Rank #1: Episode 48: Chris Sacca
Chris Sacca is one of the most successful angel investors of all time. He's invested in Twitter, Uber, Instagram, and Kickstarter, among many others. Before that he led special projects at Google and worked as a lawyer at Fenwick. He shares what it was like working with Larry & Sergey at Google, working with Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey as one of the first investors in twitter, becoming a guest shark on Shark Tank, interviewing Edward Snowden, and asking President Obama the tough questions while working with him in his two campaigns. edited by Alex Kontis praise to @sacca criticism to @eriktorenberg
Dec 17 2015
Rank #2: Episode 73: Jason Fried
Jason is the founder and CEO of Basecamp. In this episode we talk about building a company that lasts 40 years, what it’s like to build a remote team, how he thinks of the professional year in terms of seasons, daily rituals, and how he defines success. Edited by @alexkontis Lavish Praise to @Jasonfried Constructive Criticism to @ErikTorenberg
Mar 04 2016
Rank #3: The future of direct-to-consumer and e-commerce
Web Smith has a long history working in direct-to-consumer and e-commerce. He managed marketing spend for Rogue, a leading sports goods manufacturer back in 2011 before co-founding Mizzen + Main and later joining Gear Patrol. In 2015 he founded 2PM, a B2B media company for the commerce industry and advises leading executives in the space. Through 2PM Web also invests in early-stage DTC brands and platforms that support the consumer ecosystem.
If you've ever thought about starting your own DTC brand or online shop, you'll want to heed Web's advice.
In this episode Ryan and Web talk about...
The state of direct-to-consumer today
“It’s going to become a battle to discern which companies have sticking power and what a possible exit will look like. Casper’s potential IPO will set a standard for other brands looking to exit. We’re also looking at a lot of companies developing holding companies for these types of brands.”
Web points out that only 12% of transactions are e-commerce today — the remaining 88% comes via physical retail.
Trends in the industry and how it has evolved over the years
“The industry’s filling up pretty quickly. It’s a really dense area for people who want to become founders. They’re highly educated, from great schools, and funding is easy to come by in the DTC space for the time being. So they’re coming out of the gates from Wharton or wherever with millions of dollars in the bank and they’re probably going to get to the next milestone because they have the right founders, the right teams, and the right money. That’s the story of tens if not hundreds of consumer brands in the last two years.”
Direct-to-consumer has for several years been a hot area for founders and investors. He talks about some of the trends he's seen in the space, including which growth strategies have been effective and how companies will need to evolve in the coming years as the landscape shifts. They also discuss companies like Casper and Warby Parker getting into brick-and-mortar sales, even as they are the poster children for the disruption of brick-and-mortar.
What Web would do if he was creating a direct-to-consumer brand today
“If I was starting a DTC brand today, I would actually start with a media company. I would launch a newsletter or blog a year or two before. It’s worth your while to develop an organic base of people that are interested in the product that they have. I know that sounds counterintuitive but you’re seeing a premium on the brands that have that type of organic acquisition”
He says that paid acquisition is a commonly used strategy by DTC CMOs but that it is quickly becoming cost-prohibitive. He predicts that companies will need to adapt to different models in the future.
How to think about defensibility for direct-to-consumer companies
“[Ask yourself] Who are the people defending their purchases? How are they talking about their purchases to their friends and loved ones? How loyal are they? Will they come back to buy the next thing that you sell? That’s an element of defensibility that goes a bit unconsidered.”
Web points out that there are plenty of informal brand ambassadors for companies with strong brands. He says that the word-of-mouth spread of brand affinities is an underrated aspect of defensibility.
How direct-to-consumer companies can create a community around their brand
“When Nike released the ad with Colin Kaepernick, Nike knew what it was doing. It was going to polarize the customer base and the folks that were on their side would spend a lot of time and energy defending Nike’s decision and that would amplify the brand for those defenders.”
He says that companies need to think about their consumers in terms of one-to-many relationships instead of the one-to-one model that has been the primary model to date. Web talks about some of the communities that are forming around certain brands and how companies can encourage the creation of those communities.
They also discuss some of their favorite e-commerce or direct-to-consumer brands and companies, and Web breaks down why those companies have been successful.
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Pilot for their support. 😸
Companies and Products Mentioned In This Episode
AdoreMe — The new face of lingerie.
Away — Beautiful, direct-to-consumer luggage.
Chubbies — Radical shorts for your weekend.
Lacroix — Naturally essenced sparkling water.
Loop Fitness Tracker — Activity band with heart rate variance and smart guidance.
Philz — Ryan's favorite coffee.
Recess — Sparkling water infused with hemp extract and adaptogens.
ThirdLove — Better bra sizing through a self-measuring iPhone app.
May 15 2019
Rank #4: How to tell the story of your startup with Camille Ricketts and Carmel DeAmicis
In today's episode we talk to two expert storytellers in startupland — who also happen to be Ryan's good friends.
Carmel DeAmicis is an editor (aka word wiz) at Figma, a company that's reinventing how people design software and which recently announced a $40M round led by Sequoia. Prior to joining Figma, Ryan met Carmel when she was a reporter at Pando. She was the first journalist to write about Product Hunt and later went on to join GigaOM and Recode.
Camille Ricketts is another friend and veteran storyteller. She recently joined Notion, a hot startup building an all-in-one workspace for your notes, docs, and to-dos. Prior to joining Notion she spent nearly five years at First Round, starting and leading their content and marketing efforts. You've likely read one or many of her First Round Review articles. Earlier in her career she was a reporter at Wall Street Journal and VentureBeat and also worked at Tesla, Kiva, and the White House.
In this episode we talk about:
- How to tell the story of your startup. Both Camille and Carmel are former reporters and they share some of the secrets they've honed over the years on what to do and what not to do when it comes to crafting the narrative around your company.
- How Carmel and Camille ended up in their respective jobs at Figma and Notion, why it's important to take time between jobs to find the right role, and how to leverage your network to find out what a company is really like on the inside.
- The wild, weird, wonderful world of TikTok, and why the constraints it imposes generate such creativity. Carmel talks about opening up the app to check it out for the first time and ending up staying up until three in the morning watching TikToks.
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to FreshBooks, Bubble, and Dipsea for their support. 😸
Quotes from This Episode
“It’s easy to tell a story about a company that just comes out as a collection of features but the better way to tell the story is to emphasize the outcomes that your audience actually wants.” — Camille
“At Notion, they have pictures of Engelbart. At Figma, they threw a party on a Sunday on the exact 50th anniversary of the famous 'Mother of All Demos.'” — Carmel
[In thinking about which company to join next] “You go through this conversion funnel where you maximize activity at the top of the funnel by emailing anyone who might have an idea for you, and then you winnow it down.” — Camille
Companies and Products Mentioned in This Episode
Figma — Styles, prototyping and design at scale.
Notion — Increase your team intelligence.
Superhuman — The best email experience ever made.
TikTok — A creative music video clip maker.
Apr 03 2019
Rank #5: How to be “indistractable” with Nir Eyal
On this episode Ryan is joined by a friend, writer, and student of human psychology, Nir Eyal. I’ve learned so much from his writing over the years. He has an incredible ability to synthesize complex ideas and studies into actionable steps people can use to build more engaging products and a healthier life. Ryan actually helped him with his first bestselling book,* Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products*, back in 2012, before Product Hunt started.
This week he published his second book, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. The timing of its release is more relevant than ever as people are increasingly seeking a healthier relationship with their smartphones, wearables, and tech in general.
In this episode they talk about...
The change in attitude towards tech over the past several years
“Back then people thought Zuckerberg and the Twitter guys and the Google guys just got lucky and stumbled onto something. We had to convince people that they knew what makes you click and what makes you tick better than you do yourself. Now, that’s a foregone conclusion. In fact, I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way.”
Nir explains the shift in the perception of tech in general since he wrote his first book, Hooked, to now. He says that there has always been a level of skepticism in Silicon Valley, which is generally a good thing, but that he fears people are heading towards being too cynical and having a fixed mindset towards the tech industry and its products.
How to make sure your product development process is ethical
““I think it’s important that product designers have a way to tap the brakes and ask, ‘is what we’re doing okay? Does this cross an ethical line?’”
He talks about searching for an ethical framework that ensures that the products one creates are not causing harm to the user. He says that he went from the (former) Google motto “don’t be evil” to the Golden Rule to what the lawyers recommended to get to his formulation of the “regret test.” He explains exactly how you can use it at your company.
A regret test asks ‘would the user do the thing we have designed for them to do, if they knew everything we do?’”
Whether the government should or should not get involved in regulating tech
They talk about some of the proposed regulations that are floating around the news these days, and Nir explains why they are well-intentioned but unlikely to make a real difference. He points out that the problem is the “fear-industrial complex” that accompanies any new tech or media. He says that to say that people lack any agency to pull themselves away from tech is insulting and points out that over fifty years ago, people were using the exact same words to describe the effects of comic books.
The true impact of tech on your brain
“Why is scrolling on Twitter somehow morally inferior to watching Fox News? To me they are equally divisive, equally potentially toxic, and can equally be abused by people who go overboard. Why do we only apply the standard to new technology? Because it’s an easy target.”
Nir says that it’s important not to get fixated on the tech, but rather the end result of using that tech. He points out that both Snapchat and Duolingo use streaks, but to very different ends. He says that he is neither a proponent of nor apologist for tech and that not all distractions are created equal."
The strategies he uses to ensure he doesn’t get distracted
“The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought. We have to plan ahead and take steps in advance to make sure you do whatever it is you want to do in life.”
He explains what his nightly routine is, how it has enabled him to live a better life, and how he uses certain pieces of tech to keep himself away from other, less useful tech. He tells the story of buying a twelve dollar flip phone from Alibaba and why, like crash diets, digital detoxes don’t end up working.
Bonus Content: Aba’s Community Podcast
Abadesi recently hosted a Periscope session where she asked the community to chime in on what their favorite products are and why. Make sure to follow us on social to participate in the next session, and you could make it into the podcast!
Sep 11 2019
Rank #6: Episode 40: Mahbod Moghadam
Mahbod Moghadam is a cofounder of (Rap) Genius who recently resigned last year. This episode is a bit like a therapy session: We discuss Mahbod's relationships, his perception of his actions, his thoughts on tech, hip-hop, and much more. Mahbod is currently a cofounder of Everipedia which is "Thug Wikipedia". We conducted the interview before he founded it. www.everipedia.com edited by Alex Kontis feedback to @eriktorenberg
Oct 02 2015
Rank #7: Product Hunt Radio: Episode 23 w/ Roy Bahat & Dan Strickland
This week's PHR comes from the beautiful Bloomberg Beta HQ on the Embarcadero with Roy Bahat (Head of Bloomberg Beta) and Dan Strickland (Operations at Bloomberg Beta). Roy shares his secrets to get to inbox 0, keyboards, we discuss invisible apps, and a preview of what’s to come at Product Hunt. - Keyboardio (http://www.keyboard.io/) - Making keyboards better - Nudgemail (http://www.nudgemail.com/) - The easiest way to send yourself reminders - Zapier + Product Hunt (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/zapier-product-hunt) - Create your own Product Hunt notifications - Jarvis (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/jarvis) - A personal assistant for $100/mo - Digit (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/digit) - SMS bot that monitors your bank account & saves you money - RubCam (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/rubcam) - Minimal iOS camera for taking pictures by rubbing the screen - Frontback (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/frontback) - Tell stories with photos - Checkr (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/checkr) - An API to Do Background Checks - SaviOne (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/savione) - A revolutionary delivery robot for the services industry - Jobr (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/jobr) - Tinder for job hunting - Two Margins (http://www.producthunt.com/posts/two-margins) - Annotate financial documents (ex. SEC filings) w/ the crowd
Sep 14 2014
Rank #8: Maker Stories: Episode 14 w/ Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is an author of three books, including Growth Hacker Marketing, and he’s an Editor at Large at the New York Observer. He dropped out of college at 19 to become director of marketing of American Apparel, and has since advised writer and artist clients such as Robert Greene, Tucker Max, and Tim Ferriss and many more. In this chat, we discuss Ryan’s writing process, both for books and articles, and advice for aspiring writers. We also discuss the media space — Buzzfeed, Vice, the NYT — and the misaligned incentives in journalism today, as elaborated upon in his first book, Trust me I’m Lying. And then we discuss life stuff: why he lives in the south, why he loves the Stoics, why he dropped out of college, why he reads so much, and what's next for him in his career. Edited by Alex Kontis
Jul 15 2015
Rank #9: Maker Stories: Episode 7 w/ Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is an author, entrepreneur, podcast host, and many other things. In this wide ranging episode, we discuss his new show, advice to his younger self, friendship & relationships, & much more. This is my favorite podcast episode thus far. Listen in and let us know what you think. Check out Tim’s Show here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/the-tim-ferriss-experiment/id984734983?ref=producthunt http://www.producthunt.com/posts/tim-ferriss-experiment You can find more info about Tim as well as his writings and podcasts here: fourhourworkweek.com. Edited by Jenna Weiss Berman.
Apr 28 2015
Rank #10: Episode 58: Patrick Collison
Patrick Collison, cofounder of Stripe, is one of the most impressive and interesting CEOs in tech today. We delve into Patrick's story - how he came from Ireland, pursued Stripe while on leave from College, and then built and and scaled his company internationally. Patrick shares advice for entrepreneurs, thoughts on education, immigration, and a whole host of other topics. If you enjoyed the Tyler Cowen or Ezra Klein episode, you’ll also enjoy this one. Edited by @alexkontis Lavish Praise to @patrickc Constructive Criticism to @eriktorenberg
Jan 21 2016
Rank #11: Lessons from scaling a fast-growing distributed team at Zapier
Ryan and Wade Foster have known each other through the internet for years before recently meeting in person in Mountain View. Ryan learned so much from the coffee chat that he asked if Wade would join the podcast to share some of his stories scaling Zapier. Like Product Hunt, Zapier is a fully distributed team, although they're much bigger with 200 people in over 20 countries. They're helping makers create no-code apps and helping everyone get work done more efficiently.
Ryan and Wade talk about...
Learnings from scaling a distributed team and Zapier's “delocation package”
“We went through YC in summer 2012, and for the summer all three founders worked and lived together. That was the only time period in our company’s history where everyone was in the same location.”
Zapier is a very large distributed team, with over 200 people working completely remotely. They've only worked together one time in their history, when the founders were all at YC together in 2012. Wade talks about some of the benefits to working in a distributed team, including the fact that he has “effectively a teleportation machine” that can transport him from meeting to meeting in seconds by taking calls via Zoom, instead of having to find an open meeting room and switch between physical locations.
Zapier came up with a unique “delocation package.” As a distributed team, they offer people living in the Bay Area $10,000 to move out of the Bay Area, which a few employees have taken them up on so far.
Wade talks about how they make sure that everyone is on the same page in a fast-growing, distributed team:
“A big task that you have to do as you get bigger, is alignment. Alignment is simpler when there are fewer people. When you get bigger, you can do a lot more, which is exciting, but good smart people can pick different paths to go down, which don't necessarily solve for the customer's needs. The last 18 months we’ve worked really hard to create an OKR system that creates alignment across all these different teams.”
Managing team dynamics in a fast-growing organization
Wade talks about how managing a big team is different than a small team, and why CEOs need to pay attention to how the team is working together and how everyone is feeling about their work.
“The larger your org gets, the law of large numbers kicks in. If, say, 1% of your company is angry about something in a given day, you get to 200 people that means every day 2 people might be pretty angry about something. If you make a mistake, maybe 5-10 people are pretty angry about something. For someone who’s a natural people-pleaser, that can wear on you.”
Wade explains why it can be difficult to hire from within in a company that is growing exponentially.
“If the needs of the company outpace the needs of the individual, which is often common in these companies that are growing exponentially, there are very few people who can rise through the proverbial management ranks fast enough to match the growth of the company.”
What it's like to be CEO and the “cheat code” that CEOs get to keep in their back pocket
“CEOs get a cheat code, which I think is fair because CEOs have a crazy hard job in so many different ways. We get to hire people. If you feel like any function isn’t being successful, you get the opportunity y to go hire the best leader you can possibly find in the world. As a CEO, your job is to assemble the best team and so if you do your job right you should probably be the dumbest person in your executive team to a degree.”
Wade also talks the system he adapted from Dharmesh Shah at HubSpot to denote how urgent his communications with the team are (or aren't). They have a set of hashtags that Wade uses alongside his emails and Slack messages to make clear whether urgent action is required or not. Sometimes employees feel that any email from the CEO means action needs to be taken right away but this system ensures everyone is on the same page.
His thoughts on the no-code movement
“If you’ve got an idea and you really aren’t an engineer, you can get something up and running that is pretty good in a couple hours. I think it’s just fantastic because it allows many more people to get their ideas out into the world.”
Zapier is a big part of the no-code movement and Wade and Ryan talk about some of the coolest projects they've seen built by makers without writing code and some of the products being used alongside Zapier in the no-code movement.
“I imagine we’ll find that more and more companies are built with off-the-shelf software, which feels pretty powerful for society to enable the 99% of us who are not engineers unleash our creativity on the world.”
Joel also talks about some of this favorite products and the software the company uses to collaborate.
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Pilot, Monday.com, and Embroker for their support. 😸
Companies and Products Mentioned In This Episode
Airtable — Real-time spreadsheet-database hybrid.
Coda — It's a new day for docs.
GitHub — The world's leading software development platform.
Hubspot — Sales and marketing software.
Jira — Issue and project-tracking software.
Slack — Be less busy. Real-time messaging, archiving and search.
Typeform — Makes asking questions easy, human and beautiful.
Webflow — All-in-one web design platform.
Workona — Transform Chrome into a professional work tool for free.
Zoom — Cloud video conferencing and simple online meetings.
May 29 2019
Rank #12: Episode 65: Terry Gross
Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air on NPR for over 40 years. She's done over 13,000 interviews, and is, in many people's opinion, the best interviewer alive. We talk about how Terry got her start, how she met her husband, her experience in therapy, the craft of interviewing, and much more. As a student of the craft, it was an absolute honor to have Terry on the podcast. If you like this epiode, tweet @NPRfreshair and let them know. If you haven’t listened to Fresh Air, I recommend starting with the interviews of Maurice Sendack, Louis CK, Marc Maron, or any other guests that interest you. Edited by Jenna Weiss Berman Lavish Praise (& Money) to @NPRFreshair Constructive Criticism to @erikorenberg
Feb 11 2016
Rank #13: Product Hunt Radio: Episode 39 w/ Nick Quah
We just launched our new podcast vertical! www.producthunt.com/podcasts The Product Hunt Team -- Ryan Hoover, Alex Carter, and Erik Torenberg -- sit down and discuss podcasts with Nick Quah, podcast connoisseur and writer of Hot Pod, the defining podcast industry newsletter. Edited by Alex Kontis.
Oct 08 2015
Rank #14: Maker Stories: Episode 20 w/ Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely is a leading behaviorical economist, 3 time best-selling author, and he is the first guest to appear multiple times on Maker Stories. In this episode we talk about Dan’s new documentary on dishonesty and cheating and why people cheat in sports, politics, relationships. I also ask him about his favorite thinkers, the limits of behavioral economics, how he met his wife, and how he views the term ‘success’ If you liked this episode, check out these other episodes with Dan Ariely: https://soundcloud.com/product-hunt/maker-stories-episode-6-w-dan-ariely https://soundcloud.com/product-hunt/dan-ariely-pt-1
Jul 30 2015
Rank #15: Maker Stories: Episode 10 w/ Eric Ries
Eric Ries is the author of Lean Startup, which has since become almost gospel in the startup world. We have a great chat about writing, career strategy, lean startup philosophy, and much more. Eric’s book, The Leader's Guide, was also a first selection for the product hunt book club. Stay tuned for more about Product Hunt Books. Edited by Jenna Weiss Berman
May 20 2015
Rank #16: Maker Stories: Episode 1 w/ Alex Blumberg, Matt Lieber, Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt
We're thrilled to announce the launch of Maker Stories -- one-on-one conversations with makers about their products and the stories behind them We’re going to discover what inspires these makers, how they perceive the world, what they grapple with - I want to get deep with this: What Marc Maron did for comedians and actors I want to do for entrepreneurs and investors and doers and thinkers creators and makers etc. and this isn’t gonna be just people in tech - it’s gonna be people in books, games, music, movies, a vast array of types of creators. Like all Product Hunt projects, it's going to be community driven. If you have recommendations for guests, let me know. Appropriately, the first episode features none other than podcast legends Alex Blumberg and Gimlet Media. We discuss the future of Gimlet Media + Startup Podcast, what it’s like behind the scenes at Gimlet, and we get deep into the craft of podcasting. Edited by Jenna Weiss Berman
Mar 17 2015
Rank #17: Maker Stories: Episode 18 w/ Daniel Pink
Daniel Pink is a NYT best selling author who writes about how can we have more fulfilling work lives We talk about the tensions between journalists and academics, the term "pop science", and what TED’s effect on intellectual culture has been. We also discuss Dan’s writing process, the differences and overlaps in his personal + professional life, and his latest book "To Sell Is Human." Check out his book here: http://www.amazon.com/To-Sell-Is-Human-Surprising/dp/1594631905 He'll be giving a live AMA on Product hunt 7/28
Jul 24 2015
Rank #18: The future of consumer tech, communities and communication with Sarah Tavel and Eric Vishria of Benchmark
On this episode I'm visiting Benchmark Capital, one of the world's most renowned venture capital firms, at their offices in the heart of the Tenderloin in San Francisco to chat with two of its general partners, Sarah Tavel and Eric Vishria.
Sarah Tavel has a unique background as an investor, then operator, and back to investor. In the mid-2000s she joined Silicon Valley-based Bessemer where she led an investment in Pinterest and others. She went on to join Pinterest back when they were only a few dozen people before returning to venture three and a half years later. She's now a GP at Benchmark and on the board of Hipcamp and Chainalysis.
Eric Vishria started his career as an operator, working at Opsware and HP before founding Rockmelt, a social take on the web browser, back in 2008. Later the company was acquired by Yahoo where Eric joined as a VP before making a leap into venture at Benchmark. Over the past four-plus years he's lead investments in Confluent, Contentful, Amplitude, and others.
In this episode we talk about:
- What it's like to go from operating to investing and the different skillsets involved in those jobs, and why Benchmark has bucked the trend of venture firms expanding both in headcount and fund size.
- What Sarah and Eric are looking for in an investment, which spaces they're most excited about (hint: they say that contrary to reports of its death, consumer is very much alive), and why each partner at the firm only does on average one or two investments in a year.
- The importance of starting a company in Silicon Valley (or not) and why we're seeing more startups build outside the Valley.
We also discuss some of her favorite products, including a couple apps that are enabling new forms of communication on mobile, an “Airbnb for campsites,” and why Sarah has been playing Fortnite for “research purposes.”
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Also, big thanks to AngelList and FreshBooks for their support. 😸
Quotes From This Episode
“When I meet with a company that's outside the Valley, I would get on a soapbox and talk about how they have to be here if they want to scale and I always kind of thought that from zero to a couple hundred million market cap, you can build that anywhere, but to be that multibillion-dollar company, you have to be here. I still believe that but not as a strongly as I used to and it's because you do see so many examples of companies that are getting started and are getting to some scale outside of the Valley.” — Sarah
“As soon as you think it’s over, it’ll probably come from an unexpected place. It won’t be a direct competitor to Facebook, it won’t be Facebook reborn. That isn’t the way it’s going to happen, it will be something unexpected, orthogonal, that comes out of nowhere but that meets this need for people to connect. I think that it’ll happen — I don’t know where, I don’t know how.” — Eric
“It's incredible to see how big many of the other venture firms are getting, and not just from a fund perspective, but from a people perspective. It's almost like they're vertically integrating. They've got seed investing, early stage investing, growth investing, some even have you know, public equity investing, debt, you know, as part of their platform. They've got talent teams and marketing teams and customer development teams and we've just decided to stay very very focused on what we do, which is being a close partner.” — Sarah
“It's really about looking at a lot of stuff, falling in love with an opportunity and an entrepreneur and deeply engaging, whereas operating is mostly figuring out how to get stuff done and very little of figuring out what to do, in a lot of ways venture is like 90% or 95% figuring out what to do and like 5% getting it done.” — Eric
Companies and Products Mentioned in This Episode
AutoSleep — Automatically track your sleep from your Apple Watch.
Bitmoji — Turns your avatar into stickers and emoji.
Breaker — The social podcast app.
Chainalysis — Building trust in blockchains.
Discord — Find people who share your interests.
Hipcamp — Airbnb for campsites.
Marco Polo — Keep in touch on the go.
Nextdoor — Connect to your neighbors.
Feb 06 2019
Rank #19: VC vs. bootstrapping and how to build big things with a small team
Today I'm visiting Stripe's office in San Francisco to chat with Patrick Collison and Courtland Allen, shortly after they announced their latest round of funding, valuing the company at a whopping $20B.
Patrick Collison is the CEO and co-founder of Stripe, an ambitious company aiming to increase the GDP of the internet. The now 1,300 person company was started in 2010 by Patrick and his brother, John Collison, at the age of 23 and 21, respectively. While young, this isn't their first startup. Prior to founding Stripe, Patrick and his brother started and sold Auctomatic for $5M in 2008.
Courtland Allen is a super talented designer and developer. In 2016 he founded Indie Hackers, an awesome community of bootstrappers and makers sharing their stories. Nine months later Stripe acquired the company. Courtland is also a Y Combinator alumnus and an MIT graduate with a degree in Computer Science.
In this episode we talk about:
- Who Patrick and Courtland's role models were when they were building their businesses, and how the right role models today can help build a more inclusive tech ecosystem.
- The influence of Indie Hackers on Stripe and why even with the great tech for online communication today, some of the best interactions between its community members happen at meetups.
- If there's too much or too little funding in tech and how the investor-founder dynamic changes when you move outside of Silicon Valley.
- Why Stripe started a book publishing business (in 2018) and the reading habits of Patrick, Courtland, and others at Stripe.
We of course also talk about some of their favorite products including a product to tell you how you sleep, helpful tools for building your next app, and some “oldies-but-goodies” that you might have forgotten about.
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Also, big thanks to our sponsors, Airtable, GE Ventures, Intercom and Stripe for their support. 😸
Quotes from This Episode
“How do we help increase the number of successful companies that get started in the world? The number of companies that get started is not some sort of cosmological constant, and if it can be increased then I think it's incredibly valuable to go and do that.” — Patrick
“Indie Hackers the movement wouldn’t have been as possible ten years ago, because there's so much more knowledge being exchanged now and so many more tools to help you build things — it's just easier to do with a small team than it ever has been.” — Courtland
“People are subject to extremely strong Girardian herd effects, so I don’t think investors are unique in this regard — they index on this popular conception of things. I think startups outside of the popular hubs are less popular than they ought to be and that people update too slowly based on changing trends.” — Patrick
“There should be more funding in the world, but more spread out and distributed more evenly.” — Courtland
“It all comes back to this idea of, 'how do we grow the GDP of the internet?'” — Patrick
Companies and Products Mentioned in This Episode
Airtable — Realtime spreadsheet-database hybrid.
Firebase — App success made simple by Google.
JUMP — Electrified, dockless bike rentals.
Emfit — Contactless sleep sensing solutions.
Pocket — Save and read news, articles and videos that fuel your mind.
Retool — Build custom internal tools in minutes.
Uber — Get a ride in minutes.
WhatsApp — Fast, cross-platform messenger.
Yelp — Crowd-sourced reviews for local businesses.
Oct 31 2018
Rank #20: Product Hunt Radio: Episode 39 w/ Josh Elman & John Lilly
Today Josh Elman and John Lilly from Greylock join us to talk about their recent investment in Meerkat, Facebook’s new Message platform, and the future of micropayment economy thanks to Square’s $Cashtags and others. Listen in.
Apr 21 2015