As a follow-up to last year’s post on Facebook’s IPO, I’ve written a new post on FinLit’s blog - Is It Worth Buying Twitter’s Shares When it IPO’s Tomorrow?
I know a lot of you have been wondering if I’m making any progress with my startup, but I’m very pleased to announce that FinLit has been accepted as a member of the Good Company Ventures 2013 Incubator Class.
So what the hell does that mean?
Good Company Ventures is a program to help for profit companies with a social mission. The slogan is “Where Purpose Meets Profit” and the goal is to get our company in a position to be sustainable, scaleable, and have a major social impact. And it’s based in Philadelphia.
We will be spending every Thursday and Friday in Philly working on every aspect of our business with 9 other great startups and a group of inspiring (and fun) entrepreneurs.
It takes a lot to get me to leave the wonders of NYC for even a few days each week, but this is a fantastic business opportunity that can have a huge impact on the future of FinLit. We’re really excited about this program and think it is a perfect fit for our goal of creating a profitable company that helps young adults do smart things with money.
And it’s a great reason to hang out with some of my best friends and family members that I haven’t spent enough time with the last few years (not too mention the beers are pretty cheap here!)
I will be blogging much more regularly to provide some updates and perspective on this program.
I know it’s been a few months since I’ve written, but it’s the 1st anniversary of me starting this blog and I wanted to take a look back at the past year.
A sincere thank you to everyone who has read any of my posts. While I don’t write to get pageviews, it certainly feels good to know my friends, family, and random Internet people are reading this blog.
I promise to write more often going forward this year.
Productivity (or lack thereof)
Traffic sources - 69% Referral, 8% Search, and 23% Direct.
Thanks again for your support. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see me write more about.
Dwolla’s CEO, Ben Milne, did something really cool last night. He gave out real money using Twitter.
Using the #Dwolla hastag allows you to easily send money on Twitter, but you can only claim it if you have a dwolla account and sign in with Twitter.
Ben, and several members of the dwolla team, blasted celebrities, tech influencers, and nobodies like me with free money last night.
Now, I can’t tell how much money was actually claimed, but looking at Ben’s twitter stream it couldn’t have cost dwolla (or Ben himself) more than $10,000 at the high end (although it was likely a lot lower).
So, why was this a great idea?
The place was packed and it was a great way to sign up people up and actually have them use it right away, either for funding a bet on Derby Jackpot or buying a drink at the bar.
In any case, it’s pretty neat that we have the technology to pay people not just wirelessly but over Twitter. It’s exciting to think about what the next breakthrough will be in payments.
Note: This post is going to sound corny, cheesy, and pretty obvious. I acknowledge that fact but make no apologies for it.
I’m heading off to the wedding of one of my best friend’s from high school and wanted to take a moment to pay him a quick compliment.
I went to his bachelor party two weekends ago in Virginia. We had a great time with the usual hilarious debauchery and shenanigans that come about anytime you get 17 dudes together in one place.
But the thing that stuck out to me is that I really enjoyed spending time with each of the 16 other people there with us. It was a great collection of the groom’s friends from high school, college, studying abroad, and his current city.
I think one of the biggest compliments I can pay my friend is that he surrounds himself with great people.
People like to say that your social media presence is a reflection of your personality, but obiously the truest reflection of your values and character are the people you choose to surround yourself with and your friends.
Ever since I first met him in high school, Walt has consistently surrounded himself its ally cool, fun, and interesting people - which is just one of many reasons he is us ch a joy to be around.
I’m so thrilled that another one of my best friends from high school is getting married (still hard to imagine) and I wish Walt and MK the best as they start their life together.
Now it’s time to have some fun and start celebrating the wedding of two awesome people!
Have you ever wondered if anyone actually opened up and read your beautifully crafted, life-altering, witty email? Or have you ever sent a party invite to a bunch of your friends and wanted to know how many of them actually got the contents of the message?
One solution is doing an email read receipt but that requires the recipients to take an action. And it’s super annoying and I hate when people use it.
I came across a new solution last week that appears to be a step in the right direction. Bananatag is a simple way to track your daily emails and see what happens after you send them.
It is extremely simple to install as a plug-in to Gmail and works right away. Bananatag operates with a Freemium pricing model that allows you to track 5 emails per day for free. If you’re a power email user or just super insecure, you can upgrade to the Pro version for just $5.00 per month.
Bananatag can send you an email letting you know when someone opens your email or clicks on a link. If you find this annoying or don’t want it clogging your inbox, it is very simple to create a Filter in Gmail that has these emails bypass your inbox and put in a separate folder that you can peruse at your leisure.
Here are some interesting insights so far from tacking 9 emails:
Despite these small bugs, Bananatag is a really cool, easy to use, free service that allows you to see whether your email was opened or if your content was read. I definitely would recommend it and definitely plan to continue using it.
I attended the NY FinTech Startups Meetup last night for the first time. The event was very well organized by Jon Zanoff and the featured guest speaker was Peter Lehrman, the CEO and founder of AxialMarket (and a UVA alumnus!).
Notwithstanding the great insights from the evening, one of the first thoughts that popped in my head was that the crowd seemed pretty old for a tech startup event.
I would guess that the NY FinTech meetup had the oldest average age attendee of any tech event I’ve been to in NYC. Now to be honest, I haven’t been to that many tech events, but the crowd certainly seemed different than other events.
For one thing, the attendees were generally dressed at least business casual and many people were in suits. And I would say that at 25, I was one of the younger people in the room.
I would guess the average age of attendee was mid 30s with plenty of people in their late 40’s or early 50’s in the room.
So why might this be the case for FinTech startups?
Finance is Serious
Finance is a pretty serious, complex topic. Not to say that fields like education, clean tech, health care (which probably trends older as well), etc. aren’t serious, but the financial industry isn’t exactly known for innovation and is generally not receptive to disruption (although this is slowly changing).
Any time you’re dealing with money, there are a lot of legal and regulatory hurdles you need to clear. There are a myriad of rules you need to follow, government financial regulations to comply with, certifications you need to achieve, etc that make FinTech startups a daunting and expensive task. I would imagine that many tech entrepreneurs without a background in finance are wary of the hurdles in finance (and health care) and choose to focus in other verticals. And the only way you have a background in finance is with…
It seemed like everyone I spoke to had some level of experience within the world of finance. I think most founders of FinTech startups leverage their expertise to fill holes they have seen popping up over and over again within a particular field of finance. Finance is all about trying to get a tiny edge over the rest of the market and the best way to do to be an expert in a niche area. Or you need to have a lot of…
Like most things in the business world, finance revolves around relationships. There is a reason that investment banks say their most valuable assets walk out of the door each day - individuals bring in deals, not the name on the building. In order to deal with large, entrenched finance companies you generally need to have some deep and personal relationships with senior or key managers. It takes a lot of time and effort to build these relationships so it is obvious that older people would be able to better capitalize on these long-standing friendships.
Despite the housing bubble and billions in trading losses that seem to occur each week, finance at its core is a very risk averse profession. Most of the hedge fund analysts I know are among the most risk averse people I know. And while Bankers are happy to live a free-wheeling lifestyle on the Company dime, when it comes to spending their own money many are much more frugal.
Perhaps younger people in finance are waiting until they have accumulated sufficient net worth to feel comfortable taking the risk of starting their own FinTech company.
Maybe I’m just reading too much into the turnout at one FinTech event.
I loved Michelle Obama’s speech last night at the Democratic National Convention. She is a supremely eloquent speaker who clearly easily relates to her audience.
I’m sure you’re going to read countless articles and blog posts this morning from people gushing about the First Lady’s passionate and moving speech. I was certainly guilty of expressing that sentiment last night on Twitter and I think it is healthy to enjoy the speech and reflect on its positive and uplifting message (especially in such an ugly and depressing campaign).
However, before we all get too caught up in the wonder of the moment I think it is important to take a step back and face the reality that this speech will be pretty much irrelevant to the outcome of the presidential election.
Despite the energy and brilliance of the First Lady’s speech, the fact remains that spousal speeches simply do not move the needle in elections.
Michelle was terrific. So was Ann. But anybody who studies elections will tell you: Spouses please voters but don’t change votes.— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) September 5, 2012
While I am sure many Democrats will remember this speech for years to come, it is extremely unlikely that Mrs. Obama’s speech will convince Undecideds or Republicans to vote for Barack Obama this November.
With that being said, let’s get back to the gushing because it is fun to speculate - a potentially relevant outcome of the speech is that it sets the First Lady up for a future political career if she so desires.
She appears to have all the tools necessary to be a great politician - a winning smile, an effervescent personality, and amazing public speaking skills. I legitimately think she might be a better orator than President Obama - she does such a fantastic job of engaging with the audience.
And that doesn’t even take into account her brains (she wrote the speech herself!) or her political savvy (several scathing comments directed towards Romeny without ever mentioning his name).
Michelle Obama clearly would be a formidable candidate if she ever were to choose to run for office.
Here are a few selected tweets that show the dazzling impact she made last night.
From my floor vantage point: Michelle Obama owned this convention in a way I didn’t see anyone own Tampa. She is clearly personally beloved— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 5, 2012
Stunning, brilliant, moving, passionate and right. Flawless. That was a speech a nominee would be proud to have given. thebea.st/TfVJXs— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) September 5, 2012
Favorite tweet tonight: RT @glennthrush: Something that I didn’t see in Tampa — wait staff cheering for convention speaker… Michelle— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) September 5, 2012