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Find Your Own Value (Notes from Nov 4 to Nov 10, 2019) January 21, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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One of my favorite pieces and follows on Twitter of the last 3 months has been Tyler Tringas, founder of Earnest Capital. He came to realize that there existed a massive opportunity to fund companies that may not require or need the VC model of capital infusion – just a starter amount to do testing, easiest when people look to make sales and revenues early (maybe not the model for certain industries – marketplaces/user-dependent network effects not-withstanding).

Wild for micro and seed funding, when companies have yet to establish a true product-market fit or business model each time, typically stick with one financing style. I wonder how much innovation has been restricted by the funding style. There are advantages and disadvantages for each of those. But I’ve yet to come across more than 2-3 VC’s (out of 1000s) that do multiple and have a separation / adjustment. Makes sense from the LPs sense, but not necessarily if you want the companies to be SOMEHOW getting to a growth/scale that fits.

Less Annoying CRM Tyler King was cognizant about the capital and efficiency standpoint in business – everyone that doesn’t create value seemed expendable. Those that did will make it. I find that an important takeaway and general attitude toward either doing your own thing or being a part of a bigger company.

Hopefully each of these excite everyone enough to check the fantastic people/content out further!

  • Tyler Tringas (@tylertringas), founder of Earnest Capital (Indiehackers #131, 11/1/19)image02

    • Funding for entrepreneurs, founders, outside of the ecosystem – profitable and sustainable
      • Not competing with other options – just found a large group of bootstrappers that aligns with the goals
      • RBF doesn’t work for some
    • Green field space in the past – no competitors and could gobble the market – big risk early but if it’s worked, it can be massive
      • Launching and building became cheaper and more niche for diversifying the opportunities – limiting VC scale
      • When he sold his first business, he handed over his Stripe account, Github and Roku
    • Software companies – no retail shop meant your option was “raise money” = “raise venture capital”
      • If you were doing a bakery or something, you had a plethora of options
    • 5 years ago, he was one of the loudest critics and blogger
      • If he was bootstrapping, can you work backwards and what would you have wanted to work with
        • Is it actually a fit for you
      • No board seat, mentors for long-term
    • Raise money when you believe the money will unlock value in the business
    • Had Storemapper – where he figured out what he wanted to do next
      • Derek Sivers – Tarzan move – need the second vine before letting go of the first vine
      • Pivoted to finance to do finance models behind wind/solar farms
      • Then to micro SaaS Indiehacker before noticing people struggled to get businesses off the ground early (his $50k cc debt)
    • His basic bet is that it’s not an iron law of physics that 90% will fail
      • His fund will fail if it is an iron law – and his investors are aware of this
      • He believes the VC model is circular in that if you require growth is 11% a month for 12+ months, more likely to become unicorn
        • But if they don’t hit that, then they’re failing
    • Really interested in niche markets for a piece of software that serves a market – eg Hostify, Endcrawl post-production credits, etc
  • Tyler King (@lessannoyingcrm), cofounder of Less Annoying CRM (Indie Hackers #128, 10/21/19)
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    • Bouncing between companies after college, had joined a startup that grew after Series A, only to be acquired
      • Everyone was fired except for 5 cheapest employees (including him)
    • Marketing channels not working – word of mouth, sometimes paid ads, Google AdWords or Facebook
    • Customer support – competitive advantage as going slow, not being held to revenue standards
      • Can focus on customer service and product features
  • Maren Bannon (@maren_bannon), cofounder & Partner at Jane VC (50inTech Podcast #11)
    https3a2f2fblogs-images.forbes.com2fcarisommer2ffiles2f20182f102fjane-vc-logo-text

    • Cold-pitching VC – for cold emails, take time to research the investor and explain why they’d be interested
      • Adjacent industries, past role in competitive area, resonating project
    • Nailing the one-liner / 10 second offering in a sentence
    • Bullet points, succinct including certain things
      • Traction for user/revenue/notable customers
      • Advocates, angels with industry expertise
    • Why you? Brief description for the ideal team.
    • Include an ask – why are you contacting? Advice, seed round, etc…
    • Include right materials (letter can be brief, but more info attached or deck or 1-pager)
  • Ok Boomer, Microtransactions (16min on the News by a16z #13, 11/3/19)
    • NYT Taylor Lorenz – (perennially behind others but gets credit for the writing of it)
    • Taking on a meme, protest for what’s rigged – Gen Z affected by Boomers “hurting us”
      • How memes can turn into clothing, sales for songs, be further monetized
      • Social media generating social phenomenon and transactions and merchandise
        • V1 was ad-based, then quasi-based for sponsored ads (protein powers and such), direct transactions for monetizations
        • Can get demand and feedback for multiple types of merchandise before launching and sending out efficiently
    • In China, commerce is already in the app – button after 2nd loop you can complete purchase inside the app
      • Close the loop on-platform in China
    • Marketplace on games for platform – supporting size/scales that fraudsters can open up accounts and quickly find monetization structure
      • Build false economy and cash out quickly – advanced fraudsters for automation, maybe with virtual trades and purchases
      • If it’s $10k, they’re wrong – probably multiple millions, if not more
  • AI in B2B (a16z 10/23/19)
    189-1892846_people-ai-logo-png

    • Oleg Rogynskyy from People.AI, for sales and marketing
    • Very few users that give you private, anonymized data is much harder to make them comfortable with this data
      • How valuable is the promise you’re making to customers vs the cost to achieve it
    • For entrepreneurs: if there is human activity that generates data for how they do it that isn’t being captured, there’s a ripe opportunity
      • Shipping containers, wind farm, location of Uber driver – reliable data, aggregate and figure out what may be the next best action would be
        • Significant growth and acceleration for these actions once network effects apply
      • More sensors, edge computing, salespeople, drivers in network – more data collected and more patterns you can see
        • Smarter the graph becomes, better the predictions may be allowed to become – then, more money and lures in other network participants
      • Wind farm operators: know it will break after it breaks but someone in comes in that was there collecting data ahead of you, they are up still
        • Competitor automates process, you can go to same vendor and catch up but if you miss AI, you can’t catch up
      • Oleg mentions that he thinks AI is zero-sum and that the Fortune 500 will look very different in 10 years
    • All customers benefit from generalized data – first customers have to do a lot more than others
      • People writing contracts: only sell to me, but customers would be relics
    • When the data model changes, systems of records die – Andreesen
      • Hierarchical first, then on SQL, then cloud SQL and Salesforce
        • Next gen data model should be graph – federated shared graph model – instead of you pulling data and searching, it will push to you
        • Personalized actionable insights – pushed through the channel you’re most likely to engage with – maximum focus
      • Level of intent for the user should be known – don’t have to expose the complexity but you can be shown and execute that
    • Difference between autopilot and co-pilot
      • As human, something mundane or repetitive – automating the functions to make it more efficient use of your neurons
      • Augmenting ability to make decisions – racecar that may know what’s around the curve, making us super-productive – more human
    • Needs to be 10x on the platform vs off the platform if you’re afraid of the set-up
    • Sales & Marketers specifically
      • Shifting how they work – day-to-day: 1/3 of time on manual data entry, 1/3 on prospecting (classic problem), 1/3 on face-to-face doing selling
        • First should be gone, 2nd should be done with help on ML and AI for value-add prospecting and automate outreach
        • Face-to-face: Machines can’t replace this but may be able to help out
      • Training on the end point – best way to sell, unbundling learning management system
    • Wants to do bottoms-up but currently top-down – through standard procurement channels
      • Users will demand data-hungry approaches and solutions – apps that built AI on user data but not merging with enterprise data
        • Have easier time for value adding in these cases because you just want data to increase (single player can do single player)
    • Biggest surprises: inside sales for Oleg starting in 2006 pounding phones, went out and did a software change before downturn
      • Learned timing matters at that time.
      • Then started Symantria – sentiment analysis API in 2011, size of market matters – 20-30 companies needed it (80% of market)
      • Remembered that he was put into a conference room with COO (head of sales), cleaned Salesforce and within a month it was in ruin again
      • Couldn’t understand sales team when he took over, why it wasn’t ramping up quickly, losing deals, hiring more people but productivity was fine
        • Supposed to have data in CRM but never had it
  • Martin Mignot, Investor at Index Ventures (20min VC 2/1/16)index-ventures-768x469-1

    • Investments including Deliveroo, Blablahcar, Algolia, SwiftKey, others
    • Worked on 50 transactions like CodeAcademy, FlipBoard, Soundcloud
    • UBS Investment Bank on TMT team and co-founded beauty subscription company called Boudoir Prive (acquired by BirchBox)
      • Comes from entrepreneur family and action/doer and the creative
      • VC seemed to be between acting and thinking part of the job as he’s followed it for 10-12 years
    • Split on idea of career VC without operating experience
    • 3 ways to look and slice companies: at Index, they have thematic and geographical approach since they need to have ppl on ground in Europe
      • Stage-focused: seed / growth
      • Thematic: fintech, adtech
      • Geographical: Germany, France, London, Amsterdam and building the network there with angels, seed funds
    • 6 hour drive test or drunk test with founders – no formal founder test to determine invest-ability
      • Are they able to attract and hire the people they need
      • Trying to decide if the risk is worth reward – not beholding themselves to a valuation cap if they believe
    • Favorite book: I have America Surrounded by Tim Leary
    • Investor who has shaped his theses is Fred Wilson – being right, companies and sharing insight, communicating as USV and himself
  • Elaine Beak, consulting and HBS (Career Talk, Wharton XM)

    • She wasn’t too scared but whenever she had problems, the solutions would arise
      • For others, the security blanket is the scariest for most people when she tries to help them on decisions or convincing them
    • Writes her books in 2 weeks each – written and published 80+
    • Word of mouth, should have 6 months saved up, and have 50 people that you can contact for saying you’re going out on your own
    • Following own rules:
      • Billing clients the same day that you finish a project.
      • Clients may have 30 day billing window, so if you waited 2 weeks, they’ll forget or not be as appreciative.
    • Don’t discount, add to the service instead – charge more
      • Bad reputation for discounting.
    • Go for the big fish – large companies but the time to get smaller companies is the same for larger. Repeat business is there
      • Repeat business and more of a budget to continue work.
    • Learn to say no. Non-paid speaking engagements should be limited.
    • Manage your time well – make sure it pays off.
      • Find ways to automate things – invoices, payroll, accounting, responses to common questions
        • Make a standard paragraph or find an app/template once you have these
    • Project will end but not relationship – stay until the end and do a good job for the client.
    • Incorporating, LLC for sure

Love Hearing Some Aspirations (Notes from Oct 14 – Oct 20, 2019) December 19, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, NLP, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Happy holidays, everyone! Hopefully you’re staying warm/dry – whether that’s inside or just generally in a better location. I’ll say I already wish that I purchased into that ski cabin for the holiday since we’ve had a bunch of rain over the last few weeks in the bay area and now fresh powder in the Sierras. But alas, I did not. Next time, next time.

I’m going to keep this brief, but primarily because I have fallen behind in writing and it pains me weekly. Habits break and that may need to be bumped up in the new year – try out substack or something similar. But, I think I’m finally going to launch something that I’ve been meaning to build. CV / Image recognition sourcing into a database to keep track of something that plays a prominent role for many. We’ll see if I can get the prototype usable and I’ll update here.

Aspirations – I love talking and listening to people who have big dreams. I think there are many who hold themselves back for all kinds of reasons. If I catch wind or hear it, I will push you to start – something, anything – for your sake. It’s rewarding to have to dive in and try it out. Maybe it falls off after 6 months. Maybe you run out of money that you allotted to the side. Maybe, you succeed. Or learn  enough to accidentally fail upwards into a better / concrete idea. I hope for it all when people have these ideas. It’s inspiring – helps me go through my own models for how I interpret my world if I have to wrap my head around how friends/colleagues/Tweeps view their own. And how things can become better. Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do with many ideas. Is it a cool new thing? Is it something you wish you had? Is it an observation that you want to test? Build. You won’t regret it if you don’t in the grand scheme, but if it’s a big enough itch, it’s worth the learning experience in a world where not enough of us do (but it’s not for a lack of time).

Hope you enjoy the notes.

  • Patrick / Raamayan, Cofounder of Unify (Wharton XM)
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    • Global meditation, achieving state of flow
      • Could be gym, yoga, prayer, running
    • If you have an hour, you have 15 minutes
  • Brianne Kimmel (@briannekimmel), Worklife Ventures (20min VC 10/14/19)
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    • Backed by Andreesen, Chris Dixon, Zoom’s Eric Yuan, and friends Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, Matt Mazzeo
    • Teaching General Assembly while operating in performance/growth marketing role at Expedia before Head of Social Media
      • Go-to marketing bootcamp (SaaS school now)
      • SaaS school taught my brand name heads at SaaS top places
    • Started with $25-50k angel checks in Webflow, Voiceflow, Airgarage and built a track record
      • Wanted to build a SaaS-fund to focus on go-to-market from bottoms-up
      • Enjoys building and structuring companies to get into the Venture-sized outcomes
      • Having a fund that’s open enough to maybe do private equity after stuck between $3-5mn ARR
    • Optionality for early stage, inflection points, maybe getting growth PM to scale into CEO
      • $150k checks incrementally grown from $25k
    • Proliferation of funds and capital – investing from own, micro-VC and angels platforms
      • Scouting for VC fund – operators at hot tech company
      • AngelList and Carta as platforms for own angel funds or boutique arrangements (flexibility with checks, numbers, still operate)
    • Celebrities/athletes using investments in startups to match their brand or expand it
      • Intersection of work and life – seeing Faire and Shopify give access to a huge new audience
    • Angels with leverage in cap table – “perfect one” and she grooms founders for this
    • Worklife – services and programs to unlock human potential at scale
      • Hypevsaas – traditional language for b2b is dead, according to her
      • Great saas being built by operators spinning out of consumer tech (Airbnb, Coinbase, Uber)
        • Scaling too quickly where they end up building their own tools before open sourcing or monetizing
      • With self-serve SaaS companies, many APIs and workflow tools, are easy to build – what’s the competitive advantage
        • Your access to tech, building closed products (specific users in line with product vision)
      • Opposite of Hypevsaas as “Scrappy SaaS” – going away slowly, race similar to consumer product for paid marketing
        • Freemium to quickly launch/build but products too easy – race for free users and attempt to monetize later
        • Mirrors side hustle or application as experiment with a possible traction
    • Consumer-grade experiments where users pay from day one – mentioned Superhuman and Rahul’s talk
      • SaaS school discussion about video game design and hook
    • Pace as most recent investment – accessing software with lower monthly rate because they access the contracts
  • Justin Kan (@justinkan), Founder / CEO of Atrium (20min VC 6/21/19)
    atriumlts

    • Full-service corporate law firm for startups
    • Started in 2004 with online calendar a la Gcalendar called Keeko, got into YC
      • Failed and sold it on ebay eventually
    • Then started Justin.tv – terrible idea that mostly failed and eventually made it into a streaming site to do Twitch
      • Sold in 2014 to Amazon, started another company called Exec in 2015 – errand service
      • Became a partner at YC but realized after a few years that an investor full-time wasn’t for him
      • Forced, as a startup founder, to learn things (hadn’t been learning as an investor)
    • 2017 – remembered how painful it was learning things – thinking of ideas
      • Conversation with a partner at a law firm in the city – asked her why they didn’t use any tech themselves
      • Full-stack corporate law firm in US – high growth companies that they’re building for last 2 years
    • Had used legal services no matter what they had – big transactions pay attorneys regardless, stable market
      • Will exist in a downturn because things don’t just stop
    • Remembered that every summer at the start of his startups, he would want to quit – think of new ideas or new things
      • Once out, he’d think he didn’t want to do it again, until it brought him back
      • First 3 months – thought he was great, figured it out due to 10 years’ experience, until stress came back
        • 6 months of stressful period – figured it out that he was still fine, reputation/old job
        • Self-improvement and growth had to come from culture
    • Hard to detach yourself from company as entrepreneur
      • Has attachments and notifications to make sure that he’s being present
      • Having goals in life, company, entrepreneur – board game metaphor – friends play and being engaged
      • Put away a game – do you remember or care what happened?
    • Started seeing a therapist 7 years prior – coach for dealing and discovering about what you’re going through
      • Cathartic, in his opinion – not alone and can talk to people
      • 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Steve from Reddit
        • Radical responsibility – nobody else will come to save you, nobody to blame
        • Radical curiosity – whenever a new situation comes up, you approach it with what you’re supposed to learn
    • Don’t have to suffer for doing a start-up – not saying “Don’t work hard”
      • Building up skills, expectation for suffering isn’t the case
      • Atomic Habits by James Clear for him following working out each day
    • Zone of Genius – cares and loves to focus on, delegate rest
      • At Atrium, focus on business strategy, selling, culture
      • Build the team for the rest of it
    • Much better at recognizing patterns after investing 100 companies
      • Implementing in company, business models and market dynamics
      • Bad – investor attitude (approached Atrium like this)
    • Atrium – up to 150 employees in SF now – happy and proud for the culture and growth
  • Eric Kinariwala (@ekinariwala), founder / CEO at Capsule (DealMakers 10/15/19)
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    • Rebuilding pharmacy from inside out – raised $270mn from TCV, Thrive Capital, Sound Ventures, Virgin Group, M13
    • Wharton undergrad, network from there as financial services, banking and decided to go to west coast – Stanford
      • Started at Bain Capital in Boston after graduating – worked in a hedge fund group investing
        • Retail, healthcare, tech – blending framework around business strategy, what makes it a good business
        • Judging management and the synergies – learning how to invest, as well
      • Making right judgment calls – tight feedback loops
    • For Capsule, had moved back to NY, got a headache – called doctor and had a prescription ordered
      • Pharmacy is $350bn – most frequent interaction in healthcare
      • 2nd largest category of retail – 70k stores
      • Got headache and went to go pick up his meds but couldn’t find it, then they were out of stock and it was awful
    • Hard to get advice from the pharmacy, don’t know the price until they go to pay
    • Everybody touching the pharmacy has a headache, typically
    • 3 pillars of Capsule: modern technology platform, emotionally resonant brand, pharmacy how your mom would treat you
      • Prototypical pharmacist as founder, 2nd was highly experienced technologist, 3rd woman that spent building consumer brands
    • Business model – “10x better” than current existing – technologically enabled pharmacy – app with 5 pieces of information
      • 2 hour delivery windows, know price of medication, doctors know what you’re doing
      • Why are there so many pharmacies? Put money spent on rent back into beautiful design and technology to be seamless
    • Launched in 2016, first customer in May – first challenges in early days
      • Strong word-of-mouth from friends, doctors who had learned about Capsule – telling patients and vice versa
      • Early pharmacist was well-versed in regulatory environment for anything that could’ve been broken
    • He had raised in May ’15 to get started – raised $70 million to start
      • Ideal profile / entire business model needs to be aligned with values: objectives, values, strategy and metric
      • Asking to join and leaders need to have alignment in the same way – even the board – share vision and how / why you operate
    • Team is bigger than 250 full-time, all in NYC now – encouraging people to read ahead of joining, also
      • Checklist Manifesto, On Wings of Eagles, Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table, and Who by Dan [Geoff?] Smartt
    • For the future of Capsule – most important thing in your family’s life as healthcare (although I’d argue bank or something)
      • 5x more pharmacy visits than doctor (sheesh) – wants to make it mobile-first and on the home page of phone
    • Piece of advice for his first day: be more confident earlier
  • Gimlet 1: How to Not Pitch a Billionaire (Startup Podcast 4/5/14)
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    • Pitching Chris Sacca – meeting at a hole-in-the-wall sushi place for lunch in LA
      • Deck as a crutch and did it outside the lunch – no slides
      • Most people consume audio in radio and are leaving to digital – audio dashboard, podcasts music all there
      • Wants to start company for the content for moving into the digital future
      • One question he asked: what’s the unfair advantage? Explained how to make money (ads, listeners)
        • Freemium – offer an extra for the listeners who want to pay.
        • He answered: making freemium model work – had to tighten it up
      • Chris Sacca – took 2 minutes and did the pitch
        • People willing to pay for this stuff – Planet Money where they gave $600k to buy tshirt with our logo
          • Integrated directly that we can replicate
        • $1.5mn to buy 3-4 guys for podcasts in next 12 months, can get to 300-400k net subscribers
          • Can get to breakeven on ads alone, CPMs where they are – more integration and episodes will be ultimately scale
          • 12-15 podcasts and we can do it
      • Then countered with the audio is a niche market – nonprofit and audio moving toward shorter content
    • Met him on a Planet Money story when he was going over patent system and how it was slowing innovation
    • Strategy/ideas at Google, writing seed investment check in PhotoBucket – didn’t have it, though
      • Just $50k and wrote 2 credit card checks – enjoyed the feeling so much he left Google
      • First investment was in a colleague, Evan Williams, for Twitter as a full-time angel
        • Wrote the check for $25k – was a lot of cash to him, needed it to work – wanted to help out, evangelist
        • Started buying more shares and doubling – believed in the company
    • Kickstarter, Uber, Instagram, etc… looks hard at the conviction of the success
      • Missed on DropBox (Gdrive was going to crush them), Airbnb (someone will get raped or murdered, can’t work)
    • Told him to come back, tighten the pitch and then do it for Chris’ partner Matt who was from the media world
  • Pankaj Risbood (@risbood), founder at Zendrive
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    • Discussing leveraging data and making it a platform instead of an app
      • Dealing with partners to ensure they can improve value
    • Mission Street project – 6 months driver flow before and then after shutting down
      • Reducing poor driving / improve driver safety and it was fairly obvious
    • Can deploy this in the form for insurances, as well
  • Jacqueline Courtney (@jac_courtney), Founder of Nearly Newlywed (Wharton XM)
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    • Pitching on Shark Tank to grab attention
    • Starting as seeing option in fashion tech for underserved market
    • Tough for Amazon to compete because of the marketplace factor and users are only in for 1 sale, 1 wedding
      • Taking 40% of the sale but trying to maximize the amount of cost for many
      • Realized photos that were posed / models with dresses didn’t sell as well as real wedding photos
        • Started asking customers for them this way
  • Noah Auerbahn (@noahauerbahn), co-founder and CEO of Robin Healthcare (Lindzanity 10/2/19)
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    • Robin as virtual scribe that sits on doctors desks and records video/audio from room – sits in exam room
      • Started with orthopedic physicians – 6 sub-specialties and they cover all of them so far
    • Met Gary, Howard’s partner, when Noah was 21 and starting first company – ExtraBucks (cash back coupons)
      • Came up with at dorms in USC, raised enough money to move to SD with his cofounders
      • Were cash flow positive and had Gary and Alex as advisors – realized he didn’t want to be in ecommerce forever
        • Decided to sell and exit once they questioned it – had raised around $1million, no venture
    • Believed college as what you make of it – did entrepreneurship / business in undergrad but taking it and questioning how to apply it
    • Education, energy, and health were the lists of what he thought may have the most impact – health was the biggest for him
      • He would hire MIT PhD and UCLA MD to come to his office and tutor him – “pretty affordable, like $70/hr” to teach at pace you want
      • He wanted massive optionality within healthcare – not just ecommerce, if he wanted to do pharma, biotech, find the right entry point
      • 100s of research posts, 100s of conversations, started going to conferences (where he met his cofounder)
    • Entire system – center of the system is the exam room – decisions get made there, so he wanted to build something interesting inside of that room
      • Patient, doctor, and EMR (not interested in sharing data)
        • Found out that there was a scribe in 5% of rooms and he asked why they aren’t remote or something
        • Lower burnout rates, better throughput and service, notes/quality control could have issues
        • Decided to tool in a good UX, ML additionally
    • Wanted to do something big, had to raise money eventually but “How many assumptions could he kill or the idea before saving time?”
      • First paying customer, had $40k, webcams, notes (his cofounder doing them), device streaming and did it at his mom’s vet clinic (non-HIPAA)
        • Built own tech, had some handful of paying customers – had taken some friends/family $ that missed on his first company and then real
      • Didn’t anticipate hardware but couldn’t find something that could be used for solving this
        • Security cams aren’t great because of acoustic but could stream all the time
        • Conference ones which aren’t designed to run all the time – ran own software on it, but lot of work to keep it working all the time
        • Sonos speaker guys were helpful in producing what they ended up building (optional video)
    • Device has about 2% of people where they don’t consent – video/audio and can be more in tune with the patient
    • Having offices in SD, Berkeley (his reverse commute from SF) and Austin – where most pre-med scribes are for them
      • Mentioned 30% Stanford Med graduates don’t end up as doctors – go into tech
  • Morgan Housel, co-founder of Collaborative Fund (Lindzanity, 10/9/19)
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    • Howard’s favorite thinker/writer/storyteller and his interesting career arch – key to writing is writing
    • Effective long-form is rough but when it’s good, it’s bar-belled (10 seconds is better than longer reading)
      • Only books he got through were Shoe Dogs and Agassi’s book – Munger’s “Don’t be burdened by bad books”
    • Cramer’s “Confessions of a Street Addict” as good, as well
      • Coming from nowhere, knew how to write briefly, Howard as superfan – first modern financial professional that had personality
      • Howard feels like it’s an underachievement – Morgan said he’s not a great investor – so much trust built up that he should be running a massive firm
      • Access to people, financial celebrity
    • Fascinated by Motley Fool – when Morgan had hedge fund, had CNBC but Dave and Tom Gardner – hats on, promotional and StockTwit before
      • Went for mom and pops – tremendous marketers, but made mistakes
    • 2007 – dawn of financial disaster, studying econ at USC (his plan was p/e and ib) but finance was terrible
      • Didn’t think highly of Motley Fool – had gone through Yahoo finance boards and saw his friend, Sham Gad, at USC was writing for them
      • Thought he’d do Motley Fool shortly as contract, couple months, and was writing an article a day – (plan was initially p/e but they couldn’t bring him on)
      • For him, he was supposed to be banking industry, and writing other stuff as well – economy and macro issues (unemployment, fed reserve, budgets)
      • No explanation for decisions being rational – before, during, after no good explanations – psychology of investing
    • Psychology of investing will always be there – different layers of edge and vs technical side – can be base of pyramid
      • Smartest analyst or data miner but without greed/fear, nothing would matter (Howard moving to angel – forced to go with it, prices were his weakness)
    • Time split for Howard – 50/50 between public/priv (prices keep him up to date on news)
      • Selling at Uber at $10bn because he wasn’t allowed to sell at $1bn – he was in with David Cohen’s $4mn fund, $50k at $4mn valuation, so he had $2k
      • Sold a lot early and then sold at $40bn and that’s where it is now – public would’ve been very different
    • New banks may be what Andreesen is doing – start as VC & get larger, for next 20 years
      • Citadel starting as hedge fund from dorm and now top-tier investment bank, doing everything – exchange, conglomerate
      • Partnership that can have trading stocks, wealth management, lean beast with trust/access – 2.5% fund without GS
      • Private becoming so large because of the liquidity area there
    • Josh as being equally funny and smart, not caring about markets – gave a sponsor to Morgan and Jesse Livermore (pseudo) and Twitter explodes
      • Motley Fool for 10 years, contractor for 7 years – LA first and then Seattle, then Alexandria for 3 years – only time he’s had a desk and office
      • Wife went to grad school in Baltimore to move them out that way
      • Motley Fool as bigger than you think – P/E mistake, big tool and screwups to learn a lot about mistakes
        • Joining Collaborative Funds (Craig Shapiro splitting time between NYC and SF) was easiest decision, but leaving MF was hardest of his life
    • What really can set you apart is not writing a check anymore – everyone has a checkbook
      • What do people know about you? What do you stand for? What is your vision?
      • If he could write what they wanted to read, it would draw back some attention to what they’re doing and standing behind.
    • Went to plenty of conferences, 4-5 a year and learned to speak – had a CFA Institute where he was the interviewer
      • Did keynotes for Motley Fool, video made it to Washington Speakers Bureau and started to do that
      • Several dozen talks a year now – wasn’t the plan original (2016 as first year)
        • Doesn’t sketch out an idea, write out an outline – just knows that he enjoys some part and how to contextualize it
    • Spends majority of his time going on walks to “write” – tough for him to grind the gears
      • 95% of his investing is house, checking acct and 3 Vanguards funds – saving dollar-cost-averaging there, since he isn’t really writing checks
      • Thinking about “enough” – 8% is fine, 10% would be nice but not worth stressing (says opposite of type A)
        • Odds are low to beat market, same with running – 3 miles is enough for him, doesn’t need to do half marathon
        • Biking for 1 – 2 hours, knows the burn, won’t need to do more
      • Why Howard says Andreesen’s model likely to make a difference
        • For Howard – indexing, 90% there and 10% to try to beat
      • If it bothers you, why are you torturing yourself? If you need to scratch the itch, take a small enough.
      • Hates idea that Vanguard gets to pick the 500 companies for him, not a fan of $5mln raise if you can do on $1mln
        • Similar to Risk gm – don’t start Europe, east Aus is better
    • Indexing as Robinhood vs Vanguard – somewhere in between (not robo), but just de-selecting the companies you may not want to invest in
      • Feel better, maybe hold on more during drawdowns – incentivize riding the wave
      • Example from Morgan about mom hating Monsanto (then he pointed out she owned some – she wanted to sell)

Push back from a Raise (Notes from Sep 30 – Oct 6, 2019) November 27, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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In the Bay Area, it’s inevitable to see and come across people celebrating rounds of fundraising, especially via the internet/news/Twitter/tech scenes. Primarily this is the case if you’re involved in start-ups, VC, finance and related meet-ups or online communities. Those are often great results for the investors (probably not celebrating, otherwise), but not exclusively great for the team of the company. Hopefully the raise or exit is by choice, part of the strategy in the short and long-term that the founders/team had in mind to either grow or expand or keep doing what they’d envisioned. Execution of the strategy and for it to go as planned is celebratory, don’t me wrong – but it’s a means to an end, not the end.

I don’t want to complain, but I think, along with many others, that the celebration of these types of wins give the wrong feedback for what constitutes celebration / achievement. This is simply a byproduct of this being the most visible / public part of a company’s journey, and certainly an investor wants to share what they can (especially seeing as they have plenty of updates that they’re often not allowed to disclose). Funding raise and new rounds, once public, allow them the chance to congratulate and feel accomplished on the journey. Though, really, capital is merely providing readiness to the next step.

The opposite side of this would be in sharing numbers, customers and wins outside of funding, a company/founder leaves themselves open to competitors or unfavorable partnerships/cycles/etc. There ends up being an information asymmetry that could be detrimental to the business. Or, worse, put it out altogether. Somehow, I find that even if you’re sharing in an effort to be transparent, at this current business climate and consumption of business/funding, there would be those that may complain even about a seemingly arbitrary high-margin or poke holes in pricing, despite offering a seamless customer experience, high value to a business or create ample time value for the enterprise. I’ve seen a few bootstrapping/side-project companies go from transparent early and once they hit traction, the growth and curve stage will prioritize the privacy of the business going forward. Who can blame them once there is the semblance of confirmation of a growing business potential?

I wanted to bring this up and I hope in the future there’s a designed method to somehow make more company information public/transparent (Baremetrics is one such company trying to make it more accessible). Maybe it will be an aggregation system that anonymizes data but has enough companies in certain spaces that you can compare (sorry consultants, that probably gets rid of quite a few of you). I think that would be a new frontier and create excitement that would get people other than investors and exit/money-focused-seekers on board with the true fun/value of creating something.

Hope you enjoy the rest of my notes!

  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon
    268x0w

    • Ep. 8: We’re Go for Powered Descent
      • Final 13 min begin in this episode
      • The team, on this day, will either land, abort or crash. 102 hours and 12 minutes into mission, 2 minutes 53 seconds to the acquisition
      • 1 million miles away at 1mi/sec moving toward the moon
      • Program 63 to determine when and where to fire off the engine – how to point for the proper trajectory
      • Radio link was lacking once they were in view, again – needed this to get telemetry data, for instance
        • Go or no-go for descent based on stale data and then had to make it through Michael Collins to relay to team
      • Lunar module was going 20 ft/s faster than it needed to be – if it went to 35+, they’d have to abort
        • Radar pointed at surface and ready to lock on – said that it’s going too fast
        • Episode 2 on Steve’s point of view on how the overloading machine – Eagle’s altitude vs estimates sense
      • High stress at that point, 150+ for Armstrong at 12:02, even though they weren’t doing anything at that point
        • Had to prioritize the mission critical tasks and lose some of the computer functions
        • Computer was diagnosed – delta h coming up was problem for P1668 – lot of alarms and wouldn’t have to do operation cognitive load
    • Ep. 9: Tranquility Base
      • Halfway down, about 16000 feet above surface
      • Fuel as critical, but said as Fuel 2 gauge – needed a bit of gas when they land
      • P1202 Eagle computer coding too hard, overloading – repeatedly as they get to 2000 feet and 50 ft/s
        • All flying done by Eagle – thrust, rate of descent and flying (no video displays)
        • LPD (Landing Point Designator) – where to look for landing zone on degrees
      • Gas for hover level and below hover level – timing from controller within 10 seconds
      • 10 years and 400 engineers finally landing on the moon as they hit contact light – fall and shut off with 18 sec of abort time
      • Had dust kick up as falling – caused jerky movement and couldn’t see surface
        • Had to go through stay/no-stay calls to be ready to leave within 40sec of landing
      • Watch used for the timing had changed times because his daughter kept on timing herself as a twirler – he sent it to Smithsonian
  • Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani), CEO of Girls Who Code (Wharton XM)
    eb61dc56f4b5cc4002b007e255d8bb00

    • Author of Women Who Don’t Wait in Line
    • Discussing how her failures running for public office as motivation to continue working
    • Wanting to work at things you’re bad at (compared to an
    • athlete repeatedly being told to perfect)

      • Guys will naturally have these things that they are poor at but continue with them, either out of enjoyment or otherwise
      • Girls often only want to do things they’re good at
    • Not quitting a job, potentially, because of the comfort and not wanting to be bad at something
  • Barry Zekelman, Exec Chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries (Wharton XM)
    0718zekelmanindustries-logo

    • Discussing being nearly broke in 1990s and then again in early 2000s
      • Getting lean, working on the business and margins
      • Got a $bn offer from Russia steel conglomerate in headed into 2008 – fell through with crash
        • Said this was one of best things that had happened to him
    • Having the right people
  • CEO of Mirror.co
  • Patrick Conway, CEO of BCBS-NC, How to Pay for Healthcare based on Health (a16z 9/6/19)
    (@patrickconwayMD)

    • Started as state resource – TX – teacher unions, PNW – timber, NC, and 2 Blues brands (cross / shield)
    • Need a willing payer to drive change, virtually integrated system at a state level (doesn’t think you can do it with single provider)
    • All drivers of health and healthcare – biggest driver of readmission to hospital, couldn’t get transportation home
      • If you had to give a bus token and they had congenital heart failure – chance of seeing primary doctor – some will pick people up
      • Hospitalization and drugs for biggest costs for health care
    • Food insecurity – failure to thrive
      • Hospitalized kid for lack of food cost $40k (could have fed kid for years)
      • Had a for-profit payer that was confused on why they were doing it – huge, positive outcomes for child obese
        • 10-15% of population, churn for term (vs near-term) – insure people often for decades, right thing to do
    • Insure 60-70% of population so they can look at long-term view
      • Some countries will measure outcomes (churns may pay toll, or collect toll) – Medicare Advantage for 3-5 year cycle
        • MA instead of paying for service, you pay for health plan for year and they get better plans for controlled care ($0 premium)
      • Broadening investment window so they’ll take care of you
    • What rarely happens (but more effective) to think about what makes the system better – policy proposals
      • Autism arena: here’s what you need to do in benefits, coverage and here’s a child/mother that brings personal side – data for effect
      • Drugs: pharma says PBM and middleman (senator called him Chair of the Death Panels) – wanted to pay for value for drugs
        • Everyone was against it (pharma lobby and doctors vested in drug prices going up)
    • Interesting areas for real progress
      • CMMI Innovation Center for delivery system reform – bipartisan and paying for value
        • Social determinants – opportunities/drivers for health polls better with Democrat and Republicans (will pay taxes, uncommonly)
      • Effectively coordinating care across silos (especially with food, housing)
        • Ear infection – can click a button and it’s instant but for a kid that’s hungry, it takes forever – needs to be the same
    • One of the board level metrics in company is food insecurity for the state – think they can bring it down 20% (state is 20% – some counties have 9 of 10)
      • Looking at partners for data analytics for screening, identifying and getting the next step – close the gap
        • Any state in America: who in the state is food insecure, needs housing and transportation
          • CDC data measures on an annual basis compared to real-time – needs to be at-scale through technology
          • Build the connectivity – scripts are now all electronic, for instance – clicks button to cosign
      • Benefits for scale across multiple states – investing in same things, data analytics, CX, seamless platforms, tech – accelerate pace of change
    • Second day at BCBS was retirement party for Brad Wilson, former CEO after 20+ years – governors, CEOs, 1000s of people, donations
      • Fundamentally different than a national payer – not the same connective tissue than them for NC and Oregon
      • Partners across state (like theirs with Cambia) does drive value, lower cost and improve value and care
      • If you dominate a market and price set, it has negative effects (can’t recall any 2 hospital systems that merged where costs came down)
        • BCBS reduced individual costs by 5% driven by value-based arrangements with providers – UNC said they were willing, Duke said no
    • Building the link between tech and total cost of care – new shiny thing “AI” and data and ML – what does it do?
      • Connective tissue has to go to outcomes and costs of outcomes – his hypothesis is for the companies to focus on the actual problem to solve
    • Value-based care – independent physician groups (larger, organized) are the best
      • Hospitals are least successful
      • Advanced primary care models – compensation for primary care goes up, including down to provider level – most payers pay 6% (8% at BCBS – 10%+)
        • If you spend 10%, you get better health outcomes at a lower cost – become front door and invest in care management
      • How do you integrate and treat mental health conditions
    • EY’s concentrate on administrative fees – he’ll guarantee savings of $15-30mln “Don’t know”
      • Guarantee he’ll beat them on price, then get them to join – done it multiple times, making it simple
      • “Don’t believe our simple math? Fine, we’ll guarantee it.” Every business is a healthcare business.
  • James Cameron (@jamesdcameron), investor at Accel (20min VC 1/20/16)
    logos_master_accel

    • Focuses on marketplaces, enterprise software, security and fintech
    • Founded BipSync, SaaS-based research platform for investment management and was on tech banking team at Morgan Stanley
    • Corp lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai
    • Aussie originally, wanted to get out and went to London and worked with M&A and IP law in UK
      • Law wasn’t for him, tried some other things like Morgan Stanley – went to SV and Stanford after a few years
    • Pitched at Accel for BipSync and was turned down initially before getting the role he has now
    • Ton of time on planes covering massive geography – methodical, premeditated approach with a prepared mind with ideas/areas
      • Helps identify what they want to find in great companies – prior year, looked at API companies, web hits
      • Uber, HotelTonight, InstaCart all connected and built on other people’s services and API – Apx conference
        • Algolia and Jason Lemkin, French company – CartaDB mapping company by API
    • Opportunistic approach for being at right place right time – relationship driven and warm intros, relationships with VCs or angels, meeting early co’s
      • Approachable, open with events
    • Exciting among B2B and enterprise, IT Infrastructure, security space (from UK to Israel)
      • Docker and container ecosystems – shift from VM to lightweight containers
      • CrowdStrike, Israeli one (country with 8mil ppl with more NASDAQ-listed companies than all of Europe, Japan and China combined)
    • Expanding industries – Ireland, Spain along with typical start-up ecosystems in Europe
    • Reads a lot of history books, Peter Akroyd, classics for Crossing the Chasm – scaling enterprise software companies
    • Favorite blog – lots of Medium articles, but “The Morning Paper” for science explained simply
    • Favorite founder for Will at Deliveroo – sheer willpower
  • Farbood Nivi, CEO cofounder of Coinmine (Lindzanity 9/25/19)
    blockfipluscoinmine-768x512

    • First time on show was in April with BTC at $5k
    • Randomly taking an Ambien or Adderall
    • Coinmine – automating financial world, interoperable mining whatever exchanges to BTC at best rate
      • Handshake mining parallel DNS
      • Facebook and Shopify as the 2 main consumer markets – Shopify makes it so easy, Facebook – he said he’d give $1mil / month
        • Instagram is too good as a physical product and sharing
    • OpenSource wins because of practical revolution – F500 can use them for better software for 200 less engineers
      • All big tech contributes to open source community
    • Original Linux administration / system admin predicting 8th and 9th layers of internet
      • First 4 layers (OSI model) – data and physical layers, wiring, packets, buildings
        • Customers were academics, companies were Cisco, IBM, Deck winners
      • Internet portion – apps, websites are layers 5 through 7
        • Users, session, front end application layers
        • Businesses and eventually went personal
          • IBM, Apple as winners of business chunk (hardware, software, services)
      • 8th layer is finance, 9th layer is governance
        • First protocol was Bitcoin for finance – first solution for this layer
        • Discussion of governance – open protocol (vs closed protocol of army owning / developing it in the first place)
      • Tezos – really defined governance model, for instance
    • Citizen tech for 8th and 9th layers – replacing a functional piece of society with Bitcoin participation
    • What could go wrong? Gutenberg press as example – people sharing nasty things vs lead to Renaissance, Enlightenment
    • Framework that captures societal level – sovereign individual (too big a word, book was good) – citizen / societal
    • Problem with money being pushed in, formal understanding (YC as a factory, don’t leave the machine)
    • Act like the CEO – service worker, just managing people above and below, provide services to entrepreneurs
      • Need to get out and have epiphanies by traveling or face-to-face with people

Unapologetic You (Notes from Sep 9 – 15, 2019) October 25, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Every Sunday morning comes in The Profile newsletter to my inbox. It’s a great collection of what drew her eye on the week that focuses on profiles for individuals, good, bad, successful, unsuccessful, notorious, secretive, dangerous and generally people of all ilk. They’re almost all interesting, some more so than others. But yesterday, it caught my eye when Polina introduced the newsletter about her personal experience growing up and the first convention of being different. In reading it, I could see a bit of the problems and commonalities in many students I have seen over the years. And more than that – the ones who I’ve had the most enjoyment in teaching – were those that were unapologetic about who they are.

Many, as kids, were still working through it, but they were questioning the very thing Polina had described. And that’s of increasing importance as we get larger and larger webs of interconnected communities. The aggregate and the averages tell us how we should be or what you’re expected to score and how you fit relative to the rest. Rarely, if ever, does the crowd define any/every individual, though. The sooner we can all wrestle with that concept, the more comfortable we should be. Starting and doing a newsletter, for instance, should be as simple as writing what interests you. Yes, as it resonates and draws others in, there may be some curation to optimize what you decide to make it. And further, it’s probably good form to have some consistency in producing it (frequency/length/formatting) but that’s up to you, the individual.

I’d like to think that people want real, genuine thoughts, and less gimmicky writing. As an aside, that doesn’t mean people don’t consume if it’s not genuine – I just would venture that as soon as you break the mold on what APPEARS real (if actually not) would cause an uproar – as we see via YouTubers/Twitch streamers and even in some blog/vlog stuff. An act that is an act has an end, but an audience doesn’t then know what it’s getting. People don’t typically like change if it’s different, even if it may be “better”.

The best part of all of this? You get to choose what you want to do. Make the decision that makes you happiest and assess the aspects of your life that don’t. From there, create and prioritize how you may make the changes that lead you in that direction.

There are many people that I listened to over the course of this week.

  • Jen Stirrup (@jenstirrup), Data Whisperer  & created consulting Data Relish (Data Skeptic 9/6/19)
    ggkl0ilv_400x400

    • Deploying data science and impacting businesses
    • Last mile of analytics problem – interesting work and how to finalize to take to production
    • Cleaning data properly, putting data into dashboards for proper business intelligence – how long does it take to get to reports?
      • When you get reports, how long is your time to question (vs time to answer)?
    • She takes them a health check and tries to check out where they are vs where they should be
      • How clean is data, what are the real problems
    • Microsoft doing ML Ops and how it can fit into support, how to look after something when it’s gone live
      • Humans don’t want to appear stupid, so they want to be correct before starting
      • Start with end in mine: what are you trying to do?
      • Think about quality of data: still sees bad, missing data, incomplete data and things that they don’t use
    • ML Ops examples of solutions – email management, how do you manage it
      • Program can reach the end bound email, what it can do with the email (cs dept with automated service and pass hard emails to people)
    • Good customer success can be a chat bot – limited and what it can do but proper
      • Easing productivity issues – maybe tell me your phone number or putting in information to the chatbot to the crm
      • More and more requests for serverless technologies – spoke to university about container technology
        • Research can give the container with the paper and give to someone else to validate it
        • REST APIs or serverless or others can glaze over eyes if talking to business but others, early adopters, jump on it
  • Natalie Hampton, Founder/CEO of Sit With Us, Inc (Wharton XM)
    57d6e66a1300002a0039b71a

    • Talking about not having any background in coding, her art teacher pushed her to pursue it
      • Wanted to build the app and just found people/classes
      • Bullied and her art teacher was the one who would keep her door open for her
    • Pledge to use the app – figure out that adults were using the app, as well
      • Good for conferences, schools, colleges, workplaces

 

 

  • Henry Ward (@henrysward), founder & CEO of Carta (20min VC 4/12/19)
    carta

    • Carta helping private, public cos and investors manage cap tables, investments, and equity plans
      • $147mln in funding from K9, USV, Spark and Meritech
    • Originally tried a version of Wealthfront and Betterment called SecondSite – never got off the ground
      • Met Manu, who introduced problem for financing infrastructure easily in private companies, providing liquidity and power
      • Noticing executive half-life of about 18 months (say, $20mln – $70mln – then again from $70-200)
        • Companies scaling from 150 to 500 and then after that
      • People scaling linearly but companies scale exponentially
        • If an exec isn’t scaling, they don’t say “Let’s hire a VP of FP&A to support execs weaknesses” but instead “Let’s replace CFO”
        • Why is it true? – Any particular problem in scaling a company, can find someone that’s done it before.
          • Founder is keeper of the mission – can’t replace that but job changes a lot more
            • Smaller, personal relationships and people understood him for best intentions (but he’s a gunslinger and off-the-cuff)
            • Less mulligans for him as they’re larger now – Jeff Lawson at Twilio had ran into someone for printed t-shirts and Jeff said “not a fan of color”
          • His job becomes very specialized – story for employees, candidates, investors and press; 2 – right execs in right place
    • Was sole decision maker in early stage and he still is but he said it was a liability
      • Fewer day-to-day decisions to make but it matters more that they get it right and understand the context
    • Investors thinking of markets in terms of size / how big could it be / what’s competitive advantage
      • Happy going after conventionally small sizes but he looks for 1 of n – microstructure economics / territory will support multiple competitors
        • If you win market, creates a defensive ability and that’s n of 1 – 1 platform (as ‘small’ cap tables)
        • By owning a market of 1, you have the platform to dominate others
          • Markets were too small – any market would run out of oxygen, so you need an org that can go further in places
        • Data network effects could block all other entrants
      1. Have to be n of 1 market
      2. Have to have a business model that creates n of 1
      3. Needs innovation on customer acquisition model to quickly take over market share
    • In b2b – do you have a product that gives entry to commercial businesses?
      • Product and technology advantage are short-lived – best companies own lines of distribution, not great products repeatedly
      • Can go acquire great products and push them through distribution – both through M&A and through manufacturing
    • Their biggest issue – tying all pieces of network together – 10k companies, 400 a month acquired, distribution to vc – managing electronic stock
      • Law firms are power users of product but don’t have product that tie them all together – linearly
    • They love services markets adjacent to what they do – commodity product differentiated by brand – funded administration, for instance – 4-9a analysts
      • Paired a product team behind services group so the 4-9a runs at 70% margins – automate them to software
    • Goal of R&D is how much value can you provide – go build it, otherwise they won’t
      • Of value created, how much can be extracted – like keeping them as independent variables (when to extract)
        • Early stage, add ton of value and then deliberately say they don’t want to extract much – leave a lot of consumer surplus
        • Investor products: want to extract a lot of value but provide a lot of value and change these decisions (as markets mature, get larger)
    • Favorite book: Essays of Warren Buffett
    • Economic discrepancy is enormous and how to bring wealth to more people – Carta mission for more owners
    • Keeping investors up to date monthly and they love getting board members involved in the company (especially when they have 100 investors)
      • Meeting with VPs or execs to do weekly meetings of sorts
  • Joe Banner, President & CEO for Browns, Eagles (Wharton Moneyball)
    • Discussing needing to find udfa at a time when it wasn’t sexy – needed talent, and cheap
      • Only had 5 draft picks, late rounds mostly but had to fill a roster of 22 more
      • Brought in all of the undrafted free agents and eventually had 20% playing, few starting also
    • Making sure to prioritize talent over anything, not overvaluing high draft picks
    • Culture of change with placing a system around high valued guys who others thought were low value
  • Alina Trigubenko, Founder & CEO of Awarenow (Wharton XM)
    awarenow

    • Holistic and integrative nutrition
    • Corporate and enterprise customers – consumers within those that will do it
    • Calm / Headspace – next level and how
  • Shawn Burcham (@PFSbrands1), PFS founder, Open Book Management (Wharton XM)
    pfsbrandsonlylogo_hompage_2018

    • Being from the midwest and going to Tanzania for farmers
    • Keeps open books, shares with employees, prices with farmers
      • Has 60% more return for farmers and will even return cash (after being above fair price and world commodity)
    • Daughters played on same soccer team as John Sacks – read the book and was interested in changing to open book
  • Tim Chen (@timchen82), CEO of NerdWallet (Leadership in Action – Wharton XM)
    nw-default_og-image

    • Going through board – including AMEX former CEO, Jim (both from Series A investors)
      • Board as governance body, weakness on exec team, okay with level of risk
    • Initially believed he had to be smartest in the room but quickly realized the organization had to be working together
      • Have to switch mindset from point guard to coach – from Dalio
      • Investment committee – reasoning behind requests and resources, exec team reads through it and approves or not
      • Executive team depends and changes over time, common for product dev
        • Marketing, Product, Design, Legal, Eng, People, Content Heads
        • Monitoring (leading exec team similar to parenting) – irrelevant for what you say, but seeing what you do is the arbiter of what’s going on
          • Rewarding and punishing as consistent or constructive
        • Culture for what is okay and what is not, role of hiring and inspiring an adequate team to grow company
          • Maybe they don’t have right network for company, maybe can’t inspire
        • Have to be technically proficient in their space
    • Went from very niche product to being widely known once they started covering nearly all financial products consumers cared
    • Seeing around corners to bring himself and the org up the hill and grow
      • Surrounding himself with execs and others, getting named one of Top Workplaces in 2019
  • Adam Davis, CRO at Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment (Wharton XM)
    unknown-4

    • Discussing on-ice and on-court revenue for Devils and Prudential Center
    • Coming and expanding Prudential Center into what it is now – leading entertainment center
    • Up to 49 concerts recently, more than Devils games
      • Data driving who wants to go to games, concerts and how that can be used to improve experience
  • Rare as One Project, CDCN, Dr. David Fajgenbaum (Wharton XM)
    logo-1

    • Partnering with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
    • Collective network and how do you widely adopt principles for other diseases
    • Partnerships with hospitals / care providers
    • Having a different background between Penn and medicine, MBA – not great for those that don’t have 5+ years
  • Nick Johnson (@NLJ1), Principal at Applico (Wharton XM)
    applico_company_logo

    • Author of Modern Monopolies
    • Discussion of platform businesses and linear – trying to combine
    • Encouraging linear businesses to, where applicable, try to get into platform business – didn’t provide any concrete details how
    • 3-5 strategies compared to 5-7, where hard for CEO and board to stay the course without “being 1% of 1% of CEOs”
    • Seemed to only mention Amazon, Airbnb, Walmart, Alibaba, ebay
  • Kulveer Taggar, founder & CEO of Zeus Living (20min VC 5/31/19)
    volcp38g_400x400

    • Raised $14mn from Initialized, NFX, Floodgate, YC, GV and Naval Ravikant
    • Co-founded Auctomatic with Stripe’s Patrick Collison and sold for $5mn
    • Angel investments include Boom, Airhelp, Meetings.io
    • Went to work at Deustche Bank and had a friend who had started a company at 15 selling computers, went to uni and offered a PR role
      • Eyes open to entrepreneurship and SV tech start-ups, just before finals got to come to Bay Area and Google office
      • Cofounder Joe was moving from SF to Palo Alto because his wife got residency – took weeks to try to get home rented out
      • What would be the UX quantum leap for your problem? Joe’s problem sparked the idea
    • Go to website, type address for your home and it gives you a price – you hit rent
      • Inspired by Opendoor, Stripe’s 7 lines taking payments, lot more rental data
        • Offer to sign lease with homeowner, gain data and solve the problem on demand side
    • All being impatient and learned that long-term horizons could’ve been better after hearing Zuckerberg/Bezos
      • Being intentional with culture – lot of fun – 5 guys in 2 br apartment where things may have gotten too far
      • Create collaborative environment
    • When you rewrite code, have to redo processes as well in tech-enabled
      • Acquiring and creating physical things – David Han at Instacart said thinking about output
        • Surface area of inputs: Zeus has to be good at many things
          • ID R/E, Pricing, Assessing, Designing, Furnishing, Marketing, Awesome CX, Marketplace matching
        • Then, you can get the output
    • Garry as having a conviction quickly – sees something that can change and invests quickly
      • CoinBase – liquidity crunch and he wired money instantly and is supportive
    • YC had an experiment funding teams w/o ideas – did it with Srinivas who’d done it
      • Got a check w/o any idea (had done YC in 2007) and YC had scaled a lot
      • NFC technology – was too early for scaling pmf and got into NFX with status app – status on your phone
      • Felt like he’d spent 3-4 years of working on stuff and hadn’t gotten anywhere – taking market risk with what you’re building
        • Instead, create a list of top 20 things by $ amount spent
        • List of top 20 things by $ amount frequency
      • If you have to ask whether you have PMF, you don’t – yanking your head forward with your nose, for instance
    • Did 6 weeks of data experiments, conversions tests, 6 weeks of qualitative research talking to users, investors and r/e
      • After 2 months of diligence and testing, partner at NFX sent him a test: In 6 weeks, get 10 homes on your market.
        • What’s margin structure, is there a market? Strangers controlling home.
      • Took about 4-5 months
    • Vulnerability strengthened his leadership, can’t be perfect CEO with all answers – motivated to go for culture
      • Once a quarter off-sites, “if you really knew me…” building stronger connections, team bonding
      • Work is where you have your professional self and you bring your whole self, manifests in itself
    • Fav book: Midnight’s Children – historical fiction with India told; How The Mind Works by Pinker
    • Change the bragging culture in tech – raised this much, vanity metrics and being counterproductive – not open or genuine
    • Running into a bottleneck will use software to break through – automate something that may have been manual processes
  • Michele Romanow, Founder & CEO at Clearbanc (20min VC 5/10/19)
    • Wants to spend $1bn in 2000 companies for access to capital
    • Founded SnapSaves, mobile savings platform acquired by Groupon and before that, Buytopia, one of Canada’s top ecommerce sites with 2.5mn
    • Engineering, started a coffee shop on campus
      • Figured out worldwide supply sturgeon caviar was down by 95% due to overfishing Caspian Sea – built to east coast for fishery
      • Chefs couldn’t get product, so they had a ton of buyers – giant recession in 08 as 21 yr old in luxury good space
        • Went to ecommerce space, didn’t raise funding, bought 10 competitors – controlled CAC and low
    • Canada’s Shark Tank – Dragon’s Den – do 17 days of filming back-to-back, see 200 startups
      • Had a father and son who wanted $100k for 25% equity – really needed $100k but realized she could do different deal
        • Wanted to see Facebook ad account to make sure ROAS was what it was
        • Companies spending a ton on early CAC
      • Estimate that 40% of VC dollars go to Facebook and Google ad spend and marketing
    • Works for positive unit economics and spending a lot of CAC – any ecommerce company, 70-90% spend cash
      • Subscription boxes, consumer apps/subs, b2b box even – can fund it for way less
    • Data science time has to be very good – not lottery tickets, 6% is ideal for them
    • VC as true risk capital – 0 to 1 risk, crazy piece of AI, solving disease, then it makes sense
      • If you know channels are working and repeatable, should be able to get capital
      • Comparison of Gates at Microsoft IPO or Lyft (50% ownership vs 3%)
      • Just celebrating when founders give up control / piece of company
        • Milestones for products, hitting 1mln users, etc…
        • Funding
  • Antonio Garcia Martinez, author of Chaos Monkeys (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
    • Comparison of Seattle and SF and NY
      • SF being loud, Seattle being quiet but not necessarily huge, NY has less loud but big
    • Good mixture of deciding where to be

Fostering a Community (Notes from Aug 26 – Sep 1, 2019) September 23, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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What a crazy couple of weeks! And it’s not likely to slow – I’ll give some more information behind that very shortly. Exciting new things on the horizon, though – and ones I’ll be proud to announce when I can. August provided a lot of clarity in direction – good because it wasn’t exactly restful.

I mentioned it in last week’s post, as well, but I’ve been hyper-aware of the people around me interacting, enjoying and laughing over commonalities. It’s at every level, though I peruse coffee shops far more often than other places. Interesting stories are almost expected. If you refer to my reading list, you’ll notice a new one, Dignity. As part of a book club, I was hesitant and unsure when it took the lead because of the topic – primarily drugs/poverty/downtrodden/unlucky collection as reported, but halfway through I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much perspective Chris provides. I can’t help but draw that fixture of everyone has their own experiences that provide the lens through which we draw conclusions on everything else. Endless and it’s very tough to remove ourselves or step back – especially with things we’re unfamiliar with.

Ultimately, though, everyone wants to share their experiences with others – whether it’s some depth of despair, depression or building a community, religion, or hiring employees to work with or spending time for fun and adventure. We’re human. We spend time with other humans. There’s a reason we’ve survived this long in groups and why the solo artists end up in peril – this is completely generalized but in MY experience, I’d say I see a truth in this.

Kate Shillo, Director at Galvanize, mentioned her journey for Martha Stewart’s media company to Galvanize where they help businesses grow with their people. Morgan Dunbar, at Bendigo Partners, discussed his involvement in AIR – summit and conference for sharing ideas/businesses for financial services to hopefully rise all boats, as they say. Mike Vernal, at Sequoia Capital, went through how Facebook’s earlier years helped him with approaching problems and the finality of decisions – what they’ve fostered for the boards he is now a member of. He tries to understand the start-up and the founders view of the problem after a quick determination of if they know the idea enough. Others, which I only caught pieces of, had similar views.

I hope your community, whatever that may be, is productive and positive – helping you gain what you’d prefer from it.

  • Kate Shillo (@kshillo), Director at Galvanize Ventures (20min VC 1/13/16)
    gavalize-logo

    • Investing in hardware and future of IoT
    • Got an interview with Martha Stewart’s Omni Media and she was temping for her – living in NYC 2007
      • Would have an idea in her company – create, build & continue w/ mini incubators
      • She wishes Marthapedia was made – hasn’t done it yet
    • Wasn’t quite stimulated enough in 2007, she quit and bought a surfboard – 6 months later she was back in NYC
      • Had met Kenny Lerer (around in interviews) – met before Martha with an internet newspaper (Huff Post)
      • Took a huge pay cut to do some research on other startups as Kenny was on the chair for Huffington Post (~30 employees)
        • He was chair at Betaworks at that time, too
      • She was the human tester for Betaworks (only other one to test)
      • Helped launch Ken Lerer Ventures (Lerer Hippeau Ventures) as formalizing process for his angel investing
    • Help of having Huffington Post (sold in 2011) as starting propelled them into NYC market – unheard of at the time
      • Market down, nobody investing in seed – writing small checks at Lerer “Go by Betaworks and Lerer Ventures is there”
      • First content investment was Food 52
      • Consumer tech pics – paperless post, Warby Parker, Bottle Bar, BarkBox
    • Galvanize (continuous learning – helping businesses and their business grow – new archetype in higher ed)
      • Galvanize Ventures with 3 partners – all of elements to provide their startups
      • Early stage – small, idea from pre-seed to series A (seed process), reserving for follow-ons
      • Small markets like ATX, PHX, SLC to get in – coaching co’s along the way
    • 48 investments in 2 years
      • Consumer mobile-heavy so far, her excitement in hardware – starting in 2014 was IoT hotbed
    • Crowdfunding as a bit of advertising, validating customer interaction and capital as gravy – her opinion
      • Shipping product is usually a hurdle – many people don’t want to invest without seeing this
      • Reflecting on Lerer investments – seeing market share of her old portfolio companies
    • Size of fund is $10.2 mln, $100k checks for pre-seed, seed and series A – get priced out for series A
    • Favorite book: God of Small Things, misconception for VC: that it’s easy (no control for company sometimes but exciting when it works)
      • Sourcing vs existing portfolio co’s helping
    • Favorite apps: Moment app, Twodots (betaworks), Slash, Sunrise calendar, Pant, Wildcard and Venmo at the time
    • Recent investment: msg.ai empowering brands for messaging platforms ecommerce
  • Morgan Dunbar, partner at Bendigo Partners (FYI 8/5/19)
    86aeb71777442ba0eadc52ed226d20ee

    • Capital Market Space within FinTech as principal investors
    • Was mostly on sell-side for analytics on portfolio construction – with Citi Group in Tokyo in 2009 running Japanese equities
    • Bendigo – early stage fintech companies with bias on capital markets, retail, middle and back office
      • Advisor practice with institutional, private equity, large enterprise in capital marketers
      • Transaction advisory, operational consulting and strategy around fintech ecosystem
    • Bill Stevenson partner on AIR Summit – 2013 creation for invitation-only for senior buy/sell-side pros to discuss high-level themes
      • Alpha Innovation Required (AIR) – invite ~20 emerging fintech cos to speak to a use case for front office (alpha generative)
    • Traditional VCs have a fundamental lack of operational understanding in capital markets
      • Secondly, long sales cycle in businesses – thousands at enterprise level vs millions in consumer
      • Regulatory that can be scary without expertise
    • Artificial Intelligence as just replicating a process (as opposed to intelligent)
      • AIR focusing on people, organization, talent and cultural alpha
      • Tradition, trust, not new – center for innovation and trying to do something, be empowered for innovation and development
    • Google pushing into asset management other than cloud, data and analytics
      • Asset managers may start looking at Google like Bloomberg – help build portfolios, vendors to tap for alpha
    • If buy-side problem, then sell-side has a problem, fee compression (growth of passive) – active vs passive (value for performance)
      • Robos (whether or not they’re worth valuations) validated demographics looking for low-cost access with simple UI and intuitive
  • Mike Vernal (@mvernal), Partner at Sequoia Capital (20min VC 8/26/19)
    sequoia

    • Citizen, rideOS, Rockset, Threads & Houseparty board
    • Spent 8 years at Facebook as VP of Product
    • Sequoia – Brian, led A to join board for his roommate’s company and his former PM at Microsoft started a co in 2009 and Brian joined
      • Joined Scouts program early on
      • Had first child a week prior to 8 years at Facebook, took paternity leave to reflect
    • Really enjoyed Facebook first few years – tremendous energy and optimism to create something from nothing
      • Early stage founders in a garage for idealism and irrational energy, switched to Sequoia (been there 3 years)
    • Entrepreneurs that can explain entirety of business in 3-5 min, rest of meeting is the details of the pitch
      • Feedback cycle for great and enduring company – decision-making is a short or longer memo and reading through them
      • For his mistakes, thinking and writing and playing out future – each case was instinctually being interested but not trusting instincts
        • Try to be rational and analysis-driven
      • More importantly, internal conviction on a company, founding team and working on
      • If not at Sequoia, would he go work for that company?
    • Terminal and non-terminal decisions – once you’ve made it, you can’t make it again
      • Do something, if wrong, do it again – try to hire, realize mistake, hire again
        • Pick one, roll out to some, figure if it’s working or not, and iterating
      • Venture – most important is decisions – if you pass a round, you’re done maybe until next round
      • In operations, tempo and learning for decision-making
    • Bundling vs Unbundling – past 10 years will be unbundling of SaaS and best in breed
      • SaaS that are more niche – features as something larger, $1 or $2 / ee / mo
      • Thinks there will be a consolidation of the apps, incumbents that will integrate and put them all-in-one (Notion)
      • Meta-SaaS apps that will put them together as the market matures
      • SaaS as software, business software (maybe banks that are on-premise)
    • Book: 100 years of Solitude, almost every startup underprices their product
    • Time management is the challenge – constant battle, reading quickly and get the ones he finds most interesting
    • Verkada as most recent investment – can build a great experience
  • Kash Mathur (@kashmathur), COO of Chewse (Wharton XM)
    chewse-open-graph-e1559782200236

    • Tracy and cofounders starting it in LA originally, in 2011 before bringing it to SF for 500 Startups
    • Attracting Kash in 2016 as they were figuring out SF before relaunching LA
    • Corporate culture, enterprise dealing and owning the customer service – blended marketplace
      • Starting each executive, strategy board with a “One thing most people don’t know about me is…”
      • Connecting between people
    • Why they have connected Hosts for each enterprise – owning the location, service and whole process
      • Important value and differentiator from other catering companies
  • Linda Crawford, CEO of Helpshift (Wharton XM)
    helpshift-logo

    • Being named top 50 SaaS CEO of 2018, joining HelpShift after Salesforce
    • CCO (customer) at Optimizely, as well as Board Member at Demandwise
  • Rob Farmer, Independent Advisor Study and assets at Schwab (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about participants and customers

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

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)
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    • 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)
    slack-for-ios-upload-1

    • 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)
    ravlfjtl_400x400
  • 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)
    logo-text

    • 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)
    logo-062fd8699c93a47b2e8278975e71b84870194fd30c288607f1e06c92a4e831a0

    • 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)
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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)
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    • 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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