Most deals get done in informal settings. Now, I’m inviting you to join me. (Photo: Russell Yip)
Please note that my syndicate investing in Shyp has now closed. You can still back me on AngelList to gain priority access to future deals. More updates will be posted here later in the round.
On September 23, 2013 (that’s today), the world of startup financing changes forever. It’s a truly historic moment.
Previously, I couldn’t publicly share deals with you. Now, thanks to an unprecedented legal change, I can offer a portion of my start-up investments to any of you who qualify as “accredited investors.”
- Previously, you had to be part of a small club to see such deals. Not any more.
- Previously, you might even need to be in Silicon Valley, drinking wine and having coffees around the clock, to see good deals before they filled up. No longer.
Starting today, I’ll share some of my favorite deals with you, beginning with a start-up called Shyp.
Notable companies I’ve advised include Uber (pre-Series-A), Evernote, Automattic (WordPress.com), Shopify, and TaskRabbit, among others. Early investments include Twitter, Facebook, Reputation.com, etc.
In this case, I used a “Spearhead Capital” blog post to my ~1.4M monthly blog readers to find promising startups. Nearly 400 companies applied, many of which are producing millions in revenue. Out of all of them, and with the help of Naval Ravikant (CEO/co-founder of AngelList) to interview finalists, I chose Shyp.
Shyp is the fastest and easiest way to ship packages. More on that shortly.
Investing alongside me–and potentially you–in this round are:
- David Marcus (President of PayPal)
- Brian McClendon (Founder of Google Earth)
- Daymond John (Founder of FUBU, Shark on ABC’s “Shark Tank”)
- Joshua Schachter (Founder of Delicious, Tasty Labs)
- Aaron Batalion (Co-founder of LivingSocial)
- Homebrew (Hunter Walk and Satya Patel)
- Naval Ravikant (CEO/co-founder of AngelList)
- Scott Belsky (Founder and CEO of Behance)
- Sherpa Ventures (Scott Stanford & Shervin Pishevar)
- Antonio J. Gracias (Board Member at Tesla and SolarCity)
- XG Ventures (Andrea Zurek and Pietro Dova)
- Osama Bedier (Former head of Google Wallet)
So, how can you join us?
Before I tell you, remember:
- Startups are speculative, and this is gambling. You shouldn’t invest anything you’re not comfortable kissing goodbye. Treat it as casino money.
- If you are going to invest in startups despite this high risk, plan on building a portfolio of dozens, very slowly and carefully. This should be just one of many. Read more on approach here.
The Short Version
If you’d like to invest in Shyp, simply click here. A description of the company is in “The Longer Version” below.
You’ll need to set up an AngelList profile (free), and the minimum investment is $2,500. We’re only able to accept $250,000 from everyone.
For more on the team and concept of Shyp, click here.
If you miss this one, not to worry–you can automatically join my deals in the future, which puts you first in line next time.
Can’t invest right now? No worries. If relevant, I’d love for your to consider any of the below actions. Shyp and I would really appreciate it!
- Apply to be a Shyp Hero (Heroes are Shyp’s drivers). Click here.
- Apply for a job on Shyp’s core team. Click here.
- Interview the co-founders of Shyp: Kevin, Josh, and Jack. They’re clever gents. Just email: founders at shyp dot com.
- Tell Shyp which city you live in so they can launch there before others!
The Longer Version
I’m putting my name and network behind Shyp and personally investing $25,000. I’ll also be providing oversight and advising the company on product/conversion optimization, national launch strategy, etc.
I’m using a new AngelList feature called “Syndicates” to share my $250,000 allocation of Shyp.
Unlike venture capitalists (VCs), I am charging zero management fees. If you don’t win, I don’t make a dime. If you invest alongside me, the only expense is a 20% “carry” (roughly 20% of the profits) if there’s a good outcome.
DESCRIPTION OF SHYP
Shyp is the fastest and easiest way to ship packages.
Through the Shyp iPhone app, you take a photo of what you want to send, specifying destination and pick-up time. You’re done.
A “Shyp Hero” (driver) arrives at your home or office at the specified time, takes your unpackaged item away to be packaged, then sends it on its way via the optimal carrier (i.e., Fedex, UPS, etc.). Shyp automatically optimizes for speed and cost, and Shyp charges no more than Post Office prices, plus a $5 pickup fee for sending solo items. If you send more than one item, the company waives the $5 pickup fee.
More on how this works below the video.
I have confidence in the team, and here’s why I love the model:
- Recurring revenue. It has a frequent use case, just like Uber and Evernote (again, both of which I’ve advised). Millions of people can use Shyp on a weekly or daily basis.
- It’s simple and solves a real problem. Do you enjoy going to the post office or UPS store? Scheduling pickups that require you to be available for 3-6 hours? Of course not. Shyp makes fixing all that as easy as snapping a picture. And they package everything for you. No more wasted afternoons.
- It has unusually high margins. Shyp matches USPS retail prices, but by taking a volume discount from carriers and utilizing regional couriers (that end-users cannot), Shyp can maintain high profit margins. Using OnTrac, as one example, is 75% cheaper than USPS.
- It’s tackling the “first mile” problem, not the “last mile” problem. Lots of companies are focused on same-day delivery from retailers to consumers: the last mile. It’s a crowded battlefield of a market. But what about the burden of packaging up shipments from homes and offices? This “first mile” problem is enormous, and the market is neglected. Shyp aims to own it.
How to Get In First
Would you like first access to my future deals, right alongside my close friends?
To see things before I post them on the blog, you can automatically back me on AngelList, as Naval (CEO of AngelList) and others are doing. Click here for more details. This will ensure you don’t miss anything.
DISCLAIMERS — DON’T SKIP:
Startups make big plans a lot, and most don’t follow them. Shyp might run out of money; customers might not like using a third party to ship things; UPS, Fedex, or some upstart could start competing; or the team could simply fall apart tomorrow. Any statements about their future plans, margins, etc., are pure speculation on my part. That’s why startup investing is very risky, so again: don’t invest anything you aren’t prepared to write off 100%. Last but not least, I’m not necessarily planning on sending frequent updates or notices of Shyp’s change in plans (if any), as startups change on a weekly or daily basis.
Preface from Tim
This is the second post by Alexis Ohanian for Entrepreneurship Week on this blog. Here is the first post, which covers his founding of reddit, which he later sold for millions of dollars.
This post covers a critical topic: how to get massive attention for your company from national media. How do you pitch press? Develop relationships with influential journalists? The real answers might surprise you.
Most books and articles on this subject are pure BS. Speaking as someone who’s been on magazine covers (Outside, Inc. Magazine) and section covers (NYT Style Section, Travel Section), I can tell you: there is a science to this.
Alexis is a master. Enjoy.
Tim very kindly invited me back to give you another excerpt from my book that draws from all my experience over six years as a Y Combinator advisor and startup investor (70+ companies).
I want to help you do what Steve and I did (not in costume) to grow reddit into the top-50 website it is today… with a total advertising budget of a few hundred dollars. I spent that all on stickers… Read More
“Yes, I’d like to upgrade my dad’s season tickets. Oh, front row, fifty-yard line, please–the best you have.”
—Alexis Ohanian, approximately three minutes after he sold reddit
Preface by Tim
I first met Alexis Ohanian through education non-profit Donorschoose.org, as we both sit on their advisory board.
Years later, he still impresses the hell out of me.
Alexis is the sharp and affable co-founder of Reddit (stylized as “reddit”, which is how it’ll appear in this post henceforth). He has made millions of dollars, fought Washington and won, created the largest Secret Santa program in the world (92 countries, almost 20,000 participants), and been on The Colbert Report for massive fundraising through reddit.
He’s kicked a lot of ass.
That said, few people know the backstory. His journey has involved failure, pain, self-doubt, and much more. In other words, he battles the same challenges that you do. He has learned to be an entrepreneur, just as you can.
The following guest post from Alexis is an exclusive peek behind the curtain. His new book, Without Their Permission, inspired me to ask him to spill the beans. He generously obliged.
ALSO: From 9am-1pm PST (12pm-4pm EST) today, Tues., Alexis will answer any questions you pose in the comments! Just wait for things to start and ask away.
Enjoy the lessons, and gird your loins (and emotions) for the ride. Business and life are full-contact sports… Read More
This week will be Entrepreneurship Week on this blog.
To start us off, this post is a benevolent kick in the ass. I’ll preface the kick with something I wrote in The 4-Hour Workweek:
For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.
But talk is cheap, isn’t it? That’s the whole point, so let’s get to the action.
In 2009, Tobias Lutke, CEO of Shopify, and I developed the Build-A-Business Competition to transform would-be entrepreneurs into real entrepreneurs. Now in its 4th year, the competition has created more than 15,000 businesses that have sold more than $60 million in product (!).
Several readers of this blog — first-time business owners — have ended up generating millions of dollars each… some as side gigs to their full-time jobs! A few examples generated $250,000+ per month.
You don’t need need experience, and you don’t need a bunch of money. You just need to take the leap: join the competition, decide on your product category, listen to advice from mentors and fellow competitors, and sell the hell out of your product. That’s it.
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
- Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
Intangible products can also be sold in the competition, including digital downloads, services, and subscriptions. Make sure you check out the Shopify App Store (apps.shopify.com) for tons of great plugins.
This year’s competition is in partnership with Huffington Post, so there will be even more PR and exposure. Past participants have been featured in everything from Fast Company to The New York Times.
Who are your mentors? These killers, thrillers, and 100-dollar billers:
** Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post)
** Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks, Shark Tank)
** Daymond John (FUBU, Shark Tank)
** Chase Jarvis (Photographer, Director)
** Tina Eisenberg (Swissmiss, CreativeMornings)
** Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library, Vaynermedia)
** Selita Ebanks (Victoria’s Secret Angel, Cause Marketer)
** Lil’ Jon (DJ & Producer)
** Amber Mac (TV Host, Author)
** Tim Ferriss (Angel Investor, Bearclaw Eater, Author: The 4-Hour Workweek)
The Build-A-Business competition runs from October 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014, with each of the mentors providing exclusive advice and guidance along the way. In addition to $50,000 cash prizes, the nine competition winners will receive an expenses-paid VIP trip for two to New York City to meet their mentors. It’s one hell of a party. The competition is open to people in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Click here for full details.
Time to explore entrepreneurship, don’t you think? If not now, when? What’s stopping you? Let us know in the comments, and maybe we (including other readers) can help.
Odds and Ends Elsewhere:
4-Hour Chef for Whaaaa?!?:
$35 retail for less than $15? Yes, my friends. New coupon–get an additional $5 off the full-color hardcover of The 4-Hour Chef. Here it is.
As a thank-you to all of you today, I am today releasing the audiobook of The 4-Hour Chef…for free.
This includes almost 10 hours of recording: all of the chapters on accelerated learning, all of the ridiculous experiments and related stories, and much more.
I’m partnering with BitTorrent again to bring you a bundle of goodies. The full unlocked bundle for this release is 5.4 GB of free content (!), whereas my first BitTorrent release for the print edition was 187 MB. HD instructional videos? Bonus PDFs? You got it.
The audiobook also features guest narration from one of my heroes–bestselling author Neil Gaiman!
I’ve written about Neil before (read my gushing here), and if you’re not a fan yet, you will be. Special thanks to Neil, his amazing assistant Cat, and also to Max Adams, who acted as Twitter matchmaker:
I hope you enjoy the audiobook as much as I enjoyed producing it. Here’s the announcement and download links from BitTorrent…
The 4-Hour Chef: Accelerating Learning for Free
What’s the value of a free read?
Last November, we partnered with best-selling author Tim Ferriss to find out. We handed out sections and drafts from his new book, The 4-Hour Chef, to BitTorrent fans. In turn, 880 thousand of them checked out the hardcover on Amazon. And 2012′s boycotted book about meta-learning hit 2013’s bestseller lists, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal.
A free read, it turns out, is a powerful thing.
So, what’s a listen worth?
We’re letting the people decide. Today, Tim Ferriss is giving away the full audiobook of The 4-Hour Chef, complete with six hours of HD creativeLIVE tutorials that bring the 4-Hour lessons to life. Call it an experiment in anti-cannibalization. Our goal is to see how different formats can feed off of, and feed, one another.
Here’s the deal:
Check out Tim Ferriss’s page on BitTorrent. You can instantly download several chapters of The 4-Hour Chef audio, Part 1 of the full-color ebook (62 pages), and three workshop videos from creativeLIVE.
Subscribe to the book’s email list, and unlock the full audiobook narrated by Ferriss, Neil Gaiman, and Adam Verner, plus ten additional workshop videos. It’s everything you need to master everything, basically: from the kitchen to the basketball court. Except the hardcover. (You’ll need to go here for that.)
Download The 4-Hour Chef Bundle
The 4-Hour Chef: eBook Part 1 [PDF]
The 4-Hour Chef: AudioBook Introduction [Audio]
The 4-Hour Chef: creativeLIVE Workshop, Day 1 [3 Videos]
The 4-Hour Chef: Full AudioBook [Audio]
The 4-Hour Chef: Creative Live Workshop, Day 2 [9 Videos]
Get the hardcover / ebook.
Also Tonight (9/10) from 6-7pm PT (9-10pm ET)…
I’ll be doing a live Q&A on Twitter for 60 minutes. Ask me anything. Really. To make my day, download the audiobook first and let me know what you think! Here’s how it works:
1) Follow @merrelloutside. I’m partnering with them for this, so you’ll need to follow them to see my responses to questions.
2) Ask questions in the following format:
“@tferriss @merrelloutside [insert question]? #asktim”
3) I’ll answer ‘em as fast as I can! Hope to see you tonight.
San Francisco is my favorite city in the world, bar none.
I love NYC, I love Bali, and I love Buenos Aires, but SF is the place for me. And since I’ve been here for 10+ years, I get asked a lot: what should I do when I visit?
This post will highlight some of my favorite things.
Recently, I joined forces with InsideHook – the “essential lifestyle guide for adventurous and discerning men.” I’ll be their SF curator (and advisor), helping them find and share hidden gems in gadgets, food, outdoor adventure, and more. Subscribers get one hand-picked item per day via email. That’s it.
I encourage you to check it out here. At the very least, you’ll get an education in headlines, as their copywriters are amazing.
Now — onward!
Below is one of my ideal days in SF, planned out so everything is within close walking distance.
A Damn Fine Day
Wellness FX Blood Analysis
Activity: Blood-drawing and high-end diagnostics
Description: Visit one of Wellness FX’s labs for a blood drawing to produce an in-depth analysis of your state of health. Results offer a wide range of information, from cholesterol and hormone levels the to an analysis of your body’s electrolytes and vitamins.
Activity: Smoothies, juice blends and more at 21st/Valencia.
Description: SideWalk provides made-to-order juices, smoothies & kombucha juice blends that are as delicious as they are beneficial to your physical and mental health. My favorites? The “Green Machine” and the “Jake Shields,” named after the local UFC fighter (“The strongest kale drink in existence!”).
Street Art Tour
Activity: Walking tour of two alleyways with notable graffiti artwork with Dan Pan. We focused on the Mission district.
Description: Guided walking tour with Dan Pan, founder of 1AM Gallery’s new street-art app. The app allows you to find nearby street art, as well as take pics and have users tell you the artist (very cool). Try Clarion Alley as a starting point, which is run by an artists’ collective.
Pricing: The 1AM app is free.
Mission Cliffs Climbing
Activity: Indoor rock climbing
Description: Indoor rock climbing at Mission Cliffs, a sprawling gym located at 2295 Harrison St.
Lunch at Salumeria
Activity: Lunch at Salumeria
Description: Salumeria is a 20th St. deli and larder that marries the culinary traditions of Old World Italy with the trend-hopping foodie culture of contemporary San Francisco.
Activity: Adult beverages with friends
Description: Enjoying social lubrication with new or old friends. A fine tradition as old as time. Some of my favorite spots include:
St. Vincent (Mission)
Hotel Biron (Downtown-ish, Hayes Valley)
Trick Dog (Mission; Disclosure: I’m an investor)
Bourbon and Branch (Tenderloin)
4 More Free Activities
Hawk Hill: where you can take a bike ride into our Cold War past.
Once upon a time, Fortress America dotted San Francisco’s hilltops with Nike missiles and radar outposts. Of course, those missiles were never fired — but you can still visit the rusted remnants of their vigilance if you bike up to the SF-87C radar outpost, the best-kept secret of the Marin Headlands coastline.
The Lands End Trail, where you’ll find the best maze in the Bay.
Truck up the Great Highway to stretch legs and strut your knowledge of the Sutro Baths. Hike up the Land’s End Trail from the ruins to the labyrinth at Eagle’s Point. It’s only a couple miles round trip, and damn fine panoramic views’ll be in serious supply.
California Cheese Trail: pairs well with Mission Cheese (below) or your vineyard of choice.
As an adult, your knowledge on cheese should surpass the realms of Lunchables and Easy Mac. Showing you the whey: the California Cheese Trail app from the folks at the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, available now for iPhone and Android. If you’re up for spending a few bucks on cheesy delights, visit Mission Cheese on Valencia.
The Bay Bridge’s long-awaited East Span.
The opening of the Bay Bridge’s new East Span has been years in the making, and now it’s officially open, welcoming pedestrians and cyclists of all stripes and offering exclusive access to Yerba Buena Island.
6 More Paid Activities
Vantigo: Tour beer breweries in a cherry-red VW Bus.
Indulge your nostalgia for simpler days with Vantigo, now offering tours of some of the Bay Area’s best microbreweries via a pristine ’71 VW Vanagon.
Pricing: $85 per person
Trumaker and Co.: Shirtmakers who come to you.
Restock your shirt library with Trumaker and Co., a custom shirtmaker with a highly mobile fleet of outfitters. It’s simple: you make an appointment, they send a tailor your way.
Pricing: from $98, free outfitter appointment
Boatbound. Because every man should own a boat…if only for a day.
Herein: your guide to using BoatBound, a new AirBnB-style boat rental service. SF Bay or Half Moon Bay?
Pricing: from $250 per day
Big Sur Roadhouse. The Big Sur getaway you’ve been looking for.
There’s a sprawling new Cajun restaurant in Big Sur. There are also some skinny-dip-friendly hot springs down the road. That gives you at least two good excuses to visit.
Pricing: from $50 per person
Mikkeller. It’s like a beer tour of Europe in a single bar.
The legend of Danish brewery Mikkeller has been growing across the pond for some time; they just opened their first North American alehouse in San Francisco.
Shelter Co.: Romantic private camping service with tent butlers.
Shelter Co. offers completely customized luxury camping experiences. You want tent butlers? They got tent butlers. You want a private island? They will rent you a private island.
Pricing: from $2000
Let’s Talk About This…
Want more activities, rare finds, and goodies? Sign up for InsideHook and let me know what you think. I’ll also choose one person who signs up for a 30-minute phone call with me.
Then what? How about you try my Pacific Northwest roadtrip from SF to Whistler? Damn, I love the Bay Area.
What’s your favorite city in the world, and what are your favorite 2-4 activities?
If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I would highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding
. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding
“the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”
I recently partnered with Rolf to release the exclusive audiobook for Vagabonding. For more on this incredible book, click here
How to Live Like a Rock Star in Buenos Aires
How to Hack Tokyo for Less Than NYC
How to Travel Through 20+ Countries with Free Room and Board
How to Travel to Exotic, Expensive Cities on $50 a Day (e.g. Paris, Hong Kong)
Tim Ferriss Intro
Hundreds of people have asked me about Soylent, a controversial Silicon Valley team trying to replace food with a grayish liquid.
“Does it really deliver all the nutrients the human body needs?”
“Is it safe?”
“Why hasn’t anyone tried this before?” [Hint: they have]
And most often: “What do you think of Soylent?”
Serendipitously, four or so weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Shane Snow, a frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company:
I’m sure you have seen the buzz about the food-hacking movement, where a couple of Silicon Valley techies have been creating Matrix-style food replacement formulas for “optimum” chemical nutrition. Soylent.me, in particular, has been buzzing like crazy, having raised $800k in a Kickstarter-like campaign.
But nobody (besides the creators) has gotten his or her hands on any yet.
Naturally, we had to do an experiment.
This post describes the longest non-employee trial of Soylent to date (two weeks without food), including before-and-after data such as:
- Comprehensive blood panels
- Body weight and bodyfat percentage
- Cognitive performance
- Resting heart rate
- Galvanic skin response
I share my thoughts in the AFTERWORD and occasionally in brackets, but this article focuses on Shane’s experience and data. Please also note that this is *not* a Soylent take-down piece. I hope they succeed.
That said, there are some issues. I expect the debate on Soylent to be fierce, so please leave your thoughts in the comments. I’ll encourage the Soylent founders to answer as many questions as they can. From all sides, I’m most interested in studies or historical precedent that can be cited, but logical arguments are fine.
Also, a quick clarification: There is a bit of soy lecithin (an emulsifier) in Soylent, but soy is not a main ingredient, which is understandably confusing.
Enjoy the fireworks… Read More
Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels.
Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he began at age 26 and built to more than 30 properties in California alone. In 2010, Joie de Vivre was awarded the #1 customer service award in the U.S. by Market Metrix (Upper Upscale hotel category).
Conley has also been named the “Most Innovative CEO” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, and I’m proud to call him a friend.
Last year, he decided that he wanted to become the world’s leading expert on festivals.
Why? Because he’d seen his personal and professional lives transformed by places like Bali and Burning Man. Since that decision, he’s traveled to more than two-dozen countries to experience more than three-dozen festivals and launched Fest300.
Why are festivals — one of the mankind’s oldest traditions — most important than ever in a digital world? What are Chip’s favorite festivals and how can they tranform your life?
This post — full of inspirational photographs — answers all of these questions.
Chip is also giving away two free tickets to this month’s sold-out Burning Man, which include drinks with Chip and quite possibly Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man. Deadline for submissions is this Friday! Details at the end of this post.
Enjoy… Read More
There are dozens of topics covered in this wine-infused, bromantic episode of scatterbrained nonsense. Some of it might improve your stock picking or even save your labradoodle from being eaten alive. Or you can just choose to waste tons of money on awesomeness. O-tanoshimi dane!
This special edition of The Random Show was recorded and edited by Graham Hancock (@grahamhancock). For all previous episodes, including the epic China Scam episode, click here.
Below are all the show notes and links, courtesy of kind reader Jonathan Wu. Thanks, Jonathan!
FULL SHOW NOTES:
1) St Vincent’s Restaurant SF
2) Taser Dual-Shot Pistols
3) Chef Steve Rinella
4) The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine by Steve Rinella
5) Pee Mart
6) Deer RedLight Deterrent
7) Surefire LED Defender
8) Foundation.kr (David Copperfield)
9) Theory 11 Magic Trick Online Guides
10) Every Day Carry (EDC)
11) Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert
12) Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
13) Tim Ferriss Monthly Audio Podcast (TBA)? “Tim Tim Talk Talk”?
14) The Tech Guy by Leo Laporte
15) Foundations.kr with Jack Dorsey
16) The Graveyard Books Audiobook by Neil Gaiman
17) The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton
18) Foundation by Isaac Asimov
19) Ender’s Game Series by Orson Scott Card
20) Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert a Heinlein
21) Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
22) Kevin Rose’s Top 3 Stock Picks A. TSLA B. AMZN C. APPL
24) Game of Thrones
25) SOG Tomahawk Knives
26) Food Photography Made Easy
27) Flow Free
28) Heroes of Ismia
29) creativeLIVE free high-def classes
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers… or so the story goes.
In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Over the last 13 years in Silicon Valley, I’ve found that the homerun hitters are precisely the opposite: risk-averse. They mitigate downside whenever possible with low-cost and short-term testing. They’re often extremely ambitious and aggressive (e.g. Travis Kalanick of Uber or Elon Musk), but they aren’t remotely haphazard.
They’re methodical, and this is a learned trait.
The above video is a conversation between me, several first-time entrepreneurs, and Noah Kagan, CEO of AppSumo.com. In this video, Noah — who was an early employee at Facebook and Mint.com — covers his risk-minimizing methodologies:
In the first 20 minutes:
- His career path, including failures.
- How he has used low-cost testing in his own ventures.
- Why focusing on the small things (even trivial things) is a big thing.
- Common mistakes and coping mechanisms of first-time founders (e.g. seeking multiple co-founders).
In the second 40 minutes:
- Live critiques (in some cases, constructive tear-downs) of real companies and entrepreneurs.
- How entrepreneurs can make the jump from theory to revenue… in real-time.
- How you can immediately stop “playing business” without customer contact.
If you’re going to skip any part, skip the first 20 minutes. Though I enjoyed every minute, the last 40 minutes are especially must-see.
For more from Noah, be sure to check out his previous how-to posts on this blog, as well as his free upcoming course (9/26/13) on creativeLIVE: How to Overcome Fear and Get What You Want.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What tools or services have you found most valuable for low-cost business validation? Any other tricks?