Eliza, I’m lookin’ for a mind at work<br> I’m lookin’ for a mind at work!<br> I’m lookin’ for a mind at work!
― Lin-Manuel Miranda (Ft. Jasmine Cephas Jones, Leslie Odom Jr., Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Phillipa Soo & Renée Elise Goldsberry) – The Schuyler Sisters
I’m a sucker for Hamilton AND The West Wing.
But really. After conversations with startup founder friends, we all agreed – it’s too hard matching “minds at work” with great opportunities. With the influx of recruiters, early stage capital, and startup press, you’d think it’d be easy. Instead, it’s noisy out there for candidates and companies alike.
Let’s try to help.
If you’re looking for your next adventure, read on.
If you’re a looky-loo, please share this with friends.
If you’re a startup looking to hire, happy to help.
Most job boards suck. It’s a never-ending list of opportunities, without social context – What’s the mission? Is the core team cool to work with? What’s there to learn in the role? 99% of the listings are vague and useless. And when you do find a role that matches, nobody from the company responds.
Let’s try this instead – See below for a rundown of friends’ companies I love, trust, and have enough capital to support growth. All founders/executives are people I want to work with someday.
You won’t see any job descriptions here. Just a brief note on why you should consider teaming up with the founder and/or company.
Hopefully you’ll see a startup that gets you excited. Or for a friend.
…when you do, email me @ [email protected]. If there’s a fit, happy to get you connected.
(PS – If you find this valuable, consider doing it yourself for your friends and network!)
Early Stage Startup Team
San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Berlin, London, Beijing
What? Why? Who Cares?
Our team at Amazon’s looking for former founders and investors to join the AWS startup team. The group serves as early stage mentors (think Y Combinator and Techstars) to connects startups with AWS, Alexa, and beyond.
When exploring post-Chromatik opportunities, I was looking for two things – Somewhere I could level-up experience in new interest areas. And somewhere I’d be surrounded by folks I can learn from.
Hadn’t considered working for AWS before. But in talking about the role with the team, it clearly checked both boxes. Joining the AWS startup team was a rare opportunity to work for one of the fastest-growing startups of all time (yes, AWS), dive deep into AI and cross-Amazon trends, and stay plugged into the startup world. Plus, team members you’d work closely with include entrepreneurs Noah Shanok (Stitcher, acq Deezer | EIR, Comcast Ventures), Jim Meyerle (Evolv, acq Cornerstone OnDemand | Co-founder, Founders Factory), Pit Karbe (HelloFresh, IPO $1B+ market cap), David Levy (Philo, acq Local Response | EIR, Comcast Ventures and Broadway Video Ventures), and Ryan Merket (Appstores, acq InMobi | Early Facebook Platform Team and Reddit PM).
It’s a distributed team around the world, with opportunities in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berlin, London, and Beijing.
Managing Directors – New accelerator programs for Sustainability, Connecticut, Singapore, and Barclays Tel Aviv
Denver, Connecticut, Singapore, Tel Aviv
What? Why? Who Cares?
In parallel with my Amazon role, I serve as entrepreneur-in-residence at Techstars Music. Being part of the Techstars world is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences.
Rewarding? You work with some of the smartest people on the planet, supporting them in building their startups from the earliest days.
Challenging? You work with some of the smartest people on the planet, supporting them in building their startups from the earliest days.
Techstars graduates account for nearly 5% of all the world’s Series A financings. The organization has scaled from one accelerator to more than thirty accelerators worldwide, investing in 1,024 startups representing a $9.9B total market cap.
Each accelerator program runs as an independent-ish company (+TSHQ support), with the Managing Directors leading strategic direction and investing in 8-12 companies every year. It’s part CEO, part investment manager, part startup mentor, and part community developer.
Deep Learning / Computer Vision Engineer
Software Engineer, Python
Los Angeles and Austin
What? Why? Who Cares?
Slingshot Aerospace is building a satellite data analysis and insights platform. Contracts in place with leading defense and government agencies. Work with former Air Force Space Superiority Advanced Capabilities team lead Melanie Stricklan and multi-exit entrepreneur David Godwin.
Need I say more?
Slingshot builds more than defense and insurance software though. They’re developing a platform that can be used in emergency relief situations, humanitarian operations, and beyond.
My favorite recent example – Slingshot powered emergency response support for Team Rubicon, in their Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, turning satellite imagery into decision support tools (e.g. identifying flooded routes, best pathways to local medical facilities) for use in mission planning and rescue operations.
What? Why? Who Cares?
The marriage of music and blockchain. Real pilot customers. Built by early Ethereum employee Viktor Tron and two of the sharpest entrepreneurs in the space, Vaughn McKenzie and Freddie Tibbles.
Worked with the team through Techstars Music, and am confident this team has a technical ability, industry connects, and early pilots to support a meaningful growth. See Vaughn talk more about what they’re building here.
The music business is both the best and most difficult place to try something like this. If JAAK succeeds, the financial world of music (and beyond) will never be the same.
Head of Engineering
What? Why? Who Cares?
Our phones’ future is in jeopardy. We rely on it for…well, everything. But your identity is tied up with a single phone number. Giving your phone number to friends, family, and co-workers is great. But what about online stores, political advocacy groups, your blind date, or the Craigslist buyer your supposed to meet?
Burner is your “other” number. The one you can give out, without worrying about your privacy or safety. It’s disposable, fast, and integrated directly with your smart phone. Pretty great.
Burner’s also profitable and hitting a massive growth vector, where they’re building out the team to further scale.
Personally, founder/CEO Greg Cohn has been one of the most helpful mentors in my career. Strong Chromatik advisor and helped me think through joining both AWS and Techstars Music. Love him.
Senior Software Engineer
What? Why? Who Cares?
If you’re reading this and don’t know Product Hunt. Go now.
Expect to spend hours exploring new products, live chat transcripts with the most interesting players in tech, and/or maker Q&As. Product Hunt was acquired by AngelList last year, as a cornerstone community to connect the world’s makers. Rather than resting on what they’ve developed, Product Hunt built a suite of new initiatives to support folks creating the next wave of products – from Ship, to Deals, to the Global Hackathon, and beyond.
At scale, Product Hunt has the opportunity to build the infrastructure layer for the world’s maker community. And if you’ve ever met Product Hunt founder/CEO Ryan Hoover, you can attest – he’s one of tech’s good guys.
What? Why? Who Cares?
Admit it, you’ve always wanted to build and sell government procurement software.
No? Well, how about this – when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power puts out a new RFP (request for proposals), imagine local small businesses competing on a level playing field with Fortune 500 companies, for the same contract. And what if every time a new contract arose, small businesses could submit their universal profile, rather than re-creating the wheel (read: paper application) every time?
Imagine the potential impact to local communities and small business owners.
That’s what Avisare’s doing. They’ve already lined up contracts with LAX, the LADWP, and the California Energy Commission. Founder/CEO Sky Kelley‘s one of the most impressive entrepreneurs out there. Go work with Sky and the Avisare team.
Head of Capture Products
Los Angeles, New Zealand
What? Why? Who Cares?
We’re entering a world where holograms can look and feel as natural as the real thing. The next generation of VR/AR applications require characters with more depth than static renderings on a screen.
8i makes 3D human holograms that can be viewed from any angle, on any device for virtual, augmented or mixed reality. As the world moves beyond the flat screen, 8i’s 3D holograms enable you to experience human content (and each other) in the most realistic way.
Pretty cool, right?
8i’s technology transforms video from an array of cameras into a photo-realistic 3D holograms, and also produces consumer applications to interact with the hologram characters.
I’d work with 8i CEO Steve Raymond any day. Few entrepreneurs are as thoughtful and kind, or have his ability to execute and build exceptional teams.
AI Software Composition Engineer
Los Angeles, New York City
What? Why? Who Cares?
Fun fact – I met CEO Drew Silverstein through a cold email, because I loved Amper. Fanboy for life, and was fortunate to work with the team through Techstars Music.
Amper’s building an AI music composer, giving you the ability to compose original, professional-quality music using natural language controls (“I need a 30 second song, that sounds like pop rock, featuring a guitar”).
Today, Amper’s an interesting play to own the stock music library space, to provide custom music for content creators around the world. As the AI gets better, Amper could serve as a tool for orchestral arrangements, beatmaking, collaborative songwriting partnerships, and more. Founded by three film music composers – Drew Silverstein, Michael Hobe, and Sam Estes – who worked for Hans Zimmer and scored dozens of feature films.
What? Why? Who Cares?
Replicated wraps containerized cloud applications with enterprise-grade features and deploys it behind customer’s firewall, into a corporate data center or into the private cloud. Meaning, developers can maintain a single codebase, while providing custom implementation deployments to enterprise customers behind their own firewall.
If you didn’t understand that, you probably shouldn’t work at Replicated. If you did understand that, then you should know Replicated. Immediately.
Senior DevOps Engineer
Lead Product Designer
New York City
What? Why? Who Cares?
Most royalty collection systems around the world are antiquated and inefficient. So my Downtown Music Publishing buddies Justin Kalifowitz and Joe Conyers III launched Songtrust in 2011, to bring real engineering talent and ingenuity to a part of the music industry that has been slow in adapting to innovation.
Songtrust’s built industry-leading technology to help songwriters, artists, managers, labels, and publishers simplify music rights management. Including the administration of music publishing assets (royalty collection), performing rights, and digital licensing.
They’re helping over 125k songwriters (more than the 3 major publishers combined!) get their money from over 20,000+ sources such as Spotify, Apple Music, TV, Radio, and even bars and grills.
As an added bonus – you could work with GM Joe, always the best-dressed man in music.
What? Why? Who Cares?
Holograms, for $500, Alex.
Holograms, yes. VNTANA makes interactive hologram experiences – from livestreaming holographic performances (think: seeing Skrillex hologram perform in a Japanese venue, livestreamed from his performance in Vegas), to popping up one of their socially-connected Hollagrams, to their latest responsive AI hologram concierge. You can see VNTANA’s work all over the world, in partnership with Fortune 500 brands like Microsoft, Intel, Nike, The Pro Football Hall of Fame, ABC, and Mercedes Benz.
For $500? Not quite. But for far less than the millions of dollars it takes for others to develop and display holograms.
I wrote a guest post on startups working with the entertainment industry for the 500 Startups Blog. The piece has now been shared thousands of times, featured in newsletters such as MediaREDEF, Mattermark, and StartupDigest, and voted up to the front page on GrowthHackers and Inbound.org.
— Dave McClure (@davemcclure) July 26, 2014
— Joe Spector (@joespector) July 25, 2014
— Michael Palank (@mpalank101) July 28, 2014
Thanks to Emily Parris Sandler, Andrew Skotzko, Sam Teller, Patrick Vlaskovits, Joey Flores, Casey Armstrong, Steve Manuel, Rob Ellis, Susan Su, Keyvan Peymani, Matthew Joseph, Kelley McKinney, Nate Redmond, Adam Lilling, and Eric Galen for reading drafts of the piece. Very much appreciated!
“What do you think about building a driving range for skipping stones in LA?”
– A text I sent to my brothers, Jason and Eric, a few months ago.
James Altucher cranks out posts, talks, and books about “How to Become an Idea Machine.” I love the concept. Being creative requires you to come up with lots and lots of ideas. Many will stink. A few will be great.
So I started putting James’ concept into practice. Every morning, I pick a topic to develop 10 ideas for in under 20 minutes. Sounds silly, but it’s an exercise to get my mind a’moving. I come up with ideas for albums, Chromatik marketing campaigns, products, blog posts, books, movies, and more. It makes my brain sweat.
Ideas are the easy part. Execution is where things get much more difficult.
I put together a few of my favorite product concepts from the last weeks below. My goal here was idea exercise, not company building. Some of the ideas stink. A few have potential. Feel free to grab any of these as your own. Or laugh at them. Whatever you’d like.
1. Nest for Sprinkler Systems
California and many areas around the world experience regular water shortages. Similar to Nest’s energy conservation goals, homeowners would be more conscious about water usage if they saw data around water usage for their lawn or shower. Not to mention, my sprinkler system is a nightmare. Would love to see an elegant solution here. (Influenced by Greg Brandeau)
2. Handyman Lessons
I didn’t ever learn how to build or fix things around my house. Growing up, I was more interested in music, sports, and girls. But I’d love to take handyman lessons now, similar to what you see with music lessons. $40-60/hour to come to my house and spend an hour teaching me how to repair things, build something, use power tools, etc. There’s only so much I can learn from YouTube.
3. Pandora for Alcohol
Like that beer? Cool, here are three others to try. Like that Speyside scotch? Great, here are five others you’d like in a $25-50 price range. The Alcohol Genome Project. I hate depending on the folks at Total Wine or online reviewers.
4. Driving Range for Skipping Stones
A place to skip rocks would be incredible in major cities. Relaxing, peaceful, and lush. $5 for a small bag of perfect skipping stones. Concession stand. Perhaps a yoga studio. Please, someone make this happen.
5. Music Publishing Transparency
Music publishing is a black box. Want to license a track for TV or film? Want to pay out royalties from an online music radio program? Good luck. Publishing catalog ownership data is a nightmare. It’s wildly difficult to access, and it changes regularly. A few companies — MRI, Harry Fox, MediaNet, CrunchDigital — track and hold this information tightly to their chest (for sometimes north of $10k/month). Or you can try to track down rights yourself by calling major music publishers (it’s as fun as it sounds!). Someone will break down these walls.
6. Disconnect Software
There are some interesting products out there already for desktop (SelfControl being my choice), but nothing that crosses desktop and mobile. We need one disconnect app to rule them all.
7. Investments in Individuals
Most venture capitalists say they invest in people. But they actually invest in companies, where the people are replaceable.
Well, a different approach would be investing in a person. Literally. We’re already seeing public investment in athletes (see Fantex), and it’s only a matter of time before the model expands to movie stars, musicians, entrepreneurs, financial experts, and more.
8. Caffeinated Water Filter
Not sure this is possible, but imagine getting your morning pick-me-up from a glass of water.
9. QA as a Service
Anyone developing software hires testers. Some are great, some stink. It takes certain technical/communication skills and diligence to be a great tester. What if you could hire a firm to be that “fresh set of eyes” to provide full-cycle testing? Could work on nightly builds, bi-weekly releases, or one-off major pushes.
10. AlwaysOn Microphone
Imagine a FitBit-like device that was an HD microphone, always recording. At any moment, you could tap the device, send the last 60 seconds of audio to an app on your phone to save, edit, or share to social. Perhaps some invasion of privacy issues. Perhaps some creepiness. But it would be incredible for songwriters, authors, people with long commutes, entrepreneurs, people in fights, and more. Could you imagine Kanye with this? It’d be huge.
11. Uber for IT Support
The next generation Geek Squad. You could even roll up in a VW Beetle, if you’d like.
12. Food Sensitivity Brand
Gluten is today’s hot topic, but more and more people are learning about food sensitivities. It’s becoming mainstream. There’s still an opportunity for a person/brand to take the helm in this space. YouTube Channel. Blog. Recipes. Book. Food Network show. And more. (Influenced by Patrick Vlaskovits, Eric Sandler, and Lisa Sandler)
13. Personalized Job Search Service
There are just too many places to look for jobs. Job boards, individual company websites, and more. Pay a monthly fee for personalized, aggregated job listings. Upsell for resume writing/review, interview practice, and more.
14. Smart Toilet
Go to the restroom, and the toilet analyzes your urine/fecal matter. This can be for simple data gathering. Or could be a first-detection system that identifies potential issues. If possible, this could actually be a game-changer. (Influenced by James Altucher or Tim Ferriss, I forget)
15. Deli Delivery Service
You can get anything you need from the grocery store delivered nowadays. Except for deli counter items. The logistics of this business are key, but people would love to have turkey, cheese, ham, or chicken salad delivered to their door regularly.
16. Tru-Fit Tshirt
It seems like everyone has issues finding tshirts they love. Different brands, different sizes, different cuts, different materials. It’d be great to get to try a selection of tshirts, delivered by mail. And once I select my brand of choice, I’d get 10-20 tshirts in a range of colors, prints, etc.
17. Woodwind Reeds Subscription Service
Niche, but woodwind musicians need reeds regularly. We always forget to buy more, and when we do, they’re expensive. Just send me a pack of my reeds of choice, monthly. I’ll pre-order for a year.
Have all mail sent to a PO Box. The company securely picks up all physical mail, scans in each item, and sends you all mail via email. Anything that needs to be physically passed along (think checks, bank cards) does so automagically.
19. Daily Video Newsletter
Folks get dozens of daily newsletters. Some are great, and others they’ve just forgotten to unsubscribe to. None feature the best videos of the day, sent to your inbox based on interests. News, sports, comedy, etc. Would be great. Calling Pluto.tv!
20. Columbia House for LPs
Nobody buys CDs anymore. But cool kids with record players still buy LPs. Would love the mail-order record club offering now.
21. Passover Food Line
2013 US matzo sales were $86mm alone. Just saying.
22. The Holodeck
Oculus Rift is just the first step. Someone’s going to crack to code to build a Stark Trek-like holodeck. We want.
23. Audio for Articles
Audiobooks are a $1.2B business. Podcasts are rapidly growing in popularity. This would be a B2B business — work with a content company (The Economist, Rolling Stone, etc), identify top content per week, contract engaging vocal talent, produce the podcast, and distribute/track accordingly. The end result would be “The Economist Podcast,” which features audio readings of the previous week’s top articles.
Check out #6secondcover on Vine or #15secondcover on Instagram. Wildly entertaining, with some fantastic talents. Something to do here.
25. Hello Music for Sports Gear
Daily deals for sports gear.
26. Musicians’ Music Podcast
I love Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, The Nerdist, and more. They do incredible interviews with comedians and entertainers. But there doesn’t seem to be a podcast that hosts major music acts with any regularity. A podcast would be an incredible format to chat with musicians about the recording process, how they make music, and more. This could end up being Nerdist for music. (Influenced by Corey Richardson)
27. Reliable Wireless Internet for Airplanes
For eff’s sake, I’m tired of paying $25 for 3 hours of airplane internet access that’s worse than my 1999 AOL dial-up connection. Someone please fix this.
28. IMDB for Music
Pretty straightforward model. It would be a data gathering nightmare (tracking session musicians, band members, etc), but would be an incredible resource to the music community.
29. Connected Black Box
There could be a way to securely sync an airplane’s black box data to the cloud. It would require a hardware and software solution, sold directly to airlines and/or airline manufacturers. There are incredible complexities here, without a doubt, but this could prevent worst-case scenarios.
30. App Marketing Consulting
There are hundreds of thousands of app developers, producing millions of apps across iOS and Android. Mobile distribution is a very different beast than web or desktop software. There seems to be a niche for an app distribution consultancy that mixes marketing, growth hacking, and PR for apps. Similar to 500 Startups’ Distribution Team, but for any app developer.
31. On-Demand Mental Health Assistance
Digital mental health practice, connecting patients with US licensed therapists and/or psychologists via video. Available via web or your mobile device.
32. Safe Religious Community
There should be a safe place online where people can ask religious questions. A respectful community, where you can feel free to ask questions and have faith-based conversations with community members and experts alike.
33. SMB Insurance
Make buying business insurance not suck for SMBs. Please.
34. Creator Analytics
Go ask anyone under 18, they’re not using Facebook or Twitter. It’s Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and others. While creators continue to build out distribution on those channels, it’s still early days for multi-channel business intelligence.
35. Coin for Loyalty Cards
The tech industry went gaga for Coin last year. Cool, sure. But I’d much rather hang on to my credit cards, and have a Coin for all my loyalty cards (Costco, Ralphs, etc). Those take up much more space, and I wouldn’t really have any security concerns.
36. Noise-Cancelling Perimeter
Make a silence bubble around me, without having to put on noise-cancelling headphones. It would be a modern miracle for anyone working in an office, coffee shop, or even library. (Influenced by Andrew Skotzko)