20VC: Gusto Co-Founder, Tomer London on Why Most Founders Approach Fundraising With The Wrong Mindset Today, How To Construct A Values/Motivation Alignment Test To Determine The Right Investors For You & Why Delight Is So Crucial To The Success of Any Consumer Facing Product

Tomer @ Gusto

Tomer London is the Co-Founder @ Gusto, the people platform for small businesses providing one place to run payroll, manage benefits, and support your team. To date, Tomer and the team have raised over $520M with Gusto from some of the industry’s leading investors including General Catalyst, CapitalG, Kleiner Perkins, T Rowe, Fidelity and more and then individuals including Shopify Founder Tobias Luttke, Sam Altman, Max Levchin, Matt Mullenweg, Kevin Hartz and Elad Gil to name a few. Prior to Gusto, Tomer did a PHD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford and before that was Founder and CEO @ Vizmo, mobile self-service technologies for enterprise to try to fix customer care.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Tomer made his way from creating inventory management software for his Father’s small business in Israel to Stanford and founding the unicorn that is Gusto?

2.) Why does Tomer believe that most founders approach fundraising with the wrong mindset today? What does he mean when he says, “fundraising = creating change”? What is the “values motivation alignment”? How can founders use it to help them select the right investor for them? Why should you add investors just as you would new team members?

3.) Having raised over $200M in the latest financing, how does Tomer think about when is the right time to pour fuel on the fire and go big? Is it a fundamentally different mindset when you have so much cash thrown on you? What would Tomer advise founders with suddenly expanded budgets? With 111 investors on the Gusto cap table, what would Tomer advise founders when it comes to cap table management?

4.) What have been Tomer’s biggest learnings when it comes to building a delightful product at scale across different segments? How important does Tomer feel time to delight from the UX perspective is? How does Tomer think about testing levels of user delight? NPS? Product analytics? How does Tomer think about the balance between product development and going all out for scaling?

5.) How has Tomer seen himself change and evolve as a leader of the last 5 years? What elements has he found super challenging to come to grips with? Where does Tomer believe he has a superpower on the flip side? Question from Laela @ CapitalG, what specifically did you do to create the culture that you did in the early days?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Tomer’s Fave Book: No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Tomer on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Carta simplifies how startups and investors manage equity, track cap tables, and get valuations. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off. More than 800,000 employees and shareholders use Carta to manage hundreds of billions of dollars in equity and Carta now offers Fund Administration so you can see real-time data in the Carta platform and work with Carta’s team of experienced fund accountants. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off.

20VC: Vinod Khosla on What Venture Assistance Really Means, Why Many VCs Are Not Qualified To Advise Founders & Why Startups Can Innovate So Much Faster Than Incumbents

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Vinod Khosla is the Founder @ Khosla Ventures, one of the valley’s most renowned firms of the last decade with a portfolio including Square, Affirm, DoorDash, Impossible Foods and OpenDoor just to name a few. As for Vinod, he started his career as a Founder, founding Daisy Systems, a company that went on to IPO. Then in 1982, Vinod founded Sun Microsystems where he pioneered open systems and commercial RISC processors. In 1986, Vinod joined his longtime friend, John Doerr and became a General Partner @ KPCB where he helped incubate Juniper Networks and helped transform the telecommunications business with Cerent Corporation, which was acquired by Cisco Systems in 1999 for $7.2 billion.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Vinod made his way into the world of startups with the founding of Daisy and Sun Microsystems and how that led to his entry into the world of venture with KPCB and ultimately founding Khosla Ventures?

2.) How does Vinod feel about the term “venture assistance” today? Where does Vinod believe VCs can really drive value? How does Vinod allocate his time to drive as much value for the portfolio as possible? How does Vinod get involved when it comes to talent acquisition for the portfolio?

3.) Why does Vinod believe that most board members are not qualified to advise entrepreneurs today? Why does Vinod believe that most value is driven outside of the board? What can founders to do make their boards as efficient as possible? How does Vinod advise founders to determine which advice to take vs which to disregard?

4.) How does Vinod assess his own approach and attitude to risk today? What does Vinod believe are acceptable vs unacceptable risks in startups? How does Vinod believe the very best founders think about risk management? Does Vinod agree time is the biggest killer of startups? Why does Vinod believe startups are so much quicker to innovate than incumbents?

5.) Why does Vinod believe that tolerance for failure has gone down in Silicon Valley? How does Vinod determine between the realism of when something is not work and to give up vs the visionary persistence to see a project through to the very end? What experience of his own have really led his thinking here?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Vinod’s Fave Book: Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum BiologyThe Third Pillar

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Vinod on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: Twitch Founder & CEO Emmett Shear on When To Persist vs When To Give Up For Entrepreneurs, The Fundamental Tension When Scaling Orgs and How To Optimise Them & How The Role of CEO Fundamentally Changes with Scale

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Emmett Shear is the Co-Founder & CEO @ Twitch, the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers and the things we love. Prior to Twitch’s exit to Amazon for a reported $970M, Emmett raised over $42M in funding from some of the best including Thrive Capital, Bessemer, Mike Maples, Aydin Senkut, Paul Graham and Y Combinator. Emmett is also a part-time Partner @ Y Combinator, advising YC companies on everything from fundraising strategy to product decisions to hiring and firing. Before Twitch, Emmett co-founded Kiko, a company he later sold on eBay for 6 figures.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Emmett made his way into the world of startups with Kiko? How he ended up selling that for 6 figures on eBay? How that led to the creation of Justin.TV & Twitch?

2.) Why does Emmett believe starting a startup is like “deciding to take on the burden of Sisyphus?” At what point in the journey does is start to get easier? Does Emmett agree with many on the show who say, “it does not get easier, it just gets different”? How does one know when to give up vs when to persist and follow the vision?

3.) How does Emmett think about structuring an org at 1,500 people? Why does Emmett believe there is a fundamental tension when scaling teams between centralisation and decentralisation? How does one structure a reorg without causing instability? How does one communicate the reorg to the team? Where does Emmett see many go wrong here?

4.) Does Emmett agree the best CEOs are the best resource allocators? How does Emmett approach internal resource allocation today between both functions and projects? What does he find most challenging here? What does the decision-making process look like? What are his takeaways from Apple, Amazon and Microsoft in how they determine and process resource allocation internally?

5.) How does Emmett believe he has changed and evolved as a leader over the last 10 years with Twitch? What elements has he found the most challenging to master? What has he done to combat those weaknesses? Where has he always been naturally strong? What makes him so good at those particular functions?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Emmett’s Fave Book: Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Emmett on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Carta simplifies how startups and investors manage equity, track cap tables, and get valuations. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off. More than 800,000 employees and shareholders use Carta to manage hundreds of billions of dollars in equity and Carta now offers Fund Administration so you can see real-time data in the Carta platform and work with Carta’s team of experienced fund accountants. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off.

20VC: Ashton Kutcher on Early Lessons From Investing in Airbnb and Spotify, Why VC Ownership Requirements Are Becoming More and More Egregious & What Being Good At Product Truly Means

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Ashton Kutcher is a Founder & General Partner @ Sound Ventures. Over the last 5 years, Ashton and his partner, Guy Oseary, have built Sound into one of the West Coast’s leading new entrants with a portfolio including Lambda School, Calm, Gitlab, Affirm, Bird and many more incredible companies. As for Ashton, he started his investing career as an angel with early home runs including Spotify, Alibaba, Skype, Airbnb and Optimizely. Due to his immense success both in media and technology, Ashton has been named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Ashton made his way into the world of startups with his foray into angel investing in Skype, Spotify etc? How did that lead to his founding Sound Ventures most recently?

2.) How does Ashton’s background in the world of media impact Sound’s investment strategy and the type of deals they get excited by? Question from Daniel Ek @ Spotify: How did your deal sourcing look lin the early days? How has that changed over time and with the institutionalisation of Sound?

3.) Why does Ashton believe people creating the future are perpetually young? What question does Ashton always like to ask founders? What does he look for in their answer? How does Ashton ensure founders feel comfortable with him? What does he do to allow them to open up? What is the hardest thing Ashton feels he has persevered through?

4.) How does Ashton build strong product intuition about products in areas he is not familiar with? In terms of great product, Ashton backed Spotify with Daniel Ek and Shak Khan, what did Ashton see in Spotify way back then? How did Shak and Daniel innovate on distribution and customer acquisition with him and Spotify?

5.) What have been Ashton’s learnings in what it takes to truly win the best and most competitive deals? Before as an angel, Ashton’s check size was friendly, now with Sound it is competitive with VCs, how does Ashton approach the element of now competing with many VCs he once co-operated with? What does Ashton make of the rise of many celebrity investors today?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Ashton’s Fave Book: The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed the World, Scale: The Universal Laws of Life and Death in Organisms, Cities and Companies

Ashton’s Most Recent Investment: Community

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Ashton on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

 

20VC: How Founders Should Think Through Distribution and Customer Acquisition Today, The Challenges of the Digital Advertising Duopoly Currently & How To Structure Company Post Mortems Effectively with Gabriel Weinberg, Founder & CEO @ DuckDuckGo

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Gabriel Weinberg is the Founder & CEO @ DuckDuckGo, the Internet privacy company that empowers you to seamlessly take control of your personal information online, without any tradeoffs. Over the last 12 years, Gabe has scaled DuckDuckGo to doing 1.6Bn private searches every month, a team of 83 full time fully remote employees, raising funding from some of the best in the business; USV and most importantly, being a profitable company. If that was not enough, Gabe has also written two phenomenal books, Traction and Super Thinking. 

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Gabriel made his way into the world of startups and came to found one of today’s leading search engines and privacy companies in DuckDuckGo?

2.) Gabriel decided to raise from USV 4 years into the life of DDG, why did he believe that was the right time? Why does Gabe believe that DDG never needed any primary capital? How does Gabe advise founders to think when it comes to chasing profitability early? How does Gabe view the relationship between growth and capital? Are they in conflict or aligned? What does Gabe make of the many $100M rounds getting done today?

3.) How does Gabe feel about the lack of free and open distribution today? How does Gabe strategise when it comes to channel diversification? What is the right level of marketing channel diversification to have? How do you know when to really double down on one that is working? How should founders be thinking about channel saturation rates? What have been Gabes biggest lessons on payback period over the last 12 years with DDG?

4.) How does Gabe feel about the digital advertising duopoly on the internet between Facebook and Google? Why does Gabe argue that this duo of incumbents are so much more powerful than any other prior generation of incumbents? How does Gabe think about strategies to reduce their data monopolies?

5.) DDG is 83 people and fully remote, what have been Gabe’s biggest lessons on what it takes to run a fully-remote team from Day 1? What mistakes did they make? WHat would Gabe advise founders contemplating the fully remote strategy? Why does Gabe have nor formal hierarchy or org chart internally at DDG? Why is this so important for culture and employee morale?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Gabe’s Fave Book: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Gabe on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Carta simplifies how startups and investors manage equity, track cap tables, and get valuations. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off. More than 800,000 employees and shareholders use Carta to manage hundreds of billions of dollars in equity and Carta now offers Fund Administration so you can see real-time data in the Carta platform and work with Carta’s team of experienced fund accountants. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off.

20VC: Lessons from 150 Angel Investments into the likes of Carta, Gusto, Airtable and Superhuman, Creating Algorithms and Models For Investing At Seed & Why Younger Investors Have An Advantage When It Comes To Finding Deals Early with Jude Gomila, Angel Investor & Founder @ Golden

Jude Gomila @ Golden

Jude Gomila is the Founder & CEO @ Golden, creating the world’s first self-constructing knowledge database built by artificial and human intelligence. To date, Jude has raised from some of the best in the business including Founders Fund, a16z, SV Angel and one of my dearest friends, Josh Buckley. Jude is also a prolific angel having invested in over 150 companies including Carta, Airtable, Superhuman, Gusto, Linear and many more incredible companies. Prior to Golden, Jude started Heyzap (now used by 100,000 mobile apps) alongside former guest Immad, now Founder of Mercury.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jude made his way into the world of tech and Silicon Valley having been born and raised in Harrow, London? How did he then make his way into the world of investing?

2.) What models should investors and founders have common ground on? Where are founders and investors often misaligned? What does Jude mean when he says he uses “algorithms for investing”? How are these algorithms structured? What is within them? How can/should people build their own?

3.) Why does Jude very much disagree with spray and pray to be the dominant model to make money at seed? How does Jude think about portfolio construction having now made 180 investments? How has Jude’s approach and attitude to ownership changed over time?

4.) Does Jude agree with Semil Shah that founders are voting with their feet and taking multi-stage money at seed today? How does Jude evaluate the approach of multi-stage funds back into seed? How does Jude think about VC value add? Where does he believe they really can add value? Where do people think they do but they actually do not?

5.) How does Jude foresee the future of the early-stage market? Will we see a generation of old school venture firms die out? Why does Jude believe younger investors have a higher chance of finding and winning the next best deal? How does Jude believe the angel ecosystem will shake out? Will we fundamentally see the unbundling of capital?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Jude’s Fave Book: Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Jude’s Most Recent Investment: Linear

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Jude on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: Why You Never Want To Fight A Fair Fit For Distribution, Why No Great Company Is Built with 1 Product and When To Release Your Second & What Founders Can Do To Extract The Most From Their Cap Table with Shoaib Makani, Founder & CEO @ KeepTruckin

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Shoaib Makani is the Co-Founder & CEO @ KeepTruckin, the modern fleet management platform building solutions that make drivers and fleets safer, smarter, and more efficient. To date, Shoaib has raised over $229M from some of the world’s leading investors including Index, GV, Greenoaks, IVP & Scale Venture Partners. Pre-founding KeepTruckin, Shoaib was an investor @ Khosla Ventures where he led investments in Instacart, Everlane and Indiegogo to name a few. Before venture with Khosla, Shoaib was on the operations side enjoying roles at both Google and Admob.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Shoaib made his way from the very comfortable world of venture to changing the way trucking fleets are managed today with KeepTruckin? How does Shoaib analyse and assess his own attitude to risk today?

2.) How has Shoaib seen himself change and evolve as a leader over the last few years? How did his time investing impact how he approaches the role of CEO? How does Shoaib think about appropriate market sizing today? What advice does he give to founders on this? What is a reasonable market penetration to assume if successful?

3.) What advice would Shoaib give founders when it comes to successful board management? How does Shoaib ensure investors have the right context at the right time to provide advice? What does that information flow to investors look like? How does Shoaib determine between the advice to accept vs what to reject?

4.) Shoaib thought about distribution and customer acquisition long before he launched the product, why? What did this thought process conclude with? Does Shoaib believe you have to own your own lines of distribution to succeed? How does Shoaib feel when it comes to current CAC’s on incumbent platforms?

4.) As a founder, what does Shoaib say is his biggest mistake made in the KeepTrickin journey? How does Shoaib think about what it takes to acquire the very best talent? How does Shoaib advise founders work with recruiters? What can they do to really get the most out of them? When can this function be brought in house?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Shoaib’s Fave Book: Presidents of War

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Shoaib on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Carta simplifies how startups and investors manage equity, track cap tables, and get valuations. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off. More than 800,000 employees and shareholders use Carta to manage hundreds of billions of dollars in equity and Carta now offers Fund Administration so you can see real-time data in the Carta platform and work with Carta’s team of experienced fund accountants. Go to carta.com/20vc to get 10% off.

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