I'm Dru Riley, I've spent 3,000+ hours researching markets and published 70+ reports. AMA ๐Ÿ‘‡

Dru Riley
76 replies
Hey! Dru here. Founder of Trends.vc. We help entrepreneurs discover new markets and ideas. In February 2017, with $250,000 in savings and no plan other than taking a mini-retirement, I quit my job as a big-data engineer. I spent the next three years traveling and learning, practicing Jiu-Jitsu, doing improv, and building products on the side. On February 10th, 2020 I posted the first-ever Trends Report, focusing on Problem, Players, Predictions, Opportunities, Haters, Solutions, and Key Lessons.Since then Trends.vc reached 48,000+ subscribers and 1,000+ Trends Pro Members. Happy to answer any questions on topics we've covered or the journey so far. AMA!


Ali Inay
For the trends you're presenting what's more important: being the first one to talk about it or the analysis you do?
Dru Riley
@ali_inay1 Most requests that we get for topics are things that have been covered 1,000 times by others. They want our perspective on topics. With the exception of NFTs, DAOs, Social Tokens, most things we've covered have been covered a lot by others. We bring a no-fluff, high-signal POV to topics. Hopefully ๐Ÿ™‚
Manoj Ranaweera
I don't have a question. Just to say, I started subscribing to the free offer, and enjoy reading some of the stuff that lands in my inbox. I've recommended you to our companies (https://techcelerate.ventures/me...). Keep up the good work Dru.
Manoj Ranaweera
@dru_riley not sure yet, but perhaps we could do something later with https://skilledup.life - don't know what it might be yet We started with 1. Helping startup with volunteers 2. Now experimenting with building teams 3. Might take few years - but build startups
Dru Riley
@manojranaweera Are you interested in a community, newsletter or both for SkilledUp?
How did you grow your newsletter? What were some insights when it comes to growth?
Dru Riley
@artyomkarapetov The main strategy is/was threads on Twitter. TLDR: Turning reports into Twitter threads and tagging companies and people mentioned. Twitter still works but our main growth strategy is hard to attribute. It's word of mouth.
Ivan Zografski
How do you envision trends.vc going into the web3 future? How will it look? NFT, DAO?
Dru Riley
@ivan_zografski Perhaps both. We launched an NFT collection a few weeks ago: https://opensea.io/collection/me... The owner of each NFT becomes a Lifetime Trends Pro Member. Vajresh (SuperLayer Labs) collected our first NFT. I'm 30-50% sure we'll become a DAO. Implementation details are pending. Currently prioritizing other efforts. I just shared our current priorities in a quarterly update to email subscribers.
Tyler Speegle
What growth method helped you the most to go from a few paid members to +1K? We just launched LearnStash.com and had our first 13 members sign up. Now, Iโ€™m looking up a big trying to decide the best way for us to climb it well :)
Dru Riley
@tyler_speegle Similar to our answer to @artyomkarapetov. Our main growth method was Twitter threads. If you're interested in the community side of things. You can check out this thread specific to the question of getting to 1k+ paid members: https://twitter.com/DruRly/statu...
Paul Gosnell
What motivated you to post that first report? Did you have a plan or were you testing the water?
Dru Riley
@paulgosnell I had the idea for a few months before the first report went out. I brought it up in a mastermind group organized by @thisiskp_. @edmundamoye was excited enough about it that I decided to give it a try. In terms of a plan, the only plan was to continue doing it. At the time, I didn't know how it would make money. But it felt like something I could do forever. The other things I tried, had "obvious" routes to monetization but were hard to stick with. This was the inspiration for this tweet: https://twitter.com/trends_vc/st... If you want more info on the journey. Courtland (@csallen) and I talked about this in an Indie Hackers episode: https://www.indiehackers.com/pod...
Sharath Kuruganty
Dru, thanks for doing this AMA! As someone who knows you before and after Trends, I'm curious to know how much impact the Trends community made on you?
Dru Riley
@5harath It's hard to overstate the impact. We just crossed 350 daily standups. I've joined each one and been transformed by the people I've met (online and in-person), the need to lead by example and every so often, have tough conversations. Community-building has been more challenging (and rewarding) than writing the reports.
Josh Garofalo
What's your workflow and timeline like from "This trend looks interesting" to newsletter hitting the inbox? (I wouldn't expect you to share every nitty gritty detail โ€” just the major steps. Cheers.
Dru Riley
@swaycopy The timeline between ideation and the newsletter hitting your inbox can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years. Before the first report went out, I had a list of 50+ topics. Still working through some of these. While some topics, like DeFi, jumped the line as soon as someone (@aadilrazvi in this case) suggested it. The major steps? The process has evolved a lot. Here's the latest version: - Post to our "Next Up" channel in the Trends Pro Community - Post a question to Twitter - Schedule report reviews (conversations with domain experts) - Research the topic (books, podcasts, essays, videos, etc) - Make a first draft - Go through the draft via scheduled report reviews - Revise the draft based on those conversations - Record the audio report for Trends Pro Members - Make a final draft - Generate the NFT for the report - Send the report to Trends Pro Members - Send the free version of the report to free subscribers Hope this helps!
Hakon Verespej
I enjoy your writing! What was your philosophy around initiating new projects and winding down existing ones? Did you have a strong feeling Trends was going to gain traction like it did, or was it a surprise?
Dru Riley
@hakon_verespej Thanks Hakon. Compounding takes time and we don't reap the rewards if we constantly switch goals. My philosophy on starting new projects is that we should build what we can stick with. It's summarized in this tweet: https://twitter.com/trends_vc/st... On traction, I had more doubts than feelings of certainty. It helped that I learned a lot from each report. Before there was a positive external feedback loop (traction), there was a positive internal feedback loop (learning). The first shot at monetizing Trends.vc completely failed. The next shot, even with a few sales under our belt, left me certain that it would work. But it was after months of doubt. Covered this in a "3 years. No Income." essay: https://druriley.com/3-years-no-... (Note: I need to fix SSL)
Wilhelm Rahn
Ever thought about building a "Trends prediction" engine?
Dru Riley
@wilhelmr ๐Ÿ‘‹ Hey Wilhelm. At the risk of answering a question with a question: Would a Trends Prediction Engine solve a problem for you? How are you solving it now?
Wilhelm Rahn
@dru_riley Good Q! My take is that, as much as I get value from your trend treports, they are of use at the time of publishing. From a market-analysis standpoint it'd come in handy to have something ad-hoc. From an startup investment scout perspective, even more. But in reality, the phrase "I'll know it when I see it" comes to mind. It could be life changing, or not.
Dru Riley
@wilhelmr Thanks for clarifying that! "From an startup investment scout perspective, even more." This makes sense for investment scouts. Someone mentioned the same target market in a mastermind earlier today. To highlight who Trends.vc is for, we'll improve our storytelling and share the vision more widely. We're geared towards entrepreneurs rather than investors. Investors are leveraging reports but we don't optimize for them.
Will Smith
Are there other niches where you could apply the Trends model, i.e. breakdown of topics with premium subscription for deeper analysis?
Dru Riley
@whentheresawill Short answer: Yep! I've seen folks apply the Trends.vc model to specific verticals. Our Meta-Trends series (focused on things that don't change) will reveal why we've decided to stay general.
What have you learned about yourself during this time? What advice would you give your younger self?
Dru Riley
@bjorn_gustavson What have you learned about yourself during this time? - I can solve almost any problem but shouldn't try. I learned to let some fires burn. - I care more about freedom than status. What advice would you give your younger self? - Do more comfort challenges. Things that make you nervous and/or uncomfortable and may fail but have asymmetric upsides. You'll win or learn.
Hey Dru, what has been the most effective strategy in nurturing an online community and eventually converting them into leads?
Dru Riley
@senin Our community consists of Trends Pro Members. They've joined at that point. We discuss the idea of magnets and moats here: https://twitter.com/DruRly/statu... Basically lead magnets applied to community-building. On nurturing a community. The best tip I have is to focus on building rituals. We explain it more in this tweet: https://twitter.com/DruRly/statu... We have daily rituals (Trends Standups) and weekly rituals (Trends Tribe and Trends Masterminds).
Misha Krunic
Hi, Dru! I'm interested in what growth strategies did you apply at the beginning of your project? And which were the most and least successful?
Dru Riley
@price2spy Great question. Specifically around least successful. Most successful: Turning reports into Twitter threads Least successful: Perhaps Reddit/Hacker News. Though I suspect that we didn't through enough resources at these channels to get them to work.
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Isabell Gollmer
What a proof that only great things come from taking a break and invest in your personal growth! Thanks for sharing, Dru.
How did you grow your newsletter? What were some insights when it comes to growth?
Dru Riley
@jasj99sa On growth. I've mentioned Twitter threads a lot and expounded on that above. The less popular, more true, answer is a focus on quality. We have a minimum viable distribution strategy, no paid growth and put most of our effort into quality. This is why word of mouth is strong. General growth insights? It's interesting to see the law of large numbers at work. The larger any subscription business gets, the harder it becomes for growth to keep pace with churn.
Apoorv Chauhan
hey Dru, looking to know how to get the client for my digital marketing startup.
David Makinde
how did you grow your subscribers so fast?
Dru Riley
@daevidthegreat On subscriber growth. Here are the rough numbers: โ€ข Our first 6-7k subscribers came from Twitter โ€ข Then 25k came from getting Product of the Month on Product Hunt โ€ข Then 6-7k more from word of mouth and Twitter โ€ข Then 10k more from our 2nd Product Hunt Launch