Wen had me on her podcast (If Not Now Wen) to talk about my journey into the VC world as an angel investor. You can check out the post on their site here.
My special guest in today’s episode of If Not Now Wen is Alex Bass. Alex is a founder and investor who is obsessed with product, automation, and integration. Over a decade ago, Alex Bass founded Efficient App with the goal of helping teams find and integrate their perfect software stack.
From seeing first-hand the time savings these tools resulted in, he knew he wanted to get involved on a deeper level. What started as a healthy obsession in product feedback, evolved into a budding career in angel investing.
In July 2021, his first investment was put into Motion. Over the 12 months that followed, an additional 18 startups were added to his portfolio, all with a primary focus in efficiency B2B SaaS.
Alex is passionate about creating relationships, and he creates impact through a desire to help and provide support. Alex has a transparency and authenticity that is so refreshing. He is such an inspiration, and I know you will love this episode as much as I do.
0:00 - Intro
0:42 - Alex's Investing Journey
2:29 - What Inspired Alex
3:10 - Journey from Founder to Investor
6:47 - Leadership Style
9:51 - How Alex Got Into Angel Investing
11:10 - How Alex & Andra Met
18:09 - Should I Work With My Wife?
19:12 - Making My First Angel Investment (Motion)
28:30 - Investment Concerns
30:03 - How Alex Sources Deals
33:55 - Should People Talk About Their Finances?
38:46 - Living in the Unknown
43:12 - What Is Success?
47:12 - Productivity & Boundary Setting
51:12 - Alex's Superpower
[00:00:00] Wen Zhang: Hello, hello, and hello everybody. Welcome back for another episode. If not now, when in today's show, I am so excited to introduce Alice Bass to join with us today, Alice, he's a founder and investor who is obsessed with product, with automation, with immigration starting 2021 of the first investment into motion, a YC back founder.
[00:00:27] Over the no, uh, the next two hour months that follow with additional 18 startups add to his portfolio, all focus on B2B SaaS platform. With that, everybody, I am so excited. Please join me to welcome Alice to the show. All right, well, welcome Alice. We are so excited to have you here today with us. Yeah. So let's talk about investing.
[00:00:50] What made you so excited about
[00:00:51] Alex Bass: investing? Yeah. Um, I mean I've been investing since I was young. Uh, essentially disinvesting in the stock market. I was someone that like, got an early financial planner and I threw like $5,000 with them to be like, okay, invest that. And then my grandpa's like, oh, we need to open you up like a Fidelity account.
[00:01:09] And I was like, okay, cool. And I went through that process and I'm like, wait a minute, maybe I should like have the financial planner. Manage some of my money and I should manage the other. Yeah. So they managed 2,500 of that. I managed the other 2,500 and I tried to kind of compete with them a little bit.
[00:01:24] Oh. Um, so then what happened after that? Yeah, so out of the gate it was very much like, I, some of it, just lucky in the market, did some, some of the things I invested in just mutual funds, whatever they were doing, like decent, I was being highly risky and like biotech stuff and whatever. My grandpa to my grandpa's advice and whatever.
[00:01:41] Um, I was very much into Blackberry at the time, so I bought Blackberry stock and I learned like, oh, if you love a company, maybe you should buy it and invest in them. So I tried that. And it didn't go so well. But what I did learn was, um, I wanted to manage my own money. I just kind of knew that at an early point.
[00:01:57] So I took all the money out from the financial planner, Uhhuh , and I just put some in like Wealthfront Betterment and I just, all these apps that existed. I would throw money into them and have them compete with me and managing my own money. So kind of in an early age, 18 or so, like I was already. You know, trying to play in the market a little bit and Wow.
[00:02:16] Yeah. Buy like Blackberry stock in the middle of, like, in college I was like going to a computer. I'm like, oh, there's just a big event, whatever. Like there's big news coming out or whatever. Like I'm gonna, there's a new ceo, like I'm gonna go and buy something, whatever. So I was doing that type of thing.
[00:02:28] Yeah. Wow.
[00:02:29] Wen: But what inspired you? What, 18 years old people? Mostly focus on partying, travel, you know, burger and such. Right. What, what made you attracted to investing world at
[00:02:38] Alex: such a young age? Yeah. I, I was the friend going to parties, uh, and driving people to McDonald's, uh, and being sober the entire time.
[00:02:46] So I, I don't, I don't totally fit that mold, but, um, yeah, I was, my stepfather, uh, ran a construction business, so I was kind of around that. Mm-hmm. through an early age, and I guess learning that like, oh, wow. business owners are actually just people amongst us. Mm-hmm. , and I think just being around that so much, I'm.
[00:03:02] Uh, how can I maybe go mm-hmm. a slightly different path and, and forge my own path in a little bit of a way. So, yeah. That's
[00:03:09] Wen: incredible. And your journey is so unique because you are the founder trying to invest it. And I know today you are so passionate about SaaS platform and I'm just curious, you know, for founders who are maybe for her, like maybe raising first or second capitals who are so intimidated by the idea of VC or investors.
[00:03:27] Yeah. Like, can you just, uh, um, you know, unpack for us a little bit about. , how, how does that shift for you from founder to investor and a few things you wanna share with founders who are maybe raising the first run and just a little bit terrified about meeting the first investor?
[00:03:40] Alex: Yeah. I mean, I, in a funny way, probably can't even relate much with that because I didn't raise money.
[00:03:45] My first, uh, startup mm-hmm. , I started it over a decade ago and, um, it's evolved a lot over time. Yeah. We're now doing, Software, like we're helping companies build their software stack and then integrate it all together and then train them on how to use it all, and then automate processes, so mapping processes to all of that.
[00:04:01] Wow. Um, so that's what we do now. It's what we've been doing for the past six, seven years, and it's pivoted a lot since then. Uh, but I chose to go the lifestyle route. Uh, I, I definitely did not wanna raise funds from anyone.
[00:04:14] Wen: Why? Let's talk about that. Yeah. Because actually today, I think on , I think, oh, so sexy.
[00:04:18] Let me raise a billion. A trillion. Let me get on this. Tell me the thought
[00:04:23] Alex: process. Yeah. I mean, I was just working with small businesses Yeah. And trying to understand their needs, and through doing that, um, I just realized that like I didn't really need, I, in a weird way, like I didn't really have an idea in my mind that was like a product mm-hmm.
[00:04:37] that made sense to throw money behind it. Mm-hmm. , it was just more of like, oh, there's a business need. I'm going to, you know, move toward that business need. Mm-hmm. move more toward that. Mm-hmm. and through implementing so much software, um, into these different star, uh, small businesses. I started like getting obsessed with the software.
[00:04:52] So it's like listening to needs and then like, oh, I, you know, you're, you're talking about, you know, following up with email or following up after sending a proposal out and, um, oh, oh, there's, you need a crm. Um, and then from there it's like, well, you're taking forever to build proposals out. And it's like, oh, you probably need a tool like PandaDoc that can help you with e-signature and proposal creation and speed that up.
[00:05:13] So there's these little wins that were happening. We're taking some customers from, You know, five hours to create one custom proposal down to like 30 minutes to create a proposal and then automatically send that out and then track it through the CRM and then automatically follow up like, hey, you know, email after, you know, three days and then seven days, and then 14 days.
[00:05:35] And I just started seeing this magic through the automation of all of this and software really. So in, in a way, like even the angel investing side of things kind of flowed through. I loved this software that I was using and I saw so much value in the software that I was putting into these companies that in a weird way, I'm like, how do I get involved with this?
[00:05:54] And what I did at the time was I just partnered with them where I'm like, okay, like, you know, uh, copper crm, they're called Prosper Works back in the day. Um, but I was like, I love what you're doing. Do you have a partner program? They're like, no. And I was like, can you build a partner program? They're like, can you help us build a partner program?
[00:06:09] And I'm like, absolutely. I was just going and partnering with these companies, panoc, uh, Dialpad, like they're a voiceover IP uh, solution. I, I was in the IT world before this, so I was just putting so much software into different companies and I started having opinions about it. So I'm like, this is the software that you should use.
[00:06:25] This is the best one on the market. And then I'm like, Hey, software company, do you have a partner program? Let's do it. So that was more like what I was doing at the time. Yeah, because in a way like. A, I didn't have the money to invest. B I don't even think I was thinking about angel investing or, or how even to go down that path.
[00:06:41] I was just trying to help people mm-hmm. and get close with, with, you know, software companies along the way. Mm-hmm. , I love
[00:06:47] Wen: that it sounds like everything off from the place of Orleans just helped you see a great product. You see a great company, you see also a huge, uh, market need and you. Let's connect them and you just did not, you just do it just because you want to.
[00:07:00] Yeah. Yeah. That's incredible. The place of servant leadership.
[00:07:03] Alex: Yeah. So it, it, the, the wild part through it is like some of these companies I was working with for six, seven years, um, take Copper for example. And I had a whole life event that had happened that made me wanna leave, uh, Buffalo where I was born and raised and running my business outta my bedroom.
[00:07:20] Um, to go to San Francisco, I had an opportunity to get a job at SI in Silicon Valley. I had to delegate my business if I wanted to do that. And things fell through where they were gonna make me shut down my business to do that. And I was just like, hold on. That's not what we agreed upon. But I already had like the plane ticket book to go the first month, first month trial.
[00:07:38] I figured delegate the business. My, my brother sold his company. They actually come and run the business and I trained them up on it and I got other people to help support whatever. It was just me at the business the entire time. So I'm also like, I don't even know how to delegate or what this will look like or like, will my customer, my customers interface with me?
[00:07:53] Like yeah, what will it be like if, if they interface with other people or whatever. But I was like, I just want to be around tech cuz I wasn't around tech. Mm-hmm. and all of my closest relationships were just online. Yeah. So, uh, when I went to San Francisco, I'm also. Uh, what do I, what am I doing here?
[00:08:08] Because I actually have no reason to be here other than I just know there's like tech here. So I, you know, messaged copper and I was like, Hey, you know, some, some team member, I probably had friends of like 40 of the employees there and I was like, Hey, like, um, I'm in San Francisco. Anything like, can I come by or anything?
[00:08:23] They was like, oh, come to the office. Come to the office, whatever. I was like, okay, okay, cool. So I go to the office and uh, they, they buzz me up and then like I get off the elevator and then one of the, the girls Brittany runs over and she's like, oh my gosh, Alex Bass is here. And it's just funny cuz like, these people I've known in a weird way virtually for seven years.
[00:08:41] Yeah. And then she runs over, gives me a big hug. She's like, come over, come over, come here. So many people wanna say hi. There's a line of people, they're like, Alex Bass is here. And people are like, lining up and they're giving me hugs and they're like, oh, it's so nice to finally like, meet you in person. Oh.
[00:08:54] It was this whole thing where, in a weird way, I'm like, wow, I've really gotten close to these software companies at a deeper level. And they were like, you could work here. Like, my customers were their customers. We were just helping them in a different way, get help, get more out of their crm. Um, so then they literally said, you can, they gave me a badge.
[00:09:11] They kept me a badge to get into the building. Uh, they put me on the meal, uh, food program. So I was literally working. Running my own business in San Francisco in their office and just like helping their team members around and collaborating and stuff. And it was just like, how did this happen? But it's just from building a relationship with these people.
[00:09:29] Yeah. For so long. Wow.
[00:09:31] Wen: You're such a people
[00:09:32] Alex: leader. I, the funny thing is I've never actually like led. Led people. It's always been me. My wife now works with me. But like, other than that, I've, I, yeah, I haven't actually had people working with me, so I, in a weird way, I'm like, I don't even know if I can lead people in a, in a way.
[00:09:50] Wen: But I feel, Alice, you just are so authentic. You just show up with you and you just wanna help me do the best work. And I think at the end of the day, that's what people are attracted to. Mm. It's not just about all the fancy degrees about leadership and all of this and this and that. Things and the end of place all count down to people.
[00:10:06] Alex: Well, and I, and I think that's a good point because I think the, the more that I was getting involved with software, it was so much the people and the relationships that it was building in the software. Yeah. Um, so I think a, a story about the, how I first got into angel investing, cuz it was literally about the people and the product.
[00:10:22] There was literally, so Covid Covid had hit, and this is a different story for a different day, but, uh, my wife and I had met in San Francisco living co-living, co-working house. Um, where she was there for a one month stint. I was there kind of, I got a one way ticket from Buffalo. I didn't know when I was gonna leave, but I love, loved sf.
[00:10:40] Like I was growing every day. I was like, take, taking public transit and I was just like, cuz I had a car back home or whatever. I'm like, I sold that. And I'm just like, wow, this is like a new world. Like I'm changing things around. I'm. Really kind of being who I saw myself as. Yeah. And dropping all of the old stuff of like, you know, building a business in my bedroom and being in Buffalo, not being able to really connect with people.
[00:10:59] Like, I got to drop all of that and just be like, who I am in San Francisco is like the, the, you know, business owner, uh, kind of startup, you know, builder. And when I met my, my wife through co-living, co-working house, um, she was in a different house than, than me, but, um, I was helping my friend in the house move, uh, his belongings from one house to the other.
[00:11:23] So this is a house that had like 10 people in it. So we each just have a bedroom. It's like a six, 7 million house. Um, but because you're co-living, it's, it makes it actually affordably price. And you're staying there for like short term rental. . So when I had met her, I was just talking to her about like what I do, and I was talking about like automation platforms, like Zapier and Copper CRM and whatever, and she, she knew what I was talking about and I'm like, I don't think I've ever met a girl that knows what automation is.
[00:11:51] And she was doing her own thing and she's like, I have like an automation team member. Like she, she had a company as. So then we just connected on that. And the first time that we met, we, uh, we spoke for, for 15 hours. Uh, so I went over there, it was uh, I think 5:00 PM and I stayed there until like, uh, okay.
[00:12:09] So it was like 12, 13 hours until five, 6:00 AM uh, we were just talking the entire time on the couch and that was like the first day with her. And then I text her in the morning. I was just like, I was like, we need to get coffee asap. So I'm also, I'm, I'm like, I don't know, like what any of this stuff is.
[00:12:24] Um, I guess I'm getting into the story now cause it feels, it feels good. Um, so I text her the next day. And which was literally kind of the same day that I had left . And I was like, we need to get coffee asap. So she was like, okay, uh, cool. I need to get some work done. So, uh, I was like, yeah, let's just go to like a coffee shop or whatever else and we can get some work done and whatever.
[00:12:43] So we go to the coffee shop. It was a blue bottle for some reason. Assaf, their wifi was awful. . Um, I also in, in line, like, I'm also thinking this is kinda like a business thing, so I'm gonna use my business credit card and I'll just buy her the coffee as well. So I learned two years later that me buying her the coffee then was a sign that I was into her and I'm, and I was like, this is a business expense.
[00:13:02] Like this is so clearly like we are literally working together and networking, whatever. So it's also funny to like, you know, go forward and backward and hear like, oh, that was the moment that you realized I was interested in you. Not the fact that we just talked for 12 hours that, you know, the day before.
[00:13:15] Um, And then we ended up leaving cuz we couldn't get any work done cuz just the, the wifi wasn't working. So we went back to the place that I was living at outside. So it's the safe thing where say, come back to my place. But it's very much like you have 10 other entrepreneurs that are living with you and it's very much like co-living, whatever.
[00:13:32] Yeah. So we were talking and within the first like, I don't know, hour or two of talking on the couch, I was just like, I, I was like, I don't know if I wanna work with you or date you. And she turns to me and she's just, Why not both? Let's talk about it. So then we were like, okay, so then we just talked about it for like an hour of like what it might look like.
[00:13:54] Dating what, and working together. So this is day number two that I knew her and you know, so what was our look
[00:14:00] Wen: like? That's insanely. Intense but also transparent. I was not
[00:14:06] Alex: expecting that. Yeah. Uh, I, she wasn't either. She was dating and she's just like, there's so many games in dating like her. She's like, the fact that you texted me the next day and was just like, let's get coffee asap.
[00:14:17] She's like, it was such a breath of fresh air and I was just like, I mean, I really enjoyed the conversation. I felt like there's so much more to unpack. Yeah. So like, of course, why wouldn't I wanna hang out more? So how long did
[00:14:29] Wen: you get, how long, how long take you all to get married since that conversation?
[00:14:34] Alex: So, um, that the, the crazy part is she was living in a shared room cuz there's nothing else that was, that was available in the house. So she had two other beds in the room and there were two guys there. And the typically the room didn't book out but it ended up booking out. So she was living literally living.
[00:14:51] With two strangers in a room together. So the, the third day I was like, well, why don't you just like, move in with me? Like, you know me better than these people that you're living with? And she was like, okay. And she packed up all of her stuff and she moved in with me. And, but we were also like very much, uh, transparent about like, And this might get into to, uh, TMI area, but like we were, it's like this is not to like hook up.
[00:15:17] This is not to whatever. Yeah. It's just like, I think we're good, like we're enjoyable people. I wanna spend more time together. And there's literally no pressure on you moving in or not. Yeah. And it doesn't need to be this, like you're moving in like is this official, it's like you're leaving, you're leaving San Francisco in a month.
[00:15:31] Yeah. Let's. You know, see what happens and spend time together. And we were waking up in the morning, like listening to podcasts in the morning about business and talking about stuff. And we'd go and take the bus together to get downtown and I go to Copper. She would go to her thing and then we'd meet up after work and whatever.
[00:15:46] So it was just like, it felt so natural. We were just talking about business and we were like living our best life in that way. Wow.
[00:15:52] Wen: You are the brother. Fresh air. You're so different, Alice, the way. me, your wife today when you know how we get into investing or businesses all together. Just you have this, this intentionality about you and how you show up, how you do anything, which is really
[00:16:09] Alex: refreshing.
[00:16:10] Oh, I appreciate that. So,
[00:16:12] Wen: wow. So let's talk about investing. It sounds like you are really obsessed with automation, with the software, with all and above. Yeah. And that moment you were in the San, uh, San Francisco, you meet, you partner. Um, why now? What happened next?
[00:16:26] Alex: So, um, yeah, I mean I think I'll, I'll jump for I, yeah, it's, this is all like, it's such a, this stuff could be packed but in so much more fun, I guess in a way to tell with her cuz she's like, jumps in and like all these things and whatever.
[00:16:37] But, but Covid hit right before she was about to leave and, and, uh, she was living in Australia before that and her family was just like, can you come back to Canada? So, so she, like, her family's based in Canada and that's where her citizenship was. Um, so she's just like, this covid thing's happening. I don't know what's going on.
[00:16:53] Like I'm going to. Canada to go back with my family. And I'm just like, but things are going like so well with us. Like, we're like, I just feel like together we're gonna make so much money. I don't know. Or like, it's just, we're just, just, just fun working together. All these things like that. Yeah. Yeah. I was like, it's too early to just like end things.
[00:17:11] So I was like, what if I went with you? And she's like, what? Like what do you, what do you mean? And it's like, I don't know. What if I went and stayed with you and your parents and she was like, um, I'll, okay, so the next day we. Uh, booked a plane flight to Canada and she had told her, her, her dad, of course is like, come back, come back, whatever.
[00:17:31] And she's like, any chance I could bring like a friend back? Like he and, and ironically her family lived two hours north, a drive from where my family lived in Buffalo. So that was also just like super strange. So it was also kind of like, You know, and if I go to Toronto with you, then, you know, worst case scenario, I can just, you know, go two hours south and be back in Buffalo.
[00:17:49] Like if this, this covid thing really becomes big. Um, so her dad's just like, yeah, just come back. It doesn't matter, like whatever. So we, we end up flying back. He picks us up from the airport. And then, um, yeah, I essentially just lived with her and her family for a year and a half waiting out Covid. Yeah.
[00:18:06] Uh, so yeah, that was just a, so,
[00:18:09] Wen: wow. What an interesting way to me, your parents-in-law the first time. Yeah. But if not now when Yeah. What a brave moment to, to connect and move forward and I really believe that whatever meant to be well, so let's talk about, do you end up collaborate with you? the business side.
[00:18:27] Alex: Well, so we, we were also intentional about not wanting to like work together, um, too quickly. So there got, it was like some. Customer work that she was doing in her business that she was like, Hey, it would be helpful to have like an automation person. Yeah. And, um, she had seen what I could do and she was impressed by it.
[00:18:42] So she was like, can you help in these areas? So I would, I would help here and there, but we were very intentional about not just merging things together. also, like business wise, I had gotten my business to kind of a stable point of doing mm-hmm. about 150,000 in revenue. Um, and that was just to support myself and just consistent there.
[00:18:59] And I'm like, I don't really care if I grow it. I think this is like fine and whatever. And by the way, it took seven or eight years to even get there. The first five years. I made like $5,000 each year. Um, but yeah, so essentially we were, we were living in, in, uh, Canada with her parents and I was. Like looking at, at software, and I was actually brushing my teeth one night and just scrolling through Instagram and there was a popup that said, um, motion app.
[00:19:27] And I was like, oh, cool. You have like the motion.app, like.app domain, so our domain is efficient.app. So I, I just appreciated that someone else had a.app. I was like, oh, this is like cool, like, you know, a a, a SaaS company, B2B SaaS company that has the same kind of thought process. So I check it out and I'm like, don't.
[00:19:46] Totally understand what this thing is, but like I'll sign up anyway. So I just signed up with it and it, and it was an ad that I had seen on Instagram, so it was like every path, like I guess I'm the target customer or whatever, . Um, So I sign up for it and I start playing with it, and it's like this calendar tool mixed with time management, like scheduler.
[00:20:02] Um, and I'm just like, this is really, really cool. Uh, the, the past, like a decade ago, I was using Sunrise Calendar and I was just, this is just like a, it was a beautiful calendar on your phone, and I was like, Microsoft acquired them and shut it down. And I've been looking for a calendar replacement literally since that, that day that that happened.
[00:20:20] And I've always just been kind of dissatisfied. So, When I had found motion, I was like, wow, this is really incredible. Like you, you would press a keyboard shortcut and it would pop out on the right hand side bar. You'd see your calendar from anywhere. And I was just like, this is like really, really magical.
[00:20:34] Um, so then I, in typical fashion, I just started giving product feedback to them. . I just like reach out to the, to the, like, support and whatever. And I was just like, oh, like this is amazing. I wish that I could do this. And then I got my wife involved. I was like, okay. So their, their pricing model. You need to purchase the annual commitment, um, in order to get the price to be like $19 a month, like annualized mm-hmm.
[00:20:58] or you pay like $40 a month. And I was like, I'm not gonna do the monthly. Like, I, I, I was someone that just believed in like, buying for the year and I'm like, this is also a 50% discount, like, buy it for the year. So I tell Andra my, this is my wife's name. Um, I don't even know if I've said it yet, but, uh, so I, I told her, I was like, Hey, like I need to know within the next like three days if I'm gonna buy this software for a year or not.
[00:21:18] So like, can you, can you help? And, and join in on this. Can I invite you? Because it sounds like there's collaboration components to it and she is like, yeah, yeah, sure. She's used to me just implementing software. I got her on Superhuman and, and a few different things as well. So we're using it, then she starts getting into it where she's giving product feedback.
[00:21:35] So then we're both kind of giving product feedback and then we would like go for a walk together cuz we're in, in, in Toronto. It's like, you know, uh, What else are we gonna do? We're kind of like in the middle of a conservation area and we're just walking around and whatever. So we're just talking about motion, about what they could do these things.
[00:21:49] We were recording loom videos together, sending it off to the team, Harry, Ethan, and Omid, uh, over there at, at in motion. Yeah. And, um, at the time you were not investor. Yeah. You just a user? No, I just loved what they were doing. I was just like, this is, I, there's so much. . It was that thing in a way where I'm the same thing that I had seen with Copper and Panoc and Dialpad back in the day.
[00:22:08] I was just like, I'm seeing some of this magic and it's still like early mm-hmm. . Um, so I just wanna like, I just wanna be involved with the journey a little bit. So I was just giving product feedback, whatever, and then like a month into it, I was kind of like, I, I was like, I feel like. I wanna get more involved with them, but I don't wanna, like this, this weird thing keeps happening.
[00:22:29] It's like I don't wanna like leave my business. My business is doing well and it was quite automated to the point where I didn't have, it wasn't like a a 40 hour a week type of job. It was like maybe five hours a week of like maintaining customers and automations. Were doing a lot of the heavy lifting.
[00:22:44] So I'm like, I don't wanna leave this thing to go there, but I really believe in what you're doing. And then I think that's where I kinda just stumbled on the idea of, I. What if I gave them money so I could justify giving them more of my time? And it was just like this weird thing. So I asked my friend and I was like, Hey, like, do you know, uh, if this, first of all, do you know if this company's raising?
[00:23:05] Uh, second of all, how do you angel invest? Like, what do, do people just like take, like what is this process like? And this was about two years ago, . And he's like, oh, you know, I was gonna actually sign up for, for their software and they're part of, uh, yc. So I can, I can see, like, I can reach out to the founder and see if they're, you know, raising.
[00:23:24] So he reaches out , this is, I, I love this part. So he essentially re reaches out to the founder, Harry, and he was like, Hey, I have a friend that is looking to invest. Are you guys raising. So the founder, you know, Harry responds back, he's like, no, no, no, sorry, we're not, we're not raising, but you know, who's your friend?
[00:23:41] And then my buddy Evan, he goes, uh, his, his name's Alex Bass. And then Harry goes, oh, we love Alex. Yeah, just tell him to reach out. Like, yeah, of course. Tell him to reach out. So then my friend of course goes, why did you have me reach out to him? And I was like, because I. Harry, if I could Angel invest in, he kind of just ignored it.
[00:24:01] Like, he obviously didn't take it seriously, but like, whatever. So I was like, maybe if I have like another network person to be like, Hey, he is serious about it. So it, it worked in that sense. So Harry had reached out and he is like, Hey, like happy to, uh, give you a $10,000 allocation. And this funny thing is in my mind, I'm just like, I, I was like, no, no, no, no.
[00:24:19] Like I really believe in what you're doing. Like I haven't felt this, this feeling in a very long time that like, can I do more? And he's like, Hold on Mo more than 10. He's like, okay, have you, you have an angel invested it before? And I was like, no. He's like, some of our largest checks, people that have tens of millions of dollars of net worth angel wise, they'll do like a $50,000 check.
[00:24:41] So your net worth clearly is nowhere near that. Um, so it doesn't make sense for you to do more than say, 10,000 would even be a. And I was like, but I wanna spend more time helping in whatever way I can, and I want more of an upside. And the only way I can justify me spending more time is to give you more money.
[00:24:58] And he's just like, I appreciate the vote of confidence. Uh, okay. And he just kind of took me under his wing in this very weird way of like, people might be like, what? You're gonna trust the company that you're giving money to, to teach you what you should do about angel investing? But he gave me his phone number and he just like, text me if you have any questions.
[00:25:18] Um, jumped on a call with him. This is before I put any money in, and I was just trying to understand how all this stuff worked. And he's explaining like, you know, here's how a safe agreement works. So it's, um, it's a simple agreement for future equity. So essentially what, what I learned through all this stuff and some of it, he kind of just guided me through it.
[00:25:35] I started watching YouTube videos and stuff like that. I learned like, Oh, so when a company is like seed stage, you do a safe agreement often, which is just a standardized agreement, and it's really just to get the legal work like outta the way quickly. Um, and just get the startup money quickly. But what that means is the startup can go and just turn into a lifestyle business and you never got shares.
[00:25:54] You don't, there's nothing that you actually have or, um, they can essentially in, in a weird way, like you just have this, this flimsy agreement that doesn't really mean anything that, uh, you know, and, and I was like, it blew my mind that this is the way that all of the business is done. But then I learned like, oh, like seed stage.
[00:26:10] So many of these companies go out of business naturally that why spend all the legal fees to make things ironclad in a way, um, when it probably doesn't matter for most of them. So that's where I just started like learning about all this stuff. And, uh, I had agreed to send, uh, essentially invest, uh, I guess I could say the amount that I invested ended up putting, uh, 35,000 in and I was somewhere between 30 and 40.
[00:26:35] And then I started getting my wife, Andre on board. I was just kind of like, Hey, so like, um, do you have any interest in putting some money into this? Even like, like five grand, like something. And she's like, no, no, no, no. Like this is, I had, I had got her into investing in the stock market about a, a couple years prior.
[00:26:53] I was one of the people that was like, okay, like what are your finances? Are you invested? Like, let's work through this. Like very early on, before we were married or anything like that. I'm just like, I like talking about my finances and money with people and talk about how to invest in all these things.
[00:27:06] I just love like financial, uh, personal finance. So she was also like, this is weird, like I don't even know if I really even talked to. Like my ex, she's, she's married before my ex-husband much about this. Uh, so it's, it's weird that you're just like diving into this and like, we, we only just like met like six months prior, but I started like getting her investing in the stock market and all these things like that.
[00:27:27] So she's also like, why am I gonna put money in a startup? That sounds like it's probably likely going to fail. Cuz that's the whole model of all this. Yeah. Um, when she was just getting comfortable with putting money in like the s and b 500 type of thing. So, And talking through it all. And she, I guess she had seen some of my conviction and how excited I was to talk about all this stuff and everything.
[00:27:46] She's like, okay, I'm in for five grand. Like, let's do it. Um, and I'm also so ha like, happy about it because it, it, I just know that putting money into a company gets you so much more involved in the process and journey. And I think that's also what started her path into angel investing versus just being like, cool, it's my money invested in a startup and now you're just gonna watch from afar.
[00:28:07] She actually got to be right alongside me and feel. Like, as part of all of this and like all like Harry, Ethan, and Omid, like, they all know Andre and like when we, we eventually went to sf, we went back to San Francisco about like six, seven months after we had invested. Um, we all got up and met up for dinner and like, they very much knew Andra cuz like they're on all the, all the same like loom ca, uh, videos that we sent to over and everything like that.
[00:28:29] So, Yeah, that was essentially the first investment and, and Harry really took me under his wing to just like, Hey, any questions you have, ask me. And then I just kind of dove in and, and researched it.
[00:28:40] Wen: Um, and what is the biggest well, aha moment, something surprise you in that journey of you are learning about and you investing
[00:28:47] Alex: in that moment?
[00:28:48] Yeah, I mean, I think that the biggest aha in a way is like, I kind of just. ACHD money over to a company and I didn't really know what was gonna happen from there. And all these people, like I, I told some family members and stuff like that, um, they were just like, wait, like did you get a lawyer to look at it?
[00:29:06] And I'm like, no, I don't think it works that way. Really. Like, this is like for safe agreements. The, the thing that I learned that is I guess actually quite, quite amazing is, They all use often the same standardized contract that essentially in the contract it says this one line, it says this, this contract, the safe agreement was taken from YC slash documents or whatever it is.
[00:29:27] And that point is you are signing the exact same agreement. Mm-hmm. , that even the person may be giving you a million dollars. Mm-hmm. is signing. So yes, there's probably some additional negotiated terms. , it's kind of like there's safety and I'm saving signing the same contract that that, you know, the super smart, you know, angel investor that gave you 50 grand or whatever else is, is also signing that obviously they're not just throwing money away.
[00:29:49] Mm-hmm. . So I think that gave me some level of like calmness in that I'm doing mm-hmm. , I'm following the process that is this process is the process that I would normally do. Mm-hmm. , no, but I don't know what I'm doing, so I'm just gonna follow the process that other people have decided. Makes sense. Yeah.
[00:30:03] Wen: Wow. So you're just jumping and not knowing much, but just so curious by the product, by the automation, by the, by what the product stand behind. So that how you become or started the journey of and you investing. Yeah. Yeah. So tell us about how that journey unfolded for you for the last 12 months or so.
[00:30:19] Ever since then. You add, what, 18
[00:30:21] Alex: ish? Yeah. So tell us us more. So, so now, uh, 20 total investments, but over the, the following 12 months, uh, made an additional 17 investments. One was actually a. Follow on to motion. They, they did their series A and followed on to, to do that as well. Um, so yeah, so I, I think I just kind of got to this point where I started looking at all the software companies that I was super close with and I'm like, wow, some of these companies I've actually built relationships with for like three years now.
[00:30:48] Um, helping their API team build best practices to integrate with the crm. And I'm like, I know their team, I know their product, I know their product people, I know the tech. Behind it to some degrees. I'm, I'm not super technical, but I'm technical enough to, like, I build automations and I work with APIs and, and there's, you know, stuff in that, and I was web developer in the past.
[00:31:08] Um, so I was like, any of these companies that I have. Uh, but built relationships with already, maybe I can invest in them. So I started kind of reaching out to them and I was like, Hey, like are you raising? And some of them were. And so I was just like, okay, cool. Like, uh, I'll throw something in here. Yeah.
[00:31:24] I'll throw something in here. Yeah. Um, and I was also kind of taking the approach of I don't really want to go the path of just throwing like two or five grand into these companies. I wanted to feel more involved because I was of the whole mindset. It's like I actually want to feel like I have some part of the upside and be able to justify spending the time mm-hmm.
[00:31:41] in giving them feedback and getting involved. And mind you, this is, this is a lot of money, like 30, like when I say the first check that I put was 30 grand and 35. With, with Andre, it was like, . That was a lot of money to me. Yes. A lot. That was the largest single investment I had ever made in anything.
[00:31:56] Maybe like I had a little bit more on like Amazon stock, like if you look down at the granular and look at the, the mutual funds or whatever, or or ETFs and whatever. But that was a lot of money. But I was just like, but I believe in this and I believe that this will allow me to learn. About angel investing in the VC world.
[00:32:12] Yeah. In a way that nothing else would.
[00:32:14] Wen: So what do you learn about angel investing slash VC
[00:32:17] Alex: world? I, I learned a lot through, um, my whole, my whole thing I guess is like, if you wanna get into the VC world, there's no shortage of people that are just sending you their pitch deck mm-hmm. and like, Hey, will you invest in my startup and all these things like that.
[00:32:32] Um, every single investment that I have made, Has been sourced by myself and it's been into software that either I've used or I've implemented in with a company and I've seen the value that's derived from that. Um, and I think I just kind of learned that. There's two different ways to go about doing it.
[00:32:50] When you're a fund and you have, you take money from people, essentially you're raising a lot of money from people, you need to find good companies. Then it's like, I have the money now, but I need to find the good companies to put this in. Whereas I'm kind of like, I don't really have the money, but I just found a company that is so cool, like I need to make the money so I can invest in them.
[00:33:08] So in a weird way, The business, the lifestyle business that, that Andra and I were, were running at that point. Um, that was funding the investments. It was just this vehicle where it was like, uh, make, oh, we just sold a new customer. And it was funny. I, I, some, I dread sometimes selling a new customer cuz the onboarding and everything involved with that.
[00:33:26] And Andra took over a lot of. Um, the sales and operational side of things, which has been super helpful. So I could just be more of the technical side of things, but I would always like dread signing a new customer on. So then she started tweaking it and she's like, Hey, so uh, this new customer's gonna be the investment into X, y, z startup.
[00:33:42] And I'm like, okay, cool. Like, I, like I'm ex, I'm excited to work on this. Yeah. So I just started seeing this natural shift in a weird way of like, I didn't even care about the money. Yeah. I cared about being able to put money into these startups that I wanted to be closer to. Yeah.
[00:33:55] Wen: Yeah. You are so different.
[00:33:58] Alice, I, I really think you have this different outlook about what is investing, what is startup, what even money, conversation. Mm-hmm. , you know, you even come earlier before you Andrea was married. Yeah. She even mentioned she have hard time even talk to her, you know, ask about southern finances, but you just like, let's dive in.
[00:34:16] I'm curious, what's your view about money? Where, invest, why do you have such a, almost like everyone's running. Like trying to not, you know, it is not the most fun conversation. I say it that way. Yeah. But you like last talk about it. You were so passionate about it. Why was that? Yeah. What do you view about that?
[00:34:34] Alex: I mean, I think learning and, and all this kind of ties to even like why angel investing was so interesting to me. Like learning about the compounding side of things and like some of it in a way feels so basic of like, Put money into the s and p 500 and don't touch it for 10 years. Yeah. And you will get between like a seven to 10 x return every year.
[00:34:52] Yeah. And your money essentially doubles every 10 years. Yeah. And it just, when you start getting into compounding, that's when I realized that like even though I had a business that was. Starting to find some level of success. Mm-hmm. or for what it was. Mm-hmm. , it was a successful lifestyle business. Yeah.
[00:35:07] But I was just like, but I still have to sell a new customer to make more money. Mm-hmm. , and I'm in a way still trading my time for money. Mm-hmm. and investing was the one area that I'm like, oh, I'm no longer trading time for money. I'm using money. and time mm-hmm. To compound, to become more mm-hmm. . So I think once I kind of connected with that, and that was literally just from investing mm-hmm.
[00:35:25] in SMP 500 and realizing that like I put $5,000 in, now the five thousands were 6,000, 6,000, like a year later, whatever else. I was like, there's, there's some magic here. Um, and I think I just got to a point where I wanted to talk to everyone about it there that I'm just like, you know, I meet a new friend and I'm just like, , I would just open up my, like the business, like show them literally.
[00:35:45] I, I have, uh, harvest what I use for time tracking and, and invoicing customers. Um, I, I, I was actually tracking my time down to the minute for like, everything I did between marketing or networking or recording podcasts every day. How do you do that? It was, it was a difficult, um, process to, to get myself in doing.
[00:36:03] But I was just more like, I'm curious how I'm spending my time. Mm-hmm. . Um, but then it was really fun to be able to show people it, funny thing, it was literally just showing people, uh, how I was spending my time. Yeah. And then how all of that essentially rolled up to the revenue that was being made in the business.
[00:36:18] Yeah. So I just enjoyed like opening the books and showing people the journey. Mm-hmm. in, in a funny way, and this is where like I talked a lot about this in many different. Ways in, in the past, but I like, as the business was building, it's like, yeah, people, it's probably like useful to know that while we're doing like this.
[00:36:34] Last year we did, we broke 400 grand, um, between Andra and I, which we doubled the business, just her joining on board. So we really like, got momentum and everything. Um, but it, it took so long to get there. I've been in business for 12 years. I started business when I was 18, so it's just like show I wanted, I, I just had this thing.
[00:36:52] I wanna show you that the first five years in business I made five grand and then like the year after that I made like 15 grand. Yeah. And then I had to decide, do I need to get a job to pay off my student loans? Cause I owed 80 grand in student loans. Yeah. Or do I keep going? And this is where like some other stuff kind of unpacks where like, um, I owed 80 grand in student loans, but I was running a business the entire time, and I'm just like, I had to, like, what am I gonna do here?
[00:37:17] Um, my dad had actually passed away when I was 13. And my, the, the, the strange thing of this is like he had left my brother and I. Some money and, and I'll be public about this, like I, he left us about 150 grand or so between the two of us. So I essentially took all of my half and I just paid off my student loans immediately so that I could just continue trying to run the business versus being like, shoot, I need to actually get a job now to pay off my student loans.
[00:37:42] So there's also this, this whole thing where I feel super strange about, um, I feel strange about school and and college. Like if someone's entrepreneurial and they literally have started a company and they're working on. The, the thing that almost ruined my entrepreneurial thing was literally college and student loans.
[00:38:00] And I was like, and how fucked up is it? Sorry, I don't know if Yeah, no, I, uh, that, that like my dad passing away is probably the thing that has allowed me to continue down this journey. Mm. And. It's, it's almost this, this, this weird dichotomy where it's like, yeah, um, would I rather have him alive now? And probably I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am now.
[00:38:21] It's, it's, it's, it's, it's messed up when I think about it that I'm like, oh, this is just, it's weird. Um, but then it just shows how like these different things that happen in life in a weird way sometimes happen for, for the way that like, I don't know, I, yeah. Yeah. Wow.
[00:38:38] Wen: What a journey. Yeah. So what do you think is truth among all that?
[00:38:42] There's so many layers, which is unpack. What do you think is one truth you felt, you know, taking that journey for the last one, two decades that you hustle in? What is your own business or now? The, the, the angel investing and if found that you partner with, what is one thing that today is truth or speaking for you or
[00:39:01] Alex: you inspired by Yeah, I, I, um, I think it's, it's, what's interesting is from, from such a young age, because my dad had passed, I had to really like, deal with grieving and, and these things.
[00:39:14] And it's, it's one thing when it's someone else, um, Then about five, uh, six years or or so I had a, uh, cancer scare on myself, my thyroid, um, and I had to get a biopsy and, and everything and go through this process. And I was in like a, a two week of an unknown time just knowing that like it was a cold nodule and there's a 80% chance that that's gonna be cancer because, like on men, that it's a cold nodule versus a warm nodule, like all these things and whatever.
[00:39:40] So, , you start kind of reflecting on, on your life in that way. Um, and what I started seeing in my, in myself, I'm just like the way that I deal with things too, me, just to preface this is like I kind of go to the worst case scenario, um, to work through. Yeah. That, and then I'll kind of come out accept the worst, which, yeah.
[00:40:01] So essentially I was just like, okay, like if, if I die from this, then. Would I, you know, live my life any differently and, uh, what's most important? And I was literally just like, I'd be bummed that I wouldn't be able to build as many relationships. Like I'd feel like I found the unlock to life. And it's just like in, like meet people, be yourself, be transparent and just like connect with people.
[00:40:24] Mm-hmm. and like that is what's most important. So. Mm-hmm. , I think through all of that, um, luckily nothing has happened with it. I have, I have Graves disease and I'm still, you know, you know, working through stuff just in general, but, um, Yeah, I think I just realized that like the, the unlock in life is just be with good people and, and be transparent.
[00:40:42] So I think even to the finances things and all these things like that, like, I meet people, like I met some people in, in Austin, we moved here about a year ago, um, gotten close with some friends and like, I will jump into, I, I use an app called Compound for managing all of my finances because it allows you to put like your angel investments in there as well as funds, as well as just like your traditional, you know?
[00:41:03] Mm-hmm. . Investments accounts, and I'll just like show a friend my compound account. Like, Hey, here, here's the breakdown. Here's what things look like and whatever. And they're like, yeah, they've reflected afterward. They're like, um, I actually can't believe that you just like showed me all of that. Like, that's, that's so not what I'm used to
[00:41:20] But then they will start talking about their finances and then we get to have a real conversation and I'm like, oh, just by being real with people about this stuff that other people deem is like, Nope. Can't talk about this. Yeah. Has actually got me to connect more quickly. With more people. Yeah. And I think that's been, I guess the, the unlock or the one big thing that's just like, I love that stop hiding stuff, like talk about stuff and Yeah.
[00:41:40] And of course like hearing stuff from my mom and, and stop dad, like, there's these levels where they're like, don't share too much because like, you know, someone can, uh, kidnap your wife and then like, you know, uh, and then rent, take you for ransom and all these things like that. I'm just like, this is all fear based.
[00:41:54] Like, can we just be like, it'll be fine. It'll be cool. I feel like this is. Get me to connect with the people that are my people. Mm. And we will kind of move together. And I think that's, that's, that is a meaningful life to me.
[00:42:06] Wen: Wow. You know, as you speak, Alice, I just, I, I felt so inspired by the vision. Wow.
[00:42:11] And then remind of anecdote I heard. Okay. In, in a thunderstorm or in a tornado time, when all the animals running away from whatever that's happening, there's the animal. I'm not sure it's true. No. Buffalo, instead of running away, they running towards the tornado. So what happened is, in the, though, actually in the center of tornado, don't call me actually supposed to be safe.
[00:42:32] So when our animals. Feeding away that bold and brave leader decided what, uh, run towards to actually provider safety. And as you speaking and I thought about, wow, all the, all the stigma, all the, you know, like you said, the fear mindset, oh my God, this and this. Be careful about that. That versus you are like, you know what?
[00:42:51] I'm just gonna be be me. I'm gonna be offended. I'm gonna do who I love and. all gonna be fine. Yeah. And it work out nothing, not just fine, but extraordinary seeing the life, see the impact that you and your wife have creating. Wow. What, what a journey. Yeah. And, and talking about, you know, unlocked life. That the word that you said.
[00:43:10] I'm curious, you know, how do you define. Success or legacy, say one day we all gonna pass away, which I know that's for true. I will for sure. Uh, we all die, so,
[00:43:22] Alex: right. . Yeah. We're, we're in this together.
[00:43:24] Wen: What is that? You know, what do you wanna describe
[00:43:26] Alex: that as? Yeah, I mean, I, I think I'm super, super fortunate.
[00:43:30] Um, yeah, I, it's not, I through a ton of hard work, um, but like success for me is being able to wake up every day and in a way not know what, what holds. . Yeah. In that, in that day. Mm-hmm. , um, every day is different than the last, and some days I'm more of the startup advisor investing in a startup or like just scrolling Instagram and finding a company and then reali, like realizing that this is literally the company that you're gonna wanna help for the next 10 years.
[00:44:00] Mm-hmm. and invest in, and all these things like that. I'm just like, I wasn't planning for that. And I love, in a weird way, like through the unknown mm-hmm. of, um, the, the stuff that happened with me in my thyroid. I learned to get kind of in a way comfortable in the unknown. Mm-hmm. , because I'm like, I don't know what's gonna happen.
[00:44:15] I think that's awesome and, and I think there's a lot, um, in that. And that was also the, the impetus that got me to, to leave Buffalo. I was just like, what happens if I dive into the unknown? Like, I feel like good things happen keep happening when I keep diving in the unknown and it's uncomfortable and scary.
[00:44:30] But if I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow, then I think that's amazing. So I think in a weird. Success for me is being able to live every day in the unknown. Wow. Um, and, and I just get to have fun with it. Cuz I don't know, like, I didn't know that I was gonna be on this podcast like a few days ago or a week ago or whatever.
[00:44:45] Like, but it just felt right. So then it's this like, cool, like, I'm gonna do that. Like, um, it's just, it's just, it just, I think that's like. I get to also, I'm, I'm very, very clear in like setting boundaries. I set a lot of boundaries to a lot of people and customers and all these things like that. So then people are also like, oh wait, so like you work with companies, like how do you set boundaries with them cuz they're paying you?
[00:45:07] And I'm like, because I just work with companies that I feel like there's actually alignment and I will be transparent about the boundaries that I have said. And if they're break breaking boundaries, prime example is, When you're a solopreneur, uh, you often don't have like a help desk necessarily. You just have your email and that's how people reach out to you.
[00:45:25] And they, you know, they essentially say, Hey, I need help with X, Y, Z. Um, I had a help desk that I set up and I had essentially, you know, email@example.com and, um, I just wouldn't respond to customers that would write to my personal email address. And then what I would do is I would delay. I would delay, I would delay, and I would forward that to the help desk.
[00:45:47] And then what I would do is I would respond to the customer from the help desk, say like a few days later, and I'd say, Hey, sorry, I only checked my personal inbox like a couple times a week. Um, which is, True. I'm, it's not like I'm just doing it solely for that exercise, but it is like, um, just be sure to write, to support, you know, next time that a question comes up.
[00:46:05] So, in a weird way, I'm like setting a clear boundary, but I'm doing it through a way of educating the customer and not being like frustrated or anything of the sort. So I think just by over the years, setting these boundaries for customers, Now it's like we won't even give someone a proposal unless on the call they're like, yeah, we are ready to move forward.
[00:46:21] The, they're like, we already know. We understand what the Valley exchange is here. Um, then we'll put together a proposal. Otherwise, if they're not a, a clear yes, then it's probably a no. And I don't wanna be in this maybe space and I'm not in the business of. Putting together proposals for companies. So I think just being fortunate enough to be able to work with the companies that want to work with us and are excited to work with us.
[00:46:40] Yeah. I, I feel like, you know, I, I love this angel investing side of things and getting involved in product and all these things like that. Yeah. That like this other business in a weird way is taking time from the other stuff. Mm-hmm. . So it's like, it needs to be mutually, like it needs to make. In order for, for that to happen.
[00:46:54] And like, you should feel special working with us as we should for you. Yeah. And if that's the case, then cool. We're, we're like, we're ready to go. So I think that's, that's success in a way. Like being able to set boundaries, being able to do what you wanna do. Mm-hmm. , um, from day to day, but also not know what you're gonna do from day to day and have mm-hmm.
[00:47:09] allow for some magic to happen, you know, that you didn't plan for. Wow.
[00:47:14] Wen: Alice. I've been talked to a lot of, you know, cool, smart people. But speaking to you, I just, I felt so touched and inspired by what you just said. You were so frighten and so really transparent in a, in a such a. Such a cool way and just seeing how everything all unfolded because of you and your passion to do this support and build community and, you know, build friendship and partnership, which is brilliant.
[00:47:41] Now speaking about selling boundaries, I know today you have, you know, multiple project, right? You are not only enter investing 18 incredible teams, uh, company, but also you have your own business to run. You're supporting clients, you also have incredible life partners and all other things happen. How do you relate, maximize your productivity or sort of having that compartmentalized, how do you, how do you, I I have a sense that you have a system for everything.
[00:48:06] How do you maximizing that?
[00:48:08] Alex: Um, I think one level is I don't, I don't put too much pressure on myself to be fully productive at, at all times. Um, well, that's so helpful. Thank you, . Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's. Yeah, it's difficult to know exactly what to do at all points in time. And I think that's like part of being in the unknown is to maybe not be productive sometimes.
[00:48:27] And that's cool. And that's also where creativity stems from, right? Like it, like, I think there's a saying around like, boredom is for creativity, so if you're feeling bored, don't just try to fill it with dopamine and, and do things. It's like sit in the boredom and then that's, The magic happens, you know, for example.
[00:48:41] I love that. So, um, yeah, I think there's, there's a level where like, I love productivity and I love time management and I love boundary setting and all these things like that. Um, but I. I don't think you, you have to put too much pressure on all of that. Nor do I even think that, uh, all these productivity apps, like we're investing in productivity apps and stuff like that, but I also don't think they're gonna change the game for you.
[00:49:01] Mm-hmm. , some of it is actually just like they're giving you somewhat of a structure, but it's, it's, it's more about how you spend the time when you are working or aren't working. Um, yeah. I, I guess I don't really have, uh, I, I have systems and processes for a lot of things, but I think it. You know what this is, this is maybe more, um, yeah, so I, I have a, a friend Sean, uh, and he, he was bringing up an example.
[00:49:28] He, he's a friend that I was just following his work for, for over a decade. He had like thousands of podcasts and, and audiobooks and stuff like that. And there's something that he had said one day, um, the way that our relationship was formed, cuz he's also someone that set a lot of boundaries. So people, so someone like me that has large boundaries, he has large boundaries.
[00:49:45] How often did we, did we talk? Three times a year. But, but when we talked, it was magical because his whole thesis was, there's a Warren Buffet quote, uh, something along the lines of, if you wanna meet with Warren Buffet, you don't write a week in advance and say, Hey, I wanna meet with Warren Buffet. Um, the, the, you know, his assistant will essentially say, How about you reach out the day before or the day of and, um, he'll let you know if he's feeling it or not.
[00:50:12] And I'm like, that's really interesting. So my, my, my friend Sean, he would essentially be like, oh, we should really, you know, jump on a call over the next few weeks or something like that. And what would happen would just be like, if I was free and I was in that level where I'm like, cool, like I'm in a good head space.
[00:50:26] I'm not stressing about, you know, client work or all these other things. Um, are you, are you around to jump on a call? Um, sometimes he'd say no, sorry. But then sometimes he'd be like, yeah, I'm actually in the same space. We'd jump on a call and we'd just talk for three or four hours about all these things and I'm just like, When you can actually be present with someone mm-hmm.
[00:50:43] and meet them when they're at that same point. And it doesn't, you can't plan for that. Mm-hmm. . And I think that's where a lot of this stuff happens. Like, you can't plan mm-hmm. often for, for the magic to happen. So. How do you optimize for as many unplanned things to to happen? Yeah. And I think through like the relationship that I had with him was also just like, cool, I'm feeling like I wanna do this today.
[00:51:03] So who do I reach out to to try to get that mission forward and maybe I can't do anything. And then that day get to have some boredom and yeah, do something with that too. Yeah. Wow.
[00:51:13] Wen: Alice, my second last question to you. Um, what is your, what do you think is your superpower? .
[00:51:20] Alex: Um, I think my, my superpower is I, I've been kind of, look, I, it's funny, I, I would've said like integration and automation and like, if you met me literally four months ago.
[00:51:33] But I think more what I'm seeing is actually like relationship building, um, software and just kind of knowing the, the space. So in a weird way, I've been told from, from friends and people, newly people that I've met that haven't even formed an opinion about me, they're. What I feel like your superpower is, is I could be a company at any size or whatever and I can be like, what software stack should I use?
[00:51:57] Here are my pain points. And I could just say, okay, you need to be using copper CRM with Panoc. With Dialpad, or you need to be using HubSpot with, you know, X, Y, Z and X, Y, Z and X, Y, Z. I just know the landscape so well. Mm-hmm. that I feel like I can just. Give people what they're looking for in that way. Um, cuz I know all the positives and negatives even of like, oh, well HubSpot has these API limitations, so Yeah.
[00:52:19] Essentially because of that, like, you probably shouldn't use it because here's a pain point that you're talking about. Yeah. So I think in all of that, his then led to the startup investing side of things where I'm like, yeah, if I'm investing in a, in a B2B SaaS company mm-hmm. , I already know all their competitors.
[00:52:33] I know there are competitors', APIs I've played with their software. In my free time I played with software. That is what I do. Mm-hmm. , that's what I enjoy doing. So I'm almost like, how do I optimize everything else in my life so that I could just play with more software, which will give me like mm-hmm.
[00:52:45] more space to, to figure out what I wanna do. Um, and then I think the relationship side of things, like, I just literally, like, there was a company that I absolutely loved, um, I love, uh, called arc. They're, they're a browser and they're kind of earlier in their journey and I just wanna get this one thing across cuz I think that some people could, could take something from this.
[00:53:04] But, um, I was like, I love this company. I wanna invest in this company. I've been using it and I'm just blown away by what they're doing and their mission and their vision, all these things like that. So what I started doing was I just started like reaching out to the founder of it. Um, they were already like at their series A at this point.
[00:53:20] and I, and I just reached out to them on Twitter and I was like, Hey, so much love what you're doing. This is just like amazing for these reasons and like just see so much potential and whatever. Didn't get a response. I added them on LinkedIn, sent a similar message, didn't get a response. I tried emailing directly, email bounced, wrong email address.
[00:53:36] I changed it a little bit. Boom. Went through, uh, don't know if it got read and then like, you know, a month later, you know, still no response. I spent sent another message on Twitter to the same person, Josh, and I was just like, Hey. Josh, like, uh, just, I just wanted to say, I love the feature. You guys just released this.
[00:53:52] It's amazing. I'm so blown away, whatever. And I just kept supporting and supporting and supporting from afar with no response back. And I didn't feel anything like, oh, he's ignoring me or anything like that. I'm just like, I just wanna support this person. Mm-hmm. , who is building such an amazing company and software.
[00:54:06] Mm-hmm. . And then eventually he responded and he's just like, I just wanna say thank you so. for your support like this, this is meant like so much and all these things like that. Yeah. Um, and then I was like, and you know, would I be able to invest? And he's like, you know, we're not raising right now, you know, sorry, whatever.
[00:54:21] And I was like, okay, okay. Like, I get it. But then I just continued to support mm-hmm. support and send messages. And on Twitter, like he's, they're posting stuff, their team's posting stuff. I'm following all their team. I'm trying to support in whatever way I can. And then eventually got to a point where I was just like, I was like, if you had the chance to invest in the future of the internet, which is what I feel like they're building, um, would you, because we would, and I posted it from Efficient vc, which is the VC angel investing side of things where I'm putting a lot of my thoughts.
[00:54:48] Yeah. And he. Responded like. He's like, so wait, if you were to invest, like how much of, how large of a check could you pull? And I was like, oh, this is kind of funny. He probably doesn't know. I'm just like an angel investor and efficient VC's almost like this, this holding for like my wife and I that are investing in stuff.
[00:55:04] But then he started kind of taking it seriously too. And then I was like, oh, you know, maybe we can, we can pull like a, a $50,000 checker. I don't know. And he's like, oh, I don't know. Like if that's enough for this size and stage. Like as you get higher up mm-hmm. in, you know, series A, B, C, whatever. You need to put much larger checks in cuz the same amount of financial work is involved to put in five grand as it is.
[00:55:22] 50 grand is, is a million dollars. So they have to, you know, pay attention to that, get a board approval and stuff like that. So then he's like, okay, you know, I'll think about it and whatever. Maybe if I can get other people in on it and whatever. So, um, yeah, a a at that point I'm like, he, he's like, but I promise, like he, he responded later.
[00:55:40] He is like, I promise you can invest in, into our next round. And I'm like, okay, this is amazing. Yeah. But even though he said that, he promised that I can invest. What I still continue to do is I just then wrote a 4,400 word article about why my conviction in, in, in arc and, and the whole process. It's actually been a decade long journey that I've been looking for a software like this.
[00:55:58] Yeah. So I've just wrote my thoughts down and I just sent it to him on Twitter and I was literally just like, boom, just article. Like, no, and, and my whole thought for this entire article, I don't love writing. I write like two or three things a year was like, if Josh reads it, , it's amazing. Mm-hmm. , that was all I cared about.
[00:56:15] I don't care about how many views or if anyone else read it, whatever. Um, and then I just kept supporting and, and all these things like that cuz I'm in of the mindset of like, even though he promised me and I take his promise, um, . I'm like, I, I don't, until the check is cleared, until the opportunity is fully there, it didn't happen.
[00:56:35] So my whole thing that I, I guess I would say other people do as well is like, yeah, it's uncomfortable reaching out to someone that doesn't respond to you. Mm-hmm. and just keep doing it. Yeah. You will stand out. Yeah. And that is actually open up most of these opportunities of, of these 18 companies in the, in that year that I was investing in.
[00:56:51] It was very similar. I was just giving product feedback, connecting with the founders, connecting with the product team, doing whatever I can, jumping on calls, helping, helping, helping. Like get, could we have a shared Slack group? Okay, cool. Now I'm gonna give you feedback in the shared slack group. Like how do you just be this value add when you have no upside?
[00:57:06] Mm-hmm. , and then eventually work your way into getting an opportunity to invest. And that's my whole ethos.
[00:57:11] Wen: That's incredible. And I think what you just said applied to not only you investing in the company, but also also founder looking for investment also applies well. Yeah. So that lead me to, my last question is for fun, who are listening, who are thinking, wow, Alice is so incredible.
[00:57:25] How can they in touch with you and you know, what kind of, what kind of company you looking for? Are you open to new company or the fun
[00:57:33] Alex: jazz? Yeah. Um, so I, Twitter is probably one of the best places. It's my first, uh, last name with middle initial in the middle. So it's Alex H. Bass. Mm-hmm. . Um, but if you just search e.
[00:57:44] App or efficient vc, then I'm, I'm essentially efficient, Alex, anything around the world, like, you'll find all of my stuff on that and everything is like, organized. Our website literally has, I'm brain dumping all of my thoughts on all the software, on the website. Like if you're, have you have any questions?
[00:57:57] Like, should I use HubSpot? We have so many articles on it and my purest thoughts, and I don't care if you hire us or not, I just wanna share this information with people. Um, and, and in terms of, of reaching out, like I, I, I haven't invested in one company that has reached out like, Hey, will you invest? I don't think I ever will.
[00:58:13] Mm-hmm. , I think it's just more of I need to have my own conviction and that only comes from me using the software. Mm-hmm. , feel free to throw something on my road or on on my radar of like, oh, this is a cool company to check out. But, uh, yeah, I, I just think I'm, I'm sourcing the deals and, and, yeah. Yeah. I just, I just don't really see Yeah.
[00:58:29] Wen: Yeah. No, thank you for the transparency. Yeah. Alex, you are so intentional and intense in the same time. You're intentional about what really, what really made you tick and what you're passionate about. Yeah. And then when you find that you are intense about how to truly find that alignments and you know, when you say you are here to support, you are here for the long run.
[00:58:48] And I think that was one of the few reasons I felt like. So incredible what you do and around, whether it's efficiency, automation, software, all and above. And I can definitely see how you rising as a leader today to support 18 and more portfolio companies within the, within the, the space. So wow. Thank you so much for sharing your journey today
[00:59:07] Alex: with us.
[00:59:08] You're super sweet. Thank you. I appreciate you, you listening. Um, I, I love being able to share Yeah. My story in, in an authentic way and, and you, you've done that so well. So thank you.
[00:59:18] Wen: Thank you so much and thank you everybody who is listening today. I hope you enjoyed as much as I do and I cannot wait to see you all next week.
[00:59:27] Bye guys.
[00:59:27] Alex: Bye.
Curious what top SaaS companies are using the software stack mentioned in the video above? We've put together a list (and even tracked the software they used to use)!