Hi everyone, Ashton here. Very excited to be answering your questions today. Join me for a conversation around startup funding, the future of technology, and more. Ask away!
Ashton! Welcome. 😄 Mobile radically changed the way people interact with each other. What emerging technology do you see having the biggest impact on the way we communicate and build relationships in the future?
@rrhoover sup ryan. I think that a lot of the big shifts in consumer mobile have been taken on by disruptors. much of the innovation moving forward will be around the edges. However occasionally there are step change innovations that present opportunity. I think there are some emerging mesh tech/ communications companies like Jott that have a chance to disrupt. I also believe that the wearable stuff is just at it's infancy. big shifts will come around voice commands and different light weight frictionless input. (wish I had that now... I'm a slow typer) (-:
@michael_boswell · Founder at Cue. Design Lead at FB /GOOG.
@rrhoover Really surprised there was no mention of VR here.
@matthartman · seed investments, betaworks
@aplusk -- it seems to me that two of the significant benefits you bring as an investor are your celebrity and your experience building your own brand. do you think your involvement in a startup is more beneficial earlier in the company's life, where your experience building your brand may be more relevant, or later when the company needs to grow and your celebrity can help increase awareness.
@matthartman I think the celeb and branding aspect is really only a small portion of what we do. In fact if I feel a company is only interested in that I generally choose to not invest. Celeb endorsement isn't gonna make anyones product better. We focus heavily on helping companies grow. Sometimes that comes in the form of shaping the brand and the messaging but more often than not its about really understanding the customer conversion channels. I think where the celeb thing comes in handy is in being vocal when companies come up against regulation or simply getting a return phone call from a strategic BD situation.
@turneycreative · Designer, Marketer, and Entrepreneur
@aplusk ill uproot that, but it would seem that it could add some steam to a launch?
@alexyoungkwon · oneminute
@aplusk Is there any social product that you use as "Ashton" compared to the "celebrity Ashton?"
@turneycreative no question there is value add on getting eyes on iterations but that's secondary
@raygcreative · Founder @teleporme
@aplusk That was a great answer, Ashton. I couldn't agree more with you. There are many startups who are backed by celebrities but that doesn't guarantee success.
@somthngcreative · Founder at Initiativv and
@aplusk some good stuff in here. I can't think of many examples of celebrities being vocal for a startup that is coming up against regulation off the top of my head, but I agree with you that it would come in handy. I bet you see more of it in the future as more startups face regulatory challenges.
@nivo0o0 haha, I remember when I first saw this. Someone tweeted, "nice cameo in Ashton's Lenovo commercial!" 😜
@kamilszybalski · Growth Entrepreneur. Was @Hootsuitelabs
@aplusk Thanks for doing this and welcome! I wanted to ask what you're currently reading and what's on your bookshelf.
@mcbennett · Designer
@aplusk saw architect Bjarke Ingels was asked about his tech investing recently. Was interesting how he said web had adopted many words from construction such as the obvious 'site'. But then said more importantly, ROI. Buildings take so long and can't be repeated.
@jsneedles · BI @ Meerkat & Maker of Things
@aplusk HEY! I'm super curious about your transition from hollywood to silicon valley? What is the starkest contrast you've seen between the worlds? What has been the most similar? 😎
@jsneedles The biggest contrast is that there are no middle men in the valley. The film industry is filled with agents, managers, and execs, that in many cases are just professional introducers that take a cut. Don't get me wrong there are people who do that job that are very good, very creative, and very effective but I find the valley to be refreshingly level and blunt. I also think the valley is far more willing to take big risks on the unknown. The film industry has become littered with copy cats and studios playing it safe with the same product just different costumes. While both are creative places filled with creative people, I think there is a social dynamic an Hollywood that fuels a very different creative process. And because projects here are 6-18mo endeavors you are far more likely to run into someone and say "hey lets work together on something" and then actually do it. There are more creative collisions here.
@aplusk I'm one of the early employees at @fundbox, a start up you recently invested in. I wanted to ask you, why did you choose a fintech startup in general and Fundbox specifically to invest in.
@altryne Fundbox is an amazing company. To list all the reasons would take the rest of this session but ultimately it comes down to the math adding up, the need for this solution, the competency of the team executing it, and the fact that I believe we have some unique access in underserved industries in a way that we can be significant value add investors.
@ambercamel · Co-founder/COO at Spycob
@aplusk Hi Ashton, Do you personally meet with startup founders before/after investment? To discuss the project, to share your knowledge or smth like this? How do you support founders beside the money, and do you?
@ambercamel I try whenever possible to meet the founders prior to investment. There are some cases where there have been logistical challenges that have not allowed that. That being said I believe it's our business the know not only the business but most importantly the people. Eric Schmitt once told me "life is who you travel with" and I couldn't agree with that statement more. The reason I invest is not to make money or to "change the world" is to meet and spend time with bright, creative, innovative, driven people that care about other people. Making money and changing the world is the exhaust of care and compassion for other people and the ingenuity and guts to do something about it.
@aplusk We help companies in a variety of ways. Marketing, Crisis PR, product, hiring, lobbying, helping to find syndicate investors, thinking through issues, Biz Dev, sponsorships, Coaching, networking, What ever our founders need we are willing to do our best to step in.
@ambercamel Ashton's an investor in Product Hunt and I can point to emails where he's reached out to help with specific opportunities. The best investors don't wait for you to ask for help; they're proactive.
@aplusk When are you planning on giving @bhorowitz a run for his money with your own book "Dude, where's my unicorn?" - I'll help with your launch ;)