Can this subscription service make you a better parent?

It’s potpourri week, a heady stew of random madness.

I am the grandfather of several (seven) grandchildren.

The four children are married and to my knowledge they are not on drugs or in jail. This suggests that I had some impact, maybe only minimal, but at least provided some modest advice along the way to my kids.

Well it turns out that I am now replaced by an app.

Meet Alltruists, a subscription service launched by Jessica Jackley, which raised $ 1.25 million. This app claims to make me a better parent by helping me with my spirituality and helping me instill this belief in my children. She says she is “deconstructing religion”. For $ 50 per month, you get a box with a booklet and volunteer activities and projects related to the world’s biggest issues.

His current box teaches you about roaming by giving you cardboard and glue and showing you how to build a house. The other months to come will be devoted to hunger, climate change and food waste.

I’ll tell you what I think is one of the biggest issues in the world – subscription boxes that want to teach me how to parent. She says the children don’t want to know more about Noah’s religion and story, but would like to build an ark. And she says, “There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in volunteering. Maybe, but if I go to sea, it won’t be in an arch. Instead, I go with Jonah and the whale. I can cover more distance and I can stay out of the rain.

OK, then one of my clients has a multi-million dollar contract for him personally. It should close next week. He comes in to discuss and decide on Lambo’s color, and I warn him about one problem: funding. He says, no problem. The bank says they’re good to go. End of the story, the deal is on hold, the problem is funding. So maybe I should make a subscription box with some great tips for $ 50 per month. If I’m right, I get a 10 percent fee. If I’m wrong, you get your $ 50 back.

This week I had dinner with my favorite VCs in a Van Gang. We’re thinking of getting the group back together, but over the pasta and wine we revisited the six companies we interviewed and focused on during our TV adventure a year ago. All but one are bankrupt. The data suggests that if we transfer every investment in the future, we would be right about 85% of the time. The starter game is treacherous.

Nine years ago, a scientist from UCSD took the entrepreneurship course that my wife, Barbara Bry, and I taught at UCSD. I invested in the guy, and during the run the company had six different near-death experiences. Our gang wrote checks and we hung on. Nine years later, the company has just merged with a public company, and my student is really rich. Sometimes, to quote Bob Dylan’s song, “Idiot Wind: I can’t help myself if I’m lucky”.

And then, in case the topic of failure continues to be of interest, Harvard professor Tom Eisenmann has written a book “Why Startups Fail.” There’s the usual list of sinkholes to avoid and mountains to climb, but one failure reason he calls in particular, “bad bed mates.”

I invested in a company a few years ago, and on the first day I identify that there is a mismatch between the CEO and the CTO, but I guess with my charm, my charisma, my reasoning persuasive, my rational thinking and our mutual desire to get rich i can handle the guy. Still wrong. Litigation, temporary restraining order and waste of time, money and energy.

Here is the takeaway. Consider your marriage and your optimistic perspective at the altar that he / she will change for the better after the vows. Hah, call me after the divorce. Change is difficult, and in my last start-up story, I should have walked away. Maybe another Idiot Wind will appear, but I’m buying storm windows from the fortune teller, just in case.

Rule # 673: Is the world upside down or am I standing on my head?

Neil Senturia and Barbara Bry are married serial entrepreneurs who invest in technology start-ups. You can listen to their weekly innovation and entrepreneurship podcast at Please send your ideas to Neil at [email protected]

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