Running the best restaurant in the U.S. & Selling Tock to Squarespace for $400M – Nick Kokonas of Alinea | E1262

00:00 Nick Kokonas, CEO at Tock & Co-Owner of Alinea Restaurant Group
00:54 How Nick got into restaurants & met his co-founder Grant Achatz
09:30 Nick’s Angel investments
10:50 Ourcrowd – Check out the deal of the week at https://ourcrowd.com/twist
12:14 What OpenTable got wrong
18:05 Tock’s ticketing innovation
23:20 Benefits of having pre-paid reservations
25:00 Pipe – Start trading for free for 12 months at https://pipe.com/twist
26:40 Dynamic pricing in restaurants
28:55 Nick critiques Jason’s techniques to get a reservation
35:32 Why some Maître d’s hate Tock
38:22 Drata – Get 15% off SOC 2 and other audit at https://drata.com/twist
39:41 Digital checkouts at restaurant tables
44:50 Why tipping should be eliminated & what obstacles stand in the way
50:54 Will high-end restaurants keep doing delivery?
56:16 Hospitality labor supply
1:00:27 Inflation
1:02:42 How Alinea is handling vaccinations & employee health
1:07:18 Alinea’s signature desert
1:12:10 Nick’s core lessons as an entrepreneur
1:20:45 Mock meats

Check out Tock: https://www.exploretock.com

FOLLOW Jason: https://linktr.ee/calacanis
FOLLOW Nick: https://twitter.com/nickkokonas

Glenn Kelman CEO of Redfin | E1261

00:00 Intro- Glenn Kelman from Redfin
01:25 How Jason and Glenn met
03:11 Jason’s experiences with being approached in public
05:05 Glenn’s take on the housing current situation
08:02 The impacts of WFH on the housing industry
09:25 Why investing in housing could have been the solution to high prices
11:07 Indochino- Get $50 off of $399 or more by using code TWIST at indochino.com
12:35 Effects of building more housing as a way to limit home price appreciation
16:26 The argument on density being better for progressive’s neighborhoods
19:09 Areas that are pro-development and are booming because of it
21:00 Canada as a progressive area for housing and tech workers
23:43 Glen’s thoughts on San Francisco as a livable city and office location
26:50 Calm- Get one month free after attending a free demo when you go to Calm.com/TWIST
28:22 Discussion around putting efforts into office buildings and working from them
32:54 Jason asks Glen what companies lost from staying in a work from home setting
35:24 A discussion around work-life balance and generational differences
38:15 Notion- Use TWIST to get $250 off an annual team plan at https://Notion.so
39:53 Jason on debt and Glen on the cynicism of capitalism and its impacts on housing
42:22 The difference in lifestyle when having $100M vs $100B
46:52 Redfin, employing their own agents full time and other changes to improve efficiency
55:13 Jason asks Glen what it was like for Redfin to go from struggle to success
58:33 Glen and Jason discuss a controversial topic covering the DOJ and MLS
1:03:03 Nondisclosure states and why people still use listing agents
1:05:20 A breakdown of the DOJ case with the National Association of Realtors
1:10:17 The impacts of speaking to reporters and the press as an entrepreneur

Check out Redfin: https://www.redfin.com/

FOLLOW Jason: https://linktr.ee/calacanis
FOLLOW Glen: https://twitter.com/glennkelman

How Allen Chen Built a Globally Scalable Fitness Trainer | E1259

Episode Here: https://bit.ly/twiste1259

00:00 Intro Allen Chen, CEO of Fitbod
01:06 How Allen and Jason met
05:11 Fitbod Origins
08:19 Fitbods approach to connecting with customers
10:31 Organic Growth vs Paid Growth
11:42 LinkedIn – Post your first job for free at https://linkedIn.com/twist
13:15 The secret to paid marketing
15:33 Fitbod’s history of onboarding and their revamp
17:44 The importance of gaining a users trust
20:12 Allen being the ideal customer profile for Fitbod
21:33 Allen’s advice on having a strong funnel and finding the right audience
24:10 Odoo – Get your first app free and a $1000 credit at https://odoo.com/twist
25:22 The outlook on affiliate, influencer, and referral marketing
29:14 The plan to jump from 225K paying customers to 3x revenue
31:27 Jason explains his term “pegasus” and how it relates to Fitbod
33:42 Allen covers Fitbod’s opportunities for raising in the future
35:05 Jason gives Allen an “unsolicited offer publically” of $5M
35:42 Bubble – Get one month free of a no-code plan at https://bubble.io/twist
37:11 Allen asks Jason advice on getting his team to see liquidity
44:48 Jason explains the advantages of a corporate buyback and options to skip dilutions
46:30 Fitbod is hiring across all positions
48:35 Allen’s experience with YC

Check out Fitbod: https://fitbod.me/
FOLLOW Allen Chen: https://twitter.com/allenchen1217
FOLLOW Jason: https://linktr.ee/calacanis

How to start a new Venture Capital Fund with Acquired.FM | E1258

00:00 Intro Ben & David from Acquired
00:56 David’s new fund Kindergarten Ventures fund
14:45 The costs of operating a fund & how David is doing it
18:49 Why LPs care about pro-rata
25:29 The scale of Jason’s syndicate & value VCs bring
30:17 Jason’s preemptive pro-rata strategy (Sequoia does this too)
35:50 The podcast strategy
39:23 Why All-In works
43:15 Jason’s investing goals
52:39 VC scout programs
56:11 The Mount Rushmore of Venture Capital

Talking Duolingo, Robinhood, China and more with Alex Wilhelm | E1257

Subscribe to This Week in Startups on Apple: https://rb.gy/v19fcp

00:00 Alex Wilhelm from TechCrunch
00:45 Intro
03:40 IPO dynamics: Robinhood & Duolingo
12:34 Linode – Receive a $100 cloud credit at https://linode.com/twist
14:04 Robinhood IPO, what’s the strength of the business?
20:53 Duolingo the success of DTC edtech
23:35 LinkedIn Jobs – Post your first job for free at https://LinkedIn.com/TWIST
25:09 Can consumer subscriptions continue to succeed
28:25 Google’s growth (at what cost)
33:05 Why companies are more efficient early on
37:24 Masterworks – Skip the waitlist at to invest in art using promo code TWIST at https://Masterworks.io/twist
38:51 Startup fundraising environment
42:46 Amazon’s rapid growth
47:35 China’s actions on Tech & Bitcoin
1:04:19 Apple talk
1:12:32 Why tech companies are vertically integrating
1:14:05 Digital Acceleration & going back to work

Check out TechCrunch: https://www.techcrunch.com

FOLLOW Alex: https://twitter.com/alex
FOLLOW Jason: https://linktr.ee/calacanis

How to Manage Influencer Marketing with GRIN CEO Brandon Brown | E1256

Subscribe to This Week in Startups on Apple: https://rb.gy/v19fcp

00:00 Intro – Nikola, Robinhood & Brandon Brown from Grin
01:50 News – Trevor Milton indicted for fraud at Nikola
12:12 Pipe – Start trading your companies recurring revenue for cash now, free for 12 months at https://pipe.com/twist.
13:23 Lessons for investors
18:55 Robinhood IPO today
24:10 Twilio – Get $500 in credits at Sign-up now at https://TwilioStartups.com/TWIST
25:43 Interview – Brandon Brown, CEO of GRIN
27:48 Why influencer marketing works
37:20 Embroker – Get an extra 10% insurance for your business at https://Embroker.com/twist.
39:00 What influencers earn with partnerships
43:13 How companies use GRIN
51:04 How brands run large scale creator programs
54:19 How advertising is evolving

Check out GRIN: https://www.grin.co

FOLLOW Brandon: https://twitter.com/Brandon_Brown
FOLLOW Jason: https://linktr.ee/calacanis

Devin Finzer, CEO of OpenSea the NFT Marketplace | E1255

We had a chance to chat with a leader in the NFT space, powering $170M+ in transactions a month.

00:00 Intro – Google earnings & Devin Finzer
03:22 News – Google’s earnings
12:22 Drata – Get 15% off your SOCS2 and waived implementation fees at https://drata.com/twist
13:48 YouTube’s ad growth
19:16 Google’s return to work policy
25:30 LinkedIn Jobs – Go to https://LinkedIn.com/unicorns to post your first job for free
27:01 Interview – Devin Finzer, CEO of OpenSea
36:47 Odoo – Your first app is free forever get a $1000 credit at https://Odoo.com/twist
37:58 How NFTs moved into the main stream
49:20 How OpenSea manages authenticity on the marketplace
54:25 What NFTs will look like in 10 years

TWIST Episode 1251, China punishes Didi, Twitter’s new feature, UAE makes it rain + Do Kwon of Terraform Labs

I cover China’s increasing penalties for Didi , Twitter’s test of a downvote feature, and how the UAE was able to induce rain with electricity. Then Do Kwon, the founder of Terraform labs joins to discuss his stable coin project TerraUSD, the underlying cryptocurrency LUNA, and shed light on Tether as crypto insider.

00:00 Start
02:52 News – China increases the pressure on Didi for “data privacy”
10:33 Dell – Sign up for a free IT consultation and a 5% off coupon at https://launch.co/dell
12:13 Twitter tests up/down voting tweets
17:32 UAE figures out how to make it rain with electricity
21:02 Notion – Go to https://Notion.so and use promo code TWIST to get $250 off the annual team plan
22:38 Interview – Do Kwon of Terraform Labs
27:14 Why you can’t build decentralized finance with centralized stable coins
31:18 What is an algorithmic stable coin?
35:26 Vanta – Automate your SOC 2 report, get $1,000 off at https://vanta.com/twist
37:02 Why did Terra’s price fluctuate as a stable coin?
43:46 What Do thinks China’s strategy is re: crypto
59:56 What is going on with Tether?

Lessons from Oura CEO Harpreet Rai on improving sleep, hardware, landing NBA partnerships & more | E1213

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Top Takeaways

  • Improving sleep is a massive market opportunity. It has fueled Oura’s growth as well as other companies like Calm.com.
  • “99.9% of Americans will try to sleep tonight, but only 10% will exercise per day.” – Harpreet Rai
  • For optimal health, you want a low resting heart rate (your heart is strong and you are relaxed when you sleep) and high heart rate variability (your body is adaptive).
  • Most hardware companies try to raise too much money early, which sets expectations too high. It’s better to test and iterate. Hardware development timelines are too long and risk of delay is too high to keep momentum when over-capitalized.
  • Employers have used Oura to keep their employees safe in COVID, sensor technology can often detect sickness before symptoms are felt.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Guest: Harpreet Singh Rai | @harprizzle14

CEO Oura Ring (2018-Present)

  • Joined as President in May 2017 (4 years into Oura’s life)
  • Previously worked as a portfolio manager at Eminence Capital for 9 years
  • Began career in Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley
  • Majored in MEMS, Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems (sensor design) at University of Michigan

Oura’s sleep cornerstone

  • Sleep has been a major driver for customer adoption of the Oura ring.
  • There is a limit to productivity if you are not getting good sleep.
  • Poor sleep reduces your critical thinking ability. The quality of your decisions matters. For example, “if you’re a PM at a software app, making the right decisions on data analysis or UX flow can lead to dramatically different outcomes.”

“99.9% of Americans will try to sleep tonight, but only 10% will exercise per day, and only 15-20% will work out each week.” – Harpreet Rai

It’s hard to eat well when you have a bad sleep

  • Two hormones control your appetite. Ghrelin determines how hungry you feel. Leptin determines how full you feel after.
  • When you are sleep-deprived Ghrelin levels double and Leptin levels go down by half.
  • Evolutionarily, if you were not sleeping, it was likely because you were under stress from a predator (like a Cheetah), and your body wants to maximize calories to be ready to run.

How Oura verifies their scores

  • A subject wears the Oura ring at a sleep lab (like UC Berkeley), where they are hooked up to the state-of-the-art sensors.
  • 16 nodes read brain activity, and then data scientists tune the Oura ring’s algorithm to generate similar conclusions from its sensors.

Key Metrics used by Oura

Lowest resting heart rate

  • Reaching your lowest resting heart rate requires both physical and mental relaxation. When you are relaxed, it reduces stress on the autonomic nervous system (the vagus nerve that connects your brain and your body).
  • Research shows that when you get sleep that leaves you well recovered and well-rested, you’ll normally reach your lowest resting heart rate sort of midway through the night.

Heart rate variability

  • Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation between every single heartbeat.
  • High HRV is a good signal; it means your body is more responsive and capable of adapting to situations. Low HRV is indicative of stress, smoking, and poor health.
  • Affordable, compact sensors precise enough to measure HRV are a recent advancement.

Sleep Score

  • Electrical signals, breathing, temperature, and movement can indicate which stage of sleep you are in (Light, Deep, Rapid Eye Movement (REM), Awake).

Oura’s business model

  • Oura designs hardware, develops software to analyze & display user’s health patterns, and markets their product direct to consumers & businesses.
  • 500K+ rings sold to date, ~350K in the last year.
  • Rings retail from $299-$399 with 2-year warranty, there is no additional fee to use the Oura app.
  • 100% online at ouraring.com, they have not yet used channels like Amazon.
  • Similar to Warby Parker, Oura designed a ring fitting kit that comes in a small box for customers to try on.

COVID Detection, Wellness Monitoring, and NBA & Enterprise Partnerships

  • Oura regularly monitors the temperature of the skin, HRV, respiratory rate, and other signs. Together these signals can typically detect stress and sickness before the wearer.
  • For frontline health care workers, Oura donated 2000 rings and had a sponsor donate another 1000 rings to hospitals across the US.
  • The team used early research and findings to create an algorithm rolled into an enterprise application, “Health Risk Management.”
  • Oura partnered with the NBA, UFC, NASCAR, Red Bull Racing, Las Vegas Sands, and others for COVID monitoring using their Health Risk Management platform.
  • Oura’s cost is low compared to shutting down the economy, daily testing, or high cost of human health.
  • Most organizations can’t afford a test every day (they weren’t even available), the Las Vegas Sands used Oura to monitor the health of their employees and then used Oura data to prioritize those who got tests.

Creating frameworks to avoid Big-Brother

  • Everything needs to be opt-in from the employee side. Empower the individual, notify them first.
  • Oura will not tolerate companies using their rings to terminate employees. (Oura’s contracts give them the right to terminate their customer contract if enterprises misuse data.)
  • Admins can have pre-customized notifications to employees (For example: send a notification when someone may be sick).
  • Oura sees interest from a lot of corporations as they go back to the office to de-risk against new variants and Flu season risks.
  • “Oura-wellian.” – Jason
  • Companies want de-identified tracing tools and frameworks to avoid data risk on their part. They embrace Oura’s cautious and thoughtful approach.

Competition

  • Google and Apple have both said they want to own health. Apple has the Apple Watch, and Google has acquired FitBit.
  • Oura plays nicely with both of them; they distribute the apps on their app stores and integrate with both Apple Health and Google Fit.
  • Oura can remain neutral because of its focus on sleep and because it is seen as a complementary product, many Oura users (estimated ~1/3) also wear a smartwatch.

Why the finger is better for monitoring than the wrist

  • For accuracy, the pulse signal from your finger is about 100 times stronger than the wrist. This is because the skin is thin, and the arteries are close to the surface.
  • Oura samples at 250 hertz. This means their LEDs fire 250 times per second (LEDs are used to shine into the arteries to measure blood flow).
  • If bootlegged an Apple Watch or Fitbit to 250 hertz it would die in about an hour.

Oura roadmap & potential experiments

  • Oura’s current competitive advantage is the accuracy of its data. Improving its sleep staging algorithm to continue to be the market leader is important.
  • Jason asked about implants: Basic procedures for simple implantation still cost $5K in the US, so it’s not going to be a near-term solution.
  • Due to the size of the data set at Oura, they can improve their algorithms faster than the hardware sensors themselves. More data improves the fidelity of the insights.

Ring design

  • Oura will likely create both thinner rings and ones with more design.
  • They are thinking through the best way to do design partnerships and have already had inbound interest from brands like Tiffany and Gucci.

Advice for Hardware Founders

  • Test and iterate. Make sure you have product-market fit, then when you are more confident, raise more capital.
  • Many hardware companies aggressively raised capital, but with an aggressive raise comes high expectations. Physical products have a longer development cycle than software, so investors accustomed to software performance will be disappointed.
  • Companies like Jawbone fell victim to this dynamic.

Oura’s financial future, SPACs M&A

  • Apple is selling 15M+ Apple Watches, which is beginning to show the size of the market.
  • Oura has seen a lot of inbound interest from SPACs, but does not see it as strategically advantageous at this point.
  • Harpreets’ hedge fund background makes him appreciate the rigor of being a public company, but he knows Oura is still early in its distribution maturity (only DTC with some enterprise.
  • M&A in the wearables & health space will continue to heat up. Google closed Fitbit, Amazon launched a wearable, and rumors suggest Facebook will be trying to do this as well.

Startupdeals.tech is curated list of the most generous software discounts for startup founders by @jason, @launch & @twistartups

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I’m on a Mission

I’m on a mission to teach 10,000 accredited investors how to angel invest and share their deals.

[ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/G8gYc]

As many of you know, I wrote the book ANGEL, created a companion podcast and now I’m hosting a half-day course called Angel University.

Here are the upcoming dates for our Angel University courses:

  • April 19: Washington, DC (hosted by Riverbend Capital)
  • April 23: Boston, MA
  • April 24: New York City (supported by EquityZen)
  • April 26: Columbus, OH (hosted by WillowWorks)
  • April 29: Miami, FL
  • June 17: Sydney, Australia
  • July 15: San Francisco

The Angel University curriculum is designed for everyone, from angels who haven’t done a deal yet to seasoned angels who have done over 100. We cover five key topics: sourcing deals, evaluating startups, negotiating deals, portfolio and bankroll management, and post-deal efforts. It’s a ton of fun.

The tour workshops are four hours and are followed by dinner. Seating is limited to 50.

Join me: http://angel.university/tour.

PS – Thanks to Riverbend Capital for hosting us in DC, WillowWorks for hosting us in Columbus, and EquityZen for supporting us in NYC. If your company or local trade organization wants to host us in Boston, New York or Miami (or another city!), please email angelu[at]launch.co and let’s talk.