CategoryInvesting

Where is your horizon?

Where is your horizon? How far away from home does your daily life take you? How far into the past and future do you think about? I live on an island, and know quite a few people whose daily lives never even reach the beach. On the other end of the spectrum (to mix metaphors), few days go by when I’m not talking on Zoom to someone from Africa, if not also calls in the morning from Europe...

30,000x growth

There are two reasons for the incredible amount of money focused on tech companies. First, because of the 10 largest companies on the S&P 500, five are tech companies. Tech has made many investors a lot of money since Apple went public in 1980 and Microsoft in 1986. Second, the core technology powering all that software has sped up by a factor of 30,000 since Apple launched the Apple ][ in...

Investing overseas… Not as scary as you think

I was asked last week by the Seattle Angel Conference to explain why investing overseas is not as big a challenge nor as big a risk as most Angels think. TL;DR: it’s very similar to investing locally but with much larger market opportunities and far far far fewer investors and thus far more realistic terms. This is one of the topics often covered by The Angel Accelerator, itself inspired by...

Milestone by milestone growth (in Africa)

Over at Africa Eats we typically tout growth based on aggregate revenues. Growing from under $1 million to over $16.8 million in seven years is worthy of touting (see below). But this week I started looking at it another way, and that is even more interesting. This week the question came up… how many of the companies are small, medium, and large, and how has that changed over the past few...

From the investor side of the table

Most of the entrepreneurs I work with have yet to raise money from an Angel or investment fund (venture capital or debt or any formal institution). It is daunting to sit (face-to-face or online) across the table from an investor, as investors know more about the process of investing than entrepreneurs. Life on the investor side of the table isn’t as easy as entrepreneurs think. The...

Future Dollars (F$)

Last week I wrote about the ancient system of Bills of Exchange and how useful they were for sellers to get paid sooner than 30, 60, or 90 days after the sale. A 21st Century systemic solution to replicate these benefits would be a marketplace that sells and trades Future Dollars (denoted as F$). A future dollar is a promise to deliver a real dollar ($) in a specific number of days. With this...

Fast-growing Elephant (Startups)

Most startup investors chase mythical unicorns, ignoring the real, fast-growing elephants. What do I mean by fast-growing? 50%-100% year over year, with an occasional 3x or 5x or 9x growth spurt to kick that off: Above are four such companies, all fledglings, all now part of Africa Eats‘ portfolio. Four companies that earn over $1 million per year, which solve real problems, and with that...

Bills of Exchange, RIP

300 YEARS AGO, when the British Empire was still growing, the first wave of global trade was powered not only by the Pound Sterling, but by trades in Bills of Exchange. How did traders from London buy tea in India, porcelain in Hong Kong, or silks in Singapore? They didn’t haul cases of silver and gold in their outbound ships, trading coins for goods. They had to do that when global trade...

Sequoia sees the light

Over at The Angel Accelerator I’ve been teaching new startup investors the history of venture capital. It’s one of those industries that feels like it’s been around forever, maybe inherited from the Roman or British Empire, but in reality, in its modern form, was created in my grandparents generation, after my parents were born, and wasn’t a mature, robust, big industry...

The state and future of vertical farming

As a startup investor (and fund manager), there are themes that appear repeatedly in the dealflow submitted by startups. The entrepreneurs typically can’t see these patterns, and thus end up wasting their time repeating the same business plans that others many have tried and failed. I’ve written about this information asymmetry before and included a short list of business ideas Fledge...

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