I will keep this short and sweet but want to say that I mentioned this idea to a friend of mine when I first moved to the Bay Area in 2016 at a coffee shop. His name is Mo and told him “what if we could put tablets on the back of seats in ubers, create an app where riders can either control the media they are interacting with and then split the revenue with the drivers?”. Techcrunch.com covered this story and I am personally looking forward to the read.
He loved the idea but we quickly shifted to planning the concert series he was helping me put together and the idea was left in the dust. I’m not mad that I wasn’t the one who pursued the idea but I am glad that someone else had this vision and is bringing it to reality. I hope that Octopus is planning on doing rev-share with the drivers and creating an additional source of income in the ever growing yet low wage sector of the ‘Gig-economy’.
ID verification and management is a big and important market as we shift into the digital age at hyper speed. IDnow seems to be in good condition after executing a funding round of $40 Million to grow it’s Identity Verification-as-a-service platform. You may be asking yourself what the hell is ID verification? Here are a few use cases for Identity Verification (government issued ID in a digital format, financial services, travel, driving, and the list goes on) to prep you for the article below written by techstartups.com. Who knows what the future holds but we don’t have to carry that stupid piece of plastic with our picture (that most of us don’t like) anymore then I’m all for it.
We featured this article because if you didn’t know, data has become the leading and most valuable commodity in the world shoving oil further down the list as stated in this article by The Economist that you can read HERE.
We featured this article because Zypp is in a similar space definitely sees an opportunity in the future of data. However our philosophy is people first and we are on a mission to give people the ownership of their data as much as possible and put the user in the driver’s seat of how their personal/digital data is used. We think that if personal data is going to be sold to a company for a marketing campaign, solicit new products or a research initiative, the users themselves should have a seat at the table and get a piece of the pie aka transaction.
Arlan Hamilton is a true outlier and defines the phrase ‘one of a kind’. She has overcome more bias than one could possibly imagine in this male dominated world; especially the world of tech. I hate to lead with all the social tags we use as humans to describe people but let me paint a picture so you can envision the mountains she’s climbed to be in the position she is in. Arlan is a black-gay-woman who has taken the VC world by storm and revolutionizing finance and and the landscape for under-represented founders. If you’re not too familiar with VC and the startup scene, let me give you one stat: Black women receive around .01% of VC capital that is invested into startups every year. This is an astonishing number and one that Arlan is changing as the days pass.
If that isn’t enough, she started her journey of becoming a Venture Capitalist while being homeless in San Francisco and sleeping at the airport while taking meetings with other Venture Capitalist and making her rounds in the world hub of tech. Not surprised that Gimlet Media featured her for their season 7 of ‘The Startup’ podcast. To listen to the season, which is fascinating and produced in a cinematic and storytelling fashion by Gimlet Media, of which the 1st episode is playing above.
This event looks like a must attend with two heavy hitters in the world of tech and pioneers leading the way for women in the industry. I will definitely be in the audience to gain as many nuggets as I can and network my a$$ off. LA has a thriving tech/startup scene and events that are happening all the time that provide tons of insight and valuable connections that a lot of cities aren’t as fortunate to have. Get off your computer for a few hours and get in the scene. AND, you can’t beat FREE food! RSVP Here
So a quick disclaimer about Afrotech, I actually never made it to the conference but I did make it to a dinner that my friend from Blavity (the parent company of Afrotech) invited me to and it was a great experience. I also made my way to some of the surrounding events and festivities around the conference which was fun and gave me a chance to meet some great people. I have to say that I’m impressed to see this conference that launched in 2016 with about 600 attendees grow to about 6000 in just a 3 year span.
If you don’t know about Afrotech or didn’t assume from the name that it had something to do with black people and technology then you would have been correct. In fact it’s the largest tech convention for people of color in the country. Now before you jump to conclusions and think of how that could come off as exclusionary or biased let me provide a few stats from an article I read by Crunchbase:
77.1 percent of founders were white—regardless of gender and education.
Just one percent of venture-backed founders were black.
Women-funded startups received only 9 percent of investments.
Latino founders made up 1.8 percent of those receiving funding, while Middle Easterners totaled 2.8 percent.
What Afrotech represents to me as a POC in tech is a community of willing and able people that have and will continue to be overlooked taking the bull by the horns and creating opportunity for themselves in a very ‘good oh boys’ industry.
The event had a lot of substance, was diverse within industry which displayed in the panels and had plenty to offer entrepreneurs, techies and attendees of the conference. Most of the household tech companies we’re all familiar with also play a role by either having reps speak on a panel or throw a pop-up event at their own at their HQ for convention goers to explore. Below are a few of the notable speakers from this years conference:
Delane Parnell – Founder & CEO @ PlayVS
Angelica Nwandu – Founder @ The Shade Room
Charlamagne Tha God – TV & Media Personality
John Zimmer – Co-Founder & President @ Lyft
Angela Rye – CEO & Principle @ IMPACT Strategies
Hannibal Burress – Comedian, Writer, Podcast Host, Actor
If you haven’t had a chance to see anything from the conference, here is a quick recap of the 2018 conference as there isn’t much quality footage that I could find online.
A conversation between James Clear and Cal Newport about Digital Minimalism, Deep Work and Habit Creation. James is the author of ‘Atomic Habits’ and entrepreneur while Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown.
Calling all brands and influecers! Zypp is partnering with 100 brands for our ‘Private Beta’ launching Jan 1, 2020. We will be accepting inquiries for this through the first quarter of next year. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT!
What is Zypp:
Zypp is a MobilePage to organize your digital life. Think of Zypp as a cross between a website that doesn’t need a domain and social media that you can customize and add features to. Building your page is simply done by adding plugins for things like contact info, blog, mobile store, events, calendar, and much more. BUT in order to figure out which plugins to build first WE NEED YOUR HELP.
What does the Private Beta entail?:
Zypp is partnering with 100 brands to figure out the best ways to use this amazing platform and in return they will receive a FREE credit of $10.00 for each user within the company for life. We could just build a bunch of integrations that we THINK people want to use OR we can work with your brand to figure out the best plugins that add value to your business, staff and work flow to ultimately make your company more efficient and profitable.
We are currently signing partnerships with companies in the hospitality space including (nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and event companies), Startups, VC’s, Accelerators, Coworking spaces and influencers who have a notable following.
‘The Legal Standard’ in my opinion is making sure that you structure your company in alignment with your industry and stick to the basics. For me that was setting up Zypp (my app) to be able to receive investment from a VC (Venture Capital) firm in the case we pursued that route. Silicon Valley investments in startups are usually done via convertible notes or a SAFE (see article below for more information on both).
Having the wrong legal structure can result in heavy delays while raising capital in order to get the right documentation executed or may lose you the investment completely. As a founder, it’s important to do your due diligence so you don’t look like an amatuer to investors or more importantly so you’re able to recognize the difference between a good and bad deal. After a long process, Zypp ultimately went with a convertible note while raising our friends and family round and I feel confident we’re set up for more successful raises in the future. Many thanks to our lawyer Lindsey for getting us on track and gracing the cover of our inaugural newsletter called RSVP. Lindsey is a partner at Smith Shapourian Mignano, a women and minority-owned boutique law firm in San Francisco, representing startups and small businesses. Lindsey took a very engaged and roll up the sleeves approach while restructuring Zypp to match ‘The Legal Standard’ that many of today’s successful startups use.
Issued Convertible notes instead of stock agreements
Formed Ambassador Agreements
Terms of Service
Trademark (consulted me on how to go about this myself and worked out great)
There are many more factors that go into company structure that we won’t discuss today but here’s an outline of a few I’ve learned along the way (tax implications, number of shareholders you can have, cliffs, vesting terms, number of shares to start with, common stock vs preferred stock, etc) all of which you should be aware of. As a founder, it’s your job to familiarize yourself with as much industry jargon as possible.
How to get your legal in order
Before you say “I’ll just do it myself on Legalzoom” keep reading below for a few of my ‘DIY’ (Do It Yourself) tips. I tried that approach early on and it failed me miserably.
Drafting quick agreements like an LOI (letter of intent usually not binding) or a simple operating agreement with no more than a few owners
Registering a company as a sole proprietor
Researching legal terms
Getting a free consultation from a legalzoom certified lawyer
Hiring a lawyer online: Why and How-to
You don’t have a lawyer in your network and online is your only option
DIY isn’t an option because the structure you need is too complicated
Read all their reviews AND contact a couple previous/current clients
Find a lawyer that is hyper focused on your industry and has a track-record to prove so
Your budget conscious; online has more options so prices can be cheaper
Legalucy.com is a good site that walks you through figuring out the legal help you need
Ask a friend: This is what worked for me
I was very lucky to have a lawyer friend in San Francisco who gave me the referral to Lindsey which ended up working very well. The reason it was a good fit is because her firm targets ‘startups and small businesses’ so she knew exactly what I needed and how to get it done. Side note; stay away from lawyers who say theydo it all. Lindsey has no problem referring me to someone in her network if I am needing financial assistance, questions about valuation or anything else that doesn’t fall in her wheelhouse.
Find a lawyer with a laser focus on the industry/niche that aligns with your market. If you look at how fast legislation changes you would know it’s impossible for any lawyer to know it all.
Ask a friend that’s already in the industry you’re entering for a referral to a good lawyer in the space.
Your lawyer should listen to your needs and propose the best options. If they ask what you want to do without providing a definitive solution then RUN. In my experience, there is always “The Legal Standard” to do paperwork and your lawyer should know what that is OR they are just going to waste your time and money.
Remember it is ALWAYS your job as the captain of the ship to research, educate yourself and understand what you’re signing off on as owning a business comes with a lot of responsibility, especially when you take other people’s money.