Ep 7: The Hippie With A Billion Dollars
Shaan Puri: All right, I’m recording this. I just finished my conversation with Michael Birch. For those of you who don’t know, Michael is a internet entrepreneur. He built a social network back in the day; he competed head to head against Facebook. And Although Facebook won the war, Michael didn’t end up too bad. That company, Bebo, if you’ve ever heard that before, sold for $850,000,000 to AOL. And when I met Michael, we got back together and we bought it back for $1,000,000 years later, and then we actually sold that again just now to Amazon.
Shaan Puri: So I’ve had an interesting history. I’ve worked with Michael for six years. He was my boss, then he gave me his job to run the company. He’s my investor, he’s my friend, he’s a mentor, I’ve learned a lot from him, from building companies to investing. He’s invested in 75+ companies, things like Pinterest, he was one of the first investors. Calm, the meditation app, he was an investor when nobody believed in Calm. And he’s done all kinds of crazy things; he’s built hotels, he’s bought a private island off of Richard Branson, he gives tons of money to different charities, like Charity: Water, that he supports.
Shaan Puri: He’s a very, very humble guy. You guys are going to hear that, and you’re going to hear the humble beginnings, when he quit his job as a programmer at an insurance company, and made the leap of faith to build his own company. He wanted to work for himself. He wasn’t planning to become a billionaire. Yeah, that was a great outcome. He really just wanted to work for himself, and not have a job. He wanted to work on things he was interested in.
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The signal: As meditation becomes mainstream, people may be surprised to find that searches for sleep apps double their meditation counterpart. As people invest in getting a better night’s rest, there’s opportunity abound, including physical products like weighted blankets or premium PJs, supplements, popular insomnia drugs having their patents expire, companies paying their employees to sleep better, marketing for sleep specialists, or online sleep education (ex: sleep apnea test has 27k searches per month).
The alternative milk market is getting frothy
The signal: As more people wave goodbye to dairy, alternative milk is slowly taking over; it has already cornered 13% of the market. With the exception of soy milk, all of the alt-milks have been on the up, with some of the newer entrants including hemp milk and pea milk. Other alt-products are getting attention, including cashew cheese, with 18100 searches per month.
Capitalizing on the Airpods market, making more money than Shopify
The signal: Since killing the headphone jack, Apple has graced the world with AirPods, which did an estimated 60m units in 2019. That means AirPods alone are bringing in approx ~$10b in revenue, more than Twitter, Shopify, or Spotify, to name a few popular tech giants. Opportunity lies in Apple opening up SiriOS or the wave of iPhone accessories (including cases, cleaning kits, hooks, and keychains) which have shown “hockey stick” growth alongside their hardware predecessor.
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