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

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

Location, Location, Location? (Notes from Feb 18 – Feb 25, 2019) March 15, 2019

Posted by Anthony in education, experience, finance, Founders, global, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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As I sifted back through the notes I made from that week, a common theme appeared as location. I listened to a beer company COO, Principal at Bain, Jim Collins, and a managing director. Location was key for each of them, in some way. Whether it was funding by turning rocks over in the local area, expanding slowly to keep an authentic brand, focusing on location and presence, location was a motive for each of them.

So I ask how location matters to each of us? For me, I’ve stayed in Northern California basically my whole life, primarily the bay area. It built me, but I felt like I was missing some aspect of evolving into a better self until I left the country – visited places for the primary purpose of finding what made others tick – ones I had minimal commonalities. What was different, what was the same, what’s thought common that I don’t consider common? I’d been to other parts the United States and the answers to these didn’t click until leaving.

After reflecting on these episodes, I’m torn between becoming so entrenched and specific to a great place like the Bay Area. However, being elsewhere has shown me that I think there’s greatness lying outside of these bounds. So I’d lean toward focusing on those opportunities, personally. What do you think? Enjoy your community or go searching for new?

  • Yards Brewing, COO Trevor Pritchett (Work of Tomorrow, Wharton XM)
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    • Talked about some metrics for their capital intensive brewing
      • Barrels per sq ft typically
    • 50k barrels all in the production house / taproom to be able to see the production and create experience
    • In 4-5 states currently, looking at $300+ revenue per bbl, 50% margin
    • Seeing so much acquisition of new brands and crafts – “purchase authenticity” rather than innovate
      • Bigger companies are near 3mil barrels, so 60x
  • Weston Gaddy (@westongaddy), former Senior Principal at Bain Capital Ventures (20min VC 081)
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    • YC alum with Frog Metrics (handheld survey), cofounded in college from Founders Fund, YC, Alexis O
      • Created software, low-friction, to gather info for small stores while customers were in store
    • Strategy consultant for consumer product tech with Bain, initially
    • Grew up outside ALBQ in NM, went to college on east coast – how things go together
      • WisdomTree Funds – average investor to access the market
    • Start small, but work on a big focus (market) – small problems that tackle big issues
      • Thing he learned: asking the question “Why now?” – what has changed in the market/tech that created opp
      • Assuming everything else was bad in the past is a flawed framework
    • Investing-wise, he’s in NY and focuses solely on geographically sticking to the east coast (personally)
      • Time for valuations and investing has pushed early on the west coast
    • Product has the ability to win brand loyalty above all-else with technology and the media methods changing
      • Both digital and physical products (no longer single jingle commercial, or incentives in the channel to sell)
    • Passion projects and interests in the environment – does think that it’s important to specialize
      • His is enterprise technology as it pertains to selling to CMO – marketing tech
        • Largest spenders in the corporation over the next 5-10 years
      • Sector expertise becomes more important as you get further in the company investing stage
    • Favorite book as The Sixth Extinction, Pulitzer prize – human-created mass extinction
    • Most recent investment was a second tie-on for Jet.com
  • Jim Collins as guest (@level5leaders) (Tim Ferriss Show #361)
    • Socratic advisor: asked what Tim did his PhD thesis on – language acquisition and ideograms of different approaches / pros/cons of each method
      • Had to pick a language, selected Japanese (though he did Chinese in college), and acquiring concepts and thinking of different culture
        • Sounds, tonal language (Mandarin) vs writing and the etymology
      • How much of language constrains or enhances concepts we develop (whether math or otherwise, set the limits of our world)
      • Asked about Macphee (sp?) – been holding/carrying his notes from this class since 1999
        • Jim said he’d gone back to read one about fires
    • Example of choosing the right conceptual vessel
      • Started with Good to Great research – algebra with numerator and denominator canceling out
        • Only studying successes won’t be comparative enough (think – all successful companies have buildings, does that indicate?)
        • Births of industry, explosion of new entrants – look at twin companies – why does 1 become Intel vs other?
      • Hierarchy of levels with leadership
        • Individual capability -> good team skills -> manage -> leader -> ambition with humility/will
        • Look at every speech / interview and count how many times they take credit for themselves vs others
          • Vertical pronoun I vs others
    • Time management of old
      • As a 36-yr old teacher at Stanford, taught entrepreneurship – asked “Why don’t you go do something on your own?”
        • Initially, nobody knew who he was so he could go into cave and work as he pleased – invisible to visible would scare him
        • Decaying quality of happiness: 50% new, intellectual work, 30% of time in teaching and 20% in have-to-do’s
          • For each day, accounting the day – “got up early, creative hours, breakfast Joanne, workout, 5 hours creative, dinner”
          • Can’t be below 1000 creative hours in any 365 day period, and looking at monthly numbers drop
          • Pattern in his spreadsheet – emotion columns, +2 to -2 and rates – simplicity had a lot of +2
            • Arduous days were also +2
        • Creative days sometimes not what he thought might’ve been creative
          • “you’re a genius with 1000 helpers” – shell of a company
          • Even in writing with a friend, he’ll write down 3 things he wants to chat about – even if he doesn’t get to that
    • Asked to be a sleep student and reached out to a sleep center for himself – slept and had the electrodes on, as he figured out
      • 10 day cycle sleep – (El Capitan in a day – had to be up 36 hours in the day) – wanted 70 hours of sleep
      • Fun if you wake up to guess what time it is – 20min awake, need to get up
      • Gifted to be able to nap whenever, wherever
      • “Do the bug book” – on Jim, himself – how to deploy himself
        • What are you encoded for vs what you’re good at? Fund your goals and objectives with the economic engine.
        • Started a book at request of Rachell Meyers – observing the bug called Jim
    • Wanted to dwarf 1-60 with 60-90, as Drucker discussed in Effective Executive (Jim did foreword)
      • Owing the respect to mentor times – prepare ahead and codify/reflect notes after
      • What was his fav book – “the next one” (and he went to write 10 more)
        • Asked to know where Drucker was in writing at 65 – about 1/3 through what he did
      • Don’t do 100 decisions if one can do – say, events – is there a teaching moment?
      • “You’re asking the wrong question. How are you useful?”
    • Where does Flywheel start? Jim’s: What is he curious about?
      • Research correctly and he then can’t help having ideas and concepts from that.
    • 8 mi run for his “I’m thinking of upping my mileage” – 3 mi uphill
      • Joanne was one of original “Just do it” athletes – had won Ironman in 1985
      • Got married about 6 months later
    • Importance of empirical validation (vs pure analysis)
      • Fire bullets and it’s off by 30 degree, then another at 10 before hitting – then extend cannonball on calibration
  • Erik Moore, Base Ventures MD (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
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    • Why he chose Berkeley – 5 min from his house
      • Likelihood to run into his mentor more in same building
    • Investing in Olly which was former founder of Method seeing opportunity in packaging branding of med
      • DSC and similar with just quirky videos for brand
    • Different investment in Mayvenn – weave/hair extension distribution landing their funding: $23M from a16z
      • Changing dynamics of economics for hair stylists and making it better experience for customers
      • Good, Better, Best price discrimination tiers

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

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

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

  • Nicola Corzine (@ncTheCenter), Exec Director at NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center (Bay Area Ventures, Wharton XM)
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    • Enabled 7500 entrepreneurs in 65+ countries
    • 49% female and 65% minority as a big driver for her
    • KPIs as solving the business problems that are presented
  • Stephanie Linnartz, Chief Commercial Officer at Marriott International (Wharton XM)
    • Discussed how they had positioned to make sure certain hotels stand by their values
    • After buying Ritz Carlton, keeping it as Ritz Carlton brand
    • Host / rent-type brand and partnership to ensure that they can offer amenities in line with brand
    • Structure of Marriott being franchised, primarily
  • Ellen Ruppel Shell (@EllenRuppelShel), author of The Job (In the Workplace, Wharton XM)
    • What’s it mean to be satisfied at work? Depends on the person.
    • How gig economy changed mindsets – if it did? Many people want consistent paycheck
      • Control isn’t super valuable if they don’t know when the next paycheck is coming
    • Disagreements of people seeking ‘satisfaction’ or ‘meaningful’ employment – falsehood that has been pushed onto workers
  • Alice Bentink (@Alicebentinck), co-founder of Entrepreneurs First (20min VC FF 014)
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    • Founded Girls Code
    • Was originally at McKinsey when she started – best way to think about next steps when they were graduating from university
    • Ingredients for EF: exceptional technical talent, co-founders that matter
      • Idea is important but not perfect idea (doesn’t exist)
        • Idea that resonates with you to attack and start to build
      • Non-technical people need to bring domain expertise (used a translation expert with contacts/work in the space)
        • People with years of expertise don’t want to work in their domain – EF is pained by this
      • Selection based on the talent over ideas (changing them 2-3 times)
    • What makes a great founder?
      • Thousands of applications – built companies or startups or products
        • How to keep an open mindset and willingness to learn
    • First time founders worry too much about the startup than the product being built
      • Don’t worry about accounting, incorporation, logo
      • Do built a test product, get feedback, iterate quickly
    • Friends and family rounds can be dangerous if there isn’t an understanding of the risk or time horizon (say, pensions or house deposit)
    • Scaling from 15 companies a year to 40 companies
  • Kirsty Nathoo, CFO of Y Combinator (20min VC 075)
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    • Went from PWC in Cambridge, UK to YC and do-everything at a start-up accelerator
      • Got involved with YC through her husband, funded in 2008
      • Had a 3 week window to close up Cambridge and get to SV – was doing a ton of responsibilities
        • Control of all bank accounts, access to everything and it made her more trustworthy
    • First batch she was involved with was Winter 2010 and had 26 companies
    • 10 minute interviews questions – how big does it get? How does it adjust with getting customers what they want?
      • Have the founders thought about enough to make each other learn something new?
    • Obvious business expenses vs controllable business expenses – spending investor money and when to vary / change these
      • Founders can break up and it often isn’t ideal – YC makes sure to pay founders and payroll
    • Founders should be able to report a lot
      • How much $ in bank? Runway? Growth rate? Burn rate?
    • Most impressive interviews are ones that founders can articulate answers to questions because they’re so matched with their mission

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

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

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

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On to the notes:

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

Flawed Financial Decision? February 28, 2017

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

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

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

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