More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
4 months ago
R&D, S&M, and G&A expense ratios for SaaS
SaaS spending is 40/40/20. 40% of operating expenses should be R&D, 40% sales and marketing, and 20% G&A. We wanted to see the statistics behind the rules of thumb. Since October 2017, 73 SaaS startups have gone public. Perhaps the rule of thumb should be 30/50/20. The data is below.
30/50/20. R&D accounts for 26% of opex, sales and marketing 48%, and G&A 22%. We think R&D/S&M/G&A should be 30/50/20.
There are outliers. There are exceptions to rules of thumb. Dropbox spent 45% on R&D whereas Zoom spent 13%. Zoom spent 73% on S&M, Dropbox 37%, and Bill.com 28%. Snowflake spent 130% of revenue on S&M, while their EBITDA margin is -192%.
G&A shouldn't stand out. Minimize G&A spending. Priorities should be product development and sales. Cloudflare, Sendgrid, Snowflake, and Palantir spend 36%, 34%, 37%, and 43% on G&A.
Another myth is that COGS is 20% of revenue. Median and averages are 29%.
Where is the profitability? Data-driven operating income calculations were simplified (Revenue COGS R&D S&M G&A). 20 of 73 IPO businesses reported operational income. Median and average operating income margins are -21% and -27%.
As long as you're growing fast, have outstanding retention, and marquee clients, you can burn cash since recurring income that doesn't churn is a valuable annuity.
The data was compelling overall. 30/50/20 is the new 40/40/20 for more established SaaS enterprises, unprofitability is alright as long as your business is expanding, and COGS can be somewhat more than 20% of revenue.
4 months ago
How I grew my business to a $5 million annual recurring revenue
Scaling your startup requires answering customer demands, not growth tricks.
I cofounded Freedo Rentals in 2019. I reached 50 lakh+ ARR in 6 months before quitting owing to the epidemic.
Freedo aimed to solve 2 customer pain points:
Users lacked a reliable last-mile transportation option.
The amount that Auto walas charge for unmetered services
Build ports at high-demand spots (colleges, residential societies, metros). Electric ride-sharing can meet demand.
We had many problems scaling. I'll explain using the AARRR model.
Brand unfamiliarity or a novel product offering were the problems with awareness. Nobody knew what Freedo was or what it did.
Problem with awareness: Content and advertisements did a poor job of communicating the task at hand. The advertisements clashed with the white-collar part because they were too cheesy.
Retention Issue: We encountered issues, indicating that the product was insufficient. Problems with keyless entry, creating bills, stealing helmets, etc.
Retention/Revenue Issue: Costly compared to established rivals. Shared cars were 1/3 of our cost.
Referral Issue: Missing the opportunity to seize the AHA moment. After the ride, nobody remembered us.
Once you know where you're struggling with AARRR, iterative solutions are usually best.
Once you have nailed the AARRR model, most startups use paid channels to scale. This dependence, on paid channels, increases with scale unless you crack your organic/inbound game.
Over-index growth loops. Growth loops increase inflow and customers as you scale.
When considering growth, ask yourself:
Who is the solution's ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)? (To whom are you selling)
What are the most important messages I should convey to customers? (This is an A/B test.)
Which marketing channels ought I prioritize? (Conduct analysis based on the startup's maturity/stage.)
Choose the important metrics to monitor for your AARRR funnel (not all metrics are equal)
Identify the Flywheel effect's growth loops (inertia matters)
My biggest mistakes:
not paying attention to consumer comments or satisfaction. It is the main cause of problems with referrals, retention, and acquisition for startups. Beyond your NPS, you should consider second-order consequences.
The tasks at hand should be quite clear.
Here's my scaling equation:
Growth = A x B x C
A = Funnel top (Traffic)
B = Product Valuation (Solving a real pain point)
C = Aha! (Emotional response)
Freedo's A, B, and C created a unique offering.
A — Working or Studying population in NCR
B — Electric Vehicles provide last-mile mobility as a clean and affordable solution
C — One click booking with a no-noise scooter
FWe scaled Freedo to Rs. 50 lakh MRR and were growing 60% month on month till the pandemic ceased our growth story.
How we did it?
We tried ambassadors and coupons. WhatsApp was our most successful A/B test.
We grew widespread adoption through college and society WhatsApp groups. We requested users for referrals in community groups.
What worked for us won't work for others. This scale underwent many revisions.
Every firm is different, thus you must know your customers. Needs to determine which channel to prioritize and when.
Users desired a safe, time-bound means to get there.
This (not mine) growth framework helped me a lot. You should follow suit.
Aaron Dinin, PhD
4 months ago
I'll Never Forget the Day a Venture Capitalist Made Me Feel Like a Dunce
Are you an idiot at fundraising?
Humans undervalue what they don't grasp. Consider NASCAR. How is that a sport? ask uneducated observers. Circular traffic. Driving near a car's physical limits is different from daily driving. When driving at 200 mph, seemingly simple things like changing gas weight or asphalt temperature might be life-or-death.
Venture investors do something similar in entrepreneurship. Most entrepreneurs don't realize how complex venture finance is.
In my early startup days, I didn't comprehend venture capital's intricacy. I thought VCs were rich folks looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg. I was meant to be a sleek, enthusiastic young entrepreneur who could razzle-dazzle investors.
Finally, one of the VCs I was trying to woo set me straight. He insulted me.
How I learned that I was approaching the wrong investor
I was constructing a consumer-facing, pre-revenue marketplace firm. I looked for investors in my old university's alumni database. My city had one. After some research, I learned he was a partner at a growth-stage, energy-focused VC company with billions under management.
Billions? I thought. Surely he can write a million-dollar cheque. He'd hardly notice.
I emailed the VC about our shared alumni status, explaining that I was building a startup in the area and wanted advice. When he agreed to meet the next week, I prepared my pitch deck.
The meeting seemed like a funding request. Imagine the awkwardness.
His assistant walked me to the firm's conference room and told me her boss was running late. While waiting, I prepared my pitch. I connected my computer to the projector, queued up my PowerPoint slides, and waited for the VC.
He didn't say hello or apologize when he entered a few minutes later. What are you doing?
Hi! I said, Confused but confident. Dinin Aaron. My startup's pitch.
Who? Suspicious, he replied. Your email says otherwise. You wanted help.
I said, "Isn't that a euphemism for contacting investors?" Fundraising I figured I should pitch you.
As he sat down, he smiled and said, "Put away your computer." You need to study venture capital.
Recognizing the business aspects of venture capital
The VC taught me venture capital in an hour. Young entrepreneur me needed this lesson. I assume you need it, so I'm sharing it.
Most people view venture money from an entrepreneur's perspective, he said. They envision a world where venture capital serves entrepreneurs and startups.
As my VC indicated, VCs perceive their work differently. Venture investors don't serve entrepreneurs. Instead, they run businesses. Their product doesn't look like most products. Instead, the VCs you're proposing have recognized an undervalued market segment. By investing in undervalued companies, they hope to profit. It's their investment thesis.
Your company doesn't fit my investment thesis, the venture capitalist told me. Your pitch won't beat my investing theory. I invest in multimillion-dollar clean energy companies. Asking me to invest in you is like ordering a breakfast burrito at a fancy steakhouse. They could, but why? They don't do that.
Yeah, I’m not a fine steak yet, I laughed, feeling like a fool for pitching a growth-stage VC used to looking at energy businesses with millions in revenues on my pre-revenue, consumer startup.
He stressed that it's not necessary. There are investors targeting your company. Not me. Find investors and pitch them.
Remember this when fundraising. Your investors aren't philanthropists who want to help entrepreneurs realize their company goals. Venture capital is a sophisticated investment strategy, and VC firm managers are industry experts. They're looking for companies that meet their investment criteria. As a young entrepreneur, I didn't grasp this, which is why I struggled to raise money. In retrospect, I probably seemed like an idiot. Hopefully, you won't after reading this.
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2 months ago
Crypto Inheritance's Catch-22
Security, privacy, and a strategy!
How to manage digital assets in worst-case scenarios is a perennial crypto concern. Since blockchain and bitcoin technology is very new, this hasn't been a major issue. Many early developers are still around, and many groups created around this technology are young and feel they have a lot of life remaining. This is why inheritance and estate planning in crypto should be handled promptly. As cryptocurrency's intrinsic worth rises, many people in the ecosystem are holding on to assets that might represent generational riches. With that much value, it's crucial to have a plan. Creating a solid plan entails several challenges.
the initial hesitation in coming up with a plan
The technical obstacles to ensuring the assets' security and privacy
the passing of assets from a deceased or incompetent person
Legal experts' lack of comprehension and/or understanding of how to handle and treat cryptocurrency.
This article highlights several challenges, a possible web3-native solution, and how to learn more.
The Challenge of Inheritance:
One of the biggest hurdles to inheritance planning is starting the conversation. As humans, we don't like to think about dying. Early adopters will experience crazy gains as cryptocurrencies become more popular. Creating a plan is crucial if you wish to pass on your riches to loved ones. Without a plan, the technical and legal issues I barely mentioned above would erode value by requiring costly legal fees and/or taxes, and you could lose everything if wallets and assets are not distributed appropriately (associated with the private keys). Raising awareness of the consequences of not having a plan should motivate people to make one.
Having an inheritance plan for your digital assets is crucial, but managing the guts and bolts poses a new set of difficulties. Privacy and security provided by maintaining your own wallet provide different issues than traditional finances and assets. Traditional finance is centralized (say a stock brokerage firm). You can assign another person to handle the transfer of your assets. In crypto, asset transfer is reimagined. One may suppose future transaction management is doable, but the user must consent, creating an impossible loop.
I passed away and must send a transaction to the person I intended to deliver it to.
I have to confirm or authorize the transaction, but I'm dead.
In crypto, scheduling a future transaction wouldn't function. To transfer the wallet and its contents, we'd need the private keys and/or seed phrase. Minimizing private key exposure is crucial to protecting your crypto from hackers, social engineering, and phishing. People have lost private keys after utilizing Life Hack-type tactics to secure them. People that break and hide their keys, lose them, or make them unreadable won't help with managing and/or transferring. This will require a derived solution.
Legal Challenges and Implications
Unlike routine cryptocurrency transfers and transactions, local laws may require special considerations. Even in the traditional world, estate/inheritance taxes, how assets will be split, and who executes the will must be considered. Many lawyers aren't crypto-savvy, which complicates the matter. There will be many hoops to jump through to safeguard your crypto and traditional assets and give them to loved ones.
Knowing RUFADAA/UFADAA, depending on your state, is vital for Americans. UFADAA offers executors and trustees access to online accounts (which crypto wallets would fall into). RUFADAA was changed to limit access to the executor to protect assets. RUFADAA outlines how digital assets are administered following death and incapacity in the US.
A Succession Solution
Having a will and talking about who would get what is the first step to having a solution, but using a Dad Mans Switch is a perfect tool for such unforeseen circumstances. As long as the switch's controller has control, nothing happens. Losing control of the switch initiates a state transition.
Subway or railway operations are examples. Modern control systems need the conductor to hold a switch to keep the train going. If they can't, the train stops.
Sarcophagus is a decentralized dead man's switch built on Ethereum and Arweave. Sarcophagus allows actors to maintain control of their possessions even while physically unable to do so. Using a programmable dead man's switch and dual encryption, anything can be kept and passed on. This covers assets, secrets, seed phrases, and other use cases to provide authority and control back to the user and release trustworthy services from this work. Sarcophagus is built on a decentralized, transparent open source codebase. Sarcophagus is there if you're unprepared.
7 months ago
$100M in NFT TV shows from Fox
Fox executives will invest $100 million in NFT-based TV shows. Fox brought in "Rick and Morty" co-creator Dan Harmon to create "Krapopolis"
Fox's Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL) will develop these NFT TV shows with Bento Box Entertainment. BCL markets Fox's WWE "Moonsault" NFT.
Fox said it would use the $100 million to build a "creative community" and "brand ecosystem." The media giant mentioned using these funds for NFT "benefits."
"Krapopolis" will be a Greek-themed animated comedy, per Rarity Sniper. Initial reports said NFT buyers could collaborate on "character development" and get exclusive perks.
Fox Entertainment may drop "Krapopolis" NFTs on Ethereum, according to new reports. Fox says it will soon release more details on its NFT plans for "Krapopolis."
Media Giants Favor "NFT Storytelling"
"Krapopolis" is one of the largest "NFT storytelling" experiments due to Dan Harmon's popularity and Fox Entertainment's reach. Many celebrities have begun exploring Web3 for TV shows.
Mila Kunis' animated sitcom "The Gimmicks" lets fans direct the show. Any "Gimmick" NFT holder could contribute to episode plots.
"The Gimmicks" lets NFT holders write fan fiction about their avatars. If show producers like what they read, their NFT may appear in an episode.
Rob McElhenney recently launched "Adimverse," a Web3 writers' community. Anyone with a "Adimverse" NFT can collaborate on creative projects and share royalties.
Many blue-chip NFTs are appearing in movies and TV shows. Coinbase will release Bored Ape Yacht Club shorts at NFT. NYC. Reese Witherspoon is working on a World of Women NFT series.
PFP NFT collections have Hollywood media partners. Guy Oseary manages Madonna's World of Women and Bored Ape Yacht Club collections. The Doodles signed with Billboard's Julian Holguin and the Cool Cats with CAA.
Web3 and NFTs are changing how many filmmakers tell stories.
10 months ago
There’s no manual for that
|Kyiv oblast in springtime. Photo by author.|
We’ve been receiving since the war began text messages from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine every few days. They’ve contained information on how to comfort a child and what to do in case of a water outage.
But a question that I struggle to suppress irks within me: How would we know if there really was a threat coming our away? So how can I happily disregard an air raid siren and continue singing to my three-month-old son when I feel like a World War II film became reality? There’s no manual for that.
Along with the anxiety, there’s the guilt that always seems to appear alongside dinner we’re fortunate to still have each evening while brave Ukrainian soldiers are facing serious food insecurity. There’s no manual for how to deal with this guilt.
When it comes to the enemy, there is no manual for how to react to the news of Russian casualties. Every dead Russian soldier weakens Putin, but I also know that many of these men had wives and girlfriends who are now living a nightmare.
So, I felt like I had to start writing my own manual.
The anxiety around the air raid siren? Only with time does it get easier to ignore it, but never completely.
The guilt? All we can do is pray.
That inner conflict? As Russia continues to stun the world with its war crimes, my emotions get less gray — I have to get used to accommodating absurd levels of hatred.
Sadness? It feels a bit more manageable when we laugh, and a little alcohol helps (as it usually does).
Cabin fever? Step outside in the yard when possible. At least the sunshine is becoming more fervent with spring approaching.
Slava Ukraini. Heroyam slava. (Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.)