Andrew Collins has raised tens of millions of dollars for his startup. One which tackles two of today’s most pressing problems in our big cities, and is doing it both on and offline.
Andrew and I recently recorded a new episode of the DealMakers Podcast together. He shared his journey and learnings about building a hyper-growth company. Plus what inspired his co-living startup.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Andrew Collins grew up a big football fan in a family of entrepreneurs. He told our audience that ever since he can remember he knew he wanted to start his own business. Well, at least since he was five years old. His mother, father and one of his siblings are all serial entrepreneurs.
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Andrew dug in and committed himself to learn all he could to become a great entrepreneur.
In high school, he would spend hours in the law library. He then went to Princeton where he studied sociology and economics. It gave him a good base in management theory and the psychology behind the behavior.
He then deployed the ‘slingshot effect’. He set out to accelerate his pace of learning from the inside of a small but fast-growing startup. As well as aligning himself with highly successful organizations and people that would give him credibility.
His first stop was startup Medallia in Palo Alto, California. They were just around 50 employees when he arrived. By the time he left, they were close to 1,000. It meant being in the middle of incredible scaling and growth.
There he learned the importance of curiosity, having a growth mindset, creating scalable frameworks, and how to get comfortable with ambiguity. Collins found the importance of always challenging the status quo internally and externally, and as well as how flexible you need to be when the thing that will drive success in six months from now is going to be different from today.
The key to solving many of these challenges is having a tight feedback loop. That requires constantly asking for feedback as well as business intelligence tools, data, analytics and using them.
However, still feeling like he was lacking in accounting, finance and some marketing skills he decided to head back to business school to round out that knowledge to become the generalist you need to be as a startup founder. He did his studies at Wharton and took a gig at Facebook.
Being inside Facebook gave him a great perspective on how a massive community looks at scale, and how a business looks at a much larger scale. With all of the constant testing and iterating. When he joined the social network they were already at around 10,000 employees.
Then it was onto Atomic, and working with Andrew Dudum, who we’ve also had on the DealMakers Podcast.
Tackling The Two Biggest Problems We Face Today
Among all of these moves to new schools and businesses, Andrew admits that it could take a good nine to 12 months to really secure a new group of friends in a new environment. Obviously, living in these hotspots and finding an apartment is never easy either.
We have an extreme housing affordability crisis. As we move more and live more in the digital realm, we are becoming less connected with real-world friends too. In fact, he says that a former Surgeon General has forecast loneliness as the next great health epidemic. One that can impact your health as much as smoking two packs of cigarettes each day.
He says in contrast to boomers maybe having three close people they could trust to talk to, millennials average zero to one.
He also happened to notice that even in these hot and expensive cities, there were larger homes that were vacant and hard to rent out.
Together these factors intersect where Andrew’s co-living startup takes off. Bungalow acts as a corporate tenant which leases houses from homeowners and fills them with like-minded roommates, who enjoy shared living spaces and their own bedrooms. They furnish it, add WiFi, provide housekeeping, and maintain nearly 98% resident occupancy at all times. Then work hard to bring together the community of residents on and offline. It’s like WeWork, but for homes instead of office space.
The company has raised $68 million from Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Maverick Ventures, Cherubic Ventures, Coatue Management, UpHonest Capital, Wing Venture Capital, CAA Ventures, Atomic, Nine Four Ventures, and A-Rod Corp.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Andrew was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below
Andrew’s Top Advice For New Founders
Andrew Collins has learned at some of the best tech companies and has leaned on his mentors and investors, in addition to digging into the trials of founder life in the trenches himself.
His top advice for new entrepreneurs includes:
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- Fundraising Process : get guidance from A to Z.
- Materials : our team creates epic pitch decks and financial models
- Investor Access : connect with the right investors for your business and close them
- Being prepared for the high highs and low lows, and be ready to meet them with tenacity and grit
- Find a co-founder, and build your venture together as a team sport
- Always be pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone
- Surround yourself with others who will push your thinking
- Read a lot
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Why not start a residential real estate company in the winter
- The value of being on the front lines yourself, at least to start
- The importance of thinking about both running plays and passing plays
- The thinking behind his investor choices
- Andrew’s top book recommendations