337. Navigating Macro Headwinds, Balancing Growth v. Profitability, and How to Get in Front of the Top 1% of Founders (Nnamdi Iregbulem)

338. The $640B Care Economy, The Invisible Work Dilemma, and Differentiation Tips for Emerging Managers (Julie Wroblewski)

Nnamdi Iregbulem of Lightspeed Venture Partners joins Nate to discuss Navigating Macro Headwinds, Balancing Growth v. Profitability, and How to Get in Front of the Top 1% of Founders. In this episode we cover:

  • Tips for Founders When Capital Gets Expensive
  • Where Software is Still Eating the World
  • The Uncapped Upside of Writing in VC
  • How to Get in Front of the Top Founders

Guest Links:

The host of The Full Ratchet is Nick Moran, General Partner of New Stack Ventures, a venture capital firm committed to investing in founders outside of the Bay Area.

To learn more about New Stack Ventures by visiting our Website and LinkedIn and be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Want to keep up to date with The Full Ratchet? Subscribe to our podcast and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Are you a founder looking for your next investor? Visit our free tool VC-Rank and we’ll send a list of potential investors right to your inbox!

Transcribed with AI:

Nnamdi Iregbulem joins us today from San Francisco. Nnamdi is a partner at Lightspeed, a multi stage firm with notable investments such as Snapchat, Affirm and Carta to name a few. Prior to Lightspeed, he was an investor at Iconic Capital, working on investments such as GitLab, Fastly, and Uber. Since joining Lightspeed, Nnamdi has led investments in Astro, Materialized, Polar Signals and Vectorized. Nnamdi, welcome to the show.
Thanks. Great to be here.
Cool. So can you walk us through your background in path to venture?
Yeah, happy to the quickest way of summarizing one of them abouts is that I’m a massive, massive technology nerd. And a self taught programmer ever since I was a kid and always really love software and technology and always knew I wanted to contribute to it in some capacity either. By working or investing in tech, I’ve been mostly on the investing route for my career, but in terms of evolution over time, started off building websites, often with PHP and WordPress as a kid, to building computers to getting my first investing gig back at iconic where I started off as a generalist, and then naturally gravitated towards enterprise software. And then within that gravitated towards some of these areas that really excite me around developer productivity. So think Developer Tools, Application infrastructure, data science and machine learning. I had the opportunity to work with a bunch of really interesting companies, then spent a little bit of time working in product at confluent, the Apache Kafka company and then came back to investing here at lightspeed where I focus on early stage companies in all those same areas that I mentioned. And so, developer productivity is what I’m obsessed about anything that can make the lives of technical people easier is is interesting to me. And so that’s kind of my primary motivator.
So what prompted you to leave Iconic to become a PM and then ultimately back to Lightspeed?
I’d be totally honest, I had always had the itch to try out the operating side, I have sort of that. Although, you know, in my early sort, investing career, the investing process involves all sorts of things from more qualitative, the quantitative analysis, I tended to be the more like product and technically focused person, and always felt that, you know, I could probably put those skills to better use. And then, you know, once I had scratched that itch, I realized that by being an early stage investor, you can actually continue to scratch that itch. You know, in the earliest stages, there’s still a lot of product risk. There’s a lot of technical risk. And I think early stage founders really appreciate investors who actually understand the underpinnings of what they’re building. And so I found it to be super synergistic with kind of my day to day work.
For those that aren’t familiar with Lightspeed, can you give us a quick overview of the firm and your particular area of focus?
Yeah so you know, Lightspeed this point is kind of multistage venture firm. We’ve been around for 20 plus years, initially with a focus on enterprise IT infrastructure and have since expanded to other domains like your b2c, FinTech, healthcare, crypto, and, you know, the list goes on. We’re also global with, you know, operations and teams, and in many, many different countries at this point. And then specifically at lightspeed, I focus on early stage investments, which you can very roughly define as seed to series, a series B companies, especially those with an emphasis on technical tooling. And so I’m trying to partner with, you know, brilliant, you know, X engineers are trying to build, you know, the future infrastructure systems that are going to support you all the big, iconic names that you hear about in the valley. And that’s what I focus on.
Got it. So we have a lot of topics that I want to get to today, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with the current environment that we’re in, can you describe what’s causing the massive public jobs ever seen?
Yeah, this explanation is that there’s been a change in expectations for future interest rates driven by you know, Federal Reserve behavior, which is driven by the inflation that we’ve been seeing over the last few quarters. The Fed obviously wants to keep a lid on inflation and interest rates are their primary way to do that. But you know, when they do that, that kind of kicks off at Chain Reaction through the rest of the economy and interest rates and kind of expected return rates, your rise across all asset classes effectively. And when interest rates go up, or expected returns go up, asset values go down. And so that is sort of the core driver of the drop off in the in the markets that we’ve seen recently. And then, in addition, you know, this past quarter, we had a negative GDP growth number. And so if you think that that is likely to continue, and the economy is likely to contract, and that’s also what’s driving a lot of this market reaction, but the primary motivator thus far has been the interest rates.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen more capital deployed into venture than ever before an unprecedented rate of unicorns being minted at extremely high revenue multiples. So, so many startups having raised these massive rounds, and the macro environment being where it is today. How do you see all this unfolding? Do you think we’re going to see other similar situations to that a fast? Or what do you see? Yeah, it’s
sort of like there’s an expression of like, you can’t really tell what’s there until the tide goes out, so to speak, the tide goes out. And suddenly as much as things there that you didn’t realize were there, and a lot of folks are left like high and dry. And I think that’s effectively what we’re going to start seeing. I think people sometimes forget that, you know, the way Silicon Valley works for a lot of companies is that the success of the company is predicated on being able to continue to fundraise because at any given point, the company isn’t profitable, and doesn’t have a path to doesn’t necessarily have a path to getting to break even on the money that it currently has. And so if suddenly, that chain of financings is broken, and a company does not have certainty, that’s going to really raise the next round, it’s pretty much forced to make pretty drastic changes, and its plans in its headcount, and the amount of burn that they’re going to take on. And so that’s what you’re starting to see, in most cases, the companies are doing layoffs right now, it’s not that they are about to run out of cash. It’s the hashtag probably for maybe even 12 or more months, but they’re not sure they’re going to be able to fundraise in that time zone. And so that’s, that’s why folks are reacting now, as opposed to waiting to things become even more dire.
How are you advising companies today that you work with? Are you telling them to focus more on profitability, or pay attention to growth, and maybe grow more efficiently?
So then I’ll speak just for myself, given my areas of focus, because most of the companies I’m working with are still fairly early. In the in my case, it’s probably too early to be worried about profitability, so to speak, and it’s the more proximate thing to be worried about is just runway in terms of how much runway do we have before we need to fundraise again. And so I’m still my companies are still mostly focused on growth. But doing that within the context of, again, the next fundraise being a bit more uncertain, in the terms upon which the company will be able to fundraise being, you know, a lot more uncertain. So that those are the conversations that I’m having. But you know, other folks might be different.
You think that type of growth has changed at all, when you say it’s more efficient growth, versus let’s put more resources to work versus Alright, let’s make you know, $1 return a higher multiple revenue.
Totally, you know, the first dollar of spend your costs is the least efficient one. And so that’s what companies are trying to sort through it that right now. And you’re seeing that both in private and in public companies, you know, when when capital has been cheap, folks have been maybe less discerning as far as how to spend their capital. And now that it’s becoming more expensive, you know, people are trying to find ways to kind of optimize your ROI a bit more strictly than they have been these past few years. And so there’s definitely a shift towards more efficient, you know, higher quality growth. what exactly that means it’s going to be a little bit different for each company. But definitely noticing that for sure.
What do you think the long term effect will be on the asset class across various stages?
Yeah, I suppose it’s tricky, because you never really know what the median or the mean, sort of situation is, is like, is the situation we’re in now, below the long term average, like in terms of the the environment or environment, or is this the average? You know, it’s really it’s really hard to say, what do we do, what we just go through is that the average was out above average, you never really know. My general sense is that this is going to be a temporary period of, you know, higher uncertainty and choppier markets, but that this will continue to be a great asset class from an investor standpoint, in a great kind of like economic growth engine from the perspective of founders looking to build interesting companies. So I’m hopeful I think Lightspeed is hopeful as well. But you know, it’s the immediate next six to six months to 24 months is definitely, you know, batten the hatches, you know, get your your leadership’s in order for sure. Yeah, definitely.
And you know, one of the areas that’s been especially hit hard in the public markets is SaaS companies, yet many are still growing. And I’m curious, from your perspective, is there a limit that these large SaaS companies are going to hit at some point?
Yes, but I think that limit is so far, that it’s not really worth worrying about. In the near term, the thing you have to worry about more in the near term is the adoption curve to that endpoint, the endpoint is still just as attractive as I think it’s always been. But, you know, in in tough economic times, you know, enterprises cut spend, consumers cut, spend, and, you know, think about like startups, startups are usually targeting that most highly variable portion of spends by either enterprises or consumers. And so startups are kind of disproportionately impacted when the belt tightening happens versus like, very, very, you know, established companies. And so that’s, that’s kind of the risk and startup land. If you’re like a large scale software company at this plant, I think you have a pretty good business. And you don’t need to be sort of too worried. I think software penetration is only increasing in the long term picture remains bright for that reason.
And a slight sidestep here, but while on the top of the price, how’s your own price sensitivity changed over the past couple of years? And with the current environment? Where does it stand today?
It’s a good question. You know, frankly, a lot of my investing career has been forged during these crazy times over the last 10 years. So I’m a little bit biased in thinking that, you know, that was normal. And, you know, I will certainly be readjusting MicroStation. To some extent, you know, for this new for this new period. Yeah, I would say the adventure is a tricky business, because unlike public markets, investing, where there’s no pressure to invest, if you don’t think the prices are right, you can just hold the money and holding money that that is an asset in itself. And so you can mark yourself to the returns, you will under cash in the worst case scenario, in venture, we don’t have that luxury because we raise these funds in LPS commit this capital, so we have to deploy it on some timeline. And so sitting by on the sidelines and saying, well, the prices are too high, it’s just, it’s just not something you can do for very long. And so, you know, we’re our hand is a bit forced, and has been a bit forced, like this last decade. And so regardless of what I think about what prices make sense or not, you know, you have to pay, you have to kind of participate. And so, you know, that’s been that’s been my mentality. But, you know, let’s just say I was not the most irrationally exuberant of most, you know, relative to other market participants to put it very diplomatically.
Fari enough. You know, prior to the call, we talked about the current SaaS Juggernaut, such as Adobe, Zoom, Shopify, etc. And whether or not future success stories will have similar models. Where do you stand on this? Would you advise founders to emulate their routes, or try and take the road less traveled and forge a new path altogether?
It’s tricky, because on the one hand, you know, if following Shopify as model, for example, was as easy as just deciding to follow Shopify as model, I would say, Well, if that if you can execute the way they have, in the run up until very recently, I would say go for it, you know, that seems to have worked. And if you’re capable of executing in that exceptional way, like good for you, you should do that. On the other hand, you know, aside from that, not necessarily be realistic for a lot of folks, I think the things that lead to success, over time tend to change, like the core doesn’t change, but the tactics and the particular entry points, the particular openings in the markets change over time. You know, it’s like that expression, like the next search, you know, the next, you know, Larry Page isn’t gonna start search company, the next, you know, Mark Zuckerberg is gonna start social network, it’s like the entry point changes, and it’s never exactly the same. And so while I think there’s a lot of inspiration to take from those companies that have worked out historically, in all likelihood, the opportunities that they exploited are no longer exploitable in the same way. And so you need to look for for new openings. And so I look to them as like guidance for like, science, like how would you select within, you know, software and startups in general, but for your particular market opportunity, you’re going to need to innovate, you’re going to need to think a little bit outside the box.
Are there any gaps in the market or business models that you’re particularly excited about as of late?
You know, it’s it’s that classic like, if I was that excited about I wouldn’t tell you I really thought I was gonna make a ton of money doing this. I just would not share it with anybody. But um, But like I think, as I mentioned, like software penetration is only increasing. And I’m always continuously shocked by, you know, it’s easy to be biased in the valley and think like software is everywhere, but you go into other parts of the world, other parts, even just the US. And a lot folks haven’t seen the lights, so to speak, a lot of the next gen tooling that we use in the valley is just not proliferated in the same way through most enterprises. And so I can do you think that that’s a just a really interesting opportunity? You know, outside of like, it’s great to have a bunch of startup logos on your site to be able to say all the cool kids use our product, but there’s like a whole bunch of people in place that you haven’t even heard of that would buy your software, If only you were to pitch them on it, I think that still continues to be a very untapped opportunity. I think it’s actually the advantage of companies that get founded outside of the valley, like in places like to like Utah, for example, me, there’s lots of amazing companies that have come out of Utah. And there’s like a reason for that. I think people will like under appreciate the richness of like that ecosystem, the number of companies that you can sell to if you just pick up the phone and call them, even, they may not have a Twitter account that you can DM but there’s someone with a phone number, you can call and you put a inside sales rep on the phone and 1000s numbers, he or she dials those numbers, and you can sell it, it’s shocks me every time, but it’s very true.
Has your position on the Bay Area changed over the last couple of years, your time being an investor? You mentioned Salt Lake being an area where interesting companies are popping up and Salt Lake is not alone. There are other areas that are growing quickly. Like for example, Chicago today has more unicorns and the Bay Area did a decade ago. So we’re starting to see many of these ecosystems come into their own. For you as an investor, are you starting to look more outside the Bay Area? Or how do you think about this?
Yeah, so I’m funny in the sense that I was never that Bay Area focus in terms of my investing activities, I was just meeting interesting people wherever they happen to be. And so a lot of them did happen to be in the Bay Area, historically. And so that’s kind of naturally been a focus, but not purposeful. I think talent is everywhere. I think there’s lots of interesting people in lots of places. And so, you know, I’m trying to kind of buck the trend a little bit, and you know, spend time on some of these, these other geos. I think the biggest thing that Shane, about the relative attractiveness of Silicon Valley versus others, in the last few years is the fact that because you can now start a company remotely, you know, the Bay Area doesn’t need to be your home, it doesn’t need to be your center operations, you can hypothetically start a company anywhere in so many other geographies are actually really great. If you don’t need to have everybody there in person with you know, the lower cost of living, oftentimes to get better regulatory situation, go down the list. And so a lot of founders are now sort of saying, you know, they’re looking at a longer list of potential places to call home for build for themselves, their companies. If you do that our rankings, the Bay Area is still far and away the number one, but for folks who are a bit more agnostic, there’s a lot of other places. And so one, definitely keep that in mind.
And I’d be curious to go deeper on what you’re typically looking for in an investment. Prior to the show, you said that you felt there aren’t very many investable startups, despite all the new companies that are being started today. In your opinion, what makes a company investable, or how do you define an investable startup?
Yeah, it’s probably worth adding the qualifier of a venture investable startup, I think most companies aren’t investable in the sense that there’s someone who this is a good fit for some investor, who’s a good fit for what you’re trying to build. The question is like, what are you trying to build. And I kind of liked the, because he was like a Paul Graham definition for a startup, which in very sort of simple terms, is just companies that want to grow very fast, over some period of time, and become a large company. And most companies I get started, aren’t trying to do that. And then even within companies that self styled themselves as startups, you a lot of them don’t necessarily have the kind of fat tailed power law type outcome distribution that we as venture investors really have to invest into and have to underwrite to because otherwise we have the asset class was doesn’t work. You the valuations that we paid to get involved with these companies upon entry are just too high. Unless the companies are likely they almost always are trying to build a very large billion dollar plus companies. And I think sometimes a lot of perfectly well meaning founders don’t realize that if you say like, you need to be swinging for the fences. You need to be swinging hard and the fences are very far away. And so and so when I say that there aren’t actually that many investable Startups, that’s kind of what I’m referring to the actual number of startups out there that have the opportunity to produce venture scale outcomes, I think is less than people think, like all of the activity. And so in terms of like, what I look forward to kind of filter out like this subset of companies, you know, what it’s like to live what I just mentioned, like the founder ambition, like, do they do they have the ambition to build a very large company, it’s totally fine. If you don’t know what not everybody has to do this thing that we call startups. But that’s an important filter, I think, having, as I like to call some amount of spiciness, as a founder, so like, having, you’re not gonna be perfect at everything, but is there some subset of things that you’re just totally brilliant about, whether it’s some technical skill you have, or you’re amazing at selling, or you’re amazing at hiring, or you’re amazing at marketing, or whatever it is, we’re like the one or two things that you’re just super strong on, because those are helped make up for all the things that you’re maybe weaker on. That’s another thing that I look for. And then like, you evaluate the idea itself. And I think investors probably think too, highly of their ability to evaluate ideas. You know, everybody has that long, kind of anti portfolio of companies, they thought were not good idea that turned out to work really, really well. And if anything, maybe a slight correlation between an idea sounding a little strange and actually working well. So I’m always humble about my ability to actually evaluate ideas. And I’m trying much more to kind of be about evaluating people, actually. So those are some of the things that I that I think about.
How do you think? Or why do you think investors miss so frequently on the idea itself?
I think it’s funny, because everybody in investing talks about power laws and fat tails, and you know, you know, 80% of your companies go to zero and 20% make up for it. And people will say all these things, but then they don’t actually fully play out the logic of what that implies. Because what are your buys that it’s a, it’s a very high variance dynamic, where you want to invest in companies that are weird, like you want to invest in companies that are somehow different from the norm, like investing in normal stuff gets your normal distributions, you’re not looking for normal distributions are looking for, you know, these like power laws. So you need to find things that do look a little bit strange, that like spikes on some number of things that are maybe, you know, not so great on other things. Because those are the those are the things that actually have the potential to like, get above the noise. And I think a lot of people just don’t fully appreciate that. They think that they can model all the different variables and the parameters and evaluate an idea down to like some like level of precision. And I think that’s just an answer just a joke, that it’s not not a thing. And so I think it’s like a level of humility that you constantly need to kind of reinforce as an investor, and understand that, like, there’s a reason you’re an investor, and they’re the founder is because they’re the ones with the great ideas for building the future. And you’re not supposed to like over kind of don’t, don’t think to highlight yourself as sir.
So if you made investments, then were your intuition about the concept or the idea. You weren’t entirely sold, but you just believed in the founder. And that was enough to make the bet.
Yeah, I mean, I would be not to be lying. If I said that I’ve invested in an idea that I thought was bad, but I thought the founder was amazing. I think that the idea is plausible. And then like the act, the the full possibility, I kind of leave to the founder, I kind of give them credit for that. But yes, totally, I’ve invested in companies and founders where the founder, which is brilliant, and maybe I had some concerns about the idea, and you must always do, but you sort of say, hey, this person could figure it out. And these uncertainties that we have, right now, we’re gonna be kind of iterated on the overtime on this versus just gonna break through walls to figure this all out. Do that all the time.
So you’re an active blogger, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to younger VCs looking to develop their writing skills?
Yeah, it’s, um, everybody seems to think that VCs are super loud, on Twitter, on social media, on blogs, they’re like these like content marketing engines. But if you actually measure the proportion of VCs that do any of these things, it’s actually quite low. The set of people that I think has evolved to become VCs over time has become, I think, a little bit of a to kind of to safety seeking. You know, it’s a lot of folks who did well in school and are smart people and don’t want to buck the trend too much into the idea of like, putting their pots out there online for the world to judge is oftentimes, like, extremely frightening, to the point where most folks, do you talk to a lot of VCs, they have some draft or some blog post, the first blog post they ever wanted to publish, they just never did, because they’re never able to get over the kind of activation energy of putting themselves out there and being judged for for their for their work. And so my biggest piece of advice is like as Nike says, just like just do it, like put it out there. You’ll get over your So for a little bit, understand that the dynamics are actually in your favor for writing and putting content out on the internet because that stuff generally doesn’t get propagated only really the good stuff gets propagated. So if your stuff is bad, no one will ever see it, it’ll just die on the vine. Whereas if your stuff, a lot of people see it, that almost definitionally means that it was good. And so this, this idea of being afraid of what people are gonna think, I think is like way overblown. So I think keeping that logic in mind is super important. And then the other thing to keep in mind is that content is actually very similar to betting on startups. It’s a very superpower lots and but you know, the downside is kept, like, for the most part, unless you write something and you get cancelled, but, but most people downside is capped. And the upside is pretty high. I’ve seen amazing things happen to folks based off of something they’ve read, I’ve had amazing things happen to me based off things that I’ve written. And so keep that in mind, it can seem like it’s an 80%, failure rate kind of thing. And frankly, it kind of is, but the 20%, like more than make up for it. And so that’s, that’s what I that’s what I would say,
has your writing been a source of deal flow for you? Have you had founders reach out due to one of them coming across it, one of your writings that they really respect?
Yeah happens all the time, actually. And it’s, it’s hard to tie inputs, outputs in the sense of like, founders don’t always tell me that that’s how they came across me. But it often happens. I had a founder, who, we didn’t end up investing in them. But he’s now been backed multiple times by some pretty exceptional investors, who his original contacted me was a Twitter DM. And he was just like, hey, you seem like a data nerd. We’re rolling this data analysis thing would love for you to try it out. I don’t even think he realized that I was a VC. I mean, you just saw my writing. And it seemed like it was just someone who speaks the same language. And then we got on the phone, you realize we were so busy. And that’s just kind of how it happened. And then, oftentimes, maybe my first contact with the founder will be from my reaching out. But in the interim, between our catch ups, they’ll come across some of my pieces, I’ll read them and, and they’ll mention that to me the next time that I talked to them. So I always really appreciate. And so it’s been great for allowing me to keep in touch with a large number of people almost sort of passively. But most of those people never told me that they’re seeing stuff. So it’s always a little bit tricky to kind of evaluate the ROI.
I’m sure in that instance, two founders reading your writing after a first meeting, they’re going to know right now, he really understands the space, he’s a good, he would be a good thought partner on the board. And that goes a long way and eventually winning a deal when it gets competitive. You know, I feel like founders definitely want to partner with investors that know their space and can provide value.
Yeah, totally agree.
You know, are there any other pieces of advice you would share with young investors looking to build a name for themselves in the industry?
It sounds cliche, but learn to think for yourself. Again, I think people say this, and they don’t actually mean it. I think it’s important to actually mean it. I think one of the things you realize the longer you spend in this industry, is everybody is making it up. Nobody knows what they’re doing. All the people you think are brilliant, and who have just figured it out. Just maybe they aren’t brilliant, they may not have figured it out, the things that they have done just maybe happens to work. And maybe they did a better set of things and other people. But there’s still a ton of uncertainty. I mean, it’s been interesting watching investors who’ve been in this business for a long time struggled to kind of grok the last few years of crazy market dynamics, this business is tricky for everyone and on some level. And so don’t feel that because you’re new to the game, or you’re earlier in your career, that that means that you don’t necessarily know what you’re talking about. It’s a hard industry to know what you’re talking about, no matter how long you’ve been at. So just kind of like take that to heart and realize that like, at the end of the day, what people care most about is it’s going to be your tracker agenda at the end of the day. And so you have the opportunity to build just as good a track record as anybody else. So, you know, going through that.
One of the classic questions or debates is selection versus access. Where do you stand on that? Is it more about selection? Or is it more about access? Are you getting in front of the right startups?
Hard to disambiguate, but I would say, I can say from my perspective, success is the thing that I’m always willing to get more of, and, you know, more deal flow more time with, you know, very strong founders, you know, etc. That’s, that’s the scarce resource in my mind. I find that when it comes to like evaluation, frankly, a lot of investors evaluate companies very similarly. It’s actually quite hard to differentiate yourself in terms of your ability to evaluate companies for all sorts of reasons. And you know, once you get past a certain level of, I don’t know if it’s like IQ or like experience, but you know, roughly what to look for the question is like, can you even get in front of the people who have it. And more often than not, and so like, I know, for me, especially, that’s my big area of focus, often I spend more time with top 1% founders, because once you’re with that kind of individual, a lot of the questions just fall away. And it actually was a very simple decision.
Yeah, you know, when you hear it, any strategies, you’re willing to share on that front, how to get in front of the top 1% of founders?
This is cheating, but basically, like, go to the top 1% people you already know, and tell them to go with the smartest people that you know, you know, there’s definitely these clusters of exceptional individuals, and a lot of them know each other. So if you can kind of in yourself with some of them, and use that as a jumping off point for the rest of them. You know, that could work you that can work well. But the the Zero to One is tough for sure.
Now, when you look back on your own career thus far, what have been some of your biggest misses. And from those messes, what have been your takeaways or insights that might change the way you approach investing.
This is cheating a little bit, because it’s not like a company that I’ve missed, or like some trend that I missed, but I still think I way under utilize the power of the cold email. And I send a lot of cold emails, and I still don’t think I’m using it enough. I like just to be just to be very transparent, like I tend to be to have almost linear in my thinking, as far as who should I be reaching out to and getting to know, typically, I’m trying to get to know, founders or potential founders. But there’s a lot of people out there who are not ever going to find something. We’re also super thoughtful and relevant and well connected and interesting people who I should be spending time with. And people will answer you, if you just sort of send them a thoughtful note about you know why you might have overlapping interests, and whatnot. And so it’s like a battle to me, I tell myself every day that I should be reaching out to people, and oftentimes people you don’t necessarily for whatever biases you have, or they perceive as being potential founders, and the founding something one day, and when you’re picking yourself that you never reached out to them, this has happened to me very recently. And so I think that is something that, especially people who don’t have a background in sales, I think greatly under appreciate, is like the power of the cold email. And again, the kind of potential for side, it’s a relatively caps downside thing again. And so in any situation like that you should like lean into it and do more of it rather than less. And so it’s something that I could afford to be a bit better about. All sorts of good things have happened for me for the few Nicolino is that a half cent? And so it’s only worth doing more?
So I’d said to founders, are there other groups that you’re actively trying to spend more time with?
Yeah, there’s actually one group of folks that are very relevant to the content companies that I spend time with, which again, are very kind of developer centric companies. And these folks are, their titles can vary. But in general, it’s called developer relations, which is sort of this go between between what’s happening in your company on the product and engineering side, and your community. Meaning that you’re building around your, your tool or product or and whatnot. And developer relations, folks are often very well networked. They’re embedded in these communities, they’re spending time with engineers and other technical people that understand their needs and pain points. They’re tracking different trends and whatnot. They’re very personable, and their technical themselves just like a great, exactly the kind of node that you want to have in your network. And so I try and spend a lot of time meaning these folks in my kind of general activities, and then my company is always trying to hire developer relations people even very early on in the company’s trajectory. And so I have that interest in it as well. But these are some like some of my favorite people to spend time with.
Yeah, I mean, they could be used for, you know, potential talent, customers. Diligence, if you’re doing diligence on a startup, there’s there’s a lot of that benefit there for sure. Now, maybe if we could feature anyone on the show, who should we interview and what topic would you like to hear them speak about?
I’m bad off the top of my head. But let me go with let me go with David Sachs. You know, he is one of the I guess Four Musketeers on this podcast. The All In podcast, which I’m totally obsessed with. And, you know, he and Craft Ventures have been doing a lot of really interesting work and deals over these last few years. Honestly, it was really young, fun, and I think they’ve made a name for themselves in a relatively short period of time, which I really admire. And so I think he’d be a great person to have on this podcast. He has both the VC and the founder experience operator experience, you know, what have you. So that’s what I that’s what I’d say.
Yeah, Craft is great. What resources have you found particularly valuable and would recommend a listeners?
This may not be new to most people. But I still tend to be obsessed with everything that Nassim Taleb has written, at least in book form, his Twitter is like little crazy, but his books are amazing. And I totally swear by them. And I recommend them to everybody immediately upon being asked for book recommendations. So I think they’ve changed my viewpoint of the world and how I see things and a lot of how I think about investing kind of is implicitly informed by those books and so that he’s my go to for sure.
You do have any tools or hacks that are secret weapon,
It relates to my point earlier about learning to just think for yourself, which is that, I don’t know, whatever switch wasn’t switched on in me as a kid, but I’m just much more willing to have a different opinion and other people. As a general rule, I’m not that convinced by whatever the zeitgeist or the common belief is, at any given time. And if anything, I tend to the fact that so many people believe one thing tends to make me think that the truth has to be closer to the opposite, or at least in that in that direction. It’s a very common market space to view. It’s like if everyone’s buying into soccer, soccer is likely overvalued, that kind of thinking, I apply that to my life very, very broadly. And it served me extremely well. It’s like, led me away from overhyped opportunities, it’s helped me find diamonds in the rough. Both companies and people have best friends who are my best friends today, because I sort of bet on them when no one else wanted to. And, and that was the basis of our friendship. And so that’s been a hack that has served me very well. And I continue to leverage it. Although it can make you feel a little bit like a weirdo in the short term in the long run, or you look very, very good.
It’s interesting. On the what do you know, you need to get better at?
I am bad at asynchronous communication. I’m great at in person communication, like someone’s sitting right in front of me, and we can talk I’m pretty good at that. But great, I like public speaking. I’m really bad at asynchronous communication. I put way too much effort into every word that I put on a page or on a in a text message or what have you. And it makes the exercise so draining that and just procrastinating on a lot of email and text messages. And people wonder if I’m just ignoring them. And it’s I’m really not exactly I’m trying to come up with like a thoughtful response. And I just overthink it. And so I could definitely afford to be to be better about that.
And what’s the best way for listeners to connect with you?
There’s many ways your Twitter is great. Who is Nnamdi? My website is also whoisnnamdi.com. Feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn too. If you can find my email address. It’s on the Internet somewhere. I don’t want to release it here. But you could find that then I’ll give you extra brownie points. Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, it’s fun.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai