Hi friends! Welcome to the first installment of my monthly memo. I'm excited to share some news and updates with you, as well as insights from the blog, and a few other things on my radar.
It's been a busy year, and summer... I began this year with the intention of creating self-sufficiency for the three startups I founded over the last few years.
To focus my time, I've taken on full-time responsibility as CEO of Audo (formerly Dormzi), while taking a step back elsewhere.
I have hired the previous CRO of the LA Times (Josh Brandau) to take over and evolve The Doe, and I've taken a step back from Guin, confident in my sister and co-founder Misha's leadership as sole CEO of Guin Records.
I support both Misha and Josh as much as I can in my free time, sharing learnings from Audo and other companies across my portfolio to ensure learning and progress from mistakes and wins are made at each venture.
On a personal note, Summer has been less relaxed than in previous years, with "building" being the focus on my mind.
Whether it's been increasing the amount of time and priority I put on family-time this summer, or the late nights and early mornings spent fundraising for Audo, I've been blessed to be busy!
But if you're feeling like this summer has been a quiet and heads-down period for more than just yourself, there's some logic there! (Keep reading)
I've been fortunate to learn a lot over this summer, and to put a significant emphasis on increasing productivity, increasing clarity in everyone's roles and responsibilities, and doing my utmost to drive these impact-focused teams.
But, at the risk of repeating what you all already know, the markets are down; beyond the global implications, from an early-stage founder mindset, the dial has been turned up for all of us to ensure sustainability in what we're building.
Fundraising is no longer dependent on who makes the most noise, but now, who has a real solution for a large enough market that can be monetized in your first 2-3 years of operating.
I'm confident I'm building solid companies, but this summer was a lesson in long-term strategy.
I'm learning that patience is a founder's best asset in a bear market and everything takes a little longer in a downturn.
Patience coupled with a realistic roadmap to product-market fit is the way through. That means being able to see the vision beyond the excitement of early stages, and being mentally prepared for years of testing, feedback and product iterations that will lead to a monetizable solution.
Young founders, myself included, tend to be impatient, wanting to build the products that solve massive problems and grow into empires.
But Rome was not built in a day, so patience has been the biggest skill I've been developing most this summer, along with all the fundraising lessons I've been learning on the job. Amazon started by selling books, before selling everything you can think of.
In case you missed it, my college startup, Dormzi, has recently pivoted and rebranded to Audo - A career-building ecosystem that uses an AI-powered assessment to generate a personalized upskilling path and connect you to careers in today's increasingly volatile market.
We believe that there are tons of powerful courses online, and tons of amazing job opportunities at the entry-level, but users are not being matched well to either.
We're building the ecosystem to bridge digital education with gig-style work and earning potential. A "get paid gigs, as you learn", kind of thing.
We've partnered with Coursera, EdX, and Path Unbound to provide ample variety in courses for us to stitch together personalized curriculum.
The only question at hand, is how can we close the gap between higher education and job placement?
Well, it starts by ensuring it's offered at an affordable price that breaks the chokehold of student debt and the 4 year commitment typically expected by traditional education institutions. We're in the exciting stage of beta testing Audo Learn, and we're prioritizing collecting as much feedback from our early users as possible so we can adapt to their needs.
If you or someone you know is interested in being a beta tester, they can sign up here.
Say Hello to Nota-the next stage of evolution for The Doe!
The Doe began as a solution providing a place online to authentically tell meaningful stories through anonymous publishing.
However, over the years, we've recognized we cannot do this alone. To do more, our vision must grow and pivot.
With Nota, our dream is to build an ecosystem for journalists and media consumers by, finally, bringing technology solutions to the journalism industry that improve the content creation process for writers, increase revenue for publications, and rebuild trust in publications from consumers.
We want to return people to the center of publishing. We're focused on empowering the writers and storytellers who fuel the publishers we trust most, with the intent to improve the publishing experience for all those involved: publishers, writers, and consumers.
Nota will continue to serve marginalized voices as the internet's leading anonymous publisher, while expanding our focus to a grander mission: improving the way consumers interact with news and how publishers source and distribute that content.
A lot has happened at Guin in the past 6 months.
Like the other two, Guin has also been very focused on sustainability. Misha and I have focused on how Guin can continue to grow towards becoming the leading artist-friendly label in music.
The mission is ambitious and challenging, but we know the only way to get there is by listening to what our artists and the greater artistic community are asking for.
This has involved looking at the data of what it takes for a label, which in the modern day operates like an early stage venture capital fund, to break an artist.
We've also been analyzing what the weighting of factors should be in the decision making of which artists we sign and how to better construct those deals to incentivize artist growth.
As always, Misha and I have leaned on what we know best to make this happen: recruiting talented team members to collaboratively give this mission the best opportunity for success.
While our progress this year has been exciting, it hasn't come without its fair share of headaches either.
Signed artists are like founders: there never seems to be enough money, somehow the fund is always blamed for lack of growth, and while building a successful artist career is like building a business, artists sometimes don't see it that way.
Nonetheless, like any fund focused on the "early stage," it's our job to guide, mentor, and shepherd these young artists towards a mindset of partnership.
Misha and I continue to work closely to dream up what Guin can become and what the appropriate milestones will be along the way.
I'll continue to provide updates as we flesh that out. But for this year, beyond all of the amazing music releases we've had, I'm most proud of the team we've grown into: a team focused on setting and driving against goals in the next year, a team focused on process and efficiency to ensure nothing slips through the cracks, and a team focused on culture and mental health.
We're intentionally signing artists we believe we can work with closely to develop their work through our partnership, and avoiding artists who want to treat us like the label that doesn't care.
Because, believe me - this team cares so much, they put the lives of the artists ahead of their own. I couldn't be more grateful for the team we've built, and for Misha showing up day in and day out to build a music empire and family that artists are proud to be a part of.
As Guin keeps building, I'll continue to share updates here; and in the meantime, here are some of our newest releases!
Guin new releases:
From the Blog
Record labels play an important role in artist development, fostering a body of work while maintaining a focus on profitability and data-driven results.
Human language, problem-solving, and morality originate in our imaginative ability to reflect on different situations and our deep-seated drive to connect with others.
If you find your content consumption pattern one-sided and constantly bashing the other side, it's time to break free of your filter bubble.