20VC: Lightspeed Partner, Merci Victoria Grace on The Future of Collaboration Tools, Bundling vs Unbundling, Synchronous vs Asynchronous & What It Means To Productise The S*** Out of Venture

Merci Victoria Grace is a Partner @ Lightspeed Venture Partners, one of the valley’s leading venture firms of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Snapchat, Mulesoft, Affirm, AppDynamics and more. As for Merci, prior to entering the world of venture, Merci spent 3 years at Slack including as Head of Growth where she grew the growth team to over 50 people and drove DAU’s from 500K to 5M in under 2 years. Merci is also the Founder of Women In Product a global community of incredible women in product management.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Merci made her way into the world of venture having led the growth team at Slack for close to 3 years?

2.) Merci has been working to productise venture, so what core elements of venture need productising? What systems and tools has Merci put in place to create a product around these processes and methods? What have been the biggest challenge in the attempt to productise VC?

3.) How does the decision-making process look like at Lightspeed? How does Merci use post mortems to help her improve post having lost a deal? How does she structure those post-mortems? What have been some of the core takeaways? What internal tech stack does LSVP run itself on?

4.) How does Merci see the future of the collaboration tools market? Are we entering a period of bundling or unbundling? How does Merci feel about the debate between synchronous and asynchronous? How does Merci determine between those who have grown sustainably vs unsustainably in the time of COVID?

5.) Why do the majority of collaboration tool startups fail? What do they get so wrong in their go-to-market? For those that succeed, what are the commonalities in those that succeed? Why is being good at Twitter a competitive advantage? How does Merci feel about the Superhuman, high touch onboarding style?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Merci’s Fave BookNever Split The Difference: Negotiate As If Your Life Depended on It

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20VC: How To Scientifically Measure Product-Market Fit, How To Efficiently and Accurately Segment Users Into Cohorts & Why Investors Analysing CAC’s at Pre-Seed Is Not Useful with Daniel Erickson, Founder & CEO @ Viable Fit

Daniel Erickson is the Founder & CEO @ Viable Fit, the startup that allows you to find product-market fit faster than ever by collecting structured user feedback to measure PMF on an ongoing basis. Daniel has raised funding from the likes of David Sacks @ Craft Ventures, Jeff Morris Jr, Todd Goldberg and Superhuman Founder, Rahul Vohra and then also Brianne Kimmel @ Worklife Ventures. Prior to founding Viable Fit, Daniel was VP Engineering @ Eaze and before that spent time as CTO @ Getable and then also had a front-row seat for the hyper-growth of Yammer with a 3-year stint there.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Daniel made his way into the valley and startups from setting up a consultancy in Portland and how that led to founding Viable Fit?

2.) How does Daniel define product-market fit today? Why does Daniel believe it is the single most important metric for startups? What happens if you do not have product market fit? How does Daniel feel about investors spending so much time analysing unit economics at seed?

3.) What is the single most important question one can ask to determine whether you have PMF? How does customer segmentation play a role in revealing the true PMF number? How do you productise this and put it in a process? What does Daniel make of the rise of closed betas?

4.) Once they have the customer data, what elements of the data should founders double down on to determine PMF? How do they determine between feedback to adopt vs discard? Why does Daniel believe PMF is transient and you always have to measure it?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Daniel’s Fave Book: Atomic Habits by James Clear

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20VC: It’s Time To Talk About Drinking; How To Stop, The Impact It Has, How Life Changes Post-Alcohol and The Biggest Misconceptions on Drinking with Ryan Petersen, Founder @ Flexport, Justin Kan, Founder @ Twitch, Matteo Franceschetti, Founder @ Eight Sleep & Steve Schlafman, Coach & Investor @ High Output

Ryan Petersen is the Founder & CEO @ Flexport, the operating system for global trade with over $1.3Bn in funding from the likes of Softbank, Founders Fund, DST, GV and First Round to name a few.

Justin Kan is the Founder @ Atrium and Twitch (acq by Amazon for $1Bn). Justin is also a prolific angel with a portfolio including the likes of Scale AI, Digits, Cruise and Triplebyte to name a few.

Matteo Franceschetti is the Founder & CEO @ Eight Sleep, the #1 Smart Mattress, designed to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. To date, Matteo has raised over $70M from Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Craft Ventures, Kevin Hartz and Ryan Petersen to name a few.

Steve Schlafman is a Coach and Investor @ High Output. Previously Steve was a Partner @ Primary Ventures in NYC and before that Principal @ RRE.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) What was your realisation moment for stopping drinking? How did it come about? What was your prior relationship to alcohol like?

2.) For me I always found an excuse to not stop drinking, when you think about your attempts to give up, what excuses did you provide as reasons for continuing to drink? What insecurities and vulnerabilities did drinking hide and mask for you? How did it impact them?

3.) From a literal standpoint, how did you approach giving up the act of drinking? What tools did you find most helpful? What resources do you recommend? How has your life changed since you stopped drinking? Matteo, you have the data from Eight Sleep, what does the data say about how stopping drinking truly impacts your sleep?

4.) People often say that stopping drinking kills your social life, what would you respond to that commonly held belief? What other core misconceptions do you find people hold towards drinking? To those considering giving up drinking, what would you advise them? What do you know now about alcohol that you wish you had known earlier?

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

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20VC: TravelPerk’s Avi Meir on Why 2021 Will Be A Record Year For Business Travel, The 3 Priorities For All Founders During COVID, What VCs Can Do To Really Support Their Founders In A Recession

Avi Meir is the Founder & CEO @ TravelPerk, the travel management platform that combines the best of leisure and corporate travel into one smooth experience. To date, Avi has raised over $134m with TravelPerk from the likes of DST, Spark Capital, Felix Capital and Heartcore to name a few. Prior to founding TravelPerk, Avi co-founded HotelNinjas, a hotel management product that was acquired by Booking.com. Before that Avi was VP Product at budgetplaces where he managed a team of 50 across product and marketing.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Avi made his way into the world of startups and came to change the way we think of corporate travel with TravelPerk?

2.) Why has Avi advocated for the re-opening of society much sooner than others have done? If Avi were in government, what would he advocate for and do? How does Avi try and effectively assess the core risks of COVID both from a societal and economic perspective?

3.) How does Avi feel when he hears the comparison of COVID to Saars or 9/11 when it comes to their impact on travel? Why is this so different? Why does Avi believe 2021 will be a bigger year for business travel than 2019?

4.) How does Avi advise founders heavily impacted by COVID to really effectively analyse their spend and optimise runway? How does Avi think approach the element that sales and marketing is now non-revenue driving? How does Avi approach resource allocation as a result?

5.) Does Avi believe we will see a fundamental re-shaping of corporate travel? What will change? How does domestic travel change? What will the landscape look like on the other side? Who will survive? Who will thrive? Does Avi feel now is an opportune time for M&A?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Avi’s Fave Book: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

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20VC: Elad Gil on Startup Offense and Defence in a Recession, How The Venture Landscape Has Shifted & All Things Valuations, Secondaries and Layoffs

Elad Gil is one of Silicon Valley’s most successful and prominent angels of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Stripe, Square, Airbnb, Pinterest, Instacart, Flexport and Brex to name a few. Prior to solely company investing, Elad was an operator as Founder and CEO @ Color Genomics for their first 3 years. Before Color, Elad was a VP of Corporate Strategy @ Twitter following their acquisition of the company he founded, Mixer Labs. Before founding Mixer, Elad spent 3 years at Google where he was involved with 3 acquisition including the Android acquisition.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Elad made his way into the world of startups and how that led to his investing in some of the most prominent companies of the last decade?

2.) How is the venture and startup landscape shifting right now? What does Elad make of the large multi-stage funds re-entering seed? How does Elad advise founders when it comes to taking secondaries?

3.) What are the core elements startups need to assess to fully understand their cash position? What is the optimal runway to have and to raise for today? How can founders stress test their runway models? Where does Elad see the most mistakes when it comes to runway?

4.) Does Elad believe the VC messages of “Open for Business” during COVID? How does Elad advise founders when it comes to valuation sensitivity today? What are the core terms that founders should watch out for when raising? How does Elad see venture fund reserve allocations changing?

5.) What are the core tenets of an effective layoff strategy? How should they determine the right level of aggression with which to make cuts? How can layoffs be done in a way that maintains internal culture and morale? Where does Elad see many going wrong when it comes to layoffs?

6.) Which business will thrive in COVID times? Which will die? What are the leading indicators of each? How does Elad determine in the businesses that are growing immensely during COVID, those that are sustainable growth and those which are purely due to COVID?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Elad’s Fave BookMaster of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Elad’s Most Recent InvestmentDeel

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

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20VC: TripActions CEO Ariel Cohen on The Future of Business and Personal Travel & Layoffs; How To Do Them The Right Way & Maintain Company Culture and Morale

Ariel Cohen is the Founder & CEO @ TripActions, the company trusted by more than 4,000 companies to manage their business travel and expenses. To date, Ariel has raised more than $980M with TripActions from the likes of Lightspeed, Oren Zeev and a16z to name a few. Prior to TripActions, Ariel co-founded StreamOnce, a business multimedia integration platform which was acquired by Jive Software. Prior to StreamOnce, Ariel led Product Management in a senior leadership role at Hewlett-Packard.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Ariel made his way into the world of tech and came to change the way we think about business travel today with TripActions?

2.) What are TripActions doing in their business to be there for their partners, customers and suppliers in the long term? TripActions engaged in layoffs, how did Ariel approach the size of layoff required? What is the right way to do layoffs? How does this change in a remote world?

3.) Given the uncertainty, how does Ariel advise founders to assess and correct their burn and spending? What is a reasonable amount of runway to reserve for? For those hit hard on the demand side, what can they do to build durable defensibility when they can’t scale demand?

4.) How does Ariel view the future of business travel? Does Zoom replace much of the business trips? What will the landscape look like in 3 years? What players will survive? Who will thrive?

5.) From a founder psychology perspective, what has Ariel done to cope in these very challenging times? What has worked? What has not worked? What does Ariel advise founders struggling to cope psychologically? What can investors do to be there for their founders?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Ariel’s Fave Book: Mr Vertigo

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

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

20VC: 7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy: Deconstructing Economies of Scale, How To Assess True Market Size, Assessing Risk vs Uncertainty, What “Brand As Power” Really Means with Hamilton Helmer, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer @ Strategy Capital

Hamilton Helmer is the Managing Partner & Chief Investment Officer @ Strategy Capital a long-only public equity fund that selects securities for investment based on Power Dynamics, a proprietary model of fundamental value, developed by Hamilton over decades of strategy consulting with clients such as Hewlett-Packard, Adobe and more. Hamilton is also the author of one of my favourite books, 7 Powers. If that was not enough, Hamilton is also an Instructor in the Economics Department @ Stanford University.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Hamilton made his way into the world of investing from advising some of the largest tech titans on the planet with Adobe and HP?

2.) What is a strategy mental model? What makes the most effective strategic models? What characteristics do they have? How should founders balance between sticking to models and being willing to change them? What are Hamilton’s biggest takeaways from working with Netflix?

3.) “All strategy begins with invention”, what did Hamilton mean by this? How does Hamilton explain the success of copycats in markets? How does Hamilton separate between first mover and creator? How does Hamilton analyse the transition from startup to pricer with scale economics?

4.) How does Hamilton advise founders to view and approach competition? Why does Hamilton totally disagree with the requirement of being 10x better than your competition? Is product innovation alone enough without brand or business model innovation?

5.) How does Hamilton define “brand”? Is brand an attainable strategy alone or is it the byproduct of something else? How transferable is brand in one category to alternative categories? How does a brand truly know when they have sustainable leverage and power?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Hamilton’s Fave BookThe Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe, Stardust

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

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

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