Why I believe startups should change the way they market themselves to investors

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I should start this piece by covering my tracks.

I do not believe that putting together investor presentation decks is a waste of time. Rather, I believe that the practice of pitching VCs is outdated, and I believe that founders’ time is better spent operating than pitching.

Decks showcase a company, the market it operates in, how it plans to position itself within the given market, and summarizes why the opportunity should be appealing to the investor being pitched. They give investors a glimpse of the business, and investors are left to make a decision after going through 15–20 slides and hearing a 5–10 minute pitch. …

Why I believe that Notion is positioned to become the next notable platform business

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Notion is the best software application I use today.

I use the app to organize my personal and professional life, and Notion remains the only product I use that I feel an urge to promote. Although I have no affiliation with Notion, I have acted as an unpaid marketing ambassador for the company as I have written multiple pieces on Notion, and I have urged coworkers to adopt the software for themselves.

Since I first started using Notion, I have noticed my usage scenarios have changed with practice. This got me thinking, and I have gone down a rabbit hole thinking about applications and opportunities that remain. …

An emergence of sales tools have quickly resulted in a restructuring of sales teams

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Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

ZoomInfo debuted onto public markets last week, and its IPO did not underperform. After opening at $21 per share, the company’s stock is now trading at ~$50, valuing the company close to $20 billion.

To better understand the price detachment over the first week of trading, I tried to set out and discover what macro trends investors are factoring in today. Although not newsworthy, my findings suggest that field salesman are quickly becoming irrelevant.

For every company, sales are critical. As a result, businesses typically spend significantly on sales and marketing activities.

Why the position of executive assistant is not going away any time soon

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Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Anybody that has had an assistant will be the first to acknowledge the value they bring to the organization.

Executive assistants are the gatekeepers of an executives’ time.

Assistants optimize schedules, filter distractions, and prepare executives for the things that matter. This allows managers to be proactive rather than reactive, and it opens up their schedule to focus on strategic initiatives that push the company forward.

Despite all of this, email, calendar, and task management software have put executive assistants at risk of having their jobs automated away. …

How Barstool’s founder has influenced the financial markets

Going by his alias, Davey Day Trader, Dave Portnoy has shifted his focus away from the sports world into the stock market.

Since March 23rd, Portnoy has become a full-time day trader, and he has been kind enough to stream his experiences for the world to watch. Dave has had a rollercoaster couple of months (he has been long on airlines and cruises), but his foray into trading has provided a few takeaways.

People will go to great lengths to avoid boredom.

No live sports, concerts, or weekend plans have shown us how much we desire live entertainment. For the first time in our lives, there is no topic for gossip, yet unsurprisingly, people are spending more time than ever in front of screens to distract themselves from reality. …

The next evolution of software is already here

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Despite its levels of awareness, software is still understood by only a small fraction of the globe.

According to estimates, there were roughly 23.9 million software developers in 2019. At first glance, this number seems relatively large, but when you remind yourself that there are 7.785 billion people in the world, you quickly understand that roughly 0.3% of the world is software literate.

Because of this distinction, organizations have historically made software decisions using a top-down approach. CIOs and executives ultimately decided what software applications their organizations would use because they were the ones that understood what was being sold. Product functionality was rewarded, but little thought was given to the experience of the end user. …

Why I believe Uber’s future narrative has become even more difficult to believe

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Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Uber is no longer a startup, yet its valuation is rooted on narratives.

The company has become a poster child for the detachment between private and public equity markets, and the famous debates between Bill Gurley and Aswath Damodaran demonstrate this disconnect. Each of these men are at the top of their respective fields, and their arguments over the years are an exhibit of how divisive the topic of Uber’s valuation is.

In the eyes of VCs, Uber’s vision and growth justified increases in its valuation, but public markets have punished the company for failing to turn this vision and growth into shareholder returns. …

Why the successful companies of tomorrow are investing heavily in product design today

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Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

The aesthetic bar for software design has been raised, and as consumers evolve to demand more out of products, businesses will be challenged by the tradeoff between product functionality and simplicity. I believe the most important hires of the next decade will be user-focused designers who are able to effectively simplify complex systems.

The market of software buyers has changed

Employees, not department heads, are today’s software buyers, and these users have sophisticated technology expectations based on their experiences with consumer-facing apps. Data suggests that the average mobile app loses 80% of its users within three days of download. …

Why venture debt is set to take off

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Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Debt is a four-letter word.

Debt is what someone owes somebody else. It is usually in the form of money, but it can also come in the form of collateral such as property, services, or other things. Debt trades the future for the present.

For startups with limited collateral aside from intellectual property, lines of code, and a narrative, debt has been avoided for much of the past two decades. Instead, startups have sought capital by exchanging equity, and the success of firms such as Facebook, Snap, Alibaba, Twitter, and Dropbox has acted as support for this model.

Early success brought increased interest from institutional capital, and by 2008, global annual venture capital investment sat at $53 billion. Today that numbers stand at close to $300 billion per annum. …

VCs bet on consumption enablement during a time of entrapment

Last week, Stripe raised $600 million, valuing the company at $36 billion dollars. Investors are scared to write checks right now, so I wanted to unpack the rationale behind this mega-deal.

Before beginning, let’s revisit how the global economy grades itself.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the monetary value of all goods and services produced by a country in a given period. Nominal GDP is the sum of private consumption, government spending, private investment, and net exports. …


Clay Norris

Middle of three brothers. I like cool ideas and pretending that I am more interesting than I actually am. // www.confluence.vc

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