More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
Aaron Dinin, PhD
4 months ago
I put my faith in a billionaire, and he destroyed my business.
How did his money blind me?
Like most fledgling entrepreneurs, I wanted a mentor. I met as many nearby folks with "entrepreneur" in their LinkedIn biographies for coffee.
These meetings taught me a lot, and I'd suggest them to any new creator. Attention! Meeting with many experienced entrepreneurs means getting contradictory advice. One entrepreneur will tell you to do X, then the next one you talk to may tell you to do Y, which are sometimes opposites. You'll have to chose which suggestion to take after the chats.
I experienced this. Same afternoon, I had two coffee meetings with experienced entrepreneurs. The first meeting was with a billionaire entrepreneur who took his company public.
I met him in a swanky hotel lobby and ordered a drink I didn't pay for. As a fledgling entrepreneur, money was scarce.
During the meeting, I demoed the software I'd built, he liked it, and we spent the hour discussing what features would make it a success. By the end of the meeting, he requested I include a killer feature we both agreed would attract buyers. The feature was complex and would require some time. The billionaire I was sipping coffee with in a beautiful hotel lobby insisted people would love it, and that got me enthusiastic.
The second meeting was with a young entrepreneur who had recently raised a small amount of investment and looked as eager to pitch me as I was to pitch him. I forgot his name. I mostly recall meeting him in a filthy coffee shop in a bad section of town and buying his pricey cappuccino. Water for me.
After his pitch, I demoed my app. When I was done, he barely noticed. He questioned my customer acquisition plan. Who was my client? What did they offer? What was my plan? Etc. No decent answers.
After our meeting, he insisted I spend more time learning my market and selling. He ignored my questions about features. Don't worry about features, he said. Customers will request features. First, find them.
Putting your faith in results over relevance
Problems plagued my afternoon. I met with two entrepreneurs who gave me differing advice about how to proceed, and I had to decide which to pursue. I couldn't decide.
Ultimately, I followed the advice of the billionaire.
Who wouldn’t? That was the guy who clearly knew more.
A few months later, I constructed the feature the billionaire said people would line up for.
The new feature was unpopular. I couldn't even get the billionaire to answer an email showing him what I'd done. He disappeared.
Within a few months, I shut down the company, wasting all the time and effort I'd invested into constructing the killer feature the billionaire said I required.
Would follow the struggling entrepreneur's advice have saved my company? It would have saved me time in retrospect. Potential consumers would have told me they didn't want what I was producing, and I could have shut down the company sooner or built something they did want. Both outcomes would have been better.
Now I know, but not then. I favored achievement above relevance.
Success vs. relevance
The millionaire gave me advice on building a large, successful public firm. A successful public firm is different from a startup. Priorities change in the last phase of business building, which few entrepreneurs reach. He gave wonderful advice to founders trying to double their stock values in two years, but it wasn't beneficial for me.
The other failing entrepreneur had relevant, recent experience. He'd recently been in my shoes. We still had lots of problems. He may not have achieved huge success, but he had valuable advice on how to pass the closest hurdle.
The money blinded me at the moment. Not alone So much of company success is defined by money valuations, fundraising, exits, etc., so entrepreneurs easily fall into this trap. Money chatter obscures the value of knowledge.
Don't base startup advice on a person's income. Focus on what and when the person has learned. Relevance to you and your goals is more important than a person's accomplishments when considering advice.
7 months ago
How I made $160,000 from non-fiction books
I've sold over 40,000 non-fiction books on Amazon and made over $160,000 in six years while writing on the side.
I have a full-time job and three young sons; I can't spend 40 hours a week writing. This article describes my journey.
I write mainly tech books:
Thanks to my readers, many wrote positive evaluations. Several are bestsellers.
A few have been adopted by universities as textbooks:
My books' passive income allows me more time with my family.
Knowing I could quit my job and write full time gave me more confidence. And I find purpose in my work (i am in christian ministry).
I'm always eager to write. When work is a dread or something bad happens, writing gives me energy. Writing isn't scary. In fact, I can’t stop myself from writing!
Writing has also established my tech authority. Universities use my books, as I've said. Traditional publishers have asked me to write books.
These mindsets helped me become a successful nonfiction author:
1. You don’t have to be an Authority
Yes, I have computer science experience. But I'm no expert on my topics. Before authoring "Beginning Node.js, Express & MongoDB," my most profitable book, I had no experience with those topics. Node was a new server-side technology for me. Would that stop me from writing a book? It can. I liked learning a new technology. So I read the top three Node books, took the top online courses, and put them into my own book (which makes me know more than 90 percent of people already).
I didn't have to worry about using too much jargon because I was learning as I wrote. An expert forgets a beginner's hardship.
"The fellow learner can aid more than the master since he knows less," says C.S. Lewis. The problem he must explain is recent. The expert has forgotten.”
2. Solve a micro-problem (Niching down)
I didn't set out to write a definitive handbook. I found a market with several challenges and wrote one book. Ex:
- Instead of web development, what about web development using Angular?
- Instead of Blockchain, what about Blockchain using Solidity and React?
- Instead of cooking recipes, how about a recipe for a specific kind of diet?
- Instead of Learning math, what about Learning Singapore Math?
3. Piggy Backing Trends
The above topics may still be a competitive market. E.g. Angular, React. To stand out, include the latest technologies or trends in your book. Learn iOS 15 instead of iOS programming. Instead of personal finance, what about personal finance with NFTs.
Even though you're a newbie author, your topic is well-known.
4. Publish short books
My books are known for being direct. Many people like this:
Your reader will appreciate you cutting out the fluff and getting to the good stuff. A reader can finish and review your book.
Second, short books are easier to write. Instead of creating a 500-page book for $50 (which few will buy), write a 100-page book that answers a subset of the problem and sell it for less. (You make less, but that's another subject). At least it got published instead of languishing. Less time spent creating a book means less time wasted if it fails. Write a small-bets book portfolio like Daniel Vassallo!
Third, it's $2.99-$9.99 on Amazon (gets 70 percent royalties for ebooks). Anything less receives 35% royalties. $9.99 books have 20,000–30,000 words. If you write more and charge more over $9.99, you get 35% royalties. Why not make it a $9.99 book?
(This is the ebook version.) Paperbacks cost more. Higher royalties allow for higher prices.
5. Validate book idea
Amazon will tell you if your book concept, title, and related phrases are popular. See? Check its best-sellers list.
150,000 is preferable. It sells 2–3 copies daily. Consider your rivals. Profitable niches have high demand and low competition.
Don't be afraid of competitive niches. First, it shows high demand. Secondly, what are the ways you can undercut the completion? Better book? Or cheaper option? There was lots of competition in my NodeJS book's area. None received 4.5 stars or more. I wrote a NodeJS book. Today, it's a best-selling Node book.
So long. Part II follows. Meanwhile, I will continue to write more books!
Follow my journey on Twitter.
This post is a summary. Read full article here
8 months ago
How We Just Raised $6M At An $80M Valuation From 100+ Investors Using A Link (Without Pitching)
Lawtrades nearly failed three years ago.
We couldn't raise Series A or enthusiasm from VCs.
We raised $6M (at a $80M valuation) from 100 customers and investors using a link and no pitching.
We refocused our business first.
Lawtrades raised $3.7M while Atrium raised $75M. By comparison, we seemed unimportant.
We had to close the company or try something new.
As I've written previously, a pivot saved us. Our initial focus on SMBs attracted many unprofitable customers. SMBs needed one-off legal services, meaning low fees and high turnover.
Tech startups were different. Their General Councels (GCs) needed near-daily support, resulting in higher fees and lower churn than SMBs.
We stopped unprofitable customers and focused on power users. To avoid dilution, we borrowed against receivables. We scaled our revenue 10x, from $70k/mo to $700k/mo.
Then, we reconsidered fundraising (and do it differently)
This time was different. Lawtrades was cash flow positive for most of last year, so we could dictate our own terms. VCs were still wary of legaltech after Atrium's shutdown (though they were thinking about the space).
We neither wanted to rely on VCs nor dilute more than 10% equity. So we didn't compete for in-person pitch meetings.
AngelList Roll-Up Vehicle (RUV). Up to 250 accredited investors can invest in a single RUV. First, we emailed customers the RUV. Why? Because I wanted to help the platform's users.
Imagine if Uber or Airbnb let all drivers or Superhosts invest in an RUV. Humans make the platform, theirs and ours. Giving people a chance to invest increases their loyalty.
We expanded after initial interest.
We created a Journey link, containing everything that would normally go in an investor pitch:
- Trailer (from me)
- Product demo
We could also link to our AngelList RUV and send the pitch to an unlimited number of people. Instead of 1:1, we had 1:10,000 pitches-to-investors.
We posted Journey's link in RUV Alliance Discord. 600 accredited investors noticed it immediately. Within days, we raised $250,000 from customers-turned-investors.
Stonks, which live-streamed our pitch to thousands of viewers, was interested in our grassroots enthusiasm. We got $1.4M from people I've never met.
These updates on Pump generated more interest. Facebook, Uber, Netflix, and Robinhood executives all wanted to invest. Sahil Lavingia, who had rejected us, gave us $100k.
We closed the round with public support.
Without a single pitch meeting, we'd raised $2.3M. It was a result of natural enthusiasm: taking care of the people who made us who we are, letting them move first, and leveraging their enthusiasm with VCs, who were interested.
We used network effects to raise $3.7M from a founder-turned-VC, bringing the total to $6M at a $80M valuation (which, by the way, I set myself).
What flipping the fundraising script allowed us to do:
We started with private investors instead of 2–3 VCs to show VCs what we were worth. This gave Lawtrades the ability to:
- Without meetings, share our vision. Many people saw our Journey link. I ended up taking meetings with people who planned to contribute $50k+, but still, the ratio of views-to-meetings was outrageously good for us.
- Leverage ourselves. Instead of us selling ourselves to VCs, they did. Some people with large checks or late arrivals were turned away.
- Maintain voting power. No board seats were lost.
- Utilize viral network effects. People-powered.
- Preemptively halt churn by turning our users into owners. People are more loyal and respectful to things they own. Our users make us who we are — no matter how good our tech is, we need human beings to use it. They deserve to be owners.
I don't blame founders for being hesitant about this approach. Pump and RUVs are new and scary. But it won’t be that way for long. Our approach redistributed some of the power that normally lies entirely with VCs, putting it into our hands and our network’s hands.
This is the future — another way power is shifting from centralized to decentralized.
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10 months ago
Expulsion of ten million Ukrainians
According to recent data from two UN agencies, ten million Ukrainians have been displaced.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates nearly 6.5 million Ukrainians have relocated. Most have fled the war zones around Kyiv and eastern Ukraine, including Dnipro, Zhaporizhzhia, and Kharkiv. Most IDPs have fled to western and central Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, 3.6 million people have crossed the border to seek refuge in neighboring countries, according to the latest UN data. While most refugees have fled to Poland and Romania, many have entered Russia.
Internally displaced figures are IOM estimates as of March 19, based on 2,000 telephone interviews with Ukrainians aged 18 and older conducted between March 9-16. The UNHCR compiled the figures for refugees to neighboring countries on March 21 based on official border crossing data and its own estimates. The UNHCR's top-line total is lower than the country totals because Romania and Moldova totals include people crossing between the two countries.
Sources: IOM, UNHCR
According to IOM estimates based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of internally displaced Ukrainians, over 53% of those displaced are women, and over 60% of displaced households have children.
2 months ago
Meet the $5 million monthly controversy-selling King of Toxic Masculinity.
Trigger warning — Andrew Tate is running a genius marketing campaign
Andrew Tate is a 2022 internet celebrity.
Kickboxing world champion became rich playboy with controversial views on gender roles.
Andrew's get-rich-quick scheme isn't new. His social media popularity is impressive.
He’s currently running one of the most genius marketing campaigns in history.
He pulls society's pendulum away from diversity and inclusion and toward diversion and exclusion. He's unstoppable.
Here’s everything you need to know about Andrew Tate. And how he’s playing chess while the world plays checkers.
Cobra Tate is the name he goes by.
American-born, English-raised entrepreneur Andrew Tate lives in Romania.
Romania? Says Andrew,
“I prefer a country in which corruption is available to everyone.”
Andrew was a professional kickboxer with the ring moniker Cobra before starting Hustlers University.
Before that, he liked chess and worshipped his father.
Emory Andrew Tate III is named after his grandmaster chess player father.
Emory was the first black-American chess champion. He was military, martial arts-trained, and multilingual. A superhuman.
He lived in his car to make ends meet.
Andrew and Tristan relocated to England with their mother when their parents split.
It was there that Andrew began his climb toward becoming one of the internet’s greatest villains.
Andrew fell in love with kickboxing.
Andrew spent his 20s as a professional kickboxer and reality TV star, featuring on Big Brother UK and The Ultimate Traveller.
These 3 incidents, along with a chip on his shoulder, foreshadowed Andrews' social media breakthrough.
A dangerous trio.
Andrew started making money online after quitting kickboxing in 2017 due to an eye issue.
Andrew didn't suddenly become popular.
Andrew's web work started going viral in 2022.
Due to his contentious views on patriarchy and gender norms, he's labeled the King of Toxic Masculinity. His most contentious views (trigger warning):
“Women are intrinsically lazy.”
“Female promiscuity is disgusting.”
“Women shouldn’t drive cars or fly planes.”
“A lot of the world’s problems would be solved if women had their body count tattooed on their foreheads.”
Andrew's two main beliefs are:
“These are my personal opinions based on my experiences.”
2. “I believe men are better at some things and women are better at some things. We are not equal.”
Andrew intentionally offends.
Andrew's thoughts began circulating online in 2022.
In July 2022, he was one of the most Googled humans, surpassing:
Andrews' rise is a mystery since no one can censure or suppress him. This is largely because Andrew nor his team post his clips.
But more on that later.
Andrew's path to wealth.
Andrew Tate is a self-made millionaire. His morality is uncertain.
Andrew and Tristan needed money soon after retiring from kickboxing.
“I owed some money to some dangerous people. I had $70K and needed $100K to stay alive.”
Andrews lost $20K on roulette at a local casino.
Andrew had one week to make $50,000, so he started planning. Andrew locked himself in a chamber like Thomas Edison to solve an energy dilemma.
He listed his assets.
Physical strength (but couldn’t fight)
a BMW (worth around $20K)
Intelligence (but no outlet)
He had an epiphany after viewing a webcam ad. He sought aid from women, ironically. His 5 international girlfriends are assets.
Then, a lightbulb.
Andrew and Tristan messaged and flew 7 women to a posh restaurant. Selling desperation masked as opportunity, Andrew pitched his master plan:
A webcam business — with a 50/50 revenue split.
5 women left.
Andrew Tate, a broke kickboxer, became Top G, Cobra Tate.
The business model was simple — yet sad.
Andrew's girlfriends moved in with him and spoke online for 15+ hours a day. Andrew handled ads and equipment as the women posed.
Andrew eventually took over their keyboards, believing he knew what men wanted more than women.
Andrew detailed on the Full Send Podcast how he emotionally manipulated men for millions. They sold houses, automobiles, and life savings to fuel their companionship addiction.
When asked if he felt bad, Andrew said,
Andrew and Tristan wiped off debts, hired workers, and diversified.
Tristan supervised OnlyFans models.
Andrew bought Romanian casinos and MMA league RXF (Real Xtreme Fighting).
Pandemic struck suddenly.
Andrew couldn't run his 2 businesses without a plan. Another easy moneymaker.
He banked on Hustlers University.
The actual cause of Andrew's ubiquity.
On a Your Mom’s House episode Andrew's 4 main revenue sources:
2. Owning casinos in Romania
3. Owning 10% of the Romanian MMA league “RXF”
4. “The War Room” — a society of rich and powerful men
When the pandemic hit, 3/4 became inoperable.
So he expanded Hustlers University.
But what is Hustler’s University?
Andrew says Hustlers University teaches 18 wealth-building tactics online. Examples:
How to swiftly become wealthy.
Lessons are imprecise, rudimentary, and macro-focused, say reviews. Invest wisely, etc. Everything is free online.
You pay for community. One unique income stream.
The only money-making mechanism that keeps the course from being a scam.
The truth is, many of Andrew’s students are actually making money. Maybe not from the free YouTube knowledge Andrew and his professors teach in the course, but through Hustler’s University’s affiliate program.
Affiliates earn 10% commission for each new student = $5.
Students can earn $10 for each new referral in the first two months.
Andrew earns $50 per membership per month.
This affiliate program isn’t anything special — in fact, it’s on the lower end of affiliate payouts. Normally, it wouldn’t be very lucrative.
But it has one secret weapon— Andrew and his viral opinions.
Andrew is viral. Andrew went on a media tour in January 2022 after appearing on Your Mom's House.
And many, many more…
He chatted with Twitch streamers. Hustlers University wanted more controversy (and clips).
Here’s the strategy behind Hustler’s University that has (allegedly) earned students upwards of $10K per month:
Make a social media profile with Andrew Tates' name and photo.
Post any of the online videos of Andrews that have gone viral.
Include a referral link in your bio.
Andrew's controversy attracts additional students. More student clips circulate as more join. Andrew's students earn more and promote the product as he goes viral.
A brilliant plan that's functioning.
At the beginning of his media tour, Hustler’s University had 5,000 students. 6 months in, and he now has over 100,000.
One income stream generates $5 million every month.
Andrew's approach is not new.
But it is different.
In the early 2010s, Tai Lopez dominated the internet.
His viral video showed his house.
“Here in my garage. Just bought this new Lamborghini.”
Tais' marketing focused on intellect, not strength, power, and wealth to attract women.
How reading quicker leads to financial freedom in 67 steps.
Years later, it was revealed that Tai Lopez rented the mansion and Lamborghini as a marketing ploy to build social proof. Meanwhile, he was living in his friend’s trailer.
Faked success is an old tactic.
Andrew is doing something similar. But with one major distinction.
Andrew outsources his virality — making him nearly impossible to cancel.
In 2022, authorities searched Andrews' estate over human trafficking suspicions. Investigation continues despite withdrawn charges.
Andrew's divisive nature would normally get him fired. Andrew's enterprises and celebrity don't rely on social media.
He doesn't promote or pay for ads. Instead, he encourages his students and anyone wishing to get rich quick to advertise his work.
Because everything goes through his affiliate program. Old saying:
“All publicity is good publicity.”
Final thoughts: it’s ok to feel triggered.
Tate is divisive.
His emotionally charged words are human nature. Andrews created the controversy.
His opinions are those of one person. Not world nor generational opinion.
It's easy to understand why Andrews' face is ubiquitous. Money.
The world wide web is a chessboard. Misdirection is part of it.
It’s not personal, it’s business.
Sometimes understanding the ‘why’, can help you deal with the ‘what.’
1 month ago
2023 Will Be the Year of Evernote and Craft Notetaking Apps.
Note-taking is a vital skill. But it's mostly learned.
Recently, innovative note-taking apps have flooded the market.
In the next few years, Evernote and Craft will be important digital note-taking companies.
Evernote is a 2008 note-taking program. It can capture ideas, track tasks, and organize information on numerous platforms.
It's one of the only note-taking app that lets users input text, audio, photos, and videos. It's great for collecting research notes, brainstorming, and remaining organized.
Craft is a popular note-taking app.
Craft is a more concentrated note-taking application than Evernote. It organizes notes into subjects, tags, and relationships, making it ideal for technical or research notes.
Craft's search engine makes it easy to find what you need.
Both Evernote and Craft are likely to be the major players in digital note-taking in the years to come.
Their concentration on gathering and organizing information lets users generate notes quickly and simply. Multimedia elements and a strong search engine make them the note-taking apps of the future.
Evernote and Craft are great note-taking tools for staying organized and tracking ideas and projects.
With their focus on acquiring and organizing information, they'll dominate digital note-taking in 2023.
Concentrate on gathering and compiling information
special features including a strong search engine and multimedia components
Possibility of subject, tag, and relationship structuring
enables users to incorporate multimedia elements
Excellent tool for maintaining organization, arranging research notes, and brainstorming
Software may be difficult for folks who are not tech-savvy to utilize.
Limited assistance for hardware running an outdated operating system
Subscriptions could be pricey.
Data loss risk because of security issues
Evernote and Craft both have downsides.
The risk of data loss as a result of security flaws and software defects comes first.
Additionally, their subscription fees could be high, and they might restrict support for hardware that isn't running the newest operating systems.
Finally, folks who need to be tech-savvy may find the software difficult.
Evernote versus. Productivity Titans Evernote will make Notion more useful. medium.com