18 episódios

The Syndicate Blogcast show is an extension of The Syndicate podcast, featuring long form articles on the future technology, ecommerce, business and life. The mini-sodes deconstruct high level startup, business and tech issues to help investors and operators better understand and win the market. Recurring topics include: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Ecommerce, Blockchains, ICOs, Cryptocurrencies, Marketing, Fundraising, Venture Capital, Startup Challenges, Business Development and more. The Blogcast comes in addition to The Syndicate - the place where investors and startups combine to create crazy businesses and even crazier returns. The Syndicate podcast is a deep dive on the angel investors and VCs behind the big name startups. We interview the best and brightest investors, syndicate leads, GPs, limited partners and startup founders to create an original, off the cuff discussion on startup investing.

The Syndicate Blogcast: Startups | Startup Investing | Tech News | Angel Investors | VC | Venture Capital | Private Equity | Matt Ward - Serial Entrepreneur | Angel Investor | Startup Advisor | Amazon Ecommerce

    • Negócios

The Syndicate Blogcast show is an extension of The Syndicate podcast, featuring long form articles on the future technology, ecommerce, business and life. The mini-sodes deconstruct high level startup, business and tech issues to help investors and operators better understand and win the market. Recurring topics include: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Ecommerce, Blockchains, ICOs, Cryptocurrencies, Marketing, Fundraising, Venture Capital, Startup Challenges, Business Development and more. The Blogcast comes in addition to The Syndicate - the place where investors and startups combine to create crazy businesses and even crazier returns. The Syndicate podcast is a deep dive on the angel investors and VCs behind the big name startups. We interview the best and brightest investors, syndicate leads, GPs, limited partners and startup founders to create an original, off the cuff discussion on startup investing.

    Roger Ver, Clay Collins and Paul Veradittakit The Future of Cryptocurrency Investing

    Roger Ver, Clay Collins and Paul Veradittakit The Future of Cryptocurrency Investing

    Panelists:

    Roger Ver

    Roger Ver, often dubbed Bitcoin Jesus is one of the earliest investors in and proponents of Bitcoin. He’s made hundreds of millions, if not billions off his investments and was also an early investor in bitcoin.com, blockchain.com, Zcash, BitPay and Kraken. He led a fork of Bitcoin, known as Bitcoin Cash to address scaling problems with Bitcoin’s infrastructure and Core team which created quite a stir.

    Clay Collins

    Clay Collins is one of the top internet marketers in the world. After leaving home at age 15 to start his first software company, Clay has gone on to cofound Leadpages and raise $38M. Clay is also the co-founder of Nomics, the API/analytics software for enterprise level crypto investors and runs the popular crypto podcast Flippening.

    Paul Veradittakit

    Paul Veradittakit is a Partner at Pantera Capital and focuses on the firm’s venture capital and hedge fund investments. Pantera Capital is the earliest and largest institutional investor in digital currencies and blockchain technologies, managing over $250M. Since joining in 2014, Paul has helped to launch the firm’s second venture fund and currency funds, executing over 30 investments. Paul also holds board seats, mentors a few accelerators, and advises startups. Prior to joining Pantera, Paul worked at Strive Capital as an Associate focusing on investments in the mobile space, including an early stage investment in App Annie.

     

    Are you an accredited investor? Apply to join our angel syndicate if you’d like to access our deal flow.

    Like this? You will love our new podcast: FringeFM which explores edges of human understanding and sci-fi tech: Subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

    Panelists:

    Roger Ver

    Roger Ver, often dubbed Bitcoin Jesus is one of the earliest investors in and proponents of Bitcoin. He’s made hundreds of millions, if not billions off his investments and was also an early investor in bitcoin.com, blockchain.com, Zcash, BitPay and Kraken. He led a fork of Bitcoin, known as Bitcoin Cash to address scaling problems with Bitcoin’s infrastructure and Core team which created quite a stir.

    Clay Collins

    Clay Collins is one of the top internet marketers in the world. After leaving home at age 15 to start his first software company, Clay has gone on to cofound Leadpages and raise $38M. Clay is also the co-founder of Nomics, the API/analytics software for enterprise level crypto investors and runs the popular crypto podcast Flippening.

    Paul Veradittakit

    Paul Veradittakit is a Partner at Pantera Capital and focuses on the firm’s venture capital and hedge fund investments. Pantera Capital is the earliest and largest institutional investor in digital currencies and blockchain technologies, managing over $250M. Since joining in 2014, Paul has helped to launch the firm’s second venture fund and currency funds, executing over 30 investments. Paul also holds board seats, mentors a few accelerators, and advises startups. Prior to joining Pantera, Paul worked at Strive Capital as an Associate focusing on investments in the mobile space, including an early stage investment in App Annie.

     

    Are you an accredited investor? Apply to join our angel syndicate if you’d like to access our deal flow.

    Like this? You will love our new podcast: FringeFM which explores edges of human understanding and sci-fi tech: Subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

    • 57 min
    Uber is Going to 0, and Benchmark Knows It!

    Uber is Going to 0, and Benchmark Knows It!

    Originally posted on mattward.io

    “Moving first is a tactic, not a goal….It’s much better to be a last mover.” — Peter Thiel

    On the surface this seems contrarian. When is being last better than being first?

    Steve Jobs understood this. Apple didn’t make the 1st MP3 player or the 1st smartphone. Yet in consumer tech, Apple is synonymous with both.

    Uber being one of the most known startups has called for plenty of media coverage over it’s success and faults but while that’s been going on a big problem has arisen. Drivers and riders have NO LOYALTY. The reason I use Uber or Lyft or any one of a dozen services is a result of price, availability, and marketing. A better offer from ANY competitor and I’m gone. Initially of course this was not an issue when they had 100% market share of the ride sharing platform, obviously that’s changed as the markets gotten saturated hence why they are in for trouble.

    Closing thoughts

    What do you think? Is Uber screwed? Would you rather run Uber or Airbnb? Can Dara save Uber from itself and its business model?

    These questions are not considered enough by the tech community. Uber is arguably the greatest hit in history of VC (at least of pre-IPOs).

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall… and the bigger their appetite. I’m bearish on Uber and incredibly bullish on Airbnb.

    Thoughts?…

    Learned something? Click the share buttons on the side to say “thanks!” and help others find this article.

    Originally posted on mattward.io

    Originally posted on mattward.io

    “Moving first is a tactic, not a goal….It’s much better to be a last mover.” — Peter Thiel

    On the surface this seems contrarian. When is being last better than being first?

    Steve Jobs understood this. Apple didn’t make the 1st MP3 player or the 1st smartphone. Yet in consumer tech, Apple is synonymous with both.

    Uber being one of the most known startups has called for plenty of media coverage over it’s success and faults but while that’s been going on a big problem has arisen. Drivers and riders have NO LOYALTY. The reason I use Uber or Lyft or any one of a dozen services is a result of price, availability, and marketing. A better offer from ANY competitor and I’m gone. Initially of course this was not an issue when they had 100% market share of the ride sharing platform, obviously that’s changed as the markets gotten saturated hence why they are in for trouble.

    Closing thoughts

    What do you think? Is Uber screwed? Would you rather run Uber or Airbnb? Can Dara save Uber from itself and its business model?

    These questions are not considered enough by the tech community. Uber is arguably the greatest hit in history of VC (at least of pre-IPOs).

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall… and the bigger their appetite. I’m bearish on Uber and incredibly bullish on Airbnb.

    Thoughts?…

    Learned something? Click the share buttons on the side to say “thanks!” and help others find this article.

    Originally posted on mattward.io

    • 15 min
    The Memorable Elevator Pitch that VCs Can’t Ignore

    The Memorable Elevator Pitch that VCs Can’t Ignore

    Originally posted on mattward.io

    Those words terrify entrepreneurs. You get one chance to make a first impression.

    And fear of failure often ruins that. Overconfidence is equally harmful though.

    And one way or another, most startups screw this up. It isn’t easy. It isn’t hard either though.

    Short, sweet and to the point. That is what you should be aiming for.

    “I help startups grow, scale and find funding.”

    … that is okay. It gets the point across. But it isn’t quite specific enough. You need to do better.

    Who is your target customer?



    Identify them. There are NO mass market products or problems. Trying to please everyone pleases no one.

    You NEED an initial base of target customers or you won’t succeed.

    For me, I advise and invest in early stage tech startups… But every company is kind of a startup. Heck, Gmail was in beta mode for years.

    So when does a startup stop being a startup and start being a company? Is Airbnb a startup? Google? Uber…

    You need to be specific. You need to be something for someone or you are just nothing for everyone.

    Find your niche and fill it. Become a badass in that space, then and only then can your company think of expanding to serve a larger market.

    How you help is important too

    Con artists overpromise. Entrepreneurs do the same. In essence we are all salesmen.

    But to sell, you can’t smell like b******t. Bold claims better be backed up by something cause these days investors won’t fall for anything.

    An idea and fancy pitch deck won’t get you funded. This isn’t the 90s. A catchy idea needs a clear business model and strong team to back it up.



    How do I help startups? How do you help your customers?

    That is the question every startup MUST answer in their pitch. The devil is really in the details. You could take 10 minutes to explain your company, or you could take 10 seconds.

    Attention spans being what they are, you need to hammer home fast. You have 10 seconds to grab my attention, 30 seconds to wow me… What is your plan?

    Source: MindfulMooves

    Elevator Pitch Examples:

    Slack — We help businesses and organizations communicate with a simple chat interface.

    Uber — We help individuals get from A to Z with a simple ride sharing app.

    Amazon — We help people buy and sell things online.

    Facebook — We help individuals stay connected and share experiences online.

    It can be that simple. We help X achieve Y.

    That is the formula to start any pitch. It grabs your attention and instantly explains your business. It isn’t overly detailed but it covers the basics, who and how.

    Your pitch should change depending on your audience.

    What about Why?

    Why you are building this business is often key. Why determines whether investors and employees get on board.

    And fyi, to make a lot of money isn’t a good reason. It does not drive emotions, only dollars. And WHY is what drives you.

    Passionate entrepreneurs solving personal or large scale problems are more driven and motivated to win. They deal with the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and keep fighting. Folks looking for the quick cash don’t.

    As an investor/advisor, I avoid the latter. The money matters. It matters a lot. But without a bigger driver your business will almost surely stall. And burnout can be a big problem.

    [LIKE THIS ARTICLE SO FAR? THEN YOU’LL REALLY WANT TO SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER OVER HERE — AND GET SOME FREE BONUSES!]

    Your company should be a mission.

    What is your vision of the world? What are you working to create?

    This captivates people.

    • 8 min
    Don’t Mine for Gold When You Can Sell Shovels

    Don’t Mine for Gold When You Can Sell Shovels

    Source: FanArt

    Originally posted on mattward.io

    Get rich or die trying — that’s a common mantra among entrepreneurs, gangsters and drug dealers.

    I know that was my mindset. How can I hustle my way to a million bucks?

    That was the question I asked myself every day, and night.

    Looking back, this was the wrong question to ask. But as Kanye says:

    “Money ain’t everything, not having it is” — Kanye West

    When you’re broke and need a quick buck fast, nothing else matters. Food, shelter, survival… these are all dependent on wealth. And the poor rarely plan in advance — it is all hand to fist.



    Short term cash vs. long term success

    After graduating college I moved to Southeast Asia to save money. In “digital nomad” hubs like Chiang Mai, Thailand and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I easily get by on $1000/mo. That drastically increased my runway to figure out what I was doing.

    Living among hustlers, I quickly learned the world of internet marketing. I saw the fads, the trends, the ups and downs and the “success” of many lifestyle businesses.

    After building the #1 crowdfunding podcast (only to realize that people looking to raise money couldn’t pay), I subsequently sold the business to an agency. They monetized better, dealing with professional creators looking to raise $100k+. As for me, I’m not an agency guy (not a great manager and hate dealing with clients).

    The Amazon “pivot”

    It wasn’t exactly a pivot, but I followed the money. I saw folks preaching Amazon FBA (fulfilled by amazon) as the business of the future. Just source and manufacture products, sell on Amazon and you’re set — and here is XYZ course on how to make millions.

    Like many struggling for dough, I was intrigued. While in China designing a convertible laptop case/standing desk hybrid, I decided to give FBA a go. With weeks between finished prototypes, living on the couch with 3 Chinese roommates I’d met online (that didn’t speak any English), I had some free time. I researched the market, found a niche and got started on Amazon.

    Things went fast. Prior to launch I’d listened to every podcast and read every guide about selling on Amazon (this was spring of 2015).

    After launching my 1st product and pushing the limit on rules and algorithms, my sales started to take off. I was quickly overwhelmed and needed to scale up. What started as an $8k investment in product quickly became a thriving business, fueled by Amazon. I started the FBA ALLSTARS podcast, an avenue to share my story and strategies and get consulting clients. That quickly grew that to a top 3 show.

    And I needed a tagline, so I said “Step One to 7 Figures.” I set a crazy goal of a 7 figure exit after only a year…. And I somehow pulled it off.

    There was just one problem….

    The shortsighted gold rush

    I thought I had it all figured out.

    I’d built a successful, profitable business. I’d built a top podcast that more than covered my expenses (allowing me to re-invest 100% into the business). But I was so dumb…

    The big money isn’t in the business, it is in the tools.

    As a seller and a podcaster, I used tools to run my business and manage a large operation with a small staff. And I profited as an affiliate, recommending the tools I loved — the money was good.

    But the better business was the software (or scammy make money online courses which I’d never touch).

    Many of my “friends” in the business built very successful SaaS companies, practically overnight. I helped sellers with SaaS products go from beta to 1000s of monthly paying customers, shortsightedly missing the opportunity.

    And the Amazon opportunity was and is enormous. But I missed the jackpot, because I couldn’t see the big picture….

    $100, $200, $500k MRR — I know and helped at least a dozen startups hit these and higher milestones....

    • 12 min
    Consumer Hardware’s a Horrible Business Model, So Apple Slows Down Your iPhone

    Consumer Hardware’s a Horrible Business Model, So Apple Slows Down Your iPhone

    Hardware is hard. Consumer hardware is even worse.

    As an ex ecommerce seller with years of experience manufacturing overseas, I can tell you dealing with suppliers, MOQs (minimum order quantities), quality control, cash flow and even LTV are tough.

    Unlike SaaS where you build it once and sell again and again with almost no added costs, hardware requires cash. Manufacturing 10s or 100s of thousands of products requires massive upfront investments that most startups cannot afford.

    And while every sale helps make up those margins, it is still nowhere near SaaS. Worst still is LTV (lifetime value of a customer). And like a one night stand, one and done isn’t efficient in the long run.



    Fishing vs farming

    Constantly acquiring new customers takes time and money. CAC (cost of acquisition) kills your margins. High unit costs make economics even worse.

    Most startups and brands fall into the fishing category. They launch product: let’s say a smart lock, an autonomous drone or a time machine… then they think about the business. “Well, obviously we Kickstart this, right?”

    As an ex-crowdfunding consultant, I saw this all the time. The “build it and they will come” mindset kills more businesses than Facebook. Without proper planning, founders often scale unsustainable business models

    Single purchase behavior is a like treadmill. Without repeat buyers or recurring revenue, businesses must constantly fight the same battle.

    Exceptions to this rule build strong organic acquisition channels (see this post).

    But even then, one and done loses every time.



    Farming is a 10–100x better business model. Rather than kill or be killed, startups that acquire recurring customers need a much lower hit rate to succeed. Why hunt rabbits when you can domesticate them?

    Source: Drawception

    The same is true of customers. Companies that effectively milk customers merit MUCH higher valuations and become more sustainable, long lasting brands.

    Repeat vs recurring

    There are two ways brands build success: repeat customers and monthly service fees. As a rule of thumb, these represent B2C and B2B businesses respectively.

    As an investor, I only invest in hardware/IoT companies with recurring revenue components, ie typically B2B plays.

    But today we are talking consumer. (For more on the B2B side of hardware/software plus IoT, see this interview below with Nick Moran, an accomplished VC in the space).

    Later in the article we will discussing B2C recurring revenue businesses and how hardware can be your businesses trojan horse.

    Repeat buying behavior

    There are several ways to prop up LTV here. Traditionally these include:



    New products — shoes, socks, shorts, shirts etc…

    Consumable products — toothpaste, contact lenses, lipstick etc…

    Replacements — new iPhone, new laptop, new fridge etc…

    Accessories — earbuds, Xbox games, HDMI adapter etc…



    Are you an Apple fanboy?

    You are on this article because of Apple, let’s start there.

    News broke recently that Apple was screwing customers, surprise surprise. The company that brought you the iPhone was conveniently slowing older ones down, right after new versions were released.

    In my opinion Apple is scumbag company. It didn’t use to be. But recently under leadership of Tim Cook, Apple has been only focused on numbers 3 and 4 above — the least innovative and most expensive...

    • 14 min
     Why Your J Curve is Actually an S Curve and TAM is a Meaningless Metric

     Why Your J Curve is Actually an S Curve and TAM is a Meaningless Metric

    Two days ago I had the privilege of moderating a roundtable with some of the smartest futurists and forward thinkers in the industry. Our panelists included Tim O’Reilly, James Allworth, Ben Gilbert and Jeff Morris Jr.

    [VIDEO REPLAY] The State of Consumer Tech Roundtable with Tim O’Reilly, James Allworth, Ben Gilbert…

    It was an interesting experience. They say you are the average of the 5 people in your life and these four certainly padded my total — and informed my perspective on the future.

    There was one point in particular that Tim on the nature of disruption and innovation. During the panel I pushed back some, with time however this truth becomes more and more apparent.

    Tim rightly pointed out, there is no such thing as a J curve. Sure short term graphs show up and to the right, but eventually everything levels out. There are only so many billions of potential consumers, pushing beyond that is impossible.





    And technology naturally plateaus. Moore’s Law is pushing its physical limitation already (at least in terms of economic feasibility), and many other technologies have displayed similar trends.

    But with every new plateau the new normal shifts further and further.

    “If I have seen far, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton



    The interesting intersections

    Technological innovation is interesting. Ultimately however, each innovation can only go so far. The most intriguing areas are found on the fringes, where multiple innovations meet.

    Today genetic sequencing is hot. But scientists have been studying the human genome for years. The intersection with AI and machine learning is particularly interesting because DNA is so vast. No human could ever understand or analyze DNA.

    Instead geneticists employ basic ML (machine learning) to find and analyze relevant genome sequences. Using data, companies like 23andMe can then accurately pattern match to known research and provide personalized conclusions: “you may have a 15% higher risk of heart disease”

    And in genetics we are still in the early innings. But with advances in gene therapies, medicine delivery, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and robotics, is a future of cyborgs really so far off?

    I would argue no. And as innovation is generally additive/transformational, this implies our S curve actually continues upward — in a lumpy, stepwise manner.





    Hockey sticks can hurt though

    There is a potential problem with conventional venture analysis. As a rule, any graph with up and to the right growth gets investors excited.

    But this only paints a small portion of the picture. Yes, founders found product-market fit but that isn’t always enough. What about the market?

    Actual total addressable market (ATAM)

    Investors always ask about the TAM (total addressable market). In general this is helpful, but not as much as you would think.

    The best startups are reinventing the world and creating new markets. If Uber’s addressable market was just the market for taxis/black cars, Benchmark wouldn’t be suing them (for the real problem with Uber’s business model, see this post).

    Instead this innovative “taxi” company redefined transportation and is destroying car ownership globally.

    They MASSIVELY exceeded original expectations.

    But this is generally not the case. In businesses where startups look to take on incumbents, it is often about stealing market share. In these scenarios TAM is largely unchanged. Great businesses can still be built in this manner, but the upside is capped (as opposed to almost unlimited).

    So the question VCs NEED to ask is: is the ATAM greater than or less ...

    • 18 min

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