Tag Archives: Venture Capital

How China’s Tech Industry Dies

The Chinese Communist Party has launched a severe crackdown on the technology industry:

  • Didi Chuxing, the Chinese equivalent of Uber, had its app removed from all Chinese app stores shortly after its US IPO
  • ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, shelved its IPO plans under regulatory pressure. Its CEO has resigned.
  • Over 30 tech companies have been hauled in for meetings with regulators
  • Ant Group, a financial company founded by Jack Ma that would’ve been among the largest IPOs in history, had its IPO in China cancelled after Ma criticized authorities

This crackdown makes it nearly impossible for Chinese companies to list their shares in the US, removing one of the main ways that venture capitalists cash out. This will cause venture firms to shy away from investing in Chinese companies.

Why does this matter? Let’s take a look at how venture funding works:

1) Company makes product
2) Company pitches investors
3) Investors give company money
4) Company uses money to hire engineers and make a better product, and…
5) Acquire users through ads and/or building their sales team. Next…
6) With more users and revenue, company comes back to VC’s to raise more money at a higher valuation. Then, they do more of 4-5
7) After repeated rounds of VC funding, the company either gets acquired or goes public. VCs cash out.

But Chinese companies cannot go public in the US for the forseeable future, and even a listing in China may not be possible, as Ant Group proved. And if the Chinese authorities think a US listing brings security risks, surely the acquisition of a Chinese tech firm by a US company would be even riskier and thus also off limits.

What does that leave in terms of exits? Acquisition by a Chinese tech company, which means a lot fewer and smaller potential acquirers. The only other option is an IPO in China, providing the company doesn’t offend anyone. But the Chinese stock market is just 1/4th the size of the US one, so the payoff may be much smaller.

No exit means no investment. For VC firms, the exit is the entire point!

Unlike in China, firms in the US and elsewhere will be able to choose whatever exit is the most lucrative. That means they’ll be able to raise venture capital much more easily. That money will let them hire the best engineers, build the best products, and acquire tons of customers, leaving Chinese firms in the dust.

A couple of years ago, I thought the Chinese technology industry might overtake the US. I don’t think that anymore. With the government’s hand ever heavier, I see Chinese technology falling further and further behind.

The Chinese people have proven they have the skills to compete. But will their government let them?

More on tech:

CHINA IS KILLING ITS TECH INDUSTRY

WHY I JUST INVESTED IN GAUGE, THE BEST WAY TO SELL YOUR CAR

WHY I JUST INVESTED IN CRAFTER, MAKER OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ARTS AND CRAFTS KITS IN THE WORLD

Photo: “Vice President Xi Jinping” by nznationalparty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Why I Just Invested in Gauge, the Best Way to Sell Your Car

If you have a car to sell, you generally have 3 options:

1) Craigslist. You can get a good price, but buyers are flaky and the process takes forever. If you can sell it at all.

2) Dealer trade-in. Easy but the price is terrible.

3) Sell to a used car lot. See # 2

Now, there’s a much better option: sell your car with Gauge. Gauge is a Salt Lake City-based startup that gets you the highest price for your car, easily. When you list your car with Gauge, you get competing bids from multiple dealers. You pick the offer you’re happiest with, and that’s it!

Selling with Gauge avoids the hassles of shady Craigslist buyers, and the competitive process gets you a better price than taking the car to a dealer.

But what about Carvana?

What about them? Carvana buys your car itself, which means their incentive is to give you the lowest price possible. While Gauge does buy your car directly from you, it does so on behalf of dealers and buyers who want to bid on it. Gauge only makes money if you decide to sell your car on their platform. If you’re not happy with the bids you get, you’re free to sell your car elsewhere. So Gauge has every incentive to get you the best price possible.

This model is working so well they’ve earned a stellar 4.7 star average on Google. Sellers love the great customer service with no fees. Dealers love Gauge too, because they can get better quality cars than at most auctions. And not having to show up at an auction in person is a huge time savings, not to mention being safer.

Gauge is growing very fast, and I’m super excited to be an investor! They only list cars in the Salt Lake City area at the moment, but they’re expanding rapidly, with several new markets already in the works.

If you’re in the area with a car to sell, I don’t think you can do better!

More on tech:

WHY I JUST INVESTED IN CRAFTER, MAKER OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ARTS AND CRAFTS KITS IN THE WORLD

7 COMPANIES HAD 3 MINUTES EACH TO PITCH US. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.

INSIDE A STARTUP ACCELERATOR DEMO DAY

Photo: “Corvette Stingray” by pyntofmyld is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Why Indian Tech Is Exploding

The Indian tech industry is growing at an incredible pace:

Indian startups have raised a record $10.46 billion in the first half of 2021, up from $4 billion during the same period last year

Salaries are also increasing rapidly, from an average of $40,000 to $70,000, and even $150,000 for some top engineers.

Why is Indian tech growing so fast? I think several changes in the industry in recent years are weighing in its favor:

  • Major investors went remote due to COVID, and have largely stayed that way even as the pandemic recedes in the US. This means they can meet an Indian entrepreneur just as easily as one across the street in San Francisco. This democratization is great for the entire industry.
  • The venture industry as a whole is on fire, with both exits and valuations in the US reaching staggering levels. This gives venture firms more incentive to look outside the US for better deals, and more cash with which to do so.
  • It’s easier to incorporate in the US than ever. I recently invested in a startup that lets companies incorporate, issue stock options, and handle compliance cheaper and easier than ever before. Many of their customers are outside the US, but incorporate here to make fundraising from American investors easy. (More on this awesome company soon!)
  • India is stacked with tech talent. Anyone who has worked at a software company in the US can tell you that Indian-Americans are a huge part of the industry, and they have incredible skills.
  • China is killing its tech industry. Heavy-handed regulation, massive fines, and even disappearances of tech entrepreneurs is having a chilling effect, and the number of Chinese startups breaking out is way down. India competes with China for venture funds, and right now, it’s looking like the better bet.

New regulations that may require companies to expose users and break encryption are the biggest risk I see on the horizon for Indian tech. But with a deep talent pool and ample funding, India’s is a startup scene to watch.

सौभाग्य!

More on technology:

INDIA IS SOAKING UP VENTURE CAPITAL LIKE A SPONGE

CHINA IS KILLING ITS TECH INDUSTRY

7 COMPANIES HAD 3 MINUTES EACH TO PITCH US. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.

Photo: “India – Enroute Tso Moriri, Ladakh” by sandeepachetan.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Why I Just Invested in Crafter, Maker of the Most Beautiful Arts and Crafts Kits in the World

I’m super excited about today’s company! Of all the startups I’ve looked at recently, Crafter might have the most compelling product. This San Diego-based company makes arts and crafts kits of the very highest quality and provides great instructional videos that will have you making beautiful crafts in no time.

A beautiful textile project from Crafter

I never thought I’d consider embroidery until I saw their product! Crafter, also known as The Crafter’s Box, can also help you make quilts, leather bags, and even stained glass! This post barely scratches the surface; you really have to check out Crafter.com and see all this cool stuff! Go ahead, I’ll wait here. 🙂

Learn to embroider!

The founder, Morgan Spenla, created Crafter after what was supposed to be a relaxing crafting experience turned into a nightmare. Morgan wanted to make a nice necklace, and found herself at Joann’s looking at a thousand different tools and materials. She had no idea what to choose. The store was about to close and her kids were going wild. Morgan wound up with a random assortment of materials and couldn’t find a YouTube video to show her how to turn them into the necklace she wanted. She wound up giving up in frustration. But she knew there had to be a better way.

I doubt Morgan is the only person to have this experience. Crafting has become increasingly popular during the pandemic. If you’re stuck at home, why not make a cool scarf? And I don’t see people giving up their fun new hobby just because things are reopening.

The venture capital world is largely male, and most of us probably don’t do crafts. But that doesn’t mean other people don’t! Arts and crafts is a $44 billion dollar industry that has grown by half in just 5 years, and it’s almost all brick and mortar retail. Crafter could completely disrupt this market. Etsy is the go-to for finished crafts, and Crafter may become the go-to for making crafts. Oh and by the way, Etsy is valued at $25 billion.

On a meeting with Morgan recently, I was impressed by her resourcefulness and dogged persistence. Founders giving up is the biggest killer of startups, and I don’t see Morgan giving up. She funded the company herself for nearly 5 years before raising venture capital, and continues to work long hours to make her dream a reality.

She also excels at recruiting the best people to help her. On a recent episode of This Week in Startups, Morgan shared her strategy of recruiting former Starbucks employees for customer service jobs. They excel at dealing with difficult customers, and if your tech startup can pay more than Starbucks, you’ve got them. This struck me (and the host, noted angel investor Jason Calacanis) as brilliant.

Take a look at Crafter.com and make yourself something awesome! And by the way, that link will save you 20%!

More on technology:

7 COMPANIES HAD 3 MINUTES EACH TO PITCH US. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.

INSIDE A STARTUP ACCELERATOR DEMO DAY

CHINA IS KILLING ITS TECH INDUSTRY

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

This Hoboken-Based Rocket Company Could Revolutionize Space

In the shadow of New York City, I walked down a quiet street beneath an overpass. I came across a squat brick building with no windows. On the door, a small sign was the only indication of what’s inside: Hudson Space Systems.

Founded by graduates of the Stevens Institute of Technology, Hudson Space Systems (HSS) is working to make cheap, reusable rockets available to everyone. The microgravity (weightlessness) that being high above the earth provides is critical to research in medicine, physics and materials science. Cell cultures grow faster, physics experiments are simplified, and materials are tested like nowhere else.

But this invaluable scientific platform has a problem: waiting lists for launches are long and costs are high. HSS’s 3D printed, resuable rocket aims to bring the cost down by 40% and increase capacity until booking space on a rocket launch is as easy as booking a dinner reservation on OpenTable.

SpaceX proved rockets can be reused. What SpaceX did for launching satellites, HSS hopes to do for launching science experiments.

Hoboken, New Jersey, with its density and proximity to New York City, might seem like the last place where you’d find a rocket company. But it’s one of the most educated cities in the country, with over 80% of the population holding bachelor’s degrees or higher, and has a technical university right in town. Tech companies often grow out of universities, as this one did.

Will HSS be able to realize its vision? That’s anyone’s guess, but they have already raised $100,000 in 2020 and are $162,000 into a $250,000 raise that closes in a few days. Since they are currently working on protypes and don’t yet have a product in market, this company is earlier on than the startups I invest in. But if you like getting in on the ground floor, and especially if you have expertise in this area, it could be a great opportunity.

Best of luck to these hardworking men and women on their exciting new business right here in the Garden State!

More on startups:

Photo: “Antares Rocket Launch (NHQ201610170114)” by NASA HQ PHOTO is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Why Austin is #1 in Attracting Tech Workers

Austin, already a significant tech center, is the biggest beneficiary of tech workers being able to live anywhere and work remotely:

Austin is the top beneficiary of tech-related migration in the past 12 months, according to data from Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn profiles. Nashville and Charlotte also saw noteworthy migration rates.

Why is Austin #1? Tech workers are finally able to live where they want, and it turns out they have similar preferences to other Americans. The southwest has seen a huge influx of people in recent years, regardless of their occupation. Sun, warmth and cheap housing are powerful draws.

The typical house in San Francisco is nearly 3 times the price of the average Austin house. If you moved to SF for a job and the job no longer requires that you be there, you may leave and pocket the difference.

But there are lots of cheap sunbelt cities. Austin wins due in large part to the presence of a major university. This is something all major tech centers have, whether it’s San Francisco, Boston, New York, or Beijing. Companies often grow out of these universities, and college towns tend to have amenities that attract educated workers. Miami lacks a first rate university, hampering its prospects of competing with the likes of Austin.

Even before COVID, I noticed a strong trend to remote work in the tech sector. I worked in medical software for nearly 15 years. At the beginning, working from home was never allowed. By the end, I was remote 75% of the time.

The tech sector has reconfigured itself during COVID to operate remotely and is unlikely to go back. As an investor in startups today, I’ve seen venture capital firms start to hire anyone regardless of where they live. Will they fire these employees or force them to move once COVID is over? Not likely. Also, investors are finding they can meet with a lot more companies over Zoom than if they had to travel between offices. These efficiency improvements aren’t going away.

What venture firms do affects the whole tech sector. Many often required startups they invested in to move to SF. But that’s a thing of the past.

I’ve actually never been to Austin, but I hope to soon! I took a class at UT-Austin online this spring, and it was superb. Austin has clearly invested in education, and now it’s reaping the rewards.

Dig into these posts for more on tech and startups:

Photo: “Austin Texas” by adactio is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

One of the Hottest Tech Startups in the World Calls Hoboken Home

In the birthplace of baseball and Frank Sinatra, on a quiet street near the waterfront, lie the offices of one of the hottest tech companies in the world: Attentive.

We’re used to thinking of the tech startup scene as confined to the Bay Area. Maybe a few in New York City proper, maybe. But one of the most significant new tech companies of today is right here in the Garden State.

A tech startup is a big deal when it becomes a “unicorn,” or reaches a valuation of $1 billion. Of all US companies that have reached that holy grail in 2020 and 2021, Attentive is the 4th largest. Its current valuation is $6.97 billion, a staggering sum for a company that’s only existed for 5 years.

Attentive is a messaging platform that helps companies communicate with their customers. It allows businesses to send personalized text messages that help drive sales. E-mail inboxes are overflowing and promotional e-mails tend to get lost in the shuffle, but customers are a lot more likely to notice a text message. After all, that’s how they communicate with family and friends every day.

Attentive is not the first unicorn this single square mile has produced. Hoboken-based e-commerce site Jet.com was sold to Walmart for $3.3 billion in 2016.

Why has this tiny town of only 50,000 people produced two giant software companies in just a few years? I think the reason is that over 80% of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. Indeed, Hoboken is the 35th most educated city in the country. If you look at the other cities on that list, you see quite a few tech hubs, such as Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Cupertino in California.

The more we can promote higher education, particularly in STEM fields, the more of this type of success we will see. It makes me prouder than ever to be a New Jerseyan. I only wish I had been an investor in this one!

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Dig into these posts for more on startups:

Photo: “New Jersey – Hoboken: Washington Street Brownstones” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

India Is Soaking Up Venture Capital Like a Sponge

It’s not just about the Bay Area anymore. Indian startups have raised venture funding at a record pace this year, on track to double from 2020:

Startups raised total investments of $7.8 billion in the first four months of this calendar year, which is almost 70% of the overall corpus of $12.1 billion raised in entire 2020 and more than 50% of $14.2 billion raised in 2019, data from US-based research firm PitchBook shows.

More here.

The average deal size is also near record highs, at $25 million. The most valuable venture-backed startup in India is Paytm, a payments and e-commerce company, at $16.7 billion.

India has seen 13 companies reach unicorn status this year ($1 billion valuation and up), an impressive figure. The US remains far and away the leader, with 288 total unicorns as of last month. China has 133, and India is third at 32.

As a US-based investor, I see a lot of companies pitch, but not those from India. The American and Indian VC markets don’t seem well connected. I’m not sure how to fix that, but I’m eager to have access to this big crop of quality companies. The most active VC firms in India are a mix of American and Indian organizations. With numerous people from India staffing (and starting) US tech companies, I hope to see more connections between our markets in the future!

Dig into these posts for more on startups and venture capital:

Photo: “Agra – Taj Mahal” by micbaun is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Inside a Startup Accelerator Demo Day

Yesterday, I attended the Remote Demo Day for the latest class from the Launch Accelerator, a startup accelerator run by noted investor Jason Calacanis. We hear a lot about accelerators (also known as incubators), from famous programs like Y Combinator or Techstars to small, local outfits.

One thing most of them have in common is a demo day. This occurs at the end of the accelerator program and gives the startups an opportunity to pitch their company to investors.

So what goes on at these demo days?

Seven companies had three minutes each to present. A panel of judges (investors at venture firms) and members of The Syndicate (Calacanis’ investment group) submitted questions. Founders then had two minutes respond. Finally, both the judges and syndicate members voted on their favorites.

Here are some interesting trends I noticed from the meeting:

1) Business-to-business companies got a better reception than business-to-consumer companies. Business customers are less fickle and more likely to remain customers once acquired. They also have deeper pockets, and if you can show them that a technology clearly saves them money or gives them an important new capability, they’re likely to buy. Consumers are harder to pin down.

2) Startups are very diverse now, in terms of race, gender and geography. Two of 7 founders were female, and two were minorities. This isn’t equal representation, but it is progress. The companies came from all over America, from the usual suspects (Bay Area, NYC) to the South and even Europe.

3) It’s not all software companies. My favorite was actually a beverage company. Show investors some substantial recurring revenue and fast growth, and you may find checks flying back at you. What’s more, so many companies these days have a tech angle. This company sells their beverages online in a subscription model.

4) Everyone’s nice. Despite stereotypes of grizzled money guys telling you “It’ll never work!” the reality is that reputation is critical in this industry. Expect specific questions that might be hard to answer, but don’t expect (or tolerate) jerks.

Expect specific questions that might be hard to answer, but don’t expect (or tolerate) jerks. #startups

5) Even early stage companies fresh out of an accelerator have real products and revenues. There were no companies just trying to get an idea funded or still working on a prototype. They wouldn’t have made it into the accelerator in the first place, and even if they had, they wouldn’t have attracted any investor interest. Investors help business scale. They don’t help ideas become products.

So, who got funded? That remains to be seen, but if there’s enough interest from syndicate members, several could potentially get the nod. I know I’m interested in investing in two of the startups I saw.

We are so fortunate to live in a country that produces incredible entrepreneurs with such regularity. This was the 21st class to go through the accelerator, and there will be many more!

Congrats to all the great founders that presented, and a happy weekend to all my readers!

Dig into these posts for more on startups:

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How Do You Know If a Startup Is Getting Traction?

Investors look at a lot of startups before laying a bet. But how do we know if the company’s product is catching on, or has failed to find traction? And as a founder, how do you know if you’re headed in the right direction or…nowhere?

In a recent episode of the superb podcast This Week in Startups, investor Jason Calacanis and guests Craig Zingerline and Allen Chen broke down a key metric: customer retention.

Do you have product-market fit? There’s no one better to answer that question than the people who use your product every day. Here are the customer retention numbers to look for, over a 6 month period, for different types of startups:

  • Consumer social (think Instagram): 25% is good, 45% is great
  • Consumer transactional (think Uber): 30% is good, 50% is great
  • Consumer SaaS (think Netflix): 40% is good, 70% is great
  • Small and medium business (SMB) and midmarket SaaS (think Freshbooks): 60% is good, 80% is great
  • Enterprise (big company) SaaS (think Oracle): 70% is good, 90% is great

As you can see, business-to-business products should be a lot stickier than business-to-consumer ones. Consumers are fickle and their investment is minimal. At the other end of the spectrum, major corporations don’t adopt new software lightly. It’s a process that sometimes takes years and costs a fortune. So they don’t switch often, either.

The panel emphasized that you don’t have to get to these numbers right away, but that they should be a goal. Good luck!

For more on startups, check out these posts:

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Photo: “Jason Calacanis” by jdlasica is licensed under CC BY 2.0