Investments

I don't consider myself an active angel investor, I don't have time to do the actual work of meeting founders, reviewing decks, hypothesising about trends, or wearing Patagonia. The way I end up involved is that either I, or a friend, learn about a new product, I start using it, I contact the founder via their Intercom messenger, and start a conversation about the product. Occasionally there's something useful I can share from my experience scaling Intercom and as a result of this sometimes I am invited into the next round raised for a very small check. I have no idea if any of these will work out but I do know that I learn a lot from the connections made.


I believe that most SaaS products share similar features. When those features are 1) important 2) hard to do well and 3) not a significant opportunity to differentiate yourself, there is a market opportunity to outsource it to an expert. Algolia offers Search, as a Service.

Chromatic is a tool that automates UI feedback and visual testing. Developer time is one of the scarcest asset classes of this century, and this makes more of it available.

It took me 4-5 efforts to click with Coda. At first, I thought it was a spreadsheet, then a Quip-esque hybrid product, then a DabbleDB (RIP) type product, then it finally clicked that this was a new way to connect information in your business. It’s incredibly powerful, and has a great team and some good friends work there.

I met Jaime at WebSummit and he walked me through the Codacy plan for code analysis. He was impressive, as was the product, and the progress. Codacy behaves like the know-it-all engineer running around in the background tell people to fix their flakey code, and it costs less that an engineer’s salary!

Consider is my 3rd email investment. Email is hard. Stephen, Ben, Bob, and team did a hell of a job re-imagining email and adding ‘new-to-email’ features for the first time since Gmail. Ultimately it didn’t work out, but it was a great product achievement.

The very second you hire someone you don’t personally know, you start to wonder about how to manage their morale and engagement. The second that person grows a team, you start to think about company-wide engagement. Rather than rely on 3rd party anonymous review sites, Culture Amp lets you survey your company periodically and learn how everyone feels. It’s a great product.

Shane Curran is a smart guy tackling a big, hard, and (importantly) very boring problem. Evervault is Secure Data Storage and Authentication as a Service for software companies.

As someone who has been to a fair share of conferences, it always puzzled me why the online experience was so shit. It puzzled Johnny too, who went and built Hopin. Then Corona happened. Johnny’s been busy…

Huckleberry can deliver small business insurance in America in less than 5 minutes with a very slick & modern experience. While I’m not a target customer, which is rare for me, what stands out is the clarity of the problem and the quality of the execution.

Madkudu is lead scoring on steroids. They have a great product, and integrate with all the right players in the space, obviously including Intercom.

Manna is a very ambitious startup aiming to deliver consumer goods (initially food, medicine) via drones. Yes, drones. I’ve seen some really impressive demos, so let’s see what happens.

I spoke to Mikael quite a few times in the earlier days of ManyChat and what he has built since is incredible Both Intercom & ManyChat believe that messaging is the future of online communication, so we share a lot of the same ideas for the future. ManyChat offers Messenger marketing via FB, and do via an incredibly simple UI.

Another email-ish investment, MixMax offer the definitive plug-ins for Gmail. Many many EAs, SDRS, AEs I know are paying customers. Ultimately I think of MixMax as a platform for email shortcuts, and their target market are ‘people who do repetitive things by email’. It’s a big market.

The folks at Frontline introduced me to Colm & co. in the very early days. The problem space (design systems) is, to me, still maturing but what blew me away was the sheer pace of execution. I find it hard to invest when a company is shipping slowly, and I find it hard not to when they’re blowing me away with their output. A startup is a business designed to grow fast, after all.

In a world where all conversations are moving to messaging, then all communication is written. There will be many products and companies that will depend on their ability to extract insight from text. That’s what MonkeyLearn does.

Notion is an operating system for work. Potentially for life. What’s most unique about Notion is that they do everything (Docs, Wiki, Database, Notes, etc.) but you can’t easily see the trade-off because they’ve done everything well. When you find out how few engineers they have, you’ll be shocked.

Product teams don’t build their own mapping features, payment systems, search engines, or video calling. Instead, they use Google Maps, Stripe, Algolia, and now Daily. I suspect future communication products will all be expected to have a video chat feature and in that world, Daily will power everyone’s calls. Great team, great product.

Pipe gives SaaS companies access to their future revenue streams. This allows startups to postpone fundraising until they have the metrics they want, and lets businesses turn ROI-positive marketing spend into perpetual motion machines (until they dry up).

The “build tools for PMs” movement started around 2014/2015 and ProductBoard is clearly the stand out, ahem, product, in the area. I’ve known Hubert since 2014 when we met at a conference, and got to know ProductBoard through their Intercom integration. It’s doing great!

Miro wasn’t the first company to attempt the “why can’t whiteboards go online” problem, but with Miro he has built an incredibly complete solution. As work gets more distributed, with or with Coronavirus, the sketchy/chatty/brainstormy interaction will need a software home. Slack isn’t it, nor is email or Basecamp, or anything that doesn’t let you draw, write, and talk in real time with colleagues. Miro is that home.

Shoelace is the best way for Shopify customers to build meaningful brand and demand campaigns when they don’t have their own marketing team. With a couple of clicks you’ll have something great live and generating prospects for you. If Shopify is the e-commerce platform for our future then building products on their platform is a strong idea

Spotahome is a global marketplace for apartment renting & apartment management.

I believe in podcasts. I believe the rise of the famous podcaster will continue. I also believe in Andrew from Metalab, so when he says he’s building a new product for podcasters, I’m very much in. Supercast launched in very early 2020 and I expect big things.

My belief in “speed as a differentiator” goes something like this. There’s tool time and task time. Tool time is the annoying clicking and navigating necessary to use the tool, for example, working out how to write a project update and who to send it to. Task time is the thinking required to get the job done, for example, what is the actual project update. Superhuman has shrunk the small-but-hourly tool time of email to ~zero. And they’ve done it with a great product. Incredible.

Our future homes will be full of “internet of things” shit, and let’s be honest, most of it won’t work. Sweepr will offer you a single starting for all “something isn’t working in my house” queries. Incredibly experienced team, re-tapping a familiar space. I’m excited about their prospects.

How we buy homes needed a massive re-think. I’ve spent about 60 minutes total with Abhijeet Dwivedi, but it was immediately clear to me he has the ability to re-think something from the ground up. Zero Down makes homeownership possible in places where it’s not currently possible.

Tettra makes knowledge bases smart, and let’s companies build workflows into them.

I worked with Paul over a decade ago and found him to be an incredible auteur. Tito is a canvas he shares with his co-founder Doc and others. It’s a beautiful ticketing platform, polished to a point of near stupidity. Vito is their online community product, also about to catch fire.

My very first investment, Workable is just great recruiting software. If you’re a start-up needing to build your “We’re hiring” page, this is the product for you.

If you’re not a tech start-up, however, and need to employ folks in the more human heavy sectors (restaurants, drivers, delivery, retail, hospitality), then Workstream offers a fantastic platform for efficient & effective scaled hiring. Plus, their founder is also called Desmond.