227. Crisis Coverage w/ Melody Koh – Super-Technologies; The Everyday Economy; The Overlooked Working Class; and Fear of Missing Out vs. Fear of Looking Dumb

227. Crisis Coverage w/ Melody Koh - Super-Technologies; The Everyday Economy; The Overlooked Working Class; and Fear of Missing Out vs. Fear of Looking Dumb
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Melody Koh of Nextview Ventures joins Nick on a special Crisis Coverage installment to discuss Super-Technologies; The Everyday Economy; The Overlooked Working Class; and Fear of Missing Out vs. Fear of Looking Dumb. In this episode, we cover:

  • Background and path to venture
  • Thesis and Focus at NextView
  • Hands-on approach (only 2-3 investments/yr)?
  • You wrote that when it comes to investing in the COVID era — FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is replaced by FOLD (Fear Of Looking Dumb).  What are you seeing from other investors?
  • How will this effect ‘Seed’ as a Stage of investing?
  • How has the crisis effected your approach?
  • Conviction without face to face?
  • Recently heard about NextView’s new virtual Accelerator… congrats on the launch. Can you give us a quick overview of the program?
  • Do you have any predictions on the long-term effects of this crisis on the ‘Everyday Economy’?
  • I saw your tweet about companies shifting the real estate burden to employees as everyone works from home… do you think companies should subsidize this?
  • Super-Technologies…  railroads, electricity, automobiles, and now internet connectivity.  Ideas about what may be some of the next infrastructure type super-technology?
  • Why do you think the working class has been overlooked as an opportunity for innovation?
  • You cite labor as an opportunity ready for innovation. Why is now the time for innovation here?
  • You point out a really interesting observation — that this demographic is more likely to use smartphones as their daily driver and that they tend to skew towards older devices. What does that mean for new tech products?
  • Are there examples of tech companies that have successfully built a company designed for this category of workers?
  • What are the key success factors or key criteria for success, when launching technologies for the working class?
  • Which working class industries do you think are in the best position for change?

Guest Links:

Transcribed with AI

Intro 0:03
welcome to the podcast about investing in startups, where existing investors can learn how to get the best deal possible. And those that have never before invested in startups can learn the keys to success from the venture experts. Your host is Nick Moran. And this is the full ratchet.

Nick Moran 0:23
Melody Koh joins us today from Brooklyn. Melody is a partner at NextView ventures an early stage venture capital fund focused on the everyday economy. Previous to next few melody was a venture investor at Time Warner and was an employee early employee at Blue Apron where she helped scale the business through its hyper growth years. Melody. It’s great to have you on Welcome to the show.

Melody Koh 0:43
Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Nick Moran 0:46
Yeah, it’s been a long time since we’ve had NextView. I think Rob go joined us probably about five years ago. But you know, before we jump into the thesis and the focus of the firm, can you tell me about your background and sort of your path to venture?

Melody Koh 0:59
Yeah, so I was fortunate that my second job out of college was a junior VC gig at Time Warner investments in New York, you know, at the time Time Warner which was still a thing, media conglomerate, they would do balance sheet based strategic venture investing and broadly defined digital media. So series A Series B type companies, US based companies. My professional experience before that coming out of college was in investment banking, I was broke called Evercore, which is a now not a boutique anymore. But back then was a boutique, focus on a lot of m&a work in tech media telecom. And just fortunate enough to get a taste of early stage investing. I really enjoyed that. And then I would say, you know, the next six, seven years was kind of my operators stretch where I was in business school, then I worked on the company on my own, which didn’t go too far, but helped me understand I want to learn how to build product because I really didn’t know how to build things. after business school, I move on to be a product manager at a late stage ecommerce startup here in New York called app.com. Seven months later got recruited over to Blue Apron, this was late 2013, early 2014, Blue Apron was an 18 month old company 20 people and Matt the founder, CEO and unusual that before he reached out to me said, Hey, we’re looking for our first product higher things are growing, and we finally someone to help us think about digital products. And I had been a customer. And so I really liked the offering and understood and appreciated the value prop. And that’s how I joined a company. And you know, as it truly exceeded my expectations, I had like eight months of true product management experience at the time. And 15 months later start to lead and build a product management team, and then build our design team. And then my last year there built our analytics and data science team. And then towards the end, I left two months after IPOs. I was there for almost four years. And I ran a team of close to 40 people basically had everybody on my own. Because when I joined, you know we had with our product team. So I was I was the first hire two months after I feel left there to join XQ to kind of came full circle, I kind of think of it as coming back to venture because I had the opportunity to kind of learn to venture one on one like 10 years ago. So I’ve been an XP for about almost three years. So that’s kind of the the journey kind of whole circle coming to fruition, I guess. Yeah, in two minutes.

Nick Moran 3:32
No, I love I love the fact that you worked for Blue Apron, one of one of the earliest investments we did here at new stack was a meal kit business that’s done very, very well. So maybe I’ll pick your brain about that another time. So melody talked to us about the thesis and your specific focus at NextView. Yeah, so

Melody Koh 3:51
next year, we are somatically driven firm, we talk about looking for companies that are innovating and redesigning the everyday economy. So when we think about everyday economy, we think about two types of everyday users and their persona. One is the everyday consumer when you and I are not working, you know, we experienced lives, such as within the four walls of home and housing, how we live, how we get from point A to point B, our health, what do we do when the time is to entertainment and goofing around the internet. So that’s kind of the everyday consumer perspective. And then when we’re at work, there’s everyday worker perspective. So they’re very different types of everyday worker from blue collar workers, frontline workers, who are all working right now right out there in the front line essential workers, to the white collar professionals to software engineers. So we really look at their aspects of day to day as well and try to find ideas and that can leverage technology to redesign the significant part of that for the better. So that basically translates into products or services that could be b2b and could be consumer. Or it could be underlying technology that you don’t actually touch and see as the end customer, even though the activities that you’re conducting end up being powered by that. So an example of that kind of thing could be, you know, a company that is, in our portfolio called attentive, they are a marketing technology company, essentially powering kind of SMS as a communication channel. So if you get an SMS text from Nordstrom checking in on you, during the COVID period, you’re not going to know that that’s powered by attentive, but that’s a very habitual and pervasive activity that we believe as a, you know, kind of the next channel beyond email. So that’s kind of how we think about the world and, you know, translating to the portfolio, you can see everything from deep tech companies and autonomous driving, which kind of powers our view in terms of future search rotation, all the way to things that are more technical, like the one I just mentioned, or, you know, developer tools, or things that are very customary in E commerce. So that’s, that’s how we think about the world as a firm, you know, me plus, you know, Robin, David Lee went for partners. Everybody’s are generalists. So we look at everything, consumer and b2b, I would say each of us has areas that we tend to gravitate towards just because of personal interests, or professional experience. For me, I’ve done stuff in FinTech marketplace, a lot of commerce, b2b, that, you know, have a specific interest in data tooling, given that you surround with his analytics and data science teams. So I have a point of view there. So but you know, I think as a seed investor beyond this thematic lens, we try not to be too dogmatic about specific lane, because I think we’re investing at a stage where the markets are not formed yet, right. So I’m actually most excited when I hear a pitch of founder telling me about a market that I’ve never thought about. But then it’s like an exciting market. And I tend to think that I tend to enjoy that that investment approach.

Nick Moran 7:02
So as I think about startups, that might not be a fit for you guys, the things that pop into my head immediately would be like a lot of deep tech stuff, maybe niche II stuff that’s not mass market. And then some other things that just aren’t high use case aren’t aren’t high transaction frequencies. Is that fair? Yeah,

Melody Koh 7:19
I will say so. We will do deep tech stuff, right? Like autonomous driving is an example that is very deep tech, right. But it become it could become a backbone technology for a mass market application. So to answer your question directly, things that we tend not to invest are traditional enterprise SAS that sells to CIOs, we tend to not look at that type of stuff, or, you know, two layers down in the infrastructure stack, right. MongoDB is a New York based company has really successful, I’m sure, even when we if we’ve looked at it, we probably would have not invest because it just doesn’t, we tend to stick to the application layer, if that makes more sense. And you know, on the consumer side, I tend to use an example of luxury products or one off life events, right. So, you know, have we heard the pitch by Zola, we probably would have not invest because it was just a wedding recipe that the time. And that is not very habitual. So because hopefully everybody gets married once in their life. I know Zola has evolved as a business, and it has more touch points beyond. But that would be an example to kind of think about the anti everyday.

Nick Moran 8:24
Yeah, it makes sense. I think, probably three, four months ago, I sent in enterprise SAS, infrastructure level technology to rob take a look at and he said, Yeah, not a fit with the everyday economy. So yeah, there it is in practice. So you know, you wrote this article that talked about when it comes to investing in the COVID era FOMO Fear Of Missing Out is replaced by fold fear of looking dumb. You know, what have you seen from sort of the broader investing landscape as a response to the times we’re living in? Yeah,

Melody Koh 8:59
I think that in uncertain times like this, that you can see a huge amount of volatility. It is human nature to try to retrench back to stick to the knitting. Right. So stick to what they know, with potentially lower, you know, lower variance, but high high certainty type investments. And that, you know, I think that that translates to Pebble potentially not going as early with their respective typical range wave, you’re typically like a seed investor, you maybe six months ago would have looked at some presea stuff with me now you want because it’s just harder to get to conviction in their mind. And then maybe series a similar, it’s hard to draw generalization, right, because there are certain other certainly other peer firms like us who continue to stay active and willing to take the risk. But, you know, we tend to think that this is a type of environment where people try to step back to smaller certain sort trickle of what they know.

Nick Moran 10:01
Got it? And how has it affected your approach at next few? Are you guys adapting or changing the way you invest at all?

Melody Koh 10:08
You know that we’re the reason we put up that blog post is because we try to not be, you know, fear of looking dumb, right? I think we tend to be a group of investors that trust our own conviction. And you know, that’s the kind of always our investment style, we don’t really wait for, like, hey, who else is looking at your deal, who else is committed? We pride ourselves in building our own conviction and be the first one to say yes, and stick to that. So I would say, you know, mostly business as usual, I know many firms say that. But, you know, we’re in a fortunate position that we just closed, our fourth fund is unannounced. But we basically started investing out of that as of a month ago. So we are in a position to continue to deploy at a steady pace. And we also don’t think it’s a good idea to be too cute about adjusting pace, because it’s very hard to time market. But public investors talk about how to time market, private is the same way, right? You don’t want to LPS don’t want to time, vintages, GPS don’t want to time, this specific cycle. And I honestly think this is a great time to be deployed as a seed investor, right? We have the fortunate mandate that our investment horizon is seven to 10 years at least. So in theory, good companies are ought to be good companies. And this actually is a great time to weed out entrepreneurs, right? People who don’t really have strong conviction about what they’re building. And obviously, valuation, in theory should become more reasonable. So the hope is that 2020 is a great vintage, and we continue to be on the lookout, and we’ve done a couple of investments actually, since the Shelter in Place Order. Why

Nick Moran 11:46
stay at the seed stage? Right? We’ve seen many firms that grow their AUM, and they move later, they moved to Series A, you know, why have you guys stayed at seed?

Melody Koh 11:59
I think, you know, it’s it’s a stage that we like, every one of us has been, you know, before next we every one of us has been institutional investors at other firms that most of them are like Series A, and lifecycle investors. And I think part of the reason why Robin David Lee started firm 10 years ago to try to be the earliest stage investor. You know, part of the reasons we want to build their own firm, but the other is that they they like to be operating in the stage. And, you know, part of reason for me joining is same thing, I tend to think there’s a personally, I think there’s a unique level of satisfaction of not following other people’s opinion and becoming the first one to build conviction. And the other thing is that being able to work with founders from like, the first inning to build companies, that I think that’s a lot of fun. I mean, skill is on to app seeing it personally as operator. But, you know, the other thing I would say is I you know, honestly, I think seed is 10 years ago, Series A, right like two years ago, series A’s a $3 million round to help you find product market fit. And I think that’s the most like most fun not to, you know, not to criticize the series A’s today, but seriously, it’s it is honestly different today’s days, hey, $10 million throughout you to 10x, the speed of, you know, whatever is working, and please take the next step. And so I tend to think that this is a pretty happy place that we’re operating it and you know, it also seed is very dynamic now, right? It’s a spectrum. So precede the seed, Mango Seed post seed is actually a very wide window to look at investments. So it is definitely a huge scope.

Nick Moran 13:39
Yep, yep, much more of a phase than just one stage now. And your point is well taken on on the series A changes, it almost seems like every five to 10 years, everything just shifts out by one by one stage, but you know, what are your thoughts on getting to conviction without a face to face meeting with a founder?

Melody Koh 14:00
Yeah, you know, that’s the that’s one thing that I think every firm is learning right now and iterating on. I don’t know if we have, quote unquote, the answer yet. But we have done two investments since COVID. Shelter in Place with just completely virtual interactions, as I can use those tools, quick case studies. I mean, you there’s an hour, so I’m not going to actually name the company. One is through is a deep tech company premium, you know, pre launch r&d phase, this came through from a portfolio founder in the relevant field. And so we’re able to get comfortable with the team and also were able to actually do the technical diligence to really get comfortable with their approach to the core technology. And then you know, we also know their pre seed investors so got comfortable getting more color on like the team and how they work together through those conversations. The other investment This is also a pre launch, there’s like an alpha pro data, so to speak, without actual, actual pain beta customers, this is an area that I had kind of had to prepare mine, I have a working thesis. And I’ve seen some companies in this space. So and this was also introduced by an investor who’s been ended up being a co lead, who we know. So there’s a fair share circle of connective tissue. And obviously, you know, you, you try to spend more time with the founder over video interactions, and then you try to do probably slightly larger numbers of reference checks than you otherwise would to just try to paint a more complete picture. I think going forward, you know, the, I know how to talk about this later. But one of the recent initiatives that we launched this accelerated program that’s completely virtual. And that’s another way for us to try to have a product out there that allows us to more easily engaged with earlier stage teams that might even otherwise be too early for pre see conversations in a time where, you know, a lot of people might not have the access to an a network to VCs. So

Nick Moran 16:07
yeah, a lot of opportunity cost there, right, like launching an accelerator, it’s a lot of work, you have to source a lot of very, very early stage companies into the program and go through cohort selection and program design all these things like how do you get to that decision to just move away from you know, the core standard of investing and seed rounds and, and launch this, this accelerator program. So

Melody Koh 16:33
a couple things one, our core every day is still the bread and butter, right? Like our job is to continue to make these core investments that we’ve always done, this found like a time commitment perspective does not take up, it should not take up, you know, 50% of each GPS time, right. The other thing is accelerate, we call it accelerator, because it’s the most, it requires the least amount of cognitive load to understand what this could be. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to have the standard menu of whatever, like I personally have gone through accelerator when I worked on my own company, and, you know, some aspects that will help people so many aspects, we’re not, you know, we’re designing this that focus on, you know, try to make sure that the time that we invest has the highest amount of impact. And, you know, the we’re not going to do a bunch of mentor faces on the wall, and we’re not going to do a demo day, the class is going to be really small is really going to be focused on GP spending one on one time with the company, and really just trying to help them get to product market fit. So the other thing is that we see this as an experiment, right. So we will continue to iterate I think we as a firm, are very good at taking initiatives and do something interesting, slash different and iterate from there. So the decision to launch it literally came, you know, we had an offside back in February, where we roughly talked about this idea. But when COVID had, everything became virtual anyway, we thought that was actually a perfect time to do something like this, especially now the market, the gap in the market, probably is bigger than three months ago. Got it?

Nick Moran 18:12
Yeah, before we transition away from the everyday economy topic here. I’d be curious to hear, do you have any predictions on long term effects of the crisis on the everyday economy?

Melody Koh 18:24
You know, I think that someone else had this framework where I think it’s a two by two, I mean, it’s a little cliche, but I saw it somewhere on the internet, which I think is a kind of a good way to think about it. But on the one hand, you have, you know, whether there is a positive momentum or negative momentum of certain activity given COVID. So the positive momentum will be in the category like digital health, or remote education, the negative would be physical for print and offline retail. And then the other axis is like, will this stick or will revert back to pre COVID. Interesting. So that’s kind of an interesting framework to think about, right? Like and you can, you can then say, what is your belief in each of the axes? You know, I think the mass market belief is that education will probably not stay like this because parents are suffering tremendously. But digital health my right, this is potentially a Crossing the Chasm moment, given the regulatory relaxation and pushing a large swath of mass market audience to experience something like this. And once they get a taste of it, like, Oh, this is actually pretty good. And you know, the offline retail might be negatively exacerbated, exacerbated in terms of its kind of market share versus e commerce. So I think there are going to be a couple areas where things will move permanently, but I think the big unknown here is how long will the equivalent of shelter in place sash partially open last? And I don’t think anybody knows even Now right now all 50 states have started opening up to certain degree, you know, are we going to have restaurant operated 50% capacity for nine months or three months? And what does that mean to that particular industries business model. But I think that that is we’re definitely in a very fluid time in terms of potentially some permanent change in consumer preferences and behaviors.

Nick Moran 20:20
So I’ll put you on the spot here, where does meal kits land on the staying power of the surge that they’re getting from, from this situation?

Melody Koh 20:31
Yeah, you know, I don’t know. So I actually think the key variable there is what happens in terms of the balance of work my home post COVID, I think the reason why a lot of people don’t stick around with me or kids is because you have to commute you got to kill, you have to put to bed and the life is busy. By the time like, you’re all done with your other stuff is 7:30pm, you’re hungry, you want to eat Yep. But if you don’t have to spend, you know, 45 minutes each way commuting, and you have a much more flexible schedule, you could conceivably spend, you know, 30 minutes to cook dinner. And that might be a, you know, a totally reasonable thing to do and does not feel like a pain. You know, I think but when I was at Les Brown, you know, one of the top cleanses it takes too long. And Americans just don’t have the patience. But that’s within the construct of everybody goes to work physically. So, I don’t know, we’ll see.

Nick Moran 21:27
Which we certainly will. Melody, I saw your tweet about companies, you know, shifting real estate burden to employees as everyone is at home. That

Melody Koh 21:36
tweet was I this is actually really funny, because I think this is probably might have been my most popular tweet in the history of well, I literally came from this random thought while I was brushing my teeth last night. So you know, it creates interesting ideas come from all places at all times. I mean, obviously, that was like kind of a probe up provocative thought. I don’t actually mean that companies just subsidize my mortgage payment or your mortgage payment. Right. But I do think it’s interesting. I think the the level of interest and response that I’ve seen on this topic in the last 12 hours tells me that there’s just a lot of things that have not been figured out when it comes to the post COVID new normal working arrangement. And I think my personal prediction is that you plot a set of companies on the spectrum, on the one that is back to normal, everybody goes to office every day on the other end is there’s no longer concept of the central office or HQ, everybody’s always working all the time, most companies is going to be somewhere in between, you know, that has a lot of ramification from office design, to home office setup to people’s choices where to live? Is my news, like who pays for your standing desk? Or do you need the extra bedroom? What happens to childcare and all these interesting, you know, who’s responsible for this new set of arrangements, the HR it, and all that stuff, but I don’t, it seems like nobody has the new standard figured out and the new norm, right, in corporate America. So it will be interesting to watch.

Nick Moran 23:19
So you next few have talked about these super technologies that have kind of been fundamental in shifting the way that people live and work and, and adapt, you know, over time. And you’ve cited railroads, electricity, automotive, automobiles, and, of course, now internet connectivity, do you have any ideas about what might be some of these next infrastructure level, super technologies that are really going to fundamentally change the way people live and work?

Melody Koh 23:50
Part of the reason why we talk a lot about the everyday economy is because we think that Internet has a long way to go, you know, kind of easy, I think the easiest thing to think about is like electricity, right? But I don’t necessarily know, you know, we, we, as a group of investors, like our style of thinking tend not to be like, Hey, let’s predict what the next platform is going to be. Right. And our perspective has always been that’s focusing on like, the mass market needs and use cases, and then see what are the best set of technologies and tools that can help create a product that makes that a 10x? better experience? Right? So absolutely a lot of things that we invest and that having a machine learning and data science component, natural language processing, you know, we actually haven’t done much in VR AR but obviously looked at a bunch of stuff in there. But it never really it usually does not come from the perspective of oh, that’s, you know, bet on ml and then find a bunch of things that ML can solve for is more of the other way around. So and you know, we could do you think internet is still There’s still a lot of room, especially in these, like traditional industries that might not have received the enough, you know, enough love when it comes to innovation. Or you know, the other thing about is like different functional teams, right? Software engineers are probably the most ahead when it comes to tooling and kind of the way they work right. Slack before there’s slack, there’s thing called HipChat, which is primarily used by engineers, and then then beyond product people, and then designers. And enough slack is accounting department, finance department and to CEOs. But I think there are many other teams that are still maybe like three generations behind in terms of their work tooling, and how they get their work done. So that is another way to think about the potential mileage that those other areas do has when it comes to innovation.

Nick Moran 25:54
Well, if we stay close enough to the great entrepreneurs, then they’ll probably show us, you know, what will be those next big platforms? Melody, you wrote this article economic access for the mass market workers? Why do you think the working class has been overlooked as an opportunity for innovation?

Melody Koh 26:13
Think there’s a very similar reason why, you know, the elderly population as being overlooked. You know, they say, if I’m not a VC, I’ll probably be a founder, right now. And the way you Ida and start working on something you draw from your personal experience, most people who possess the technical know how, or the savviness are not part of the blue collar workforce, right? We’re not in that age group where, you know, in the boomers or even older generations, and as a product person, it is very hard to think about how to design that product. We don’t really know the audience that well. So I think that’s the reason why any other reason, like, you know, related to that, but less of a product thing is more of a go to market thing is because you’re you don’t really know the audience that well, it is going to be harder for you to figure out what the right go to market is, and whose motivation is what, who is going to have budget, how do they think about ROI? How do they think about incentives, but I think the bigger challenge is around the end user and how to build something that these end users who have a very different life than you or me will find valuable and decide to stick to Why

Nick Moran 27:32
Is now the right time for, you know, technology and innovation to be created to serve this segment.

Melody Koh 27:40
You know, I think that for one, you know, relatively speaking, they have been more neglected. Right. So there’s a theory more whitespace. The other, I think COVID specifically has brought to the forefront that, oh, this is actually kind of an important, huge backbone of not just an economy, but like how everything runs your point. Otherwise, you’re gonna get groceries, you know, get your packages, right, Amazon and all these other things. So I think that level of awareness would help. But honestly, I think is, is more of a when would a right team emerge, who not only possess the knowledge of the audience and the segment that you’re targeting, that allows them to have a unique insight to some product, and then the technical know how rare like a product and technology mindset to build something that has technology leverage, as opposed to linear with scaling? So I think it’s more of just a rare team combination than your average founding team that targets audience, they don’t really well, I would

Nick Moran 28:47
think that this, this has a lot of differences to standard tech products, especially for knowledge workers, right, like our our primary interfaces on desktop or laptop, right. Whereas I think most service workers, their primary interface is mobile. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s not like we haven’t had mobile first apps before, but as applied to, you know, a workforce or a category, you know, in the service industry, that’s a completely different sort of frame. Yeah,

Melody Koh 29:17
you know, I think, for example, there’s, this is one observation as I looked at companies in the space, and I learned about this, after the fact that like, oh, this makes a lot of sense. But if I were a founder designing product, I would not really understand at first, which is, most of this audience have maybe phones that are not nearly as powerful, maybe 234 generations behind and they’re on more of a prepaid Metro plus or whatever boost mobile plan as opposed to your standard Verizon AT and T okay. So what does that mean? One is they’re very sensitive to the speed of the application because their, their their phones have less powerful processors. And they’re very sensitive to data load, and data usage when they’re not in a Wi Fi environment. Yep. And maybe three is like, even when they’re in a Wi Fi in my my home, their Wi Fi might not be as good because they might be less likely to live in a Verizon Fios building. So that our implications to how you design the product and user experience. So the answer there may be, don’t use heavy videos, right? Maybe don’t even use native apps. Yeah, every, you know, a lot of these, a lot of this group is on WhatsApp, for example. So is it a pure text based solution? And the other thing to consider is that this group has a lot of diverse language requirements, because there’s a huge amount of potentially first generation or second generation immigrants, obviously, depending on the industry. So that’s another very solid consideration that, you know, if you’re just coming in from the outside, it might not be apparent to you.

Nick Moran 30:57
Sure, are there examples of tech companies that have had success, you know, building for this category for, you know, the working class?

Melody Koh 31:07
You know, I think there are a lot of activities, both in terms of kind of workplace communication, we’ve seen a couple training, you know, more FinTech, like financial access type products. I don’t know if anybody has scaled to like your pre IPO stage. But I think there are definitely activities at a seed Series A. So I think it’s still really early. But I, you know, we haven’t seen anything. There’s a different class of tools that are not there that the end users are not necessarily, you know, you’re a construction worker on the side, but kind of the construction companies in the office study, right. And there are a lot of these procurement supply chain tools that have secretly got pretty large, essentially, vertical SAS offers. But we haven’t seen anything yet that has gone to scale with the end user audience being the frontline workers. What

Nick Moran 32:01
are some of the key success factors or key criteria for success when launching technologies, you know, for this group?

Melody Koh 32:09
Yeah, you know, I think one thing, as I mentioned in the post is, I think it’s very important to think about their day to day kind of usage environment and don’t overcomplicate a product, right and meet the meet the customers and meet the users where they are kind of the competition we just had about. Yeah, the choice between native app and Texas is one component of that, you know, I think the other thing is about go to market. You know, for something like this, I mean, every b2b company, if this is a b2b application, right, every b2b company, you will have to consider multiple constituents and stakeholders. What is, you know, from the corporate decision makers perspective is about what’s the priority, and what is the ROI. But then you not only have to solve for that, you also have to solve for adoption and engagement for the end users. So I think it just requires the team that has a more subtle understanding of all those needs, and be able to hone in their go to market accordingly. Because you can’t have one without the other, you can’t have a very effective, highly engaging product, without the pitch to make this a very high strategic priority for the company. And then the vice versa is also true that you can’t just sell the enterprise contract, and then, you know, you have 10% adoption rate, because the product sucks in the eyes of the frontline workers. Yeah. And then like, I still think that the most unique thing will be the team just has a very unique understanding of the audience better than anybody else. Because I imagined the significant challenge ahead around how you build the product and your go to market. Melody,

Nick Moran 33:51
what resources have you found really valuable that you would recommend to listeners?

Melody Koh 33:56
Hmm, I think I learned the most from having conversation with smart people. I mean, my partners are a great source. But in general, I would say outside of like venture specifically. I have been a pretty steady subscriber to The Economist. And I have since college. I like it because it is less of like, Hey, let me tell you what happened in the world actually has deeper analysis and the point of view that is less biased, because there’s also been a more international point of view, as opposed to US centric view. And I didn’t grew up here I you know, I came here for college. So I appreciate having more of a global perspective versus a very US centric, I mean, is is really big, but it’s not the only part of the world. I mean, I never really finished all my economists 100% Because nobody has time for that. But I appreciate the steady stream of interesting insights from them that try to chip away you know, 30 person minutes With all the available magazines that cumulate it’s funny

Nick Moran 35:04
because I was hearing that, I don’t know where I read this article, it was probably a month and a half ago, but somebody who had a full catalogue of like all the economists for the past 30 years and and they were finally getting a chance to read them amidst you know, the circumstances because we’re all sheltering in place. Yeah, this particular individual, I think was older, but had a lot more time. So unlike me with, you know, little kids, I don’t know your situation, but I’ve never had less time.

Melody Koh 35:32
Yeah, we we have a 13 month old. But last year was the only year that I did not subscribe, because, you know, we’re, we’re dealing with a newborn. So I didn’t have time, and I just restarted and I was the only gap in the last 10 years.

Nick Moran 35:48
Wow. Well, good luck. Just final two questions here. Melody, what do you know, you need to get better at,

Melody Koh 35:54
you know, you as an investor. This is a very humbling job. I mean, I can always get better at judging, right, and the judging part of making decisions about the companies that you need housing, obviously better as a member, you know, striking a balance between the cheerleader, the tough love the pure pragmatism, pragmatism and advice, the tactical, the higher level. And, yeah, I mean, longer, more mistaken, maybe even humbler?

Nick Moran 36:30
And then, finally, Melody, what’s the best way for listeners to follow you and connect with you?

Melody Koh 36:34
You know, Twitter is always open. Just add melody Coco. You know, I think that that’s probably the easiest way to start.

Nick Moran 36:46
Awesome. Well, this is such a pleasure. Thank you so much melody, and I look forward to the next one.

Melody Koh 36:51
Thanks for having me, of course.

Speaker 3 36:58
That will wrap up today’s episode. Thanks for joining us here on the show. And if you’d like to get involved further, you can join our investment group for free on AngelList. Head over to angel.co and search for new stack ventures. There you can back the syndicate to see our deal flow. See how we choose startups to invest in and read our thesis on investment in each startup we choose. As always show notes and links for the interview are at full ratchet.net And until next time, remember to over prepare, choose carefully and invest confidently thanks for joining us