Husband. Father. Entrepreneur.
Well, let’s get to work… We’re working on our first concept. Hope to have this one out in a few weeks to test some assumptions… ;-)
If you wish to be on our beta testers list and help us build a product that people actually want. We will gladly add you to our list of initial users.
Last month I closed a seed round of $2M with a 5 slide presentation.It was a 40 minutes presentation with 5 slide, 2 cups of coffee, 18 jokes, snickers, jeans, a Threadless t-shirt and no product.
It was all about philosophy, experience, age, and passion. In fact, it was a stand-up comedy act of 40 minutes. I bitched, trashed, yelled, cursed, and pitched this private equity with the best show I had within me.
A few days later, we signed the deal and now I am at the liberty to announce that I closed a $2M round with no product, just a smart concept. And a rather simple one. A real one. Here it is: “No one knows what the next big thing is going to be. We are all just speculating. My goal is to build a group of people to find it. A group of 5-6 people, all veterans with a proven record, all at the age +35.”
Now I’d like to share with you some insights I’ve managed to pick along the process:
1. There’s a lot of money in South America
Stop looking for funding where everybody else is looking. Be unique. Look elsewhere. Just as the product that you’re building should be unique, so should be everything else. I raised my funding from a private equity based in South America. South America is packed with money that is seeking for new opportunities.
Big and successful companies don’t like to pay taxes. Play the role of an IRS clerk. “Tax them”. Offer them the opportunity to give you their money instead of paying it to the government. Look for big companies. They hold a LOT of lazy money sitting in their bank account looking for some exercise…
You want money? Give a great show! Hire a screenwriter if you must, just make sure you’re giving a great act.- - - - - - -
I am now forming my team. The best team I can find. Hand-picked and head-hunted. It’s going to be a great team of good guys. Hard working and passionate people who want to build stuff. So, if you know really great people, let them know that I am looking for them and in return, as my way to say thank you and share some karma, here’s the PDF I used for the presentation. Enjoy it.
Here’s an image for you: 20 year old college student, laying on his dorm bed, searching for some porn flick while eating what’s left from his French-fries Big Mac meal and sending a YO to his next door classmate.
Welcome to the 21 century. The SnapCentury.
McDonald’s is the porn of nutrition.
Pornography is the porn of human emotions.
Yo is the porn of communication skills.
Life is heading to a single button…
Build something that will allow people to stay lazy and they WILL use it.
If you’re looking to build something people want, build something that offer people the ability to keep their identity behind the curtain.
Secret is big now. Leak is about to be big (justleak.it).
This year we are going to see more and more services and products that will offer a way to communicate anonymously.
People are looking for curtains.
"What did you see Adam?", I ask myself trying to reflect on my mistakes from my last venture, "What did you see?"
"I see dead people", I smile to the mirror with a zero willpower to find the right answer. "So fuck it, let’s go Bowling".
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The life of the entrepreneur is somewhat like the lifecycle of the butterfly. We’re all start just as a miserable caterpillars, trying to reach the cocoon stage, and form out to a butterfly, waving our wings at the face of our bank manger.
Each time I fail in a venture, I go back to my cocoon to find the strength I need for my next attempt. Well, what can I say, I guess I’m a “Launch Junky” and it looks like it’s time for me to crawl out of my cocoon and release the “cannibal” that lies within me…
To the point, if you’re building a product, a B2C product and you’re not seeing growth after 3 months, you’re doing something wrong and for the time being, you need to kill it and go back to the drawing board.
I know that many entrepreneurs will say: “Who the F@#% are you to tell me to kill my business.” And I say to them:
What you have is not a business, it’s a hobby.
Don’t raise funds, don’t build a massive product, don’t hire people and don’t rent an office space. Do only one thing: Find out if you can go viral.
If there’s only one thing that I suggest you mark as “think worthy” from this post is this: Don’t even build a product. You need to first figure out if you own this tiny little thing that you know, that will go viral.
I’ll share an example:
You are the owner of the domain: hytz009xx.com
It’s a white, single webpage, with an image of the iPhone 5S and buy button. You are selling this iPhone for $90, you own 5000 pieces on your inventory and Michael Arrington just posted on TechCrunch an article saying: “I don’t know how this guys selling the iPhone 5S for $90 but this is the real deal”.
How long do you think it will take till your inventory will run out?
No branding, no advertising, no PR, no nothing, just a solid offer.
The only thing that you should think of is this:
What will make my product go viral. There are are only two ways that will make it go viral.
1. It’s in the offer - (iPhone 5S for $90)
2. It’s in the UX - (Mailbox queue, CandyCrush share mechanism, SongPOP product behavior)
Now think, does your startup stands to these criterions?
If your product is a B2C product and your answer is no, kill it, it’s anal.
I love T-Shirts.
In fact 98% of my wardrobe are T-Shirts.
It occurred to me lately, that there are many people out there who just like me, being frustrated when a cool design is being offered in any other color than black, dark blue or dark gray.
Now I love T-Shirts so much that as a fun marketing test I’ve launched a small, highly targeted survey as a campaign to learn what are the top 3 colors for a T-Shirt fans. This survey was blast out to a 10,000 T-Shirts fanatics.
Out of 10,000 prospects, 4,881 inboxed (the rest reached the spam folder)
Out of 4,881 inboxes, 907 opens.
Out of 907 opens, 118 answered.
Here are their answers to the question: “What are your favorite T-Shirt Color?”
Black - 57%
White - 14%
Blue - 13%
Red - 10%
Dark Gray - 3%
Yellow - 2%
Green - 1%
Male - 60%
So here’s a thought -
Threadless, Glennz Tees, Tshirt-Hell TeeFury, or any other super T-Shirt store, should offer an all black collection of ALL designs. These stores can launch this as a one time short period campaign or an all year offer.
I’m quite sure that the majority of T-Shirt lovers will buy between 5-20 new shirts when a cool “only in orange color” design will be offered for a short period of time in black.
Many talk about the fact that Facebook experience a sort of decline with their average usage numbers. It seems that FB is trying to change this course, using all sorts of tricks. But ONE of the answers to this issue may result in a yet another tiny little button…
I believe that a “Read Later” button may change the current numbers, for the better.
I don’t always have the time to read posts on my newsfeed, and if I had this “Read Later” button, I would come back to read posts that I marked as worth the read.
Come back = Average time spent spiking.
This post is going to be short and to the point.
At the last NY TechCrunch disrupt, it was Chamath Palihapitya who talked about how raw with innovation the Silicon Valley turning to be. He talked about SnapChat with such a disdain that for a moment there, I believed him. But then I thought about it and I believe that SnapChat is on a verge of turning its tiny app, to this nasty, outgoing heaven.
They have this database of the “world’s flashers”, now all they need to do is to launch a dating platform and boom, the place is crowded with the most outgoing people who will pay for this service with pleasure.
The vast majority of mankind is based on a few basic defining natural characteristics
We are all: Lazy, horny, cheap, full of ego, voyeurs, gossips, lonely, and can’t stop searching for something to help us fill that void, that pit within our souls.
If you want your startups to succeed, use these defining characteristics.
You help people find sex (Facebook or even Songpop and some Youtube)
You help people feed their ego (Facebook or even Twitter or Instagram and some Youtube)
You help people save money (Facebook or even Fiverr and Zappos or DX and some Youtube)
You help people stay lazy (Facebook or even Fiverr or GetTaxi and some Youtube)
You allow people to feed their voyeurism (Facebook and YouTube)
You help people to brag or talk bullshit (Facebook, Tumblr, Wordpress and some Youtube)
You help people to gossip (Well duh… and some Youtube)
You help people not to be lonely (Facebook, Friendfinder, Jdate and some Youtube)
You help people search for something (Google and… well… Facebook)
Basically, if you’d look at it, in almost EVERY successful startup out there, the main reason for their success lies in one or more of these defining characteristics of mankind.
Think about it…
The startup paradox starts with a small statistic note:
Most of the big exits and successful companies you hear of were launched by 35+ entrepreneurs. That’s a fact.
1. When you come to the age of 35+ and you’ve been engaging the online sphere for over 15 years, you come with a lot of knowhow. “You’ve been around” as they say, and you hold a lot of abilities. But, in the eyes of the VCs and the common angels, you’re not sexy anymore. You’re old.
2. As a grownup entrepreneur, you probably got married, have children and you live in a certain financial status. It is starting to get harder and harder to launch a startup. You’ve been accustomed to this lifestyle of yours and if you haven’t saved something for a rainy day, you depend on your paycheck. Kids costs a lot…
For you to start a new venture, means that the project must be funded, and that you’ll receive the same salary as you’re bringing home at present. We’re talking about $8k-$10k on an average.
3. Now comes the young entrepreneurs. They’re at the age of 20-30, have no kids, no wife, can live on pizza for months, live in a tiny 1 bedroom house and work 24/7. They also can manage their financial expenses to a $1k a month. Yep, they are free and young. But, and here comes the BIG “but”, they have no mileage or proven track record, no knowhow and no scars on their backs. And despite that, due to the fact that their burn-rate is cheap, many angels, VCs and investors fall for this charming concept of “skin & slim” startups to prove a concept. Well, I don’t believe in S&S as I call it. I believe that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. The majority of todays web/app users has been accustomed to top notch UX/UI products. This means that in order for you to win their hearts, you need to spend a lot of time and effort. You need to assemble an A-team. Top notch experts, each in his field. You need money. A lot of money. An A-team kind of money. There goes the pizza lifestyle…
4. The paradox… Well, the paradox is that you have the skill, the knowhow and the ability. You have a killer concept, but, you need a decent paycheck from the get-go to make something happen. So in order for you to bring the money in, you need to mock-up something to raise funding. To mock-up, you need time. Your time is invested in your day job. To leave your day job you must have a secured funding. Yada yada yada, no soup for you, come back in ten years.
5. Forming a startup is a privilege. You need to be at the right time and the right place in terms of your life status. If you need a salary to support your family, you’re competing with kids who havenothing to care about accept their startup. You have a wife who wants you to be at home at a normaltime, kids who need you, house to provide and body to maintain. If you’re looking to launch a startup, be mean at the seed round and make sure your investors understand that you can sail the baby to safeland. Or in other words, don’t you dare to startup, if not backed by the right amount. Your skills and track record are worth a decent salary. One that will keep you fully committed to your venture and still will allow you to keep your current family lifestyle.
6. If you’re having troubles in securing funds. Drop the damn thing and wait till the time is right. You deserve a certain respect and if you’ve yet to met the right investor to acknowledge that, wait.
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The industry’s investors are looking for the wiz sharp and young kiddos. You wait. Give them time and they will be back on their knees looking for the veterans to lead. No kid can measure up to a skilled, veteran entrepreneur. Full stop.
“That’s it! ! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes, on this motherfucking plane!”, shouts Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) in one of the dumbest movies ever to be produced; “Snakes On Plane”.
Well, in a more subtle way I will rephrase his wording to this:
Where’s the finesse? Where have the gentlemen of this world gone to? It seems to me that just as the Kodak camera film has passed on from the world and we are all now use to digital cameras, so has the majority of online entrepreneurs and angels. They all lost their finesse, subtle and gentleman manners for their conduct of business.
I am sorry, but I don’t want to be any place near unsubtle people. I am a very powerful man, some may say too powerful, a bulldozer as some colleague described me, but still, I am a gentleman and my business integrity is intact. I am the kind of person who will leave an extra 5% on the table just to keep everyone happy. I am the kind of person who will never steal, rob, or stick a knife in one’s back so I would take home an extra dollar.
The hell with it, money comes and goes. The only thing a man has in his life is his name. That’s it. After all the monies, the assets, possessions etc. all a man has is his name. I will not sell my name for any amount of money, just as I will never sell my soul. I am what I am. If you wish to deal with me, you need to also deal with the fact that I am a straight forward guy. I am honest and you will never be able to get me tag along when you try to screw someone over.
So why am I writing this?
Well, it occurs to me lately that many online angels forgot what being an angel is all about. There are no more gentlemen, just plain simple people who found out about this cool world called the Interwebz and think that if they hold a slick iPhone, a Mac and an iPad, they too turn to this “new edge” kind of slick persons and businessmen. Sorry folks, this is far from the truth. You are all playing it wrong.
Being nice is not a weakness. Being nice is powerful. The nicer you are, the powerful you are. The gentlemen you are, the powerful you are. The generous you are, the powerful you are. Being tight fisted, asshole, with no manners means you are a weak man. A small man.
Here’s an example: An entrepreneur that I like and think highly of, met this “angel”. He pitch this angel his concept and the angel liked it. For weeks this angel asked him to attend meetings so that they’ll “polish” the concept. When they finally reached the point of moving forward. The angel “spread his wings” and…disappear. Just like that. With no word, the guy “vanished” from the face of the earth. A gentleman would have called to explain why he decided to back down on the deal. A man with a scent of finesse would have invite this cool young entrepreneur and tell him the truth to his face. But this angel, is a weak soft man with no manners. He just disappeared.
I am sick and tired of people treating other people as if they’re not to be considere. I am tired of people treating people with disdain based on the fact that side A needs Side’s B money.
Money is just money. There are tons of monies out there. There are less and less gentlemen. Find a gentleman to deal with. You’ll know one when you’ll see one.
And remember, be careful of snakes…
Here’s a thought for you folks to open the week with…
In the past month I’ve been searching all over for a new concept. Something that I could sink my teeth in to. A whole new cool idea that will be solid enough for a startup. I’m not looking for just yet another “cool something”. It has to be something that will WOW me enough so I would be ready to jump in on it with full power.
So I’ve start searching for this cool idea when finally, a few days ago, my queue on Mailbox arrived. Full of curiosity I launched the app and then it hit me… God damn! It was under our noses…
Mailbox is Clear for the inbox.
Touché to the Mailbox team. They followed the most important milestone in searching for a new idea:
Don’t think of inventing the wheel, paint the wheel, twist it a bit and market it the right way.
Attention gold diggers. The gold rush is back!
I don’t know how many of you folks read about the New Jersey bill that was signed yesterday, but If you’ve missed it, here are few lines that will get you rolling:
New Jersey governor Chris Christie yesterday signed a bill that will make online gambling legal in the state. The New Jersey state Senate and Assembly both approved a new version of the bill, which Christie submitted with changes after vetoing an earlier version, and Christie has now signed it into law.
The bill only allows Atlantic City casino companies to take online bets, although the Wall Street Journal believes that those casinos will partner with overseas companies that provide services for online gambling, potentially opening up a bigger market. Furthermore, the bill will allow betters from other states to gamble online, so long as regulators determine that the activity isn’t prohibited by any federal or state laws.
Online gambling is back. If you can close a deal with an offline casino within the boundaries of Jersey, you now can market online gambling to US citizens. Dude, this will spike the points on the market, let alone jump the media costs on all the GAMING industry. Zynga just announced that they will start accepting REAL money on their Zynga poker tables. The carnival is back… If you hold US casino data, you maybe sitting on a pile of cash. This of course true only if your data is YOUR data and only if you can close media deals.
Yep, the whole industry is about to shift to a CPM model instead of CPA due to the fact that now, in order for you to be an online affiliate for an online US casino, you need to invest…get this: $500k just to receive a license. But still, if you’re willing to play by the rules, media deals are fantastic! You can make a killing on a monthly basis.
The good times are back? Maybe so…