More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
9 months ago
I met a man who in just 18 months scaled his startup to $100 million.
A fascinating business conversation.
This week at Web Summit, I had mentor hour.
Mentor hour connects startups with experienced entrepreneurs.
The YC-selected founder who mentored me had grown his company to $100 million in 18 months.
I had 45 minutes to question him.
I've compiled this.
Founder's name is Zack.
After working in private equity, Zack opted to acquire an MBA.
Surrounded by entrepreneurs at a prominent school, he decided to become one himself.
Unsure how to proceed, he bet on two horses.
On one side, he received an offer from folks who needed help running their startup owing to lack of time. On the other hand, he had an idea for a SaaS to start himself.
He just needed to validate it.
Since Zack's proposal helped companies, he contacted university entrepreneurs for comments.
He contacted university founders.
Once he knew he'd correctly identified the problem and that people were willing to pay to address it, he started developing.
He earned $100k in a university entrepreneurship competition.
His plan was evident by then.
The other startup's founders saw his potential and granted him $400k to launch his own SaaS.
He started looking for a tech co-founder because he lacked IT skills.
He interviewed dozens and picked the finest.
As he didn't want to wait for his program to be ready, he contacted hundreds of potential clients and got 15 letters of intent promising they'd join up when it was available.
YC accepted him by then.
He had enough positive signals to raise.
He didn't say how many VCs he called, but he indicated 50 were interested.
He jammed meetings into two weeks to generate pressure and encourage them to invest.
Seed raise: $11 million.
His objective was to contact as many entrepreneurs as possible to promote his product.
He first contacted startups by scraping CrunchBase data.
Once he had more money, he started targeting companies with ZoomInfo.
His VC urged him not to hire salespeople until he closed 50 clients himself.
He closed 100 and hired a CRO through a headhunter.
Three persons started the business.
He primarily works in sales.
Coding the product was done by his co-founder.
Another person performing operational duties.
He regretted recruiting the third co-founder, who was ineffective (could have hired an employee instead).
He wanted his company to be big, so he hired two young marketing people from a competing company.
After validating several marketing channels, he chose PR.
$100 Million and under
He developed a sales team and now employs 30 individuals.
He raised a $100 million Series A.
Additionally, he stated
He’s been rejected a lot. Like, a lot.
Two great books to read: Steve Jobs by Isaacson, and Why Startups Fail by Tom Eisenmann.
The best skill to learn for non-tech founders is “telling stories”, which means sales. A founder’s main job is to convince: co-founders, employees, investors, and customers. Learn code, or learn sales.
I often read about these stories but hardly take them seriously.
Zack was amazing.
Three things about him stand out:
His vision. He possessed a certain amount of fire.
His vitality. The man had a lot of enthusiasm and spoke quickly and decisively. He takes no chances and pushes the envelope in all he does.
He didn't do all this in 18 months.
He couldn't launch his company without private equity experience.
These accounts disregard entrepreneurs' original knowledge.
Hormozi will tell you how he founded Gym Launch, but he won't tell you how he had a gym first, how he worked at uni to pay for his gym, or how he went to the gym and learnt about fitness, which gave him the idea to open his own.
Nobody knows nothing. If you scale quickly, it's probable because you gained information early.
Lincoln said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I'll spend four sharpening the axe."
Sharper axes cut trees faster.
22 years ago
400 articles later, nobody bothered to read them.
Writing for readers:
14 years of daily writing.
I post practically everything on social media. I authored hundreds of articles, thousands of tweets, and numerous volumes to almost no one.
Tens of thousands of readers regularly praise me.
I despised writing. I'm stuck now.
I've learned what readers like and what doesn't.
Here are some essential guidelines for writing with impact:
Readers won't understand your work if you can't.
Though obvious, this slipped me up. Share your truths.
Stories engage human brains.
Showing the journey of a person from worm to butterfly inspires the human spirit.
Overthinking hinders powerful writing.
The best ideas come from inner understanding in between thoughts.
Avoid writing to find it. Write.
Writing a masterpiece isn't motivating.
Write for five minutes to simplify. Step-by-step, entertaining, easy steps.
Good writing requires a willingness to make mistakes.
So write loads of garbage that you can edit into a good piece.
A courageous story will move readers. Personal experience is best.
Go where few dare.
Templates, outlines, and boundaries help.
Limitations enhance writing.
Excellent writing is straightforward and readable, removing all the unnecessary fat.
Use five words instead of nine.
Use ordinary words instead of uncommon ones.
Readers desire relatability.
Too much perfection will turn it off.
Write to solve an issue if you can't think of anything to write.
Instead, read to inspire. Best authors read.
Every tweet, thread, and novel must have a central idea.
What's its point?
This can make writing confusing.
️ Don't direct your reader.
Readers quit reading. Demonstrate, describe, and relate.
Even if no one responds, have fun. If you hate writing it, the reader will too.
9 months ago
How Will You Generate $100 Million in Revenue? The Startup Business Plan
A top-down company plan facilitates decision-making and impresses investors.
A startup business plan starts with the product, the target customers, how to reach them, and how to grow the business.
Bottom-up is terrific unless venture investors fund it.
If it can prove how it can exceed $100M in sales, investors will invest. If not, the business may be wonderful, but it's not venture capital-investable.
As a rule, venture investors only fund firms that expect to reach $100M within 5 years.
Investors get nothing until an acquisition or IPO. To make up for 90% of failed investments and still generate 20% annual returns, portfolio successes must exit with a 25x return. A $20M-valued company must be acquired for $500M or more.
This requires $100M in sales (or being on a nearly vertical trajectory to get there). The company has 5 years to attain that milestone and create the requisite ROI.
This motivates venture investors (venture funds and angel investors) to hunt for $100M firms within 5 years. When you pitch investors, you outline how you'll achieve that aim.
I'm wary of pitches after seeing a million hockey sticks predicting $5M to $100M in year 5 that never materialized. Doubtful.
Startups fail because they don't have enough clients, not because they don't produce a great product. That jump from $5M to $100M never happens. The company reaches $5M or $10M, growing at 10% or 20% per year. That's great, but not enough for a $500 million deal.
Once it becomes clear the company won’t reach orbit, investors write it off as a loss. When a corporation runs out of money, it's shut down or sold in a fire sale. The company can survive if expenses are trimmed to match revenues, but investors lose everything.
When I hear a pitch, I'm not looking for bright income projections but a viable plan to achieve them. Answer these questions in your pitch.
Is the market size sufficient to generate $100 million in revenue?
Will the initial beachhead market serve as a springboard to the larger market or as quicksand that hinders progress?
What marketing plan will bring in $100 million in revenue? Is the market diffuse and will cost millions of dollars in advertising, or is it one, focused market that can be tackled with a team of salespeople?
Will the business be able to bridge the gap from a small but fervent set of early adopters to a larger user base and avoid lock-in with their current solution?
Will the team be able to manage a $100 million company with hundreds of people, or will hypergrowth force the organization to collapse into chaos?
Once the company starts stealing market share from the industry giants, how will it deter copycats?
The requirement to reach $100M may be onerous, but it provides a context for difficult decisions: What should the product be? Where should we concentrate? who should we hire? Every strategic choice must consider how to reach $100M in 5 years.
Focusing on $100M streamlines investor pitches. Instead of explaining everything, focus on how you'll attain $100M.
As an investor, I know I'll lose my money if the startup doesn't reach this milestone, so the revenue prediction is the first thing I look at in a pitch deck.
Reaching the $100M goal needs to be the first thing the entrepreneur thinks about when putting together the business plan, the central story of the pitch, and the criteria for every important decision the company makes.
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David G Chen
1 year ago
If you want to earn money, stop writing for entertainment.
When you stop blogging for a few weeks, your views and profits plummet.
Because you're writing fascinating posts for others. Everyone's done ithat…
If I keep writing, the graph should maintain velocity, you could say. If I wrote more, it could rise.
However, entertaining pieces still tend to roller coaster and jump.
this type of writing is like a candle. They burn out and must be replaced. You must continuously light new ones to maintain the illumination.
When you quit writing, your income stops.
Instead of producing amusing articles, try solving people's issues. You should answer their search questions.
Here's what happens when you answer their searches.
My website's Google analytics. As a dentist, I answer oral health questions.
This chart vs. Medium is pretty glaring, right?
As of yesterday, it was averaging 15k page views each day.
How much would you make on Medium with 15k daily views?
In SEO, this is called evergreen content.
Your content is like a lush, evergreen forest, and by green I mean Benjamins.
Do you have knowledge that you can leverage? Why not help your neighbors and the world?
Answer search inquiries and help others. You'll be well rewarded.
This is better than crafting candle-like content that fizzles out quickly.
Is beauty really ephemeral like how flowers bloom? Nah, I prefer watching forests grow instead (:
1 year ago
Apple AR/VR heaset
Apple is said to have opted for a standalone AR/VR headset over a more powerful tethered model.
It has had a tumultuous history.
Apple's alleged mixed reality headset appears to be the worst-kept secret in tech, and a fresh story from The Information is jam-packed with details regarding the device's rocky development.
Apple's decision to use a separate headgear is one of the most notable aspects of the story. Apple had yet to determine whether to pursue a more powerful VR headset that would be linked with a base station or a standalone headset. According to The Information, Apple officials chose the standalone product over the version with the base station, which had a processor that later arrived as the M1 Ultra. In 2020, Bloomberg published similar information.
That decision appears to have had a long-term impact on the headset's development. "The device's many processors had already been in development for several years by the time the choice was taken, making it impossible to go back to the drawing board and construct, say, a single chip to handle all the headset's responsibilities," The Information stated. "Other difficulties, such as putting 14 cameras on the headset, have given hardware and algorithm engineers stress."
Jony Ive remained to consult on the project's design even after his official departure from Apple, according to the story. Ive "prefers" a wearable battery, such as that offered by Magic Leap. Other prototypes, according to The Information, placed the battery in the headset's headband, and it's unknown which will be used in the final design.
The headset was purportedly shown to Apple's board of directors last week, indicating that a public unveiling is imminent. However, it is possible that it will not be introduced until later this year, and it may not hit shop shelves until 2023, so we may have to wait a bit to try it.
For further down the line, Apple is working on a pair of AR spectacles that appear like Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses, but according to The Information, they're "still several years away from release." (I'm interested to see how they compare to Meta and Ray-Bans' true wayfarer-style glasses.)
1 year ago
A Guide to VeeFriends and Series 2
VeeFriends is one of the most popular and unique NFT collections. VeeFriends launched around the same time as other PFP NFTs like Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Vaynerchuk (GaryVee) took a unique approach to his large-scale project, which has influenced the NFT ecosystem. GaryVee's VeeFriends is one of the most successful NFT membership use-cases, allowing him to build a community around his creative and business passions.
What is VeeFriends?
GaryVee's NFT collection, VeeFriends, was released on May 11, 2021. VeeFriends [Mini Drops], Book Games, and a forthcoming large-scale "Series 2" collection all stem from the initial drop of 10,255 tokens.
In "Series 1," there are G.O.O. tokens (Gary Originally Owned). GaryVee reserved 1,242 NFTs (over 12% of the supply) for his own collection, so only 9,013 were available at the Series 1 launch.
Each Series 1 token represents one of 268 human traits hand-drawn by Vaynerchuk. Gary Vee's NFTs offer owners incentives.
Who made VeeFriends?
Gary Vaynerchuk, AKA GaryVee, is influential in NFT. Vaynerchuk is the chairman of New York-based communications company VaynerX. Gary Vee, CEO of VaynerMedia, VaynerSports, and bestselling author, is worth $200 million.
GaryVee went from NFT collector to creator, launching VaynerNFT to help celebrities and brands.
Vaynerchuk's influence spans the NFT ecosystem as one of its most prolific voices. He's one of the most influential NFT figures, and his VeeFriends ecosystem keeps growing.
Vaynerchuk, a trend expert, thinks NFTs will be around for the rest of his life and VeeFriends will be a landmark project.
Why use VeeFriends NFTs?
The first VeeFriends collection has sold nearly $160 million via OpenSea. GaryVee insisted that the first 10,255 VeeFriends were just the beginning.
Book Games were announced to the VeeFriends community in August 2021. Mini Drops joined VeeFriends two months later.
GaryVee's book "Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients for Business Success" inspired Book Games. Even prior to the announcement Vaynerchuk had mapped out the utility of the book on an NFT scale. Book Games tied his book to the VeeFriends ecosystem and solidified its place in the collection.
GaryVee says Book Games is a layer 2 NFT project with 125,000 burnable tokens. Vaynerchuk's NFT fans were incentivized to buy as many copies of his new book as possible to receive NFT rewards later.
First, a bit about “layer 2.”
Layer 2 blockchain solutions help scale applications by routing transactions away from Ethereum Mainnet (layer 1). These solutions benefit from Mainnet's decentralized security model but increase transaction speed and reduce gas fees.
Polygon (integrated into OpenSea) and Immutable X are popular Ethereum layer 2 solutions. GaryVee chose Immutable X to reduce gas costs (transaction fees). Given the large supply of Book Games tokens, this decision will likely benefit the VeeFriends community, especially if the games run forever.
What's the strategy?
The VeeFriends patriarch announced on Aug. 27, 2021, that for every 12 books ordered during the Book Games promotion, customers would receive one NFT via airdrop. After nearly 100 days, GV sold over a million copies and announced that Book Games would go gamified on Jan. 10, 2022.
Immutable X's trading options make Book Games a "game." Book Games players can trade NFTs for other NFTs, sports cards, VeeCon tickets, and other prizes. Book Games can also whitelist other VeeFirends projects, which we'll cover in Series 2.
VeeFriends Mini Drops
GaryVee launched VeeFriends Mini Drops two months after Book Games, focusing on collaboration, scarcity, and the characters' "cultural longevity."
Spooky Vees, a collection of 31 1/1 Halloween-themed VeeFriends, was released on Halloween. First-come, first-served VeeFriend owners could claim these NFTs.
Mini Drops includes Gift Goat NFTs. By holding the Gift Goat VeeFriends character, collectors will receive 18 exclusive gifts curated by GaryVee and the team. Each gifting experience includes one physical gift and one NFT out of 555, to match the 555 Gift Goat tokens.
GaryVee is poised to release the largest expansion of the VeeFriends and VaynerNFT ecosystem to date with VeeFriends Series 2.
By owning VeeFriends NFTs, collectors can join the VeeFriends community and attend VeeCon in 2022. The conference is only open to VeeCon NFT ticket holders (VeeFreinds + possibly more TBA) and will feature Beeple, Steve Aoki, and even Snoop Dogg.
The VeeFreinds floor in 2022 Q1 has remained at 16 ETH ($52,000), making VeeCon unattainable for most NFT enthusiasts. Why would someone spend that much crypto on a Minneapolis "superconference" ticket? Because of Gary Vaynerchuk.
Everything to know about VeeFriends Series 2
Vaynerchuk revealed in April 2022 that the VeeFriends ecosystem will grow by 55,555 NFTs after months of teasing.
With VeeFriends Series 2, each token will cost $995 USD in ETH, allowing NFT enthusiasts to join at a lower cost. The new series will be released on multiple dates in April.
Book Games NFT holders on the Friends List (whitelist) can mint Series 2 NFTs on April 12. Book Games holders have 32,000 NFTs.
VeeFriends Series 1 NFT holders can claim Series 2 NFTs on April 12. This allotment's supply is 10,255, like Series 1's.
On April 25, the public can buy 10,000 Series 2 NFTs. Unminted Friends List NFTs will be sold on this date, so this number may change.
The VeeFriends ecosystem will add 15 new characters (220 tokens each) on April 27. One character will be released per day for 15 days, and the only way to get one is to enter a daily raffle with Book Games tokens.
Series 2 NFTs won't give owners VeeCon access, but they will offer other benefits within the VaynerNFT ecosystem. Book Games and Series 2 will get new token burn mechanics in the upcoming drop.
Visit the VeeFriends blog for the latest collection info.
Where can you buy Gary Vee’s NFTs?
Need a VeeFriend NFT? Gary Vee recommends doing "50 hours of homework" before buying. OpenSea sells VeeFriends NFTs.