The Brilliant Approach that Allowed Hims to Reach Unicorn Status in One Year

Though founded just over a year ago, Hims' novel approach to issues of a men’s health has already allowed the company to raise more than $197 million at a reported $1 billion valuation.

A Brilliant Approach to Treating ED

The company, which specializes in men’s healthcare products was able to capitalize on Viagra’s patent expiration and developed its own ED medication using the same active ingredient. Customers consult discreetly with an online physician, then the product is sent directly to the customer’s home. In a move away from Viagra’s targeting of the older male demographic however, Hims markets primarily to a much younger demographic, often under the age of forty, and conveys the common nature of the issue through social media and celebrity sponsored ads in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding ED treatment.

Addressing Other Men's Wellness Issues

In much the same way as its ED treatment, Hims has also taken a similar approach in manufacturing and marketing its men's hair-loss treatment. Once Merck’s patent on Propecia expired in 2014, Hims was again free to repurpose the active ingredient and sell it as its own treatment. It also doesn't hurt that one of the most common side effects of Propecia is impotence. Along with ED and hair-loss, Hims also addresses the embarrassing problem of cold sores which it combats with a pill containing the active ingredient in Valtrex, whose patent expired in 2009. All of these medications, as well as skin creams and supplements and a new women’s line, are all aggressively targeted in fun and clever ways towards a younger consumer.

An Approach That Pays

So far, the approach seems to be working. It was reported yesterday, Hims will be closing a new round of Series C funding for $100 million. The pre-money valuation of this latest round of funding has reportedly pushed the value of the company over $1 billion. This latest round of funding comes less than seven months after the company closed its last round of funding, a Series B round for $50 million. To date, Hims has raised more than $197 million after eight rounds of funding.

An Optimistic Future

While some investors balked at the $1 billion pre-money valuation, company co-founder and CEO Andrew Dudum remained undeterred. In a recent interview Dudum remarked, ‘We think what we’re building is a $10-20 billion company in the next few years.’ Whether or not the company will reach this valuation remains to be seen, but for now, Hims see,s off to a very good start.

How Dr. Dre Built a Multi-Billion Dollar Music Empire

Dr. Dre is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the music industry. His hustle, work ethic, and skill have taken him from the streets of Compton to a multi-billion dollar exit to Apple. His unyielding drive is what separates him from his contemporaries and makes him one of the best professionals the industry has ever known.

Humble Beginnings

Dre grew up in a rough household with an abusive father. After dropping out of high school, Andre Romelle 'Dr. Dre' Young started his career in the early 80’s DJ-ing at a local Compton nightclub called, Eve After Dark.

From a young age, Dre was crafting his skills in business and sales. After recording one song called ‘Surgery’, Dre managed to sell 50,000 copies of it on his own in and around the Compton area. Soon, Dre found himself hosting his own radio show on the local radio station, KDAY.

The Rise of N.W.A.

In 1986, Dre met fellow rapper Oshea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson who introduced him to the record label Ruthless Records which was run by rapper, Eric ‘Eazy E’ Wright. Together the three formed the group N.W.A. and two years later, in 1988, released their debut album, Straight Outta Compton. The new harder, grittier form of gangster rap redefined the direction hip-hop would take and the album went triple platinum, selling over 3 million copies. What separated Dre from many others in the industry was an unyielding work ethic.  In 1991, at the behest of his bodyguard Suge Knight, Dre left N.W.A to form his own label with Knight called, Death Row Records.

The Formation of Death Row Records

As a businessman, Dre has was capable of spotting great talent and crafting relationships as well as opportunities. Dre’s first solo album on the label was called The Chronic and featured a young and unknown artist, Calvin ‘Snoop Dogg’ Broadus, as well as Dre’s younger stepbrother, Warren ‘Warren G’ Griffin. The Chronic went multi-platinum and to date has sold over 7.5 million copies. Along with working on his own album, Dre was busy producing for these young artists as well. In 1993, Death Row Records released Snoop's debut album, Doggystyle, which went RIAA certified quadruple platinum and sold more than 4 million copies. Two years later the label signed another young rapper they planned to position as the next big thing, Tupac Shakur.

Pivot Perseverance & Partnership

When Dre was down he never stayed that way for long. In 1995, amid growing concerns that Knight was no longer dealing honestly, Dre left Death Row Records. One of Dre's best skills was knowing when to cut ties in a professional relationship that was no longer profitable.

After cutting ties with Death Row Records, Dre decided to form his own label Aftermath Entertainment, and partnered with legendary producer Jimmy IovineThis was the start of a symbiotic business relationship that would eventually create a multi-billion dollar empire.

But, success didn't come easy, or without perseverance.

In the early days of Aftermath, Dre faced financial difficulties as well as a trademark infringement lawsuit against him. Additionally, after several records that fell short of expectations, critics began to ask if Dre was still relevant. Despite all the negativity surrounding him, Dre pressed on and soon had the insight to sign an unknown young rapper out of Detroit named, Eminem.

Going Platinum Again

Dre produced three songs on Eminem’s debut album The Slim Shady LP, which went quadruple platinum. In 1999, Dre continued to prove he was back when he released his second solo album 2001, which went six times platinum. He also won Producer of the Year at the Grammy Awards that year for it. In May or 2000, Dre released Eminem’s follow-up album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which went certified 10 times platinum.

Over the next few years, Dre would continue to release hit-after-hit including artist 50 Cent’s first two albums Get Rich or Die Trying and The Massacre, which would combine to go eleven times platinum. But by 2011, Dre announced he would be taking a leave from music to focus on his other ventures full-time. Just before doing so however, he decided to finish producing an album for one last up-and-coming young superstar, Kendrick Lamar.

Music Film & More

Along with his music career, Dre easily made the transition from music into film producing and worked on several successful projects including the Academy Award nominated N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton.

Along with recording, producing, and securing endorsement deals with Coors Lights and Dr. Pepper, Dre was also heavily involved in other business ventures as well. In 2001, he reportedly sold a 30% stake in his Aftermath label to parent company Interscope Records for $35 million. This sale, combined with another $17 million from his production work, placed Dr. Dre at #2 on Rolling Stones Magazine’s list of highest paid musical artists that year.

The Birth of Beats By Dre

In 2006, while Dre and Iovine were discussing what they saw as the two biggest problems in the music industry at the time - piracy and the audio quality of Apple’s earbuds - Iovine recalls Dre remarking, ‘"Man, it's one thing that people steal my music. It's another thing to destroy the feeling of what I've worked on."

Despite harsh criticism, and the prevailing belief that very few customers would pay $200 for a pair of headphones, the two pressed on and soon developed their first set of studio quality headphones, Beats by Dre Studio.

According to Iovine, "When you believe in something, the last thing you say to yourself is, 'Well, no one's doing this, so there must be no good reason to do it."'

Utilizing the pool of celebrity talent available to them, the team sent samples to celebrity friends and asked them to wear them to help with advertising. One of the smartest such moves was when Dre sent 15 pairs to Lebron James in 2008. When the US Men's Basketball teams arrived in Beijing for the '08 Olympics, all 15 members of the team wore the Beats headphones.

Growth To Exit

By 2011, Beats had already provided laptop speakers to HP and surround sound audio for Chrysler. In August, Beats accepted a $309 million offer from HTC for a 50.1% ownership stake of the company. The marriage was short-lived however. According to a statement by Beats COO Luke Wood,  “I think that they really wanted to focus on core phones and I think their ambition is to try to build other channels of support with their accessories.”  A little over 2 years later, after already having bought back $150 million in shares from the struggling HTC, Beats bought back the remaining 24.84% in shares owned by HTC, for $265 million.

On the same day the buyback was announced, a concurrent announcement was also made that Beats would sell a minority share of ownership to the Carlyle Group for $500 million. The deal placed the value of Beats over $1 billion.

Then, one year later, on May 28, 2014, it was announced that Apple would buy Beats Electronics for $3 billion. The deal included the purchase of Beats Music's streaming service which was in direct competition with Apple iTunes. The deal consisted of $2.6 billion in cash and another $400 in Apple stock, and marked the largest single acquisition Apple had ever made. After taxes, Forbes estimated that Dre’s cut alone was $620 million, which was the largest single payday for any musician ever.

After all of his shrewd business dealings, today Dre’s net worth sits at an estimated $740 million dollars. Not too bad for a guy who started out as a local DJ.



How to Beat Self-Sabotage


Mel Robbins is a best-selling author, life coach, and CNN contributor. Recently, Mrs. Robbins gave a speech on how to stop patterns of self-sabotage. Below are some of the key points from her speech.

Permission to be Selfish

Mrs. Robbins starts her talk by stating that for the last 17 years, she has done nothing but help people get everything they wanted. According to Mrs. Robbins, 1/3 of Americans currently feel dissatisfied with their lives. In order for her to help however, Mrs. Robbins says we first need to reflect on what it is we really want. In answering this question, we can be selfish. According to Mrs. Robbins, our answer does not need to sound good to other people; it is is strictly for us. So, we must first get clear on what it is we really want.

According to Mel Robbins, getting what you want is simple, however, this does not mean it’s easy. Today, we live in an age of incredible resources, and no matter what it is you want in life, if you’re reading this, you have access to at least ten books written by credentialed experts on how to get that thing. According to Mel, today we have all the information, contacts, and tools we need to achieve whatever we want. So, why don’t we?

The Other F-Word

According to Mel Robbins, too often we use the word ‘fine’ as a crutch. When we use this word too much, we can convince ourselves we are fine not having the thing we really want. According to Mrs. Robbins, this is why we are not pushing ourselves. It is the areas of our lives where we’ve given up in which we say we are fine.

We Are Never Going to 'Feel Like It'

According to Mel Robbins, we constantly have ideas for what we want to make of ourselves. We constantly have ideas of things we’d like to pursue and endeavors we’d like to undertake. However, just as often, we hit our own internal snooze buttons. According to Mrs. Robbins, in any area of our life we want to change, there is one fact we need to know: we are never going to feel like it. Motivation will not come, and you are not going to feel like doing it.

A Simple and Effective Challenge

According to Mrs. Robbins, scientists call this ‘activation energy’: the force required to change from ‘auto-pilot’, to doing something new. In order to combat this, Mrs. Robbins challenges us to try this: tomorrow, set the alarm for 30 minutes earlier, and when this alarm goes off, throw off the sheets, stand up, and start your day. According to Mel Robbins, the reason this challenge is so effective is because it forces us to come face-to-face with the physical force required to change our behaviors.

Parenting Ourselves

According to Mel Robbins, no one who needs to go on a diet ever feels like it. However, according to Mrs. Robbins, the activation energy required to go to the gym, or to start a diet, is the exact same activation energy needed to push ourselves out of a warm bed, and stand up. According to Mrs. Robbins, no one tells us when we turn 18 that it will be our job now to parent ourselves, or to make ourselves do the things we don’t want to do so you can be everything you’re supposed to be. But as adults, we must parent ourselves.

According to Mrs. Robbins, it is very simple to get what we want, but it is not easy. In order to get what we want, we must FORCE ourselves to do it. Mrs. Robbins states our mind has two settings: auto-pilot, and emergency brake. Auto-pilot is our default setting, and any time we do anything that deviates from this auto-pilot state, our minds immediately pull the emergency brake and try to get us back  into the more comfortable, familiar state. Thus, by ‘force’, what Mrs. Robbins is referring to is anything that is a break from our routine. That is a ‘force’.

Often, this auto-pilot is a result of our routines. However, just like when we need water we feel thirsty, or when we need food we feel hungry, according to Mrs. Robbins, when we feel stuck, our bodies is sending us a signal one of our basic needs is not being met. Often times, this is our need for exploration. Thus, according to Mel Robbins, the only way to get back into growth is by forcing ourselves to be uncomfortable.

We Must Force Ourselves to Get Outside

According to Mrs. Robbins, we must force ourselves to get out of our own heads. We talk too negatively to ourselves and too often we rationalize ourselves out of what we should do. As stated above, we will never feel like doing the things we must do in order to get what it is we truly want. So we must force ourselves past our feelings and past our own comfort zones.

The Five Second Rule

According to Mel Robbins, when we have an impulse to do something we feel we should, if we don’t marry it with an action within the first five seconds of having it, our minds will pull the emergency brake, and kill the idea. For example, if we have the impulse to get up and run, or to strike-up a conversation with a stranger, and we don’t act on this impulse within five seconds of having that initial urge, we will likely not act on it at all. According to Mrs. Robbins, our problem is not coming up with ideas, our problem is we don’t act on them. Thus, Mrs. Robbins ends her speech with a simple directive: go do it. That is all.

5-Steps to Build An Unstoppable Mindset


Craig Ballantyne has been a contributor to Men’s Health for over 17 years. In a recent interview, Mr. Ballantyne outlined his 5-Step ‘Champion’s Checklist’ to help build an unstoppable mindset. Below are Mr. Ballantyne’s 5-Steps.

Step 1: Develop a Positive Mental Attitude

In order to do this, Mr. Ballantyne recommends a trick called ‘anchoring’. Anchoring is a technique that allows you to snap yourself into a higher mental state whenever you need it. To anchor, Mr. Ballantyne suggests recalling a moment from your life when you felt absolutely unstoppable such as the moment after you won a great victory. Once you fully feel yourself back in this moment, Mr. Ballantyne suggests balling up your right fist and punching it hard into your left palm twice. That is anchoring. According to Mr. Ballantyne, if you do this twice a day for a week, whenever you need to enter that higher mental state you can simply pound your fist into your hand twice and be taking immediately back to the higher state of mind.

Step 2: Get a Coach

In almost any walk of life, those who succeed are those who have great coaches and mentors. While an in-person coach or mentor who can work with you is always the best option, according to Mr. Ballantyne consuming content from someone who’s living the life you want to lead is also a very good step. As Mr. Ballantyne states, “Remember the Law of Environmental Exposure: ‘Whatever you expose yourself to on a regular basis, you will eventually become.’ By intentionally consuming content and ideas from other high-achievers you will begin to subconsciously adopt their mindsets, beliefs, and behaviors.”

Step 3: Set Goals that Will Fire You Up and Force You to Grow

Aristotle once said, ‘Nothing improves aim like a target’. If you want to achieve something great, you must know your goal. According to Mr. Ballantyne, it is very important to write your goals down and to revisit them daily. According to Mr. Ballantyne, repetition is the mother of all success. In order to achieve your goals, you must constantly strive toward them. “By having a concrete vision for your future and betting on yourself you will start to build your Unstoppable Mindset, and start doing the things required to live your best life.”

Step 4: Take Massive Action

This steps is no surprise. In fact even Tony Robbins claims taking massive action is perhaps the most important step towards achieving your goals. According to Mr. Ballantyne, “You can watch motivational videos, listen to coaches, and set goals all day long, but you still have to do the work. You have to take action to get the outcomes you desire. This is the fundamental difference between those with an average mindset and those with an Unstoppable Mindset.”

Step 5: Track and Review Your Performance

And finally, according to Mr. Ballantyne if you aren’t sitting down once a week to measure and review your goals you’ll be overtaken by someone else who is. According to Mr. Ballantyne, “All you need is 10-20 minutes a week to sit down and review: 1) What action steps you took during the week. 2) The outcomes of those action steps. And 3) The lessons you learned and the steps you’re going to take to improve your performance over the coming week.” According to Mr. Ballantyne, you don’t need to make great strides quickly. If you can get just 1% better for 365, in a year you won’t even be able to recognize the life you are living.

If you follow these five-steps and put them into practice every day, you too will soon be well on your way to developing your own Unstoppable Mindset.

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues for Business


Few Americans had a greater impact on the history of this nation than Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was the embodiment of hard work, self-discipline, and an innovative spirit. At the age of twenty, Franklin established Thirteen Virtues to live by in order to help develop his character. These Thirteen Virtues are as applicable today as they were during his time, and each can easily be applied to the development of our professional characters as well.

1. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. - This seems straight-forward enough: Don't waste time and be productive. When it comes to accomplishing as much as Franklin did, efficiency was certainly a top priority.

2. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. - More than anything, often times business seems to be a matter of how many things you can give your attention to. You may have 100 balls to keep in the air and each one needs your attention to do this. If you can't personally do it, delegate.

3. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. - Franklin was a master of finding Win-Win situations. Instead of attempting to harm and defeat his enemies, it was always Franklin's first goal to make allies of them. By doing so, he gained many more friends than he ever had enemies. This served him well in both business, and politics.

4. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation. - Often times, unhealthy relationships can take a huge amount of our mental space. This is energy and attention that could be directed toward our goals. If we find ourselves in relationships that are taking up too much needless time and attention, we must be willing to re-evaluate our approach to them and whether or not they should be maintained at all.

5. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. - Again, this could not be more applicable to business: Waste no money. Be frugal. According to Franklin, whenever we spend a dollar we must make sure it is being put toward a useful goal. And perhaps the best use we can make of our money is putting it toward sound investments.

6. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. - A big lesson in business is not allowing yourself to be concerned by the things that don't matter. Likewise, we should not be concerned about the little or unavoidable mistakes that will inevitably occur. Things happen. And when they do, we need to fix them, and move on.

7. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation. - Dress for success. Look the part. If you want to be successful, it doesn't hurt to dress this way. As shallow as it may seem, people will treat you differently based on your outward appearance. So, if you want to be successful, you should attempt to walk, talk, act, and yes even dress the part of success.

8. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. - Many business opportunities have been stymied because someone drank too much. Likewise, if we want to stay productive, living a healthy lifestyle can be to our huge advantage. In fact, the one thing many billionaires all state  they have in common is that they exercise. By eating healthy and watching how much we drink we can give ourselves an advantage in both our productivity, as well as our mental, and physical well-beings.

9. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. - In business, one of  the most powerful assets a person can have is a good reputation. Such reputations are built by treating people well, treating them fairly, and treating them honestly. If we can make it a habit to never slander another, and to be impeccable with our words, it will go a long way toward raising our profiles as noteworthy businesspeople.

10. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. - Perhaps the two greatest traits a businessperson can have are reliability and responsibility. By simply doing what we say we are going to do, every time, we immediately place ourself ahead of almost everyone else out there. We must make it a practice business, as in life, to simply always do what we say we are going to do. End of story.

11. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. - Often times, taking an extreme stance can leave us on an island. And often times once such an extreme stance has been taken it can be very difficult to come back from it. When we view our decisions as binary, often times we miss the middle-ground where many more options lay.

12. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. - Don't speak merely for the sake of speaking. Instead, try to make it a practice of only speaking when you have something valuable to say. Often, if we want to get someone to like us it is far better to let them talk about themselves, than it is  to list our own accomplishments. This is as true as in business as it is in dating, friendship, and in life in general. If you only speak when you have something good to say, when you do speak people will be much more inclined to listen to what you have to say and take you seriously.

13. Imitate Jesus and Socrates. - Finally, to this list we could add: Imitate, Benjamin Franklin. 

Train Your Brain to Get What You Want


On more than one occasion, Marisa Peer was named Britain’s Best Therapist. In one of her most famous speeches, Marisa explains how to train your mind to reach beyond your limits and get what you really want. Below are the key points from her speech.

Our Minds Are Here to Serve Us

Marisa Peer began by asserting the most important collaboration we will ever make is between ourselves and our minds. Furthermore, Dr. Peer claims that when you collaborate with your mind and tell it what you want, it will do everything in its power to attain the object of your desire.  According to Marisa Peer, there are four things about our minds which - if we put into practice - will ensure we have success across the board.

The Four Principles of the Mind

First, Dr. Peer asserts our minds will always do exactly what it thinks we want them to do. Thus, if we are not getting what we want it is because we are not collaborating properly with our mind. Secondly, according to Dr. Peer, our minds are hardwired to move toward pleasure and away from pain. Third, the way we feel about anything boils down to two things: ‘the pictures we make in our heads and the words we say to ourselves.’ And fourth, our minds love what is familiar. In other words, our minds are, ‘programmed to keep going over-and-over again toward what is familiar.’ Thus according to Marisa Peer, ‘If you want to succeed at any level, you’ve got to make what is familiar unfamiliar, and what is unfamiliar familiar.’

The First Principle: Tell You Mind Exactly What You Want It To Do

According to Marisa Peer, our minds are always working out for our own best interest. Our minds listens to what we say, and act accordingly. Thus, if we say, ‘I want a week off in bed’, the chances we will come down with an illness are then greatly heightened. It’s almost as if our minds are genies willing to grant whichever wish we command to it. So, conversely from the above example according to Dr. Peer, if we use language like, ‘I have chosen to do this, and chosen to feel great about it’, it will go a long way toward changing our lives.

The Second Principle: Link Incredible Pleasure to What You Want

Dr. Peer states, ‘This is way more than positive thinking: it is collaborating with your mind.’ Thus, if we are not getting what we want from life then we are not collaborating properly with our minds and we must learn how to. According to Dr. Peer, if we want to get something which requires a tremendous amount of work, we must constantly tell our mind that we love the work even if it isn’t true. That is how we collaborate with our mind: we must, ‘tell it, using very specific, very detailed, very precise words, what we want.’

So, if you tell your mind, ‘I like this. I want this. I’ve chosen this’, and you link pleasure to these statements, your mind will move toward whatever the object of desire is. Even if it’s something that will cause us a tremendous amounts of pain, if we are collaborating with our minds and properly telling it what we want, we will be able to get through the pain to achieve our goal. In fact, we will actually move toward the pain knowing we will feel even better afterwards. A good example of this would be forcing ourselves to go through the pain of going in a run because we know the rush of endorphins we will feel when we’re done will outweigh the temporary pain we experience during that same run. Thus, in order to get what we want we must link pleasure to doing the things that are hard to do.

The Third Principle: Feed Your Mind Very Specific Images and Language of What You Want

The third thing Marisa Peer wants us to appreciate is the only language the brain understands: the pictures we make in our head, and the language we use. Thus, when we are properly collaborating with our brains, we must make sure the pictures we envision and the words we are using are bringing us the things we want. According to Dr. Peer, the pictures we make in our heads and the words we use change everything. To demonstrate this idea, Marisa Peer asks the audience to pretend they are eating a lemon, then asks them to notice the way heir mouths have begun to water. It is this effect the mind has on the body that Dr. Peer is most interested in.

The Fourth Principle: Make What You Want Very Familiar

The fourth thing, as stated above, is that our minds love what is familiar. According to Marisa Peer, if what is familiar is procrastination, laziness, and not applying ourselves, this is what our brain will go for. Thus, if we want to become successful, we need to make these negative behaviors unfamiliar, and the more positive traits, such as working hard and believing in ourselves, familiar. So, just like eating the lemon, if we believe we are great at something, we will tell our brains what we want to be and our minds in turn will make this thing so. As an example, Dr. Peer points to Mohammed Ali who claimed he told himself he was the best ever until he became the best ever. Or, how Arnold Swarzenegger once said, ‘Modesty is not a word that applies to me. And I hope it never does.’ Whatever we tell our mind, it believes, so Dr. Peer encourages us to tell our minds better things. ‘First you make your beliefs, then your beliefs make you. When you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you too.’

The Bannister Effect As Proof

As a further example, Marisa Peer points to Roger Bannister. Bannister told himself the four things above when he decided he wanted to run a mile in under four minutes when no one ever had. By taking control of his mind and taking it through these four steps he was able to achieve what no one had before. According to Dr. Peer, this is the reason why Olympic world records keep being broken: because our potential expands as we think it is possible.

So to reiterate, Marisa Peer suggests if we want to have the most fantastic collaboration with our own minds, we’ve got to tell our mind what we want, link massive pleasure to getting the thing and pain to not getting it, change the pictures and words  we use to match what it is we want, and make these ideas of having this thing familiar. When we do this, we will truly collaborate properly with our minds and in turn our minds will expand to bring us whatever it is we ask it for. It is not positive thinking, it is re-wiring our brains for success.




The Greatest Single Factor in Startup Success


Bill Gross is the founder and CEO of the business incubator, Idealab. In a recent conversation in Vancouver, Mr. Gross shared his findings on what factors matter most for startup success.

The Power Startups

To begin with, Mr. Gross asserted he believes the startup model is one of the greatest ways we can make the world a better place. According to Mr. Gross, by taking the right group of people and incentivizing them properly you can unlock human potential in a way that has never been possible before. Why then do so many startups fail? And what factors matter most in startup success?

The Five Key Factors for Success

In order to answer these questions, Mr. Gross reviewed the 100’s of startups founded within Idealab and examined what lessons could be learned from both these company’s successes, as well as their failures. In so doing, Mr. Gross identified five factors he felt contributed most to a company’s success or failure. Those five factors are: idea, team, business model, funding, and timing.

A Real Life Case-Study

To determine the effectiveness of these five factors, Mr. Gross examined the impact of each factor across 100 Idealab companies as well as 100 outside companies. Mr. Gross examined companies from Idealab which had gone on to achieve billion dollar valuations, as well as those he considered to have fallen short. Likewise, when examining outside companies, he examined both companies he considered to be wild successes like AirBNB and YouTube, as well as companies which he considered to be failures like and Friendster. For all of these companies, Mr. Gross measured the impact that each of the five factors had.

The Single Greatest Factor

According to Mr. Gross’s research, across all of these companies, the number one factor was timing (42%). The second biggest factor was execution (32%), then idea (28%), business model (24%), and finally funding (14%).

Two Real-Life Examples

As an example for how these key factors played out, Mr. Gross sited, AirBNB. According to Mr. Gross, at the time of AirBNB’s launch many very smart investors wanted nothing to do with the company. Very few could see the validity in renting out their home to a stranger. The model was new and untested. However, according to Mr. Gross, one of the major advantages AirBNB had was launching during the height of the recession when people really needed extra money. This timing helped people overcome their objections to the new business of renting out their homes to strangers. According to Mr. Gross, this was the same situation which helped to contribute to Uber, which launched around the same time. 

To Sum It All Up

In summary, Mr. Gross stated that execution and idea certainly matter a lot, but that it is timing which might matter even more. According to Mr. Gross, the best way to assess timing is to thoroughly determine if customers are ready for what you are offering them. According to Mr. Gross, if you are very honest with yourself about the factor of timing, you will have a better chance of seeing your startup join the ranks of those changing the world for the better as well.

How Flatiron is Improving Cancer Research

Flatiron Health was founded in 2012 after its founders witnessed firsthand how decentralized cancer research information had become. By bringing all of this information into a single repository, the New York City-based Flatiron Health hopes to make such information more readily available and accessible for research of breakthrough cancer treatments.

The Need for Change

Flatiron Health was founded in 2012 by Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg shortly after they sold their first company to Google. The need for Flatiron Health became apparent when Nat’s seven-year old cousin was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

After witnessing firsthand how few hospitals, clinics, and universities were sharing their data with one another, Nat and Zach realized there was an important opportunity to bring all of this information under one single system in order to assist in the discovery of new and improved breakthrough cancer treatments.

Flatiron Health Goes Beyond Mere Treatment

And the need is vast. Beyond merely assisting with the development of new cancer treatments, Flatiron Health also assists with a full range of patient needs. Along with health data, Flatiron Health's shared technology platform assists with visualizing patient populations, determining resource utilization, identifying treatment patterns, overseeing network management, and even allowing health care professionals to match patients with clinical trials among many other beneficial aspects. Coupled with this the company’s ability to streamline the insurance process and manage and make available electronic health records for academic medical centers and hospitals, and you can begin to see just some of the roles Flatiron Health is able to serve.

The Company is Constantly Improving

As an organizational tool for managing the total care of patients, Flatiron Health is unparalleled. According to Flatiron Health's website, currently more than 2.1 million patient records have been entered into their system. Add to this the fact that all 15 of the top therapeutic companies work with Flatiron Health, and over 280 community oncology practices, and seven major academic research centers partner with Flatiron Health as well. The company also sees more than 2,500 clinician users on its OncoEMR service, as well as 55 community oncology practices using its OCM network.

Major Funding and an Enormous Acquisition

Investors have taken notice as well. As of this writing, Flatiron Health has already raised more than $313 million after three rounds of funding. Most recently, Flatiron Health closed a $175 million round of Series C funding in 2016 led by Roche, a Swiss-based company which focuses on bringing targeted cancer treatments to patients. Then, two years later in February of 2018, Roche acquired Flatiron for $1.9 billion.

Today, Flatiron Health and Roche are combining to pioneer a new way to both managing and treating cancer patients. Both companies look to improve the care of patients for many years to come.


A Trick to Achieve Goals on a Busy Schedule


One of the hardest parts in achieving any large goal is finding the time to do it. This is especially true when you have children, or a demanding work schedule. This was the case for author, Andre Dubas III. However, after discovering this simple productivity technique, Andre Dubas was able to write the entire novel, The House of Sand and Fog, which went on to become a National Book Award Finalist, a selection on Oprah’s Book Club, and a New York Times bestseller.

A Very Busy Schedule

In the late 90's, Mr. Dubas wanted to write a novel, but both he and his wife worked. They also had three small children. When Mr. Dubas and his wife weren’t working, they were fully committed to spending all of their time with their children. This of left very little time for Mr.  Dubas to work on the novel.

The 17-Minute Rule

The solution Mr. Dubas came up with was to find an extra 34 minutes each day by freeing up 17 minutes on his way to work, and 17 minutes on his way home. He would leave his house 17 minutes earlier and pull into a parking lot to work for those 17 minutes. Then on his way home, he would do the same thing and stop to write for another 17 minutes. By finding an extra 17 minutes both to-and-from work each day, he was able to write the novel that eventually went on to become a New York Times bestseller.

Finding the Right Place to Work

The parking lot Mr. Dubas would pull into was a cemeteries. As a writer, he needed a quiet place. This was it for him. At five or six in the morning, very few people were out and he could get some very good work done. He wrote the script in longhand with a pencil. Now that Mr. Dubas has had some success, he’s been able to afford a better place to write. However, he still prefers a nice quiet place. In the new house he built, Mr. Dubas says he writes in a ‘jail cell’, a tiny closet only five foot wide and a eleven feet long. This provides him the necessary quiet and solitude he needs to create.

Often, Mr. Dubas was able to find a bit more time throughout the day. During these times he would write a bit more. But having these 34 minutes set into his schedule, he was able to achieve a long-term, life-long goal and change his career and future forever.

Kettlebell Kitchens Makes Eating Healthy Easy


For anyone who wants to eat healthy while maintaining a busy lifestyle the problem is always where to find time to prepare healthy meals. For those facing this dilemma, Kettlebell Kitchens is a great solution. Now, the New York City-based startup is providing healthy, pre-portioned meals for thousands of grateful  customers each week.

Kettlebell Kitchens: A Healthy Eating Option for Those with Busy Schedules

Founded in 2013, Kettlebell Kitchens aims to provide healthy nutrition solutions in support of weigh loss, muscle gain, and growth performance goals for those with busy lifestyles.  The pre-packages customizable food options come delivered straight to your door and are microwave-ready in just minutes.

A Simple 3-Step Process to a Healthy Meal Plan

By providing healthy meal plans Kettlebell Kitchens looks to help working professionals maintain their fitness goals. In order to do this, the company uses a simple 3-step process. The first steps is to learn what a customers specific fitness goals are. From there, one of the companies registered dietitians customizes a meal plan option for the customer based on their specific fitness goals. Finally, the company delivers a week’s worth of meals at a time directly to the customer to simply heat and eat.

Healthy Options at Fair Prices

Individuals plans usually start at $8.95 for breakfast and between $11.95 and $13.95 for entrees. All meals are soy-free and dairy-free and all ingredients are naturally gluten-free thought the kitchen is not certified gluten-free. The company also offers meals which are higher in carbohydrates as part of their ‘athlete meals’ and also offers vegetarians meals for those with such dietary restriction needs.

Committed to Giving Back

Founded by two former military members, Kettlebell Kitchens is proud to offer discounts for all members of the military and first-responders. The meal containers themselves are made from plant fibers, and are fully recyclable. Kettlebell Kitchens also makes an effort to donate meals to those in need whenever they can.

Supported by Robust Financing

In October of 2018, Kettlebell Kitchens successfully closed a $26.7 million Series B round of funding led by North Castle Partners. Previous to this, the company had closed a round of $2.6 million in Series A funding, as well as a round of $1.1 million in Seed round funding. To date, the company has raised more than a reported $30.4 million after three rounds of funding.

By offering healthy and convenient food options for working professionals, this New York City-based startups is leading the way in keeping working professional performing at their best.