Murray Newlands & Anthemos Georgiades[/caption] BART plus Uber allowed me to arrive early to today's meetup at Hero City in San Mateo. Organized by Startup Grind Silicon Valley, the meetup featured a fireside chat with Anthemos Georgiades, co-founder & CEO of Zumper, and Murray Newlands. Murray is an entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and adviser to the Draper Nexus Network of Things Fund.
Florian Reichling & Ashley Archibald: New Connections
Arriving early allowed me to consume my meetup meal (that's a thing) in relative comfort. With appetite satiated, it was time to get into gear. I walked over to a couple dudes chatting and kindly inserted myself into the conversation. Hell, that's what we're here for right? As is often the case in Silicon Valley, my new meetup connections also moved here from far away places. Florian Reichling (Germany) is Founder of Hunt.com. They've built a data-powered indicator that points renters in the direction of rentals they'll like best. Ashley Archibald (Brazil) works at an AdTech company and is also a member of the Wharton Alumni Angels of Silicon Valley.
Murray Newlands & Anthemos Georgiades Fireside Chat
The fireside chat with Murray and Anthemos started around 7pm and went for an hour. As I would find out, Zumper is the largest startup in the rental industry. They have raised $39.2 million in venture capital and recently completed the acquisition of apartment search platform PadMapper. Anthemos dropped knowledge and inspiration so I got out my iPhone and quickly took notes. Murray did a superb job asking open ended questions that elicited legit replies. Here are my takeaways from their fireside chat:
- It's all about momentum. Make it look like a runaway train investors have to get on before they miss it.
- Be careful what amount you seek to raise in Series A because it sets the tone on what you're valued at.
- First year was the hardest.
- Raising the seed round was pure hustle. A16Z term sheet definitely set the ball rolling.
- VC's still prefer warm intros (I hear this often).
- Crunchbase was helpful for finding investor intros early on.
- Anthemos is blown away by the altruism he sees in Silicon Valley.
- Build the relationships before you need them.
- Go out as much as possible. Meet as many people as possible. Help as much as possible.
- "Come say hi!" (I did)
- "We're pretty authentic to the problem we're solving."
- 5M users per month currently.
- They focused on liquidity (inventory) first. Took longer than expected. Building two sided marketplaces are tough.
- Hyper focused on nailing the US market. "That focus is amazing and depressing at the same time."
- There 110M renters in the US.
- 75 employees currently.
- Anthemos does three things now: Fundraising, Hiring and Retention, and Focus (set the guard rails).
- Not a technical Co-founder.
- Zumper launched at Techcrunch Disrupt 2012
- "Your competition is just your ability to focus."
- "It has taken us twice as long to get half as far (revenue-wise)."
- Self deprecating culture at Zumper.
- Press tips: Zumper did Content Marketing really early. It's still a central strategy (100+ posts per month).
- No one in press really cares about product announcements.
- "The tech press is here." (Silicon Valley)
- PR tip: Lots of members of press go to networking events.
- "Product Market Fit happens at weird junctures."
- Lots of Long Tail organic SEO content marketing.
- You gotta be delusionally optimistic in the early days. And have early employees of the same mindset.
About Hero City
Hero City at Draper University is a unique coworking space with a vibrant culture and eclectic community of bold people with world-changing ideas. It's located in tony downtown San Mateo.