Awe Inspiring Feat

Back in 1969, America landed on the moon. It was an amazing feat and awe inspiring for millions of people world wide. Essentially, it was accomplished and consumed the first part of my life. I was born in 1962. President Kennedy outlined a goal of putting a man on the moon. Seven years later, it was done.

The Franklin Institute is live tweeting the first lunar landing. You can follow them on Twitter here.

Here is a website of the actual radio transmission of the landing.  It’s super cool.

I remember staying Continue reading "Awe Inspiring Feat"

What Content Should VCs Be Producing?

Thought this was interesting. The responses were interesting as well.
A lot of people wanted to know how VCs analyzed failed deals.  Some wanted to know how they added new partners or analyzed deals before they invested.

Some wanted some “day in the life” type stories or posts on Instagram or Snapchat.

When it comes to things that are basic block and tackling, most of it has been blogged about in some form or another.  Credit Fred Wilson and Brad Feld. Go back and see their early posts and it’s the building blocks of how to do a deal, what term sheets are etc.

I understand why there is a desire for this. I enjoy reading blogposts by fund of funds or any endowments or family offices that might care to Continue reading "What Content Should VCs Be Producing?"

Turning Down A Seed Deal

There are a lot of reasons seed deals get turned down.  I want to explore one.

The person listening to the deal uses accounting numbers rather than economic numbers to analyze the deal.

Seed stage companies don’t have a lot of revenue.  I see companies that get turned down where everything else seems right.  But, the revenue isn’t there because it’s early.

If entrepreneurs would budge on valuation, the deal might get done.  If investors would truly try and look at how big the market is, more deals might get done.

The problem with a lot of investors is they don’t have a thesis on the future of the world.  They just look at what is, not what could be.  They are so risk averse that they have a lot of trouble wrapping their head around it.

Maybe the investor doesn’t have enough experience. Maybe they don’t really understand Continue reading "Turning Down A Seed Deal"

Here Is A Terrible But Irreconcilable Idea

Yesterday the news broke that Alderman Pawar wants basic income in the city of Chicago.  This is a horribly misplaced idea.  Interestingly, on the same day, former President Obama made a speech endorsing the idea of a basic income for everyone.

Let’s disregard the fact this is a socialist policy reminiscent of failed nations across the world.  Let’s also ignore that the US has many large government transfer payment programs that assist the less fortunate.  The cost is 65% of the federal budget, and growing.

Instead, let’s think about the core of the issue.  What’s the problem that is being solved?

Fear, for sure.  We are heading into a lot of unknown territory when it comes to innovation and jobs.  How are people going to earn a living in the future if our future is full of robots?  The answer is hard to digest.  We don’t exactly know.  However, Continue reading "Here Is A Terrible But Irreconcilable Idea"

Screen Sharing

There are pro screen sharing apps for computers.  When you have a glitch and call customer service, they often share their screen with you to figure it out.

Is there an app so that you can do it with people that might not be as computer literate?  Say, your child or relative is having trouble on something, they could share their screen and then you can show them how to fix it, or fix it?

Having it work on phones, tablets, laptops and desktops would be key.

 

Best Organizations

Some of the best organizations I have seen gather a lot of input from employees and research before they make a decision.  I have a good friend at CME that I used to talk to a lot. He would examine things from lots of different angles.  He’d consider opposite opinions and run down lots of ratholes.  He had the luxury of time because he’d consider these things well in advance of having to actually make the decision.

When the time came, he had summed up all the angles and knew what the chessboard looked like.  He’d make a decision and nothing could move him from it.  He’d be focused, and anyone that would differ would be left behind.

Digesting all of that information can be frustrating when we are in Startup Land.  We are trained to go fast.  John Wooden was one of the best basketball coaches of all time. Continue reading "Best Organizations"

Market Segmentation Works

There is a lot of great advice to unpack in this tweet.

If you don’t know Dan, you should. He runs Public Good. I am an investor in PG. Prior to that he did a lot of tech stuff including work for the Obama for America team.

Yes, I fraternize with the other side. Sue me. I don’t pick my friends or business acquaintances on politics.

There is a common thread here that go along with some other posts I have seen.  As startup folk, we are engineered to shoot for the stars.  Get the big whales.  Zero to One. Everyone has been conditioned to think of themselves to be the next Elon Musk.

But, that Continue reading "Market Segmentation Works"

A Metaphor For An Investor

Went to Jimmy Buffett at Wrigley last night.  He played the first ever concert at Wrigley back in 2005 and it was pretty good. It was a great concert if you were a long time fan. He played this song and I thought it was a metaphor for any investor that takes risk.

Deep in puppy housebreaking so no real time to blog this morning!

Pulled the Trigger-Welcome to Our New Puppy

We had an aborted attempt at adopting a dog.  It was a totally messed up situation.  Yesterday, we went to a pet shelter, Wright-Way, and adopted a rescue puppy.  They were really nice about everything.  It’s a nice place and if you live in the city or the near north suburbs of Chicago, easy to get to.   Here is our new addition.

Welcome to the Carter family little man. You’re in for a real treat. #happygotchaday

A post shared by Genevieve Carter (@genevievemcarter) on

In our family, we always had French Britanny’s.  I love them.  They are great family dogs, but they are awesome hunting dogs too.  They hunt close and I love hunting upland game behind a pointer.  My old dog Satchmo was a terrific hunter.  When I’d get the stuff out the night before, he’d sleep by the door and Continue reading "Pulled the Trigger-Welcome to Our New Puppy"

Going Dark

One of the things that has bothered me about being an angel investor is information flow.  It seems that up until you write the check, you can get lots of information.  Once you write it, you might get a little as the company takes the baby steps to product market fit.  However, my experience has been that a few years in you get zero information until it’s time to write a check to keep the company afloat, or they are going down.

Jason Calcanis has written and discussed this at length, however I think it bears repeating since I don’t know that the world has gotten the message.

Communicate with your investors.

You don’t have to give them every blow by blow, or all the gory details.  But, keep them in the loop.  A best practice; have a quarterly email that talks about wins, losses and needs.  Maybe they are Continue reading "Going Dark"

The Startup Grind at mHub

Last evening, I was invited to participate as a judge for Startup Grind.  The event was held at mHub. If you don’t know about either of them you should.  mHub is a cool spot.  A lot of people think these events are hype and don’t add to the community.  I disagree.  I don’t think they are the be all and end alls, but they give people a chance to come and get to know each other in person.

They also give startup entrepreneurs a chance to pitch to a room full of people.  It’s sort of like open mike night at a comedy club.  That three minutes in front of people might be the first time an entrepreneur has done this and that’s good for them.  If you are an entrepreneur and you get the opportunity to pitch, take it.  You will learn.

I respect people that try, even if Continue reading "The Startup Grind at mHub"

Leadership of the Ship

There are a lot of things that have been written about leadership. It’s such a messy thing because no matter what has been written, new things always seem to be written.  It’s as if you cannot keep up.

I don’t think there are true by the book point by point leadership to do lists that are like solving a math problem.  You don’t isolate the variables and then solve.  It’s an organic process and a highly individualistic one.

I do think leading with emotional intelligence is good.  It can build strong teams.  But, it’s not enough.  There has to be a call to action.

There are things that good leaders possess that run through good organizations no matter how they are set up.  In an undergrad program, I took a class on organizational behavior that changed the way I thought.   I took two business school classes in my MBA Continue reading "Leadership of the Ship"

An Interesting Experiment With Crypto and Charity

At the outset, new technologies often don’t manifest themselves as what they really are.  Sometimes they are sort of a Trojan Horse.  Derided by existing players, shunned by the mainstream.  Among their fans the technology can become cult like.

This is true for cryptocurrency.

My friend Arnold Waldstein is a fan of crypto.  He isn’t a technologist, but wanted to mess around with it.  At the time he was messing around with it, he wanted to do some “good” with it.  I am a big fan of people choosing on their own to do good.  It’s one of the reasons I invested in Public Good.

Arnie decided to work with CryptoKitties to create a “HonuKitty”.  It the first of its kind blockchain charity event to benefit the oceans and wildlife.  The money raised will  benefit Operation Jairo and is being sponsored by the Sea Shepard Conservation Society.

You can bid

Continue reading "An Interesting Experiment With Crypto and Charity"

A Good Library

For the past week or so I have been up in Minnesota at our cabin.  We are heading home for a couple of weeks today.  When I quit working, I will most likely spend about 3-4 months of the year here until I can’t anymore.  Last summer was about rehab.  We have a small amount to continue to do, but the major stuff is out of the way.  This summer is more about clearing.  The forest has a way of renewing itself pretty quickly and if you don’t stay on top of it then you are overrun by brush.

We will get plenty of permits to burn from the US Forest Service this summer as we clean up our lot, and the vacant lot next door.  Mr. Beaver did a bit of damage on the big birch trees over there.

We don’t want our cabin to be all about work. Continue reading "A Good Library"

Tariffs Are Dumb

I am not going to go into a super long explanation of tariffs.  The TL:DR is my headline. If you take a basic economics course from a professor that believes in free markets, they will illustrate the point graphically and theoretically.

I don’t know when a country has caved to tariffs.  No one has that sort of market power these days.  What happens is countries on both sides of the tariffs find some alternative or substitute.  There is some short term pain, but the market works itself out.

Saying “it’s not fair” is subjective.  A lot of things are subjective.  Harry Reid used to cry, “It’s not fair” all the time on the Senate floor.  Certainly, a lot of the trade practices that other countries inflict on the US don’t seem “fair”.  Canada’s use of tariffs and duties on the American lumber industry or American dairy industry seem excessive Continue reading "Tariffs Are Dumb"

Addressing the Chicken or Egg Problem

I saw this article and thought it has pretty good content.  One of the most difficult things to do in startups is get a marketplace started.  But, once they get rolling they can feed on themselves.  There is much more a the link.

I have some practical experience with this when we started GLOBEX at CME.  One of the things CME did was #4.  With the auto spread algorithm, bids and offers looked bigger than they really were.  In some markets, they utilized an allocation algorithm instead of FIFO so that market participants had to put in larger orders than they normally would have liked to have put in to get a larger fill when the market traded.

These principles work with platforms like Ebay too.  They aren’t just for financial markets.  With the rise of crypto, I think we might start to see a lot of two sided

Continue reading "Addressing the Chicken or Egg Problem"

Contrarians Make Money, Lose Spectacularly

 

My friend Donna asked on a blog on a blog about courage.  Great investors have to have courage.  Not the heroic courage you see in movies and books.  You have to have a conviction about the investment.  It’s an underlying confidence that you are right and all the naysayers are wrong.   Making many investments is separating yourself from the common knowledge of the herd.  It can be hard-especially when the going gets rough.

When the going gets rough, self doubt might creep in and sap your confidence.  That’s where it really tests you.

When I was in the commodities business, the best trades were the ones that looked super terrible at the outset. Then, all of a sudden the steam would evaporate from the window and everyone else would start to see what you were seeing and pile in.

In venture, I am reminded of this Venn

Continue reading "Contrarians Make Money, Lose Spectacularly"

Happy 4th

The second President of the United States said the fourth of July should always be celebrated with a lot of pomp and circumstance with fireworks and bands.  He was right.  I hope you hear some patriotic music today and watch some fireworks. He wrote,

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Today, I don’t think we realize just what a radical idea the United States was, and still is.  How radical?  Facebook’s algorithm flagged the Declaration of Independence for hate speech.  America is still the shining

Continue reading "Happy 4th"

I Never Answer My Phone

My phone has been ringing a lot lately.  I never answer it anymore because it’s always a robo-call.  It ticks me off because sometimes someone might be calling me for a good reason and I don’t have their number registered in my contacts so their name doesn’t come up.

It’s aggravating.  They have to leave a message, then I have to retrieve it and call them back.

When you are driving, texting or email isn’t the answer.

The WSJ had an article about how to stop robo-calls.   Carriers are working on a software fix.  That will take 3-5 years.  Grrr.  Here is what the article says you can do now.

  • When you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t say anything, don’t press buttons and don’t call back. Once scammers know a number works, they can sell it and your call volume could increase.
  • Block the numbers.  Here’s how Continue reading "I Never Answer My Phone"

Do You Have Reality Distortion?

Entrepreneurship is so tough. One thing great entrepreneurs have a bit of is a detachment from reality. Steve Jobs had it for sure. The reason is at the outset of starting a company there are so many reasons not to start the company.

Say you wanted to start a new bank today. There are already banks. There are already regulatory hurdles. Why would you want to do it? Maybe because if you read surveys, no one truly loves their bank or is loyal to their bank.

Suppose you came up with something totally new and radical. Something totally out of the box that never existed before. Think about the time someone invented the wheel. Maybe detractors back then said it would never work because we carried or pulled stuff already.

Sometimes you are fighting the “this is the way we always have done it”. Often, that’s the most difficult hurdle Continue reading "Do You Have Reality Distortion?"