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FundersClub Weekly Newsletter - March 2, 2017

By Grace Barr  •  Mar 2, 2017

FundersClub Portfolio News

Sandy Spicer of Flexport chats with Gordon Wintrob about building a modern freight forwarder, how APIs are part of the strategy, and wraps up with some real-world shipping data in "How the Flexport API enables global trade."

Stephen Lake of Thalmic Labs, the startup behind the Myo muscle-sensing armband, explains how the company is trying to reinvent the notion of the computer interface in "Why Amazon and Intel are betting big on a startup that could succeed where Microsoft's Kinect failed (AMZN, INTC)."

BioBots is moving the company’s HQ to Penn's new Grays Ferry research hub in "BioBots moves HQ, staff of 10 to Pennovation Center."

Varden Labs, is a self-driving trucking startup that launched on Friday whose system will eventually take over for truck drivers on the highway and return control when the driver needs to exit in "This is the new self-driving truck company taking on Uber’s Otto."

Suiteness is an online booking site that gives members access to reserve over 20,000 of the most exclusive hotel suites in top cities around the world, including London, Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles in "What it's like to use Suiteness, the website that gives you access to the most exclusive hotel suites in the world."

Rainforest QA announces Zack Smocha as vice president of product, Derek Choy as vice president of engineering and Peter Farago as vice president of marketing, together bringing extensive experience in scaling software businesses as well as in crowdsourcing and testing in "Rainforest QA Expands Executive Team as Company Revenue Grows by More Than 1500 Percent Over Two Years."

Investor Thoughts

Christopher Steiner of FundersClub highlights that it doesn't matter what growth number an investor prefers (growth per month, as a percentage; or as a multiple per year), but they should be able to perceive the differences of each one – and be able to relate each one to the others in "A Critical Investor Skill: Understanding Growth Rates."

Christopher Steiner of FundersClub offers best practices that a startup can put in place to ensure that during any outage where some assets may be unreachable or the startups' servers aren't operating, customers and users know what's going on, why it happened, and the company's best guess on when normal operations will be restored in "What To Do When an Outage Brings Your Site or App Down."

Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway releases his annual letter to their shareholders in "Berkshire Hathaway annual report for 2016."

Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz chats with Reed Hastings of Netflix about how they cannibalized their own core business to make room for a more strategic one given where the tech was going in "a16z Podcast: Tech and Entertainment in the ‘Era of Mass Customization’."

Medha Agarwal of Redpoint Ventures expands on three specific ways that the machine learning landscape and its potential for impact on products and services in the future can be viewed in "Three things you need to know about machine learning."

Mathias Ockenfels of Point Nine Capital shares part of their internal guide that he shares with portfolio companies that should help founders prepare for their Series A fundraising in "A Guide to Prepare Your Series A Fundraising."

Brad Feld of Foundry Group gives advice to CEOs that when times are rough, it is vital to accept reality, focus on solving the immediate problem and continue to play your long term game in "Don’t Play Hurt."

CB Insights reports that IPOs increased in 2016, 7 out of the top 20 VC-backed exits were IPO, and FundersClub came in at #18 for 'Top VC Investors in Exited Tech Companies' in "Global Tech Exits 2016: IPOs Tick Up, Despite An Overall Slump."

Founder and Operator Thoughts

Caitlin Kalinowski of Oculus discusses how and why you must define your non-negotiables before starting to build prototypes and expands on specific approaches for getting the most iterations and improvements out of the process in "Six Steps to Superior Product Prototyping: Lessons from an Apple and Oculus Engineer."

Sam Altman of Y Combinator shares a non-obvious consequence of there being more capital looking to invest in private technology companies in recent years that although people raise more money at higher valuations, they still end up selling much more of the company in "Dilution."

Steve Blank of Lean Startup highlights that when entering a new market, you should focus part of your initial customer discovery on learning competitive insights in "Don’t let process distract you from finding the strategy."

Strategic Messaging & Positioning Leader Andy Raskin expands on the 'Promised Land' that he describes before pitching his product in "Pitch The Promised Land: Designing Your Company Story."

Chad Laurans of SimpliSafe describes how he built an Internet of Things-like product before that phrase even existed in "In a World of Startup How-Tos, What About Bucking the Trend? [Traction #37: Chad Laurans, SimpliSafe]."

Abhishek Madhavan of Freshdesk advises to embrace the truth that products and incumbents die, and to be willing to threaten the very core of your current business to survive the future in "Why you should kill your cash cow."

Charles Chu of Market Meditations notes that when selling, persuasion is a tool that is on your side in "How to Sell Anything: Aristotle and the Ancient Art of Persuasion."

In Other News

Google launches a new video conferencing application called Meet by Google Hangouts, which is designed for HD video meetings, and is meant to serve as a business-friendly alternative to Hangouts, the company’s consumer-focused messaging, voice and video chat application in "Google quietly launches Meet, an enterprise-friendly version of Hangouts."

Snap Inc. is going public at a valuation at least twice as expensive as Facebook Inc., and four times more costly than Twitter Inc., as Snap sold 200 million shares in its IPO at $17 each, giving it a market value of about $20 billion, based on 1.16 billion shares outstanding after the IPO in "Snap IPO Values Photo-Chat App Maker at Twice Facebook’s Worth."

Did You Know?

Did you know that John Kellogg first invented corn flakes as a food that he thought would be healthy for the patients of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan where he was superintendent? Source