Show cover of The NFX Podcast

The NFX Podcast

We believe creating something of true significance starts with seeing things others do not. NFX is a venture firm exclusively focused on pre-seed & seed stage startups.


Coming Soon: The Network Effects Masterclass [special audio edition]
At NFX, we've spent over 20 years studying the power of network effects. As founders, we’ve built them into companies worth $10B+. As investors, we teach our founders these playbooks. Now we’re putting everything we know into an 11-episode Network Effects Masterclass, made for early-stage startup founders and their teams. There will be a full video and transcript experience on — but we’re also abridging each episode for a native audio experience here for our NFX podcast listeners. Few understand the hidden complexities of network effects - learn everything there is to know about building iconic companies from day one. Coming soon to The NFX Podcast.
02:40 09/22/2022
Academia or Startup? A Decision Matrix for Future Scientist-Founders
NFX Bio is committed to backing Scientist-Founders who are inspired to change the world. But there are far fewer scientists-Founders today than there should be. Instead, scientists often follow the path that academia paves for them: from graduate school, to a PhD, to a postdoc, to another role in academia. In this episode, NFX General Partner and Head of NFX Bio, Omri Amirav-Drory, sat down with Stanford professor and Pumpkinseed Founder Jennifer Dionne and former Columbia professor and Founder of Eleven Therapeutics Yaniv Erlich to discuss forging your own path: starting your own company. Here’s how to think through leaving academia, how to know whether it’s time to spin out of your university, and the key takeaways from each of their scientist-turned-founder journeys. Read the full essay here -
47:31 07/21/2022
Crazy Until It’s Not”: New Story Charity’s Bitcoin-Based Mortgages, NFTs, and 3D-Printed Homes
Some problems are so big, they feel crazy to even try to solve them. Global homelessness, for example. 1.6 billion people today are living without adequate housing*. This represents a massive, underserved market, and a type of problem often overlooked by tech Founders. Fortunately, Brett Hagler and his Co-Founders at New Story Charity are tackling it head-on, with an unlikely combination of 3D printed homes, Bitcoin-based mortgages, and fundraising via NFTs. Pete Flint has had the privilege of serving on New Story’s board since they graduated YCombinator in 2015 and have since witnessed their impressive, fearless growth. What looked at first like an intractable problem now seems like fertile ground for radical proptech-meets-Web3 innovation. Real estate is the story of our lives.
44:26 12/14/2021
The Inside Story of Nextdoor with Sarah Friar
Nextdoor, the social media app for neighborhoods, which is actively used in 1 in 3 households in the U.S., was recently valued at $4.3B and listed on the NYSE last week (November 8, 2021) under the ticker symbol "KIND." Today’s episode is a glimpse into the thoughtful, humanist view of Sarah Friar, the CEO of Nextdoor, former CFO of Square, and board member of Slack. She cautions us not to disappear into the metaverse, and also encourages today’s and tomorrow’s Founders to cure gaps in the world — and do it with eyes wide open to consequences at scale. There’s more tension than there is harmony between “offline vs. online,” and yet one company is uniquely positioned to bridge the two for the benefit of us all.
48:08 11/18/2021
Building Confidence Networks In Latin America
NFX has been increasingly active in LatAm over the last few years, largely drawn there by an incredibly talented pool of Founders in the region. To understand the unique challenges and opportunities of LatAm, James talked with Antonia Rojas, the youngest female partner at ALLVP and a rising star in the startup ecosystem there. They co-led the Nuvocargo Seed round together. Based in Mexico City, she has a “boots on the ground” view of Latin America that I love. Methods for building network effects there is not what one might think -- and as a result, go-to-market in Latin America demands building trust bridges and leveraging confidence networks. Understanding the psychology of LatAm consumers is a powerful unlock for new Founders entering the region.
35:39 11/10/2021
Eynat Guez & Gigi Levy-Weiss on 7 Mental Shifts For Hiring Now
The Covid pandemic removed barriers to global hiring and remote team building. It exposed startups, by necessity, to all-new solutions for growing and bonding their teams. Most companies advanced through the pandemic by stages: first survival mode, then waiting it out -- and now they are ready to fundamentally shift their hiring strategies to reflect our new reality. It’s clear now that there are lasting shifts in the market, and that Founders and CEOs need to update their mental models for hiring. Our guest today, Eynat Guez, sees this recent change in strategy more clearly than most. She’s the Co-Founder and CEO of Papaya Global, a global people & payroll platform, now valued at $3.7 Billion. Eynat is also the first-ever female CEO of a unicorn company in Israel. Her insights on hiring are twofold. First, she builds from her own experience rapidly scaling her global team to unicorn status during the pandemic. Second, from working directly with Papaya’s clients to grow their teams. Today she shares with us her set of mental models for building a world-class team -- wherever it may be.
57:56 10/28/2021
Community-First Company Building with Cuy Sheffield & Micah Johnson
The next evolution of companies will be created in public with early customers, partners, and supporters. They’ll be community-owned and operated, building upon the playbooks created by early NFT and play-to-earn projects. Because many of the web 3.0 advantages are hard to adopt as a large web 2.0 company, as a Founder you have to focus on the big ideas: ownership, collaboration, and community. In today's episode, NFX Partner Morgan Beller talks with Cuy Sheffield (head of crypto at Visa) and Micah Johnson (Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, and Aku and former professional baseball player) as they explore tactics for building community, no matter what industry you’re in. Listen to their conversation as they uncover why Founders can’t skip the community-building part anymore, as it’s essential to company building in today's ecosystem.
47:10 10/21/2021
A Founder’s Exponential Toolset with Azeem Azhar & James Currier
Visionary Founders, instead of solving market failures or fixing problems that are clear, push market evolution. They commit to pushing society to the upward bend of the exponential technology curve. Today, our friend Azeem Azhar, former VC-backed Founder, creator of The Exponential View blog, and author of the new book The Exponential Age, gives Founders specific hooks and non-obvious ways of explaining how quickly something’s going to change — right before it does. For Founders, market needs are often a lagging indicator of technological progress. In many cases, like the iPhone, we didn’t even know that we needed a thing, until the thing made us want it. Read the full NFX Essay here -
45:41 09/14/2021
A Mammoth Becomes A Unicorn: Inside a Scientist-Founder’s Journey from Pre-Seed to Series D (NFX Bio)
Today, Mammoth Biosciences announced their series C and D at more than a $1B valuation. Mammoth is a startup story that Founders should be following because there is so much to learn from their path from the lab to unicorn status. At no other time in modern history has the need for science to lead our society toward a better future been more apparent and immense. We can meet this need by investing in the next generation of tech-bio companies like Mammoth. NFX led Mammoth’s Pre-Seed and Seed rounds, co-led the Series A, and has invested in every round including today’s Series D. We even helped them name the company. Mammoth is the poster child for the NFX strategy of using network effects to build bio platforms — this approach to building tech-bio businesses should allow them to get 10x the size of a normal bio company. It’s also a great example of how NFX Bio supports Scientist-Founders as they become great Founders and CEOs after they leave the lab. Listen in with Omri Drory, head of NFX Bio, and Partner James Currier as they take an inside look with Mammoth’s Co-Founder & CEO Trevor Martin at his journey from idea to unicorn — for the benefit of up-and-coming Scientist-Founders worldwide.
27:13 09/09/2021
Choosing The Final Frontier: Launching a Rocket Company with Andy Lapsa of Stoke Space
"We have all the technical and economic ingredients needed to build a massive economy in space. We’re not focused on Mars or the Moon, we’re singularly focused on building a space economy that makes life better on Earth.” Today NFX Partner Morgan Beller is joined by Andy Lapsa, Co-Founder & CEO of Stoke Space Technologies, a company building reusable second-stage rockets to seamlessly Earth and orbit. Founded in 2019 and based in Renton, Washington they have been focused on the reusability aspect of rocketry to make space access more available and frequent in our future lives. Lapsa was a former employee and award-winning rocket engineer at Bezos's Blue Origin, while the rest of their team come from SpaceX and other leading aerospace companies. As a lead investor, Morgan uncovers how they originally met, Andy's full Founder journey, why space is such an important industry to apply talented engineers to, and his overall decision to enter one of the most complex sectors in the world of tech. Visit their website -
40:55 08/04/2021
The Founders' List: Status, Wealth, & Power: Network Effects Demand A New Social Contract
This is The Founders’ List – audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. Network effect businesses are reshaping the world. Network effects are still the best and most powerful force we know to create persistent value for billions of people. However, we think that too little has been said about how society should adapt to these new network effect behemoths we’re helping create. NFX Partner James Currier outlines how the network economy works, and how power, wealth, and status all flow on the network. He then looks at the implications of this and finally specific ideas for Founders about what these new social contracts could look like. Read the full NFX essay here -
30:42 07/30/2021
NFX Mashup: The SPAC Masterclass
This is an NFX Mashup, where we string thoughts from past episodes together under the same topic. Startups today have more options than ever before — much earlier in their life cycles — for entering the public markets. Founders are constantly looking for advice on how to think about traditional IPO vs. SPAC vs. direct listing — and how to even answer the question: Am I ready to be a public company? In this mashup, NFX Partner Pete Flint is joined by Eventbrite co-founder Kevin Hartz, Hippo founder Assaf Wand, and the IPO whisperer Lisa Buyer on their experience and advice around taking tech companies public.
20:53 07/29/2021
Meet the Team Behind 'Stoner Cats' (NFT Animated Series from Mila Kunis & Friends)
'Stoner Cats' is an adult animated series centered on five house cats who repeatedly save their beloved owner created by Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and friends, including the creative forces behind Toy Story 2, Spider-Verse, Happy Feet, and Cryptokitties. Users will be able to buy Stoner Cats NFTs and can use those tokens to access the comedy cartoon online. The show will be an estimated five minutes long per episode. The tokens purchased will go toward funding future episodes of the series. Today we have part of the Stoner Cats founding team including Morgan Beller (NFX Partner), Maaria Bajwa (Sound Ventures), Mack Flavelle (CryptoKitties), and Lisa Sterbakov (Orchard Farm Productions) to discuss the origin story of the show and the new future for content creation in Hollywood. Visit the site to learn more and buy an NFT -
50:52 07/23/2021
Ann Hiatt on Trillion Dollar Leadership (An Inside Look at Jeff Bezos & Eric Schmidt)
What few people see is that Trillion-Dollar Leadership focuses relentlessly on the “who.” Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt both aligned their companies around this question: Who are we serving and who is going to get us there? Today, Ann Hiatt (former Chief of Staff / Executive Business Partner to Bezos and then Schmidt for 14+ years) shares with NFX Partner James Currier her insider stories, analysis, and patterns of Bezos' and Schmidt's leadership principles and mental models. She gives us intimate insight to: - What crazy, long-term vision looks like, even in its earliest days - 3-part framework for value-alignment in $Trillion teams - How to hire and motivate people who will invent the future - Tthe leadership mental models she learned from working directly with Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt, for the benefit of Founders everywhere. Read the NFX essay here -
47:57 07/22/2021
The Founders' List: Vitalik Buterin on Bitcoin Maximalism, Currency, and Platform Network Effects
This is The Founders’ List – audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. In this article (published in 2014) Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin challenges the Bitcoin maximalist movement a few different ways. Bitcoin maximalists believe that all other digital currencies are inferior to Bitcoin. The idea that an environment of multiple competing cryptocurrencies is undesirable and that it is both righteous and inevitable that the Bitcoin currency comes to take a monopoly position in the cryptocurrency scene. Maximalists argue that a single road—or a single cryptocurrency—will have more value because more people will have to use it. Vitalik does a deep dive into the technicals of launching a protocol, the network effects that take place, and the incentive/psychological arguments that can be had against the maximalist movement. Read the essay here -
30:10 07/21/2021
Making Markets with Prof. Scott Duke Kominers (HBS) & James Currier
Over the past twenty years, tech entrepreneurs have created and captured enormous value by launching new marketplaces to the world. Today NFX Partner James Currier talks with Professor Scott Duke Kominers, who has been teaching the course 'Making Markets' along with other classes at Harvard Business School. With over 80 academic papers published, he is in the MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, as well as a Faculty Affiliate of the Harvard Department of Economics, the Harvard Center of Mathematical Sciences & Applications, and a Research Economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Scott's course helps students identify and capitalize on marketplace design opportunities. James and Scott discuss attributes that determine whether and how marketplaces create value in the world as well as common causes of marketplace failure. They then present frameworks for designing marketplaces in response and discusses tactics for building trust and liquidity when launching new marketplaces. This is the ultimate course on marketplaces. Read the NFX essay -
51:45 07/19/2021
The Founders' List: How VCs See Your KPIs
This is The Founders’ List – audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. Everyone knows that KPIs are critical, but often Founders are not looking at KPIs from the right angle. As a General Partner at NFX, Gigi Levy-Weiss now asks three questions to every Founder he meets. Their responses speak volumes about their odds of success: - Do you diligently track KPIs? - What KPIs have you chosen to track? - Have you set appropriate goals based on your KPIs? Read the full NFX Essay here -
08:23 07/17/2021
The Founders' List: The New Generation of Labor Marketplaces and the Future of Work
This is The Founders’ List – audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. When the economy eventually normalizes, demand for labor will recover, and work will recover, but the shifts in supply and demand will result in a new and sizable set of unmet market needs for job placement. Online marketplaces will be a critical tool in getting people back to work quickly, efficiently, and at scale. They will also enable new ways for people to build the skills they need to succeed, and for them to work in an increasingly remote and distributed fashion. Listen to Pete Flint's essay on the 4 trends in the next generation of online labor marketplaces, including greater complexity, improved experience, tech-enabled labor, and re-skilling and upskilling. Read the full NFX essay here -
17:37 07/15/2021
Seeing Growth in a Downturn with Eran Ben-Shushan & Gigi Levy-Weiss
In the face of a global pandemic and a financial meltdown, Founders are confronted with a new reality. If you are running a startup today, this will likely be one of the most challenging climates you’ll ever face. Launched in July 2012, Bizzabo is a SaaS All-in-One event success platform. They help organizers create successful events by empowering them to build amazing websites, sell tickets, grow communities, go mobile and maximize event experiences - using a beautiful, user-friendly platform. Despite Covid canceling all conferences and in-person events, Bizzabo was able to complete a funding round of $138 million. NFX Partner Gigi Levy-Weiss talks with Bizzabo Co-Founder & CEO Eran Ben-Shusham about their strategy during COVID including customer acquisition, fundraising, and overall growth during the downturn. Eran shares his mindset as a company leader and how he and his team navigated the crisis to come out the other side ahead in hypergrowth mode. Read the NFX article here -
44:21 07/12/2021
The Founders' List: 8 Skills Top Founders Master for Startup Fundraising (How VCs Negotiate)
This is The Founders’ List – audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. Fundraising is a learned skill – and VCs almost always have the upper hand because they deal with it all day, everyday. Over the years of founding, advising, and investing in companies, Gigi has learned that VCs are better at startup fundraising than entrepreneurs. In reality, knowing what to expect from VCs – the negotiation dynamics Founders are likely to encounter – is half the battle. Before you start communicating with VCs, take the time to learn how to detect and manage these 8 little-known fundraising dynamics. This is what we at NFX call “high leverage fundraising” – it gives you speed & clarity, while still helping cultivate strong, long-term relationships. Let’s dig in. Read the full NFX Essay -
13:46 06/30/2021
The Founders' List: 7 Principles of Game Design from Design Gym
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. Life is, by some measures, an infinite game, where the rules constantly change and winners turn into losers, and vice versa. This article is titled, “7 Principles of Game Design” and was written by The Design Gym - an NYC-based agency that has worked with top companies like Instagram, Netflix, Etsy, and many more. Setting up games, with clear goals and constraints helps focus our energies and efforts and can improve and clarify outcomes and motivate us to move forward to the next clearly defined challenge and reward cycle. Read the essay here -
05:07 06/29/2021
How a Top Investor Sees the World with Saar Gur
Saar Gur is one of the best investors in Silicon Valley and has a gift of identifying the next big consumer trends earlier than most. As a General Partner at CRV, he was recently highlighted as #34 in the Forbes Midas List of the World's Best Venture Capital Investors In 2021. Saar loves products that consumers and customers love and is passionate about helping his companies succeed. His early investment in the food delivery company DoorDash was in the 2013 seed round, which eventually resulted in the company going public last December. Gur made a similar early bet on smart home company Ring the same year; Amazon acquired that company for $1 billion in 2018. Gur is also an investor in multiple fast-growing tech startups like Patreon, which is now worth $3 billion, and Classpass, which is worth more than $700 million. Others include Niantic, Bird, and Dropbox. Today, longtime friend and NFX Partner James Currier talks with Saar to uncover these early investment stories and his pattern recognition in early-stage founders. James also uncovers who he is as a person, what he looks for in early-stage Founders, and how he sees the world as a whole.
39:45 06/28/2021
Why C2i is the World’s First Platform for Cancer Intelligence (NFX Bio)
The team at C2i Genomics is combining cutting-edge genomics and sophisticated AI to provide the world’s first whole-genome cancer intelligence platform, transforming the way cancer is monitored and treated. C2i uses a blood test that can detect and quantify tiny amounts of residual cancer to better monitor cancer treatment, progression, and recurrence. NFX was an early stage investor in C2i due to their long-term vision and world-changing technology. Listen to NFX Partner Omri Amirav-Drory talk with Asaf Zviran, Co-founder & CEO of C2i Genomics, about the future of their company, their latest technological breakthroughs, and where the industry is headed in the near future. Asaf and Omri's conversation begins at 11:15 Visit C2i to learn more -
48:53 06/25/2021
Tony Fadell on Learning To See, Telling Stories, & Being A Troublemaker
It’s not often you get to see through the eyes of someone who created a product that you and hundreds of millions of other people use, hundreds of times a day, every single day, and have for a decade or more. Tony Fadell is the legendary inventor of the iPod, co-inventor with Steve Jobs of the iPhone, and Founder of Nest. Now he is the Principal at Future Shape, an investment and advisory firm coaching over 200+ startups. There’s almost an infinity of things to learn from Tony, but what we most wanted to uncover are his product frameworks and first principles for design. How can Founders think about designing products that are both high-utility and beloved -- that achieve dent-in-the-universe levels of adoption? As Tony puts it: For truly great designs, 50% of the design is the design. 50% of the design is the story behind the design. And it all begins with re-learning how to see.
39:34 06/22/2021
The Founders' List: Shishir Mehrotra with an Inside Look at How YouTube Scaled (Rituals for Hypergrowth)
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. When Shishir Mehrotra left YouTube in 2014, a number of other company leaders wanted to understand how YouTube worked from the inside. He wrote this article summarizing their key rituals in a stage of hypergrowth. This article was originally published in 2015, but has since been expanded upon by Shishir. Read the full essay here -
11:41 06/17/2021
Super Founders with Ali Tamaseb & James Currier
What started as a viral medium article from two years ago has now turned into 'Super Founders', a book on what data reveals about billion-dollar startups. Today on the NFX Podcast we have Ali Tamaseb (partner at DCVC) talking with James Currier about his data-driven approach to understanding what really differentiates billion-dollar startups from the rest. The book includes exclusive interviews with the founders/investors of Zoom, Instacart, PayPal, Nest, Github, Flatiron Health, Kite Pharma, Facebook, Stripe, Airbnb, YouTube, LinkedIn, Lyft, DoorDash, Coinbase, and Square, venture capital investors like Elad Gil, Peter Thiel, Alfred Lin, and Keith Rabois. Ali Tamaseb has spent thousands of hours manually amassing what may be the largest dataset ever collected on startups, comparing billion-dollar startups with those that failed to become one—30,000 data points on nearly every factor: number of competitors, market size, the founder’s age, his or her university’s ranking, quality of investors, fundraising time, and many, many more.
38:39 06/15/2021
Major Opportunities for Young Founders with Jon Levin, Dean of Stanford GSB
Stanford GSB Dean Jon Levin joins NFX Partner Pete Flint to discuss his perspective on new Founders entering the industry, how Stanford encourages its students to solve real-world problems with technology, macroeconomics, and the overall state of capitalism. Jon Levin started teaching at Stanford in 2000. Has been Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business since Sept 2016 and is about to celebrate 5 years in that role. Levin received his BA and BS degrees from Stanford University in 1994, an MPhil in Economics from Oxford in 1996, and his PhD in Economics from MIT in 1999. Pete got to know Dean Levin from being on the GSB Management Board after graduating in 2005. He has also co-taught a number of cases at the GSB.
37:20 06/10/2021
The Insider Story of Waze with Noam Bardin
Underlying Waze's journey is a little-known approach to product thinking, super-powerful data network effects, and a guiding north star metric. This is Waze's insider story, as told by their former CEO, Noam Bardin. NFX Partner Gigi Levy-Weiss recently sat down with Noam, where they discussed the step-by-step story of the company's growth, starting from their early days in 2008 with just 2,000 monthly active users, through being acquired by Google for $1B in 2013, and hitting 140M monthly active users at the time Noam stepped down in Feb 2021. Early-stage Founders are wise to study as many successful growth stories as they can. While there is no single playbook of best practices, each case contains deeply valuable learning that we at NFX aim to pass along from Founder to Founder. Read the full NFX Essay here -
61:24 06/02/2021
Heather Fernandez & Pete Flint on Startup Speed As A Public Good
Speed is routinely acknowledged as a major advantage for startups. But startup speed is not sufficiently understood as an invaluable competency for society at large. Solv Health’s growth during the pandemic is a great example. Just 4 years old, the startup managed 5 million Covid tests in 2020, compared to 7 million tests by long-established CVS. Today NFX General Partner Pete Flint is joined by Heather Fernandez, Co-Founder and CEO of Solv Health and previously a leader with him at Trulia. They analyze mental models and hard tactics for using speed to convert chaos to growth — and good. Read the full NFX Essay here -
48:38 05/25/2021
The Founders' List: The Great Online Game by Packy McCormick
The Great Online Game is an infinite video game that plays out constantly across the internet. It uses many of the mechanics of a video game, but removes the boundaries. You’re no longer playing as an avatar in Fortnite or Roblox; you’re playing as yourself across Twitter, YouTube, Discords, work, projects, and investments. Packy McCormick is the founder of the Not Boring Club, a newsletter on business strategy and pop culture. This episode is narrated by Packy himself. We were referred to this post by Li Jin, our most recent guest on the NFX Podcast. Read the full essay here -
20:18 05/21/2021