The First 100 | How Founders Acquired their First 100 Customers | Product-Market Fit

[Raised $1.1 Billion] Ep.83 - The First 100 with Amol Sarva, Serial Entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Mobile USA, Peek, Halo Neuroscience, Knotable, Knotel, and LifeX Ventures

July 20, 2023 Amol Sarva Season 2 Episode 48
The First 100 | How Founders Acquired their First 100 Customers | Product-Market Fit
[Raised $1.1 Billion] Ep.83 - The First 100 with Amol Sarva, Serial Entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Mobile USA, Peek, Halo Neuroscience, Knotable, Knotel, and LifeX Ventures
Show Notes Transcript

Amol Sarva is a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and mentor at 70+ companies; He has co-founded several startups, including Virgin Mobile USA, Peek, Halo Neuroscience, Knotable, Knotel, and he has developed and taught the course "Venturing to Change the World" at Columbia University. 

He entered the Museum of Failure with a crazy gadget called Peek. Now he spends his time with amazing new things like Aikito and CornerUp, investing in climate and longevity through LifeX ventures. He has raised to date a combined $1.1 billion.

You can find Amol at
Personal website:

You can find LifeX Ventures

If you like our podcast, please don't forget to subscribe and support us on your favorite podcast players. We also would appreciate your feedback and rating to reach more people.

We recently launched our new newsletter, Principles Friday, where I share one principle that can help you in your life or business, one thought-provoking question, and one call to action toward that principle.

Please subscribe Here.

It is Free and Short (2min).

Let's do it. Broadcasting from around the world. You're listening to the first 100. A podcast on how founders acquired their first 100 paying customers. Here's your host, Hadi Rodwan. Good to have you on the show Amol, how are you doing today? It's a pleasure to be with you. Thank you for joining our podcast. I'll do a quick introduction for our listeners. My guest today is Amol Sarva. He's a serial entrepreneur, advisor, mentor for more than 70 plus companies. He co-founded several startups, including Virgin, Mobile USA, Peak, Halo Neuroscience, Notable, Nottel and... He has developed and taught also courses in Columbia University. I think I came into contact with one of your companies three years ago, which is Halo. I bought this machine on my head. I've put it and my wife was saying, what are you trying to achieve? You're already 35. You're not going to improve in any sports. And then I was researching and I came to realize now that you're the founder of it, which is amazing. And now you're running. LifeX Ventures which is also a VC that's investing in startups that extending life. And I'd like to touch base on this because I'm a hacker, a biohacker myself. I try to do a lot of things to see how I could extend my mortality and reduce my morbidity. Coming from the insurance industry, these are terms that are very common. And my purpose in life is if I want to go out, I want to make sure to go out quickly. and with less morbidity risk as possible. You've raised to date more than $1.1 billion, which is amazing. So a very eventful career so far, before we dive deeper into all of these startups, did Yong Amol exhibit any flashes of entrepreneurship early on? Yeah, I was printing money in the seventh grade. I got my first computer and my first color printer and... some friends in middle school and I created a new kind of currency that had an incredible inflationary cycle where it was like the most sought after thing and then suddenly it was in plentiful supply and then it crashed, I think like many cryptos. But yeah, I've always been quite interested in new things with commercial potential that might have some kind of impact on the world around us. I was really into... hydrogen fuel cars When I was a kid too, I thought it was just the most amazing thing and totally inevitable and someday someone would make it and it wouldn't be that long and I Don't know. We're getting closer to that moment now. I think we will have green hydrogen energy But yeah, that's funny to start by asking that question. Thank you, Hattie. It's really fun to be on the program with you Thank you. You have a very unique personality. You're a fierce competitor. What do you think has shaped? your personality? Any early events that could be associated? Oh, yeah, I mean competitor, huh? Yeah, I mean, I guess why? You know, I'm the oldest of three brothers, maybe that's kind of like a stereotypical thing to say about feeling some kind of drive and some rivalry. We're very close, the three of us, but maybe the first real big time I felt like the taste of competition, you know, it was also in middle school. I was on the debate team. And we were kind of good. I don't know, we sort of went far in our district and we had this kind of the glory of getting some recognition as we were moving through and that really motivated me. It was, it's a very intellectual activity and I was always a good student, but by being a good student, there was not any kind of prize and it was sort of the opposite. People kind of resented you. But in high school, I went on to the debate team too and it was really a thrill to compete and just like outsmart the competition and. get these cool trophies and be on stage for it and the recognition and it was really a thrill. But it did require a lot of hard work, not just sort of natural whatever talent. And it was a real motivator to like start building advantage and just really working hard. And that really created a drive for me. But you can have a drive like that without this like taste for competition, I guess. And I have always had this taste for a good fight. That's amazing. What do you think is the intersection between philosophy and business? Cause you've done both. Yeah. It's an interesting curve that we're on here. Cause it was through my passion for competing in debate that I started finding these kind of technical arguments that maybe a lot of other people didn't want to wade into. And a lot of them were like theoretical, philosophical kinds of arguments. And, um, I found I was really interested in the field. It was a really abstract field. And. That's what I studied as an undergraduate when I was at Columbia. And I even joined the philosophy department to do a PhD at Stanford. And there I was like getting into like philosophy of mind and cognitive science and computer science and yeah, philosophy is just an awesome field because it's so completely unstructured and it really is about like finding where you can get some traction, what things you know, what things you don't know, how can logic give you some kind of boundaries. And it is a set of skills that helps you figure out basically any topic. Every department in the university was created because first it was like a curious little puzzle in the philosophy department. I mean, even the hard sciences like biology were used to be called natural philosophy, you know? And as recently in this last 50 years fields like psychology and cognitive science, they used to be just philosophers talking about computer science or cognitive science or psychology and now they're entire departments. And that initial spade work when you notice some kind of wrinkle in the universe and you've got to figure out, hmm, is this any different from other things? It's very similar to the work that I do in finding opportunities in entrepreneurship. You sort of look for some kind of wrinkle and you won't usually be able to just apply a recipe that just comes from some other area. You have to understand its dynamics, find out what really makes it tick. You have to be able to absorb both very abstract and also very detailed information to make a judgment about how you might make it all work. And so I really do think entrepreneurship has a lot to do with the way we develop hypotheses and theories and then test them and validate them. The whole school of entrepreneurship, which is this kind of agile customer development, lean kind of culture around startups, it has a lot to do with how science works. It's about developing a theory and testing it and revising it and revising it until you find product market fit, I guess, in the case of many startups. Absolutely. That's very helpful. If we segue a little bit to the cognitive science, which is Halo, which was one of your startups, I think it was more of a B2C play. Take us back to that time. How did the idea come and what were your early acquisition strategies to convince people to say like, this is something that you should have it and eventually people bought it? When we started Halo, I was maybe 10 or 12 years into my entrepreneurial career. I'd already had this one really huge success, which was Virgin Mobile. We built a mobile phone business, became the fifth largest in America, tens of millions of customers, went public. And then I had done a startup, another one, a smartphone company, where we built one of the first smartphones, sold it all around the world. And I was thinking after that company was acquired by Softbank about a new area that I might want to work on instead of repeating. I'm always kind of on the hunt for a new theme. Back in my academic work, I had learned about this interesting technology around neurostimulation, the Halo neuroscience product. was a device that would do neuro stimulation to the motor cortex, which is on the top of your skull pretty much, and improve physical performance, run faster, jump higher, shoot more accurately for elite athletes, for the military. And it was a pretty sci-fi technology. Even when we tell people about it today, 10 years later, folks are just like, whoa, I can't believe it. I can't believe it really works. So we were really at the bleeding edge. And so when we introduced the product, we thought, well, It needs to have a very pragmatic value to people. It's got to be helpful. Not just like, eh, I kind of feel better, maybe, not really sure, but like, wow, did something for me because they're taking an information leap. Or kind of they're moving through some kind of mysterious territory. And there has to be a reason for doing that. The first hundred users for Halo were biohackers, people that were just crazy enthusiasts about like, what is the cutting edge, elite athletes. folks, Olympic teams, professional tennis players, and military. So, I mean, these are three communities that are just like incredibly motivated, looking for, ready to try, and have a real big payoff if they can improve their performance. And so we approached them just one by one by one. It was basically like a B2B sale where we approached these organizations, showed them the science, showed them our results, let them have a try, and then they would buy five, they would buy 10, and they would use the product. Amazing. So you did a lot of non-scalable tactics early on. How did that change later once you proved product market fit? Did you engage in more guerrilla marketing or tactical strategies that you could share with us? Yeah, I mean, the first customers were so high profile and so high standards, they were so demanding that as we started having case studies from professional football players and famous musicians, people that had other... physical tasks that were these really complex and important learning tasks or performance tasks, that became the marketing. And so we would start then amplifying that through press. The press was excited to talk about this cutting edge technology being used by this Olympic athlete or this champion. And I think that's probably how you came to learn about it. You read about it in MIT tech review or Wired or something like that. And you thought, whoa, I got to try this thing. And the next wave of intense enthusiasts and maybe not professional athletes, but serious athletes or serious fitness or biohackers started coming on board. Is there any specific learnings that you took to your next startup that you said, okay, we've tried this in Halo, it didn't work, I'm not going to do it again, especially I'm focusing on acquisition of clients or customers? Well, in the case of Halo, we were always sort of balancing, is the company a medical product or is it a physical performance enhanced performance product? And there were times where we had a medical mindset with the product, even though it was already very safe and it had a really clear performance benefit. But we were thinking, oh, maybe we should really like be scientists and we shouldn't say all these exciting things. I mean, you can buy a pair of sneakers and it can tell you, oh, you're going to run faster like these, this latest generation of these vapor fly from Nike. People are out there talking about them as incredible and miraculous tools. We were a bit cautious, we were a bit sciencey, we were a bit nerdy, I think. And when I think about really how to capture people's imagination, you're probably limiting your market if you stay very sciencey. Correct. How does early acquisition strategies differ between a B2C company like Halo, Peak or Not if I categorize those correctly, and B2B companies like Notep? The first few customers, you got to really understand them. I think in both cases, I think in the story of any B2C company, if you go early enough, it looks like B2B. It's just, if you're doing sales, whether it's B2C or B2B, if you're spending time, energy, attention as the founder or as the early team with customers, one by one by one, I think there's a lot of commonality there. And I think even before you're doing sales, you're doing something like customer development or product development, where an intimate understanding of the... of the problem that your user has is so important. I mean, a lot of the great companies were created because I, the founder, have an intimate knowledge of a big problem that other people also have, whether I know that or not. And because I have this intimate knowledge and also the capability to build a solution for myself, maybe I get lucky and it turns out a lot of other people around me have the same problem and the solution I made is valuable. And it's sort of hard to bottle that magic, that kind of good fortune of. sitting in that place at that time, you know, you're like Bill Gates in the computer lab and high school in Seattle back in the 70s, but approximating that ability of having some kind of intimate knowledge of a really big problem and being able to create a solution for it, I think is something that they have in common. But of course you change paths pretty quickly once you figure out what kind of sale it is. I mean, B2B and B2C are very different. In B2C, your sales has to turn into marketing. It has to turn into something where there is. a very dense and specific package of information that will convert an individual user. It's not an hour long meeting with someone, but they're like, oh yeah, I heard about Halo. I saw this article. There it is on sale at Amazon. Why don't I just buy it? To be able to get that efficiency of conversion is very important in B2C stuff. B2B land, it has certain numbers and metrics as well, but it doesn't have to turn into like an impulse buy, right? If we go to Nottel now and we think about your early acquisition strategy, how did you land your first few tenants? How did you make sure that there's an attractive offer for them to join Nottel as a flexible working space? Yeah, so Nottel, we started right at the end of December 2015. It was around the time that coworking was becoming a big thing. WeWork was on the radar in venture land. WeWork wasn't even the first coworking company. There was a company in New York, you know, maybe 10 years before that, that had... coined the term of co-working. And somewhere in the years after that, we started making it much more famous. We had noticed that when I looked at it, I thought, wow, it's kind of something that startups have always been doing. You share space with other people. You're on the first day, you're one person, maybe at some point you're five, and then you're 10, and then you're seven again, and then you're 15. And often back in those days, maybe I'd take an office and share it with some other people, or maybe I'd put my company at somebody else's place. Even all the way back when we were starting Virgin Mobile, we were just sharing it with somebody, like some accounting firm. We had three or four desks at some accounting firm. So this idea of like sharing space with people has been around, but formalizing that and seeing how that could be a tool that would really change the way all offices work. Like if you could use the internet to better organize the resource, the space, and figure out who's there, not there, when are you coming, what are you paying, all that. you could probably make it a much more liquid and fluid environment. I don't have to just be lucky and know you, Hathi, I'm coming to London. Can I use what death? Maybe I can have a platform that does the discovery. And so that was the idea. But by the time that we shaped it as an idea, I looked around my office and we were already doing it. We had a floor of a building. My company had five, ten people, but there were 30 or 40 other people there from several other companies. And people had already been coming to me for years saying. Oh, have you got some space? I'm just getting started. I need to put something. And then that friend's company would grow a bit and then they would move on and take out a space somewhere else. And then somebody knew would come in. So we'd already been doing it. And so maybe this fits the model I was giving you of working in an area, having a very clear personal understanding of why there is a problem, having solved it in a certain way myself, and then having noticed a technology tool that might help the whole thing start scaling and getting bigger. And so once we decided to call it Notel and just launch it as a business. You know, there was quite a lot of backlog in relationship and I'd been working in the startup field already for quite some time. I knew lots of people and I just told them, here's what I'm doing. If you run a company, you probably are going to need some space to do something when you need it. Let me know because you don't want to sign a long-term lease. You don't want to do construction and build a whole new office for yourself. You just want to pay a number for two months, 10 months, 11 months, make it bigger, smaller as you go. We can do that for you. Everybody understood right away what that was. And. know, some proportion of them were in the market at a given time. And so every week, somebody would call me up and then we would arrange it for them. And the business just grew really fast. And that first year we went from just one floor of a building and maybe a hundred thousand of annualized revenue from those companies to 10 million. So that first year we grew a lot. Stig Brodersen Amazing gross, amazing gross. If you were to look back at your early acquisition tactics beyond just your backlog and your maybe acquaintances, were there any unexpected or unconventional tactics that you got a few tenants and that wasn't expected but it turned out to be successful? If so, do you have any stories? Well, I mean the beachhead was being vocal about what we were doing to help our community of other startups, which originally was in the New York City startup ecosystem. And we're like, hey, we have a service that I think all of you need because we've been there with you. And so creating a level of community around that and reinforcing them. So we would host events and dinners and talks, and we would just provide advice to other founders about whatever else was on their mind. And there was a really strong community building theme and it was us against them. So it was us, the founders who are already startup founders and challenges against big companies. And it was us against the old fashioned and really annoying, slow moving real estate market, which is just an obstacle. You need to build your team, focus on your business. And now I got to go negotiate with some landlords. And so. early on that kind of community building and this us against them was very important. But the startup market is relatively small if you're in the world of real estate and commercial real estate and offices. So the breakout to the next step that involved taking that challenger position that we're here to change this industry. We want to challenge the way it works and becoming really vocal about it and picking and pointing out an enemy. The convenient enemy for us was WeWork. So WeWork was a... big and talking a lot and making all this noise and starting to have a reputation for a really, I guess, you know, people called it a bro-y culture. There were parties and all this stuff. And we thought, well, this is perfect. This is a perfect place to create a contrast. What they're doing is they're turning the concept of flexible office into some kind of frat house. And it seems like nonsense. It doesn't seem serious. The real estate community is sort of frowning on it. As a you look like an amateur, like you're not serious, there's something wrong with you. And so what we did is we took a really strong position against them and we said, if you're in coworking, you are an amateur. We parked school buses in front of their locations, including in front of their headquarter, and said, graduate from coworking, come to Notel, graduate, it's time to get out of school and come and be a real professional and do something real. And that was a visible thing. It really irritated Adam Newman and some of the management there. just created a lot of impact. It was very asymmetric, I guess. And so that kind of idea. And I learned that when I was back at Virgin when we were, I mean, cause like Richard Branson was really involved when they made the investment and we were building the business. That is the ethos of the Virgin brands. And Richard would really personalize it. So Virgin is always a challenger brand. Virgin is never like an establishment or incumbent brand. They show up and say, this doesn't make sense. We should do it a different way. Let's change everything. Come on, we're a challenger. And then Richard would show up and very personally do that. And so for that period, when I was leading the charge for Notel, I was like the personal embodiment of somebody who's a challenger, not like a total misfit to the real estate world, but someone who comes from this community that thinks differently and is building it differently. And so I really tried to speak for and personify this challenger position in the real estate world at that time, you know, and it worked really great for us. I mean, we reached almost half a billion in revenue in four years. So the business just like was fine. Thank you for sharing that story. I think everyone who has read the news, read that at a point in time, Nottell filed for bankruptcy and it was sold. If you had a magic ball and you knew that the pandemic is going to come, what would you have done differently to avoid being in a difficult financial situation? Oh yeah, I mean like the recipe of things that challenged us, right? So... COVID was extremely difficult for a business where the product was offices and all the offices were shut. So that was challenging. About a month after the vaccine was introduced and was starting to get deployed around the US and Europe, around the world, one of the investors in our company decided that this was the perfect time to try to buy our company. They saw very clearly that we had just had a year where no one was paying us anything for the space that I'd already signed contracts for. and that we were very delicately tiptoeing and hopefully going to get through to the other side of the market. And these guys decided this is the perfect moment to attack. And they did a bunch of, in public companies this happens all the time, these like hostile takeover kind of things and there's famous ones over the years. Basically, that's what happened. So they acquired our debt and then they made an offer to the company and the investors that we quote unquote couldn't refuse. And their offer was. we're gonna buy your company, we're gonna crush all the other equity investors here, we're gonna force you to file for restructuring and do a chapter 11 so that anybody else that you owe money to won't get paid. And then on the other side, we're gonna buy the company and then operate it. And they run it today, I mean, the hotel is there and they're trying to like make it do something. So it was a really, I don't know, learning experience, I guess, like a very rich new experience that I had never had before where somebody buys a $2 billion company for $200 million and that's in the middle of the pandemic and all this Wall Street stuff. So that was the experience. Now, what did I learn from it? A lot of things. What would I do differently if I had the magic wand? If I knew all that stuff was gonna happen, I mean, I did everything differently. I would have had different investors, the folks I should never have had those people involved, the ones that did that. And certainly like if I knew COVID was gonna happen in March, 2020, we were at our all time high. We had just passed every record at the end of 2019. We were like heading for the first full quarter of cashflow positive in Q2, Q3 of 2020. We had been already reducing a lot of expenses and revenue was starting to really peak. We had slowed down overall growth though. Like we had stopped acquiring new properties. And this is all in like January 2020 before COVID. But then when we get to the moment of COVID, the existing base of customers pretty much stopped paying. And so revenue goes from hundreds of millions to like, we're not sure if anyone's going to pay this month. And so, and that like for a lot of those customers that they just. for the rest of it, they never pay it again. They just disappear. It is an extraordinary experience. In bigger real estate owner kind of companies, folks had experiences like that too. Even some of the largest companies in the world, big giant public companies seem to stop paying rent, at least for some amount of time. However, if you own a building and then the federal governments and all around the world created these like loan packages and stuff like that, there was a lot of relief that flowed in to the hard real estate industry. where people were able to sit it out for six months, not so easy for the model that we had. Our model, we didn't have mortgages, we didn't have debt that we could get relief on and that same kind of structure. It was very difficult. So I don't know exactly how to redesign the business to survive when no one pays you for a year, except just don't do that business when COVID happens. We would have had to have practically different approach going in. But really the reason we got killed is... that specific chain of events that I mentioned happening in the month after the vaccine. Because there's a few other coworking players and they managed to survive. Like WeWork is there. There's a couple other coworking players that did some kind of deal with another giant company where they sold half the company to someone and they're still sort of there. But it's permanent damage to the flexible office category. It's as if somewhere back in 2007, Amazon went offline for a year. Amazon would not be the dominant super giant today if they had gone offline for a year back in 2007, because maybe Walmart would have had their chance to just do their thing. That is what has happened in the world of commercial real estate. Flexible office as a concept is widely prevalent. Every big real estate owner and landlord has it as one of the flavors or the features in their portfolio. You can phone up some of the biggest landlords in the world and say, hey, I'm a tech company. I need a flexible term. I only want to commit to three months. Can I change every virtually everybody has an option for you know, and, um, I don't think there's the opportunity, unfortunately, for someone to build a new giant post COVID because there's such a fragmented universe of all these little products that are out there. So it's a real like traumatic event. The flexible product office product is out there. So it's in the wild. We're never going to go back. But I think the next generation of ideas is interesting to me. All these landlords were doing stuff. Well, they need tools. All these companies that need a different kind of set up now post-COVID, they're not going back to their normal office. They also need tools. So we're into the next chapter. And I think there's a lot of opportunity. Amazing. Thank you for sharing transparently your story. You mentioned that it's important to find the right partners. You're now in the VC space as well. It is hard, though, for entrepreneurs and founders when they don't have leverage, they need funding to just select the partner that is going to give them money. Is there any red flags you would advise founders to look at when they're selecting partners? Anything that you remember from your experience that you could have avoided? Well, there is a set of practices and customs that are the norm in, let's say, Silicon Valley, like in real venture capital land. And I think these practices and customs have developed over the last 50 years for very good reasons. The world of entrepreneurship pretty challenging. A lot of companies are going to fail. Founders go in knowing that it might not work out most of the time, but maybe one out of a hundred or ten out of a hundred are going to end up being big companies. It's going to be a repeat game. Many founders will try again, different idea, different idea. The investors know that on the other side and there is a level of professionalism in understanding that and in the way that we'll work together now, again in the future, again in the future. And then sometimes even a founder who might build a huge company ends up being an investor and is a... There are a bunch of these practices and customs and not all of it is written down and in the formal documents Some of it is in the behaviors and they've developed for a very good reason for creating this kind of vibrant ecosystem I think if you're asking when you're vetting an investor, what should you check on? Well, I think it'd be a very good idea to make sure that you're not getting like a corporate raider on your cap table in the guise of like a friendly strategic or something like that because even when as a founder you're trying to raise financing and you are desperate to do it, you really need to do it. Doing a deal with a devil is just delaying the final crisis. It's just not worth doing. And so you really do need to think about it. And those are two extremes, right? So like the founder friendly, very savvy, the long-term relationship, the repeat players in the ecosystem, the classic Silicon Valley folks, yeah, those folks, they have an understanding of how it works. On the opposite extreme, you have these really dangerous folks that are looking for exploiting an opportunity. folks who are investing a little bit today so they can wait for the moment where they can take control or ruin the business and just buy it for pennies. Maybe that's the opposite extreme. But across the spectrum, I mean, sophistication and knowledge about how to build companies is really important and it's very rare. So for us as investors with Lifex, I mean, it's one of the main things that we think we have to offer. We've worked with so many different companies as investors and advisors. We've built so much. from zero to one to 10 to hundreds of millions in revenue. And many of the things that you as a founder are gonna face, we've been there, whether it's the disaster of running out of money, losing a huge customer, losing some talent, or the very tough judgments you have to make about strategy, how to get the right people on the team, how to organize them, manage them, how do I win that huge account? What's the right time to launch a new market? What are the terms of this financing that we wanna follow? I mean, to be able to provide that kind of companionship to CEOs, I think is also a pretty rare commodity. And I've done it in the seat as a CEO myself, from the very early stages to the big scale. I've done it as a partner to other companies. And I think that's what people should be looking for, that there are lots of investors who are pure investors. They came from finance or maybe consulting, and they ended up as investors, but they've never run a company. And I think that's a different thing. It is a different thing. Why are you excited about life extensions? The topic we're working on with Life Extension is about the intersection of AI, computing, data, software, models, networks. It's the intersection of software with an area that's about to be incredibly tech-driven and software-driven. And that has happened again and again over the last 30 years. You know, it was like... the advent of personal computing and then everything got connected to each other. And then retail went digital and media went digital, entertainment, advertising, went digital. In real estate went digital in my case, or mobile telecom went digital. There are still some big industries that are mostly offline and the biggest companies are still just traditional offline companies. Yeah, they use technology. Of course they have computers and they have websites and they have databases, but they're not technology businesses at the core. Pharma, agriculture, food. Energy, these are traditional ones. But when you meet a P like a recent PhD or somebody in the lab, you're meeting hackers now, like these guys are finishing their dissertation entirely having written software and simulated a result without even having been in the lab. So much of the actual core learning and data and decision-making and simulation and projection and prediction is just using digital tools that there are going to be giant companies. This is going to be a tech driven area. And we've just seen the very first few that let you do a science experiment remotely or recruit for a trial or simulate the effect of a drug or manage a huge agricultural project so that you can improve yields just by automatically gathering and tracking and distributing nutrients. Those are software things and we've been doing them in other industries for a long time. I mean, we're doing them in shipping and in the management of real estate assets, but like this whole field and it's going to have big impacts on health. We're going to make new drugs, get new things to people, have them work better. We're going to change the way the whole food supply chain works. It's like a quarter of carbon is coming from food if we're able to transform the way that we do that stuff. And we're going to change the way energy works. We're going to make it just much more efficient the way we source it, manage it, store it, pay for it, buy it, manage it, all that. So that's the potential for software meets science. So as software comes into this huge category, computational biology, we're going to see enormous innovations, and they're going to have a big impact on the longevity of people and planet. We're going to make people's lives better, healthier, longer, and we're going to protect the planet that we need to have around us. How are you extending your life? Is there any regimes you follow or techniques throughout the day? Well, the four important things that I think everyone in the field and the elite researchers, the area that the most consensus, that everyone, it's caloric restriction. So I'm like trying to eat less overall. I'm trying to fast and I've been experimenting with some longer fasts, like three days, four days. Caloric restriction is one. Sleep more, exercise more, and be more social and have some friends. And so I am really trying to push my total exercise amount, trying to sleep more. I've always slept eight or nine hours. And I am trying to like be connected to other people. Those are the super basic things. Everyone should do them. I'm trying to do them as much as possible. There is a whole sort of family of supplements and there's not like any one of those that everyone says, okay, this is totally works. There's a bunch that are quite controversial that are some that are very safe, but like, not a hundred percent sure if they work. All the different vitamins that people say you should take, you really should take. You should take a multivitamin and B complex and you should take the antioxidant ones like C. You probably want to take D. And while these things cost some money, they're not super expensive and worst case, they're not harmful. They're just vitamins. You should take some. fish oil or soy lecithin and like some of these other extracts for like fat. And then there are some that are a little more cutting edge. You know, there's this one called NAD, which is about cellular repair. There's another one called resveratrol, which is around cardiovascular health. There are some that are even more edgy than that. There are things like metformin that I think a lot of people have started experimenting with even if they're not diabetic. It is something that is widely prescribed for people that are diabetic, but even for folks who are pre-diabetic. And I think there is an interesting thing that we're going to see more about. There's this huge interest right now in some of these weight loss drugs, like Wegovi, there's some agglutides. And let's see, we're halfway into a huge global experiment where millions and millions of people are taking this thing, an injection, you know, once a week. Let's see. I don't personally do that one. And then even beyond that, some other stuff I don't do that other people are doing. They are doing hormone therapies. peptides and other proteins that your body needs to regenerate some things. They're doing stem cell injections and a variety of other interesting. And some of them are also quite common. I mean, some of this, like these stress experiences, cold water, hot saunas, things like that. That's a big menu I just gave you. I know you were asking, what do I do? I only do a small fraction of it. And I million caveats that there's not a huge amount of data. The one I think that is the most. well validated though is this caloric restriction. Probably everybody, it seems to me, would do better if they had a lot fewer calories. Very hard to do, you could say. Less food. Exactly. With all the amazing desserts out there. The sugar, right? The sugar that's omnipresent, I believe. I mean, it's not even about cutting dessert. Like caloric restriction is eating 30% fewer calories. It's like... Can you imagine? I mean, if you just think back to the last 24 hours, eating a third of that requires a lot of, a third less of that, it requires a lot of restraint. And let's see, good luck. And who knows? There's no promise it would absolutely work. Because you know, in the trials, they work with animals, but they work with these animals from their whole life cycle. So you take a mouse that's just born and see what happens to its lifespan. But you and me are not zero days old anymore. We're halfway through life. And so... Will it have the same effect? I'm not sure, but that is certainly one. I mean, it has such tangible benefits on metabolic health and cardiovascular health and stuff like that. Yeah, I mean, eat less, exercise more. Everyone tells you this, and here I am repeating it, but if you can find a way to do that, I think it's one of the best things you can do. It's harder than it seems, right? And that's why people say it, but you can't do it. I have a couple of more questions. I know you have to go. One is on entrepreneurs anxiety, which is something everyone has during their journey. You had your ups and downs, failures, successes, you even reach a billion dollar valuation at the UniCorn club. But then as you explained to us, unexpected events happen and it didn't stay where it is. How do you stay in the right mindset to always be motivated to rise up again, keep the past in the past and I know it's hard to forget the failures because they are an important lessons but the mindset is very important because that's how entrepreneurs you know rise up again and start a new venture in that case. Yeah it's hard to start companies and it's just full of setbacks. I mean the vast majority of entrepreneurs are working on something very small very early and it may just never get there and all those setbacks are just incredibly... stressful. In the very beginning, basically you can measure the life of your company in hours or days. When it's just you, every time you go to sleep at night, that company may or may not wake up if you don't the next day decide that you still want to pursue it. And as you make little progress, okay, now your company has got like a week of runway, a month of runway, because you've committed to work on it for a week or for a month, or you've hired one person and you have budget for a few months. So you start creating a little bit of stability, but it's very difficult. And the resilience is not... a story of, hey, I built a billion dollar company and then I split up with my co-founder and now I got to start a new one. The world's smallest violin is playing for some guy that built a giant company and now they're onto their next one because they disagreed on strategic direction with the guy who is the CEO, which is something that happened to me early in my career with our mobile phone business. That, you have to take tremendous energy from that. You're like, holy cow, I can do this. Let's go. the very tiny, difficult, like, slow progress in the beginning is tough. And, um, I guess just being eyes wide open and knowing that it's going to be tough is important, but to manage your emotions and your mood, to have, you know, the ability to just keep going. It takes some personal cultivation. A lot of times when I'm thinking of working with a founder, maybe investing in their company, you look for some evidence in their life that they have done very difficult things, overcome hardship. and had the drive to keep pushing forward, something before starting a company, because starting a company is gonna be about as hard as anything. Most people never had other people depending on them for their livelihood. It's not just I fail and the company fails, it's like everyone is out on the street. So it's tough, you gotta prepare, you just gotta think, and I don't have like a simple piece of advice. There are many kinds of advice that somebody might give about, oh, make sure you meditate or be calm or have a coach or have a friend group or. some other advisors around you who are also fellow founders. I mean, there are many, many things, but I think it just starts with the realization that it won't be easy. Like it's a very exceptional small set of cases where it all just worked out all great. Even when it did all work out, they were fighting amongst themselves and not agreeing. And they were like, oh my God, do we do this? Should we sell the company to Yahoo? Or should we go independent or whatever? There were just moments of great adversity. And to accomplish anything ambitious in life is to overcome this kind of adversity and self-doubt. You know, entrepreneurs on their journey, they put a lot of personal sacrifice. They could quit their job, you know, put their savings on the line. Even they put their relationships on their line. What personal sacrifices have you done? I've worked a lot and I still do at the expense of everything else I might have pursued. I have the good fortune of really liking the work I do. It feels like play, you know, it feels like exactly what I would do in my spare time if I could. is I would go try to find breakthrough technologies and make them. But, you know, when you're getting punched in the face on something and you got to just like keep going, you're giving up some other shiny new object you could be doing instead. And you got to just push ahead and see, because sometimes you get over and you get through and you get to the next big valley of prosperity. So it's tough. But I've dedicated my work in my life to this sort of thing, because I think it's important and I think it is the source of. much of the greatest promise that we have as a civilization. I haven't really worked on some trendy little random noisy thing. I've tried to work on innovations that would really help people. For the most part, it was in somewhat vanilla ways, like, oh, let us help people be more connected and more informed or have access to these like breakthrough personal improvement technologies with Halo Neuroscience or even with Notel. Let us help you build your business because you're trying to build your business. Let's take this problem away and you can bring good things to the world. But now, you know, it's really purified in the work we're doing with life extension. These are some of the most important technologies that really need to be brought into people's hands. That's really motivating. Amazing. One last question. If you had to give Young Amal advice, what would you tell him? Starting companies sooner, I should have just done it in seventh grade, you know, like, it was almost a toy when we were making up our currency. We should have just built a whole something out of that or asked somebody to guide us. But at the earliest possible opportunity, just plunging into this world and learning from others and then building my own company, I could have done it even sooner than I did. Thank you for being part of our show Amol. How can people reach you or how can they be of benefit to you? I'd be very happy to hear from people. It's very easy to message me on Twitter. I'm just Amol, A-M-O-L. And you can see my email also if you just search for my name and write me an email at Yeah, I mean, I'd love to hear from entrepreneurs. We're building the fund and I think it's a really important area. So if there are folks who are interested or curious about these fields around the intersection of software and science, I am a happy fellow traveler. But thank you, Hadi, for having me on the program. It's been really interesting to talk to you. Thank you, Amol. We'll put all of that in the short notes and we wish you the best of luck on your venture. Thank you so much for listening to the first 100. We hope it inspired you in your journey. If you're enjoying the podcast, please subscribe to our podcast on Apple iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or Spotify and share it with a friend starting their entrepreneurship journey. Leave us a five star review. Your support will help spread our podcast to more viewers.