partial language fragment, language modeling predicts what can come next
      • Forward direction or backward direction (end of context), neural network architecture
    • Research community may want to use ELMo, commercial use to improve models already in prod
      • Pre-trained models available and open source
    • In the paper, evaluated NLP models on 6 tasks – sentiment, Q&A, info extraction, co-reference resolution, NL inference
      • Got significant improvements on results from the prior state-of-the-art models
      • Character-based vs word approach
        • Single system should process as much text as possible (morphology of the word, for instance)
    • Paper over a year old now but Bert was put up on ArXiv to improve upon ELMo (transformer architecture for efficiency)
      • Scaled the model that could be trained by many X’s, quality is tied to the size / capacity
      • Language modeling loss changed, as well (word removed from middle of sentence and predict before/after)
      • Large Bert models have computational restrictions – how far can you get by scaling the model
  • Kyle and early Data Science Hiring Processes (Data Skeptic 12/28/18)
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    • Success isn’t correlated with ability to give good advice
    • Conversion funnel for businesses: website that sells t-shirts, for instance
      • Tons of ways to bring people into the door / website (ads, social media campaign, ad clicks)
      • Register an account or put into cart (what %, track it, a/b test and improve)
      • Cart to checkout process (how many ppl? Credit card entered, goes through, etc…)
    • Do any sites convert faster than others? Keep track, find out why / focus on continuing it
    • Steps for job hire: video chat / task / phone screens / on-site next / offer
    • Resume should be pdf (doc may not open nicely on Mac or otherwise) – include GitHub
    • SVM – should have margins or kernel trick on resume (otherwise, don’t include it)
      •  Ex: ARIMA (auto-regressive integrated moving average) – time series data

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)
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    • 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)
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    • 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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