From Gluten-Free Pizza to Helping Startups Raise VC during Covid

Link to RAISING DURING COVID and now a Virtual Demo Day on May 22!

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I follow many women leaders on Twitter. Allison Barr Allen is one of them. Last Saturday I noticed this tweet she “liked” in my feed about gluten-free pizza.

Original tweet

I felt for the guy. I know this battle all too well. When I first met my husband, he used to get sick after almost every meal. I urged him to get checked out. He said it was pointless. He had spent years seeing doctors, gastroenterologists, getting scanned, and doing tests like a barium swallow. Not fun.

After having a few sips of a Grasshopper beer, a wheat ale, and getting sick on the patio, he decided to keep investigating and saw a dietitian. She took one look at the food log he created for her, and in five seconds recommended a gluten-free diet.

This was more or less what he used to eat:

  • Breakfast: cereal — gluten
  • Lunch: sandwich — gluten
  • Dinner: pizza or pasta — gluten — gluten

The recommendation to go gluten-free was life changing, no more getting sick, pain, and trouble gaining weight. Finding gluten-free cereal was easy. Substituting sandwiches with salads and shakes, easy. Finding a pasta and pizza substitute, not so easy.

I must have tried every gluten-free pasta on the market. Hands down, THE best, is the La Rosa brand.

Where to buy and image source

If you cook it just right, you can’t tell the difference.

In case you’re interested: Cook in salted boiling water to one minute shy of al dente. Rinse with hot water, immediately add a high quality olive oil, and toss. Add to pan with favourite sauce and finish cooking. Do not overcook.

Pizza is a whole other ballgame. The pasta took four years to figure out. Pizza took eight. See my tweets to Domm for my gluten-free pizza recommendations.

I wanted to see Domm’s progress going gluten-free (I’m assuming this because no one voluntarily eats cauliflower pizza crust) and judging by his tweets he seemed like a cool guy so I followed him. The next day I saw him tweet this:

NOTE: Author of the tweet, hiring not raising!

Link to original tweet

I scrolled through the replies, such great one line pitches! There are also some great conversations. People are actually connecting, super cool!

I know all too well the impermanence of Twitter. With an average of 500 million tweets per day, I was sad that it was a matter of time before this thread would get buried. While I was checking out the companies, I thought I may as well copy and paste the info into a Google Sheet that can be shared, saved, and referenced.

Link to original tweet

There was no automation. This was all manual. Getting the data into the Sheet was a bit of a pain. I could use shortcut keys but to a point. I needed to paste without formatting, then copy so I could transpose from vertical to horizontal. Then being the particular person that I am, I wanted the data to be consistent. Some people didn’t include the headings like “name”, “URL”, “funding source”, etc, with their info, while others did. So I used the ‘ctrl find’ shortcut and ‘replace all’ for the headings to bring about some consistency.

As I’m doing all of this I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be great to use our new list-based platform Liist? A couple of weeks ago my colleague Curtis built and launched We Are All Teachers Now to help the new masses of homeschoolers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He has four homeschooled children of his own and is tapped into the community. He knows how hard it is to find good, free resources and wants to help others by sharing what they’ve accumulated over the years.

I reached out to Curtis and asked how hard it would be to spin up one of these sites. After launching We Are All Teachers Now, people are requesting list sites of their own. He has others already launched and also wants to make a Liist with Covid-19 parody videos. Because of its popularity and many uses cases he decided to turn this into Liist, a platform for people to easily make their own list sites.

When I explained that the list I wanted to build was to help startups looking for VC funding during Covid, he jumped at the chance to help. We had already set aside some time to devote to volunteering for covid projects. Unfortunately most of the projects we were looking to join had fallen through, or as with PPE collection and distribution, the space was over saturated.

So yesterday I worked on gathering the data from Domm’s tweet and LinkedIn post and cleaning it up while Curtis worked on building the new site. I also wanted the list to have visual interest so the companies could communicate their messages better. I asked my daughter to help find images using iframely since there were over 230 companies. She found and populated the Google Sheet with links to 160 images in the time it took me to find 30. When I asked her twice how she did it so fast, she replied, “shortcut keys.” I didn’t tell her I was using shortcut keys too. The youth are amazing.

We have some ideas for advanced features but are putting those in the backlog to be assessed and prioritized later. I want this to be as true to the spirit of the original tweet as possible. However, if you are an investor using sites like these to find startups to invest in and have ideas for how to make our site better, please let me know.

This has been a fantastic experience that I hope helps startups and investors connect. I’ve been reaching out to the founders of these startups to gather any missing data. There are some really lovely people and some fantastic ideas. If you know of a startup looking for VC funding during these covid times or you are a startup founder, you are welcome to add your company info at https://raisingduringcovid.liist.io/

If you’re not a founder and don’t know of any, still check out all the cool things people are working on and spread the word! We need to support innovation and small companies looking to do big things.

More importantly, if you know of investors looking for opportunities, please share the link.

In case you’re wondering, empathy is my why…

Startup adviser, investor, mentor, Senior Product Manager at AltaML, and product advisor at Aquilio. Leads with Kindness