Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

116. Introduction to Deep Tech investing

When investing in Deep Tech, remember that technology is just a tool, not an end in itself. Understanding who will use it and why is key to becoming smart money.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • When investing in any business, you must consider these questions:
    • What problem are you solving?
    • Who are you solving it for?
    • Are they willing and able to pay for it?
  • Understand what stage of the innovation cycle the start-up is in. This will help you evaluate risk properly.
    • For example, the first lab grown burgers were unaffordable for most people. The risk at that stage was not whether the product can be made, but whether it can be made at a cost that would allow wide scale sales.
  • Get a technical expert to evaluate the start-up’s invention and help you understand their risk. Take note if no other deep tech investor is involved.
    • This is what happened with Theranos. Prominent biotech VCs passed on the round because they had the expertise to know that what Elizabeth Holmes was...
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115. Commercialising innovation and breaking into Deep Tech

Great technology is not enough to build a successful business. You need customers who understand its benefits, and are willing to pay for them. This is why storytelling is a key part of commercialising innovation.

Lauren Xandra, Head of Marketing at Two Sigma Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in deep tech, talks about her role in building successful tech businesses and how she transitioned career into deep tech.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "Just as important as supporting startups' technical growth is helping them to be understood and able to tell a story that not only resonates with their end users, but also with potential corporate partners and outside investors, who are often less technical," says Lauren.
  • Venture Capital is usually a job that people transition into, rather than start their careers in. 68% of venture capitalists in the US have backgrounds in start-ups, according to research by Diversity VC.
  • "Making a strategic career move requires thinking...
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114. What is Deep Tech?

Companies like Deep Mind fascinate investors and innovators, but what is a deep tech company really and how does it differ from other types of tech firms? Listen to this episode to find out.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Deep Tech is a sub-sector of the technology sector where the emphasis is on tangible engineering innovation or scientific advances and discoveries. It includes artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, advanced material science, photonics and electronics, biotech and quantum computing. 
  • Deep Tech is usually B2B: these companies usually sell their innovations to other businesses, rather than directly to consumers.
  • Deep Tech companies are usually founded by technical founders, and sometimes have non-technical co-founders who help them commercialise the innovation. A good example is biotech tech start-up Vitro Labs, where a scientist teamed up with a fashion industry expert to create laboratory grown leather.
  • The biggest risk to Deep Tech...
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113. How porn drives tech innovation

The porn industry is behind many of the innovations that drive e-commerce and the consumer internet today. If you want to know what new trend is going to be the hottest thing in tech, the makers of smut probably have the answer.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The adult industry pioneered streaming video, tracking devices and online credit card transactions.
  • Even before the advent of the internet, porn drove consumer tech. Author Patchen Barss  says that without porn, the VCR might have never taken off as a consumer product.
  • Pornographers are not necessarily the inventors of new technologies, but they are  the first to use them and thus drive consumer adoption. Once a technology works for porn users, they often flow down to the mainstream.
  • If you are a tech investor or a tech innovator, seeing what new products or use cases are happening in the adult industry, can help you spot the next big trend. The more you can pick up ideas from wherever they...
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107. Top questions to ask about an app to become smart money

To become SMART MONEY as an investor, founder or corporate innovator, you have to know what questions to ask about a product. This helps you spot signs of early success or early warning. 

Listen to this episode to learn what questions to ask and how to link product innovation to business strategy. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The questions fall into three buckets:
    1. How do my best customers behave?
    2. What are the characteristics of my best customers?
    3. What has to happen for them to abandon the product?
  • For bucket 1, you could ask:
    • What features do my most active users use?
    • What screens do they visit?
    • How often do they open the app?
    • What time of day do they open it and on which days?
  • For bucket 2, you could ask:
    • Where did these customers come from?
    • What are their demographics? Are there any patterns?
  • For bucket 3, you could ask:
    • What screens tend to be the last screen that people get to before they shut down the app?
    • What prices of other apps they use have?...
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106. What angel investors REALLY need to know about tech

Even the smartest professionals who don’t have backgrounds in digital businesses make the same mistakes when it comes to tech start-ups.

They often want vanity metrics, as opposed to what truly matters, and because they don’t know how a tech product gets made, they don’t know how to properly evaluate an opportunity. 

In this episode you'll learn 3 core tech concepts and how they apply to early stage investing.

Learning notes:

  • There are fundamental differences between software products, that are especially important at the early stages. This is because, when a product is very new, it is still in development mode. This is why understanding product development is vital at the early stages.

    For example, evaluating Airbnb as a listed company focusses on typical investment metrics: revenues, costs, growth etc. These would have been unavailable when Airbnb first launched, so investors must look for other signs.

  • Tech products are always evolving. For example,...
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79. Why human insight will drive success in tech in 2022

No code apps and outsourced product studios mean that there is more opportunity than ever for non-technical founders and traditional businesses to get into tech and succeed.

But, as more companies enter the market, they’ll be competing for a finite resource: our attention.

Listen to this episode how to make the most of this opportunity and avoid costly mistakes.

Learning notes:

  • The prevalence of No Code apps and outsourced product studios is driving down the cost of building apps, sites and algorithms.
  • As more tech products enter the market, marketing costs will increase. This means a boon for Facebook and Google, and also for professionals who know how to attract and engage new users.
  • Jobs that will benefit from this boom include User Experience designers, who know how to make habit forming products, Community Managers and Strategic Partnerships experts. None of these roles require coding, but they all require an understanding of how tech products get built and who does what...
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65. Fundraising For Non-Technical Founders

Many investors view non-technical founders as more risky. Sometimes this is plain silly, but there are legitimate investor concerns that non-techie founders will make costly mistakes that technical founders will not.

The answer is not to learn to build the product with your bare hands, but to know enough about tech to have a product strategy and relate it to business goals. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • “You can be the ripest juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches,” - Dita von Teese. Some investors don't invest in non-technical founders and they never will. There are plenty of those who do. Spend your time on them.
  • Learn how to connect product metrics to business metrics, for example how does user engagement relate to revenue or fundraising goals?
  • Understand key tech concepts to make the right hires and set the right goals, but you do not have to retrain to become a...
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41. From tech entrepreneurship to venture capital

Venture capital is usually not somebody's first job. It is a career people transition into, and one of the best ways to prepare is by working in a start-up.

In this episode, you'll hear from VC James Sore, Principal at SuperSeed ventures, about how he transitioned into tech entrepreneurship and then investing. You will also learn about equity crowdfunding and syndicate investing.

If you want to raise money for a start-up or invest in one, this episode is for you.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Venture capitalists have three main jobs: sourcing deals and investing, raising capital for their own funds, and helping the start-ups in their portfolio.
  • Early stage investing, like early stage start-ups, is risky. In the early stages, companies are still finding structure and product market fit. This makes them the right environment for some people, but completely wrong for others. Knowing yourself and where you thrive is important to get this right. 
  • Venture...
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31. How To Transition Into Venture Capital

A career in venture capital is lucrative and exciting. Yet, it is also hard to get into, and once you're in, staying successful isn't easy.

Sophia Matveeva spoke to Silicon Valley venture investor Nilesh Trivedi principal investor at J Ventures and Chicago Booth MBA.

They talked about what makes a good VC, the different pathways into venture capital and why many early stage VCs aren't as rich as you think. This is an especially useful episode for angel investors, VCs and founders.

Learning notes:

  • Good tech investors have an understanding of technology, but they do not have to have technical backgrounds. Learning how apps, sites and algorithms get built is a key skill, but learning to code is not.
  • Venture capitalists are investors in startups, but they also have to raise money from investors. Investors that invest into VC funds are called Limited Partners, or LPs.
  • VCs have to spend time growing their brand and network because the competition to invest in good startups is fierce.
  • ...
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