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Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold

1 year ago

Your Ideal Position As a Part-Time Creator

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.

Aaron Dinin, PhD

Aaron Dinin, PhD

1 year ago

I'll Never Forget the Day a Venture Capitalist Made Me Feel Like a Dunce

Are you an idiot at fundraising?

Image courtesy Inzmam Khan via Pexels

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.

First error.

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.

DC Palter

DC Palter

1 year ago

How Will You Generate $100 Million in Revenue? The Startup Business Plan

A top-down company plan facilitates decision-making and impresses investors.

Photo by Andy Hermawan on Unsplash

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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Cody Collins

Cody Collins

1 year ago

The direction of the economy is as follows.

What quarterly bank earnings reveal

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Big banks know the economy best. Unless we’re talking about a housing crisis in 2007…

Banks are crucial to the U.S. economy. The Fed, communities, and investments exchange money.

An economy depends on money flow. Banks' views on the economy can affect their decision-making.

Most large banks released quarterly earnings and forward guidance last week. Others were pessimistic about the future.

What Makes Banks Confident

Bank of America's profit decreased 30% year-over-year, but they're optimistic about the economy. Comparatively, they're bullish.

Who banks serve affects what they see. Bank of America supports customers.

They think consumers' future is bright. They believe this for many reasons.

The average customer has decent credit, unless the system is flawed. Bank of America's new credit card and mortgage borrowers averaged 771. New-car loan and home equity borrower averages were 791 and 797.

2008's housing crisis affected people with scores below 620.

Bank of America and the economy benefit from a robust consumer. Major problems can be avoided if individuals maintain spending.

Reasons Other Banks Are Less Confident

Spending requires income. Many companies, mostly in the computer industry, have announced they will slow or freeze hiring. Layoffs are frequently an indication of poor times ahead.

BOA is positive, but investment banks are bearish.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, outlined various difficulties our economy could confront.

But geopolitical tension, high inflation, waning consumer confidence, the uncertainty about how high rates have to go and the never-before-seen quantitative tightening and their effects on global liquidity, combined with the war in Ukraine and its harmful effect on global energy and food prices are very likely to have negative consequences on the global economy sometime down the road.

That's more headwinds than tailwinds.

JPMorgan, which helps with mergers and IPOs, is less enthusiastic due to these concerns. Incoming headwinds signal drying liquidity, they say. Less business will be done.

Final Reflections

I don't think we're done. Yes, stocks are up 10% from a month ago. It's a long way from old highs.

I don't think the stock market is a strong economic indicator.

Many executives foresee a 2023 recession. According to the traditional definition, we may be in a recession when Q2 GDP statistics are released next week.

Regardless of criteria, I predict the economy will have a terrible year.

Weekly layoffs are announced. Inflation persists. Will prices return to 2020 levels if inflation cools? Perhaps. Still expensive energy. Ukraine's war has global repercussions.

I predict BOA's next quarter earnings won't be as bullish about the consumer's strength.

Glorin Santhosh

Glorin Santhosh

1 year ago

In his final days, Steve Jobs sent an email to himself. What It Said Was This

An email capturing Steve Jobs's philosophy.

Photo by Konsepta Studio on Unsplash

Steve Jobs may have been the most inspired and driven entrepreneur.

He worked on projects because he wanted to leave a legacy.

Steve Jobs' final email to himself encapsulated his philosophy.

After his death from pancreatic cancer in October 2011, Laurene Powell Jobs released the email. He was 56.

Read: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (#BestSeller)

The Email:

September 2010 Steve Jobs email:

“I grow little of the food I eat, and of the little I do grow, I do not breed or perfect the seeds.” “I do not make my own clothing. I speak a language I did not invent or refine,” he continued. “I did not discover the mathematics I use… I am moved by music I did not create myself.”

Jobs ended his email by reflecting on how others created everything he uses.

He wrote:

“When I needed medical attention, I was helpless to help myself survive.”

From the Steve Jobs Archive

The Apple co-founder concluded by praising humanity.

“I did not invent the transistor, the microprocessor, object-oriented programming, or most of the technology I work with. I love and admire my species, living and dead, and am totally dependent on them for my life and well-being,” he concluded.

The email was made public as a part of the Steve Jobs Archive, a website that was launched in tribute to his legacy.

Steve Jobs' widow founded the internet archive. Apple CEO Tim Cook and former design leader Jony Ive were prominent guests.

Steve Jobs has always inspired because he shows how even the best can be improved.

High expectations were always there, and they were consistently met.

We miss him because he was one of the few with lifelong enthusiasm and persona.

Alex Mathers

Alex Mathers

1 year ago   Draft

12 practices of the zenith individuals I know

Follow Alex’s Instagram for his drawings and bonus ideas.

Calmness is a vital life skill.

It aids communication. It boosts creativity and performance.

I've studied calm people's habits for years. Commonalities:

Have learned to laugh at themselves.

Those who have something to protect can’t help but make it a very serious business, which drains the energy out of the room.

They are fixated on positive pursuits like making cool things, building a strong physique, and having fun with others rather than on depressing influences like the news and gossip.

Every day, spend at least 20 minutes moving, whether it's walking, yoga, or lifting weights.

Discover ways to take pleasure in life's challenges.

Since perspective is malleable, they change their view.

Set your own needs first.

Stressed people neglect themselves and wonder why they struggle.

Prioritize self-care.

Don't ruin your life to please others.

Make something.

Calm people create more than react.

They love creating beautiful things—paintings, children, relationships, and projects.

Hold your breath, please.

If you're stressed or angry, you may be surprised how much time you spend holding your breath and tightening your belly.

Release, breathe, and relax to find calm.

Stopped rushing.

Rushing is disadvantageous.

Calm people handle life better.

Are attuned to their personal dietary needs.

They avoid junk food and eat foods that keep them healthy, happy, and calm.

Don’t take anything personally.

Stressed people control everything.

Self-conscious.

Calm people put others and their work first.

Keep their surroundings neat.

Maintaining an uplifting and clutter-free environment daily calms the mind.

Minimise negative people.

Calm people are ruthless with their boundaries and avoid negative and drama-prone people.