David Tisch

Managing Partner at Boxgroup. I've invested in over 250 early stage tech startups and love chatting tech.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 22, 2015

Discussion

David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
Hi - I'm David Tisch, managing parter of BoxGroup, co-founder of Spring and Head of the Startup Studio at Cornell Tech. I've invested in over 250 early stage tech startups, started a mobile shopping company, and run the program at Cornell Tech that helps students create companies, love chatting startups and I'm excited to be here-- ask me anything!
Avery@averyalchek · Business Operations, Mashable
@davetisch What do you look for in founders (besides passion)?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@averyalchek Hey - I replied to this to @cobbyamoah
Cobby Amoah@cobbyamoah · CEO, Peach
@davetisch @averyalchek Here is his answer. - this answer applies to @averyalchek too - #1 is leadership, it is totally overlooked early on with a 2-3 person team, but the CEO and founder needs to scale into a great leader. #2 – long term vision. #3 – hiring and inspiring.
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
Dave, what do you think is one of the most difficult products to buy online, and what would you do to help solve that problem?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@katesegrin Anything that involved comfort to me is hard to buy online, a couch, a chair, some articles of clothing. Anything you need to feel to fall in love with. Offline helps here a bit, but not scaleable.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Thanks so much for joining us today! During your career to date, what is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Flip side - what's the worst?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@ems_hodge Hey @ems_hodge – I’ll start with the worst “focus on improving your weaknesses.” I think its BS. People should double down on their strengths, find the things you are better than others at and focus your career around those things, not on filling in gaps. If it takes you a bit to find the right type of role to apply your strengths, that’s ok, its worth the journey because when you find that place, you will strive quickly and naturally. The best, probably from my grandfather was the way he approached his business career, it’s pretty simple – “ok, let’s go.” The first line “ok” can follow anything, a problem, a statement, a data set, a win, a loss, someone pitching, whatever it is – “ok.” Then, ”let’s go” - time to do it. Enough talk, just do it. It’s pretty applicable to anything, and I try and bring that into my approach in my work life.
Kingsong Chen@kingsongchen · Founder at Scanate
Hi David, what are some important problems in the world that need to be solved?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@kingsongchen Thanks for the question. Such a broad question, so many possible directions. At a global level, giving everyone the ability to provide safety, health opportunity and happiness to their family is what matters most.
Phil Nguyen@p_ngu · The Daily Water Cooler + Vettery
Hey @davetisch! Thanks for making the time, as well as for all your efforts with growing the NYC tech ecosystem. My question has to do ecommerce, specifically the differences you encountered when making a platform based on mobile instead of websites. In particular, I'm curious if you made any design/functionality/etc. decisions in Spring because that's just how ecommerce on the web was done, but only later did you realize through user behavior that the feature was outdated or wrong for a mobile audience? (e.g., I remember reading somewhere that early cars used a tiller to steer because that's how boats were directed, but only later did people realize a steering wheel was much more effective)
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@p_ngu Hey Phil, appreciate that. We definitely designed Spring specifically for mobile. One of the major decisions we made early on was to streamline the most painful part of the shopping experience, the checkout. By eliminating the shopping cart we were able to do Swipe to Pay, which allowed a customer to pay without ever seeing a keyboard after your first purchase. The shopping cart to me was an antiquated solution that also creates on of the biggest problem for ecommerce, the abandoned shopping cart. The best way to eliminate shopping cart abandonment is to eliminate the shopping cart.
Junius@juniusfree
Hi @davetisch How will you spend your time if you've got one hour to solve a user problem/need? Thanks!
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@juniusfree Hey @juniusfree – thanks for the question. If I understand right, my approach would be to spend 45 minutes understanding the problem and 15 minutes to solve it. The more nuanced your understanding the user/problem and the context, the easier it will be to come up with a solution.
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@davetisch thanks so much for coming on @producthunt would love to hear how important you feel VC branding is and what strategies you use to make sure Box is considered the smart seed money in NYC? Cant wait to have you on @twentyminutevc in Jan!!
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@harrystebbings Hey Harry – VC branding. I mean, on many levels, super important, especially as an early stage VC. You need to get the best founders to come to you, or if you find them, to want to work with you. So being able to be found, and making sure people know you are out there and investing is vital. On the other hand, a big brand doesn’t always mean a great reputation. I think reputation is much more important, and that comes from the founders you work with. So we spend a lot of time at BoxGroup just trying to do the right thing, and work with our portfolio in a way such that they would recommend us to others. Smart money, I don’t know, just trying to focus on not being Bad money, that is the worst kind of money.
Avery@averyalchek · Business Operations, Mashable
@davetisch What drives you? Are you competitive?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@averyalchek I think curiosity. I used to be competitive, less so now, cause I don’t think the game I’m playing is an all sum game. I’d like to not lose more than I care to win. Generally, I’m fascinated by the future and predicting and seeing things play out, and I’d prefer if I am right I guess.
Cobby Amoah@cobbyamoah · CEO, Peach
@davetisch Thanks for taking the time, Dave. From investing in several companies, what are some of the common and important traits you see in successful founders?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@cobbyamoah thanks for the question - this answer applies to @averyalchek too - #1 is leadership, it is totally overlooked early on with a 2-3 person team, but the CEO and founder needs to scale into a great leader. #2 – long term vision. #3 – hiring and inspiring.
Cobby Amoah@cobbyamoah · CEO, Peach
@davetisch @cobbyamoah Thanks Dave.
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
Who are some of the people that have made the most impact on your life? (Stories, please!)
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@katesegrin I'm first inspired by my family. My mother is the strongest person I know. My wife inspires me everyday, watching her build a business and create our family has taught me so much. My father, my grandfather are business inspirations to me. And my brothers push me to be better as a person. Family first...
Tom Limongello@tomlimongello · CEO of Truffle
Hi Dave! You said at a Meetup a year or so ago that products shouldn't solve pain points but solve boredom. What have you learned on that front in the last year or so?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@tomlimongello Hey Tom, thanks for the question. I think this is true in terms of consumer focused products, specifically mobile. There aren't many true pain points that are horizontal, and if there are, they are normally solves through a service not a pure product. For example, Uber solves transportation through a service that has an amazing product component. Note taking is kinda universal but i'd argue not a pain point. Make people happy and entertained and keep them that way, and you have a great product.
Christopher McCann@christophmccann · Founder, snap40
Hi @davetisch! Medtech startups face longer times to market because of the need for regulator approval/clinical trials. What do you think are the best ways a medtech startup can demonstrate traction and proof points in the early stages?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@christophmccann Not my area of focus, but I think a great prototype and a great narrative, both verbally and visually can go a long way for any product. Showing what your vision is through execution is vital.
Rui Delgado@rui · Tech Entrepreneur • Consultant • TV Nerd
@davetisch As an investor, what areas are you most interested in?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@rui Hey Rui, I personally am most interested in consumer products. Specifically, consumer software. I also love smart home, physical products, brands and marketplaces. I think consumer products that occupy consumers time are most interesting, so very much paying attention to the evolution of TV, love social products and think we are still in the very early days of mobile.
Ben Center@benhcenter · Investor Relations Associate, Onevest
@davetisch Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. I know you and your family are big philanthropists. What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are working day and night on their companies (or even people with long hours at 9-5 jobs) about how best to give back to their community?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@benhcenter Thanks Ben, find something close and meaningful to you, it is not about the size, more about the depth. So even impacting a single person in a meaningful way is giving back, it can be time or money or both.
Avery@averyalchek · Business Operations, Mashable
Were there any roles working for a company that prepared you to be a founder? What strengths did you learn/gain?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@averyalchek Anything involving being a leader prepares you. As a founder, you are asking other people to join your journey, it is an enormous ask, and you are responsible for leading them to a good place.
kedar mehta@kedarmehta · Co-founder, KeddyMe and Linkrus
Hi David, much appreciate your suggestions - two quick questions 1) How important it is to you, and other early stage (angel) Investors, to have a start up a working Beta product? Are there "other" ways of getting the traction, without launching working product? Will Prototype, Alpha be good enough? What if the product is too complicated and needs team of 20+ with various skills, which a start up can't get without external funding? 2) What is importance of graphics/images/animation in a pitch deck? Can a simple, however, cover-all-important-questions PPT do the job?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@kedarmehta Hey Kedar - It depends on the teams experience to me. If you have never built something before, you have to show you can build something now, so a product, alpha/beta/prototype - whatever, is needed. If you have never built something before, it will be hard to raise enough money to hire 20+ people pre-product. and 2 - If you are building something that is consumer facing where brand and design will be important for success, showing that capability in everything you do is vital to me. If it is something very technical it is less important, because design isn't important in the end product as much.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Tisch! You released Spring just over a year ago. What are you most proud of and what's the biggest learning since launch?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@rrhoover Hello Ryan... I am proud of our team, and the culture. It is unique, so many different backgrounds working on many moving parts, and everyone really enjoys each other and has a long term view of the problem we are focused on solving. Biggest learning - mobile shopping is in its infancy, so is ecommerce, but its close to hitting the inflection point. Smartphones were not universal until the past 2-3 years, and now we are seeing that effect.
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
What's your favorite start-up investment so far?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@russfrushtick I try to reset for every investment, seriously. If I am not more excited for the next one as I was the last one, I'm in trouble doing what I do.
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
@davetisch Who are the best founders in your portfolio companies and what about them sticks out?
David Tisch@davetisch · Partner, BoxGroup
@charles_kunene We work with so many amazing people, it's why I invest in startups, to work with amazing founders. Some examples are TJ Parker from PillPack, he's a natural for the business he's building and maintains a great energy about him in a very hard and fierce industry. Payal Kadakia from Classpass is living her dream, and you see it in the brand she is building. Jeff Raider and Andy Katz Mayfield are executing at Harry's like machines, again, they are truly passionate about the brand they are building. And lastly, Liz Wessel and JJ from WayUp (CampusJob) are building something they are connected to, and have built such a strong early culture amongst their team it is inspiring to watch. The common trait is connection to the company/passion for the product, and ability to hire great people and inspire them.
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
@davetisch Awesome. Thanks!