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Benjamin Lin

Benjamin Lin

1 year ago

I sold my side project for $20,000: 6 lessons I learned

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Evgenii Nelepko

Evgenii Nelepko

1 year ago

My 3 biggest errors as a co-founder and CEO

Reflections on the closed company Hola! Dating app

My pitch to investors

I'll discuss my fuckups as an entrepreneur and CEO. All of them refer to the dating app Hola!, which I co-founded and starred in.

Spring 2021 was when we started. Two techies and two non-techies created a dating app. Pokemon Go and Tinder were combined.

Online dating is a business, and it takes two weeks from a like to a date. We questioned online dating app users if they met anyone offline last year.

75% replied yes, 50% sometimes, 25% usually.

Offline dating is popular, yet people have concerns.

  • Men are reluctant to make mistakes in front of others.

  • Women are curious about the background of everyone who approaches them.

We designed unique mechanics that let people date after a match. No endless chitchat. Women would be safe while men felt like cowboys.

I wish to emphasize three faults that lead to founders' estrangement.

This detachment ultimately led to us shutting down the company.

The wrong technology stack

Situation

Instead of generating a faster MVP and designing an app in a universal stack for iOS and Android, I argued we should pilot the app separately for iOS and Android. Technical founders' expertise made this possible.

Self-reflection

Mistaken strategy. We lost time and resources developing two apps at once. We chose iOS since it's more profitable. Apple took us out after the release, citing Guideline 4.3 Spam. After 4 months, we had nothing. We had a long way to go to get the app on Android and the Store.

I suggested creating a uniform platform for the company's growth. This makes parallel product development easier. The strategist's lack of experience and knowledge made it a piece of crap.

What would I have changed if I could?

We should have designed an Android universal stack. I expected Apple to have issues with a dating app.

Our approach should have been to launch something and subsequently improve it, but prejudice won.

The lesson

Discuss the IT stack with your CTO. It saves time and money. Choose the easiest MVP method.

UX description

2. A tardy search for investments

Situation

Though the universe and other founders encouraged me to locate investors first, I started pitching when we almost had an app.

When angels arrived, it was time to close. The app was banned, war broke out, I left the country, and the other co-founders stayed. We had no savings.

Self-reflection

I loved interviewing users. I'm proud of having done 1,000 interviews. I wanted to understand people's pain points and improve the product.

Interview results no longer affected the product. I was terrified to start pitching. I filled out accelerator applications and redid my presentation. You must go through that so you won't be terrified later.

What would I have changed if I could?

Get an external or internal mentor to help me with my first pitch as soon as possible. I'd be supported if criticized. He'd cheer with me if there was enthusiasm.

In 99% of cases, I'm comfortable jumping into the unknown, but there are exceptions. The mentor's encouragement would have prompted me to act sooner.

The lesson

Begin fundraising immediately. Months may pass. Show investors your pre-MVP project. Draw inferences from feedback.

3. Role ambiguity

Situation

My technical co-founders were also part-time lead developers, which produced communication issues. As co-founders, we communicated well and recognized the problems. Stakes, vesting, target markets, and approach were agreed upon.

We were behind schedule. Technical debt and strategic gap grew.

Bi-daily and weekly reviews didn't help. Each time, there were explanations. Inside, I was freaking out.

Our team

Self-reflection

I am a fairly easy person to talk to. I always try to stick to agreements; otherwise, my head gets stuffed with unnecessary information, interpretations, and emotions.

Sit down -> talk -> decide -> do -> evaluate the results. Repeat it.

If I don't get detailed comments, I start ruining everyone's mood. If there's a systematic violation of agreements without a good justification, I won't join the project or I'll end the collaboration.

What would I have done otherwise?

This is where it’s scariest to draw conclusions. Probably the most logical thing would have been not to start the project as we started it. But that was already a completely different project. So I would not have done anything differently and would have failed again.

But I drew conclusions for the future.

The lesson

First-time founders should find an adviser or team coach for a strategic session. It helps split the roles and responsibilities.

Esteban

Esteban

1 year ago

The Berkus Startup Valuation Method: What Is It?

What Is That?

Berkus is a pre-revenue valuation method based exclusively on qualitative criteria, like Scorecard.

Few firms match their financial estimates, especially in the early stages, so valuation methodologies like the Berkus method are a good way to establish a valuation when the economic measures are not reliable.

How does it work?

This technique evaluates five key success factors.

  • Fundamental principle

  • Technology

  • Execution

  • Strategic alliances in its primary market

  • Production, followed by sales

The Berkus technique values the business idea and four success factors. As seen in the matrix below, each of these dimensions poses a danger to the startup's success.

It assigns $0-$500,000 to each of these beginning regions. This approach enables a maximum $2.5M pre-money valuation.

This approach relies significantly on geography and uses the US as a baseline, as it differs in every country in Europe.

A set of standards for analyzing each dimension individually

Fundamental principle (or strength of the idea)

Ideas are worthless; execution matters. Most of us can relate to seeing a new business open in our area or a startup get funded and thinking, "I had this concept years ago!" Someone did it.

The concept remains. To assess the idea's viability, we must consider several criteria.

  • The concept's exclusivity It is necessary to protect a product or service's concept using patents and copyrights. Additionally, it must be capable of generating large profits.

  • Planned growth and growth that goes in a specific direction have a lot of potential, therefore incorporating them into a business is really advantageous.

  • The ability of a concept to grow A venture's ability to generate scalable revenue is a key factor in its emergence and continuation. A startup needs a scalable idea in order to compete successfully in the market.

  • The attraction of a business idea to a broad spectrum of people is significantly influenced by the current socio-political climate. Thus, the requirement for the assumption of conformity.

  • Concept Validation Ideas must go through rigorous testing with a variety of audiences in order to lower risk during the implementation phase.

Technology (Prototype)

This aspect reduces startup's technological risk. How good is the startup prototype when facing cyber threats, GDPR compliance (in Europe), tech stack replication difficulty, etc.?

Execution

Check the management team's efficacy. A potential angel investor must verify the founders' experience and track record with previous ventures. Good leadership is needed to chart a ship's course.

Strategic alliances in its primary market

Existing and new relationships will play a vital role in the development of both B2B and B2C startups. What are the startup's synergies? potential ones?

Production, followed by sales (product rollout)

Startup success depends on its manufacturing and product rollout. It depends on the overall addressable market, the startup's ability to market and sell their product, and their capacity to provide consistent, high-quality support.

Example

We're now founders of EyeCaramba, a machine vision-assisted streaming platform. My imagination always goes to poor puns when naming a startup.

Since we're first-time founders and the Berkus technique depends exclusively on qualitative methods and the evaluator's skill, we ask our angel-investor acquaintance for a pre-money appraisal of EyeCaramba.

Our friend offers us the following table:

Because we're first-time founders, our pal lowered our Execution score. He knows the idea's value and that the gaming industry is red-hot, with worse startup ideas getting funded, therefore he gave the Basic value the highest value (idea).

EyeCaramba's pre-money valuation is $400,000 + $250,000 + $75,000 + $275,000 + $164,000 (1.16M). Good.

References

  • https://medium.com/humble-ventures/how-angel-investors-value-pre-revenue-startups-part-iii-8271405f0774#:~:text=pre%2Drevenue%20startups.-,Berkus%20Method,potential%20of%20the%20idea%20itself.%E2%80%9D

  • https://eqvista.com/berkus-valuation-method-for-startups/

  • https://www.venionaire.com/early-stage-startup-valuation-part-2-the-berkus-method/

Startup Journal

Startup Journal

1 year ago

The Top 14 Software Business Ideas That Are Sure To Succeed in 2023

Software can change any company.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Software is becoming essential. Everyone should consider how software affects their lives and others'.

Software on your phone, tablet, or computer offers many new options. We're experts in enough ways now.

Software Business Ideas will be popular by 2023.

ERP Programs

ERP software meets rising demand.

ERP solutions automate and monitor tasks that large organizations, businesses, and even schools would struggle to do manually.

ERP software could reach $49 billion by 2024.

CRM Program

CRM software is a must-have for any customer-focused business.

Having an open mind about your business services and products allows you to change platforms.

Another company may only want your CRM service.

Medical software

Healthcare facilities need reliable, easy-to-use software.

EHRs, MDDBs, E-Prescribing, and more are software options.

The global medical software market could reach $11 billion by 2025, and mobile medical apps may follow.

Presentation Software in the Cloud

SaaS presentation tools are great.

They're easy to use, comprehensive, and full of traditional Software features.

In today's cloud-based world, these solutions make life easier for people. We don't know about you, but we like it.

Software for Project Management

People began working remotely without signs or warnings before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Many organizations found it difficult to track projects and set deadlines.

With PMP software tools, teams can manage remote units and collaborate effectively.

App for Blockchain-Based Invoicing

This advanced billing and invoicing solution is for businesses and freelancers.

These blockchain-based apps can calculate taxes, manage debts, and manage transactions.

Intelligent contracts help blockchain track transactions more efficiently. It speeds up and improves invoice generation.

Software for Business Communications

Internal business messaging is tricky.

Top business software tools for communication can share files, collaborate on documents, host video conferences, and more.

Payroll Automation System

Software development also includes developing an automated payroll system.

These software systems reduce manual tasks for timely employee payments.

These tools help enterprise clients calculate total wages quickly, simplify tax calculations, improve record-keeping, and support better financial planning.

System for Detecting Data Leaks

Both businesses and individuals value data highly. Yahoo's data breach is dangerous because of this.

This area of software development can help people protect their data.

You can design an advanced data loss prevention system.

AI-based Retail System

AI-powered shopping systems are popular. The systems analyze customers' search and purchase patterns and store history and are equipped with a keyword database.

These systems offer many customers pre-loaded products.

AI-based shopping algorithms also help users make purchases.

Software for Detecting Plagiarism

Software can help ensure your projects are original and not plagiarized.

These tools detect plagiarized content that Google, media, and educational institutions don't like.

Software for Converting Audio to Text

Machine Learning converts speech to text automatically.

These programs can quickly transcribe cloud-based files.

Software for daily horoscopes

Daily and monthly horoscopes will continue to be popular.

Software platforms that can predict forecasts, calculate birth charts, and other astrology resources are good business ideas.

E-learning Programs

Traditional study methods are losing popularity as virtual schools proliferate and physical space shrinks.

Khan Academy online courses are the best way to keep learning.

Online education portals can boost your learning. If you want to start a tech startup, consider creating an e-learning program.

Conclusion

Software is booming. There's never been a better time to start a software development business, with so many people using computers and smartphones. This article lists eight business ideas for 2023. Consider these ideas if you're just starting out or looking to expand.

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Chris

Chris

10 months ago

What the World's Most Intelligent Investor Recently Said About Crypto

Cryptoshit. This thing is crazy to buy.

Sloww

Charlie Munger is revered and powerful in finance.

Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is noted for his wit, no-nonsense attitude to investment, and ability to spot promising firms and markets.

Munger's crypto views have upset some despite his reputation as a straight shooter.

“There’s only one correct answer for intelligent people, just totally avoid all the people that are promoting it.” — Charlie Munger

The Munger Interview on CNBC (4:48 secs)

This Monday, CNBC co-anchor Rebecca Quick interviewed Munger and brought up his 2007 statement, "I'm not allowed to have an opinion on this subject until I can present the arguments against my viewpoint better than the folks who are supporting it."

Great investing and life advice!

If you can't explain the opposing reasons, you're not informed enough to have an opinion.

In today's world, it's important to grasp both sides of a debate before supporting one.

Rebecca inquired:

Does your Wall Street Journal article on banning cryptocurrency apply? If so, would you like to present the counterarguments?

Mungers reply:

I don't see any viable counterarguments. I think my opponents are idiots, hence there is no sensible argument against my position.

Consider his words.

Do you believe Munger has studied both sides?

He said, "I assume my opponents are idiots, thus there is no sensible argument against my position."

This is worrisome, especially from a guy who once encouraged studying both sides before forming an opinion.

Munger said:

National currencies have benefitted humanity more than almost anything else.

Hang on, I think we located the perpetrator.

Munger thinks crypto will replace currencies.

False.

I doubt he studied cryptocurrencies because the name is deceptive.

He misread a headline as a Dollar destroyer.

Cryptocurrencies are speculations.

Like Tesla, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.

Crypto won't replace dollars.

In the interview with CNBC, Munger continued:

“I’m not proud of my country for allowing this crap, what I call the cryptoshit. It’s worthless, it’s no good, it’s crazy, it’ll do nothing but harm, it’s anti-social to allow it.” — Charlie Munger

Not entirely inaccurate.

Daily cryptos are established solely to pump and dump regular investors.

Let's get into Munger's crypto aversion.

Rat poison is bitcoin.

Munger famously dubbed Bitcoin rat poison and a speculative bubble that would implode.

Partially.

But the bubble broke. Since 2021, the market has fallen.

Scam currencies and NFTs are being eliminated, which I like.

Whoa.

Why does Munger doubt crypto?

Mungers thinks cryptocurrencies has no intrinsic value.

He worries about crypto fraud and money laundering.

Both are valid issues.

Yet grouping crypto is intellectually dishonest.

Ethereum, Bitcoin, Solana, Chainlink, Flow, and Dogecoin have different purposes and values (not saying they’re all good investments).

Fraudsters who hurt innocents will be punished.

Therefore, complaining is useless.

Why not stop it? Repair rather than complain.

Regrettably, individuals today don't offer solutions.

Blind Areas for Mungers

As with everyone, Mungers' bitcoin views may be impacted by his biases and experiences.

OK.

But Munger has always advocated classic value investing and may be wary of investing in an asset outside his expertise.

Mungers' banking and insurance investments may influence his bitcoin views.

Could a coworker or acquaintance have told him crypto is bad and goes against traditional finance?

Right?

Takeaways

Do you respect Charlie Mungers?

Yes and no, like any investor or individual.

To understand Mungers' bitcoin beliefs, you must be critical.

Mungers is a successful investor, but his views about bitcoin should be considered alongside other viewpoints.

Munger’s success as an investor has made him an influencer in the space.

Influence gives power.

He controls people's thoughts.

Munger's ok. He will always be heard.

I'll do so cautiously.

Quant Galore

Quant Galore

1 year ago

I created BAW-IV Trading because I was short on money.

More retail traders means faster, more sophisticated, and more successful methods.

Tech specifications

Only requires a laptop and an internet connection.

We'll use OpenBB's research platform for data/analysis.

OpenBB

Pricing and execution on Options-Quant

Options-Quant

Background

You don't need to know the arithmetic details to use this method.

Black-Scholes is a popular option pricing model. It's best for pricing European options. European options are only exercisable at expiration, unlike American options. American options are always exercisable.

American options carry a premium to cover for the risk of early exercise. The Black-Scholes model doesn't account for this premium, hence it can't price genuine, traded American options.

Barone-Adesi-Whaley (BAW) model. BAW modifies Black-Scholes. It accounts for exercise risk premium and stock dividends. It adds the option's early exercise value to the Black-Scholes value.

The trader need not know the formulaic derivations of this model.

https://ir.nctu.edu.tw/bitstream/11536/14182/1/000264318900005.pdf

Strategy

This strategy targets implied volatility. First, we'll locate liquid options that expire within 30 days and have minimal implied volatility.

After selecting the option that meets the requirements, we price it to get the BAW implied volatility (we choose BAW because it's a more accurate Black-Scholes model). If estimated implied volatility is larger than market volatility, we'll capture the spread.

(Calculated IV — Market IV) = (Profit)

Some approaches to target implied volatility are pricey and inaccessible to individual investors. The best and most cost-effective alternative is to acquire a straddle and delta hedge. This may sound terrifying and pricey, but as shown below, it's much less so.

The Trade

First, we want to find our ideal option, so we use OpenBB terminal to screen for options that:

  • Have an IV at least 5% lower than the 20-day historical IV

  • Are no more than 5% out-of-the-money

  • Expire in less than 30 days

We query:

stocks/options/screen/set low_IV/scr --export Output.csv

This uses the screener function to screen for options that satisfy the above criteria, which we specify in the low IV preset (more on custom presets here). It then saves the matching results to a csv(Excel) file for viewing and analysis.

Stick to liquid names like SPY, AAPL, and QQQ since getting out of a position is just as crucial as getting in. Smaller, illiquid names have higher inefficiencies, which could restrict total profits.

Output of option screen (Only using AAPL/SPY for liquidity)

We calculate IV using the BAWbisection model (the bisection is a method of calculating IV, more can be found here.) We price the IV first.

Parameters for Pricing IV of Call Option; Interest Rate = 30Day T-Bill RateOutput of Implied Volatilities

According to the BAW model, implied volatility at this level should be priced at 26.90%. When re-pricing the put, IV is 24.34%, up 3%.

Now it's evident. We must purchase the straddle (long the call and long the put) assuming the computed implied volatility is more appropriate and efficient than the market's. We just want to speculate on volatility, not price fluctuations, thus we delta hedge.

The Fun Starts

We buy both options for $7.65. (x100 multiplier). Initial delta is 2. For every dollar the stock price swings up or down, our position value moves $2.

Initial Position Delta

We want delta to be 0 to avoid price vulnerability. A delta of 0 suggests our position's value won't change from underlying price changes. Being delta-hedged allows us to profit/lose from implied volatility. Shorting 2 shares makes us delta-neutral.

Delta After Shorting 2 Shares

That's delta hedging. (Share price * shares traded) = $330.7 to become delta-neutral. You may have noted that delta is not truly 0.00. This is common since delta-hedging means getting as near to 0 as feasible, since it is rare for deltas to align at 0.00.

Now we're vulnerable to changes in Vega (and Gamma, but given we're dynamically hedging, it's not a big risk), or implied volatility. We wanted to gamble that the position's IV would climb by at least 2%, so we'll maintain it delta-hedged and watch IV.

Because the underlying moves continually, the option's delta moves continuously. A trader can short/long 5 AAPL shares at most. Paper trading lets you practice delta-hedging. Being quick-footed will help with this tactic.

Profit-Closing

As expected, implied volatility rose. By 10 minutes before market closure, the call's implied vol rose to 27% and the put's to 24%. This allowed us to sell the call for $4.95 and the put for $4.35, creating a profit of $165.

You may pull historical data to see how this trade performed. Note the implied volatility and pricing in the final options chain for August 5, 2022 (the position date).

Call IV of 27%, Put IV of 24%

Final Thoughts

Congratulations, that was a doozy. To reiterate, we identified tickers prone to increased implied volatility by screening OpenBB's low IV setting. We double-checked the IV by plugging the price into Options-BAW Quant's model. When volatility was off, we bought a straddle and delta-hedged it. Finally, implied volatility returned to a normal level, and we profited on the spread.

The retail trading space is very quickly catching up to that of institutions.  Commissions and fees used to kill this method, but now they cost less than $5. Watching momentum, technical analysis, and now quantitative strategies evolve is intriguing.

I'm not linked with these sites and receive no financial benefit from my writing.

Tell me how your experience goes and how I helped; I love success tales.

The Verge

The Verge

1 year ago

Bored Ape Yacht Club creator raises $450 million at a $4 billion valuation.

Yuga Labs, owner of three of the biggest NFT brands on the market, announced today a $450 million funding round. The money will be used to create a media empire based on NFTs, starting with games and a metaverse project.

The team's Otherside metaverse project is an MMORPG meant to connect the larger NFT universe. They want to create “an interoperable world” that is “gamified” and “completely decentralized,” says Wylie Aronow, aka Gordon Goner, co-founder of Bored Ape Yacht Club. “We think the real Ready Player One experience will be player run.”

Just a few weeks ago, Yuga Labs announced the acquisition of CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs. The deal brought together three of the most valuable NFT collections, giving Yuga Labs more IP to work with when developing games and metaverses. Last week, ApeCoin was launched as a cryptocurrency that will be governed independently and used in Yuga Labs properties.

Otherside will be developed by “a few different game studios,” says Yuga Labs CEO Nicole Muniz. The company plans to create development tools that allow NFTs from other projects to work inside their world. “We're welcoming everyone into a walled garden.”

However, Yuga Labs believes that other companies are approaching metaverse projects incorrectly, allowing the startup to stand out. People won't bond spending time in a virtual space with nothing going on, says Yuga Labs co-founder Greg Solano, aka Gargamel. Instead, he says, people bond when forced to work together.

In order to avoid getting smacked, Solano advises making friends. “We don't think a Zoom chat and walking around saying ‘hi' creates a deep social experience.” Yuga Labs refused to provide a release date for Otherside. Later this year, a play-to-win game is planned.

The funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, a major investor in the Web3 space. It previously backed OpenSea and Coinbase. Animoca Brands, Coinbase, and MoonPay are among those who have invested. Andreessen Horowitz general partner Chris Lyons will join Yuga Labs' board. The Financial Times broke the story last month.

"META IS A DOMINANT DIGITAL EXPERIENCE PROVIDER IN A DYSTOPIAN FUTURE."

This emerging [Web3] ecosystem is important to me, as it is to companies like Meta,” Chris Dixon, head of Andreessen Horowitz's crypto arm, tells The Verge. “In a dystopian future, Meta is the dominant digital experience provider, and it controls all the money and power.” (Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen sits on Meta's board and invested early in Facebook.)

Yuga Labs has been profitable so far. According to a leaked pitch deck, the company made $137 million last year, primarily from its NFT brands, with a 95% profit margin. (Yuga Labs declined to comment on deck figures.)

But the company has built little so far. According to OpenSea data, it has only released one game for a limited time. That means Yuga Labs gets hundreds of millions of dollars to build a gaming company from scratch, based on a hugely lucrative art project.

Investors fund Yuga Labs based on its success. That's what they did, says Dixon, “they created a culture phenomenon”. But ultimately, the company is betting on the same thing that so many others are: that a metaverse project will be the next big thing. Now they must construct it.