Ethan Agarwal sold his first company after raising $70M for it. He’s now championing the area of financial health for entrepreneurs and others who need a modern approach to investing that understands their needs and aspirations. His venture, Aaptiv, has raised funding from top-tier investors like Insight Partners, Warner Music Group, Bose Ventures, and Amazon Alexa Fund.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Successfully pitching your startup to investors
- The three things to focus on as a founder
- LTV versus CAC
- The Coterie and your financial success
- Ethan’s top advice when starting a business of your own
For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
About Ethan Agarwal:
Ethan Agarwal is the founder and CEO of Aaptiv, a leading provider of premium digital health and wellness content with the #1 audio fitness app. Launched in 2016, Aaptiv has raised over $50m in venture funding and counts nearly 200,000 paying subscribers.
Prior to launching Aaptiv, Ethan spent three years at McKinsey & Co, advising clients in the technology, media, and financial industries. Previously, Ethan was an investor at LionEye Capital, a $2.5bn AUM hedge fund, focused on a merger arb strategy across energy, tech, and healthcare.
Ethan began his career as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, focused on healthcare M&A. He holds a Bachelor’s in economics, a second Bachelor’s in political science, and a minor in entrepreneurship, all from Johns Hopkins University.
Ethan earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So today. We have a very exciting founder. We have a serial entrepreneur you know building scaling financing exiting all the above I think that we’re gonna be learning quite a bit here all the good stuff but without farther do let’s welcome our guest Today. Ethan Garwal welcome to the show. So Ethan give us a little of a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up in Montreal.
Ethan Agarwal: Hey how how are you thanks for having me.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, ah, ah, actually great. My dad was a professor at Mcgill and ah learned a lot from him about software and engineering and and building in general and then he started a company in the semiconductor software space. In 94 called logic vision and moved our whole family out to the bay area and so I’ve been in the barrier since 94 and got to you know, watch this industry grow here.
Alejandro Cremades: So I guess two things that come to mind there is what was that the process because at 9 years old I mean you really realized what’s happening around you. So how was that process you know for you of going to a new place completely unknown new friendships I guess how would you say that that uncertainty has. Made who you are today.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, it’s a really good question and I think the ability to adapt to new situations. There’s ah, there’s some research that’s been done around how frequently successful founders moved when they were growing up. And there’s some really high correlation in the success that founders have had and the number of times they moved as kids I don’t know exactly why but it’s probably something around your ability to adapt to different situations and people and so as a nine year Old. You know you have friendships and you have opinions and you’re familiar with stuff and. It was a whole new reset for me. But obviously I had my family there and you know we spoke the language and everything and so um, watching my dad do something that he was really passionate about was very inspiring to me.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah, because that was quite a big switch. You know for him and and also for the family you know something completely unknown to I mean going from professor to entrepreneur. That’s quite a. Quite a stretch. So I guess saying how was that you know for him and also how was for you, You know to be able to experience to the ups and downs of seeing your father going through that right.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah I mean it’s it’s it’s hard to start a company under the best of conditions I think it’s ah it’s even harder when it’s you know a new country a different industry entirely if you’ve ever seen. There’s a great documentary on Mitt Romney when he was running for president against Obama it’s on Netflix I think and there’s an episode on election night where his parents or his family is sort of consoling him because it looks like he’s going to lose and they’re talking about. You know how great he is and he says listen my dad took me from you know home base to third base. And then I’m starting on third base and you know his dad I don’t know if you know this history but you know you grew up in Mexico you came to America he was the Ceo of gm I think he was the governor of Michigan so you know Mitt got to start on third base went to hps and this and that and so I feel like I got a lot of that accelerant. By watching my dad start his company from nothing. He ultimately took it public and then sold it and so I was fortunate enough to not only have sort of resources. But more importantly have the education and the access to the information that I needed to become an entrepreneur myself.
Alejandro Cremades: The fact that you able to that you were able to see that and that you were also showing in the Bay area I Mean do you think that that made you think hey you know I think that one day I’m gonna do this too.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah I mean look I I came here in 94 which arguably was the best time to be here I wish I was 10 years older than I am because maybe I could have taken a hinge of it. But you know we we came here and netscap was starting I went to a school called Harker which is in San Jose which is where a lot of. Um, kids of tech people ah went and so a lot of my friends parents were starting companies or working at Cisco or working elsewhere and so that you know it’s not just about the money but sort of the innovation and the culture was all around us and so I grew up in that and then. Um, you know technology has always been really interesting to me I’m not a technical person I’m not an engineer I don’t write software but I’ve been very interested in how technology can change access and how technology can ah make people achieve things that they would not be able to achieve otherwise and so. That part of innovation has always been really exciting to me I’m the kind of person that likes to break things open and see how they work inside.
Alejandro Cremades: and and and 1 question that comes to mind here is obviously being surrounded by all this technology and innovation. What got you into economics and and politics.
Ethan Agarwal: yeah so yeah I went to Johns Hopkins for undergrad and I was an economics major There was a brief period there where I wanted to um, ah work in politics and and particularly as a lawyer and I was interested in that because of sort of the impact that you can have ah. Well what I thought would be the ability to drive impact by being part of the public sector and and potentially being an elected official. Um I think I look at that today and I say the ability to drive impact at scale is arguably greater through software than it is through policy at least the way that things are. You know today and so as I got older and I started thinking more and more about how can I drive impact I realized that there’s actually a lot of ah work and ah reach that you can have by building really really great software and software is far more scalable than hardware or any other. Um, sort of technological innovation that has occurred in the last you know 200 years and so as software and the internet really started to scale. You know early two thousand s mid 2000 s I started thinking about where do I want to spend my time and that became pretty natural for me.
Alejandro Cremades: And then you went to lehmon you know you did your and Mba now 1 thing that that is interesting here is that typically you know people would do an and Mba and then you know that is what pushes them to to start a company because they meet their cofounders at the at the Nba program. And your case I mean you had it in the family. The entrepreneurship you were also you know, raised raised in an area full of innovation. What do you think? took you so long to get going. You know we’re starting your own company stuff.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, so this was a very conscious decision which is that I saw a lot of entrepreneurs start companies. You know, 21 22 out of school and look I admire people who have the ambition and tenacity to do that. But I was very concerned about starting a company before I was ready so to speak so I decided to spend the first ten years of my career learning how companies are built and learning how companies are run so I spent 2 years at investment banking I spent 2 years getting my Mba at Wharton. I spent 3 years at Mckinsey understanding sort of the operational side of it strategic side of it team building side of it and then I also worked at a hedge fund so I had about 5 years of finance experience and 3 to 4 years of sort of operational experience and I combined all that when I started my first company and I think you know could I have done it without all that. Maybe but I’m I’m confident that I am a better ceo I’m a better founder even today I still use the skills that I gained when I was 21 22 and how to build a financial model or how to think about valuation and you know all those little things that you learn when you’re coming out of an investment banking program or a lot of the things I learned at Mckinsey I still use today. So I feel confident that that time was well spent and it makes me a better entrepreneur.
Alejandro Cremades: So when you were you know Akiney That’s when the idea of optave you know, keep him knocking so walk us through the sequence of events that happened for you to bring activeiveve to life. Okay.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, so I was um, you know, just like any other consultant traveling four days a week and you know you gain a lot of weight because you’re ah ah, very very busy, but also you know a lot of the places you go don’t have great food or don’t have great. Training or gyms or whatever and so I gained a lot of weight and this was around 20142015 when soulcycle was really popular and the studio class was really popular and I remember thinking 2 things 1 is I was like it’s kind of ridiculous that to get access to these high quality trainers and high quality classes. You have to spend $35 per class. Now. Fortunately I was in a place where I could afford that but most of the world is not like that and then the second thing was even at that price point you had to deal with the hassle of signing up on time before it sells out and you had to go to a specific place a specific time and if you were traveling you can take it with you and so. Was all this stuff that just didn’t make sense to me in an era of the internet you know and everything else being on our phones and so I said what if I could take studio quality classes with me that was the premises. And so we then said okay, what is ah what is a great studio quality class. It has 3 things. It has a trainer who provides motivation music and guidance those are the 3 things that create a great workout and so we just started creating audio based classes and.
Ethan Agarwal: Ah, we realized that audio was actually a much better delivery medium than video because when you think about working out almost never is your head anchored to a specific you know three inch ah range for 45 minutes right? like if you’re running down the street or if you’re doing yoga. You want flexibility of movement and so if you have really compelling audio you will actually be more engaged and a great example of that by the way is when you’re listening to a podcast as as here audiences right? now you tend to do single activity when you’re listening to a podcast. Versus when you’re watching Tv for example, which has both video and audio you tend to be doing something else and so there’s something about the singular nature of audio that actually makes it more engaging than dual medium of video and audio and so we came up with this idea of audio-based fitness. And no one else was doing it the other popular fitness products at the time were things like daily burn and a couple others but they were all video focused and so we realized that audio based fitness was going to be really powerful.
Alejandro Cremades: So then in this case, what ended up being the business model and how are you guys making money for the people that are listening to get it. So.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, so activeive appive was a subscription business. It still is we charged somewhere between 10 to $15 a month for unlimited on-demand access to a really large content library ah up to you know 4000 classes across 13 categories. We created 40 new classes a week because as you know in your profession creating fresh content is really important and you know most digital content has a very low um ah tail I mean there’s certain obvious silly exceptions to that Michael Jackson’s catalog etc. But by and large freshness of content is really critical so we were always creating new classes. So the subscription always became more valuable and you know we grew to have over a million paying subscribers in 20 different countries and the ah company did you know just about 100,000,000 of revenue. So. And we all ultimately ended up selling the company. So I would say you know there were certain areas that I wish we had done better but from a you know it was my first at bat and ah given that I’m I’m proud of you know what? the team built.
Alejandro Cremades: Absolutely now for you guys you know here you raised about seventy million bucks but I know that the first round of financing that you did you know you had a hundred and over one hundred and twenty notes to get to a yes, how do you? How do you keep going when you get so many notes.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah I think you have to be a little delusional and like a little silly to start a company in the first place. Um, ah you know the question you have to ask yourself is um, are people giving you a no because there’s like a fundamental. Problem with what you’re building or are they giving you a no because you just haven’t gone far enough for them to give you a yes. So I’ve raised I’ve raised over $100,000,000 of capital in probably 7 or 8 different rounds of financing and what I’ve learned is investors need. Something to hang their hat on and what I mean by that is there’s there’s generally 5 buckets of things that an investor is going to look at one is the team. Ah, you know is is it a bunch of ph ds from whatever school working on a scientific problem if so great. Nothing else matters. They’ll they’ll take a bit on that two is. The product and the technology itself you know is it something like openai you know where it doesn’t matter who the team is it doesn’t matter about anything else. But if the software and the technology is so revolutionary they’ll take a bet on that number 3 is the growth. So if you have. Unbelievable growth. It doesn’t matter what the product or the team or anything else is they’ll invest in that number 4 is ah the market. So is it. You know enterprise software ten years ago is it Ai today.
Ethan Agarwal: Ah, if you’re reasonably good in that market then they won’t care about anything else and then the last thing is who else is investing and so when I was my first time founder nontechnical. Ah you know out of an Mba raising in the fitness space I had none of the 5 things for them to hang their hat on. But. Eventually active. You know, grew quite significantly and our growth became so significant that they couldn’t deny it and they hung their hat on the growth metric because I still didn’t have a you know massive team I still didn’t have incredible product and software. I still didn’t have ah the fitness was a terrible industry at the time and so I had sort of fought through and made the found The 1 thing that I was confident. They could hang their hat on and I still remember like in ah November of 2015 Activeve did 5000 of errorr in December it did 20000 in January of 2016. We went from 20000 to 50000 then 75 then one 21 then 89 so we were growing incredibly quickly on an um mrr basis and. You know that’s how we were able to finally convince pair ah pair Vc to do our first seed round.
Alejandro Cremades: So So let’s talk about you were talking also about then you know on others investing who else is investing. How do you go about controlling or perhaps managing as much as possible that signaling. You know that is sent to the market with what others are doing towards your business when you’re fundraising.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, it’s a good question I mean you know, look this my my my most recent round came from andreessen Horowitz right? And um, ah, there’s a lot of signaling that comes with that. So as soon as people find out that you’re raising money from. Ah, you know, even when I got my first round from pair by the way pair did the first round for both my companies. But when pair did the first round for apptave suddenly a lot of other people wanted to jump in and then eventually we did another seed round from a fund called. Ah, Rina Vc which is still around a little bit but at that time they were incredibly popular and you know suddenly someone who three months ago told me absolutely not was suddenly knocking on my door to try to put money in and you know I think look I think for and for the founder it’s easy to say like oh screw you you weren’t there when I needed you and now you’re sort of following the sheep and it’s it is nice to have that like hanging over them a little bit but at the same time I think a lot of investors. Um, ah, do have ah the benefit of. Working with other investors and once someone really credible comes along. They’re willing to follow along with them for worse economics or something and so you know you could argue that there’s ah, there’s ah, a component of the founder doing this as well where industries do well or you know employees want to go work for a hot company and so.
Ethan Agarwal: I Think it’s it’s It’s nice to see people come after you but I think it’s ah it’s all a cycle right? At some point you’re going to need someone that didn’t need you and eventually they’ll need you again and so I think you know you can feel good for a little bit but Ultimately. We’re all here trying to build something and we all know that this is a hard industry to work in.
Alejandro Cremades: So let’s talk about the um, the acquisition here because obviously you guys grew this to a nice size you know over one ah hundred and twenty people you had like twenty Thousand Square feet in in the war in in the in the one in the one world trade and then also you guys had. You know as well’ll build the business to over one ah 100000000 in revenue. So obviously really impressive numbers. So how did the um, the acquisition come about.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, so okay, so I think one of the mistakes that I made um in running the company was ah we were growing so quickly that I focused almost I focused too much of my attention on growth. And not enough of it on product and so we were a subscription business so our whole life was Ltv Cac and in order to increase my ah so cacs were naturally going up and you know cac is always concentric circle based and so as you spend more your cacs will naturally go up but also cpms are rising which are not really in our control. You try different. Um ah distribution channels and you know some of them will start better and then get more expensive over time. But the point is if you don’t have this really strong ltv and you don’t have avenues to grow your Ltv. Your ratio is always going to get worse because your cacs are undoubtedly, always going to get worse over time. And so I was focusing too much of my time on the cac side of the business and not enough time on the ltv side of the business and so when it came time where optimizing cacs was becoming really really challenging or each incremental thing was like a 1% here or 2% there. It was almost too late for me to do anything meaningful on the ltv side and on the Ltv side. You use a contribution Ltv which is your gross March in Ltv not to get into the you know weeds with your listeners. But ah, you end up using you should be using your contribution Ltv. So really, the only.
Ethan Agarwal: Change you can have is in your gross margins and ah we did a couple things to make our gross margins better. But really the hard part of improving Ltv is actually making people stick around and that’s product work and I didn’t spend enough time on our product work I was spending more of my time on our growth work and so what ended up happening was. We can no longer scale. The business at the clip that I wanted to and we also realized that the tam was not as big as we had originally hoped like we were trying to build a you know Spotify netflix 100000000 subscribers ten bucks a month kind of thing we got to a million paying subscribers which is pretty good. But I’m learning that the tam for paid content within digital fitness just isn’t that big and I think a lot of the other companies. You know that have started since then or that are still around now are all running into this tam problem within digital fitness which is. You have the early enthusiasts and the company rides a nice little wave but then ultimately you spend a bunch of money you try to acquire that next concentric circle and it turns out that it doesn’t really exist like there aren’t 100000000 people that are going to pay for fitness whether it’s hardware or software. Um, and so once we realized that we said okay, ah you know let’s let’s agree to sell this one and you know try and go solve another problem.
Alejandro Cremades: So then so then obviously you know like here you guys you know did the acquisition and then you know it took a you know probably you guys you you did the integration for about a year or so and then you know you got started with the next company which is the one that you’re running now we’re gonna talk about it. But 1 thing that I wanted to ask you is. What were some of the things that you learn around mental health because I think that that’s something that entrepreneur entrepreneurs really leave us sight and I unfortunately do believe that entrepreneurship does involve depression. It’s just the the nature of it. You know the ups and downs. It’s really hard to. To to embrace them. You know as well. You know, not everyone can do it. You know in in a powerful way. I mean you get to learn you know as you go but but it’s a tough a roller course to to go through but mental health. What can you tell us about that Ethan.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah I I don’t think you can put too much weight on it I don’t think it’s possible. It’s it’s It’s eternally critical for founders to focus on their mental health I I made the mistake of not doing that. Um, in my first company and so let me let me be clear so there’s 3 things that every founder has to focus on. They’re mental. They’re physical and their financial health and only by taking care of all 3 of those can you bring your most productive self to work every day. And I think the um ah battle that we all experience is you know you feel guilty are am I working hard enough Am I Ah you know being responsive to my team am I being responsive to my investors and all the investment that folks have put into me and into this company. If I’m spending time taking care of myself and I learned after my first company that if you are not doing those things and you are actually doing a disservice to your team and your company and your customers and your investors and I think the um ah the way that I think about it is like adaptive I remember I I. Collapsed at work once I ended up having ulcers twice. Um, you know it was It was to the point where I was unproductive for days or weeks on end because I was working so hard and that was not good for anybody and so with my new company I.
Ethan Agarwal: You know we’ll talk about it. But this company is actually designed to help founders with their financial health so that and you know apptive was really good for ah physical health and we ended up launching some stuff around mental health as well. Um, but products like Com and others. do do that really well I think if you don’t. Know why? you’re building the business and if you don’t have good outlets to spend your time outside of work that make you feel better. You will not be able to run this job for 5 or 10 or 15 years or however, you’re gonna like how however long it’s gonna last. So. It’s critical that anytime someone thinks about starting a company. They think about what are the avenues to focus on my mental health when things get really tough. So as an example I have an executive coach this time I didn’t have one before because I thought it was a sign of weakness but I got one this time and she’s incredible and she makes. A lot of things you know more clear for me and she helps me ah, sees problems and solutions in different ways and she asks questions that I haven’t entertained and so it’s it’s an eternally necessary product and I think it’s not only on the founder investors. Need to be thinking about their founders needs every every investor likes to say oh we focus on founders and we are founder friendly. What does that actually mean is it a term and term sheet or is it that you care about this person’s well-being and their health.
Ethan Agarwal: And what are you doing differently than the 50 other investors out there that also provide Capital and also say that they’re founder friendly. It’s the ones that are actually putting their money where their mouth is and actually so allowing the investor the the founder to spend the time. On their own health and then on their own. Well-being that are truly founder. Friendly.
Alejandro Cremades: So So it sounds like you know, Obviously what you endured ah with apptiveve you know it really you know, kind of like triggered and incubated you know far the idea of what you’re doing now the cut thereso. So Can you tell us you know how you thought about you know this idea and. And why you thought it made absolute change to go after it.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, so active was doing pretty well and I I turned off my salary at some point and I went to apply for a mortgage because it was time to buy a house and the guy says we can’t give you a mortgage. You don’t have a salary and I said well if you look at my. Cash and my equity and all my assets like clearly I’m not at a risk of defaulting but he couldn’t conceptualize that someone without a salary could afford a mortgage and I remember thinking you know everybody that I know makes a lot more money from their assets than they do from their salary and then eventually you know my wife and I went to talk to a wealth advisor. And you know the guy does his whole song and dance and ultimately he basically presents presents us with like a binder that has a fancier version of a sixty forty strategy right? and I was at this time I think I was 32 or 33 and I was like this is ridiculous like I’m not at all interested in. Ah, sixty forty strategy at my age and and sort of where I am in life I’m interested in. You know at the time like crypto when I’m interested in investing in companies and I want lp into funds and what kind of access can you get me and like I was super curious and passionate and interested about all this stuff and it was like this old guy and just like. You know, gives you this strategy in the same pitch that he’s done 50 times probably 500 times before and there’s just such a disconnect between what he was selling and what I was trying to buy and you know it wasn’t just the product Alejandra it was the fact that.
Ethan Agarwal: The way that he delivered it showed to me that there was a massive disconnect in the way that I thought about my future and what I wanted to do and what he thought about my future and what he was recommending to me and so um I couldn’t do anything about it at the time because ah, you know. Working on appive full-time and then um after we sold the company I started looking around and realizing that no one has really solved this problem and so what the codery does is we build financial products for people who make more money from assets than from salary. And that ends up being a lot of founders. A lot of finance people a lot of startup people. But if you go even deeper. You know, even you know lawyers or even um, you know, ah partners at ah, consulting firms. A lot of people are compensated through ownership which is actually risk um as opposed to through salary and. The legacy financial institutions have not done a good job of adapting to that shift in the economy and you know I understand that twenty years ago because almost everyone was still making a lot of their money through salary or inheritance. But now there’s a whole new generation of wealth that’s ah emerging literally a whole new generation. It’s most of our customers are first generation. It’s not inherited wealth. They’ve created the wealth themselves a lot of them are actually wealthier than their parents and are seeing money for the first time and don’t feel.
Ethan Agarwal: At home going to you know a fancy office with wooden panels where some like old white guy is sitting behind a fancy big desk and talking to them about all the fees that they charge like that’s not the way that we think about money and so. Um, I realized that there’s just this huge disconnect and so we wanted to build a product build a company build a culture that understands how money is created today and how it’s earned and what people want to achieve with their money and so that’s what the codery is is. We’re helping. This generation of entrepreneurs of builders. Um, invest borrow set up their estate planning ah understand about their investments better than any other financial institution does.
Alejandro Cremades: So second time around here Ethan you know building a company and obviously you know in the first one you I’m sure you really understood the importance of people now when it comes to people. Um, you know whether it’s on the team or whether it is on the investment side.
Ethan Agarwal: This.
Alejandro Cremades: I’m sure that you learned quite a bit you know on the first time. So what did you do differently this time around.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah, when I was starting my first company one of the pieces of advice. My dad gave me was focus on your team and everything else will sort sort itself out and um I really take that to heart I think the second time around you know there’s that there’s so there’s a couple of. Inherent advantages you have your second time around which is you know you know more people you have built a little bit of credibility. Ah so it’s easier to identify and recruit the highest caliber of people. Um, also I was in less of a rush the second time because. I knew that I wanted to start the company with cofounders versus active I did it by myself and it started scaling really quickly and then I had to build a team really quickly. Um, the second time around I was really focused on hiring the right people but the right people defined a little bit differently the resumes matter they always matter. But it was important to find people that understood what this journey is like and understood. You know, going back to your earlier question. The mental part of it and the tenacity part of it and so when I interviewed people for jobs at the coderie now or or my two cofounders. The conversations were much more around. Alignment of why are we building this who are we building it for what is the outcome that we want from this company not just financially but otherwise and once we aligned on all of those things then we started talking about the specifics around you know product and resume and comp and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, um.
Ethan Agarwal: I can say now I mean my two co-founders Jason and Chris are outstanding and I I feel a very different level of camaraderie and a very different level of satisfaction and you know there’s there’s that saying where um, ah victories are sweeter and. Ah, defeats are are easier something more eloquent than that when they’re shared and that’s exactly how I feel and I think because both these guys have been through the ringer before Jason has started and sold 2 companies before one to Google went to credit karma Chris has started and sold many businesses before. Um, they know what this journey is like and and my investors are incredible. I took some of the investors from my first company along with me and I hired some you know I brought some new ones on board this time around. So I feel really fortunate about the the team around me.
Alejandro Cremades: I mean you’ve raised this time around already fifty million bucks so when it comes to um to fundraising you know as well I mean was it a little bit easier. You know this time around or no okay.
Ethan Agarwal: Yeah I think anyone anyone saying that a second time fundraise isn’t easier is lying to you and also if I’m honest like we raise money in twenty twenty one q 4 21 which anyone that raised money in that time has got to acknowledge that.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah, yeah.
Ethan Agarwal: You know it was probably easier than it should have been I mean I think we probably would have raised capital anyway. Um, but yeah, it was easier but you look we we raise money from Andreessen Horowitz which is the best investor in the world and so um, ah, they. Where they have been just phenomenal partners I cannot say enough good things about them and as you know I’ve spoken to over 120 investors ah of all different stages and I can tell you um Andreessen you know did a you do sort of like a mutual reverse pitch idea and then. You know they they made a bunch of promises and stuff and like not only a bit have they been true to their word. They’ve actually surpassed it so I couldn’t I couldn’t be more grateful to them.
Alejandro Cremades: Now in this case, you know for the coterie you know, obviously incredible. You know now you guys are doing you know team Everything How are I mean if I had to give you the opportunity of perhaps you know going to sleep tonight and waking up in a world where the vision is fully realized.
Ethan Agarwal: I Don’t know this this the potential for this business is just too big. There’s there’s so many problems that we need to solve that I keep running into different types of people or different types of problems.
Alejandro Cremades: What does that world look like okay.
Ethan Agarwal: That resonate with what we are trying to build because it’s not a product. It’s a vision for the future of the world where anybody can have access to the right set of financial products relevant to them at that particular time. Which is such a crucial aspect because a lot of the products that we offer some of them at least already exist in the market but they’re only available if you’re a billionaire or if you know the right person or whatever and so what we decided to do is we said let’s bring that access to the right set of people at the right time in their lives. So that they can accelerate what it is that? Ah, whatever it is that they want to do. We’re trying to provide freedom a lot when I was when I was starting the company. We interviewed a lot of people and we asked a series of questions and 1 of the questions was how do you define success and the most common answer that we got was freedom to do whatever I want it wasn’t like. I want to model less or I want this fancy house or I want this or I want that it was like I just want the ability to do whatever I want to do and maybe some of those things are go buy fancy stuff but a lot of them are I want to start a company or invest in a nonprofit or whatever and so we want to provide that freedom and so the long-term vision of this is that people have the freedom to do what they want to do. And we have built the tooling and the products and also the language and the communication and the capabilities with this and the distribution to actually help achieve those things and I don’t know in 5 years or 10 years What those problems are going to be.
Ethan Agarwal: Um, but I feel confident that we are one of the few companies in the world. That’s even trying to solve them and because we have this team. You know I feel pretty confident that we’re going to be the ones to do it.
Alejandro Cremades: So as we’re thinking all the future here. Let’s think about the past 2 but with a lens of reflection if I was to put you into a time machine and bring you back in time maybe to that time that they you know you were. Perhaps you know like in in in the Nba you know like you were seeing like a bunch of friends. You know, starting companies. All of that stuff imagine if you were able to have a chat with that younger self and being able to give that younger self one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Ethan Agarwal: Um, that one’s easy I would just say to calm down I think I ah you get enamored by the um potential and you feel like if you don’t capture the full potential immediately that you’re not. Ah, doing the right thing and so you know when I was starting a company or even before it every up and down was like the best moment ever or the worst moment ever and ah, that’s not a sustainable way to live and it’s not a sustainable way to run a company and so. I’ve started you know thinking about this more and even you know reading like stoicism and other ah ah philosophies and started thinking a little bit more about what is a more steady state. Um, ah, leadership style look like what is a more steady state life look like and I. You know you still want to enjoy your successes and you still want to you know, learn from your failures but there’s so many of them in this job and they’re so unpredictable and they’re so close together that extreme emotional volatility on a daily basis is not a. Reliable or productive way to live your life and so I now try to keep calm in events of joy and in events of sadness and I think that’s going to be a better long term strategy for me and then ultimately a better long term strategy for the company.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love that now for the people that are listening you thin. What is the best way for them to reach out and say hi.
Ethan Agarwal: Um, easiest is just find me on Twitter I’m just at Ethan Agarwal ah e t h a n a g a RWAL and the company’s website is the coderie dot co.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey Ethan thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us. So.
Ethan Agarwal: Thank you so much for having me I really enjoyed the conversation.
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