The Syllabus is Dorm Room Fund’s bi-weekly newsletter bringing you the latest news and startup resources for student founders, as well as portfolio updates and job opportunities from our community of companies. Oh, and of course some hot takes.
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What student founders should know
Does your startup compete with Apple? It may soon - Leaks of code from iOS 14 reveal how Apple may plan to compete with fitness startups like Future, location trackers like Tile, and AR innovators like Blippar. Read more here.
Sequoia’s $21 million mistake - Sequoia returned its equity and board seat to Finix and left $21 million on the table after realizing that the payments startup competes with one of the firm’s other portfolio companies, Stripe. Read more here.
Can you hear me? I can hear you. - Due to concerns about COVID-19, startup accelerator, Y Combinator has opted to host its Winter 2020 Demo Day virtually for the first time. Read more here.
What we’re celebrating
Friends and alumni
NEW - Check out our podcast
Just like cheese and fine wine, or venture capitalists and vests, newsletters and podcasts belong together. So on top of this newsletter, we’re bringing you a podcast.
Check out Office Hours by Dorm Room Fund, our new podcast where DRF student investment partner Tej Singh gets actionable advice from some of the most successful people in startups, technology, and the business world to help early-stage founders win.
Recent highlights include:
Michael Kirban, Co-founder & CEO of Vita Coco - Michael shares how he turned a side hustle into a dominant beverage brand that cracks 2.5 million coconuts a day and enjoys a 60% market share.
Rachel Blumenthal, Founder & CEO of Rockets of Awesome - Rachel tells us how she started her first company at age 23 and built the game-changing children’s clothing company, Rockets of Awesome.
Eliot Horowitz, Co-Founder & CTO of MongoDB - Eliot talks about college life and how his skepticism of college CS textbook answers helped him build a category-defining database company.
Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!
From the blog
5 Steps to Make Remote Meetings Work - The DRF team spends a lot of time on video calls. Whether it’s our remote HQ team dialing in every day, or our investment teams meeting with founders, our crew knows a thing or two about remote meetings. Here’s some advice you can use to crush yours. Read more here.
Additional reading and resources
Recognizing the world’s most extraordinary startup operators - DRF alum Shawn Xu just launched Anchor List, a platform to highlight successful startup operators across the disciplines of product, design, marketing, ops, sales, and talent. Learn more here.
Early American inventors were the first bootstrappers - Turns out that there wasn’t exactly a VC fund on every corner in 1842 when Samuel Morse invented the telegraph. Read more here.
Ever wondered how to make your product or campaign more viral? - MSCHF, the company behind viral products like the Jesus Shoes and the Cuss Collar led by CEO Gabe Whaley (who attended our ALLDRF 2020 retreat), just dropped their most recent stunt. Check it out here.
Quibi is going to be Quibig
Quibi, the mobile streaming platform focused on creating movie-quality, bite-sized shows with 10-minute-long episodes has been turning heads in recent weeks. The app has raised $1.75 million prior to launch and has poured over $1 billion into the content creation. But is this all really that crazy?
Let’s face it, we all have short attention spans. Not to mention that the average American subscribes to 3.4 streaming services already. One more isn’t going to break the streamer’s back. You’re already on your phone for 10 minutes checking Twitter, scrolling through TikTok, or reading this newsletter on your way to class, work, or in line at Starbucks, so why not catch up on the latest episode of a Quibi show. Plus, with a library of series like Punk’d with Chance the Rapper, a show called Murder House Flipped (think Flip or Flop but with houses where people were murdered), and a Judge Judy-esque court show starring Chrissy Teigen, we think that Quibi is bound to have at least one big hit. And to top it all off, Quibi is allowing customers to sign up for a 90-day free trial. So sit back, plug in your AirPods, and watch as Quibi brings bite-sized video the streaming landscape on April 6th.
Spindrift is just LaCroix 2
Spindrift, the maker of sparkling waters flavored with real fruit, just raised $29.8 million according to an SEC filing. Some may see this as an upheaval in the seltzer hierarchy, as Millenial-favorite and mid-2010s startup staple, LaCroix, saw sales slide last summer. But at the end of the day, this is lightly flavored sparkling water we’re talking about. Anyone can place a glass of soda water near their fruit basket at home and immediately claim to have come up with the next winning flavored-seltzer.
LaCroix’s demise was mostly due to competitors stealing customers away with their own products, such as what Pepsi did with its own brand, Bubly. Guggenheim beverage analyst, Laurent Grandet stated that LaCroix’s decrease in sales "suggests that while some drinkers have left the category, many have since discovered that other brands offer acceptable substitutes and that LaCroix doesn't have much that distinguishes it from the competition in terms of intellectual property or added value." This is Spindrift’s future. We’re not talking about the Krabby Patty Secret Formula, we’re talking about water that tastes like tropical TV static. Spindrift will likely have the same fate as LaCroix, and tech and startup workers will hydrate themselves with yet another trendy carbonated beverage.
Jobs from the community
2048 Ventures - Full-Time Analyst or Associate (NYC)
Thanks for reading
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