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Startup Ideas from My First Million Podcast 💵 Episode #105

Shaan hosts a special episode with guests Avlok Kohli (CEO of Angel List) and Xavier Helgesen


Wes Kimbell

Aug 31 2020

4 mins read


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First part of the podcast features Avlok Kohli of Angel List

13:15 A product that gives feedback on business meetings

  • Meetings are expensive both in time and money: They take away everyone’s time and brain bandwidth
  • They need to be as efficient as possible
  • What is needed is a feedback loop on the meeting quality
  • You can use this to create a build an information center around this
  • Maybe this could be built on Zoom
  • Shaan has this idea as well
  • All you need is 10% or 20% effectiveness improvement to give significant value to businesses
  • 17:20 talks about what kind of pitch you could use to get this company going
  • 17:50 talks about the obstacles with this idea

13:50 Asynchronous meetings

  • Instead of a live meeting where everyone has to be there at the exact same time
  • For example a design review or product review can be done asynchronously where not everyone needs to be live
  • Avlok thinks there’s an opportunity to create a tool to do this
  • When you build something like this, by default, everything is locked
  • Now you have a repository of meetings and data

20:50 Avlok talks about a current startups he’s currently excited about

  • Roam Research: A note-taking tool for networked thought. As easy to use as a document. As powerful as a graph database. Roam helps you organize your research for the long haul. He replaced the Apple Notes app with this

27:40 A Rolling Fund

  • Shaan wanted to start raising money to invest in startups. After he moved to Silicon Valley he had friends who started 3 or 4 billion dollar companies and he wanted in on the action
  • He thought about starting a fund but you have to convince a large amount of people to give a large amount of money up front. This takes time and effort and it may not work. You can’t raise partial amount of the fund, if you don’t raise it all you don’t get any.
  • He also thought about starting a syndicate. Shaan started one and got a bunch of people to say they will back it, but once you get an opportunity in your sights, you have to go knock on all their doors all over again. He didn’t want to re-raise money for every single deal
  • Instead, he started something called a rolling fund that can start small and get bigger over time
  • Rolling funds have many advantages: 1) you don’t have to raise all the money upfront. It can start small and get bigger over time. It’s viable even while it’s small. 2) You don’t have to re-beg for money every time like a syndicate because you already have money in the bank. 3) You can publicly talk about the fund and solicit to get people to invest. Shaan has an audience on the podcast that he could get funding from.
  • Drawback is that it’s a new structure. When you talk to LPs you’ll have to give them more explanation what a rolling fund is
  • Shaan does not like the fee structure. There’s a fee every quarter and a minimum fee.

Second part of the podcast featuring Xavier Helgesen

1:24:35 Local monopolies

  • How do you create a company that has outsized returns that is small?
  • The best BBQ in Topeka, Kansas could be a local monopoly. It’s expensive and unattractive for a competitor to set up shop here. You are established, have the best product in a constrained area
  • What are local monopolies that can command premium prices?
  • Basic services
  • Online reputation of these services
  • The local newspaper is a great example. Make it an online newsletter. Only need a few writers. Aquire a bunch of users through paid search or Facebook traffic using local targeting
  • Can you be a Rupert Murdoch by owning the most popular newsletter in all the little towns?
  • Kinda like what Next Door has done. They want to take on Facebook but came at it from a local method.
  • Managed Service Provider (MSP) is an outsourced IT department for your companies computers, phones and network. It’s a huge industry already. Has recurring revenue.

1:37:10 SPACs

  • SPAC is a credible person or team that knows how to acquire businesses. You raise money and give the first investor incentives. Then you find a company to buy and becomes the public company. Like Virgin Galactic went public on a SPAC. SPAC struck a deal with them and formed Virgin Galactic

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