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Guest Garry Tan - "It's not innovation until it gets built"


This is re posted.


Andrew

Hello, and welcome to repost it. In the next few moments, we'll be breaking down the posts that we have found to be inspiring, interesting, or otherwise entertaining quotes that catch our eye and we feel are worth a deeper look. Thank you for stopping by. Gary tan is the Founder and Managing Partner of initialized capital. And for the last two years has been on the Forbes Midas list, top 100 Global VC, I came across Gary on his YouTube channel, which I highly recommend checking out you can go to youtube.com slash Gary tan ga ROI. And he gives insight into his career and teaches you the lessons he learned the hard way to get us going. Gary, I want to give us a quote that you said it's not innovation until it gets built. I mean, that seems so obvious. But in the world that you're in, like, how do you see that every day?


Garry

Yeah. Well, I think a lot of people place startup house is very dangerous. And I work with a lot of very, very early founders, and I talk with them through my YouTube channel. And I've opened up my Instagram DMS to sort of get to know my customer, which is what I truly believe is, you know, sort of all the people who have engineering design product, you know, business skills, who want to start businesses. And I think that quote is really tailor made to sort of help people avoid the number one landmine, which is, you know, working hard to look like a startup instead of actually building not just a business, but a business that can grow very, very quickly. Yeah. And yeah, this is just purely coming from how do I help the most number of people, not waste years of their lives and, you know, materially make their lives worse. Right. I mean, that's, that's the part people don't talk about with startups is that you take this huge risk, it's a gamble, you're, you know, gambling, your own opportunity cost. But it's also real money. And if people spend years on a pipe dream that never comes together that, you know, I, I feel that I viscerally feel the pain when I talk to people like that. And I don't want people to be in that situation. I want people to succeed. Yeah,


Andrew

I used to work in construction in the Bay Area. And we were building an office for a startup. And their CEO told me, we got the same alcohol supplier is Google. So we've made it and I was like, well, and I don't think they're around anymore. So that thing house, it's easy. Yeah,


Garry

it's easy to focus on the wrong things.


Larry

For a number of years, you were connected with the Y Combinator and you. That's why I think you've met up with the guys from doordash. And I read this quote, you said about doordash. Fans are earned or lost at the margin. It's not the average performance that counts. So are you saying that you need people that are either really excited about the product, or not excited about the product and the people in the middle? They're just always gonna be there?


Garry

Yeah, well, I think, I think it's Alex Taussig, who said it, and then I just pulled the quote from his great tear down, you know, he's awesome GP at lightspeed. But I do agree with it, I like to signal boost things that I super agree with. And that's one of them. When it comes to doordash, I actually think it's almost entirely just people who love you. That's it, you know, back at Y Combinator working with Paul bouquet, who created Gmail, you know, there's a kernel of that story in doordash, and a lot of Y Combinator companies, which is get 1000 people who absolutely love you, and don't try to scale or you know, get more customers until you have that level of love. And that's the only way you can sort of rise above. And we saw that when Gmail got launched, right, people loved it. And then they taught each other that it was great. And the demand sort of spiraled and boomed from there. And that yeah, that's at the core of many, many consumer startups is actually not, you know, hate is okay. Like, it's probably okay to be hated. As long as people, some people who, you know, really, really care about you really, really love you. But I wouldn't go out of my way to be hated, I think hated doesn't help anyone.


Andrew

Yeah, I think I think you're really interesting, because you've worked. You're an engineer, you worked in startup, which is basically pretty black and white. And then I came across through your YouTube channel, which is a lot more subjective and entertainment based, and your channel has grown over the last year. I think you're around 45,000 subscribers right now, but I liked in one of your videos, you talked about how something you did was you put in your email signature new videos every week and you just start telling people it's like, kind of you you put the toothpaste out of the tube but like how did that help you drive like versus before you did that?


Garry

Yeah, I mean, I I could feel myself in the grind not getting the results I wanted but I also knew, you know, I was very deep in the dip. You know, Seth Godin has a great book about this, or there are many ways to call it but you know, and I knew I needed some sort of external sort of motivation. And for me, I don't like to say things that I don't actually do. So that was one way to get my friends and the people I get to work with and anyone I come into contact with this sort of hold me to account. And that was a real turning point moment, because I literally just was like, this isn't really doing what I needed to do. It's so much work, and no one's really paying attention. But I'm really glad I pushed through. And there's sort of dramatic like, I hit 10,000 subscribers, and it was like, I hit a if statement. And and it's really showed me To what degree software really intermediates our lives today. And we're all hackers. Now, you know, they're all these systems, and we got to hack them. And if we hack them, like good things happen. But you know, we're all software engineers. Now. It's kind of funny.


Larry

Well, speaking to that software idea. You were employee number 10. At palantir. You're a complete data guy. The mission statement almost for plant pal. palantir is software for data driven decisions. So my question to you is you run a VC, you hear lots of pitches, do you ever turn off the data and use the force? And just go with your gut and not the data?


Garry

Yeah, definitely. I mean, early stages, almost entirely got, honestly. I mean, you have to, you know, we hire, we hire associates, for instance, we have two new associates at initialised, who have been doing amazing work. And, you know, we need to do the background checks, right? We want to understand what are the market dynamics, we want to, you know, do our research before we get involved in a company, but the actual moment of deciding to invest or not, is actually mostly cuts. All right, at the early so you don't have data. And then it's not just got though, I think, you know, me and the team that I built it initialized, we've all worked at places we've been, you know, C level executives, we've built, you know, consumer experiences or enterprise businesses or all kinds of things, really. And I think that the standard we use is would we go work there. And that's actually kind of what we're doing. When we fund a company. Yes, it's money, but it's not my money, it's my limited partners money. But I am devoting my time and I'm saying, you know, come hell or high water, whatever happens to this business? I'm gonna answer the, you know, my cell phone, on a, you know, Friday night at 9pm, when all I need to do is like, you know, put my kids to bed. But if there's something happening with that company, founder needs to talk to me, I'm gonna pick up and, you know, especially now that my kids are, you know, that, like, you know, one in four, I'm like, that's really valuable time, right? So I have to be really careful. I, that's a high bar. I'm like, I, I need to know that I will be excited to talk to that person at that moment. And, and that's what like going to work for companies means to me,


Andrew

you told a story about Peter teal, offering you money to come work and you in one of your videos and said it's a 20 million $200 million. mistake. So a lot of people might have that adversity and say, shit, I'm done. I know someone that was the runner up to David Schwimmer and friends. It was like it was network test mess. And he missed, and he quit acting. Because being a series regular on friends is basically you never have to work again in your life. So obviously, you went the different path where you kept going, but like, how do you? How do you ignore that type of I mean, there's so many things in startups that like, oh, it had I done this. It could have gone a different way. But like, how did you take that Miss? And keep going?


Garry

I mean, that's a great question. I mean, part of it is like, once you are one set, anything like that happens, you know, you're in the right company, and then it's just, it's just odds. Mm hmm. And then their thing there's like, just stick, you know, you just got to stick it right. Like, you know, I did a video that I recommend people watch about tournaments and I realized now like, it's not like I won all the tournaments You know, I've been rejected I like didn't i didn't get a series A from Andreessen I didn't get a series A from benchmark I made a video is about all of those experiences. And I'm fine. Like the thing is, like, none of these rejections define me at all, and, and then a part of is like, just be glad you're Yeah, you're, we're, we have incredible privilege to even be in, you know, to have won the genetic lottery to live where we are to have the skills we have the connections we have. And then I don't know when I think about that story you said you know about David yet the second runner up to the friends thing is like, and I don't know this person, but, you know, I, I guess like, what what are we here for? And what do we want to be doing? And I hear I've heard a lot of actors talk about this. And I definitely believe this about founders is like, really, a lot of the founders that really make it, they're like, not extra extrinsically motivated. And I believe that's true for actors too, which is like, we do this for free, like those, you know, and then it's sort of lucky and amazing that people pay us to do this at all right? And then it turns out, you know, for computers, it's sort of like winning the lottery, right? Like, if you love computers, and you would do it for free, like, Well, it turns out that society really needs you to work on that stuff. Because that's, that's where all of society is headed now. And so I think there's that as like, what, you know, what are we here for? Why are we doing this? And it's funny, now, I really understand why a lot of the you know, the path for a lot of people in Silicon Valley is like, come here, try to make money, make the money and get very sad. You know, that's sort of what happens, right? And it's like, oh, these they said that, when I make money, I'll be whole, and then it's like, I don't feel whole at all right? Um, and then that's where people sort of go on their wellness, fasting, meditation, Burning Man, like all of that stuff, you know, maybe some psilocybin, you know, therapy sessions and things like that. But, you know, I think that when I meet people on the other side of that, like, they're actually asking, like, the right question at that point, which is like, why are we here? And what's the point of all of this? And what do I want to be doing? And honestly, that's often what I'm really looking for, when I'm sitting down with founders is like, Who were the people who are the artists and the creators who couldn't care less about, like making a single dime. I mean, we live in a capitalist society, and like, capitalism is about alignment. So you know, don't make that the end in and of itself. Like, how about we make the end actually creating a thing for other people? And, you know, it's a dance as Alan Watts said, right? You miss


Larry

duck, you miss cryogenic, freezing in your access is there, you know, I mean, when you think of like Silicon Valley, you think someone has this like brilliant idea and a brilliant pitch. And you make this point, like the guy that founded Uber said, I couldn't get a taxi in San Francisco. Airbnb said, I couldn't get a hotel, you recently spoke with a guy from shelf engine. And he was seeing how much food gets wasted, literally


Garry

solid food, he ran a sandwich brand.


Larry

So like, it's funny, like, you have to just see the problem. And then, oh, that problem needs fixing. And then that's a good idea for a company. Yeah, it's


Garry

too simple. Actually, it sounds like stupid, simple, but at the same time, it's like, that's my lived experience is like, it's not that complicated. A lot of people I mean, going back to our earlier conversation, I mean, a lot of people look at this stuff, and they say, you know, how do I hack the system? Or how do I look like a startup? And it's like, it's not about looking like a startup. It's like, actually about making a good product or service. And that's it. You know, you build a business around that. And then if you're right, like everyone needs it, and it spreads on its own, you set the world on fire.


Andrew

Gary tan, thank you so much for joining us today. Check him out on YouTube gear@youtube.com slash Gary tan, you can find me on Twitter at Gary tan. I'm Andrew Keller for Gary and Larry. Thanks for stopping by.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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