Good Startups

Freedom of Thought, Bottom-Up Pricing

“We’re making the world a better place.”

Said every single startup. Ever.

But, some of them actually are.

Companies like DermTech.

From their website:

There’s a reason doctors had to cut your skin to test for melanoma. We didn’t have another way. Now, thanks to this smart sticker, we do.

An adhesive painlessly lifts skin cells off your mole — no need for a scalpel. The sticker is pressed on the mole, then quickly lifted off, carrying your skin’s RNA material with it.

Instead of getting shanked by a dermatologist, you can collect a skin sample via DermTech’s proprietary smart sticker, send it in for testing, and voila—get your results minus the scars.

I’ve lost a couple of family members to cancer, so I can’t wait until we crack this problem.

Another company that’s advancing humanity is AppHarvest.

AppHarvest is an applied technology company building some of the world’s largest indoor farms in Appalachia. The Company combines conventional agricultural techniques with cutting-edge technology and is addressing key issues including improving access for all to nutritious food, farming more sustainably, building a home-grown food supply, and increasing investment in Appalachia. The Company’s 60-acre Morehead, KY facility is among the largest indoor farms in the U.S.

Some stats to consider:

  • 32% of all fresh vegetables and 69% of all fresh vine crops sold in the U.S. are imported.

  • 70% of our freshwater is dedicated to agriculture.

  • The U.N. projects the need for our food supplies to increase 50% by 2050.

Innovation is our only way out of these challenges, and AppHarvest is stepping up with its massive indoor farming facilities.

Their first facility is the size of 50 football fields. Next to it, you’ll find a 10-acre rainwater retention pond capturing water from the roof and filtering it before it is recycled throughout the facility. This process allows AppHarvest to use 90% water than out-door farming.

If you’re a capitalist with a kind heart, consider investing in either of these companies. They’re both trading in the public markets. Stock Tickers: DMTK and APPH.

Disclosure: I’m a DMTK shareholder.

Speaking the Truth

I can’t think of anything more valuable than the diversity of thought. More and more, I see people trying to censor and silence others who hold different opinions. This is especially scary because I was born in Iran and experienced life under a dictatorship. For all the problems we have in America, most of us have no idea how good we have it. We need to protect freedom of speech at all costs.

This article juxtaposes a brief story of Frederick Douglass and the current movement across college campuses to stifle free speech.

Frederick Douglass, who escaped enslavement and became one of the most famous abolition orators in American history, made his living from speeches. But few know of his principled defense of free speech itself. Given the hostility to open expression on campuses today, American colleges and universities could benefit from learning why Douglass saw free speech as “the great moral renovator of society and government.”

Douglass had to fight for his freedom in a hostile environment. His opposition censored the mail of abolition publications. They assaulted speakers that stood for emancipation and banned slaves from learning to read.

Censorship is seldom the solution, and I can’t think of a better place to promote diversity of opinions than college.

We need to be more open-minded.

We should build more and cancel less.

Bottoms-Up Pricing

You’ve no doubt been a part of (or impacted by) your companies pricing strategy.

When I was working at Intercom, we changed our pricing three times in a span of 18 months. We had tens of thousands of customers and hundreds of millions in annual recurring revenue. Each pricing decision had severe implications. Were we leaving too much money on the table? Were we going to piss off existing customers?

I’m now going through the same thing at Teleport. We’re much smaller, so it’s easier to pivot if we get things wrong, but that doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t just as high. The last time we changed our pricing, I got pinged by multiple sales reps complaining that I had killed some of their active deals because they had set different expectations with customers.

If you’re interested in a deep-dive on pricing strategy, I can’t think of a better resource than Bottom Up Pricing & Packaging: Let the User Journey Be Your Guide.

The Work-Life Fallacy

Earlier this week, I published The Work-Life Fallacy.

I feel tremendously lucky to be in a position where my work doesn’t feel like work. I get my ass kicked daily, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I also know what it’s like to despise your job. Before I got into sales, I was an assistant in Hollywood, similar to Lloyd from Entourage. 

If you’re interested in hearing more about my experience, you can read the full article here.

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