April 21, 2022
Let’s kick off this week with an exciting Tuesday headline: Gold House Ventures launched a $30 million VC fund to invest in Asian & Pacific Islander entrepreneurs.
📸 Some Key Snapshots:
Investors include: Bain Capital, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Lightspeed, Tony Xu (CEO of DoorDash), Steve Chen (co-founder of Youtube), Daniel Dae Kim
Current investments: Umamicart, Binance, Pluang
Market-first social impact label: all general partner fees and returns will be donated back to Gold House
Seeking API founders and ideas that serve API communities
For context, Gold House (founded 2018) is a nonprofit collective of API founders, creative voices, and leaders. Their subsidiary program, Gold House ventures seeks to leverage that network and “back the next generation of great API founders” – individuals much like our featured founders and creators.
📅 Gen Z Founder-Creator of the Week
✨ Meet Allan Maman, the 22-year old behind this decade’s most buzz-worthy trends. Allan’s journey began in high school, where he sold $350,000 worth of fidget spinners in 6 months. His company, Fidget360, was credited with launching the "Fidget Spinner Trend". In 2019, he led growth for Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign, defining the meme strategy and building a $1.2M war chest (#yanggang). He later joined Michael Bloomberg’s campaign marketing team as resident political meme maker.
Currently, Allan is Co-Founder of Bloom, an Y-Combinator (S21) backed investing app for teenagers that offers fractional investing and $0 commission on domestic stocks. They recently raised $3.3 million in funding to work towards their mission of improving financial literacy for Gen Z. His resume also includes: Founder of Glowless (startup building transdermal patches to alleviate Asian Glow), Founder of Pintok (app that lets you save TikToks by folder, 190K downloads), Head of Growth at Itsme and NUGGS, and Strategy and Special Projects at Robinhood. In today’s issue, Allan shares insights into his unique entrepreneurial journey:
📆 What does your schedule look like? Yesterday, I woke up around 7-8 AM, worked out, took my puppy to the dog park, and had a full day of work and meetings. Last week, I flew to San Francisco to meet Bloom’s SF team for a bunch of fun co-working and in-person activities. My last month was a combination of the above: a lot of meetings, brainstorming, execution and travel.
📚 Dropping out of college: In high school, I had a super low GPA (like 2.5), so I didn’t have many options for good schools. That being said, I built Fidget360 in senior year, which made decent revenues and gave me some business clout. Upon graduation, my parents gave me an ultimatum: either go to college or get kicked out of the house. I decided to go to a local community college for a month, but I was pretty miserable there. I figured I'd just take the other side of the ultimatum and move to New York City.
🍓 Building Glowless: The process was super arduous. I spent a lot of time reading studies, sourcing material, finding supplies/manufacturers – and nights in my friend’s office testing on other Asian friends. Building something from scratch was definitely not easy.
Pro Tip: Whenever you get an estimate on when a product is done, add an additional 30% of that time, and that will be your real timeline.
🧧 Selling Glowless: Glowless was doing well prior to the pandemic, but when COVID-19 hit, our sales took quite a loss. I went from a fulfillment facility back to packing orders in my NYC bedroom. I also started to lose a bit of motivation and wanted to work on something new, so when a friend connected me with someone who used our product, we decided she would help carry out the vision of combatting Asian glow.
📈 Creating viral content: Authenticity is key. Gen Z is very conscious when it comes to them being sold something that comes off as scammy or r/fellowkids vibes, so you need to do your best to maintain authenticity and your intent. Also, you want to discover a growth hack and milk it as much as you can.
👥 Finding and maintaining connections: My most valuable connections came from my parents. Just kidding, they came from either cold outreach or warm intros. I try to think of making good connections as a domino effect; once you have a good reputation / have proven your value, it’s much easier to ask for introductions.
These days, I’m super busy with Bloom, so I don’t always have time to grab lunch/dinner with friends. But when I can, I'll shoot them a text along the lines of “hope all is well” or, if someone in my network could benefit from an intro, I’ll initiate that.
📊 Working with Yang and Bloomberg: Being on the campaign was extremely fun! With Yang, our initial team was super lean, and we could experiment with content. With Bloomberg, I was the youngest person in the campaign office. Since I had proven myself with Yang, I wasn’t treated like some 20 year old. That being said, Bloomberg had a much larger budget than Yang, so it was all scaled up, with some extra legal review.
💬 How did you meet Yang and Bloomberg? I cold emailed Yang’s presidential team and showed up at the campaign office less than 3 hours after sending the initial email. With Bloomberg, my friend cold texted the campaign manager, pretending to know him. He created a group chat saying - “Intro’ing you to Allan Maman who worked on Yang, etc” - then, the campaign manager replied, “let me know how to connect”. I joined the Bloomberg campaign the following week.
🌟 The Bloom Team: I was working at Robinhood when Sonny Mo, the CEO, approached me to join Bloom. Sonny and Sam Yang, the CPO, are both very technical. I handle all things growth, operations and customer experience. We work well together because they’re some of the smartest people I know, and we all focus on what we are best at. Our larger team currently consists of 10 people who we did a lot of outreach and warm intros to find. At this stage, any team members that join are taking multiple bets: on the product, founders and current team.
🔒 Biggest entrepreneurial challenge: Not getting beat up when you take consistent L's
❗ What’s your best advice for our readers? Sounds cliche, but it’s all about maximizing your chances of success. Putting yourself out there, trying to build products, learning the ins and outs of business operations. Secondly, it’s insane how much good content is out there on Youtube. I recommend watching interviews with successful startup founders/CEOs, or just general tutorials.
tl;dr: find growth hacks and maximize your chances of success; don’t be afraid of cold outreach - you never know who might respond!
Check out Bloom here: joinbloom.co
Keep up with Allan on Twitter: twitter.com/allanmaman
🐦 Tweet of the Week
✌️ That’s it until next time!
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