How to make everyone happy after you raise your round, understanding the VC playbook and (not) being the king of garden gnomes.

Happy Saturday.

Once again, I’m in flight today. This time, I’m heading back to DC for some much-needed R&R after a busy schedule in Lincoln and Omaha, NE. I’ll be spending a couple days later this week exploring the Kansas City, MO startup scene.

If you’re an active investor (angel or VC) or founder/entrepreneur (with revenue, growth or other skills to share), I’d love to have you join me on some of the upcoming tech tour stops. You’ll meet policymakers, investors and founders and share your story / skills along the way — hit reply if you’re interested. (Upcoming stops include St Louis, Waterloo, Fargo and many more. I hope you’ll join me.)

Last week, we had Mesh Lakhani on the weekly Brain Trust call. We covered everything from how he chooses which funds/startups to invest in, how he built Future Investor and specific tactics he used to get into the highly competitive world of tech investing just a few years ago. We’ll keep doing this each Friday and I’ll bring on other special guests from time to time. You can apply for the Brain Trust

1. “Essentially, I want to compare your life to mine as a teenager.” [Link] [Tweet]

Most of the people in today’s workforce are going to be the last generation that lived in a time before we all carried screens in our pockets. We learned multiplication tables in school, went to the library to use the encyclopedias and checked our mailboxes once a day. Then the Internet happened.

2. “You are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not a failure.” [Link] [Tweet]

Everyone’s struggling with something, it’s OK to talk about it with the people around you.

3. I’m leading a Syndicate on AngelList (for companies I meet on the #RJTechTour this year). Get access to my deals: [Link] [Tweet]

I know, I know. I’ve been saying this forever but I really don’t know how else to give you access to the same investments I’m doing. You can back the Syndicate with as little as $1,000 and you get to review each deal individually to decide whether you want to participate — there really is nothing for you to lose. Back my Syndicate and start looking at interesting investments I’m making today:

For the first deal I’ll be pushing to the Syndicate soon, the company is currently earning ~$25K MRR and growing that by ~15% MoM. Current investors have also invested in Gusto (previously Zenpayroll), Indinero, TeeSpring, FitMob, Mattermark and Luxe Valet are some of their other well-known investments.

Again, you won’t see the details of the deal itself unless you back my Syndicate. So, yeah. You’ve got nothing to lose.

4. “being a good early stage investor is much more art than a science.” [Link] [Tweet]

It takes more than having a little bit of cash to be a good early stage investor. You’d be surprised to learn just how many people I’ve met along the tech tour this year that don’t seem to recognize that simple fact.

5. “Raise a $1m seed?  You’ll need to sell for $10m to make everyone happy.” [Link] [Tweet]

For all the talk that founders have about how much money they want to raise or how high their valuation ought to be, I’d love to see more questions around what metrics those same founders think are necessary to achieve a 10X valuation increase.

6. “It’s not money until you can buy beer with it.” [Link] [Tweet]

If you want to better understand why VCs make the decisions they make, start by reading this.

7. “Maps shape how we see the world.” [Link] [Tweet]

I grew up with maps (and hope my daughter loves them as much as I do) but I’ve never seen some of these. Just look at the one depicting the trade partners of the US and China. Eye opening, to say the least.

8. “You don’t want to be king of the garden gnomes.” [Link] [Tweet]

Another observation on the tech tour this year: each city seems to have it’s share of power players that wants nothing more than to be the biggest fish in the little pond of their own city. Seems like wasted breath to me.

9. “VCs running a playbook they didn’t write, investing money they didn’t make, chasing returns they’ll never see.” [Link] [Tweet]

The irony of the venture industry is that we give money to founders that are trying to do something in a new way while we keep running our investing businesses the same way we have for the past fifty years. And then we wonder why the returns aren’t coming.

10. “Lambs think increasing headcount is success. Lions understand eliminating work with automation is the goal.” [Link] [Tweet]

Focus. On. The. Right. Stuff.


You can get the full stream of the things I read, it’s all on Twitter — follow me: @paulsingh. Sometimes I write stuff too. You can always find me in the Brain Trust, apply to join.

Have a great weekend!