Naval Ravikant, Kendrick Nguyen & Paul Menchov

Cofounder & AngelList, Cofounder & CEOs of Republic

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON July 22, 2016

Discussion

Hi Product Hunt. On the heels of Republic's launch, Kendrick and I will be taking questions about equity crowdfunding and the changing landscape of fundraising. Since 2013, AngelList has facilitated some $350M in investments from wealthy angels and funds into more than 1,000 companies. Republic now provides the general public with access to angel investing. We're excited to be here today, so please do ask away.
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
Hello Naval and Kendrick, and thank you for taking our questions today. 1. What kind of tools/websites do you use or consult to identify experts to help you with your ventures or your investments? 2.Where do you look for emerging trends (e.g. sources, events, websites, etc.)?
@candriopoulos I'm obviously a pretty advanced user so I don't really use other people's websites. I find what I need on AngelList, Venture Hacks, Republic, etc. But if you're just starting out: • http://futureinvestor.co/https://venturehacks.com Lots of great people to follow on Twitter in the tech industry. Follow the deep thinkers like Nick Szabo, Chris Dixon, Balaji Srinivasan, Keith Rabois, Semil Shah, etc. Fundamentally, though, you don't make the best investments by chasing trends. You make money by being there before it's a trend. So read science and technology journals. If you understand CRISPR and Bitcoin at a fundamental level, you have a large advantage over most investors, even VCs!
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
@naval Dear Naval, thank you so much for your insightful answer. I really appreciate it.
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
How does personal branding help someone raise funding?
@andrewdbass Depends what kind of branding. If you're famous for being famous (i.e., a celebrity) it even backfires. But if you're branded because of what you've built and have high credibility as a technologist, then it's extremely helpful. VCs and entrepreneurs love building companies around great technologists who have build major products. I.e., John Carmack joining Oculus was a big deal.
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@andrewdbass Personal branding matters with everything we do, and fundraising is no exception. If founder has an established network and/or a reputation of getting sh!* done, then he's gonna have an easier time fundraising for any project.
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
@naval thanks!
Andrew Flynn@andrewpflynn · Growth, Staance
Hi guys! How do you think the Title 3 fundraising platforms will change platforms like Kickstarter that are more focused on giving something tangible instead of equity stake in exchange for investment?
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@andrewpflynn Hi Andrew. The market can accommodate both models, but we've already got interest from companies that otherwise would have gone to reward-based platforms like Kickstarter. If customer loyalty is important to a company, and it's willing to deal with regulatory complexity, then Title III is likely the optimal choice.
@andrewpflynn Not sure but I don't think Kickstarter is going to play in Title III. Kickstarter is more about creative projects that have passionate fan bases but aren't necessarily taking huge risks to build winner-take-all businesses. Different creators, different intent, different financing structures, different returns and outcomes.
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
Uhma@deleted-594972 · Brr
Hello Kendrick and Naval, Are you planing to add comprehensive portfolio displays and charts similar to E*Trade and such? How will you deal with situations when goal is not met, but a very significant amount was raised ? P.S Very clever "pass test before invest" user flow! Thank you.
Paul Menchov@paul1 · CTO @ CoinList. Co-founder @ Republic.
@victorpolyushko Hi Victor! Republic will be working to make the portfolio pages as useful as we can. Given the nature of private early-stage investments, though, there is often less meaningful data we can display compared to a public market portfolio. Generally speaking, if the goal is not met, then we'll return everyones investment. In the right set of circumstances we can also work with the company to change their goal amount and ask all existing investors to re-confirm their investment. Thanks for the support :)
Sunny Clark@sunny_clark · CEO ComplexNerve
Whats the smallest number of team that you heard of and could actually scale decently? (both technically and by revenue) Thanks for your time.......
@sunny_clark It takes very few people as long as they are "makers" and building an amazing product. Most of Instagram was done by 4-6 people. Bitcoin was invented by 1-2, most likely. Look at Notch with Minecraft. We truly live in the age of the 1000x programmer.
Karim Daghari@deleted-538914
Hey Kendrick and Naval ! I have a few questions regarding the platform and finance: - Why did you launch Angel List in the first place ? Was it out of a need ? and how did you pulled it off ? - Funding has become more accessible with the help of platforms like Angellist, Indiegogo, Kickstarter to name a few but with the rise of new (fin) tech (e.g bitcoin) how do you see this evolving ? both on a national (US) and international level. Do you think that funding is strictly related to money or is it has more to do with the mentality of taking (calculated) risks?
@karimdaghari We created AngelList because we are deep believers in the power of the individual to do great things. The industry is full of confusion and middlemen which make it un-necessarily hard to start a company. AngelList (and it's predecessor Venture Hacks) demystified startup creation and fundraising, brought it online, and now help companies recruit talent from all over the world. We'll keep hammering on it.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Hi Naval & Kendrick, Great to have you on PH and Congrats on Republic! 1) How do you see Reg CF* evolve over the next few years? 2) If you could rewrite Reg CF, what changes would you make and why? 3) Would you say that equity crowdfunding is still facing opposition from the 'financial services industrial complex', lobbyists and politicians? *Regulation CF is the set of rules and forms that will implement securities crowdfunding in the United States.
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@tomstocklein Hi Thomas - 1) RegCF campaigns should be easier and cheaper to execute over time, making it competitive in market size to pre-seed financing from traditional angels. 2) I would remove GAAP accounting for pre-seed companies, raise the annual cap from $1M to $5M, and allow for syndication of investors through a joint entity.
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@tomstocklein 3) less of an "opposition", and more doubt and reservation IMO, which is not unfair and should lessen over time.
Hi Kendrick and Naval. What is your most important advice for a startup to be noticed on AngelList. Thanks.
@patry_francois Depends for what. If fundraising, put together the best team, product, and investor / advisor group possible and apply at https://angel.co/intro . If recruiting, fill out a great profile, be aggressive with your salary or equity offer, post on https://angel.co/jobs . You can find great candidates by using the filters (i.e., check out "new and popular" under "status"), and reach out to them first with a custom note.
Sarim Haq@sarim_haq · AI Whisperer
Hey Naval & Kendrick, I had been searching for a platform like Republic for a while now. Kudos for making it! As a recent grad, I dont have 1000s of dollars to meet the minimum investment requirements of other syndicates. My questions is: what type of stocks are being offered?
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@sarim_haq Companies can offer a wide range of securities on Republic, from common to preferred to debts to YC Safe. We have a legal product called the Crowd Safe. Check it out here: republic.co/crowdsafe
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi guys! How would you advise someone who does not have enough $ to be an investor, but wants to be part of some deals and learn the process, while creating a great reputation?
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@theo_dimarhos The beauty of Title III is that anyone can invest as little as $10. I would first read up on advice from experienced angels like Naval and Jason Calacanis. Then perhaps invest a small amount in a range of startups that you're excited about, esp if they have been backed by other experienced investors.
@theo_dimarhos Invest small amounts using platforms like Republic, and then reach out and offer to help the companies in some unique and meaningful way. Or go volunteer or work for any of the accelerators, small funds, co-working spaces in and around the startup community. You'll meet like minded people and learn quickly.
Paul Menchov@paul1 · CTO @ CoinList. Co-founder @ Republic.
@theo_dimarhos Adding on to Ken's answer, one of the best ways to build reputation as an investor is to be helpful to companies. Evangelizing the companies you believe in and sharing them with your friends is a good start. When you invest, start small and build familiarity first.
Peter Green@petergreeny · designer / founder / @joinrepublic / NYC
@pmenchov great point!
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
What kind of role should the government have in limiting where people can invest their personal funds?
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@andrewett Hi Andrew - US government, like most, focuses on investor protection. The more sophisticated (or wealthy) an investor, the less the government feels compelled to protect. For Title III, there's a limit on how much you can invest per year based on your income and net worth, because Title III is available to everyone. AngelList takes on accredited wealthy investors only, so there's no regulatory limit on how much those investors can invest.
Biniam Gebrehiwot@binionaire · Founder
Appreciate, you being on PH, this opportunity is 👍 How much do you know about the tow-truck services market industry?
@binionaire Very little. There's a company called "Honk" that raised on AngelList a while back that seems to be doing well...
Tom Masiero@blendahtom · GM of LaunchBit
Have you received any negative blowback due to your views on the current election? You've been a bit of contrarian voice in the valley.
@blendahtom I'm trying to stay neutral, actually. It's the only way to have a shot at predicting what's going to happen. The moment we decide, we look for confirmation bias and start diverging from reality. Neither candidate has policies that are all that great for me, and I'm a big believer in Free Speech and Free Markets. I prefer Clinton's stance on trade and Trump's stance on bailouts and wars. But I'm not about to lobby for either or believe that I can make a difference. Neither one is going to take us to a smaller and freer society. This election is more polarizing than any that I can remember, so I'm sure that I'll get blowback from all sides. Whatever beliefs they think I have are just in their heads. I try not to get caught up in the demonizing and hatred. I prefer to believe that Bernie, Trump and Hillary are all working from good intentions and representing real constituencies with valid points of view. It might be simpler to just return to federalism with 50 states with 50 policies and the right of free movement, than trying to have one point of view governing 320M people. In the end, politics is pure tribalism, just like sports. The challenge is to watch the game without getting trampled by self-righteous fans.
Brian Brady@brian_brady
Ok real simple. share a not so obvious tip for using Republic. Same for Angellist. I am looking for a juicy insider gamechanger
Paul Menchov@paul1 · CTO @ CoinList. Co-founder @ Republic.
@bbrady Every company fundraising on Republic has a discussion section where you can directly ask the founders of fundraising companies any questions you have as an investor. It's only as juicy as your questions ;)
@bbrady Well, by definition, we're trying not to make it an insider game :-) That said, it's shocking how little work people actually put into their profiles. My biggest tip is on the recruiting side. Make a killer company profile, set alerts and filters for graduates from top schools and companies, and reach out to them with highly custom notes. You'll never need a recruiter if you're willing to put the time in. On fundraising, just watch which companies get funded! There's no game, but look for the common threads. This is still the technology business and almost all great technology companies have technologists at the core. Assemble a team of killer engineers, and investors will give it a solid look.
Bradley Davis@bradcarldavis · VP of Demand Generation
Naval and Kendrick! Thanks for doing this. What would you do first: Build a community then roll out the product or build a product and then build the community?
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@bradcarldavis We launched Republic as a product and are now in the early stage of building a community, so my answer is the latter. If you're fortunate enough to have a community first, launching the product should be less stressful. :)
Bradley Davis@bradcarldavis · VP of Demand Generation
@kendrickesq that's what I figured but thanks for the response!
@bradcarldavis Both approaches are valid and both require work. The product often attracts the community (otherwise they might be somewhere else) and the community eventually becomes the product (i.e., Twitter and Facebook are trivial software relative to their impact). My guess is that you have to do both simultaneously, and do them well.
Bradley Davis@bradcarldavis · VP of Demand Generation
@naval That is basically where I am at right. I have a community of about 2100 people but have had some trouble launching the product so I feel the community growth has been stunted. Thanks for your response!
Mike Jones@lamikeg33 · Developer
What Bitcoin company do you wish existed?
@lamikeg33 Not so much Bitcoin, but I'd love to see truly decentralized, unblockable, un-censorable communications services built on top of Blockstack (which uses Bitcoin underneath). We're trapped in a version of the Internet in which centralized actors control too much, and things like basic speech, trade, and money should be fully decentralized.
Do you think Republic will be open for international companies some day?
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@patry_francois That will require a change in US laws, but possibly. Another option is to add a US parent company to the non-US business, or restructure it as a US company. Both are less expensive to do than often assumed.
@kendrickesq ,@naval Thank you both for the insights.
Laf. Julius@laf_julius · co- founder @evolvesports
How's it going Kendrick and Naval, great platform! What are some emerging sectors investors are looking to pour capital in? What made you guys want to launch republic? What's the best way to get investors motivated to invest in comapnies with early traction?
@laf_julius The best investors don't look for sectors, they look for unique opportunities. That said, it is important to note what sectors are out there. There are the currently obvious ones like SaaS, Consumer Mobile, Augmented Reality, Sharing Economy, etc. But there are always up and coming ones. The next generation looks like Autonomous Vehicles, Drones, Cryptocurrencies, Virtual Reality, 3D Printing, CRISPR, etc. But this is a very Black Swan-ish industry. The real winners tend to fall outside of existing sectors and create new sectors in their wake.
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@laf_julius We launched Republic because people are excited to get involved in entrepreneurship (think Shark Tank viewership), and Title III allows us to harness that excitement into operating capital for startups. As a country, we lose around $120B at the casinos every year. Our vision for Republic is getting people to reallocate 5% of that money into funding startups.
Kendrick Nguyen@kendrick_nguyen
@laf_julius Pre-seed investors bet on the team and not much else, so it falls on founders to instill that confidence, whether in person or through a short video on Republic.
Sam McRoberts@sams_antics · Head of Growth, Tomorrow
Hi Naval, you mentioned a ton of great books on the Tim Ferriss podcast, most of which were life/psychology focused. Do you have a similar set of book recommendations tailored to investing?
@sams_antics I don't really read books on investing. Investing is a dynamic / flowing field and the best people aren't spilling all of their secrets in realtime. I've read enough foundational theory to be able to figure it out on its own. Books on game theory, everything from Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett, Random Walk Down Wall Street, Fortune's Formula, etc. But these are all books about principles, not about how to invest. Fundamentally, when you invest, all you're trying to do is find a great business at a fair price. Businesses are extremely complex and variable, as complex or more so than the underlying humans. You have to assess the people, the technology, the market, the customers, the macro world around it, the pricing power, the defensibility, the network effects, the design, the branding and positioning, the competition, the finance-ability, etc. etc. What book is going to teach you that? Learn the theory and principles around science, economics, and life. Then make lots of small investments that you don't mind losing to learn. One advantage of sites like the Republic is that you can invest very small amounts of money but still learn a lot.
Sam McRoberts@sams_antics · Head of Growth, Tomorrow
@naval Awesome, thanks Naval, and great points.