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turning chicken back into an egg

turning chicken back into an egg
By Open Water Weekly • Issue #15 • View online
My name is Jacob Peddicord and I’m the Editor at Open Water Accelerator. Today I sat down with Nick Dazé, a founder who is disrupting the real estate space with his company PocketList.
Here’s a summary of what we learned:
  1. 📝 Every company should start as a spreadsheet and email.
  2. 🐟 Just keep pitching pitching pitching!
  3. 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Build your audience across multiple projects.

Nick Dazé🗣️ 
What’s your ultimate vision with PocketList? 
Over a hundred million Americans are renting the place that they’re sleeping tonight. People spend vast amounts of money renting, and yet, renting from a customer experience standpoint is atrocious, opaque, and competitive. It stinks to be a renter. In most major cities, you’re buying a mid-price sedan a year. Imagine buying a new Honda Accord and then throwing it away every year forever. If it was that hard and that unpleasant, Honda would get our business. 
We think the system is fundamentally broken. We are building a new platform based on trust, better information, and better communication in the housing rental space. If you’re average at all, you’re going to spend 12 years of your adult life and over $400,000 being a renter. I want to save you the suckage that I’ve gone through.
I’m assuming the key has been unlocking incentives for renters to get information flowing? 
You’ve got all these renters in the world, and they’re an expert in the place they live. Think of that as institutional knowledge, but they don’t value it highly because they’re never going to live there again. That information is so valuable to the person who will replace them. 
Marketplaces are a chicken and egg problem. We genetically engineer the chicken back into an egg by doing an end-run around landlords to get the data from renters. We’re getting data from the renters better and earlier. The landlord has never lived in the unit that they own or manage. Even if they’re telling the truth, they don’t know how loud it is at night or what the light’s like on a Sunday afternoon in the living room. How could they possibly share that with you?
The renter is also the only person who knows the exact timing of when they’re going to move out. This is a KPI we track internally. The average PocketList renter is sharing information about the place they’re leaving 58 days before giving notice to their landlord. That’s really powerful. That’s a window of exclusivity that we get into that inventory. This is a marketplace efficiency problem, and we think we can make everyone’s life a lot better. 
How did you kickstart the marketplace to get it going?
My co-founder and I have built a couple of startups before. You learn quickly that your ideas are probably bad, and that’s okay. Bad ideas often get upgraded to good ideas when they meet reality. We had this idea, what if we went straight to the renters for information? So, we set up a webpage and hooked up to a Google sheet in one afternoon. 
Because we built failed things in the past, we established a reputation as people who cared deeply about this space and wanted to help. We sent an email to our mailing list of all the renters we’d ever interacted with, maybe 800 people or so. We asked for a ton of info. There was quantitative stuff like address, rent, and bedrooms. We also asked you weird qualitative things like what are the neighbors, parking, noise, and light like? The last question is, and this is the big twist, tell us when you plan on moving, and it doesn’t have to be soon. Then Julian and I will manually introduce you to someone whose timing, geography, and budget match yours. 
The reaction overwhelmed us, quite frankly. There were people that we had no idea how they were hearing about us. People were not only filling it out, but they were also forwarding it to their friends. People were posting it on secret Facebook groups for people looking for housing. We did what we said we’d do, we started matching people.
I buy into this idea that almost all software products can be achieved with a spreadsheet and an email address. It’s way faster and way cheaper to use a spreadsheet and an email and see if anyone uses it.
I love it. Your story reminds me of that saying that an entrepreneur’s chance to succeed in one company is pretty low, but with a good one over a decade, the chances of success are pretty high. 
I take it as a badge of courage that in the 18 months before kicking off PocketList, I pitched to 86 VCs and got 86 straight “no"s  for another product in this space. It was a very educational experience.
With PocketLists, we weren’t even raising, and we raised a pre-seed round over a three-day weekend with no decks. I think it just goes to show you, one, keep swinging, and eventually you’ll hit something. Two, there is substantial non-obvious and indirect power of building your network out. Even if you get a bunch of “no”s, you get people who know what you work on and will vouch for you. 
What would you say is the biggest risk you’ve taken in building PocketList? 
Starting a company, in general, is risky financially. I cringe to think about how much money I would have made if I worked as a senior director of product design or something. But that’s really fricking boring, and that will always be there. 
On top of that, I started talking with my wife about starting a company when we had our first kid. My logic was it’s only going to get harder from here, right? There is a cost to delaying this, so let’s just dive in and do it. Then COVID, a financial crisis, and political unrest hit, that is also very hard. 
I don’t have any answers as to what the right way to do anything is. I know that people matter, honesty matters, kindness matters, and hard work matters. If you add all those things together, you don’t necessarily get success. However, the only reason I’m still standing is because of those things, there’s no secret. You don’t learn that when you get an MBA, you learn that when you’re four years old.
If you have more questions for Nick, reply to this email with them and we will pass them along!
our take on bio hacking
by Alex Banning, Open Water Partner
The world of bio hacking is considered one of the most fringe and cutting edge verticals within the hardware world. It brings is the closest thing to “the technology of the future” you so often see portrayed in the movies. The ability to open doors, cars, and offices with only your hand, pay for your morning coffee with a flick of the wrist, or get a readout of your internal body temperature with just your phone. All of these are possible through bio hacking.
Ever since I read an article many years ago about a man in the UK who had embedded his oyster metro card into his hand for his morning commute, I was obsessed. A few short months later, I had embedded my first chip in my hand, a short-range NFC chip. At the time, it only worked with Android phones and merely redirected people to my website. It was a simple device, but the potential was there. It would come up occasionally in conversation to the shock and horror of many of the adults around me. The constant joke of government tracking or spying was thrown around almost every time it was brought up. Regardless of what most people thought, it was obvious that this was not a technology that would be adopted in mass anytime soon. 
Fast forward three years, and I now have three separate chips in my hand: two NFC and one RFID. The RFID chip replaces an ID badge for work and an electronic door lock at home. Both NFC chips point towards either a contact card or personal website [bio.alexbanning.com], acting as digital business cards for me. All of my chips were purchased from www.dangerousthings.com, pioneers in this space for many years. I don’t expect to see this technology take off any time soon. But as the world as a whole starts shifting more and more to a digital-only environment, people are going to look for the easiest and most seamless way to interact with that environment. That’s where they’ll find implantable hardware, patiently waiting, to transform their repetitive daily interactions with technology into something they don’t even think about twice.
internships 🖥️ 
🤖 Opensea | Software Engineering Intern | “We’re looking for a detail-oriented software engineer intern with an enthusiasm for building feature-rich, well-tested, and polished web applications using component-based frameworks like React. This individual will spearhead building the OpenSea marketplace platform, as well as our developer integrations.”
🏦 Braid | Investment Analyst Intern | “Our competitive intern program is a robust experience that offers interns exposure to the business world and a meaningful work experience. Interns are treated as valuable team members while learning from experienced professionals in a collaborative and dynamic environment.”
next edition...
Tuesday’s newsletter will feature an interview with a founder who recently exited in the no-code space. Can you guess who?

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