Takeaways from Evy Poumpouras’ new book

Publishers and editors pushed Evy to title her book “Becoming Fearless”, but she pushed back and insisted on “Becoming Bulletproof” because there’s no such thing as fearless. Fearless doesn’t exist: we all have fears. The difference is how we learn to manage fear through repeated practice. She makes the analogy that a bulletproof vest, Kevlar, is made of layers of fabric. While each layer is fragile, layered together they make Kevlar. This is akin to the process we go through to learn to manage fear, which takes repeated work and practice.

Guide for seed stage founders

If you are in the life sciences or hardware spaces, you will unavoidably get this question from institutional investors, “what’s your IP (intellectual property) strategy?”

The answer “XYZ Law Firm is handling our IP” is not a strategy: it’s an expense item on your income statement. Regardless of the brand name of the law firm, they are still advisors, and you are the CEO of your company. IP is a critical asset for a life sciences or hardware company. You can’t outsource the creation of the critical asset of your business. You can only outsource the paperwork filing part.


Guide for seed stage founders

Say you came up with a great idea, in a blue ocean space with little to no competition, where do you price your product or service?

  1. What price points are your competitors and substitutes? — The answer “we have no competition” often reflects narrow scope: even the Mars migration mission has two well-funded competitors (Musk and Bezos). With deep pockets and sometimes unilateral decision making, many sovereign wealth funds can build factories, foundries, cities in months. With merely tax incentives alone, sovereigns can shift the playing field in just a few years. Think broadly about…

One Page of Peer Reviewed Publications, Fighting Against Misinformation.

If you are a scientist and have verified information on this page, or see errors to correct, please message me. The goal is to consolidate all the correct data so we can work together.

(Basics of Covid-19 at the bottom of this page. Covid-19 is the name of the disease. SARS-CoV2 is the virus.)

Grants, Prizes, Submissions:

Why I don’t laugh at Flying Cars: the Economics and Physics Make Sense

Yes, they look funny. We can all agree on that.

But the physics and economics behind flying taxis actually make sense.

First, why do they look so funny?!

Noise is the reason why of the 23 helipads in San Francisco, only one is operational. Noise level is the fifth power of rotator speed, the result of the blade ends hitting air. Helicopters need that rotator speed in order to generate the lift it needs. However, if we split one rotor into many, then each rotor only needs to generate 1/n amount of lift, lowering the rotator speed and size of…

Why the Timing is Perfect; Top Disruptors to Watch

I’ve tried to convince a dozen promising founders to disrupt the insurance industry the past year. The reaction, not surprisingly, is a blank stare at best, disgust at worst. But there’s never been a better time to disrupt this arcane (and large) industry … which means plenty of money to be made by startups.

First, why should you even listen to me? Before venture capital, I spent 18 years on Wall Street analyzing public equity markets, including the insurance sector from 2006, expanding into all financials in 2011. …

Applications in Data Science, Training Models and Investing

If you know me, you know how much I love Ed Thorp, probability theory, decision trees, and poker. Bill Benter wrote an algorithm to win over a billion dollars at the Hong Kong horse-racing tracks. A few takeaways on how he did it:

In 1980s Las Vegas, Benter made about $80,000 a year as a member of a professional blackjack team. Source: Bloomberg and
  1. Go directly to the academic papers. Benter first bought every book on horse-betting, but wanted something more rigorous. He went to the university library, and found an academic paper: “Searching for Positive Returns at the Track: A Multinomial Logit Model for Handicapping Horse Races.”
  2. Teach yourself the tech tools. Benter taught himself advanced statistics and learned to…

Real Examples of How to Stretch Every Impact Investing Dollar

Several people I respect asked about my views on impact investing recently.

Background. Even though we aren’t defined by our past, we are influenced. I grew up with nothing, but somehow was always a do-gooder. Even as a new immigrant speaking zero English, at age eleven I volunteered at the public library, the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Room of the nearby teaching hospital. In high school, I got a few fellow do-gooders together, sold candy to raise enough money to put a recycling bin in every classroom. I delivered meals every Thanksgiving for Meals on Wheels, and wrapped…

Four-Decade Perspective

Dalio visiting China in the 80s. Source: Dalio and Bridgewater.

Ray Dalio has been visiting China since 1984, originally out of curiosity, only starting investing in China over the last decade. Takeaways from his interview yesterday:

UNDENIABLE WORLD POWER. China went from 2% of world GDP in 1984, to 22% in 2018. China is now a world power just like the U.S. and Europe.

RESERVE CURRENCY HISTORY. Dalio has studied economic history of the last 500–1000 years. Whenever there’s a rising economic power, conflict always arises between the rising power and existing power.

I Listened to the Whole Thing, so You Don’t Have to

A few takeaways from Munger’s interview on April 23, 2019 with WSJ reporters Nicole Friedman and Jason Zweig:

INVESTING STYLES. “All good investing involves getting a better investment than you’re paying for. And you’re just looking for it in different places, just as a fisherman can fish in one place or another. Some people look at it in stocks where the earnings are going up all the time, some look at consumer goods, some look at bankruptcies, some look at distressed debt. There are different ways to hunt, just like different places to fish. And that’s investing.”


Gwen Cheni

Partner @indbio (IndieBio.co) @sosv. Prev: @fusionfundvc @singularityu @suNordic @jpmorgan @GoldmanSachs @ucsf @UChicago @yale @LMU_Muenchen

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