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

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

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

  • Nicola Corzine (@ncTheCenter), Exec Director at NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center (Bay Area Ventures, Wharton XM)
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    • Enabled 7500 entrepreneurs in 65+ countries
    • 49% female and 65% minority as a big driver for her
    • KPIs as solving the business problems that are presented
  • Stephanie Linnartz, Chief Commercial Officer at Marriott International (Wharton XM)
    • Discussed how they had positioned to make sure certain hotels stand by their values
    • After buying Ritz Carlton, keeping it as Ritz Carlton brand
    • Host / rent-type brand and partnership to ensure that they can offer amenities in line with brand
    • Structure of Marriott being franchised, primarily
  • Ellen Ruppel Shell (@EllenRuppelShel), author of The Job (In the Workplace, Wharton XM)
    • What’s it mean to be satisfied at work? Depends on the person.
    • How gig economy changed mindsets – if it did? Many people want consistent paycheck
      • Control isn’t super valuable if they don’t know when the next paycheck is coming
    • Disagreements of people seeking ‘satisfaction’ or ‘meaningful’ employment – falsehood that has been pushed onto workers
  • Alice Bentink (@Alicebentinck), co-founder of Entrepreneurs First (20min VC FF 014)
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    • Founded Girls Code
    • Was originally at McKinsey when she started – best way to think about next steps when they were graduating from university
    • Ingredients for EF: exceptional technical talent, co-founders that matter
      • Idea is important but not perfect idea (doesn’t exist)
        • Idea that resonates with you to attack and start to build
      • Non-technical people need to bring domain expertise (used a translation expert with contacts/work in the space)
        • People with years of expertise don’t want to work in their domain – EF is pained by this
      • Selection based on the talent over ideas (changing them 2-3 times)
    • What makes a great founder?
      • Thousands of applications – built companies or startups or products
        • How to keep an open mindset and willingness to learn
    • First time founders worry too much about the startup than the product being built
      • Don’t worry about accounting, incorporation, logo
      • Do built a test product, get feedback, iterate quickly
    • Friends and family rounds can be dangerous if there isn’t an understanding of the risk or time horizon (say, pensions or house deposit)
    • Scaling from 15 companies a year to 40 companies
  • Kirsty Nathoo, CFO of Y Combinator (20min VC 075)
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    • Went from PWC in Cambridge, UK to YC and do-everything at a start-up accelerator
      • Got involved with YC through her husband, funded in 2008
      • Had a 3 week window to close up Cambridge and get to SV – was doing a ton of responsibilities
        • Control of all bank accounts, access to everything and it made her more trustworthy
    • First batch she was involved with was Winter 2010 and had 26 companies
    • 10 minute interviews questions – how big does it get? How does it adjust with getting customers what they want?
      • Have the founders thought about enough to make each other learn something new?
    • Obvious business expenses vs controllable business expenses – spending investor money and when to vary / change these
      • Founders can break up and it often isn’t ideal – YC makes sure to pay founders and payroll
    • Founders should be able to report a lot
      • How much $ in bank? Runway? Growth rate? Burn rate?
    • Most impressive interviews are ones that founders can articulate answers to questions because they’re so matched with their mission
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Across the Board! Digitization, Health, Systems, and Strategy (Notes from Dec. 10 to 16) January 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

  • Hasbro/Wizards strategy for esports, how DnD came about, Magic, (Work of Tomorrow, Wharton XM)
    • Magic was a request on finding a game between DnD games – revolutionized with trading card game
  • HBR article – business models for healthcare: https://hbr.org/2018/11/3-business-models-that-could-bring-million-dollar-cures-to-everyone
    • Business model needs to be reinvented if we’re to have million dollar treatments/cures
      • Ensure that insurance co’s are willing to cover expensive therapy – provide outcome-based results
      • Economics tend to be difficult if consumers are switching every 2 – 3 years with employer switches
    • HealthCoin securitizing improvements in health that can be passed from one stakeholder to another
      • Generates credit like a bond, can sell later to recoup cost
    • Annuity-based model for diseases/costly procedures, collect dividends after monthly premium investments
  • Million Dollar Women, Julia Pimsleur, (Women @ Work, WhartonXM)
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    • Changing mindset, upping skillset, expanding network
      • Trying to get them to think bigger and get rid of imposter syndrome
      • Develop their 8 pillars
      • Network by talking 1 on 1 with established mentors in the program
  • Mene founder (Wharton XM)
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    • Talking about the gold standard – Reagan’s temporary mission, haven’t come off
      • Inflation has been resigned to just sticking with the faux environment we’re in now – printing money
      • If gold wasn’t a store of value, it wouldn’t have risen from $30 – $1200+
  • Cotopaxi Founder, Davis Smith (Wharton XM)
    • Why SLC? He and his wife were deciding between Seattle and Salt Lake City – she chose SLC (having grown up in Seattle)
    • Created tribe / community of supporters
      • In Korea, someone shouted across the way Cotopaxi – to which he informed them he was the founder
      • Validation for what he had been working to create (although network effect bigger than anticipated)
    • Owning the omni-channels and why he chose D2C (virtual presence a la Warby Parker, Away, etc…)
      • Online and then a retail presence to own their own brand, before moving out to partner with places that help them reach others
      • Had to sell via Amazon as well to own that channel (otherwise someone would definitely be selling on that channel)
      • Partner with REI and other retailers in order to gain visible traction with places that had strong digital presence
        • Not the full catalog, but a few of the higher margin SKUs
      • Talked about how Vans originally rolled out to skaters/surf shops – top of pyramid before moving down to Zumies (frequented by those)
        • After a long while, they’re finally selling in JC Penny’s and others like it (well-established brand first)
    • Vertical digitalization above and then has a very lean business on the other side (outsources much of the fillers, suppliers, distribution)
      • He knows what he knows and then learns from those he works for – lets them do their thing
  • Author of Future Politics, Jamie Susskind (Wharton XM)
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    • Why do we insist on allowing politicians to not be knowledgeable in digital age
    • Odd that these are legislators attempting to update the digital companies
    • Should be obvious that we ask the people creating regulation should be involved in the technology that they’re attempting to design around (apparently our votes say otherwise)

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engineers, Research & Starting Up! Also, Women in Work (Notes from Week of Nov 12 – 18) December 4, 2018

Posted by Anthony in education, experience, finance, global, questions, social, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Hello all! Hope everyone’s Thanksgiving went well and the start of December hasn’t been too cold. By California standards, we’re freezing. Literally only for a few minutes (frost warnings) and no snow in the bay area, but we’re used to much warmer weather. It’s delaying my morning routine. May have to zoom to Chicago and colder weather this weekend just to come back and act like it’s warm (comparatively). It’s definitely part of my hesitation in doing client engagements east of California.

The past few weeks were busy! Now that I have my Surface up and running again, though, we’re back in business. The week of notes came from a variety of people, primarily researchers we’ll say, who dove into businesses that sprung from that work. What did they learn in their time as operators? What did they learn in building / searching for funding?

Later in the week, as I was driving back to the Bay Area and attempting to avoid smoke inhalation, I caught the end of a women at work segment on Wharton’s Business XM channel with George Yancy (author of #MeToo article) questioning the foundation / construct of our environment that’s fueled the movement, as well as a very quick (but didn’t catch the name) piece of SheEO and HeyMama founders/members (?) that I’ll need to search further for. The women there were entrepreneurs that wanted a community of like-minded successes juggling family, life, work and everything in between. I bookmarked it as something to pass along to my sister and those I know who are questioning that juggling while venturing into family life.

Let me know what you think!

 

  • Fabrice Grinda, Super Angel at FJ Labs, BeepBeep (20min VC 072)
    • 200+ investments, start-ups, FJ Labs, former co-founder of OLX
    • Treats himself as an entrepreneur vs investor – built ebay-type company 18 years prior (late 90s)
      • From start, other entrepreneurs would come for advice as he gained traction and notoriety
      • Increased volume and pace of investments at start of 2000s (up to 20-30 in 08-09 and more)
    • No time to sit on boards – 200+ investments
      • Few % of ownership, don’t often lead rounds – lead VC A, seed and maybe a later one (3-5 board members only)
    • Deal flow from all kinds of people, LinkedIn, websites, etc
      • Has invested in 200+ companies which lends them to 500 founders and they can talk to them that way
      • Other countries where they may be able to invest, as well
    • Mentioned his 2014 book of What If?, Think Like a Freak
    • FlexPort and freight forwarding where B2B platforming, product people inline with end to end consumer bases
  • From Research to Startup, John Hennessey – chairman of Alphabet (a16z 10/6/2018)
    • RISC – sentence with hard words vs clear, precise English for faster computing
      • IBM and Deck in 1980s, first thing you had to do to find info was go back east and ask
      • Early 1980s initially invented architecture, dominant nearly flipped in late 1980s
    • Server cost is first, then the power or energy cost is next
      • Embedded space was the one where RISC made a breakthrough because of computing necessary
    • He was a reluctant entrepreneur (had a paper and figured people would take it and run – they didn’t because it didn’t sell east)
      • Gordon Bell came to him and said John would have to run a company
      • Said he thought engineering should get 50% of revenue (quickly learned sales needed them)
      • Selling to people was easier than to give it away and have impact
        • More you charge, more successful the implementation – people will have to commit
    • Had cut from 120 people to 80 and then give a TGIF speech on being a “great company”
      • 28% of Stanford’s endowment disappeared in financial dot-com bubble and meant the company couldn’t spend how it had
      • Decided a big cut to lean out was the method to continue forward
    • Technology licensing is like extracting blood vs being partners with the entrepreneurs (unis should get tech out there – be respectable of faculty, as well)
      • Wider range of experience and students will typically go into industry vs education
      • Universities are the hub of innovation starting – Silicon Valley elsewhere
        • SV has gotten larger over last 15 years (he said, no doubt, China is 1)
    • In leadership, humility as important, as long as you maintain ambition
      • “If I show weakness, my people will lose faith in me” – humble with a decision made
      • Talked about expanding Stanford (and now, changing education) – “Everyone should watch more Shakespeare”
        • How to leverage technology to get cost of education down, otherwise more and more expensive since they’re less able to save
          • Bryan Caplan’s “Case Against Education” (7/8 of education and out, don’t get 7/8 of value so the value is in the signal of the finish)
        • Interdisciplinary and how comp sci is a meta-discipline (algorithmically thinking)
    • Has been a shift from research at universities to industry, driven by data at Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon
      • Prior industry research with IBM, Bell Labs pre-1980s, they had long-term driven research because they were all monopolies and could afford it
      • Waymo winning self-driving car with DARPA project was tipping point, Cisco as a different form of acquiring businesses with interesting tech
        • Spin-ins that have been immensely successful (send team out to develop, build a company, and then bring back in)
    • Computer Science and Women in the Business
      • 1980s they dominated the field until it absolutely blew up in the 1990s, and now it’s getting closer to critical mass
      • Tools are much more sophisticated and being able to learn
  • Author of #IamSexist article, George Yancy, prof of philosophy at Emory (Women@Work, WhartonXM)
    •  Author of Dear White People and the #IAmSexist articles that tried to deconstruct some of the inherent biases that many people grow up with
    • Clearly a majority of people aren’t blatantly racist or sexist, but rather it’s a construct of our environment that we’ve grown up in
    • He declared himself an Antisexist Sexist (has to fight his notions each day)
  • SheEO  & HeyMama (Wharton XM)

    • Community of empowering mothers / women in business, connecting them to discuss their problems/solutions juggling successful careers with life
  • James Borow, Chief Product Officer at Brand Networks (20min VC FF013)
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    • Planned on being a lawyer – was at Vanderbilt, took off a year before graduating, and worked for an internet company
    • Deferred Georgetown (de-risked because he could do this), eventually met his co-founder of Shift
      • Created Buzzfeed before Buzzfeed (GirlsGuideToo?)
      • Had to programmatically get advertisers onto the social platforms before it was accessible
        • Educating clients in new market as difficult – reached a whole new audience as part of value pop
      • One marketing platform for all stakeholders and across all social networks (now vs then)
    • Make bets and invest to grow, mentors to help – not looking to reinvent the wheel (but can waste years figuring out your way)
      • Giving up equity to people for help – want investments and a piece to motivate them to help
    • Approached by Brand Networks because they were better at content – James’ team better at payments
      • As product focus, he can pay attention to things he wanted to do in the past
      • If weak in finance or product or anything, tell cofounders/advisors and get help
  • Karl Friston, Wired article
  • Shane Parrish

Changing What We Expect From Medicine (notes from Nov 5 to 11) November 22, 2018

Posted by Anthony in experience, finance, global, medicine, questions, Uncategorized.
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I have mentioned Singularity University a number of times over the last month or so, in addition to suggesting books that have come out of it. I had the pleasure of listening to a number of the conference talks from the Exponential Medical Conference that was held in Coronado, CA over the first week of November. You can find many of the talks available at that site above, also. This was the theme of the week, along with a few listens to a16z on cryptocurrency and 20min VC on seed investing. Hope you enjoy!

  • Moira Gunn, Professor at UCSF (ExMed Live Conference)
    • Tech Nation Health on NPR radio podcast, International Bio Conference
    • Makes a good point of competing for attention, not ears anymore – everyone is everywhere
    • Top biotech/biopharma trends: protein degradation
      • Biopharma as part of Big Pharma
  • Rachel Thomas of Fast.ai (xMed Live Conference)
    • 5 myths of AI
      • Needing “Big Data”; Deep learning only works for very limited problems;
  • 3 Common Myths About Crypto with Katie Haun (a16z, former fed prosecutor) and Paul Krugman
    • Crypto is anonymous (only criminals)
      • Dark net markets in 2012 were 30%+ of value of Bitcoin transactions, now down to only 1%
      • Pseudonymous – government can easily trace crypto, as well as some individuals
      • Financial institutions spending $20bn to fight and stay AML compliant – 99.9% launderers succeed anyhow
    • Besides speculation, no use
      • Speculation as loaded term – wheat farmers, ex
      • Venezuela 10% of localbitcoins transactions there
      • 2bn unbanked people, 86% in Middle East – bitcoin was an option (one of Time’s Top 100 who employed women s/w eng)
      • Cryptocurrency allowing transfers that would often lose out 7.5% (avg) or up to 30% in fees to Western Union or other agents
      • Stores of value – digital as photos, songs, music, etc..
        • Gold vault compared to bitcoin
    • Crypto is just about currency
      • Stores of value, intermediary removal (or transfer), dapps (tokenization and scale)
  • Salim Ismail (xMed conf)
    • Disruption of institutions (marriage, religion, education, taxis, etc…)
      • Marriage updating of institution
      • Pope trying to update religion – where you’re selling the afterlife
      • Education and cramming topics into students heads
      • Higher education where you try to study tech that, when done with program, is outdated
    • Music, car, energy industries that will go from physical to informational service
      • Cut middle men as you go end-to-end – deflationary effects are massive (used music as example from peak to trough)
      • Humans are poor in recognizing linear vs exponential paces
    • Drones, lidar, 3d printing (35+ years)
      • Price per performance dropping quickly
    • “Any company designed for 20th century success is doomed to failure in the 21st century” – Ghoas
    • MTP and mentioned GitHub / Microsoft purchase of $7.4 bn for company with no assets, workforce or ip
    • Advice to large companies
      • Transform leadership (mindset, education)
      • Inspire ExOs at edges (change makers at edges and next to market) – Apple’s true innovation is organizational
        • Nestle has research on creating diets based on DNA, Corona into marijuana, IKEA into vertical farms
        • “Exponential Transformation” as opensource, FastTrackInstitute – try to solve problems for 1/10 cost (project: corruption in Medellin)
      • “We can’t fix that, it’s too big” – regulatory issues (think, people leaving to do stem cell research elsewhere, or ultrasound opioid addiction)
        • Retrofitting to the legacy challenge – set up a clinic outside of the hospital or other corporation and spin it off (Nestle and Nespresso)
  • Nicolas Chirls, Founder and Partner of Notation Capital, Pre-seed Investing (20min VC 071)
    • Pre-seed investing in pre-growth startups
    • Fascinated with the company – find a way to join the company regardless of the role (For him, that was BetaWorks)
      • Seed investing business start – knew very little, but others had already left so he got in to learn to the basics
    • His mentors – Andy Weissman, Collaborative Funds
    • Notation Thesis (had started a year prior): NY can produce $1bn exits (Etsy, Mongo, Tumblr, etc…)
      • NY has a critical mass of talent, engineering and designers
      • $150k checks into pre-seed rounds ($500k or less – don’t need millions to show traction and a big team for early product-market fit)
    • Running fund for 6 months and made 8 investments – thinks he can work with top founders disciplined with money raised early
      • He counters that repeat founders are best founders (they often choose to raise more – compared to first timers who don’t)
    • Has interactions with founders (likes in person) about capital raising and product architecture
    • Not a fan of demo days – prefers meeting and getting to know founders
    • Has a fund of $8mln – initial checks range from high single digit ownership % and follow ups
      • LP universe is hard to navigate as opacity increased
    • Blog – Wait, But Why (profiling various topics/authors)
  • Jay Parkinson? (xMed before Laura Jana)
    • Eugene Debs (president candidate garnered 5% of vote, from prison) talked about people that ended up being wrong in new ideas were the majority
    • Healthcare moves very slowly – 20-30 years – but advantage is that there’s a framework / playbook for improving this by other industries
  • Andrew Pelling, U of Ottawa (xMed)
    • Just stretch (mechanical force) as cells start to destroy other cells, physical (dye) difference meant they changed or separated
    • Little Shop of Horrors – Ideal biomaterial
      • Sustainable/ethical source, minimal foreign body response
      • Example of apple-ears (and other type), “designers for ears or other body parts”
      • Regenerative medicine
    • Plant cellulose as being overlooked (flesh, bone, spinal tissue/nerves)
  • David Karow, Health Longevity CEO (xMed)
    • Discussion of various diseases rid from stem cell
  • Osman Kibar, Samumed CEO
  • Bob Hariri, Celularity
  • Group of 3 above – 23&Me, Ancestry – 1000 medically significant variants (but they only look at 3)
    • Layperson algorithms that integrate quantitative data with the actionable

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

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

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

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On to the notes:

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

Problems Require Passionate Solutions (Notes from Oct 22 – 27) November 6, 2018

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This was a week for venture, seed investing combined with a number of episodes diving into psychology and differences of people.

Week of October 22, 2018

  • Jeremy Gilbert, Strategy and Product Initiatives at WaPo (Work of Tomorrow, Wharton XM)
    • Talked about how automation has helped free up some of the repetitive processes for journalists and editors
    • Can never have too many editors – who say that there can always be more journalists
    • WaPo has looked to scale the number of stories, and that’s allowed them to provide smaller stories to more people
    • Automation in the form of Heliograph system for the election – newsy material that updates automatically
      • Don’t want journalists spending time on curation or number-gathering, should be on analysis and interviews and getting the story
  • Defy.VC co-founder, KP Trae Vassallo (WhartonXM)
    • Talking about seed stage venture and series A – 7 in less than a year and closing fund
      • Doesn’t care if bootstrapped or crowdfunding, though her and partner have invested/worked with 5 of 7 founders teams
    • Institutional start-ups have boards that could be very beneficial in identifying business models, proper ear but doesn’t exclude others
    • Co-wrote Elephant in the Valley, on women / diversity harassment in the Valley
      • Did a short poll of other women ~50 when she realized she wasn’t alone for the culture in the valley
      • Not a feeling exclusive to SV – very prominent in Hollywood, Madison Ave, Wall St, etc…
    • Doesn’t care about failures if founders have generated a learned knowledge for how to avoid or change what went wrong
  • Using Facebook to Understand Depression, Andy Schwartz and Johannes Eichstaedt (Wharton XM)
    • Surveyed some 1500+ people, actual data and analysis in World Well-Being Project
    • Went through Facebook to determine usage of certain words and language that gave indicators of depression
      • Ex: me/I when used often typically signified a higher sign of depression
      • Usage of the word ‘alone’, at all, may be a signifier (but multiples didn’t seem to enhance case)
    • Data questions of health – if you assess the subjects’ mental health status (or in general), that information becomes subject to HIPAA and other privacy laws
      • Had to control who is looking, every stroke gets logged and people must be hyper aware of what it is they’re a part of
      • If this can be used for treatment or further diagnosis, ramifications of data privacy and health are a big challenge
  • Debra Mashek, Professor of Psychology at Harvey Mudd (Women @ Work, WhartonXM)
    • Talked about how 60% of college students are women but not taking the higher-paying wages still (or majors that’d pay that)
      • Mentioned HMC’s success: Dean/President is woman and 54% of CS and 56% of Physics majors are women, going to better things
    • Often, women were deterred by initial hurdles
      • Survey/study where an online course had a pre-quiz: women that performed poorly would drop the course; males – no such thing
      • How to fix this, and make it so they aren’t put off
    • Online platforms enable women professors to be scaled (women will take a course or be drawn to it with a woman professor)
      • Easier because there still aren’t enough or haven’t been enough women in the field to draw the necessary influx of women talent
  • Javier Sotero, Corp VP of Outlook @ Microsoft (20min VC FF012)
    • Moved to Outlook after his startup, Accompli, was acquired by Microsoft for $200mln
    • Was chief architect at a startup, where he partnered with other 4 engineers at the company to buy out the product they built (for $1)
      • Company was failing, but they believed in the product and market there and transitioned into that
      • Company was called Hypeeric (sp?)
        • Sold in 2009 when they had 1000s of customers, $10mln+ in revenue, to VMWare and wound up as CTO
    • Accompli started as EiR at Redpoint, failure was Covalent (tremendous amount of capital)
      • New game, new rules (but they fell prey to old stuff – top down, Seibel-style business)
        • Showed him that you can have top tier money and intelligent people and actually fail still
      • Bootstrapped for multiple years before taking institutional money
    • Good investor for him: pushes founder to think and achieve more than you may have thought
      • Growing business with 0 capital, $15million to build already and got it for $1
      • Respecting the amount of capital brought in
      • Investors as being very helpful through the crash in 08 – maintaining build, product and the customers
      • Find a simple, straight forward approach: vitamin product, painkiller product, viagra product (blog post, not his)
        • Vitamin: not felt immediately – felt down the line (hygiene for instance)
        • Painkiller: attractive (everybody needs to fix pain) but “tolerance” or how “long-lived” product is – churn issues
        • Viagra: previously thought impossible become possible
    • His belief: venture capital as fun sheet bs and an illogical attraction toward terms
      • Remembered at Hypeeric that people would ask about valuations and he hated it
      • Incestuous, passing deals back and forth (“VC is not a true market”) – limited number of players managing flow
        • Amazing part of US and global economy – “great valuation” not a marker for anything from the business side
    • Reasons for selling to Microsoft – middle of transition from deeply loved, widely-adopted to enterprise business (and really make money)
      • Fortunate to already have multiple $ of sales and customers – 2 in Europe, 1 more in UK, and 2 in US to work closely and craft Accompli service
        • He was already familiar with that and growing up as team/company
      • Says nobody was searching app store for Accompli, so they needed to somehow deal with marketplace, such as Microsoft
    • Wait But Why blog
  • Jeff Clavier, King of Seed Funding (20min VC 069)
    • Founder and Managing Partner of SoftTech VC, closed 150 investments
    • Born and raised in France, did a start-up in fin services that was acquired by Reuter’s in the UK
      • Moved in 2000 to SV to a venture capital firm – partner at Reuters Partners fund
      • Started SoftTech in 2004, focused on early stages of industry – gap for people in few $100k’s for funding vs millions ($10mlns)
    • Been working for a few years, FitBit was his investment – ~15 per year
    • Asked if it was efficient to build hardware companies on cheap capital – introduced to founders as he was finding out about this
    • 250 microVC funds have gained $4b in funding
      • Thus, understand the type of company, location and market of your start-up
        • This should narrow your VCs that you want to target for funding/partnership (~5-10) that should have interest in what you’re building
    • SoftTech is a B2B and SaaS investor, vertical/horizontal/mobile and marketplaces, as well as connected devices (home, payments, healthcare)
      • See 3000 companies and only invest in 10-15 of them
        • Prioritize deal flow, typically, with in between connections (can get on calendar much easier with them)
    • It’s been said they’ve “forced” larger seed rounds – they look at roughly an 18 month runway (hiring eng, product to market, traction, few iterations)
      • Growth path should follow and clear the series A hurdles – ($2mil – $4mil – hardware taking more time, usually)
    • Only build a start-up about something you’re very passionate about
    • Best thing about being a VC – seeing the world through the lens of some of the most crazy and expansionary minds

Notes on 4 Segments – back to late ’15 and People in Work October 12, 2018

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*/ Note – I think I’ll start including one of the logos/marks from one of the segments in my notes as features. Draw some more attention to these interesting companies/people!

Sometimes, I lament the fact that I only catch some of the radio segments midway or further through. I always wish I have the time to go back and finish or research more of the information. However, my notes initially are simply what I catch and then remember once I’m in front of my laptop again. So, if they seem incomplete – they are! However, it does remind me to go back and check it out at a later point (or when I can catch other parts of the segment in repeats).

With that said, here we go:

Week of October 1, 2018

  • Sean Seton-Rogers, founding partner at PROfounders Capital (20min VC 068)
    • VC fund for entrepreneurs
    • Learned the most during 2000 after crash, workforce reduction and doing everything to survive
      • Biggest lesson was that you need to have laser focus – doing too much is scary – must deliver one product amazingly well
    • At time, influx of US capital in European markets – got very expensive to get into high growth companies
      • Arbitrage play initially but now he thinks that there are lots of resources available for big companies ($1-10bn)
    • He looks to invest $1-3mln pounds, 7-10 people and invests early – prove his value to founders (definitely higher capital engages founders)
      • Bar is higher for proving your value for next rounds of financing
      • Have to be good to get next rounds, belief that company can grow
      • Early stage – he says that location does matter, meeting face to face in crucible – first proper employees, business dev deals, early stage
        • Bounce and converse ideas with – top level CEO and key management – PROfounders tries to be there for them
    • Europe was leaders in global music during 50s, 60s and still are – SoundCloud, Spotify, others
      • Fashion is another leader as a vertical – Milan, Paris, etc… still providing global leading fashion companies (List, etc…)
      • London is financial tech but Berlin is also up there
    • Talked about immigration issues in London or Berlin for global talent acquisition for the big operations and scaling people
      • Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc….
    • Crowdfunding, as Harry’s passion
      • Can skip the many meetings and questions of VC, less equity that they have to give up, different type of investor though (cash only)
        • Have to weigh if the different investor costs or if they want to raise more or price more
      • Sean said it can be great for entrepreneurs and it’s a challenge for investors (as competitors)
      • Quality of companies on crowdfunding platforms are increasing
    • Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and Influence: Psychology of Persuasion (human body conditioned to respond)
    • Mike Morris at Sequoia as most successful of old, Chris Sacca of new people
  • Ben Nader, Founder CEO at Butterfleye (20min VC FF 011)
    • Born in middle east, migrated to United States, studied electrical engineering / hardware and electrical
      • Moved into product management, opened his eyes up to camera/videos while in college, though
    • Personal frustration toward products in market when he wanted peace of mind for his bikes in his garage (2011-2013)
      • Design decisions by the shortcomings of these products
      • Wanted an industrial designer to look/feel good product
    • In designing team, he lived in the Bay Area
      • Networking and friends of friends, angelist, LinkedIn for most connections
    • For the product, most cameras did 24/7 passive recording – decided to put a brain in camera for making sense of content (humans, pets, beings)
    • Connected devices – 20-30 people to give feedback (but he noticed 3-5 people would be enough because the rest would respond similarly)
      • Feedback on features being useful or not
    • Kickstarter and Indiegogo (they used this) was a great way for him to go and get customers – early adopters and shaping the last 10% of product
      • Can change software side, especially – had a chance in SF (indiegogo was closer to collab – both teams local)
    • Good angel investors – business case scenarios vs bad (asking what-ifs)
      • Jason C as first one (reached out on Angelist, initially) – talking about idea actively, what are you building, no stealth mode
      • Featured on Angelist – generated traction via feature – friends rounds for first investing checks after he put his savings in
    • Mentioned BeatsByDre and GoPro as good consumer brands (funny with GoPro tanking after public)
  • Danny Leffel, CEO and Co-founder of Crew App (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing how communication was crucial, end of the discussion
    • Belief that there should be very limited time spent on pitch decks or setting meetings
      • Said that he would spend capital trying to hire the right people – it’s the VC firms job to seek out start-ups they want to found
      • Startups become interesting because they have traction, interest and a place in people’s minds
    • He said that his role has been hiring the right people and getting the right metrics into place
  • Sally Thornton, founder and CEO of Forshay (Work Wharton XM)
    • Work/life blend and discussions with many people over past 7 years in work
    • Knowing clients and how they prioritize people and work culture
      • My question: is there a place that will publicly share team-by-team people metrics and match them with candidate metrics?
        • Can this be done? Has it been done?
      • They mentioned Apple is much more private team-wise than Google, for instance

Life is Global October 23, 2017

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In just returning from Chile and having my 29th birthday, I did a ton of reflection over the last 2 weeks. Long flights, new places, peaceful heights & coming of age will force you to do this, if you don’t pause on your own to do it anyhow.

A word:
metacognition – dictionary.com has this as “higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.” I prefer a simpler “thinking about one’s own mental processes” .

Why do we do what we do? Some just act instinctively. Others act and then question why they acted. Yet there are some who will think, then act. There is a process by which everyone goes about their actions and thoughts – very few reflect on this process. Even fewer that look to change it for the better. Learning to think, approaching problems, coming up with solutions. Producing insights that can push forward or analyze why processes should be different.

In visiting with neighbors on my flights, shoulder-to-shoulder in immigration lines, Chilean natives, South American transplants from neighboring countries and visitors from across the world, there was a different consensus among the lot of them. Everyone had someplace else to be. Each person as different as the next. It was peaceful to not catch a news segment, comedy remark, or overhear a conversation about the active politics of the day. It’s overwhelming in the states, needlessly – and more importantly, rampant with misinformation which makes the deluge of politics ripe with uninformed, unintelligent thoughts. 7 days away – I believe I caught a single newspaper that had Trump on the cover and CNN one morning at the hotel mentioning a brief, 2 minute segment. Granted, I wasn’t looking for the conversations or seeking newspapers/tv’s, but still – there was some peace. Friends who have traveled abundantly over the past year to Europe/Canada/others have anecdotally mentioned that as one of the first things that arise in taxis/Ubers/people that become aware of a US citizen in their presence. No such bad luck in Mexico (my layover) or in Chile once I was there. There were more entertaining or productive discussions to be had. I’m sure this is a part of where one can direct a conversation, as well. People should be more cognizant of this, though I’m afraid politics have now dropped into the pantheon of ‘effortless’ conversation along with “how’s the weather?”, “did you see X” and a general “how’s work”?

Hopefully, as people grow and become more successful and comfortable in their lives, they would want to contribute something back – knowledge, money, mentorships and more. Often, there’s a line drawn between impact and how large of one can be made. This is less important, however, than making an impact regardless. We can make an impact in your core community – neighborhood, town or city, business community. Expand that out to affect multiple cities or a region – think Elon with LA’s tunnels, subway/metro/public transportation, bag ordinances or green movements – smart cities will eventually become a larger look as we go forward, as well. Outside of bigger projects like mentioned above, we can start a group or meet-up that gains members from the community in question – contribution of ideas that can go beyond infrastructural concepts.

Thinking larger (but not in the sense that it has to be bigger impact-wise), connection across counties, states, or the nation is important but more difficult to scale. Industries or sectors can be defined and aided by any one group or person that makes an impact beyond the immediate cases and permeates the outreaches from there. Then we have global scales – whether it’s advancing some technology or standard and bringing it to areas that may be impacted greatly with progression. There are tons of examples of all of these scales. People have different passions and shouldn’t be restricted or forced into doing something that doesn’t spark a fire in them to improve their lives (and hopefully, helping some others that they have a connection to in the process).

We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, a swipe and drag away on our phones. Barriers to entry continue to fall across all spectra. Get excited, people! Help yourself to help others.

Some things that I am jumping into and ones that I would love to hear ideas/talk to others about:
– mentorship with high school / college-level students with finding a passion or question ideas for how to progress forward
– a fun application to make it easier to connect local restaurants/bars with customers about their happy hours using OCR / Image-to-text from menu photos to populate database
– starting an investment fund that focuses on avoiding the nearly unavoidable ‘home bias’ as well as matching risk tolerance with proper returns – focusing on international availability and risk profile of uncorrelated assets
– new thought: possible website/application that will take multiple starting points (friends that live apart from each other) meeting at some location / flight destination in between for reasonable prices — multi-optimized Skyscanner/Hopper
– Payments/Vendors/AP/AR organizing software that will reduce burden and difficulty for companies with nontechnical backgrounds / capacity for process to be so intuitive that it won’t require more personnel or capital invested

 

Not Everyone Wants to Be a Star July 1, 2017

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This is a concept I’ve wrestled with for a while. The title in particular was a phrase I heard while listening to a segment on the Business XM channel. A gentleman called in and described how he changed from a Fortune 500 management position with org / processes focus to his own bakery and small business. It took him a long while before finally understanding he had to change his management model up for what he was in charge of, and he asked how his employees could be convinced to have further goals. In a moment of thought, the answer turned out to be that the employees had goals – it just wasn’t recognized by his [the owner’s] train of thought in what success was – they [employees] were content and had goals of improving and continuing to do their jobs as well as possible (whether it was a server or line chef, etc…).

Awareness is what this boils down to. Being aware is how we can empathize with one another, regardless of differences in opinions of success, goals or simple styles of work. Some want to rise to the top of their chain in their work – others may want to start a line of business totally unrelated, still others just want to be able to know they can go to work – finish – and come home to do things that they want to do thereafter. In talking with people, you can probably find out which of these types they are in a short conversation. Then, most people will judge, using themselves as the reference. Though it’s almost unavoidable, if more people were aware of this anchor, we can switch our empathy on and wonder – or better, ask – where someone may be looking to achieve.

How one speaks of their work can tell us a lot about them. What drives them to wake up and jump out of bed (or do they not want to)? Going back to the title of the post, I have friends who want to do nothing more than work their 35-40 hours and call it a week. I’m understanding more each week that it’s not their work that drives them – it’s everything else. I can breathe easier because I don’t feel pressured to ask them or push them about that aspect of their lives. And the relationships are better because of that. I believe that is a fascinating dynamic and am usually curious to learn more, but in general, we can do better to understand better spots to inquire further.

More people could use this to determine if friends, colleagues, coworkers or even bosses are stuck in their positions. When life is short but is spent so much time working, that becomes a key driver to how we enjoy ourselves.  And I believe everyone deserves to enjoy what they’re doing, or where they’re attempting to go.

Does anyone think differently here? Do conversations with friends over work annoy others? Is it more about one’s own anxiety that ends up reflecting on people you speak to? I’m curious. Let me know!

 

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