Chi-Hua Chien

Chi-Hua Chien

Co-founder of Goodwater Capital

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 04, 2017

Discussion

Hi - I'm Chi-Hua Chien, cofounder of Goodwater Capital, a venture capital firm focused 100% on early stage consumer tech ventures. I've spent the last 14 years investing in tech companies including early investments in Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Chegg, Klout, and Path. Goodwater's recent investments include Stash, Zumper, musical.ly, and Memebox. Very excited to be here and answer any questions, plus talk about our new product Index that helps entrepreneurs figure out if it's a good time to raise money.'
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey! If you had to swap lives with an early tech CEO who would it be and why?
@bentossell for early stage, i think that the Brandon Krieg and Ed Robinson @StashInvest have an incredible opportunity to reinvent the entire financial services industry. they are doing good work and i believe that company will touch 100M+ people access to financial opportunity. for later stage, it would have to be Elon Musk. he is transforming transportation, space, AI and making all of our lives better. the Tesla is the best product i've seen since the iPhone.
Adam Revetta
Adam Revetta@arrev · Founder, CollaborDate & ScareHunt
Hi @chchien ! What's the greatest early indicator to success that you've seen consistently across startups?
@arrev it's all about one thing -- building a product that customers love. when you can't keep your servers up because there is so much demand for your product, you know you've got a great opportunity ahead.
jerod moore
jerod moore@jollymonatx · Co-Founder goKittr & Coffee hunter
What's the most common "Seed stage" mistake you see?
@jollymonatx investing in too much marketing is the most common seed stage mistake i see. companies that haven't yet built a great product sometimes think they can skip that step by starting marketing, buying FB ads, etc to drive customer adoption. but that never works because if your product isn't great, it won't retain users and those dollars are lost. so focus on the product first, then ramp your marketing once you raise your Series A.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What is your morning routine?
@jakecrump i wake up around 7am with my two kids (ages 3 and 8) and feed them breakfast. it's a special time in the morning for me because i get to take them to school and help them get a great start to the day. my son and i have a tradition of taking a selfie every morning before he goes into pre-school. i then head into the office and either do calls or listen to podcasts during my morning commute. most mornings, my partner Eric Kim and I catch up for a few minutes, and we set aside 2 hours on Monday and Friday mornings to talk through everything related to Goodwater and our companies.
Ayrton De Craene
Ayrton De Craene@ayrton · Code @ Product Hunt
What characteristics do great founders share?
@ayrton great founders share a few things in common. 1) they have a huge vision and belief in accomplishing the impossible, 2) they can motivate others to join them on that journey, and 3) they execute relentlessly and with great detail. the best founders are also incredibly frugal and treat company resources with care, investing in the things that will create the most value.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What do you believe that few agree with you on?
@bentossell i think few would agree with me on my perspective that PR for early stage companies is often a waste of energy. (ironic, because i'm saying this in a public forum...) but i have seen too many companies get wrapped up in PR that they forget to focus on their product. they get distracted by the press, networking events, panels, parties, etc. and invest way too much energy in those things. instead, they should be focused on their customers and product. building a great company requires staying at home and building a great product first. the accolades and public recognition will come in due time.
Harsh Pendse
Harsh Pendse@harshpendse · TCO Labs
What is your take on college students and startups ? Should they start their company at that point of time ?
@harshpendse age doesn't matter. you should start a company when you are so passionate about solving a problem that you can't sleep until you build the solution. if that happens in college, great. if it happens when you're 60, also great. Daniel Ek of Spotify had some great perspective to share on this in his talk at Stanford. http://ecorner.stanford.edu/podc...
Harsh Pendse
Harsh Pendse@harshpendse · TCO Labs
@chchien thanks a lot !
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
How can a young non-technical/business person that wants to get into investing be of service to a VC firm?
@theo_dimarhos i was lucky to get my start at Accel Partners by volunteering my time to help other portfolio companies. Peter Fenton (now at Benchmark Capital) and Arthur Patterson (the cofounder of Accel) sat on my board at Coremetrics and asked me to help a few other SaaS companies in their portfolio model out their finances and make operational improvements. i was the interim CFO at Coremetrics and we went through a pretty significant turnaround. from there, i got my shot on the investing side and went on to help the firm invest in Facebook, Trulia and others. so start early via a relationship and just volunteer your time to help companies or find new investments!
Danny Tirmizi
Danny Tirmizi@danny_tirmizi · Founder : Icarus App
Hi Mr. Chien! I wanted to know how soon should a startup pitch to VC's ? Does having a good product alone help or a large user base thats convincing? www.IcarusNow.com
@danny_tirmizi a good product helps, and a rapidly growing user base helps even more. investors love to see clear customer proof points which demonstrate that you've built a product which addresses a large market opportunity. our Goodwater Index will help you get a sense of the current fundraising environment and VC sentiment. http://www.goodwatercap.com/index
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Thanks for being here today! Can you share some tips or insights for early stage consumer founders on to acheive early growth?
@ems_hodge build a great product that customers love! if you do that, things will go well for you.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What metrics should early stage founders concentrate on?
@ems_hodge customer engagement is the most important metric. if you have a product that your customers love and use a lot (audience) or buy a lot of (commerce / paid service), then you will likely be able to scale your business. but if customers try your product and stop using it or aren't happy with it, you need to fix it before scaling up.
Tayler
Tayler@tayler2412 · Builder, Designer, StudioMinted.com
The work behind "Thesis" and "Index" is enormous (http://www.goodwatercap.com/index), what was the intent in publishing these publicly?
@tayler2412 two of Goodwater's core values are TRANSPARENCY and SERVICE. we think of both Thesis (http://www.goodwatercap.com/thes...) and Index (http://www.goodwatercap.com/index) as opportunities to serve the entrepreneurs around the world and bring transparency to things that are otherwise hard to understand in our startup market. for example, the Snapchat Thesis report helped many entrepreneurs understand how their companies would ultimately be viewed by Wall Street, so they can prepare for this as they mature their businesses. and Index is a great product that provides the kind of objective, data-driven advice that you would get from a good VC board member. Eric and I have been investing for over 25 years combined and we know that not every startup has access to good advice, so we are providing it for free online to anyone who wants to learn more.
Tayler
Tayler@tayler2412 · Builder, Designer, StudioMinted.com
@chchien its powerful knowledge and something that all of the readers have benefited from. Thank you
Tayler
Tayler@tayler2412 · Builder, Designer, StudioMinted.com
Also, Jason Fried, Basecamp published Ditch the elevator pitch ( https://m.signalvnoise.com/ditch... ) what is your thoughts on elevator pitches and presentations?
Danny Tirmizi
Danny Tirmizi@danny_tirmizi · Founder : Icarus App
What are your thoughts and predictions on the App market as it shows no signs of slowing down?
CODERED
CODERED@legaleagle767 · JJ, Stay at home parent
The DARPA Heliplane could and should have succeeded. Who killed it? Private equity and excellent leadership could resurrect life-changing technology.
Syed Ahmed
Syed Ahmed@tabishis · Altimus Solutions, Inc.
Do you think MOOCs will eventually replace traditional learning, specifically tech focused learning? Do you invest in products that are focused on solving problems for MOOC students?
@tabishis yes, i do think that MOOCs have the potential to replace traditional learning. if you think about primary education in the United States, it combines five factors which shouldn't be in the same business -- 1) education, 2) accreditation, 3) real estate, 4) union labor, and 5) day care. there are huge quality control issues that come about when you combine those five elements. if you can separate #1 & 2 apart from the others, you will likely get better results.
Dinesh Chandran R
Dinesh Chandran R@dineshvmr · Product Guy
What are ways I can validate my idea for a startup before starting the development?
@dineshvmr i like the Starbucks test. go to Starbucks and show a dozen people the design of your product, ask them if it solves an important problem in their lives and how it might fit into their daily routine. if you get very positive feedback and interest from a significant number of users, go for it! be careful not to only ask your friends. they will tend to be very much like you and may not represent a mass market opportunity.
Dinesh Chandran R
Dinesh Chandran R@dineshvmr · Product Guy
@chchien Thanks for the tip. Will try that
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are your top tips for founders looking to get their first investment?
@jakecrump solve a problem that you're passionate about and build a great product. don't worry about the investment part of things. if you build a great product that solves a problem for many customers, you will attract investment, team, and resources. my friend Daniel Ek (founder of Spotify) shared a great perspective on this during his talk at Stanford a few years ago. http://ecorner.stanford.edu/podc...
Seth Williams
Seth Williams@sethbwilliams · Designer, Product Hunt
What does success look like for you?
@sethbwilliams i think of the super long term when i measure success. my friend Brant Cryder has a great perspective -- he asks, "What will you do that will cause your kids to say, 'My Daddy was a legend.'" so I think of this on five dimensions. i want to be a legendary son, a legendary husband, a legendary father, a legendary friend, and a legendary colleague. in that order. getting your priorities right and focusing on the things that matter define success.