More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
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.
1 year 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.
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.
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.
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.?
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.
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.
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1 year ago
Yuga Labs (BAYC and MAYC) buys CryptoPunks and Meebits and gives them commercial rights
We set out to create in the NFT space because we admired CryptoPunks and the founders' visionary work. A lot of their work influenced how we built BAYC and NFTs. We're proud to lead CryptoPunks and Meebits into the future as part of our broader ecosystem.
"Yuga Labs invented the modern profile picture project and are the best in the world at operating these projects. They are ideal CrytoPunk and Meebit stewards. We are confident that in their hands, these projects will thrive in the emerging decentralized web.”
–The founders of Larva Labs, CryptoPunks, and Meebits
This deal grew out of discussions between our partner Guy Oseary and the Larva Labs founders. One call led to another, and now we're here. This does not mean Matt and John will join Yuga. They'll keep running Larva Labs and creating awesome projects that help shape the future of web3.
Here's what we plan to do with CryptoPunks and Meebits now that we own the IP. Owners of CryptoPunks and Meebits will soon receive commercial rights equal to those of BAYC and MAYC holders. Our legal teams are working on new terms and conditions for both collections, which we hope to share with the community soon. We expect a wide range of third-party developers and community creators to incorporate CryptoPunks and Meebits into their web3 projects. We'll build the brand alongside them.
We don't intend to cram these NFT collections into the BAYC club model. We see BAYC as the hub of the Yuga universe, and CryptoPunks as a historical collection. We will work to improve the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections as good stewards. We're not in a hurry. We'll consult the community before deciding what to do next.
For us, NFTs are about culture. We're deeply invested in the BAYC community, and it's inspiring to see them grow, collaborate, and innovate. We're excited to see what CryptoPunks and Meebits do with IP rights. Our goal has always been to create a community-owned brand that goes beyond NFTs, and now we can include CryptoPunks and Meebits.
8 months ago
I hate marketing for my business, but here's how I push myself to keep going
When it comes to building my business, I’m passionate about a lot of things. I love creating user experiences that simplify branding essentials. I love creating new typefaces and color combinations to inspire logo designers. I love fixing problems to improve my product.
Business marketing isn't my thing.
This is shared by many. Many solopreneurs, like me, struggle to advertise their business and drive themselves to work on it.
Without a lot of promotion, no company will succeed. Marketing is 80% of developing a firm, and when you're starting out, it's even more. Some believe that you shouldn't build anything until you've begun marketing your idea and found enough buyers.
Marketing your business without marketing experience is difficult. There are various outlets and techniques to learn. Instead of figuring out where to start, it's easier to return to your area of expertise, whether that's writing, designing product features, or improving your site's back end. Right?
First, realize that your role as a founder is to market your firm. Being a founder focused on product, I rarely work on it.
Secondly, use these basic methods that have helped me dedicate adequate time and focus to marketing. They're all simple to apply, and they've increased my business's visibility and success.
1. Establish buckets for every task.
You've probably heard to schedule tasks you don't like. As simple as it sounds, blocking a substantial piece of my workday for marketing duties like LinkedIn or Twitter outreach, AppSumo customer support, or SEO has forced me to spend time on them.
Giving me lots of room to focus on product development has helped even more. Sure, this means scheduling time to work on product enhancements after my four-hour marketing sprint.
It also involves making space to store product inspiration and ideas throughout the day so I don't get distracted. This is like the advice to keep a notebook beside your bed to write down your insomniac ideas. I keep fonts, color palettes, and product ideas in folders on my desktop. Knowing these concepts won't be lost lets me focus on marketing in the moment. When I have limited time to work on something, I don't have to conduct the research I've been collecting, so I can get more done faster.
2. Look for various accountability systems
Accountability is essential for self-discipline. To keep focused on my marketing tasks, I've needed various streams of accountability, big and little.
Accountability groups are great for bigger things. SaaS Camp, a sales outreach coaching program, is mine. We discuss marketing duties and results every week. This motivates me to do enough each week to be proud of my accomplishments. Yet hearing what works (or doesn't) for others gives me benchmarks for my own marketing outcomes and plenty of fresh techniques to attempt.
… say, I want to DM 50 people on Twitter about my product — I get that many Q-tips and place them in one pen holder on my desk.
The best accountability group can't watch you 24/7. I use a friend's simple method that shouldn't work (but it does). When I have a lot of marketing chores, like DMing 50 Twitter users about my product, That many Q-tips go in my desk pen holder. After each task, I relocate one Q-tip to an empty pen holder. When you have a lot of minor jobs to perform, it helps to see your progress. You might use toothpicks, M&Ms, or anything else you have a lot of.
3. Continue to monitor your feedback loops
Knowing which marketing methods work best requires monitoring results. As an entrepreneur with little go-to-market expertise, every tactic I pursue is an experiment. I need to know how each trial is doing to maximize my time.
I placed Google and Facebook advertisements on hold since they took too much time and money to obtain Return. LinkedIn outreach has been invaluable to me. I feel that talking to potential consumers one-on-one is the fastest method to grasp their problem areas, figure out my messaging, and find product market fit.
Data proximity offers another benefit. Seeing positive results makes it simpler to maintain doing a work you don't like. Why every fitness program tracks progress.
Marketing's goal is to increase customers and revenues, therefore I've found it helpful to track those metrics and celebrate monthly advances. I provide these updates for extra accountability.
Finding faster feedback loops is also motivating. Marketing brings more clients and feedback, in my opinion. Product-focused founders love that feedback. Positive reviews make me proud that my product is benefitting others, while negative ones provide me with suggestions for product changes that can improve my business.
The best advice I can give a lone creator who's afraid of marketing is to just start. Start early to learn by doing and reduce marketing stress. Start early to develop habits and successes that will keep you going. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll have enough consumers to return to your favorite work.
1 year ago
What I learned from my experience as a recent graduate working in venture capital
Every week I meet many people interested in VC. Many of them ask me what it's like to be a junior analyst in VC or what I've learned so far.
Looking back, I've learned many things as a junior VC, having gone through an almost-euphoric peak bull market, failed tech IPOs of 2019 including WeWorks' catastrophic fall, and the beginnings of a bearish market.
1. Network, network, network!
VCs spend 80% of their time networking. Junior VCs source deals or manage portfolios. You spend your time bringing startups to your fund or helping existing portfolio companies grow. Knowing stakeholders (corporations, star talent, investors) in your particular areas of investment helps you develop your portfolio.
Networking was one of my strengths. When I first started in the industry, I'd go to startup events and meet 50 people a month. Over time, I realized these relationships were shallow and I was only getting business cards. So I stopped seeing networking as a transaction. VC is a long-term game, so you should work with people you like. Now I know who I click with and can build deeper relationships with them. My network is smaller but more valuable than before.
2. The Most Important Metric Is Founder
People often ask how we pick investments. Why some companies can raise money and others can't is a mystery. The founder is the most important metric for VCs. When a company is young, the product, environment, and team all change, but the founder remains constant. VCs bet on the founder, not the company.
How do we decide which founders are best after 2-3 calls? When looking at a founder's profile, ask why this person can solve this problem. The founders' track record will tell. If the founder is a serial entrepreneur, you know he/she possesses the entrepreneur DNA and will likely succeed again. If it's his/her first startup, focus on industry knowledge to deliver the best solution.
3. A company's fate can be determined by macrotrends.
Macro trends are crucial. A company can have the perfect product, founder, and team, but if it's solving the wrong problem, it won't succeed. I've also seen average companies ride the wave to success. When you're on the right side of a trend, there's so much demand that more companies can get a piece of the pie.
In COVID-19, macro trends made or broke a company. Ed-tech and health-tech companies gained unicorn status and raised funding at inflated valuations due to sudden demand. With the easing of pandemic restrictions and the start of a bear market, many of these companies' valuations are in question.
4. Look for methods to ACTUALLY add value.
You only need to go on VC twitter (read: @vcstartterkit and @vcbrags) for 5 minutes or look at fin-meme accounts on Instagram to see how much VCs claim to add value but how little they actually do. VC is a long-term game, though. Long-term, founders won't work with you if you don't add value.
How can we add value when we're young and have no network? Leaning on my strengths helped me. Instead of viewing my age and limited experience as a disadvantage, I realized that I brought a unique perspective to the table.
As a VC, you invest in companies that will be big in 5-7 years, and millennials and Gen Z will have the most purchasing power. Because you can relate to that market, you can offer insights that most Partners at 40 can't. I added value by helping with hiring because I had direct access to university talent pools and by finding university students for product beta testing.
5. Develop your personal brand.
Generalists or specialists run most funds. This means that funds either invest across industries or have a specific mandate. Most funds are becoming specialists, I've noticed. Top-tier founders don't lack capital, so funds must find other ways to attract them. Why would a founder work with a generalist fund when a specialist can offer better industry connections and partnership opportunities?
Same for fund members. Founders want quality investors. Become a thought leader in your industry to meet founders. Create content and share your thoughts on industry-related social media. When I first started building my brand, I found it helpful to interview industry veterans to create better content than I could on my own. Over time, my content attracted quality founders so I didn't have to look for them.
These are my biggest VC lessons. This list isn't exhaustive, but it's my industry survival guide.