What I Read This Week (28.07.19)

Overcoming challenges as a black founder to create Calendly, a profitable, fast-growing start-up

Eventually, I ran out of money and started to seek VC funding. I had a working product, and customers using it, and everyone said no. Meanwhile, I watched other people who fit a different “profile” get money thrown at them for shitty ideas…The only thing I could attribute it to was that I was black…The whole experience made me hate raising money. But it forced me to become resourceful, scrappy, and maniacally focused. I learned how to stretch each dollar. Today, I’m very grateful. The business is approaching $30 million in recurring revenue, and growing more than 100 percent year-over-year. It’s been profitable since 2016. And I’m the majority owner.< Calendly founder Tope Awotona>

If you want to learn more about the story of Calendly, here are some recommended resources:

How reading the financial statements helped uncover a fraud ***(Highly Recommended)

I decided to start by figuring out where was all the free cash flow going. When a company reports earnings on the income statement, the idea is that over a period of time they are supposed to represent free cash flow. Sure, there can be temporary timing differences that would account for why earnings can be higher or lower than free cash flow. However, over a number of years, unless the company needed to invest heavily to support its growth, the two shouldn’t be very far apart.

Why be a trustworthy business? 

Betrayals of trust have major financial consequences. In 2018 the Economist studied eight of the largest recent business scandals, comparing the companies involved with their peer groups, and found that they had forfeited significant amounts of value. The median firm was worth 30% less than it would have been valued had it not experienced a scandal…our need to trust and be trusted has a very real economic impact. More than that, it deeply affects the fabric of society. If we can’t trust other people, we’ll avoid interacting with them, which will make it hard to build anything, solve problems, or innovate. Building trust isn’t glamorous or easy. And at times it involves making complex decisions and difficult trade-offs.

The marvel that is an Amazon Go shop

From a technological perspective, the Go stores are a marvel—a succinct demonstration of Amazon.com Inc.’s capacity to devote vast resources toward applying the state of the art in artificial intelligence to an everyday problem. …Scores of cameras pointed at all angles hang from the ceilings to track shoppers as they wander the aisles, while precise scales embedded in the shelves tabulate products down to the gram to figure out which ones have been picked up. Behind the scenes, sophisticated image recognition algorithms decide who took what—with Amazon workers in offices available to review footage to ensure shoppers are accurately charged. Each store also has a local staff on hand to help people download the Go app, restock shelves, and, in locations with a liquor section, check IDs

Looking for somewhere to invest? Check out the cold storage industry

Cold storage development isn’t keeping up with current demand, let alone the growth that is projected. Many facilities were built several decades ago and are closing because they’re obsolete or are being repurposed into apartments or offices, especially near thriving urban cores. Demand for public cold space from online grocery sales alone will grow by up to 100 million square feet, or about 50% of the current inventory, over the next five years, according to CBRE. That’s equivalent to about 200 regional malls’ worth of space.”

Fun Fact:

There are now upward of 700,000 podcasts, according to the podcast production and hosting service Blubrry, with between 2,000 and 3,000 new shows launching each month…between March and May of this year, only 19.3 percent of existing podcasts introduced a new episode, according to Blubrry

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