The first Industrial Revolution from home

You can start your dream job from your kitchen table

When Lucy Larcom left her rural hometown for Lowell, she found work as a "doffer," replacing empty bobbins, at a textile mill. On evenings and weekends, she began writing poems and honing her craft as a self-taught writer. After ten years of working in mills and writing on the side, Larcom’s work began to appear in Harpers and The Atlantic. She earned the respect of top academics, became friends with the greats of her time like John Whittier, and created a new movement for self-taught creators and entrepreneurs. 

“Some of their wages went to help parents with mortgage payments or brothers with school fees, but most ‘mill girls’ worked to accomplish personal goals.” 

For centuries, each Industrial Revolution sees new technologies and new economic opportunities for anyone who is ready to roll up their sleeves — where we live, how we make money, and ultimately our contribution to mainstream culture happens at the intersection of work and life.

In the first Industrial Revolution, Lucy and her contemporaries had to leave home to find prosperity. Although Lucy was able to find time to hone her craft, many were relegated to a lifetime of factory work. Although it’s been over 185 years since Lucy left her farm behind, not much has changed. 

When many think of the Industrial Revolution, they think of Lucy Larcom in a textile mill. But our pre-COVID world was part of another Industrial Revolution, a fourth one, when workers commuted long distances to an office. Although remote work was gaining in popularity before the pandemic, the majority of workers were still traveling to an office and spending a large percentage of their day in meetings.

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns, 93% of workers in the U.S. were visiting an office each day meanwhile studies uncovered that 99% of workers had a strong desire to work from home some of the time for the rest of their career. In the 1980s and 1990s, we saw the rise of corporate culture: office parks, cubicles, and a culture where meetings and long hours at the office became the social norm for workers who aspired to climb the corporate ladder.

In the 2000s to 2010s, corporate culture took a more relaxed approach by introducing a casual dress code, free lunches, and more “culture” events such as extravagant team happy hours, improv classes, and private events with celebrity performers (à la Beyoncé’spay me in equity’ moment where she negotiated $6 million in equity to perform for Uber employees in Las Vegas).

At its peak, cool office culture saw young talented workers flocking to cities like San Francisco where landlords converted garages into $5,000+ per month rentals for tech workers eager to break into the industry.

According to Bloomberg, extreme commutes (defined as longer than 1.5 hours per day) rose by nearly 95% during the 1990s. Angela Barber, a legal secretary working in Hagerstown, Md., left her house at 5:15 am to embark on a two hour commute every day. She told the Washington Post that she couldn’t afford to move or leave her job. This environment gave birth to cultural touchstones such as Office Space and The Office, which poke fun at long commutes, pointless meetings, and forced fun.

As COVID-19 sent many workers home to a world of Zoom calls, family responsibilities, and home office spaces, a new Industrial Revolution is beginning to take place, one that’s happening at home.

The next wave of entrepreneurs will form and build their ideas from kitchen tables and home offices with spouses, family members or find co-founders entirely virtually. It’s hard to imagine that workers will ever resign themselves to “extreme commuting” again. Instead, we’re entering a new era where individuals have more power than institutions: the corporate era is over and anyone can start the business of their dreams.

The next decade will see new types of builders: couples who join forces, founders with an eye for good design, creative hackers who find distribution by building what's clever and niche, but not obvious for large companies. 

Sisters Vanessa and Kim Pham launched their dream business Omsom during the pandemic, proud loud Asian meal kits for people stuck at home.

The New American Dream is anything but a traditional 9-5 sandwiched between two commutes in a car or on a wifi-enabled shuttle to a corporate office park. Instead, we want a life where we can express ourselves creatively and build something with purpose and meaning. In the wake of COVID, this dream has only accelerated. 

My vision for Worklife began when I discovered the New American Dream in early 2019. Creative expression, online influence and extreme optionality ie: remote work, calendar flexibility and the ability to start your own business from anywhere was changing how Americans define success.

The end of offices

COVID has sent so many of us home from typical office arrangements, and many have realized how much these environments stifle our potential and limit our contribution to society.

For many of us, the end of offices has highlighted something far more existential.

The more time we spend in the same asynchronous docs and meeting for the sake of meeting, the more we hate our jobs and will choose more creative and meaningful work. Remote workers spent 157 more hours in unnecessary meetings compared to last year. And, missing these meetings isn’t often an option, as meeting culture creates a fear of being left out and face time becomes a proxy for personal contribution to your company.

As workers increasingly recognize the benefits of working from home and the downsides of working for a corporation, many will opt to start location-independent businesses of their own. After all, for years we’ve molded our lives around physical locations: where we work, where we get our haircut, where we send our children to daycare. These places not only require substantial capital, but also confine people to a single space.

For example, Toby and Mags — a quirky couple that go by the name Elevated Weirdo started a popular vintage store prior to COVID. Although the shop was created with vintage fairs and physical popups in mind, the couple realized they could make a bigger splash if they launched a high energy show with global reach on Popshop Live, which today attracts stars and fashion influencers like Paris Hilton.

Technology is rapidly changing how individuals start the business of their dreams from anywhere. Cashdrop, Popshop, and Webflow coupled with Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube have given local small business owners access to customers globally, helping to lower operating costs by removing the need for physical real estate.

We’re all wired to create

While the creator economy is a popular theme bubbling up in tech circles, it’s not new.

As humans, we’ve always been wired to create. Just like Lucy Larcom felt the need to write poetry, there have always been creatives looking to share their art with the world. 

The difference today? Creators not only have platforms that allow them to reach people on a massive, global scale, but they also have a host of technological tools to tap into to make their business dreams a reality.

Cashdrop has removed the need for a site entirely, as small businesses like food trucks and farmer’s markets can be built entirely from your phone. Full-blown startups, creative agencies and creative projects start on Webflow– the community of 100,000+ professional designers openly share their work so anyone can build a beautiful experience on top of their original designs. 

As I was digging into the future of small business with Worklife-backed company Cashdrop, I realized almost all Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Thumbtack posts could be stand-alone creative small businesses. Many creatives are selling an array of goods with no room to style the post or curate the experience.

For example, anyone selling plants could easily build The Sill, a premium site for buying potted plants in NYC with a no-code website on Webflow and live 1:1 courses on Superpeer.

Ultimately, we’re in a unique era on the dawn of the first Industrial Revolution at home and the new tools fo these creative entrepreneurs can get a beautifully branded business off the ground in minutes. We’re seeing an array of opportunities for any creator who is ready to build the business of their dreams. The best part? They don’t have to leave their apartment.

What are some trends we’ll see in the new Industrial Revolution from home?

You can start your dream job from your kitchen table.

In the fifth Industrial Revolution, home will gain a new meaning. It will no longer be a respite from the office after a long day of meetings.

With the rise of no-code tools, you can start a business from anywhere and anyone can be a tech founder.

Our home matters more and so do our neighborhoods.

When we work from home, we reconnect with our neighborhood. We get to know our, support local businesses, and invest our time and money locally.

This isn’t the first time people have paid special attention to their homes.

After WWII, the war’s technology made mass production possible and households flocked to buy appliances ranging from refrigerators to electric mixers. People were not only rapidly building and buying homes, they were buying new in-home technologies.

The same thing is happening today with so many working from home on account of COVID. Many are considering buying new homes, moving to a new location, completing a renovation, or simply figuring out the best way to create a functional office space.

Small businesses will build local and sell global.

I’m fascinated by how hourly work is more creative than ever, especially during the pandemic. The hair stylists and tattoo artists who traditionally offered services in their local area have expanded to selling online courses, branded merchandise, and in-home services.

We will choose creativity over corporate culture.  

At Worklife, we surveyed tech workers and found that 43% of people were pursuing a side hustle or other money-making project not tied to their regular job. Seventy-one percent were working to develop new skills or interests on evenings or weekends. 

In a changing world, our ideas about how to live and work are being thrown into question. Workers are no longer convinced that they need to stifle their creativity to be successful. COVID has sent many home, inspiring workers to take matters into their own hands.

3 ways to activate your army of investors

set expectations, default to overshare, everyone on sales

In previous essays, I've shared how to structure your first round with operators and super angels to establish credibility in the ecosystem and build alongside the best founders and experienced operators who deliver a high check size to helpful ratio (CS:H ratio). More often than not, the smallest checks will be the most engaged and helpful as angels and few funds proactively seek ways to add value in new and differentiated ways.

As we enter another year with an unprecedented amount of capital in the ecosystem, the startups that effectively activate their army of investors will create an engaged community of early believers and build a defensible moat around the business.

An unspoken truth in tech today is the startup that raises the most amount of money at the highest valuation from the best firm is crowned the category leader.

A startup is an experiment until it has been validated by the ecosystem. Activating your army of investors is a tangible strategy to acquire more customers, source and close candidates, and hit significant company milestones ahead of the next financing round.

In this essay, we’ll explore three ways to activate your army of investors:

  • Set expectations for investment

  • Default to overshare

  • Everyone on sales

Set expectations for investment

The founder-investor relationship is a powerful virtuous loop

The more you engage your investors, the more involved they become and the more value they deliver in the shortest amount of time.

To build a strong bench, start by setting expectations for all investors.

Passion for the product is table stakes.

Investors need to understand how your product works before they can make relevant customer introductions, recruit executives from their network, and anticipate potential business risks and roadblocks in the future.

Some examples of effective expectations:

  • We expect every investor to be a passionate user of the product

  • We expect every investor to generate new leads & refer their friends/followers

  • We expect at least 1 monthly call to get your feedback on company strategy

  • We expect founder angels to champion our product inside your company

  • We expect operators to introduce and help us close candidates

Determine your standard operating procedures.

Even the most helpful and experienced investors benefit from a standard set of operating procedures to ensure founders and the extended team feel adequately supported and investors feel sufficiently helpful.

Some examples of standard operating procedures:

  • We plan to send explicit asks to all of our investors on a weekly basis that require a single action: forward email, loop someone else in, a single sentence response

  • We want to collaborate with all investors in real-time and have a WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram group to chat live and share updates on a frequent basis

  • We send investor updates monthly and ask for a response within 24-48 hours

  • We plan to ship substantial product updates quarterly and ask for your help upvoting on Product Hunt, Hacker News and sharing on your social channels

  • We ask all investors to play a role in our company culture and ask for you to speak at our company all-hands and welcome new members to the team

For each ask, be explicit and reduce friction for investors.

Transform CEO Nick Handel arms investors with 3 key resources in every update:

  1. The ICP: “ideal customer profile” to activate your investor network and ensure introductions are relevant for the current phase of company growth.

  1. The customer sales deck: give investors everything they need to make an intro without drafting an email, downloading a deck, or doing anything beyond a forward or looping someone into the current email.

  1. A link to relevant 1st degree connections on LinkedIn: Increase the effectiveness of your talent outreach by activating your investor’s first degree connections with a single link. Investors love reconnecting with old colleagues and sharing portfolio highlights with potential candidates.

When Almanac CEO Adam Nathan raised his seed round he left an ample amount of room for super angels with distribution and paired angels with a writer to document their core workflows and turn angels into super contributors on the platform.

This not only activated angels, but incentivized early believers to refer their executive friends and writers in their network to seamlessly contribute in a way that removed friction and provided a tangible value-add to every person on the cap table.

Default to overshare

Working in Public, openly publishing company values, strategy docs and recent learnings to educate and learn from the broader ecosystem, is one of the most exciting trends to come out of 2020.

Recent research by Asana, involving 13,000 global workers, revealed remote workers spent more than 157 hours in unnecessary meetings compared with last year. 

The companies that built remote-first systems prior to COVID-19 have become the gold standard for default to overshare.

Their ability to effectively onboard new hires, reduce the amount of time spent in meetings, and introduce new standard operating procedures internally and externally is a highly effective tactic for activating investors and up-leveling the entire ecosystem. When a company works in public, we all benefit from their learnings.

Levels CEO Sam Corcos openly published the company’s secret master plan on the company blog and continues to champion a culture of working in public by sharing all company strategy docs with investors and early supporters.

Here’s my link to skip the Levels 85,000+ person waitlist 😎

While Linear CEO Karri Saarinen built his network and reputation as one of Silicon Valley’s most sought-after designers in the flashy offices of Coinbase and Airbnb, he credits his team’s overall productivity and recent $13m Series A led by Sequoia to fewer distractions and their consistent open changelog for anyone to track the team’s progress and actively contribute to the overall evolution of the product.

Default to overshare is not limited to company strategy, Flatfile CEO David Boskovic says one of the most effective ways to activate investors involves consistently sharing moments of unprompted customer love.

“We keep investors engaged by consistently sharing customer updates. Not branded customer stories on our website, but snippets of sales calls using Gong and other forms of unfiltered, unprompted feedback from our customers.”

Investors are more likely to roll up their sleeves and open up their network when you provide consistent market validation and positive feedback from real customers.

Everyone on Sales

While fundraising is notoriously tedious and stressful, it’s one of the few windows where your company has mindshare and a wide network of well-connected people who are incentivized to deliver as much value as possible in a short time frame.

I encourage companies to activate potential investors long before a fundraise and draft every email, ask, and necessary assets such as customer sales decks before kicking off a formal process. Fundraising moves fast, so preparation is key if you want to maximize the opportunity to accelerate your business throughout the process.

Some examples of everyone on sales:

  • Create a shared pipeline in Notion or Google Sheets to track investor intros, add notes on a per company basis, and include key points for investor backchannel including highlights from previous conversations

  • Draft emails for investors to send to the right point of contact at relevant portfolio companies

  • Involve SDRs, AEs, and Customer Success leads in the process. Founders are busy and sales reps are measured by their ability to close new customers. When in doubt, engage your internal army of closers to accelerate investor introductions

These are two examples of Hightouch.io engaging investors before an official product launch. The asks were split by company with tailored introductions to maximize the effectiveness of each intro request.

Always include what your company does and why your team is one to be taken seriously.

👋

As always, I’d love to hear from you and hope these examples provide tangible ways for your company to maximize your existing relationships with investors. I encourage you to engage with your community of early believers and even re-connect with investors who have previously passed.

The ecosystem is filled with helpful angels, plenty of new funds, and firms stacked with super connectors who are able and ready to help.

It’s up to you to get creative and make every connection count.

Arianna Huffington LIVE at Now, New, Next

The Great Global Burnout: an intimate conversation on how burnout has taken new form

We’re 4 days away from Now, New, Next and we have some surprises in store for you. We are thrilled to announce our keynote speaker, Arianna Huffington.

We’ve gathered a lineup of speakers and events spanning the worlds of business, VC, and culture to speak directly to the challenges and questions we face in a world that’s shifted drastically over the last several months—and we want you to be a part of the conversation. 

See our full slate of events here

Event Highlights

Additional Speaker Highlights

A Treat From Haus, a new low-alcohol apéritif 

Invest with friends. Claim your $50 stock 

gift with Public here

For families @ home together, try OK Play

Have you checked out the entire slate of events? RSVP for more events here. Let us know what you are most excited for! 

Worklife, one year later

culture, technology, work in a world that’s drastically shifted

Dear friends,

I founded Worklife this time last year to build and back companies that make work more creative, flexible, and well… human.

We’re the first venture capital designed for a new era.
Where work is more creative and anyone can start something.
Where life is more flexible and not tied to an office.

Where everyone is a triple threat.

To deliver on these values and invest in our community, we’re hosting a three day event for investors, founders and builders & creators from all industries.

Think of it as Sun Valley meets SXSW, upbeat talks with musical performances.

We’ve gathered a lineup of speakers and events spanning the worlds of business, VC, and culture to speak directly to the challenges and questions we face in a world that’s drastically shifted over the last several months—and we want you to be a part of the conversation. 

RSVP for events here

Thank you for your ongoing support and I hope to see you all next week.

Brianne


Event Highlights

Speaker Highlights

  • Leif Abraham, Co-CEO at Public

  • Shavone Charles, Director of Communications + Creative Partnerships at VSCO

  • Adrienne Lawrence, Author of Staying in The Game

  • Phil Libin, Founder & CEO of Mmhmm, previously Founder & CEO of Evernote

  • Anne Raimondi, CCO at Guru, Board Member at Asana, Gusto, Patreon

  • Ben Rubin, Founder & CEO of /talk, previously Founder & CEO of Houseparty

  • And more to come!

Here’s the full list of events (with even more coming soon…)

Shifting the Future of Business & Design

Event Date & Time: Tuesday, October 13th; 12:30PM - 1:30PM PST

Join Worklife in a series of thought-provoking, multidisciplinary talks—spanning business, design, and culture—that will explore trends in progress and examine where greater change is still needed. RSVP here.

Cultivating Resilience In Crisis

Event Date & Time: Tuesday, October 13th; 2:15PM - 3:00PM PST

The world is radically shifting due to a series of recent global events. While a few businesses and movements have made major gains, most have suffered profound losses. Stop by for an inspiring talk on how we can survive and find the strength to move our lives, societies, and economies forward in a post-COVID world. RSVP here

Beyond Black Lives Marketing

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, October 14th; 12:00PM - 12:45PM PST

While many companies posted black tiles in solidarity with BLM, many are falling short of cultivating psychological safety, inclusion, and growth in our industries—come through for a discussion on how to move beyond empty statements. RSVP here

Raising Cash Outside of VC

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, October 14th; 12:45PM - 1:30PM PST

VC is a gated community of sorts and it’s becoming ever more competitive for founders to raise funds, especially in times of economic uncertainty. Join Worklife for an insightful discussion on the new modes enabling founders to raise in the future. RSVP here

Worklife Radio | Hannah Faith

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, October 14th; 1:30PM - 2:00PM PST

Turn your sound on for a special dj set from London-based DJ and curator, Hannah Faith. Worklife Radio curates sounds and moods for the full spectrum of life. RSVP here

Building Highly Productive Teams

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, October 14th; 2:00PM - 2:45PM

Practically overnight, the world’s workplace went digital. In an era of dispersed teams, how do you stay productive and up your team’s productivity? Anne Raimondi and Rajiv Ayyangar will lead a panel discussion on how to do just that. RSVP here

Career Evolution: Planning Your Next Step In Your Career

Event Date & Time: Thursday, October 15th; 12:00PM - 12:45PM

Join Worklife for a thoughtful conversation about how to think about what’s next for your career amid global upheaval and accelerated change. RSVP here

Convert Your Audience To Cash: Creator Monetization Post-Covid

Event Date & Time: Thursday, October 15th; 1:30PM - 2:30PM

Creators put in a lot of work to grow their audience, and they deserve to make a living doing what they love. Stop by for a panel discussion about the methods and latest tech that can help you grow your empire. RSVP here

Worklife Radio | Alex Isley

Event Date & Time: Thursday, October 15th; 2:30PM -3:00PM

Turn your sound on for a special performance from LA based R&B songstress Alex Isley as we close out our Now, New, Next event! Worklife Radio curates sounds and moods for the full spectrum of life. RSVP here

Worklife Presents: Now, New, Next

A three day event for investors, founders and artists from all industries

Worklife’s first annual meeting is on the horizon—and since it’s been a hell of a year, we’ve curated a lineup of discussions, workshops, and musical performances spanning the worlds of business, venture capital, and culture to speak directly to the challenges and questions we face in a world that’s shifted drastically over the last several months.

We wanted to give you first dibs on joining the event, so see below for a sampling of the schedule and mark your calendars for October 13th through October 15th! 

RSVP for events here

Event Highlights

  • Building Highly Productive Teams 

  • Beyond Black Lives Marketing

  • Shifting The Future of Business & Design

  • The Latest Tech to Grow Your Creative Empire

  • Musical performances including a special guest from NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts

  • And more to come! 

Speaker Highlights

  • Leif Abraham, Co-CEO at Public

  • Shavone Charles, Director of Communications + Creative Partnerships at VSCO

  • Adrienne Lawrence, Author of Staying in The Game

  • Phil Libin, Founder & CEO of Mmhmm, previously Founder & CEO of Evernote

  • Anne Raimondi, CCO at Guru, Board Member at Asana, Gusto, Patreon

  • Ben Rubin, Founder & CEO of /talk, previously Founder & CEO of Houseparty

  • And more to come!

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