Monthly Archives: January 2017

Mavrx’s Series A

Mavrx, where we’re investors, is an agricultural imaging company. Its core product analyzes aerial images sourced from its network of aircraft partners to give farmers recommendations that improve their agricultural outcomes. These outcomes include maximizing crop yields, reducing spending on irrigation, fertilizer, and labor, and preventing catastrophic crop loss.

It’s more accurate and less costly to reach these outcomes by applying data science to images sourced from planes rather than by applying intuition to a farmer’s row-by-row drive-throughs among his crops. The former doesn’t eliminate the need for the latter but rather guides the latter to focus on those specific farm segments where there is the greatest value at stake.

We participated in Mavrx’s $2.5M seed round in mid-2014 and the company announced its $10M Series A in late 2016. Here’s a post from the company’s blog which covers the new round.

As mentioned in the post, the round’s proceeds will go towards growing Mavrx’s data science and sales teams, further improving its product, and winning new customers both within and outside of (for example Canada and South Africa) the US.

We’re excited to be along for the ride.

Producing

Consuming is easy. But consumption produces just a short-term burst of happiness.

Buying something and browsing social media are examples of consumption. They come naturally to us and produce short-term happiness but don’t generate long-term meaning.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consume. Some consumption, like food, is necessary to survive. And many types of consumption are entertaining. Examples beyond buying something and browsing social media include listening to music, reading books, and watching movies. And entertainment contributes to a happy life.

However, long-term meaning comes from producing, not consuming.

And producing is difficult. Especially producing something valuable that other people want. It requires sacrificing some of the short-term happiness of consuming.

Examples of production are just the reverse of examples of consumption. If someone is buying something, then someone else must have built the thing that is being bought. If someone is browsing social media, then someone else must have created the content that is being browsed. Building things and creating content are examples of production.

Producing something valuable takes careful thought, planning, building your product, putting it out there, taking in feedback, and continually refining it. It’s painful and you need to be dedicated and disciplined to overcome the pain.

Because production demands dedication and discipline, you can’t produce in many areas of your life. The best of us produce in one or two domains during a given period of our lives.

One way to find the thing or things that you are likely to be dedicated and disciplined enough to produce is to think about what you, for whatever underlying reason, find meaningful.

The other way is to think about those things which you find less painful to do than most other people. Perhaps you even find them pleasurable.

Taking these two approaches together, you can produce something where the meaning is worth the pain.

Insider’s 2016 year in review

Insider, a personalization and predictive marketing tool where we’re investors, recently shared its 2016 year in review. At less than 2 minutes, it’s a short and to the point clip.

The highlight of the clip for me is the list of the new offices that Insider set up in 2016 on its journey to become a global company. This journey will continue in 2017.

You can watch the full clip below.

Sergey Brin on artificial intelligence

Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin recently participated in an interview at the World Economic Forum where he shared his views on the future of artificial intelligence.

These views include Sergey’s thoughts on the pace of artificial intelligence developments, how to think about its impact on various vertical and horizontal use cases, the work that Google is doing in the field, and its repercussions on human lives and jobs.

You can watch the full interview below.

Music

I wrote about how getting fresh air and exercising are two ways in which I’m able to get an immediate boost to my productivity. I want to write about a third one today, and that’s music.

Unlike getting fresh air and exercising, where an approach of just doing it works best, music requires more careful thought and selection. Different people like different types of music. And even the same person feels like listening to different types of music throughout the day. You need to listen to the right type of music that fits how you feel at a specific moment in time to have a positive impact on your mood.

For example, if I’m already feeling motivated and want to amplify this feeling, I listen to fast DJ playlists from David Guetta or Calvin Harris. Titanium is my favorite piece from David Guetta and Sweet Nothing is my favorite Calvin Harris song.

If I’ve had a series of upsetting moments during the day, I listen to music like Lovely Day from Bill Withers and Dancing on the Ceiling from Lionel Richie. These bring to mind better moments and provide me with a more positive outlook on the rest of the day. A positive outlook also increases my productivity.

Finally, when my mind is racing and I feel the need to calm down to make better long-term decisions, I turn to the saxophone jazz of Dave Koz. I Believe is my favorite piece from Dave Koz.

Making time in your day to listen to music is a great way to make you happier and more productive.

Sinemia’s new round

Sinemia, a movie membership and loyalty club that also operates movie content sites, recently completed its Series A funding round.

500 Startups was the first to participate in this round last November, and this was followed by Revo Capital who led the roughly $1.5M total round this month.

This investment makes us happy for two reasons.

First, it will help Sinemia establish new partnerships to grow in Turkey while also giving it the fuel to test the US market.

Second, this marks our first co-investment with Revo. We welcome the Revo team to the company.

Nothing

An investor is nothing without his entrepreneurs.

An entrepreneur is nothing without his employees.

A company is nothing without its customers.

An infant is nothing without his parents.

An athlete playing a team sport is nothing without his teammates.

And an athlete competing individually is nothing without his trainer.

Maybe nothing is an extreme statement, but the assessments are directionally correct. We each need other people to be happy and successful.

Recognizing and empathizing with the people without whom we wouldn’t be who or where we are is a sign of strength.

First full calendar year of Tapu

Emre Ersahin is a co-founder of Tapu, an online real estate auction marketplace where we’re investors. Emre recently wrote a post sharing some data about Tapu’s first calendar year of operations. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Tapu has completed hundreds of property sales in half of Turkey (44 provinces) since it started monetizing in August 2015.
  2. The number of transactions on Tapu is growing at a rate of 70% per quarter.
  3. 40% of transactions on Tapu are completed in less than 15 days.
  4. The fastest sale on Tapu was that of a flat in Antalya which sold in 41 hours.
  5. Half of the auctions on Tapu in December 2016 closed with a premium above the seller’s reserve price, giving sellers a 5% profit.

You can read the full piece here.

Investor help to convince candidates

As investors, we’re in a great position to help our founders convince candidates who are on the fence about joining their company.

First, we’ve seen hundreds of candidates being hired across tens of companies. This gives us more data points than those available to most founders about which approaches work and which ones don’t when trying to convince different types of candidates with different motivations and concerns to join a company.

This doesn’t mean that we get every candidate to cross the finish line. However, we improve the odds that they do.

Second, an investor is able to provide a more objective, bird’s-eye view of the company. Although we’re also biased because of our equity stake in the company, we have less skin in the game than founders. This helps us balance the founder’s more subjective view from living in the trenches with a more objective view from thirty thousand feet.

The founder’s view is more important because that’s what will eventually determine the company’s success. It is the founder’s view that the candidate needs to believe. However, an investor can provide a valuable complementary perspective.

Third, having an investor spend time speaking with a candidate prior to their decision shows that the investor cares. And for an investor to care, the founder must have communicated to the investor how much they care about the candidate. This means that the founder also cares. And candidates want to work with founders who care.

Several of our founders regularly ask for our help to convince candidates to join their company. I wish that even more did.

The long arc of time

Seth Godin recently wrote a great post on how our perception of time influences whether we see things changing or not.

Sometimes our perception doesn’t let us notice that things are changing even though they actually are.

Just like a tree that’s growing, most things worth doing take a long time to happen. Perceiving the long arc of time keeps you going.

You can read the full post here.