Stop giving away company shares like candy on Halloween.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Besides picking a company name, distributing shares is commonly an early task that most teams must do. It’s a tricky conversation that many first-time entrepreneurs tend to avoid, or worse, just split equally (continue reading to learn why). The conversation is especially uncomfortable because the project hasn’t started yet, and everyone wants to remain cordial. Adding this talk about ownership into the mix can change the atmosphere. Though, the fact is that the conversation is important because it brings you back to the reality of running a startup, where you have a long road ahead of making tough decisions.

This one is your first test. It’s an easy test because there is a right way and wrong way to do it. If you do it the wrong way, the bad news is that it will cause you lots of problems in the future that won’t be so easily resolved and may even require costly lawyers. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Nicole Wolf on Unsplash

Learning to code is easy, especially if you use the right resources.

It’s a problem that many aspiring entrepreneurs struggle with: they have an idea, and they have a plan, but they can’t figure out how to turn that idea into an MVP. Almost every other day on the /r/Startups, I see someone asking the community how to build an MVP without technical knowledge. In my responses, I normally list out three options:

  1. You could find a technical cofounder, but finding the right person can be tricky. On the one hand, you have to find someone who really believes in the vision and use case, and this person should have a high level of resilience (so they won’t run at the first sign of trouble). …


Joining an early-stage company is risky, but you can de-risk your decision.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Helena Lopes/Unsplash

Joining an early-stage startup comes with many tradeoffs. In a team of just three to five other employees, the company can feel more like an interest club at times. On the one hand, you get much more autonomy, your work is likely to have more impact, and you enjoy the work you do. On the other hand, the risk of failure is very high, you might be busier and more stressed than with a normal job, and the pay may be lower than average.

Therefore, when it comes to deciding whether or not you should join a startup, selecting the right one matters: it will help with reducing the risk and maximizing the upside, although you may be just as busy, if not busier. While it feels like a big guess, there are many considerations that you can take to help with measuring the risk and potentially avoiding a dud. …


Image for post
Image for post
The Oculus Quest 2 (Source: The Official Oculus Website)

Tuesday, October 13th, marked a big event for many Apple fans around the world. At the same time, it marked a pretty fun event for me: the Oculus Quest 2 arrived at my doorstep, and I was ready to take my first dive into the deep end of virtual reality. The experience was, as the kids put it, “all that and a bag of chips” (disclaimer: not sure if kids really put it that way).

Before getting the Quest, I had experimented with VR, but it had been a while. I played with the first version of the Oculus Rift, which didn’t have controllers back then. The experience was cool, but it simply felt gimmicky. There wasn’t enough interaction, and the field-of-view constrained me to tunnel vision. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Bills are intimidating. Startup bills can be more frightening than personal ones. SaaS services can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars a year; other fees, such as getting much-needed consultations with lawyers, can pile on fees quickly, too.

The finances and purchase decisions can become intimidating, especially since most founders (including myself) aren’t former CFOs and might have never taken an accounting class (also me during my first startup). Chances are, you also won’t have a CFO until later, too. In every direction, with every service, everyone’s trying to squeeze money out of you. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

I remember, years ago, walking through the San Antonio office of one of the world’s largest oil companies. I was staring at an ocean of cubicles. Many of them stretched from floor to ceiling. A few of them stopped at hip height. “We’re trying an open concept on this floor,” the secretary said, as he guided me to the meeting room to meet with my clients.

“No one likes it, though,” he whispered with a smirk.

As an entrepreneur straight out of college, it was my first experience in a large corporate setting, and it was just as I had imagined. At that moment, I also remember asking myself, for the first time, if I could imagine myself working in a cubicle. The idea was foreign to me. Don’t get me wrong — the office was nice. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Fundraising is tough. It’s a full-time job in itself and requires months of work. The entire process typically takes four to six months, and it all starts with the pitch deck. Throughout the process, you’ll be speaking to many different people and gaining new perspectives about the business. To get to the meaningful conversations, though, you need to align investors with your company's precise, clear vision. That’s where your pitch deck comes in.

Unfortunately, the process of raising funds for an early-stage startup isn’t entirely clear. Without knowing the best practices, your pitch deck won’t effectively advertise your business, align investors with your vision, and ultimately get them excited about what you’re building. Fortunately, through the fundraising process for our company, we’ve been lucky to have amazing guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs and our current VC investors. We’ve learned a lot, and I’m outlining some of the most common mistakes to watch out for — avoiding these mistakes will increase your likelihood of creating a captivating presentation that will get you in front of VCs. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Anchoring happens all the time. Learn to recognize it and use it to your advantage.

If you don’t know what anchoring is, I have a fun survey for you. Please only take the quiz if you don’t know what anchoring is, and only before reading the article.

Think about a chore on your to-do list but just haven’t had time to complete. Now, imagine I have a tool that can do it for you; you never have to worry about it again. It costs $500. Would you buy it? If not, what would your counteroffer be?

What I just described is a situation where I used anchoring to my advantage. While anchoring is an effective negotiation tactic, it derives from a grander tendency of human minds — we tend to build our decisions and next steps around the most recent information. When it comes to negotiation, it’s like exerting a psychological gravity, pulling your counterpart towards your way of thinking. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

COVID has pushed many US hospitals to the brink of financial collapse

It’s no secret that healthcare treatment in the United States is expensive. Drugs are costly — a Kaiser Family Fund survey published in 2019 reported that 79% of Americans considered the cost of prescription drugs to be unreasonable (the average prescription price for a single pill of a specialty drug in 2016 was $324.65, compared to $1 per pill for non-specialty medications). Out-of-pocket (OOP) costs are rising — the AHA reports that OOP expenses more than doubled from 1995 ($150B) to 2016 ($300B+). A knee replacement surgery in the US cost almost $30,000 in 2017, while it costs less than $13,000 in the UK. Overall spending on health has increased by 2.3x …


The Surface Book 3 represents the bright future of Microsoft

Disclaimer 1: I own some shares in Microsoft and Apple. Also, this is not financial advice.

Disclaimer 2: Apple reports all of its Mac sales in one category on its Annual Reports, labeled as Mac. It includes desktop sales. In this analysis, I’m assuming that Mac is mostly representative of laptop sales — who even owns an Apple desktop?

In December 2017, I took a risk by jumping ship from using Apple’s Macbook Pro to Microsoft’s Surface Book 2. Since that time, I haven’t looked back. I was delightfully surprised at how innovative the Surface Book 2 was compared with the Macbook Pro. Features-wise, Microsoft had outdone itself: it could double as a gigantic, 15" tablet. It has a beefy NVIDIA graphics card for gaming and graphics/video editing. It also has touch-screen integration so you can easily pair with digital pens. Competing against Apple, Microsoft has found a strong niche to start carving out market share: functional value. And I think that spot is going to win over a lot of future customers for Microsoft. …

About

Kenny L.

Business | Tech | Practical Startup Tips | MIT | Secure AI Labs

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store