Dave Pell

Dave Pell

Writer of NextDraft & Angel Investor

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 25, 2016

Discussion

Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
I’m Dave Pell. Each morning I open about a 100 news tabs and then begin my process of finding and sharing the day’s most fascinating news in the NextDraft Newsletter and App. I’ve also been investing in internet startups for a couple decades. Some people have a face for radio. I have a face for tech. Fire away!
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi Dave, thanks so much for joining us and a big fan of your newsletter. I would love to hear what have been the most successful methods you have used to grow your email newsletter? What have been the major transition points?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@harrystebbings To be totally honest (I won't limit other answers to that standard), I really suck at promoting my newsletter even though it's the most important part of my creative life and I try to pimp it as much as I can. But my major transition point came when I stopped trying to be exhaustive in what I covered, and instead stuck to what I was interested in. More personality, less curation. That's when sign-ups started flowing.
Andrea Marcovici
Andrea Marcovici@andrea_marcovici
@harrystebbings I write a weekly blog, that seems/actually takes hours to compose. I can't imagine writing daily. Dave, I was wondering if your style has changed since you started writing. My editor has asked me to throw all of those English class rules out the window. Incomplete sentences, colloquial phrases, first person narrative...all are allowed. I actually found my readership has increased the more I talk about myself, especially in the introduction and conclusion paragraphs. What have you discovered about writing style over the years?
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What are your favourite questions to ask founders?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@bentossell Great question. I mostly like to ask them about their product and their background to see if we get along (which is a key factor for me). I generally invest with a very smart colleague who always asks about their Shazam moment - when did they first realize this was the right product. If the person pitching makes it seem like the greatest deal ever, I usually ask: "So why come to me?" Mostly I'm looking for red flags. Biggest lesson in 20 years of investing: Red Flags never disappear. They only get worse. 100%.
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
Hey everyone. Thanks for coming. Here we go.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you had a billion dollars what would you do with it?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@bentossell Tell my dad, "Hey I made a billion dollars." To which he would say, "I still think you should have gone into real estate."
Charles Jo
Charles Jo@charlesjo · Creator, Startup Study Group (SSG)
What is your investment thesis?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@charlesjo Invest early. Worry.
Charles Jo
Charles Jo@charlesjo · Creator, Startup Study Group (SSG)
@davepell there's gotta be a perfect German word for this. If not, let's coin investearlyworry.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
I think you're one of the most underrated tech tweeters (twitterer? tweeple?)... How do you feel about the future of Twitter?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@andrewett Andrew, goddammit I could not agree more. I should have a billion followers. Twitter's future as a product is great. They need to figure out how to please the market. They also need to learn from Slack. Their users are telling them what they want from the product. Also, they need to focus on their search results pages which are amazing and better than "Moments" which are too editorial for a product where users are supposed to be in charge.
Jonny Miller
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
Next Draft is hands down the best thing to appear in my inbox... thanks for doing what you do! My question is: what's the best startup idea you haven't yet been pitched with?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jonnym1ller That's a tough one. And I don't want to give away my multiple zillion dollar ideas. But someone should build a universal browser so we can drop all these apps on our phones and TVs. The world is more complicated now, not less. Remember teaching your mom to operate a VCR. Try to teach her how to watch one show on Amazon and then another on HBO Now (But not HBO Go). It's absurd.
Dennis Howlett
Dennis Howlett@dennis_howlett · co-founder, diginomica
@davepell @jonnym1ller HBO Go is pants IMO
Sarah Cooper
Sarah Cooper@sarahcpr · Comedian & Writer, TheCooperReview.com
Hi Dave! I love the design of your newsletter. How did you get to it? How much testing did you do before you got your email newsletter design, subject line, etc. right? Do you continue to do any testing now?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@sarahcpr Because I write everyday, everyday is sort of a test. I've been incredibly lucky to work with world class designers and engineers who treat NextDraft like it's a big deal. Brian Moco did my superhero logo, Bryan Bell handles site and app design, and Andrew Norcross built me a WordPress publishing system that allows me to push my stuff to two apps, email inboxes, the web and Apple News with one click.
Craig Halverson
Craig Halverson@craig_halverson
How do you stay disciplined and energized and having fun looking at a hundred tabs a day?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@craig_halverson I am an addict. But not to the news. To the publish button. I also love news and media. But it's the last tab (the one that I open to actually send my stuff out) that keeps me disciplined. It's really a gift to me.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's something you've changed your mind about in the last year?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jakecrump When Trump first started his stand-up comedy slash presidential bid, I thought the fact that he was shaking up the status quo could do something to make political debates, etc, a little more real. His success and the support he's received have made me realize everything about him is dangerous. And pretty depressing.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
How did you get into Angel Investing and what are your favourite things about it/what don't you like?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@bentossell I had a small stock portfolio. My friend was working at Venture Law group. So I asked him if I could invest in google and yahoo. He said, those rounds were closed. But others were open. So I got hooked. The best part of it is learning about new business and different industries. Every pitch is part of a free in person lecture series. I don't like the legal stuff and the terms. I haven't read a term sheet all the way through in 20 years.
George Murray
George Murray@gmurray · Lead Product Designer, Roadtrippers
Dave, from time to time you take light jabs at various aspects of tech. It's pretty lighthearted but seeing how other terrible things grow when unchecked (like things that rhyme with "Drumpf"), are there any aspects of the tech industry you believe need to be called out before they go from joke to serious problem. Or are we already there? Thanks for your newsletter!
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@gmurray George, I try to be funny about the subject. But not light-hearted. I don't know a single person in our industry who doesn't worry about the downsides to tech -- not focusing, not spending enough time with kids, always being on. It's serious stuff. But there's no stopping this train. The key is not to try to pretend there aren't downsides.
Fiifi Deku
Fiifi Deku@fiifi_deku
Hi Dave thanks for a great newsletter. In the process of arranging the order of each story how do you determine what is #1 to #10? How much brainstorming and what is your general source of inspiration for each story title or headline?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@fiifi_deku One is the hardest. I try to make that a personal interest story that a lot of folks will click on. Three is usually my hard news. And I try to lighten it up as I go down. My friend Rob is almost always online with me. And I almost always run the idea or ideas for number one by him. Couldn't keep this up without his support. (OK, Rob. Is that good enough?)
Yoann Lopez
Yoann Lopez@yoann_lopez · CMO || comet
Hey Dave, what was the biggest news of your first newsletter? Why did you pick it?
Javier Torrez
Javier Torrez@jactorrez
What's one piece of advice you wish you got when you were young? Or any advice that you got, but that you brushed off only to find out that you should've take more seriously?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jactorrez Bend your knees and watch the ball.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What are some of the best resources to start learning about becoming an angel investor? If you had to start from scratch as an Angel today, what would you do?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@bentossell Make friends with a good angel investor and try to go to pitches with them. Everything I know about investing I've learned from Bob Zipp of Amicus Capital. Without him, I'd be solely a humanities major.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jakecrump One cushion over on this same couch in my office (each one seems to last for about five years). Also, I'd love to do some writing for TV. And I'm secretly planning an interview series.
Rob Dunn
Rob Dunn@rododu
Like a rockstar, do you ever use illegal substances to enhance your work?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@rododu Bill Clinton liked to say that he smoked pot, but didn't inhale. I took a hit in about 1993 and still haven't exhaled.
Don J. Kahn
Don J. Kahn@kahdojay · Co-founder, Sous (sousapp.com)
@davepell @rododu indica or sativa?
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Which investor do you most admire and why?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@andrewett My colleague Bob Zipp because he's 100% loyal, very smart, and one of my best friends. In the broader world, Reid Hoffman because he thinks big, Bill Gurley because he has often invested in my seed companies and made them bigger, and James Joaquin because he knows how to build the Obvious brand.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's one piece of advice you constantly find yourself giving?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jacqvon I have two kids. So the two big ones are: Brush your teeth. And eat your fucking vegetables or I'm gonna have a fit. In business, take advice but be willing to say fuck off every now and then. In writing, don't think, just start writing. And when in doubt, always delete.
Hi Dave! Would love to know what hobbies or sports you did as a kid. What skills or lessons from them had the biggest impact on your life?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@casielane I played football and tennis. I'm not a great athlete. In tennis, I hat fits and tantrums regularly. Those were bad at the time. But they've made for some good anecdotes. Which is turns out is my life's focus. In football, I was wildly into it. Too much. But I didn't have the physical skills to be great. Later in life, I married a Samoan woman so I could live my football dreams vicariously thru my son. But the concussion news ruined that plan.
keir j beadling
keir j beadling@kjbeadling · Experienced Brand & Growth Marketer
hi dave. what is the world coming to?
Andrea Marcovici
Andrea Marcovici@andrea_marcovici
@kjbeadling To add to the question, Mr. Pell, do you find it difficult to write on topics that make your blood boil, for example politics?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@kjbeadling It's not as bad as it seems. But it's worse than some people think.
Don J. Kahn
Don J. Kahn@kahdojay · Co-founder, Sous (sousapp.com)
Hey Dave - what are your favorite / most used productivity apps/tools in your work? Web, mobile, desktop or otherwise. (also thank you for your awesome newsletter =)
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@kahdojay Thanks Don. I am totally old school. I use Safari for the reading list function. I open tabs to read the news because I want to design the story placement editors have chosen. And I write in an old but great text editor called BBEdit. I have been searching for the right note taking app for most of my adult life.
Jim Gaynor
Jim Gaynor@jimgaynor · Anecdotal Technologist
@davepell @kahdojay Props for BBEdit.
Don J. Kahn
Don J. Kahn@kahdojay · Co-founder, Sous (sousapp.com)
@davepell very cool. never heard of them, but they must be doing something right if they're on v11 and are "the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Macintosh" =P I really like Sublime Text 2 - it has an open source community for add-on functionality and a bunch of uber-useful keyboard shortcuts (and free learning resources - the one from Envato Tuts+ is my fav). I'd highly recommend it if you're interested. You can customize color schemes and everything. For quick capture, I always push this app - Squarespace Note. It's not really marketed but it's my secret weapon for quick-capture ideas. The iOS app is really slick, just write a note in a blank white screen and swipe up and have it send to wherever you want (that they integrate with - email, GDrive, etc.).
Josh Cottrell
Josh Cottrell@joshua_cottrell · Co-founder, Market.Space
Hi Dave! I'm a huge fan of NextDraft and What Hurts. I was wondering if you made a strategic decision to use newsletters/podcasting as the main distribution channels for your content? If you did, what was the reasoning behind it?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@joshua_cottrell I've been writing in newsletter form since the early days of the web. I think it's the most personal way to communicate with an audience, and if they want me, they can just hit reply. I have been experimenting with podcasting because I have a face for radio and me and Phil Bronstein always have fun conversations over coffee, so we decided to hit record. No method to that madness really.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are some of your favorite books or authors?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jakecrump All time, Beloved by Toni Morrison. Recently, I was really into The Cartel by Don Winslow. Remarkable look at the stupid and costly drug war and what it has done to Mexico. Once you read this historical fiction you'll think, "Shit, Mexicans are the ones who should build the wall." Our drug habits and our drug war is crushing cities south of the border.
Pablo Fuentes
Pablo Fuentes@provenpablo · CEO, Proven
HI Dave...love the newsletter....what is your anti-portfolio? What are the best stories you left out but wish you had included? Thanks, Pablo
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@provenpablo Hey Pablo, I really never have that kind of remorse because I can always include the next day. Interestingly, I've only received about 2-3 emails (ever) with people complaining that I missed something. My hardest decision of the day is not what to include, but what should be the top item.
Pablo Fuentes
Pablo Fuentes@provenpablo · CEO, Proven
@davepell Thanks! Keep rocking!
Jim Gaynor
Jim Gaynor@jimgaynor · Anecdotal Technologist
I encountered you not from your VC work, but when people started noticing Tweetage Wasteland. You made a pretty significant pivot from that into NextDraft - and I'm wondering about the thought processes that led you to shift your creative life from a blog to a newsletter.
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jimgaynor I've always done both. NextDraft is a blog, a newsletter, an app, etc. I switch (back) to NextDraft because I am into topics much broader than just tech. And the topics I covered in Tweetage (a tech insider admitting the stuff we worry about when it comes to tech) were being covered - finally - by mainstream media.
sapna satagopan
sapna satagopan@sapnasf · Co-founder, Xyza: news for kids
Love Nextdraft (And that it curiously usually aligns to my lunch break). My question is--You have a 100 news tabs open but you have a much smaller pool of news sources your newsletters actually refer to. Do you consider mentally rank some sources higher than others? Why?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@sapnasf I open about 75 a day, every day. I have about 6-7 that I open the night before a few times to get started. I also use twitter and Facebook. At this point, everything from sources to the places I look on each page are mentally ranked. But it's mostly instinct. Hard to explain quickly.
Yoann Lopez
Yoann Lopez@yoann_lopez · CMO || comet
Hi Dave! My fiancée has been yelling at me for a while because I'm spending too much time reading your newsletter. How do you manage to curate an entire day of news knowing that we're quite overwhelmed nowadays?
Joe Norskov
Joe Norskov@joe_n · Development Coordinator - Red Arrow Ind.
Love reading NextDraft! What news aggregators, curated content sites, tricks for filtering the internet do you must admire and which do you most despise? Unrelated, do you view society as moving more towards one that has a certain prideful ignorance i.e. "vaccines cause autism and I don't care what you say?" If so, what do you think is the best method of dealing with personalities like that?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@joe_n I really don't use many aggregators. I think the best way to deal with idiocy is to try as hard as you can not to let it bother you, but to learn from the realization that it's out there. Also, only respond if you have a day to kill.
Jeremy Browning
Jeremy Browning@jeremyabrowning · Product Manager, Condé Nast
Hi Dave, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. It's evident that you read LOTS of news. Can you recall an issue, perhaps a controversial one, you recently changed your mind about due to new information you gleaned through research?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jeremyabrowning The GMO one seems like it fits there. I didn't have a strong position, but most smart people I know seem to suggest it's not that big of a deal. I was more convinced when Mars said they'd voluntarily label their packages with GMO info. Why? Because they want to use anything to keep your focus off the real poison in their products: The sugar.
Javier Torrez
Javier Torrez@jactorrez
What's one thing that's surprised y ou the most in the tech/startup world over the years? Not limited to companies, but just anything in the 'tech culture' that's made you go, 'wow, never in a million years would I have thought that this would ever be a thing/happen'.
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jactorrez Man, that first Internet bust was a pretty rough ride. Also, who would've though I could have some small successes. That's how goddamn easy it is in this day and age. Worst part about tech industry is that people don't realize how lucky we are to be living in a fucking gold rush. You know who really deserves several billion dollars? No one.
Javier Torrez
Javier Torrez@jactorrez
Who's one person that comes to mind when you hear the word 'successful'?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jactorrez Joe Pell. No other contenders.
Dennis Howlett
Dennis Howlett@dennis_howlett · co-founder, diginomica
What's the 3 characteristics that you believe all founders need to have either individually or collectively?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@dennis_howlett Drive, Curiosity, and Humility.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are some of your favorite podcasts?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jakecrump My time for them is limited because I am a complete Howard Stern addict (and I wish Robin would let me help her do the news.) I generally go for the interview stuff. I like Serial, etc. But I don't like that content as much as the standalone pieces. Longform does some good stuff. And of course, Reveal is awesome.
Fiifi Deku
Fiifi Deku@fiifi_deku
Dave, the modern era of social media and journalism has brought along with it 1 terrible monster: trolling! How would you feel about your newsletter being subjected to interpretation and noise by people who intend to misdirect your message or trolling in general? News websites like CNN.com have shut down their comments section while others like HuffingtonPost are reduced to 1 side yelling at the other side. How do we stop trolling or the negative impact it has?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@fiifi_deku I hate comments. I read a lot of terrible ones and rarely have ever come across one that was of value. I put myself out there, so I know I'm gonna get some trolling. But I really feel sorry for people outside of our industry and outside of the "public eye" that get trolled. People can be terrible. The Internet just allowed us to measure how many people. Sadly, a lot.
Don J. Kahn
Don J. Kahn@kahdojay · Co-founder, Sous (sousapp.com)
What's been your favorite angel investment and why? (I'd also ask what's been the most successful, but not sure if that's faux pas)
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@kahdojay I have two. One is amazingly successful. GrubHub. It was a great, young team and they are in a market or space I love. Providing technologies to customers who expect it from companies that can't provide it. I want to order online. My local Chinese restaurant is not going to build an app and a backend. Enter Grub. My other favorite was a music site called SoundFlavor. Passionate team, fun area, and a really great guy as CEO. But there are many others.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@jacqvon To drive more readers to my content.
hanna Siera
hanna Siera@m91hanna
What are the top 3 things you look for when you consider investing in someone?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@m91hanna I think I answered that above. But I probably made it up. I don't think like that.
AJ LaCourse
AJ LaCourse@aj · Retired generalist enjoying life.
Where do you stand on Apple ( individual freedom) vs US Government ( greater public good) question?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@aj Shit, that's a big question. First, Apple is right. Second, there's another issue that interests me. Every tech company and ceo has come out in favor of Apple. And Americans disapprove of the gov. But half of America still wants the phone opened. That tells us something about how Americans feel about the tech community. And we better wake up to that. It's a big deal. It's not about money. It's about hubris.
Kyle Bollinger
Kyle Bollinger@whoakb · Designer born and raised in Phoenix
Do you feel superior to any major news organizations?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@whoakb Only Fox News. But since I work alone, I'm sometimes surprised by how many people it takes to do certain things.
Dennis Howlett
Dennis Howlett@dennis_howlett · co-founder, diginomica
@davepell @whoakb Can you expand on that 'how many people it takes....' thing please?
Kyle Bollinger
Kyle Bollinger@whoakb · Designer born and raised in Phoenix
@davepell I think you are superior to almost every news channel. Organization-wise you are a one man news channel.
Fiifi Deku
Fiifi Deku@fiifi_deku
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give to someone like me about to kickoff their own newsletter? I tend to write the stuff up and then i get hesitant about sharing it or try to clean it up over and over again. Really appreciate all your replies!
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@fiifi_deku Use your personality, focus on a topic you love, and start sending.
Joe Norskov
Joe Norskov@joe_n · Development Coordinator - Red Arrow Ind.
What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence in the world of investment e.g. robo-advisors or lendingrobot.com?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@joe_n In one sense it's incredibly exciting. But people I know who are the smartest people in tech worry about it a lot. So I worry.
Kyle Bollinger
Kyle Bollinger@whoakb · Designer born and raised in Phoenix
What does the rest of your icon look like? Is it like a leotard or a leather bomber jacket and jeans?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@whoakb It's actually just some superhero underwear, but I'm not sure how to share images here.
Fiifi Deku
Fiifi Deku@fiifi_deku
Do you follow any news sources or blogs from/about Africa? If not what do you think of the continent and how the news should be covered from there?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@fiifi_deku No, I have a lot to cover from domestic sources.
Adam Hardiman
Adam Hardiman@adam_hardiman
Since you opened hundreds of tab everyday, what is the specs of your computer?
Dave Pell
Dave Pell@davepell · Nextdraft and What Hurts
@adam_hardiman MacBook Air. I know it's a big news day when the fan comes on. Thanks to everyone who came today. I really appreciate the interest and questions.