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How This Founder Learned to Trust Her Gut and Grow Her $3 Million Probiotics Company

When it comes to business, Harris would rather listen to her own instincts than to advice from well-meaning MBAs: “If they knew exactly how to do it, they’d be doing it,” she says. “We’re learning as we go, and trusting our gut has been the best lesson so far.” Here, Harris holds a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast–scoby for short–which ferments kombucha.
Amy Lombard

After Ashley Harris and her family began experimenting with probiotics at a doctor’s recommendation, they saw digestive issues clear up, eczema disappear, and moods improve. She wanted to help other families overcome similar ailments, so in 2015 she founded LoveBug Probiotics, a New York City-based supplements business that grew its revenue 2,621 percent in three years, and landed deals with major retailers like Target and CVS. Despite having limited business experience, here’s how she pulled from her previous career as a 19th-century European paintings​ specialist at Sotheby’s to get LoveBug started. –As told to Anna Meyer

We launched selling our products on Amazon and on our website. But those early days were tough. The space is competitive, and my startup didn’t have the kind of budget for marketing that other probiotic companies have.

With my art background, I focused on creating bold-colored packaging and tongue-in-cheek branding messages like “Feel good from the inside out” and “Yeast is a beast.” It helped us stand out among competitors that had very clinical marketing and branding. Our approach resonated with customers, and incoming positive Amazon reviews helped more and more eyes land on our page. By the end of that first year, my startup took in around $115,000 in revenue.

Amy Lombard

In 2016, my instincts and art background served me again: I traveled to Anaheim, California to an industry trade show, Natural Products Expo West, to create an over-the-top display booth with Ikea furniture and bookcases that I put together on the spot. Throwing a corporate banner over a folding table wasn’t going to cut it. Compared to the bland, run-of-the-mill corporate booths around us, we stood out and buyers from national retailers all came looking, and after hearing my story, became interested in doing business.

Fast forward three years, and by the end of 2018, I grew the brand 2,621 percent, landed deals with national retailers like Target and CVS, put product through the doors of more than 10,000 retail locations, and brought in over $3.1 million in revenue in 2018.

Courtesy Company

As a first time founder with a background in art and literature, a lot of well-meaning people with MBAs told me how I should run my business. I felt pressured to listen to them, but I learned to trust my own instincts. If they knew exactly how to do it, they’d be doing it. My team and I are learning as we go, and trusting our gut has been the best lesson so far.

In addition to growing my business, I like to experiment with fermenting probiotic-rich foods in my own kitchen. From wild yeast in a homemade bread starter that produces an insanely satisfying sourdough bread, to lacto-fermented pickled vegetables that add the needed balance to a dish, or to the yeast and grape fermentation that makes a varietal of wines–fermenting has been a joy to experiment with.

Fermentation requires balancing acidity, temperature, and time, and I’ve grown to view my business the same way. It’s not just about how fast you can scale, it’s about putting the right things in and letting it grow.

 

By: Anna Meyer

 

Source: How This Founder Learned to Trust Her Gut and Grow Her $3 Million Probiotics Company

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After the review, check out our list of the 10 Probiotic Supplements! http://www.probioticsguide.com Want to know what I think of this probiotic? This is an in depth review of Lovebug Probiotics. See what real experts and actual users have to say about this probiotic supplement! People are always asking me which probiotic is best. In this review I’ll go over everything you need to know about this one. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ll cover: First, I’ll give you my overall rating of the product based on how it compares to all the other probiotics I’ve tried. You don’t want to miss this part! Then, I’ll tell you how easy or difficult it is to use. This includes the size of the pills, the taste and what form they come in. There are so many options nowadays, so I break it down for you. Next, I talk about the ingredients and strain profile. There are many strains out there and they all target different things. At the end of my Lovebug Probiotics review I’ll go over any side effects I got while using the probiotic. These include both positive and negative things I experienced. To sum it up, if you want to learn all about this probiotic, I’d recommend checking out the full video. Here’s our list of the 10 best probiotics! http://www.probioticsguide.com/best-p…

 

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5 Things Wealthy People Invest Their Money Into

I never had access to money during my childhood, or even as I grew into a teenager and young adult. Both of my parents lived paycheck-to-paycheck and struggled with debt, so that’s really all I knew.

As a result, I was never really exposed to the investing world, nor did I learn to think of entrepreneurship as a viable career option. My parents were busy trying to keep the lights on and food on the table — the thought of having extra money to invest and build wealth would have been completely foreign to them.

Eventually though, I got my first introduction to the concepts behind investing and building wealth. I majored in finance in college, learned about mutual funds and ETFs, and found out how the stock market really works.

As I began my career as a financial advisor and transitioned to entrepreneurship, I was always looking for ways to increase my base of knowledge. I read books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Crush It: Why NOW is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk. However, books like these didn’t teach me how to invest my money. Instead, they taught me how to invest in myself and my personal growth.

5 “Non-Investment” Investments Rich People Learn to Make

The thing is, these are areas where rich people really do invest time and time again. That’s because they know something most people don’t — they know that growing wealth is about more than throwing money into the stock market, becoming an entrepreneur, or taking big risks to fund a promising startup.

Building wealth is just as much about becoming the best version of yourself, staying in constant learning mode, and building a network of like-minded people who can help you reach your goals.

Want to know exactly what I’m talking about? Here are some of the most common non-financial investments rich people love to make:

Accelerated Learning

Most rich people read a lot of books written by people who inspire them in some way or have unique experience to share. I’ve always been a big reader too, diving into books like The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard.

Reading is such a smart and inexpensive way to fill some of your free time and increase your knowledge, which is something the wealthy already know. If reading a few hours per week could help you stay mentally sharp while you learn new things, why wouldn’t you make that decision over and over?

But there are other ways to accelerate learning that don’t involve reading or books. You can also take online courses in topics that relate to your career. As an example, I’ve personally taken courses on YouTube marketing, productivity, search engine optimization, and affiliate marketing.

Going to conferences to learn new skills from others in your field is also a smart move rich people make. FinCon is a conference for financial bloggers I attend each year that I can attribute making millions of dollars from — mostly from meeting brands, learning new skills, and networking with my peers.

Personal Coaching

Personal coaching is another smart investment rich people make when they know they need some help reaching their potential. Morgan Ranstrom, who is a financial planner in Minneapolis, Minnesota, told me he wholeheartedly suggests a high-quality coaching program for anyone who needs help taking that next step in their business.

Ranstrom has worked with various life and business coaches that have helped him understand his values and clarify his goals, become a published author, and maximize his impact as a professional and business owner.

“For individuals looking to break through to the next level of success, I highly recommend investing in a coach,” he says.

Personally, I can say that coaching changed my life. I signed up for a program called Strategic Coach after being in business for five years, and this program helped me triple my revenue over the next three years.

The thing that scares most people off about coaching is that it’s not free; in fact, some coaching programs cost thousands of dollars. But wealthy people know the investment can be well worth it, which is why they’re more than willing to dive in.

Mentorship

Mentorship can also be huge, particularly as you are learning the ropes in your field. One of the best mentors I had was the first financial advisor that hired me. He was a million-dollar producer and had almost a decade of experience under his belt. I immediately gained access to his knowledge since his office was just next door and, believe me, I learned as much as I could.

Todd Herman, author of The Alter Ego Effect, shares in his book how he mentored under the top mindset coach in his industry when he couldn’t really afford it. He lived in a Motel 6 for almost a month to make the program fit in his budget though. Why? Because he knew this investment was crucial for his career. And, guess what? He was right.

Over the last year, I’ve participated in mentoring with Dr. Josh Axe, an entrepreneur who has built a $100 million health and wellness company. Just seeing how he runs his business and his personal life have been instrumental to my own personal growth.

The bottom line: Seek out people who are where you want to be, ask them to mentor you or sign up for their mentorship programs , and you can absolutely accomplish your goals faster.

Mastermind Groups

It’s frequently said that Dave Ramsey was in a mastermind group called the Young Eagles when he first started his business. Entrepreneurs such as Aaron Walker and Dan Miller were also in the group, and they leaned on another for advice and mentorship to get where they are today. Ramit Sethi, bestselling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, is in a mastermind group with Derek Halpern from Social Triggers.com and other successful entrepreneurs.

I also lead a mastermind group for men. Believe it or not, one of our members has been able to increase his recurring annual revenue over $300,000 because of advice he has received.

These are just a few examples of masterminds that have worked but trust me when I say most of the wealthy elite participate in some sort of mastermind group or club.

Mastermind groups are insanely helpful because they let you bounce business ideas off other entrepreneurs who may think differently than you but still have your best interests at heart. And sometimes, it’s a small piece of advice or a single statement that can make all the difference in your own business goals — and your life.

Building Relationships

When it comes to the top tiers of the business world, there’s one saying that’s almost always true:

“It’s not always what you know, but who you know.”

According to Alex Whitehouse of Whitehouse Wealth Management, successful people forge relationships that catapult their careers.

“The right connections can help land better jobs, accelerate promotions, or start lucrative businesses,” he says.

But it’s not about cheesy networking events. To get the most value, focus on meeting people at professional conferences, mastermind groups, and high-quality membership communities, says Whitehouse.

This is a strategy most successful people know — meet other people who you admire and build a relationship that is beneficial for everyone.

But, there’s a catch — and this is important. When you meet someone new who could potentially help you in your business, you can’t just come out of the gate asking for favors. I personally believe in the VBA method — or “Value Before the Ask.” This means making sure you provide value before asking a favor from anyone.

In other words, make sure you’re doing your share of the work to make the relationship a win for everyone. If you try to build relationships with other entrepreneurs just so you can ride their coattails, you’ll be kicked to the curb before you know it.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

 

I am a certified financial planner, author, blogger, and Iraqi combat veteran. I’m best known for my blogs GoodFinancialCents.com and LifeInsurancebyJeff.com and my book, Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future. I escaped a path of financial destruction by being a college drop out and having over $20,000 of credit card debt to eventually become a self-made millionaire. My mission is help GenX’ers achieve financial freedom through strong money habits and unleashing their entrepreneurial spirit. My work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reuters and Fox Business.

Source: 5 Things Wealthy People Invest Their Money Into

Warren Buffett is the godfather of modern-day investing. For nearly 50 years, Buffett has run Berkshire Hathaway, which owns over 60 companies, like Geico and Dairy Queen, plus minority stakes in Apple, Coca-Cola, and many others. His $82.5 billion fortune makes him the third richest person in the world. And he’s vowed to give nearly all of it away. The Oracle of Omaha is here to talk about what shaped his investment strategy and how to master today’s market. I’m Andy Serwer. Welcome to a special edition of “Influencers” from Omaha, Nebraska. It’s my pleasure to welcome Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett. Warren, welcome. WARREN BUFFETT: Thanks for coming. ANDY SERWER: So let’s start off and talk about the economy a little bit. And obviously, we’ve been on a good long run here. WARREN BUFFETT: A very long run. ANDY SERWER: And does that surprise you? And what would be the signs that you would look for to see that things were winding down? WARREN BUFFETT: Well, I look at a lot of figures just in connection with our businesses. I like to get numbers. So I’m getting reports in weekly in some businesses, but that doesn’t tell me what the economy’s going to six months from now or three months from now. It tells me what’s going on now with our businesses. And it really doesn’t make any difference in what I do today in terms of buying stocks or buying businesses what those numbers tell me. They’re interesting, but they’re not guides to me. For more of Warren Buffett’s interview with Andy Serwer

click; https://finance.yahoo.com/news/influe…

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He Built A $2.5 Billion Business At Age 50 That Is Disrupting A 7,000 Year Old Industry

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Dr. Joe DeSimone took his own path to entrepreneurship. His latest venture, Carbon, is changing the way things are made.

He’s assembled one of the most impressive Board of Directors and line up of investors to transform the $300 billion manufacturing industry.

Joe recently appeared as a guest on the DealMakers Podcast. During his exclusive interview, he shared how his team is transforming how the world makes things, the fundraising process, what it’s like building a nearly 500 person company in less than 6 years, and many more topics.

From Academia to Entrepreneurship

Joe DeSimone was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Ever since high school, Joe found he had a knack for chemistry. For both understanding it and for teaching it.

He attended Ursinus College, and then Virginia Tech for his Ph.D. On a tip from a faculty advisor, he went to check out the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill—-one of the top 10 chemistry departments in the country.

If he would teach organic and polymer chemistry, then they would give him $500,000 to start a research program. He was convinced. At UNC, he enjoyed a highly successful career as a professor for 25 years.

Joe taught a lot of students chemistry and mentored many researchers. He learned that people have very different learning styles. From his perspective, if you want to be a great teacher, you have to take responsibility for explaining complicated topics in accessible ways.

It turns out that is a really important trait for entrepreneurs too. It’s a valuable skill whether you’re doing it in a classroom setting, talking to VCs or investors, or your own employees. The importance of bringing people along with you.

His position in academia enabled Joe DeSimone to pursue a handful of interesting startups based on his research before he launching his newest venture, Carbon, in 2013.

His first company was BioStent. A partnership with an interventional cardiologist at Duke University. They developed a coronary stent that is polymeric instead of metal-based. It dissolves in the body after 18 months, once blood vessels can operate on their own again. The company was acquired by Guidant, and then Abbott.

Next, it was Liquidia Technologies, a partnership with one of Joe’s Ph.D. students including Jason Rolland, now SVP of Materials at Carbon. Liquidia went IPO last year.

They developed technology that leveraged tools from the computer industry to make precision nanoparticles. It spawned new and more effective ways to deliver medicines to the airway.

It has proven valuable in improving treatment approaches for diseases like pulmonary arterial hypertension, and in creating next-generation vaccine platforms for infectious diseases and certain cancers.

After spending 25 as a faculty member at UNC, the opportunity to go to Silicon Valley and take on a new entrepreneurial challenge was something Joe couldn’t pass up.

UNC agreed he could take a sabbatical to pursue his idea. That was five years ago.

Departing Academia for Silicon Valley 

When Joe left North Carolina for Silicon Valley to found Carbon, he didn’t know what the future would hold. Carbon is now one of the world’s leading digital manufacturing companies.

Based in Redwood City, Carbon’s mission is to enable companies to make breakthrough products that can improve human health and well being, transform industries, and change the world.

Joe launched the company and its groundbreaking Digital Light Synthesis™ (DLS) technology on the TED stage in 2015.  DLS fuses light and oxygen to rapidly produce products from a pool of resin. Using DLS technology, Carbon is enabling companies like Adidas, Riddell, Ford and Johnson & Johnson to create breakthrough products at speeds and volumes never before possible, finally fulfilling the promise of 3D printing.

Joe believes that empowering product teams to make breakthrough products and bring them to market faster will change the way we live.

Carbon has cracked the code on 3D printing at scale. The manufacturing industry is a $12 trillion market and manufacturing polymers is a $330 billion market. There is enormous potential here for Carbon to lead the digital revolution in manufacturing.

Creating a Company Differentiated by its Technology, Business Model and Team 

With a team of nearly 500 employees around the world, Carbon has also assembled an impressive team of board members and investors while raising $680 million in the process at a $2.5 billion valuation.

Carbon’s board includes former Chairman and CEO of DuPont, Ellen Kullman, former CEO of Ford Motor Company, and former CEO of Boeing’s Aircraft Division, Alan Mulally, and Sequoia’s Jim Goetz.

Some of their investors include Sequoia, Google Ventures, GE, Adidas, BMW, Johnson & Johnson, and JSR. They’ve also got Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, and Madrone Capital Partners as well as investment from additional international sovereign funds.

Storytelling is everything in fundraising and Carbon was able to master this. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Critical Ingredients for a Successful Company

During the interview, Joe shared three of the most important components of building a successful company as being:

1. The importance of IP and patent-protection

2. Building highly differentiated technology

3. Assembling a world class team of people that are committed, passionate, and talented

DeSimone also shared his thoughts on the similarities between academia and entrepreneurship such as the importance of bringing people along with you and painting a vision for the future and how the world can be different.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • Joe’s advice for starting your own company
  • How he created a purpose-led company
  • Building a successful business model
  • Putting your customers first
  • Future-proofing from obsolescence

Alejandro Cremades is the author of The Art of Startup Fundraising, co-founder of Panthera Advisors (M&A and fundraising advisory), and creator of Inner Circle (fundraising tools & resources)

 

I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley & Sons, the book was named one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The book offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs. Most recently, I built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online. Prior to CoFoundersLab, I worked as a lawyer at King & Spalding where I was involved in one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history ($113 billion at stake). I am an active speaker and have given guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business, Columbia Business School, and at NYU Stern School of Business. I have been involved with the JOBS Act since inception and was invited to the White House and the US House of Representatives to provide my stands on the new regulatory changes concerning fundraising online

Source: https://www.forbes.com

Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Other Tech Leaders Share Their Favorite Summer Reads

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  • When they’re not busy ideating in Silicon Valley, tech execs like to settle down with a beach read.
  • NBC reporter Dylan Byers rounded up book recommendations from tech CEOs in a summer reading list for his newsletter.

For folks seeking an elevated beach read this summer, NBC reporter Dylan Byers asked six tech executives for summer reading recommendations in his newsletter.

Read on for book recommendations from Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Tim Cook, and more.

Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook, CEO

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The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore.

A novel about who really invented the lightbulb by the screenwriter behind the Oscar-wining film “The Imitation Game.” It features the intertwining stories of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and George Westinghouse.

Sheryl Sandberg — Facebook, COO

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The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

Philanthropist Melinda Gates writes about the importance of empowering women, and how that action can change the world.

Tim Cook — CEO, Apple

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When a young Stanford neurosurgeon is diagnosed with lung cancer, he sets out to write a memoir about mortality, memory, family, medicine, literature, philosophy, and religion. It’s a tear-jerker, with an epilogue written by his wife Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, who survives him, along with their young daughter.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

A memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight.

Dawn Ostroff — Spotify, CCO

Richard Bord/Getty Images

Educated by Tara Westover

Westover, raised in the mountains of Idaho in a family of survivalists, didn’t go to school until she was 17. She would go on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. This memoir chronicles her path towards higher education.

Evan Spiegel — Snap, CEO

Mike Blake/Reuters

Mortal Republic by Edward Watts

A history of how ancient Rome fell into tyranny.

Jeffrey Katzenberg — KndrCo

Getty Images / Larry Busacca

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Written in 2018, Harari addresses technological and political challenges that humans will have to tackle in the 21st century.

White Working Class by Joan C. Williams

Williams, a law professor, writes “Class consciousness has has been replaced by class cluelessness — and in some cases, even class callousness.”

Rebecca Aydin Business Insider

These Founders Started by Feeding a Few Hungry Doctors–and Turned It Into a Billion-Dollar Catering Business

Online catering marketplace ezCater is not your typical unicorn–if the fact you’ve perhaps never heard its name doesn’t make that readily apparent. Stefania Mallett and Briscoe Rodgers noticed how much catered meals helped sales reps who were trying to woo clients. That realization evolved into ezCater, a 750-employee company that’s now going international.

 

For one thing, the company is based not in Silicon Valley, but rather in Boston. Its founder isn’t a young man armed with an MBA, it’s Stefania Mallett, a veteran executive who is now 63. Nevertheless, ezCater–an online marketplace for catered meal delivery–is valued at $1.25 billion following a $150 million funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners in April. The business has doubled sales eight years running–and if it does so again in 2020, it’ll hit $1 billion in orders.

 

Mallett has run or been a board member of nearly a dozen organizations, bringing engineering skills–she has degrees from MIT in electrical engineering and computer science–and a customer-focused approach. By the mid-2000s, she was working with co-founder Briscoe Rodgers as CEO of PreferredTime, a company that helped pharmaceutical sales representatives get face time with doctors to pitch their products. One of the most effective ways of doing that, they found, was helping the reps order food to a hospital or doctors’ office.

 

“Doctors are extremely busy. But what we found was they are also a little too polite to grab the food and run, so they will stand there while you give your pitch,” Mallett says. “It buys you 90 seconds to talk while they are stuffing some food in their face.”

Mallett and Rodgers couldn’t help wondering if a catering platform, one that would help sales reps across industries make delicious meals appear at their would-be clients’ offices, could scale. In 2007, they abandoned PreferredTime and founded ezCater, without a staff or proper office. They each had a Boston-area home; they chose to work out of Mallett’s because her dining-room table was larger.

 

The founders also envisioned that a platform that connected local restaurants to offer large, shared trays of food–rather than, say, individually packaged sandwiches–would have applications beyond just sales calls. “Turns out, the formula also works for feeding hungry Millennials at tech companies,” Mallett says.

 

EzCater launched quietly in two test markets, its home of Boston and Greensboro, North Carolina. (The latter was a large enough city to be a legitimate test bed, but small enough that it could let the company fix problems without causing a huge flap.) It wasn’t magic at first, because Mallett and Rodgers needed both sellers–restaurants willing to fulfill large orders–and buyers. “We tried at first to push both those rocks up the hill at roughly the same rate,” Mallett says.

 

An aha! moment came in the first year. To find customers, first they needed to offer more catering options. They worked fast, and went from just more than 1,000 restaurants on ezCater to some 20,000 in three months. Customers followed. “If you are selling things people want, they will find you,” Mallett says. 

 

National expansion started in 2011, fueled by venture capital investments. To date, ezCater has raised nearly $320 million. The funding also has allowed the company to begin to expand internationally, thanks to acquisitions of a software firm in Vancouver that also ran a catering platform, and a corporate-catering firm in Paris.

 

Now the company has 750 employees, with about 450 in Boston, 200 in Denver, and the other 100 split between Vancouver and Paris. “We’ve outgrown my house–though I still go home to that house every night and think, yup, it started here!” Mallett says.

Despite the fast growth, the company has tried to develop an easygoing culture based on camaraderie and experimentation. EzCater orders breakfast on Monday and lunch on Thursdays for its Boston staff, using its own platform of course. New hires and interns are tasked with placing the orders, to learn how to use the system–and potentially spot pain points or to help come up with new features.

 

Growth is still the top metric on Mallett’s mind. She says ezCater is somewhat hesitant to make another acquisition, though, because “virtually all of the companies we are looking to acquire are growing slower than us–so they would slow our growth.” Mallett, who has taken companies public in the past, adds that ezCater could be ready by 2021 to consider an IPO–but with plenty of money in the bank from its past two venture rounds, there’s no pressure to do so.

 

“Success breeds options,” she says. “We’ve gotten to a place we can make our own choices.”

 By: Christine Lagorio-Chafkin Senior writer, Inc.@Lagorio

Source: These Founders Started by Feeding a Few Hungry Doctors–and Turned It Into a Billion-Dollar Catering Business

How Did The Owner and Builder Of The Newly-Completed 450-foot-Long Superyacht Flying Fox Keep It A Secret For So Long?

The short answer for such a massive superyact is, they didn’t really. But that doesn’t mean the experienced owner—who worked with the red-hot superyacht exterior designer Espen Oeino, interior designer Mark Berryman and the highly experienced, megayacht builders at Lürssen in Germany—couldn’t at least try. So, the 450-foot-long, 67-foot-wide yacht was built in the relative secrecy of Lürssen’s enormous manufacturing facility. And the yacht that took several years, and $100’s of millions to build (and probably more than a few non-disclosure agreements) was always referred to by its code name: Project Shu.

But then again, it was extremely hard to keep a yacht that’s much longer than a football field a secret when it finally emerged from the builders covered facility earlier this spring. And even harder once her sea trials on the Baltic began earlier this summer.

And as you can see in the few photos that have finally emerged (it’s now called by its real name—Flying Fox) Espen Oeino has designed an elegant yacht exterior that that looks sleek in spite of her massive over-all volume.

The balance and proportion of the exterior allows for generous deck space that offer a range of options for owners and guests to enjoy. Numerous terraces and platforms open out over the water to provide fantastic access the water. While every other exterior element, from sun decks and open entertainment areas to more shaded and intimate spaces, has been designed to provide the highest level of luxury.

For example, all superyachts have swimming pools, but Flying Fox is special in that its enormous swimming pool that runs from side to side on the main deck. The exterior also is equipped two helicopter landing pads, one on the bridge deck and another on the sun deck aft, that makes it possible to for owners and guests to use multiple helicopters.

Meanwhile, advance reports about the interior (no photos of the interior have been published yet) say interior designer Mark Berryman’s has interior has a calm and spacious feel featuring soft neutral tones and tactile finishes.

And as you can see from what the builder and project manager of this massive yacht said when the yacht was launched earlier this spring, they kept the “secret” going for as long as they could.

“Project SHU represents a major milestone for Imperial.” says Julia Stewart, Director at Imperial Yachts who brought their vast experience and knowledge to their supervision of the massive build project. “Being involved in impressive superyacht projects like these show our capacity and experience in superyacht and megayacht management, with regular deliveries of 80m+ projects supervised and operated by our team since 2015. Our strong and very dynamic links with Lürssen, Espen Oeino and Mark Berryman helped to achieve one of the most impressive vessel of the next decade”

Shipyard Managing Partner Peter Lürssen proudly states: “SHU fulfills the requests of a very experienced owner in an exceptional way. The owner’s input within all aspects of the yacht’s design was clear, strong and exacting. Building SHU was a significant challenge and we are very proud of this achievement. She represents another remarkable milestone in our history.”

But the secret is out now, and tuned for much more from Lürssen and Espen Oeino. The German yard, and Norwegian designer have been very, very busy.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

During my previous life as an editor at several American yachting magazines, I was lucky enough to sail thousands of offshore miles on a wide variety of boats. My job as yachting scribe has brought me on adventures from the Arctic Circle to the equator, and to nearly every tropical destination in between. I’ve dodged high-speed hydrofoils on the brown waters off St. Petersburg, Russia, anchored in impossibly blue water off uninhabited islands in the Seychelles, Scandinavia, the BVI, and the Bahamas, and even flown aboard a Jayhawk helicopter with the US Coast Guard on training missions. These days, when I’m not travelling or writing about the magic that happens at confluence of superyachts, offshore adventure, luxury travel, and technology, I sail my ultra-simple, ultra-fast dinghy, ride my gorgeous and gloriously-expensive carbon fiber bike, and push our little one in a baby stroller all over New England.

Source: How Did The Owner and Builder Of The Newly-Completed 450-foot-Long Superyacht Flying Fox Keep It A Secret For So Long?

He Was Employee Number 7 At Tesla And Now Has Built A $1 Billion Business That Makes Your Phone Or Car Run Longer

Gene Berdichevsky was one of the early team members at Tesla. Now he’s building his own unicorn startup, Sila Nanotechnologies, which is valued at over $1 billion. One which looks like it will fuel every way you travel from the road to being in the air.

Berdichevsky recently appeared as a guest on the Dealmakers Podcast. During his exclusive interview, he shared his journey, building his first solar car, and how he’s raised hundreds of millions of dollars for his own technology startup that is growing at an incredible pace.

Thousands of Miles & Designing Your Own Education

He was born on the Black Sea in Ukraine, spent time in St. Petersburg, Russia, and even lived north of the arctic circle for five years. All before landing with his family in Richmond, Virginia, and attending college in California.

Gene was fortunate to grow up in an entrepreneurial family, and see his father start his own small businesses. Both of his parents were software engineers and worked on nuclear submarines.

So, the one thing he says he knew was, “I definitely wasn’t going to be a software engineer.” He did enjoy math and science a lot. That led him to study mechanical engineering.

Within his first year at Stanford, he got involved in their solar car project. Students would compete to build a solar-powered car and race it across the country, 2,300 miles, from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Gene’s team built the car chassis from scratch, built a carbon fiber body, and powered it with a battery with about the same strength as the toaster in your kitchen.

That was it. He fell in love with energy, problem-solving and building, and was really energized by having really built something from the ground up.

Mastering Energy

Berdichevsky went on to get a Master’s in energy engineering from Stanford. There was really no such program in existence at the time. So, he put together his own curriculum. He dove into materials, semiconductor physics, quantum mechanics, and solar.

Many people are already struggling with the decision to go to university. So, why go, and even create your own studies, when you can piece everything you want to know together online these days?

As with many of the other highly successful startup founders I’ve interviewed who have come out of Stanford, Gene found the network you gain access to very valuable. Some of those people still work for him at Sila today. He also credits the value of learning from your peers there.

Tesla & Battery Issues

At the end of his junior year, Gene became the seventh Tesla employee as a tech lead for battery system architectural development.

It’s no secret that there were plenty of early challenges for Tesla. They started out literally supergluing laptop batteries together to make the battery pack.

Then with safety the main concern was avoiding random failures. They happen in batteries. Even being rare, when you are using 10,000 batteries to run a single vehicle you really have to expect this to happen and preempt that.

Tesla grew from around 10 people when Berdichevsky started there, to around 300 when he left. About 30x in just four years. Tesla now has over 45,000 employees with a market cap of $40 billion.

His big lesson from Tesla was that as a startup founder, you want to go after really big problems. Ironically, Gene says sometimes it is easier to solve a really big problem, than a smaller one. For a start, it enables you to attract incredible talent. It is also both incredibly rewarding and reduces your competition.

From Tesla, he saw that you need to be willing to do things the world doesn‘t think are possible. This requires a mindset and a culture that is self-reliance where you are willing to do a lot of things in house.

Entrepreneurship In The Making

From the day he walked into Tesla, Gene says his brain was already fixated on “How do I start my own company? How do I build something like this?” He had even previously written a business plan for making electric cars in the U.S. market in his junior year at Stanford.

He then did a stint at Sutter Hill Ventures where he understood the VC lens when identifying entrepreneurs that have the potential for success. The key ingredients and how the lens is used to identify patterns includes the following:

1) Great markets defined by a great distribution

2) A strong product that captures the value

3) Founding teams equipped to resolve complex technical problems

Gene was traveling the world meeting many founders. During his time with Sutter Hill Ventures, Gene met his future co-founder, Gleb Yushin. Shortly after, Gene’s former Tesla colleague Alex Jacobs joined them as Sila Nano’s third co-founder.

After multiple conversations and understanding the value that each one of them brought to the table, they got started with a 1,000 sq. ft. lab in a basement at Georgia Tech and Sila Nanotechnologies was born.

Financing The Next Big Thing

Right after forming the team they went out to raise financing. They had a big advantage and that was the intellectual property Gleb had amassed which included six patents and four years of technical data around the problem they wanted to resolve.

They knew the technology was fully compatible and had a clear understanding of the road ahead given the years of experience at Tesla from Gene and his co-founder Alex.

They went out and raised a Series A round with Sutter Hill and Matrix as co-leads. Both of whom have continued investing in every round.

Sila’s most recent round of financing was a $170 million round led by Daimler. So far they’ve raised around $295 million.

The business positioning was critical as a lot of people had lost money in battery companies. From day one they were very clear they were not a battery company, but a technology company that makes materials for batteries. Batteries are a low margin market but the materials have a very healthy market as the better the product the higher the sales.

They are valued now at over $1 billion where storytelling played a big role. This is being able to capture the essence of the business in 15 to 20 slides. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Sila Nanotechnologies

During the early days, the cofounders were able to recruit a group of talented engineers to join them and from there started to build the business.

Their business model revolves around inventing, developing, manufacturing and selling their product.

In this regard, their product is a powder that replaces graphite powder in existing lithium-ion batteries. The more efficiently you can store lithium, the less material you need for the same amount of energy. Sila Nano’s material can store energy more densely, giving you more energy at similar volume and weight.

Sila can reduce battery weight by approximately 20 percent or increase energy stores by approximately 20 percent with it’s material. Meaning vehicles have the potential to go 20% further than anyone else’s.

Consider that every electric vehicle will need around 15 to 20 kilos of this material. Think forward to a few years from now when all vehicles are electric. You’re talking about a market of 100 million new vehicles per year. At 20 kilos per car, you’re talking about 2 billion kilos of this entirely new-to-the-world material that has to be produced, every year.

This material could also be used to fuel new air taxis, and change the way we travel, and the aerospace industry.

Sila has been growing by around 40-50% every year for the past five years, and there are no indications of that slowing down anytime soon.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The essential ingredients for raising money
  • Gene’s top piece of advice for his younger self and new founders
  • How to grow as a leader when your team is growing at 92% in two years
  • His approach to solving strategic problems

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley & Sons, the book was named one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The book offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs. Most recently, I built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online. Prior to CoFoundersLab, I worked as a lawyer at King & Spalding where I was involved in one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history ($113 billion at stake). I am an active speaker and have given guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business, Columbia Business School, and at NYU Stern School of Business. I have been involved with the JOBS Act since inception and was invited to the White House and the US House of Representatives to provide my stands on the new regulatory changes concerning fundraising online.

Source: He Was Employee Number 7 At Tesla And Now Has Built A $1 Billion Business That Makes Your Phone Or Car Run Longer

Influx Of Online Casinos Helped This Philippine Tycoon Become The Country’s Newest Big Landlord

Edgar Sia II_2

Edgar Sia’s fortunes increased more than fivefold to $475 million since debuting on Forbes Asia’s list of the 50 richest Filipinos in 2011.

Sonny Thakur

Edgar Sia II made his fortune a decade ago feeding the Philippines’ appetite for chicken. Now he stands to make an even larger one feeding China’s appetite for gambling. Sia’s company DoubleDragon Properties spent the last few years building, among other things, office towers along Manila’s once-sleepy waterfront. Sia figured he’d lease the space out to call centers and business process outsourcers, key drivers of economic growth in recent years. He estimated that he could collect about $14 a square meter.

He didn’t count on demand from across the South China Sea. DoubleDragon got its towers up and running just as warming ties between Beijing and Manila sparked a boom in arrivals by Chinese eager to open offshore casinos offering online gaming to countrymen back home where casinos are illegal. DoubleDragon’s Meridian Park complex is a 10-minute drive from Manila’s Entertainment City casino complex. Sia found himself not only among the largest commercial property owners in the area, but the only one with new property to rent.

By the end of last year, tenants were signing leases for nearly $24 a square meter. “We were positively surprised with the outcome,” DoubleDragon’s 42-year-old chairman and chief executive says, with considerable understatement. The boost from offshore China gaming is just part of a property push that’s helping turn Sia from fast-food tycoon into one of the country’s biggest commercial landlords.

Far from Manila Bay, DoubleDragon is building shopping malls, hotels and industrial warehouses in smaller cities across the Philippines. Last year, it tripled net profits to roughly 7.4 billion pesos ($141 million) as revenue more than doubled to 14.3 billion pesos. DoubleDragon’s stock has climbed more than 50% this year. The company is now looking to cash in on its office towers and community malls, package these as a REIT and raise as much as 15 billion pesos via an IPO.

“Most of the baby steps and growing pains happened in the past five years,” says Sia, whose aim is for DoubleDragon to build about 1.2 million square meters of leasable commercial space by the end of 2020. “In just about a year more, the company will already become a strong adult.”

Sia’s own entrepreneurial upbringing began early. While studying architecture in university at the age of 19, he dropped out to lead a group of classmates build a 5-story hotel for budget business travelers, borrowing 40 million pesos from parents and a government pension fund to buy the land and pay for construction. “I was talking to the landowner who didn’t take me seriously,” he recalls. “So I grew a mustache to make me look older.” Sia shaved his mustache. He still owns the hotel.

In 2003 one of the country’s largest shopping mall chains, Robinson’s, opened a new wing in Iloilo offering discounted rents for restaurants. Sia seized the opportunity to launch Mang Inasal, a fast-food chicken restaurant that means “Mr. Barbecue” in the Iloilo dialect. “It was a Filipino comfort food that had not yet been turned into a fast-food fare,” Sia says. “So we created the concept, and then rapidly grew to fill and dominate the gap.”

By 2010, he had grown his barbecue-chicken chain into the country’s second-biggest fast food group, with more than 312 branches, making it bigger than McDonald’s. He sold 70% to rival Jollibee Foods for 3 billion pesos and earned a spot as the youngest member of Forbes Asia’s 2011 list of the Philippines’ 50 richest with a fortune of $85 million when he was just 34 (Sia sold his remaining 30% of Mang Inasal in 2016.) He was No. 24 on last year’s list with a net worth of $475 million.

Edgar Sia II

Edgar Sia II hopes to open 1,200 MerryMarts, a chain of grocery stores owned by his family, by 2030.

In 2013, he partnered with Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong (No. 6 on the rich list) to found DoubleDragon, which went public the following year. Sia and Tan still own 35% each; Tan still sits on the board as co-chairman. Each owner’s stake is now worth about 21 billion pesos ($402 million). While its Manila Bay investment has proved unexpectedly profitable, most of DoubleDragon’s developments aren’t in Manila at all, but in small towns and cities across the country. It’s there that the company is building 60% of the commercial space it plans to build by 2020.

Sia’s wager is that rising household incomes and improving transport are about to trigger a sea change in the way consumers shop in these second- and third-tier cities. Small, family-owned supermarkets and shopping centers, he predicts, will give way to nationwide chains whose size gives them leverage over suppliers and lower costs. “Five years ago,” he says, “the top three retail chains accounted for less than 10% of the sales of manufacturers such as Unilever or Nestle. That’s gone up to a third today. In five years, it could rise to 70% to 80%.”

In preparation, Sia is building 100 shopping centers under his CityMalls brand in cities with an average population of only 160,000, each about a tenth the size of malls in bigger cities. The aim, Sia says, is to introduce big-name retail brands such as SM Savemore groceries or Watsons drugstores into these small, but increasingly affluent communities.

By the end of last year, Sia had achieved half his goal by opening 51 CityMalls. The average occupancy rate is already 96%, according to DoubleDragon, helping it more than double rental income last year from commercial and office buildings, to 2.5 billion pesos. International property consultancy Savills projects that CityMalls will account for about 40% of the community mall stock in newly urbanizing areas by next year. Sia says he’s already locked up the best locations in many emerging towns and cities: “Maybe [a competitor] can do it in one or two cities. But can you do it 100 times?”

More on Forbes: Billionaire Tony Tan Caktiong Takes Jollibee Foods Global

Sia is also ramping up in the hotel sector where he got his start. DoubleDragon operates the Hotel 101 and Jinjiang Inns budget brands in the Philippines aimed at business travelers and tourists, particularly from China. As of the end of 2018, Sia had two Jinjiang Inns and one Hotel 101, contributing a combined 534 million pesos to DoubleDragon’s revenue. Two more are under construction and DoubleDragon plans to build four more this year and next. Sia is also looking for foreign partners to expand the Hotel 101 abroad.

Building community malls in small towns, Sia says, made him realize there’s also still room for another major grocery chain in the country. So in April, he launched the first branch of MerryMart, a chain of grocery stores owned directly by his family, on the ground floor of DoubleDragon’s Meridian Park complex. His aim is to open 1,200 MerryMarts by 2030. “If we properly prepare and execute,” he says, “MerryMart can still catch up with the large retail players in the Philippines.”

But the Manila Bay investment may be DoubleDragon’s biggest money-spinner. It broke ground on the Meridian Park complex in 2015 and, by the time four of its six towers were completed last year, the company had emerged as the area’s biggest owner of new office space, according to David Leechiu of Leechiu Property Consultants, which helped find tenants for the complex.

Its timing couldn’t have been better. Offshore gaming operators’ share of office space in Metro Manila rose sevenfold in 2018 from 2016, according to Leechiu Property, faster than any other industry. By the end of last year, they accounted for almost 30% of office rentals, tripling from two years earlier.

Most online casino operators favor Manila Bay because of its proximity to Entertainment City, which caters largely to Chinese visitors who become potential customers once they return home. Property values in the district jumped 81% between 2016 and 2018, according to Leechiu, outpacing the 58% rise in Makati, Manila’s financial district.

Sia leased 100,000 square meters in his first four office towers before they were even completed, 60% to online China gaming companies. For now at least, he can virtually name his price, says Leechiu. “The deal that we did [at 1,250 pesos a square meter] is for the last vacant space in the entire Bay area for the next 12 months. The tenants know that, so they grabbed it,” he says.

Not everyone is a believer. Before its recent rise, DoubleDragon’s stock spent three years in a tailspin. One nagging investor concern: Sia is building brick-and-mortar malls in an age of online shopping. Luis Limlingan, managing director at brokerage Regina Capital Market Development in Manila, says retail shops now take up just half of Philippine malls’ leasable space, down from 80% over the past 20 years. That has made DoubleDragon a no-go for some investors. “None of the large institutional local funds invest in it,” he says.

Sia says his malls are well-positioned to absorb the impact of e-commerce in the Philippines. Online buying and delivery of groceries has yet to take off in the Philippines, he says, and “CityMalls are already 75% food and services, and more than 80% of things sold in CityMall retail shops are basic non-discretionary items.” As e-commerce spreads to the smaller cities where CityMall dominates, Sia says, they’ll double as pickup points and fulfilment centers for online stores.

DoubleDragon’s rising rental income is proof enough to other investors. “DoubleDragon’s stock started to recover this year because the assets that were completed so far have started to generate good recurring income,” says Henry Ong, an independent personal financial advisor who follows the stock. And as Sia’s expansion converts into steady cash flow, it may give him a war chest for greater diversification, says Leechiu. “Once he has a scalable recurring income base, it’s so easy for him to use it as a springboard to go to other places. It’s so easy for him to go to other sectors.” Sia’s partner Tan agrees: “[He’s] the type of entrepreneur with unlimited potential. His ability to create new compelling ventures and execute with speed is unparalleled.”

Forbes Guest Forbes Guest Contributor

FORBES ASIA chronicles wealth creation, entrepreneurial success and economic growth throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

 

 

OxyContin’s Sackler Family Will Get Millions From A Ski Resort Operator’s Sale

Vail Resorts, a publicly traded operator of ski resorts, announced on Monday it would acquire Peak Resorts for $11 per share, all cash, which is more than double its $5.10 per share closing price, one day prior to the announcement. Peak Resorts operates 17 ski resorts, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, including Alpine Valley in Ohio and Hunter Mountain in upstate New York.

One major beneficiary of the acquisition: the Sacklers, the family behind Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of pain drug OxyContin. According to Peak Resorts’ latest annual proxy from October 2018, its largest shareholder is CAP 1 LLC, a company wholly owned by Sackler brothers Richard and Jonathan.

The Sacklers’ nearly 40% ownership stake, which includes preferred stock and stock warrants, is worth about  $87 million based on the transaction. Some of the shares are owned by the charitable Sackler Foundation. The Sacklers became investors in Peak Resorts as early as August 2015.

Richard is the former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma. His brother, Jonathan, is a former board member. Nearly every state has filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and its owners, including eight Sackler family members, alleging the company caused a nationwide public health crisis around opioid addiction and opioid overdose deaths. One lawsuit alleges that Purdue Pharma had brought in more than $35 billion in revenues since 1995.

The Sacklers, worth an estimated $13 billion based largely on the value of Purdue Pharma, built their fortune primarily through sales of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller that has been called by the medical establishment one of the root causes for the nationwide opioid addiction epidemic.

Purdue Pharma owns the patent for OxyContin, and is the only manufacturer of the drug. According to Symphony Health Solutions, a healthcare and pharmaceutical data analytics company, roughly 80% of Purdue Pharma’s sales come from OxyContin. Due to the widespread rise in use of prescription and nonprescription opioids, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017.

The family used to be known for being generous benefactors of museums and universities worldwide, but their moniker has lost its luster. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City announced in May it would turn down money from the Sackler family, though it will still carry the family name in the Sackler Wing. In July, the Louvre Museum in Paris reportedly removed the Sackler name from its Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities.

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Angel Au-Yeung has been a reporter on staff at Forbes Magazine since 2017. She covers the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and tracks how they use their money and power.

Source: OxyContin’s Sackler Family Will Get Millions From A Ski Resort Operator’s Sale

He Built A $1 Billion Business Where All 700 Employees Work Remotely

Sid Sijbrandij knows a thing or two about building, scaling and even walking away from companies. His current venture is doing over $100 million in revenue and is valued at over $1 billion.

Originally from the Netherlands, Sid Sijbrandiij is now the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s unicorns that is powering the web through developers worldwide. It’s not his first startup rodeo either.

Sid Sijbrandij recently appeared on the DealMakers podcast. During the exclusive interview, he shared his entrepreneurial journey, the process of finding cofounders, bootstrapping versus raising millions, his addiction to fast-growth startups, and many more topics.

Seizing Opportunities

Sid Sijbrandi seems to have always had a gift for spotting business opportunities.

During high school, he studied applied physics and management science. He chose a kind of program that blends the benefits of an M.B.A., with getting good at several engineering disciplines.

In his first year at college, he also started his first company.

The idea came from a fellow Ph.D. student that had made an infrared receiver you could use to skip to the next song on your computer (the only thing that played an MP3 song at the time). He started buying these infrared receivers from him and selling them in the U.S. You’d send him an envelope of dollar bills, and he would then send you a printed circuit board.

Ultimately, his two cofounders didn’t agree on growth plans concerning hiring more people. Sid wanted to hire faster, so he didn’t have to spend as much time on it, while his cofounders wanted to optimize for free cash flow. They ended up parting ways amicably.

The Two Most important Things for Launching with Cofounders

Sid has experienced several startups and says his two big takeaways when it comes to cofounding a company are:

1) To be smart with the shares

2) To be sure you and your cofounders are aligned in vision

For example, automatically making everyone an equal cofounder, even if they come in way later in that process, can be a mistake.

Sid says it is important that shares “are aligned with their contribution to the company. It’s very important if you start a company to have vesting of your shares as well.”

This helps avoid the free rides, because if someone leaves with all the equity, then people that need to invest like VCs are going to be like, “Why am I investing for just 50% remaining of the business.”

In the Netherlands, Sid didn’t find the goal of local companies to grow really fast. If you do want to grow a company really fast, he says it is beneficial to be somewhere like the Bay Area, where everyone just assumes that is the goal.

Not just your cofounder, but also your accounts person and your lawyer, and everybody else requires the growth mindset.

Passion for Growth

After graduation, Sid spent a few months at IBM and could have stayed there. He had an interest in strategy consulting, as well as building a recreational submarine.

He made a balanced scorecard of all the different ways to make that decision. One of the criteria being, “Is this a good story to tell in a bar?” He showed his dad who said it was a ridiculous way to decide on your career but was very supportive either way.

So, he called someone interested in a submarine venture. His pitch was, “Look, you should really hire me because I have a job offer from IBM. Otherwise, I’ll start working there, and we both don’t want that.” He got the job.

He built the first onboard computer for the submarine. Today, U-Boat Worx is one of the biggest builders of recreational submarines. If you go on a cruise, and they have a submarine, it’s likely from U-Boat Worx.

Still, after five years, it just wasn’t growing at a pace that kept Sid interested. He then went on to do a part-time stint on an innovation project with the government as a civil servant.

During this time, he really got to know himself, and how fast-growing companies with a continuous string of problems to be solved were what kept him interested.

Funding Your Startup

After starting and selling app store Appappeal, Sid turned open-source software GitLab into a fast-growing venture that is on its way to an IPO in 2020.

He took the proceeds from his previous venture, doubled it in bitcoin, and began bootstrapping GitLab.com.

Sid got the first few hundred signups through an article posted on Hacker News. Then together with his cofounder applied and got into Y Combinator. The race to demo day, where they would present in front of top tier investors, was on.

Compressing their three-month plan into just two weeks, the GitLab team had a highly successful demo day, landing Ashton Kutcher as an investor.

There was so much interest in their seed round, they rolled right into the Series A financing round. They’ve since followed that up with a B, C and D financing rounds, raising a total of $158 million at $1.1 billion valuation.

Today, some of their investors include Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, August Capital, ICONIQ Capital, 500 Startups, and Sound Ventures to name a few. It doesn’t get much better than that as a hyper-growth startup.

In order to do this, Sid and his team had to master storytelling. This is being able to capture the essence of the business in 15 to 20 slides. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Embracing The Remote Work

Sid states they “don’t do in person.“ At Gitlab they encourage having meetings with webcam. They believe there’s something to see in the other person even if it is via video.

To put this into perspective, every day, employees have a company call, and it’s a thing you do with a limited set of people. In this regard, there are about 20 in each group, and they just hangout.

During the group calls there are all types of topics discussed that vary from movies to magazines. Topics are not necessarily work-related.

Sid and his team very much believe that their company is more than just, “Hey your work…”

As part of Gitlab‘s culture, the social interaction plays a key role and they have a lot of ways in which they facilitate this inside the company. Even if this happens remotely.

M&A Made Simple

Recently Sid and GitLab have been very active when it comes to acquisitions on the buy-side. That includes Gitorious in 2015, Gitter in 2017 and Gemnasium in 2018.

When it comes to acquiring companies, they’ve made the process incredibly simple, and are actively looking for more companies to buy.

In this regard, they like to acquire teams that have built a product before. Preferably a team that made a great product, but didn’t get distribution. Especially because typically they shut their existing product down.

To make things easier, they have an acquisition offer page. It even includes a calculator, so you can go online and calculate how much they’re offering.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • When to pull the plug on your startup
  • The advantages of SAFE notes for raising money
  • How GitLab does meetings and culture around the globe
  • Why they pay based on where team members live
  • Tips for recruiting top engineers
  • Why you should read the GitLab handbook

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley

Source: He Built A $1 Billion Business Where All 700 Employees Work Remotely

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