Connecting the Generations (Notes from July 1 to 6, 2019)

So, we're going to connect one of the authors' titles of the books they wrote for our theme today. Connecting the Generations from Marc Freedman's "How to Live Forever". Granted, he was discussing the generational split between boomers, millennials, Gen Z and the workplace surrounding them. How do mentorships work in reality, if at all? How to find a bidirectional, productive mentorship? These are questions Freedman discusses in that book.Another section that I want to focus on is the boom in gaming, specifically esports. Computers and games arose in in the late 1950s but became more of a thing to get probably by the 70s. As consoles came about, they became even more prevalent for those growing up in the 1980s as something we were used to seeing. My father, for instance, bought a Nintendo 64 on the opening weekend, and we would play together a few nights a week before bed - Mario Kart or Goldeneye. Though there were multiplayer games, these were mostly co-op and local, outside of tournament style, 1 on 1 games such as Mortal Kombat or MVC. Surely there were Super Smash tournaments among others but it took until the first decade of the 2000s to take off, if I were to guess. Now, gaming's turned into a whole other animal - the ease with which you can get a console / pc that can run the top performing games and connect with friends makes the whole thing a new experience, and one nearly everyone can get on board with. YouTube / Twitch came about after streaming platforms like and others came about, and many people like background noise or enjoy the commentary/gameplay aspect of watching compared to playing. I saw the other day that the top 5 individual gamers are above $1mil in prize money for playing - without any sponsorships included (that brings Ninja to above $5mil).Kyle Bautista, COO of Complexity Gaming, discusses how they brand and seek opportunities for the competitors that are on the team, and where he sees the industry going. By comparing it to other sports, he tries to see value in working with younger players but because it doesn't necessarily require the same separation of skills that athletes do, it's a challenge to find out what age group or what type of player may be of most value or have the most potential to help get to a professional status. It's a different world than the 90s, and I find the gaming one fascinating growth-wise.Then we had a pair of Forward Partners discuss the ideology behind their firm. Focusing on very early startups - sometimes even the founders and building out the product or idea. Dharmesh Raithatha, product partner at FP, talked about the process for how they build the idea with a discussion of many people in the space, prospective customers, different markets on their frustrations or problems, if they have any solutions and where they go for help. Do the founders have the ability to inspire people with them as well as the customers who may be along for the ride?Matthew Bradley discussed value that Forward brings outside of the checks, which tend to be a bit larger for the first money of those they have chosen to invest with. What does the 1 year timeline look like? Who are the first 100 or 1000 customers? And are there questions that should be asked that haven't been covered? For the next thing, he was suggesting healthcare or something in medtech field instead of fintech or consumer, which could be more saturated.As the next generation of branding and marketing, post-internet and more mobile-first, Peter Adams, of Marketing Dive, discussed the options for established brands to make plays that come off genuine and impressionable. For instance, the Taco Bell hotel. There are brand advocates who will love it, according to him. I'm a fan of Taco Bell, but I'm not sure that would be me. Definitely a creative way to drive some awareness, and if the opportunity is pulled off, it can work! Interestingly enough, he discussed the partnership of Nike / AirJordan and Fortnite - where players and sneakerheads don't get physical shoes or items, but actually just the digital versions as skins. With the player base of a game such as Fortnite, it was a huge opportunity to get more people aware of the brand of Nike and hoping to allow a connection between the game and physical world that may drive sales. Brands have to be careful with how they approach this, though, in order to attract the right market as well as execute it in a way that is plausible.I hope you enjoy the other notes I included here. If you have questions, you can reach me on Twitter or leave a comment. Have a great week!

  • Kyle Bautista (@coL_beef), COO GM Complexity Gaming (Wharton XM)
  • Discussing esports and the partnering brands
  • Meeting with Jerry Jones, who'd purchased a team
  • Sees all types of similarity between esports and other athletes 10,000 hours + rule
  • Talent evaluation at an early age - working on that and trying to improve 
  • Dharmesh Raithatha (@dhrmshr), Product Partner at Forward Partners (20min VC 096)
  • Idea stage investments - great products in AI, former employee at Mind Candy, BBC Founded 2 startups, sold one
  • Background working in startups as software developer and then product management before leaving Met Nick Brisborn, MP, said to meet for and work for 6 months Strategy and multiple companies - said yes to all firms with product people
  • Want synergies in sector expertise - early stage funds can be helped by these people, CEO may be process-based
  • Difference between Nick - who has done it extensively and him - learning
  • Open hours monthly - spend 15 min to pitch or getting advice - sees certain commonalities / niches Ones that seem exciting pop out because they're different or unique, and they understand that
  • Investment themes for what they've invested in or problems that you haven't found
  • Brainstorm lots of ideas, talk to people, observe & understand the problem
  • Tend to take people who are solo founders that are non-technical - not sure how to build the idea, maybe
  • Hard to evaluate or understand who is good - but he's anti-outsourcing
  • If you can, cultivate relationships
  • Founders that do well - very good understanding of their uses & seeking the right people Ability to inspire, big vision wrapped up - 10x better aim
  • New founders come in - can see the problem. Have the investment.
  • First month will be to talk to people - speak to 40+ to seek customer segments and market.
  • What problems? What solutions do they have? How do they feel? Where do they go?
  • Watch people solve the problem themselves, immerse themselves in the problem?
  • Ex of Lex - Founder's Friday legal market - launched w/ forum/landing page Tried to match lawyers with the clients. Understood the software he needed to build and the product.
  • SV Product by Marty Cagan
  • Massive interest in health tech - MindSpace, GP fixes, access to data earlier
  • Most recent investment: The Gifting Company
  • Marc Freedman (@marc_freedman), author of How to Live Forever (Wharton XM)
  • Discussion of the split generationally in the workplace
  • More people living at home longer - even after the crash, still increasing
  • People are used to being with others, but sometimes the mentorship game doesn't work bidirectionally
  • Peter Adams (@patchadams), Reporter at Marketing Dive (Wharton XM, Marketing Matters)
  • Target, Amazon, Walmart jumping into content space
  • Discussion of Nike and Foot Locker branding - popups that are genuine
  • Digital footprint for awareness - Air Jordan with Fortnite
  • Did they need revenue split?
  • Taco Bell as a leader in the experiential branding space - launching hotel soon
  • Had a few popups - "Cantina" in Vegas - wedding venues, renting out restaurants
  • Matthew Bradley (@mattyjam), Investor at Forward Partners (20min VC 097)
  • Super-early stage London VC and Betting Big on Consumer Fintech
  • Father had done investment banking, so he went there first - 'legit' career in 2006
  • Structuring a derivative for midmarket pension fund in UK - packed up immediately after Did an MBA, few start-ups that failed and invested in others(1 doing Series B)
  • Finance stuff, investing in small businesses and looked at venture capital - took unpaid internship at Forward and is there now
  • Idea stage funding because they have a team of product people, full stack developers, designers, recruiters to give success
  • Offering $250k at this stage which is significantly larger than others
  • Path Forward as operator framework for proven need for prototype/product for first 100 or 1000 customers
  • As an ecommerce fund, can test cheaply/quickly - why they look for the early adopters
  • More $ in series A than ever before - round sizes are getting larger, so more startups are staying in seed earlier Late vs early, crowdfunding and angel rounds
  • Google Ventures took on LostMyName, a portfolio company, and wanted a TransAtlantic investor
  • Asking questions to entrepreneurs 3 or 4 times, varies for team - teasing out assumptions and questions Go-to market size, 1 year timeline, initial target customer He's a big fan of open-ended questions: Is there anything that he hasn't asked that he should ask?
  • With new YC's announced, he says there are a repeat of clones that show up in the UK - not necessarily a bad thing
  • Startups have to often think of different problems, say payer difference in healthcare
  • Consumer credit bigger in the US than UK, probably
  • Accelerator route - gold standard for incubator can almost always been great choice - but launching and consider market
  • 50 next unicorns report: overweight in consumer tech and on-demand services and underweight in healthcare Believes in consumer financial services and healthcare
  • The Master and Margarita as favorite book
  • Funding landscape in London: yes, more chickens - more eggs - more $
  • Most read blog / newsletter (he said he reads 1.5 - 2 hours a day): Mattermark Daily, Term Sheet, Nick's (boss), Tunguz, Mahesh
  • First round review weekly is a great one for early stage startup
  • Thiel as investor - lean methodology being bashed, crowdfunding not necessarily as replacing VC
  • LiveBetterWith - aggregator for nonmedical products that help people live with chronic diseases - super early stage
  • Jose Benitez Cong, co-founder and CEO of Plause (Wharton XM)
  • Growing up both Mexican and Chinese - couldn't speak English, couldn't speak Chinese Was dropped off as a kid to his grandparents', who spoke Chinese - school started Monday and he needed to figure out English
  • Hustling to do window washing and scaling it while he couldn't drive (saved money - until he started spending it on girls later) Scaling of window washing broke after doing orders and calendars because money wasn't as easily split for not equal shifts
  • Bill Glaser, Bacon Chips - co-founder of JUST (Wharton XM)
  • Bacon chips - PIG OUT brand, all vegetarian
  • Formulated by David Anderson, former chef at Beyond Meat
  • Mushrooms that are flavored to taste like bacon with a tech patent-pending
  • Mushrooms as umami and making sure the consistency worked to be crunchy
  • Getting investment capital - some $1.5 million
  • Catapult Ventures Darren & Rouz Jazayeri (Wharton XM)
  • Technologists, looking for solutions
  • How they came to the name