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

In this particularly busy week, I found the theme of the week to be particularly amusing, but coincidentally or not, the dominoes fell that way. Normally, a theme arises like that because everyone is in finance or the same segment or conference is aligning. I just happened to catch a week where the insight that I drew from each person reflected similarly.Meredith Golden, a dating consultant of sorts, discussed how she assesses all levels of dating profiles for her clients. She goes through a process that she's dialed in to obtain her optimum level of clients as well as the right approaches to proceed. Asking herself what she wanted was key in determining how she's grown her business, especially as an entrepreneur and CEO.Chief Instigator Matt Charney. Now that's a fun title. And I won't ruin it. He goes through his past with Disney and Warner Bros and why/how he moved into the HR tech doing marketing - what he saw and how it's different now. Fascinating and fun segment.Part of the fun of being an entrepreneur is deciding who you want to do business with. But when it's difficult, especially at the start, you're most excited to get ANYONE to work with (unless you luck into that massive customer to start - rare rare rare). This is Kyle Jones of iCRYO found out. Then he gained traction, quickly, and realized he needed to be a bit more diligent in who he wanted to work with - what was ideal for the business, as well as the brand moving forward.David Epstein likes throwing wrenches, I imagine. He authored the book Range, testing the generalist vs specialist question. As a generalist masquerading currently as a specialist, I appreciated what he was talking about the strength of generalists. But I do understand the place that specialists have in our society, especially deep tech, research and other exceptional areas.Deb DeHaas grew up under the tutelage of her mother who fought the idea of being an accountant growing up to learn and adapt to the idea of being told what she could/couldn't do wasn't ACTUALLY an assessment of her ability to do those things. Such a simple, fascinating concept. She could totally be an accountant, engineer, as she pleased. Took a lot of perseverance but she had a manager at Andersen (before folding) who was a woman and told her to always chase what she wanted - now she's leading the Inclusion and Diversity team with Deloitte's Corp Governance Arm. Quite the story of growing up and what she learned.Not to be outdone, Kim Wilford, who acted as General Counsel for GoFundMe, discussed how she came into her role in charge of the nonprofit arm, and what they've done in growing the company and its donations. How to connect marketing, wearing multiple hats and helping people help others. Inspirational while metric-driven, not just dream-built.I hope you enjoy the notes - a few I didn't write extra here but had fascinating insights into Happiness Hacking, investing in founders and how they grew companies such as Vroom and GoodEggs. Let me know what you think!

  • Meredith Golden (@mergoldenSMS), CEO of Spoon Meets Spoon (Wharton XM)
  • Talking about having 6-7 clients
  • Ghostwriting messages
  • Client work depends - assessing / diagnosing the problem Not matching (pictures), profile, messaging, getting them to meet, etc…
  • Metrics based on what the initial diagnosis was
  • Matt Charney, Executive Editor - Chief instigator at RecruitingDaily (Wharton XM)
  • Talking about workplace and conspiracies
  • Kyle Jones, iCRYO Franchises (Wharton XM)
  • Franchising initially - would've been a bit pickier when starting but too excited to land first deals
  • Out of 100 franchises, they'll go with ~5 or so
  • 10 franchises, working on doing a big deal to launch 100+
  • Discussed how Nobel laureates and creative types are often generalists that spend a lot of time learning / making Stumble on new ideas or concepts in their work
  • Generalists aren't bad - allow to see a different perspective and combine ideas Think "The Quants" - relationship between corn prices compared to research on _
  • Deb DeHaas (@deborahdehaas), Chief Inclusion Officer, C4Corp Gov Deloitte (Women at Work)
  • Discussed her mother, who had passed away at the age of 90 recently, who was told she couldn't be an accountant Wasn't her role - she pursued it anyhow and ended up being an engineer before quitting and being a community leader
  • Worked in Gulf Oil's accounting dept and helped her husband through med school First councilwoman in her town, elder at the church
  • Deb started at Andersen until it folded, worked for only one woman but she was taught there were no barriers
  • Bentley Hall (@bhallca), CEO of Good Eggs (Wharton xm)
  • Mitch Berg, CTO of Vroom (Wharton XM)
  • Alex Salkever (@alexsalkever), Vivek Wadhwa, authors "Your Happiness... Hacked" (Wharton XM)
  • With Stew Friedman, finding the middle ground of tech with children / teenagers and the happy medium
  • How is it that we find some things appealing but others are a burden
  • Facebook being a publishing agency - aren't they responsible for what the product? "Newsfeed" example.
  • Google Maps or Waze as a hindrance at the local level - dangerous, maybe? Extremely valuable, still, in new places / out of the country, especially Different, maybe, for walking if alternative is talking and communicating with others
  • Problem with Facebook / Whatsapp - Whatsapp unmoderated group chats and only requiring a phone number Encrypted, but what cost? Facebook - for Vivek, just limits to 1-way action
  • Social media as killing people - think India's problems
  • Ed Sim (@edsim), FP @ Boldstart Ventures (20min VC 092)
  • LivePerson, GoToMeeting are 2 of his biggest investments as lead, exited / public
  • Started a fund in 1998, DonTreader Ventures - left in 2010
  • Idea was to bring SV style to NY - VCs would look at financials / models, but they looked at people and product - focus on markets
  • Most investors were corporate but cratered after 2008
  • Started a new seed fund for sticking with what he knew as well as recognizing a shift in 2007 for open source and cloud - consumer-based
  • SaaSify vertical markets with GoToMeeting founders who wanted to do new things - $1mln, $1.5mln Enterprise people were looking to get a market for small ~$1mln investments
  • Hated starting a fund - "Fundraising sucks." - Could find a great enterprise and tech entrepreneurs at seed stage - got $1mln and made 10 inv First 5-6 investments were less than $5million pre-$, sold 4 by 2012 - had option values for series A or being sold to strategic companies Entrepreneurs wanted to sell in those cases, but with cloud, definitely found that it was reasonable and cheaper to do SaaS
  • First / second generation founders or single vs others - "No single founders"
  • As the first institutional round, they're first big money in. Last few investments were second or more founders - little bigger rounds
  • If first-gen founders, funding rounds are smaller - deep expertise in their field (and have to be engineers building product)
  • "Enterprise can be fucking hard" - have to know the industry - he has 20 years, partner has 10 and new partner as building 5 companies
  • Why he went this route? Started at JP Morgan as building quant trading models as liaison Business QA between engineers and portfolio managers Derivatives models to real-time pricing models - feeds from Reuters or others, risk metrics and crank out the other side
  • Enterprise was exciting to him
  • Could take enterprise founders and redo or build a new company by changing the pain point - customers can be repeat because new pain point Harder to do that in consumer
  • Leads come from founders - roughly 75% as recommendations from portfolio companies (wants to be first thought or call) Helps founders get their pick and decide where to go - if you have an analyst report, may not be a great market opportunity initially
  • Environment of seed funding: Jeff Clovier of SoftTech as one of few microVC's and now it's 400+
  • Just want to be hyper-focused and being nimble - main value add as understanding the cadence (2 founders coding together to selling)
  • Stratification of VC - best ones have gotten so large that they can't write small checks efficiently Entrepreneurs don't want $5-10mil immediately out of the gate - mismatch, looking for less for less dilution
  • Deal flow of crowdfunding: says sometimes they will leave $250k after leading for AngelList or building new relationships
  • Jason Calcanis blog Launch Ticker, trend as rise of the developer (multiple people in company using same thing - buying licensing) Messaging as another interesting trend in the enterprise space - his most used app - Slack (SlackLine - private, external channels)
  • Most recent investment - stealth investment in a repeat founder (founded and sold before) - security focused on developer
  • Kim Wilford, General Counsel at GoFundMe (Wharton XM)
  • Talking about joining, hadn't considered nonprofit space For profit arm and the nonprofit
  • Mentioning pushing marketing and following metrics for raising vs donations
  • Can influence news stations and push for higher engagement
  • Done almost $5bn in funding across 50 million donations