Dan Olsen & Lean Product Playbook

Thanks

Thanks to Gail Giacobbe, am exposed to Dan Olsen’s work on Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback. The book is available here. It presents a clear framework.

Nuggets:

The process to achieve product-market fit

The builds the intuition for the lean product process. Do have the question of whether we start with underserved needs or target customer since customer portraits are fundamentally humans with needs to different degree. For instance, everyone has the need of transporting from one place to another but with different demand on the time needed to access the vehicle will result in “uber customer” and “customer who owns a private car”.

Market ( problem space ) vs Product (solution space )

【why, not start with the solution space 】here is an example from the book “when NASA was preparing to send astronauts into space, they knew that ballpoint pens would not work because they rely on gravity in order for the ink to flow. One of NASA’s contractors, Fisher Pen Company, decided to pursue a research and development program to create a pen that would work in the zero gravity of space. After spending $1 million of his own money, the company’s president, Paul Fisher, invented the Space Pen in 1965: a wonderful piece of technology that works great in zero gravity.”

【why start with the problem space】

“Faced with the same challenge, the Russian space agency equipped their astronauts with pencils. You can actually buy a “Russian space pen” (which is just a cleverly packaged red pencil). This story shows the risk of jumping into the solution space prematurely and the advantage of starting in the problem space.”

Human needs stay the same.

When new technology is developed, users/buyers segments adopt the new tech in the following way.

The top needs don’t matter if the bottom needs haven’t been met yet.

Persona Attributes:

  • Name
  • Representative photograph
  • Quote that conveys what they most care about
  • Job title
  • Demographics
  • Needs/goals
  • Relevant motivations and attitudes
  • Related tasks and behaviors
  • Frustrations/pain points with current solution Level of expertise/knowledge (in the relevant domain, e.g., level of computer savvy)
  • Product usage context/environment (e.g., laptop in a loud, busy office or tablet on the couch at home)
  • Technology adoption life cycle segment (for your product category) Any other salient attributes

e.g

How painful is the need ( problem ), how frequent it happens

need to identify the underserved needs: needs that aren’t yet filled.

GAP = importance — satisfaction

Opportunity Score = importance + MAX ( importance (pain intensity * how frequent the pain occurs) — satisfaction , 0 )

Opportunity Value Delivered = Importance * Satisfaction

Opportunity to Add Value = Imporatnce * ( 1- satisfaction )

Opportunity to Add Value to exsiting product = Importance * ( satisfaction-before minus satisfaction-after)

e.g

When should you hire a CFO?

Jason M. Lemkin recently posted a tweetstorm about his observation that most startups are bad at finance. As you’d expect from Jason, he didn’t try to sugarcoat things:

In a funny coincidence, one of our portfolio CEOs wrote me an email with the subject “Should we be hiring a CFO?” just one or two days before Jason unleashed his tweetstorm. It seems like while there’s been a lot of discussion in the SaaS community about the right time to bring on a VP of Sales or VP of Marketing (with the best advice coming from Jason himself¹), the finance department hasn’t attracted as much attention yet. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful for other founders if I publish my email reply to the CEO here:

Hi XXXXX,

A couple of thoughts:

1) I think a good CFO will:

– take everything in regards to bookkeeping, accounting, and tax off your shoulders
– be able to take further operational duties off your shoulders
– help you with financial modeling and budgeting (i.e. he/she will create the model/plan based on your input, adjust/fine-tune it based on your input, and will be able to create monthly actuals vs. budget and a rolling forecast).

2) I think a great CFO will, in addition to that:

– be a true “business partner“ (like a co-founder with the finance hat) who can act as a sparring partner for all kinds of business decisions, e.g. when it comes to assessing a partnering opportunity
– be focused on driving revenue, so he/she will help us generate more revenue e.g. by working on pricing
– ask the right „strategic“ questions (for example, I would expect him/her to independently challenge you in regards to the profitability of different customer segments)
– improve cash management (e.g. in regards to payment terms, accounts receivables, FX,…)
– fully own financial modeling/budgeting (obviously with input and guidance from you and others)
– own the data room for the next financing round and play an important role in the fundraising process
– have experience with M&A and various financing instruments

3) I think with the exception of M&A experience, all of these are skills/assets which, at XXXX’s stage, we should have in the not too distant future. When we’re at $5–10M in ARR or so, a great CFO might almost pay for him/herself by helping us tweak and optimize the business (in addition to freeing up your time).

Happy to talk to the candidate(s)!

I’m also adding Ola in case she has any additional input.

Best regards

Christoph

Let me also add what Ola, our Operating Partner, had to add:

Hi XXXXX,

I second everything Christoph mentioned. From my own experience of joining the finance department of a startup in year 10 with ca. EUR 500M in group revenue with 10+ subsidiaries where everything was still based mainly on Excel and a basic accounting software with huge amounts of manual work, where it was almost impossible to implement any technical project like ERP or CRM and tax audits were dragging out for ages and proved to be very challenging, I believe it is almost never too soon to hire a senior finance person to set the scene for scaling in a professional way (and saving FTEs due to automation and smart set-up).

Not sure what your subsidiary structure etc. is but an experienced finance person can play a vital role in internationalisation as well. Contract reviews with big clients, compliance matters, any type of changes of law, tax audits, dealing with advisors, etc. are usually also things such a person could take care of instead of the founders.

I would be very happy to interview XXXXX as well (and to drill him a bit on the technical, hardcore finance stuff) if you think this would help to make up your mind (have done it for several of our portfolio companies before).

Best regards

Ola

In this case, our recommendation was pretty clear, but the company is close to $5 million in ARR and can afford a great finance leader. What about SaaS startups that are at a much earlier stage and haven’t raised a few million dollars yet? If there’s a trade-off between hiring a CFO and, say, a marketing leader or 1–2 developers, most founders will understandably go for the latter. So, when is the right time to hire a CFO? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, as the right timing depends on a couple of factors, including how much capital you’ve raised, how fast you’re growing, and if one of the founders has prior experience with or a talent for financials. Let’s take a closer look at how the “finance department” of a typical SaaS company might develop over time.

Pre-revenue

Aaron Patzer, the founder of Mint, once said: “When valuing a startup, add $500k for every engineer, and subtract $250k for every MBA”. While I don’t agree with this sentiment in general (and I don’t know if Aaron was serious), it’s true that in the very beginning you need people who can build stuff, i.e. mostly engineers and designers. Almost everything else can wait until you’re closer to launch. Before you start to commercialize your product, your company’s finances are usually very simple and can be handled by one of the founders, with accounting and payroll typically being outsourced to one or more external service providers.²

~ $1 million ARR

You’re live, you have the first paying customers, you may have raised a small seed round already, and slowly but surely, you’re generating more and more revenue. It begins to feel like you’re on to something, and you’re starting to think about raising more money to accelerate product development and customer acquisition. At this stage, the workload, as well as the complexity, with respect to the company’s finances increases quickly. Some time around the $0.5–1.5 million ARR stage you’ll want to hire a finance person who can take everything in regards to accounting off your shoulders and who will help you with financial planning and budgeting as well as your accounts receivables.

That person will also help you get better at tracking your business performance over time and will professionalize your finance tools and processes, which will become increasingly important as you move to the next stage. The finance person that you’ll hire at this stage is not going to be an experienced VP Finance or CFO, though, so expect that although he or she will be able to help you with e.g. financial planning and an investor presentation, you’ll play the key role in putting together the plan that you’re going to present to prospective Series A investors.³

~ $3–5 million ARR

As you’re approaching $3–5 million in ARR, it’s time to bring in an experienced finance person — unless the one you’ve hired at around $1M in ARR is learning so fast that he or she can be that person. With a few million dollars in ARR, improvements to how you manage working capital, credit controls, payments, various currencies, etc. will start to have a bigger impact because you’re starting to deal with larger amounts of money. At the same time, controlling expenses will become much more complicated, especially if you’re doubling your team size year-over-year; you might open a second or third office in another location and might have a subsidiary in another country, which means you may have to deal with topics like payroll and employee benefits in other countries and transfer pricing between your company and its subsidiary; and you’ll have to deal with ESOP pricing, auditors, and much more.

At this stage, you will hugely benefit from somebody who can do most of the things I’ve mentioned under “a great CFO will…” in my email above. That doesn’t mean that your finance leader must have been a CFO before or that you should give him or her the CFO title — making him or her a Director or VP might work, too. In fact, if you hire someone who has been a CFO already you’ll have to make sure that he or she doesn’t expect a job that is primarily about managing people. Your finance department will still be quite small at this stage — probably 2–4 people, so you need someone who isn’t too senior for hands-on work.

One more point: A few of our portfolio companies have hired a seasoned part-time CFO at a few million dollars in ARR, which allowed them to punch above their weight in terms of experience of the candidate and to delay the hiring of a full-time CFO (or VP Finance) until around $10 million in ARR. This can work, but the caveat is that with a part-time CFO you will most likely not get what I described as a “true business partner” in my email above — a “late co-founder” who is extremely strong commercially, acts almost like a founder, and, as one of our portfolio CEOs put it, is “an additional trusted voice that knows which questions to ask that we may not have thought of”.

$20–25M+ ARR and beyond

The finance leader who you’ve hired at around $3–5 million ARR will hopefully be the right finance leader to get you to around $20–25 million in ARR but that doesn’t mean that he or she has the experience and skills to be your CFO as you grow to $100 million in ARR and potentially become a public company. During that part of the journey, you’ll want a finance superstar with lots of experience in M&A deals, equity and debt financings, and maybe even taking companies public. I’ll stop here, though, because if you’re reading this, chances are that there’s nothing you care less about right now than whether your $20–25M ARR CFO will scale all the way up to $100M. 😉 As with all manager that you hire, optimize for the next 2–3 years. If he or she continues to be the right person for the job beyond that, you’re lucky. But if you optimize for it at the get-go, there’s a high chance that you’ll hire the wrong person. There may not be 48 different types of CFOs — but there are certainly a few!

Our Startup Life at Techstars Berlin: Mentor Madness with Eversend

Countdown to our DEMO DAY displayed in the office corridor.

The most overheard water cooler conversation this week has got to be:

“How were your mentor madness sessions?”

“Mental!”

Eversend reporting from Techstars Berlin, Germany.

The Techstars Berlin Accelerator Program

Techstars hosts a 3-month mentor-driven accelerator program in various locations. It forms part of an impressive greater global network of startups, mentors, and corporate partners — an ever-expanding well of resource and advice — that abide by a #GiveFirst principle.

Stone (CEO), Emma (COO) and Theresa (Growth) are now stationed in Berlin for its program here, being whipped to shape and led by the wonderful and intrepid Managing Director Jag Singh.

We embarked on this journey with 9 other highly promising technology startups, selected from all around the world. For every 100 startups that apply to techstars, only around 1 gets in. That’s a lower acceptance rate than admission to Harvard, Oxbridge and other prestigious institutions.

Month 1 focuses on mentorship, month 2 on execution and month 3 on the pitch. This culminates at DEMO DAY — a grand energetic pitch day at the end of the program showcasing all the startups to an audience of investors.

Corridor wall lined with our cohort’s logos framed. See Eversend.

Mentor Madness

As said, the program is mentor-driven. Mentors are matched with startups based on mutual liking and rating.

Here at the Berlin program, there’s a whopping 78 mentors with in-depth experience of their respective industries.

In the past two weeks, we met with every. single. one. of the 78, for 25 minutes each. That’s over 32 hours of exposure to an incredibly diverse range of expertise, external questioning, and intense introspection of our business.

Fundraising, business development, customer acquisition, KPI setting, communication, social impact, design, technology, marketing, the list goes on… You name it, and we will have met an expert in the field.

Here are a 5 core things we have tested and validated about our business.

Create meaningful partnerships

Listen to our customers to provide direction on what services to offer on our platform

Deliver practical solutions that our customers NEED

Prioritise the most valuable growth funnels

Root ourselves in our knowledge of the market and communication with customers

Starting next week, we will get our hands dirty in workshops and follow up on these new developments with mentors we matched with.

We cannot wait to grow, even more.

Photo of our Berlin 2019 cohort taken from Techstars instagram for International Women’s Day.

Follow our journey!

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About the Author

Theresa Yung is our Growth Intern studying International Relations with a special focus on International Political Economy and Money at the London School of Economics. Driven to generate social impact by innovative solutions, she joined our Eversend team and is enjoying working with people who share passion for change.

Texas McCombs at SXSW 2019

When SXSW kicks off tomorrow, Texas McCombs is taking the homefield advantage in showcasing the innovation and entrepreneurism that characterizes both the school and our home in Austin. McCombs and UT Austin are represented in bold news ways this year: from a major pitch competition to leading researchers and alumni sharing their expertise to SXSW volunteers clad in UT-branded T-shirts.

A full list of the 40-plus UT-powered sessions can be found here. Below are highlights of where to find McCombs at SXSW this year.

Event

PitchTexas

The University of Texas presents the sixth annual 2019 SXSW Graduate Startup Pitch competition, with prize money of $50,000. PitchTexas was started and is run by the Texas McCombs MBA Entrepreneurship Society, a graduate student organization at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

The semi-finals will be held 9–11am, Friday March 8, at Rowling Hall. They are open to everyone, including non-badge holders.

The finals will be held at the Hilton at 5 pm and are open to badge holders. Judges include President Gregory Fenves and innovator CEOs Heather Brunner and Rod Favaron.

The Longhorn Band leads the winning team in the PitchTexas competition and the crowd from the Hilton Austin Hotel to the official SXSW PitchTexas after-party at HandleBar on East 5th Street.

Faculty

Cara Biasucci, Creator and Program Director, Ethics Unwrapped

Ethics and AI: How to Plan for the Unpredictable

Cesare Fracassi, Associate Professor

Blockchain Deathmatch: Permission-ed vs -less

Julie Irwin, Professor

Ethical Shopping: Why Good Intentions Go Bad

James Scott, Associate Professor

Big Ideas in AI: Solving Problems… Since 1696

Dr. Elizabeth Teisberg, Executive Director of the Value Institute for Health and Care at Dell Medical School and the McCombs School of Business

Reimagining Life with Cancer

Alumni

Alissa Bayer, MBA ’04, Owner of Milk + Honey

The Business of Making People Feel Good

Jay Kleberg, MBA ’13, Producer and Character

The River and The Wall, World Premiere Documentary

Deborah Navarro, MSTC ’16, Commercialization Lead at MIT Hyperloop II

Air Levitation: A New Hyperloop Transport Method

Venture Things E02: The Target Ownership

Post-Money Matrix for the Targeted-Ownership Method.

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Reflections on 2017 (and other random rants)

A Lesson from the Sequoia

2017 was the year that Hugh Hefner met his demise, dare I say that death comes to us all. The irony of his Playboy empire was that it represented freedom and individualism and yet oppression and exploitation. Sexual freedom enslaved so many men to sexual addiction (pointing at myself). We live in an ironic generation. I find that the more we fight for freedom, the more we realize that freedom enslaves us. Socialism has seen a massive resurgence in 2017 and yet we still fight for freedom of individualism in everything. People are afraid to admit that freedom can create inequality (larger and larger income gap), vice (objectification of women), and addiction (opioid crises), and people don’t always make the best choices, when given the choice. My parents are from Taiwan, and they tend not to be fans of communism which has trickled down to me, but the truth is often nuanced. I know in rural areas, the irony is just as thick. People complain about taxes and government involvement and then they complain about rising food costs which are driven lower by government subsidies.

We are great at using language that supports our ideals, like demonizing “capitalism” instead of freedom. Or people that struggle to find a job blaming the “weak economy” when by almost any measure we are living in the most prosperous of times. Facebook connects people and yet people have never been further apart. We’ve hit peak Google where people can find information on anything in the world, and yet we seem so far from asking the right questions. Unemployment and the stock market are at all time highs, but I feel like we are at the apex of skepticism of institutions. My 2017 rant — we are a people that find it very difficult to take contrarian opinions, and to see the nuance among the things that we fight for. We live in ironic times.

That all being said, every year I sit down and do two things:

  1. Reflect on my year
  2. Predict the theme of the next year using the arc of past events

One of the most difficult things to do, is to remember and reflect, and one of the next most difficult things to do is to look to the future and cast vision. It’s much easier to just go to work, and go to the next event, and the next event, until you wake up and it’s the end of the year and your left wondering what happened. I do this a lot.

Looking at some of my past reflections: At the end of 2016, I reflected that 2016 was a year of stabilization. I wrote that unmet expectations created stability for me and I predicted that 2017 was going to be a year of growth and war. I think that’s been largely true but when times are good, it’s sometimes hard to tell if you are really doing good or if success is just a product of being in a strong economic environment.

I checked off a bunch of ego boxes this year like getting on the Forbes 30 under 30 list, growing the business to the point where we will make the Inc 5000 in 2018, amongst a bunch of other accolades. I think the biggest growth for me though, was realizing how accolades and press matter very little, and it tends to be the most narcissistic egocentric people that chase them. Accolades are for chumps like me.

I don’t mean to say that press is not useful or that it’s easy to get. As the saying goes, “all press is good press.” I always think of Tim Ferriss, who wrote his best seller 4 hour work week after building a business that wasn’t really all that successful. He was able to find the key piece of what made that experience meaningful (namely that it was automated and he didn’t have to do much) and used that to propel him into one of the most influential business writers of the last decade. If you’re smart about the way you promote yourself, you can get press, and that press can certainly help you, but it doesn’t mean you’ve done actually done anything. I just don’t think that people that are actually making stuff happen in business (Bezos, Jobs, Musk, or the thousands of other people you’ve never heard of) are trying to get on lists. They just do work.

Overall, it really has been a great year, namely because of the people that surround me. I’ve had best friends move to Los Angeles this year, and had the grace of loving the city I live in more and more. I really have a hard time understanding why everyone doesn’t move to LA. I’m so thankful for our amazing church and the co-workers that I get to work with. I really had a blessed year.

As I reflect on 2018, I want to get more serious about doing meaningful work. Charles and I started Fishermen Labs because we wanted to make an impact. I believed and still believe that business is the best way to make impact in this world in a scalable way. It’s only now that I reflect and realize that all the things that don’t push our revenue or income are the things that get kicked down the road. It’s very difficult to say no. And when you don’t say no, it’s really hard to do meaningful work because you are always responding to the most near term problem. I would like for 2018 to be the year of meaning. Saying no to things that waste time. Stay focused.

Charles and I announced that we’re starting another business, one that democratizes healthy food by taking the most “common” food type that we as Asian people know (ramen), and making it something that doesn’t kill you. I always feel awful after eating instant ramen but it is so good. If you drink the soup it’s hard not to get heart burn. And yet, the components in ramen have the opportunity to be cheap and nutritious, with simple components like noodles, soup, and veggies. We have no business being in the food industry, we’ve already had many people laugh at us for being naive and entering such an unprofitable industry. I personally think ignorance is bliss when you are just getting started. Turns out, that very few people would start a business if they knew the amount of pain it would cause. I think that’s probably true for having kids too.

Finally, I went to the most interesting restaurant in LA the other day, called Clifton’s Republic. Don’t be fooled by the horrible reviews, the place is like Disneyland in downtown LA. There’s all these nooks and crannies. I found the most peculiar plaque that was nailed to the wall. I couldn’t believe I was reading something Christian in a restaurant in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. It is my prayer as I close out 2017.

I move thro’ the silence of trees high and grand,
Then pause ‘mid the ferns, and give thanks where I stand.
Dim aisles of woodland cathedral-like seem,
Evoking my worship, enhancing my dream.
O God that this restless and visionless race
Might seek Thee in earnest, and slacking pace,
And trace thro’ Thy word the real meaning of life…
That life “hid with Christ” mid the worry and strife.
O forest of big trees thy secret I learn…
’Tis in stillness of soul His true path we discern.

​Startup Growth: Full Speed Ahead?

Founders are excited about getting their startup moving along at a frenetic pace. They have thought long and hard about their idea, found the perfect partners and staff and now are looking for fast and furious growth. But is fast growth the right approach?

There are many considerations a startup needs to address before making major moves as far as distribution or production.

  • Understanding the demographics
  • The operational efficiency level they can maintain
  • A strategic plan for controlled growth
  • Don’t take every opportunity
  • You have one chance at expansion

It’s easy to see why a founder would be determined to quickly move into the marketplace, create a brand and be successful. The reality is that some companies need different growth strategies than others. It’s not a dilemma but there is a decision to be made whether the business goes full speed ahead, scales up the business methodically or even is constrained in the market.

Running full speed at all opportunities in the market causes problems. I’ve seen many companies use the spitball option; throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. You lose your focus and things start to go sideways. With a lack of focus your team becomes demoralized for lack of leadership. Your business is spread too thin and nothing is done efficiently or effectively.

Mark Cuban from the Shark Tank, a 30% investor in Beatbox Beverages had to help the founders find their way after what could have been a disastrous move into multiple markets looked ideal to them. The three founders tried to say yes to everyone and while their boxed wine product was innovative and well received there was no way the three founders could manage the entire US.

The founders wanted to snatch up every opportunity that they could but it was operationally inefficient. Their problem reached critical mass when WalMart (WMT) offered them shelf space in 1000 US stores. Operationally this could have been a nightmare. Big box stores like WalMart like the 180-day billing cycle so they use your money while you go broke waiting to get paid. I think any business would have jumped at the WalMart offer without thinking of the ramifications.

Cuban taught them about the risk that comes with expanding too quickly. He told them “not to drown in opportunity.”

Startups have one shot at expansion and it better be well planned because if you don’t perform in the big boys market you’re out for the count. In Beatbox’s case they needed to capture markets close to their hub and grow by scaling the business. They needed to get some experienced people on board instead of trying to do everything themselves.

Beatbox needed to create a strategic plan for growth including a plan for new products and new markets that worked. This was a shift in emphasis for them because they had worked for businesses in the past that focused on rapid and opportunistic growth. They needed to focus on low hanging fruit while building the plan for the big picture.

Cuban is a shrewd investor and he realized they would be soon in over their head if they stayed with their current direction. He suggested their plan should be geared towards constrained distribution and production. Constrained distribution is usually a negative function of product getting stuck in a bottleneck. In this case it was suggested that the company seriously consider creating their own self-imposed bottleneck while the company infrastructure caught up to demand.

I can’t even begin to imagine what problems would happen to a company’s infrastructure if sales tripled in one month without the right systems in place to manage everything from production to accounts receivable. If you read my last article I explained how too much in sales can be as damaging as too little in sales for a new business.

After the Shark Tank episode aired distribution offers came in from 35 states and 20 countries.

Beatbox had already gotten rid of the biggest risks. The founders had already managed to secure the biggest manufacturer in Texas and found markets. They had proved that the product had an audience and that they knew how to arrange profitable deals on their own.

The Beatbox team also felt that because their product was getting critical acclaim they should add more flavors to the market. Cuban suggested they take it slow in that area as well. More products required more marketing budget and, as is the case for liquor sales, every state was highly regulated for the sales of their wine that further added to their distribution challenge.

While Beatbox illustrates wild growth and the need to reel it in at times I like the tried and true approach of scaling a business to match production, delivery and the sales cycle so that no one area can falter when demand exceeds the norm. Unlike the founders at Beatbox most of us don’t have a mentor/investor like Mark Cuban to offer feedback and support.

For more information or to speak to Gary Click Here


Originally published at www.equities.com.

Story of a developer, from Iran 🇮🇷 to Europe 🇪🇺 (+ open source story)

Max invited me and Sara Vieira to the team

Soon after I joined the Styled Components team for helping with the website. Most people were so nice and welcoming that made me love this world. I made lots of friends including Phil, Max and Sara. He uses lots of emoji in Github and I love that!

This was the moment I realized open source is not about your contribution graph on Github, it’s about learning and people.

My next step is to actually move to Europe for reasons I told you before. The tech scene here is promising but I don’t have enough time and energy to fight here, maybe I’ll come back later but my life is limited, so I have to physically cross the border for good.

For the following years, I want to build my own products and make a friendly startup team.

I’m addicted to open source and I’ll continue to open source as much as I can. I’ll continue to make new friends and every new relationship is a whole new world for me.

After moving, the first thing I would do there is to get a fucking credit card and enjoy accepting and even paying money on the web 🙂

Take my money!

that seems like a ridiculous dream. Also, I’ll come to London and will hopefully give a real talk this time at this awesome meet up.

Don’t look at my face down there, thanks!

Come and chat with me, send me photos of your dinner, cats, codes, or share your first open source project with me! I’ll star and share it on my Twitter. By the way, I’m a maker of things so share any idea with me, happy to hear them.

I’m @morajabi on Twitter and Github. I have a blog too.

First thank you for listening to my story, hope it wasn’t just my story and you gained something from it, that was my only goal. Then I want to thank the organizers and specially Cristiano for inviting me to speak here. Thank you my friends for coming and helping me. These folks helped me so much, and I’m in touch with them (these are in no particular order):

  1. Josh Comeau (He helped me on Github a lot too)
  2. Sara Vieira (My super friend, thanks for your support)
  3. Max Stoiber (You inspire so many folks and thanks for answering my messages)
  4. Andreas Klinger (You care about people a lot, thank you)
  5. Nilan Marktanner (My awesome friend, working @ Graphcool)
  6. Johannes Schickling (Founder & CEO @ Graphcool)
  7. Kent C. Dodds (You answered my questions and helped me when I know you were so busy)
  8. Oliver Turner (Thank you for your support and messages Oliver, keep in touch!)
  9. Phil Pluckthun (He’s so nice, certainly one of my best friends)
  10. Behnam Rajabifard — My brother (He taught me HTML for the first time and kept me updated, thank you my companion, looking forward to next stages in our lives)

I’m sure there are others which I haven’t put their names here, anyway forgive me and thank you all!

And so much more! My new friends are amazing 💫 Lucky me! 👊

Thanks to Zac’s awesome live demo, I travelled to London:

My selfie before the talk is printed in London! I will pick it up once I moved 🙂

By the numbers — The Ken

All of us are familiar with the-ken.com’s ‘By The Numbers’ section — where the chosen company’s financial performance is dissected and lovingly scrutinised. Someone in twitter had recently asked if they would publish their own financial summary, that gave me a good excuse to dig this out.

So lets dive right into financials of Kenrise Media Pvt Ltd — yes thats the registered name as per MCA records. The-Ken is a well respected media publishing company, about an year and half old now based out of Bangalore. Their stories are deep, insightful and backed by solid research — thats why you have to pay for good journalism as they call it.

Revenue — 69.4 L

Expense — 1.2 Cr

Profit — (51 L)

Period of operations — Aug’16 to Mar’17

Income

In about 8 months, there’s a subscription revenue of 64.6 lakhs, 4.8 lakhs as return on investment in Mutual Funds. With an average annual subscription fee of Rs.2,750, we can assume they have around 2000–2300 subscribers. There is also an income through specialised patron plans, corporate plans and gifting a subscription, contribution of these to overall subscription revenue is unknown.

Investment in MF — 2.3 Cr

Expense

Staff salary and welfare — 76 L

Consultation — 32 L

Software Expense — 2.8 L

Main expense is on salaries and wages, followed by consultation. Considering they just launched mobile apps, I doubt the software expense listed above justifies the actuals. It could very well be that software development expense is classified under the head of consultation. They also have a defamation suit filed against them for which they will be spending heavily (lawyers don’t come cheap).

New plans

Looks like their subscription plans were revised recently and listed in dollars, that’s more than 100% increase over their initial offer of Rs. 2750 / year

Edit: Rohin just clarified that it stays @ INR 2750 for Indian subscribers. The ‘extra love’ is for subscribers abroad 😉

There is a very good response for their well narrated, analytical journalism which will lead to more subscribers, they are also likely to have a churn from current user base, which will impact their projected revenues and growth rate. While adding new subscribers at a good pace will boost their revenue, reducing churn will indicate how sticky their subscribers are.

Disclaimer — I haven’t spoken with Rohin or Patanjali before publishing this, known them for over an year now.