Mark Suster – AMA via Product Hunt LIVE
I’ve blogged about Product Hunt previously. In case you want to learn more about it, you can go to the link here. Staying true to its name, the company, founded by Ryan Hoover, recently launched an AMA via Product Hunt, called Product Hunt Live. If you’re en entrepreneur, or love anything startup related, I highly suggest you check it out. There are a lot of ‘A-Listers’ on there, including some notable VCs. Registering is free, and once you join – all you have to do is click on which AMAs you want notifications for, and Product Hunt will do the rest :). Yesterday, Mark Suster, a well known VC out in Los Angeles, and partner at Upfront Ventures, participated in Product Hunt Live. It was a great session, as there were many entrepreneurs who attended the session to fire away questions to Mark. To read the full session, click here.
There were many great questions during the AMA session, ranging from ‘what motivates you?’ to ‘any good books you would recommend?’ I wanted to go ahead and summarize them as much as I could so that I could share with everyone. If the screen shots are too small, or hard to read, you can just click on each image and it will open them up full size in a new tab. I’ve also linked each Product Hunt’s member’s direct profiles on the platform who asked a question. OK, so, here goes:
- Via @Sydney Liu – Hey Mark! Everybody wants a piece of your time. People cold email you, people make intros to you, you get tweeted at, people comment on your blog, etc. You’ve also been known to give people who are relatively unknown or don’t already have a huge network in tech the opportunity to build great businesses.What helps you differentiate the signal from the noise? When somebody you don’t know contacts you, what do you look for that tells you: “This person may be worth spending some time with.”
- Via @Ryan Hoover – There’s been a lot of discussion (for the past year but especially in the past few weeks) about inflated startup valuations and the venture market drying (see @bgurley‘s tweetstorm from last week). What are your thoughts on this and what advise would you give to startups seeking funding in the next ~year?
- Via @Erik Torenberg – Because we’ve read so much of your work, gonna ask some hard Q’s: You have so much to be proud of, but what’s something you’re _not_ proud of and what did you learn from it?
- Via @Faraaz Ahmed – What do you and Upfront look for in seed stage consumer startups? How much or what sort of traction do these types of companies need to show you?
- Via @Shahed Khan – One of my favorite blog posts by you is “How the Hell Do I Prioritize Work, Blog & Find Balance” (http://www.bothsidesofthetable.c…)What did you teach yourself early on in your career to remove most/all distractions while focusing on the current task at hand? How has that changed overtime? And what advice do you have for others today — that will help them be most productive?
- Via @Eric Willis – Thanks for doing this AMA. Yesterday, you wrote a blog post about the stock market correction and how that could impact venture financing. I know you mentioned that your post could be misinterpreted as being “bearish”. I know that we can’t predict what will happen, but what is your gut feeling on the market? Do you really think winter is coming and there are some fundamental economic indicators (outside of potential triggers that the Fed could set up next month) that would lead one to believe that the “good times are over”?
- Via @Jeffrey Doucet – I am currently raising a seed round for my ed-tech startup, and I wanted to ask you: how much emphasis should I place on revenue/cost projections. People ask me for them, but other than projecting revenue and market share goals, everything else seems to be a guessing game with little value. How much do you value cost projections?
- Via @Vikram – Hi Mark you have been investing big time in Content & probably have seen the MCN story playing out well. What do you think is the future of content from here? Also in Emerging countries where monetisation is a problem, how could sustainable business models be created?
- Via @Mike Lenz – What retention or other metric would indicate to you that a team has found product/market fit for a consumer internet app?
- Via Sameer Noorani – There seem to be very few institutional VCs who truly do seed funding. It feels its all mostly different shades of growth funding with an increasing prerequisite of traction and engagement (making it feel more like a Series A). For some consumer products the reality its demand and physics can only be known after such a community is acquired (which requires capital) so they never make it out of their nest.Do you agree with this observation of reducing seed investment and if so, what do you think the effect on the ecosystem would be in the long term?
- Via @Mike Dariano – Mark, what are 3 books in different domains that you often recommend?
- Via @Corley – what is the one question that no one ever asks you, but you think they should ask?
- Via @Eric Willis – Do you have your own Anti-Portfolio? Interested to know if you’ve passed on some investments that ended up being home runs.
- Via @Nichole Elizabeth – Hi Mark! Thanks for doing an AMA.1. What does the timeline look like for the ten years that you spent as an entrepreneur?
2. What lead you to become a VC?
3. What five books have changed your life and why?
- Via @Johnny Zhu – Wondering if you have any anecdotes on how being in LA has helped you in VC.
- Via @Jon Sutherland – How important do you think design will be for the next generation of enterprise startups? How much do you factor in design quality when deciding whether or not to invest in SaaS businesses?
- Via @Mike Coutermarsh – Hi Mark! Is there anything you do everyday to stay productive?
- Via @Krishna Devenda – what is the one line answer that help you decide on your investment in a startup?
- Via @Danielle Newnham – If you could invest your last $1M, who / what would you invest in?
- Via @Taufiq Husain – 1. I just read your article today called “Making Sense of the Stock Market Drops in Relation to Venture Financing”. You suggested that private valuations and fundraising will be increasingly difficult as public markets get squeezed. I noticed you suggested that Seed or Series A fundraising wouldn’t be affected. Why is that? I understand that it’s a riskier investment round but wouldn’t these round sizes be affected as well?2. Another question I have is more related to working as as a VC. I’m sure your LPs are similar as VCs are to Entrepreneurs but how deeply involved are they? Is it just a “give the check and forget about it” kinda deal or is it more like guided advice by them etc.
3. Why aren’t LPs of VC firms ever publicly talked about or reported about? It almost feels like highly secretive that VC firms don’t reveal who their LPs are or who is backing their firm. I’m just wondering why that is
- Via @Marty McDonough – What gets you up in the morning? What drives you every day?
- Via @Paul Robert Cary – I’m a big fan of Bothsides. I’m building a BuzzFeed/Upworthy for outstanding indie film & video in the 3-10 minute range and follow your advice “be a tech company that distributes video.” I’m based in London (www.findie.me). Other than calling Upfront like a stalker, how do I pitch to you? Can a “Netflix for indie short format” work? Thank you for doing this.
- Via @Danny Espinoza – HI Mark! So what side of the table to you prefer now that you’ve had successful runs at both?
- Via @Simone Panfilo – Hi Mark, great to see you here. What is your view on the LA scene? Which advice would you give to european startups planning to move there instead of the valley? Thanks!!
- Via @Scott Weiner – I’ve seen and talked to plenty of founders constantly pounding the pavement for years to no avail. How do you know when persistence is no longer the key to success and at what point do founders need to recognize its time for a pivot or a totally new idea?
Overall, it was a great session. Many thanks to Ryan Hoover and Mark Suster. It was great to see a VC get involved and be real with entrepreneurs. It was a great learning session. If I missed anyone or you find something that needs editing, feel free to reach me via Twitter.