Smash Notes Recently Added Segments

RSS for your eyes.

What makes podcasting the greatest invention of all time?

James Beshara, the host of Below the Line podcast, says that internet has been built for podcasting and podcasting is the Gutenberg press of our time.

James points out that: (1) It is free to record and takes a lot less time than writing. (2) Disseminating a podcast around the world is also free and instantaneous, and you don't even need to know how to read to consume it. (3) Lastly, you get to hear directly from the expert, as soon as the expert's thoughts are available, without an editorial spin by a larger organization.


How did Break.audio start as a company?

Breaker co-founders Leah Culver and Eric Berlin started working on it as a side project, primarily because they wanted a new way to experience podcasts. One thing led to another and they got accepted to Y Combinator, raised funding, and started to do Breaker full-time.


What is Breaker?

Breaker is a social app for listening to podcasts, where you can like and share your listening experience with your friends. In return, the app will learn from your likes and recommend new episodes for you.


Does a fund need to invest in a unicorn startup to see good returns?

It helps but is not a requirement, depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

All of Dave's early winners were between a 10 to 20 x return on investment, about a 3x return on his overall portfolio, with an investment return period of around seven or eight years.

With 500 Startups, they aimed to find a "unicorn" only 1-2% of the time, but given that low probability of that even, their portfolio size needed to be a minimum of 50 to 100 companies to even have a shot at that.

So when thinking about investment, you need to know what return multiple you are trying to hit, how likely your companies are to return, and then you would know whether or not you need a unicorn to do it, or how many unicorns at that.


What did Dave McClure's early wins have in common?

Although founders were compelling and the ideas were good, mostly non of the early winners in Dave's portfolio were oversubscribed. They were all raising money in 2008-2010 times when fundraising was tough.


How did Dave McClure start investing in startups?

After leaving PayPal around 2004, Dave started investing recreationally. After he'd invested in about 13 companies over the next four year, some of them turned into 100M+ exists.

Dave ended up working for Founder's Fund with Peter Thiel and Sean Parker for about 1.5 years, and eventually got together with Christine Tsai to raise their own fund, 500 Startups.


How did Dave McClure end up in Silicon Valley?

From Dave's words: "I graduated from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in 88 and came out to California in 89. Did some consulting, which grew into a small company. Did some work with Microsoft and intel on a few others from 94 to 98, grew that to about 20 people. Screwed up everything I could about running a small business, but still managed to get a very small exit out of that around 2001. Got a job working at PayPal and was there through the through the I. P. O and through the sale to eBay and then a few years after that, until around 2004. Met a lot of really amazing people there, some of whom created some recognizable names in the Internet."


Who is Dave McClure?

Dave McClure is the founding partner of 500 startups, made over 1500 investments, including Twilio, Send Grid, and Intercom. Dave was previously on the Investment team at Founder's Fund, and was head of marketing at PayPal pre IPO.


What is a major challenge for a repeat startup founder?

Repeat founders feel the pressure of having to work on a big idea. Unfortunately most big discoveries seem to come from people working on small things first.


What is the optimal investment strategy?

Invest in a big market, even if it's already crowded. A great product in a big market will outperform a novel product in a small market.


Why does Tikhon Bernstam invest in Solo founders?

A lot of successful founders had started as solo founders, and Tikhon says that startups are already hard, and if you are willing to persevere on your own, that only shows an additional strength of character.


Why does Tikhon look to invest in really large markets?

Because without a market, even a great relentless team with a great product cannot succeed.


How did the Parse team come up with the idea?

The founders did not want to waste time building products, so instead they spun out 12 different landing pages and launched them all, measuring which one gathered the most interest. Parse won.


How much money did Scribd raise after Y Combinator?

Funding environment was very different back in the early days of Y Combinator than it is now, and after the demo day, Scribd team survived on savings, and the generosity of their parents.


How did Scribd benefit from Y Combinator early on?

Not knowing much about what they were doing early on, Tikhon and team found feedback from the Y Combinator team to be incredibly useful. They would look at the Scribd's progress and be able to immediately steer the guys in the right direction, saving them invaluable time in wasted effort.


How did the idea of Scribd emerge?

YouTube was a hot startup at the time, and everyone wanted to be the "YouTube of X," much like in the 2010s everyone wants to be "Uber for Y."

Seeing that viewing documents in the browser was a huge pain, Tikhon and co started Scribd, a "YouTube for documents."


How did Tikhon get into Y Combinator?

Tikhon was in graduate school in theoretical physics, when he read Paul Graham's essay on How to Start a Startup. Inspired by what he saw, Tikhon applied, not at all sure that he would get in, but once accepted, Tikhon dropped out of grad school and moved to Cambridge, where YC was based at the time. The rest is history!


Who is Tikhon Bernstam?

Tikhon is a Y Combinator backed founder and investor. He started Scribd and Parse. He later sold Parse to Facebook.


How did Vlad and Webflow attain leverage by listening to their employees?

At one point, one of the Webflow early employees insisted on building an animation feature into the product. Although the Webflow co-founders were initially skeptical, he persisted. This feature ended up bringing nearly 50% of the business in the following year.

If the co-founders only listened to their ideas, they would have never discovered this, and many other features that came from their team's experiences and needs.


What should startup founders keep in mind as their company scales head count 21:47?

Founders should avoid becoming the bottle neck for their own company. Making a perfect decisions, at the expense of slowing down the whole company is not worth it. Instead, it is better to make a good-enough decision fast, thus enabling the rest of the employees to explore multiple options.

At the end of the day, founder is only one mind, and often the employees would come up with a set of possibilities that would have never been discovered by the founder.


What is a good productivity hack for founders?

Establish good habits because good habits enable productivity and help to alleviate anxiety.

As the list of important and urgent tasks start to grow, it is imperative to intentionally focus on the essentials.


What are challenges and opportunities for Amazon's partnership with Blue Origin?

On one hand, it would be incredibly convenient for Amazon to use Blue Origin as a launch rocket for their upcoming satellite array. These satellites would enable Amazon to provide better services for their stream and cloud businesses, among other.

On the other hand, because Amazon is a public company, they have to make sure that Blue Origin doesn't just get a contract by default, thus enabling Bezos to stash money from his public company into his private venture.


Why is Blue Origin moon lander using liquid hydrogen for their fuel?

Liquid hydrogen fuel can be replenished using water from the Moon, thus enabling longer missions that don't require all the fuel to be packed ahead of time.


Why are we better off colonising space than other planets like Mars?

According to Jeff Bezos, there are a bunch of problems associated with colonizing other planets that do not exist when it comes to nearby outer space.

Other planetary [which we could attempt to colonize] aren't that big when compared to Earth, maybe a doubling of surface area at best. Considering how far they are, that's not that useful.

Round trip times are a significant logistical problem. Trips to Mars, for example, are on the order of years, and launch opportunities to Mars only occur once every 22 months.

Lastly, other planets are far enough away to do real time communications with Earth, limited by the speed of light.


show more recent segments 👇

Experience the best
of Smash Notes!

Capture your favorite podcasts, learn from your friends, discuss what you love.

Join Us ->