Apple Gadgets & Tech Misc. Products

My Favorite Work from Home Products for 2020

2020 is the year of “Work from Home” and has propelled the conversation around the “Future of Work” to the forefront. In February 2019, I did a short video about my favorite productivity apps. In 2020, a lot changed for me, personally and professionally. For all of us, it has meant adapting schedules, tools and figuring out different ways of working. I thought it would be a good opportunity to share a list of my favorite work from home products in 2020.

Productivity Tools

1. Airtable – Airtable is one of my favorite work from home apps! It has been a cornerstone of my work from home toolkit for a long time. In 2020, I started using Airtable a lot more. I’ve been using it for managing and tracking Invest Streamrelated things like possible speakers, artwork, bios, etc. as well as using it to get startup pitches. Airtable is a great cross between a spreadsheet and lightweight SQL database. If you’re working with any sort of structured data or want to structure your data, Airtable is a great tool.

2. Notion – I started dabbling with Notion in late 2018 but I really started using it more heavily at the end of 2019. I love the flexibility of Notion and it’s definitely one of my favorite WFH products. I love that they added “Scribble” support to their iPad app. In 2020, it’s been my de facto tool for all kinds of notes, information and data. I haven’t been using the web-clipping extension but I have been using the iOS/iPadOS/macOS apps on a daily basis for scribbling on the iPad, writing up a document to be shared as a PDF with clients, collaborating on the Workomo content calendar and working with others on all kinds of content.

Notion helps me structure my thoughts a little better. It is a little complex to get started but once you commit to using it, you realize you have your own personal wiki for pretty much everything. The one thing I don’t like about Notion is the import and export functionality. 

3. Workomo – Everyone who used Rapportive years ago, will know how useful it was to have a tool that gave you a summary of people that you were connecting with. However, the problem has become quite acute with the move to online meetings / webinars / networking events / etc. I’ve been an active Workomo user since the early betas and I also do meetings with a lot of people I don’t already know. Workomo has been an invaluable tool in helping me get quick summaries about these people as well as learn a few new things about people I already know.

Conversations (audio, video, podcasting)

1. Clubhouse – I got on Clubhouse in September and, now, I use it all the time while working from home. Clubhouse is my watercooler / coffee machine at the office. If you need to take a break, chat with someone during lunch or join a discussion about almost anything, Clubhouse is the place to be. Most rooms are well moderated and people are polite and friendly. If you need an invite, I *may* be able to help so try DM’ing me and if I have any invites left, I will send you one.

2. StreamYard – 2020 might just be the year where podcasting and online video tipped. I started Invest Stream at the end of 2018 but 2020 is when I started live streaming. StreamYard is a really awesome product for doing livestreams. My friend, Gregarious Narain, found it when we were doing The Raise. It made it so simple to start streaming on multiple platforms. I’ve been using StreamYard a lot in 2020 and I love the simplicity. It’s super easy to join a livestream off your phone or iPad. Hosting a livestream is still Chrome specific, however. The free version is good enough for most people who want to get started.

Entertainment / Relaxation

1. Digital Assistants / Smart Speakers – Listen to a podcast, check the weather, play some music or talk to someone all over a smart speaker. I’ve ditched Alexa and Google Home Mini in 2020 and gone all in with the HomePod and HomePod Mini. However, whatever your choice is, I’ve found the smart speaker to be an invaluable accessory to use as a speaker phone, a stereo system, listening to the news (I like to keep Bloomberg Radio going in the background), etc. 

2. Streaming – We can all use a break after a long day of working from home. What better way to spend some of that free time than with loved ones watching Netflix, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+ and YouTube? It’s definitely the golden age of content with fabulous shows like The Queens Gambit or The Expanse available at our fingertips along with blockbuster movies like Wonder Woman 1984! BTW, pairing the HomePod with an AppleTV 4K gives you amazing Dolby Atmos sound. There are many videos on YouTube discussing this.

As much as we’re all suffering Zoom fatigue, without Zoom, Google Meet or FaceTime, working from home over an extended period of time would have been almost impossible. They aren’t my favorite apps but they are most definitely necessary.

This post first appeared on the Workomo Blog.

Advice Entrepreneurship Startups Venture Capital

Founders Doing Due Diligence On Investors

Doing due diligence on investors is something that should be discussed more frequently. It’s important for founders to take the time to understand who the investors are, how do they help and support the companies they invest in, how do they react when things aren’t going as well as hoped for.

Spending some time doing due diligence on potential investors can save you lots of grief in the long run. I’ve talked about this often and it’s great in theory but it’s not as easy to do in person. Now that I’m back on the operating side of a startup, here are some tips on how to diligence possible investors:

  • Start with making a list of the investors you think would be interested in your startup keeping a few broad things in mind (use a spreadsheet or a CRM)
    • Vertical the company is in and is the VC firm + partner interested in the space
    • Stage of the company and does the firm invest at this stage
    • Check size that you’re looking for and what the firm writes
    • Any existing competing investments that the firm has made
  • Find people you know that may be connected to these individuals
    • Have a prepared email that you can send to the people you know who can possibly connect you to these investors. The email should be a very short email that explains why you would like to connect to the investor, a summary of your startup and have a teaser deck attached. Some people like to use DocSend but I prefer a PDF.

Once you’ve exhausted your personal network, find 5-10 founders that the firm and the partner have invested in (ideally should include failed startups).

  • Reach out to them on social media, via common contact or a cold email to see if they will chat with you about your startup and provide some advice on your round as well as share some info about the investor(s). If they say yes to a meeting, do some research on them, e.g. understand what their startup does, maybe check out the product, use Crunchbase to get an idea of some of their investors, how many rounds they’ve raised, you can use tools like Workomo (shameless plug) to get some background about them and common interests you might have.
  • Founders can be very open with other founders. Do what you have to in order to maintain that trust. Use the meeting to do your due diligence on the investor. Ask the founder about the firm on your list and how they were to work with through the ups and downs. Make sure you are clear that this is confidential and DO NOT repeat it to anyone, even in conversation. Don’t be shy about getting into details as long as the founders are comfortable sharing. Don’t pry but don’t hold back on asking the questions you think will help you get an understanding of who the investor is and how they work.

In short, make sure you take the time to do your due diligence on investors. It’s critical to know who you’re potentially partnering with for the duration of your startup.

Business Entrepreneurship Startups

Time to “Workomo”

For the better part of the last decade, I’ve been a startup investor and community builder. It’s been a lot of fun and I have loved learning from all of the founders I’ve met. I’m hoping to meet even more founders and operators during the next part of my journey, where, I’m taking the plunge back into the world of building and joining Workomo as COO.

Why Workomo?

Workomo is a young startup based out of the San Francisco Bay Area founded by my friend Soumitra Sharma. Soumitra and I have known each other for a few years, having crossed paths in the Indian startup ecosystem and having invested together. Soumitra reached out to me when he was raising his pre-seed round in late 2019. We had a conversation about Workomo and I committed to invest on the spot.

Since then, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the team testing out the product, providing feedback, and talking strategy with Soumitra. I even wrote some code to help them with a problem they were dealing with.

In the context of my professional career, I’ve often said that “what you do matters less than who you do it with”. I feel very lucky to have an opportunity to work with an incredibly sharp team and a founder with a crystal clear vision for Workomo.

I look forward to sharing more details about what we are building at Workomo and what we have in store over the next few months.

If you want to take the Chrome extension for a spin, please add your name to the waitlist.

Advice Angel Investing Bangalore Business Delhi Entrepreneurship India InvestStream Video New Delhi Startups Venture Capital Video

Early-Stage Startup Deal Terms in India 2020

There was a recent thread on Twitter about how even in 2020 angels and VCs in India continue to put ridiculously onerous terms into early-stage deals.

I recently invested in an Indian startup that closed a pre-series A round and the documents were more than 100 pages. When I was at 500 Startups, with the help of BMR Legal, we modified the 500 Startups KISS Agreement for India and open sourced the documents in the hopes that it would simplify early-stage documentation and reduce the amount of time to close a deal and the cost of doing early-stage deals in India, much like Series Seed docs and the SAFE have done in the US.

Here’s a presentation I gave in January 2020 at CIE-IIIT Hyderabad on some of the deal terms in India to watch out for. Unfortunately, there’s no video of the actual presentation I gave so I recorded a voice over for you.

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If there are additional terms you have questions about or terms you’ve come across that are onerous, please leave a comment on the YouTube video and I will respond. Hopefully, other founders will benefit from it as well.


Cold Emailing Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors

Although most people recommend getting an introduction to a VC or an angel investor, it is sometimes necessary to send a cold email. Here are some thoughts on how one could frame those emails.

This is what I think the basic structure of the email should be:

  • Why you are reaching out
  • How your startup is of interest to the individual.
  • A little of your background, establishing some credibility.

Example 1

A great example of an email from a founder to an investor is:

Hi Pankaj,

I am physician entrepreneur and I run a health tech startup, <STARTUP NAME>, focused on the digital health space with a focus on diabetes. I sold my previous startup in 2015 and started this company in 2016.

I believe you will find our startup interesting because it has measurable traction, we’re going after a massive market and we’re a team that’s been working together for more than a decade.

We are in the process of raising a series A round and are looking for strategic angels that can help with international growth, business strategy, and ecosystem building. Attached is a teaser deck for your review. I would be delighted to setup some time with you to go through the business in greater detail.

In this example, the founder starts with a quick introduction and continues by adding a little about his credibility, being a physician, and selling his previous startup.

He then explains why this deal might be of interest to me. He might have done a little research or watched previous episodes of Invest Stream to know that I want to see traction in the companies I invest in, as well as, a large market size. He also knows that I care about the team and how well they work together.

He closes with why they would like me to consider investing and attaches a PDF. There’s been some debates on Twitter about the use of PDFs vs. using services like DocSend. I prefer PDFs so I can scribble notes on them and save them for posterity 🙂

Example 2

Hi Pankaj,

My name is Dr. <FOUNDER’S NAME>, co-founder of <STARTUP NAME>, an intelligent telehealth platform.

<STARTUP NAME> is an AI telehealth platform helping doctors to complete clinical documentation accurately and efficiently instead of manual, sloppy, unreadable notes. With <STARTUP NAME> providers have increased productivity and the amount of time they can spend with patients by almost 60 hours a year and are, thus, increasing their revenue by more than 100k annually.

Knowing your investment in <PREVIOUS INVESTMENT>, I think you might be interested in knowing more about <STARTUP NAME>, and what we do with AI to help physicians to be more efficient with their time.

Some of our numbers:

  • 50% MoM
  • +5K consultations
  • +50 physicians subscribed to our platform
  • +10 medical specialties

We are raising our Seed Round, and we would really like to show you more of what we are doing and get your feedback.

Let me know if I can send you my deck, or we can jump on a call next week.

I hope to hear back from you soon,

In this example, the founder introduces himself (also adding credibility that he’s a physician) and gives me quick intro to the company and the problem that it’s solving.

He also shares some of their traction information and shows that he’s researched me before dropping me a cold email (referencing a company I’ve invested in previously).

He then shares what stage they are at and why he would like to talk. I would have preferred if he sent me the deck or a teaser deck but it’s not the end of the world. 

What other examples do you have of a cold email you’ve sent out that’s worked well for you?