Ask me anything! (Andrew Chen)

(Andrew Chen) #1

Hey everyone,
I’m fiddling around with these forums again and wanted to let y’all ask me anything :slight_smile:

Couple updates on me:

  • 6 months into the new job at Andreessen Horowitz
  • Started a book (!!!)
  • Announced 3 new boards/investments (Atrium,, Envoy). One in the hopper!

Am living in Palo Alto, CA these days.

Ask me anything!

(Nakul Gupta) #2

Hi Andrew,

I am Nakul Gupta, a second-year student at Chicago Booth and worked in BCG in India before coming here. My team and I launched, a tech platform through which applicants can get support from mentors who are second year students and alumni of the top MBA Schools (Chicago Booth, Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, etc) at an affordable price. MBA applicants can instantly book time with mentors to work on anything they need for their applications through bite-sized services. MyMBACircle is founded on the belief that neither your finances nor personal network should limit your access to the insights and knowledge that can help you gain acceptance to top universities. We have already helped many students who don not have the means to get into top business schools and are coaching many more.

I would love to get some of your feedback on the platform and insights. Thanks for your time!

(Aishwarya Agarwal) #3

Hi Andrew,

I work at YouTube and we are a new growth marketing team. By virtue of being new, we are confused with a team that provides reporting, does one off troubleshooting analysis.
Do you have advice on how can we articulate what a growth team does and solidify it with clear examples. Idea is to differentiate ourselves from an insights and measurement team.

Let me know if my question is vague and I can be more specific.

(Matt Hayes) #4

I’m one of the founding members of Leesa, the online mattress brand. Lately, “CAC is the new rent” has been prevalent in articles and talks in reference to DNVBs. Do you think profitable growth via paid digital acquisition has run its course for pureplays?

(Akos Balogh) #5

Hi Andrew, Thank you for your invite! Hope you are having a great Saturday. How can we show our product to get advise from you?
It is hardware so not sure it is a good fit, but I am sure you can add so many values with your expertise.
We are in Palo Alto the next week.

Thank you and best regards

(Armand) #6

I call this the digital drought. Everyone knew it was happening but remained too comfortable with their main “traction” channel being Paid Social.

Btw, judging by the amount of spend you’re currently doing I imagine you already know this lol.

What’s hard is to measure is how much the Facebook Pixel is actually hurting you. Your space is extremely competitive, once you bring someone into your funnel Facebook will start showing them a bunch of ads from your competitor’s - and Casper will out Social Proof you, Purple will out content you, Helix will out lead gen you.

Edit: These are just my examples, not critiquing you. Also, I acknowledge you’re ask Andrew and not me, sorry lol.

(Scott Sonneborn) #7

Hi Andrew,

Interested in your thoughts on the increasing power of Facebook and social media to drive acquisition. I’m coming from the perspective of startups scaling on FB and Insta alone. It seems that, without a built out organic presence, startups are at the mercy of the algorithm (and the accompanying increasing acquisition costs with scale). If you were starting a company today, how would you balance trying to grow as quickly as possible and making sure the growth comes from scalable independent channels?


(Chris Jacob) #9

How do you earn, keep and control Attention?

(Andrew Chen) #10

What’s the team called? These days I think people understand what a growth marketing team does - I think that’s one of the reasons to adopt the nomenclature that’s being used at Facebook, Linkedin, Uber, and other places with large growth teams.

Also, maybe if you are new you just need to “roadshow” the team to all of your peer groups, executives, etc. Feels like it can be solved with some hustle! Thanks.

(Andrew Chen) #11

The ads market has just gotten efficient. You need an edge, sometimes that’s product, sometimes that’s a unique brand. But it’s hard to sell a fairly commodotized product - like many DTC plays - and combine that with a commodity growth strategy, and expect to be successful

(Andrew Chen) #12

Unfort I can’t evaluate individual products - as you might imagine, if I did that, I’d never have time to write or work :slight_smile: If you get really compelling traction then happy to take a look. But for SaaS that’d be millions in ARR or for consumer, millions of DAUs. Hope that helps.

(Meghan McCarthy) #13

Do you think the data surveillance/ad serving business model survives the next 5-10 years? If not, what does tech look like then?

(Andrew Chen) #14

Yes, because people like free content :slight_smile: So I think in general it’ll be there.

On the other hand, I think/hope there will be more premium subscription services where I can just pay to have high-quality content. I don’t mind the ads-driven business, but I do think it warps the content to be much worse.

(Meghan McCarthy) #15

My bold prediction is that it won’t survive regulation. My best guess is that even if consumers like free content, companies will be forced to do a lot more than trade free content/product to get the data (ie opt in versus opt out). I can’t say it would kill the business model, but it’ll certainly make the margins tighter.

(Akos Balogh) #16

Good morning Andrew, thank you so much for your kind answer. To get the millions of DAUs, we need to scale first, for scaling we need the millions :slightly_smiling_face:
Also, those investments should come from SMART VC’s.
That is what I am looking when asking about evaluate us, maybe more to assess the concept/team/approach rather than the individual product.
Happy Sunday Sir

(Andrew Chen) #17

I’d suggest that you start with raising money from friends and family. Then having seed funds invest. Usually the larger VCs will only invest once there is real traction

(Akos Balogh) #18

Thank you again Andrew, great honor to chatting here with you today, Yes… MOSCASE is older than 3 years, we spent our own funds and got $ 1 M seed already and now raising $ 5 M.
As far as traction: we spent massive amount of resources for R & D, we hold a patent, prototype ready, Apple MFI approved, and we are at the pilot phase than ramp up the mass production. We are pitching and meeting good Folks, but you know fundraising is an ongoing project.

(Stefan Suppa) #19

Hi Andrew,

Big fan of your work, thank you for organizing this forum. Excited to be a part of it.

We are in the process of raiding our seed round at Localyyz. From your experience:

  1. What is the general appetite for marketplaces right now with Tier 1 VCs?
  2. What are some common risks/concerns that VC have when evaluating these types of businesses?
  3. What are the target KPIs/metrics that successful marketplaces have at the seed stage?
  4. What other factors would you evaluate to make a decision on investing in a marketplace?

Thanks in advance for your help and insight here.


(Jho) #20

Hi Andrew,

I’m a Wharton student very interested in interning at a16z this summer. Is there any way I could you join you for 2-3 months and help with due diligence, market research, VC financial modeling or anything else?
I can work unpaid if you guys don’t have interns’ pay in your budget. Please let me know- my email is


(Andrew Chen) #21

VC generally love marketplaces. There’s real network effects that create moats. But the problem is that very few get to liquidity.

I collected all the reading on the topic here:

Ultimately because very few get to liquidity, the key is to wait until you can see network effects, then overpay to get them.