Zachary M. Taylor's Blog

In Pursuit of Wealth and Freedom

I quit my cushy software engineering job. I have allocated enough cash for nine months of personal runway. The first six I will focus on achieving ramen profitability. For my non tech friends, that means making enough money such that I can survive off of ramen. If I start working on an idea that I think is venture scale (large enough potential to warrant raising venture capital) then I’ll consider trying to raise a seed round to extend my runway. If I’m unable to either raise money or achieve ramen profitability in the first six months I’ll have three more...

Growth via Self-Imposed Discomfort

The following events occurred from September 2nd to 7th in the year 2020, during a global pandemic and the worst summer for forest fires in California history. I left San Francisco after finishing up work around 6pm on Wednesday. I stopped by Target to buy a cooler and food for the rest of the week. Iced coffee was a necessity since I didn’t plan on taking time off work. I had scoped out a few free campsites in Big Sur. I was planning on arriving around midnight to sleep. I stopped for gas and food in San Jose. As I...

Path to 1B Valuation

1. Build a great bottom up SaaS product a. Bottom up SaaS b/c recurring revenue + potential for viral growth 2. Use great product to raise seed funding to extend runway 3. Get 10 people to love the product (do this concurrently with step 2) 4. Focus on retention 5. Focus on growth 6. Get to ~2M ARR 7. Raise series A 8. 3x growth (year 1) ("T2D3") 9. 3x again (year 2) 10. 2x (year 3) 11. 2x (year 4) 12. 2x (year 5) 13. Now you’re at ~100M ARR -> IPO or whatever...

Alternate Theories of Human Expansion

At some point in my education I was taught that humans migrated to the Americas 13,000 years ago over a land bridge exposed by lower sea levels during the last ice age. Sea water was trapped in massive glaciers, exposing the Bering Strait. These humans then migrated south at an alarming pace through an ice free inland corridor. Within a few thousand years humans migrated from the tip of Alaska to the tip of South America. This is the prevailing theory to this day amongst mainstream archaeologists. I don’t disagree with mainstream science but I recognize it for what it...

Finding Product Market Fit

For the past four months I've been working on building a new product. Starting with ideation on possible product ideas all the way to actually building something useful and acquiring customers. What they say is true, this is very hard. My goal with this writing is to reflect on a few key things I've learned and explain them in an easily understandable way. This will help me organize and think through my ideas. Let's get started. Work Extremely Closely with Users It is important to work extremely closely with your users. It's really hard to get someone to use a...

Life as a Growth Engineer

I’ve been a “Growth Engineer” for about a month and a half now. I love it. I feel like a cowboy behind the keyboard. To put things in perspective, I’m coming from a typical software engineering job where I was working on our core product. In a typical engineering job, production database access is limited, the release process is lengthy, and testing is (relatively) rigorous. There are many other processes necessary to support a product with many paying users. This slows down building, but it is a necessary and good thing for an established product. As a growth engineer, I’m...

Top Five Books of 2019

2019 wasn’t a great year for me as far as reading goes. I suspect this is because I got stuck on a couple dense books that took me a while to read. I.e. “Sapiens” and “Guns, Germs, and Steel”. I refused to move on to other books before finishing these which significantly slowed my reading. In response to this, in 2020 I plan on reading for understanding over completion. Reading for understanding will enable me to jump around from book to book and even skip around in a book if I find a chapter particularly dense. It should prevent me...

Thoughts on Failure

It’s common these days in San Francisco and the tech community to glorify failure. I often hear things such as “seek out failure”. Personally, I don’t think this is good advice. You should never seek out failure. You should always try your best to succeed. That being said, I think the whole “seek out failure” idea helps with a few things: 1. We should care more about growing/learning than success/failure 2. We should never be afraid of failure [1] 3. When we do fail it should not deter us from trying again [2] If telling yourself to “seek out failure”...

Startups + Age Discrimination

I just finished reading “Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble” by Dan Lyons. One of the biggest takeaways for me was how real age discrimination is in the startup world. The aspiring contrarian/value investor in me makes me wonder if this is actually an opportunity for startups to pick up experienced employees. If most startups aren’t willing to hire or pay older employees as much as they deserve then these experienced employees may be undervalued. (In addition to the fact that diversity in any way shape or form will help your organization in the first place). Regardless, I highly...

Book Review - Bad Blood

I recently read Bad Blood, an incredible book that chronicles the meteoric rise and subsequent fall of the biomedical device startup Theranos. Elizabeth Holmes, the blue eyed blond haired founder of Theranos basically lied herself into a 9 billion valuation, and therefore an approximate net worth of 4.5 billion. Eventually the smoke dispersed and the mirrors cracked and fraud was exposed. The first most obvious take away from Bad Blood is how far one can go with great salesmanship. Despite having little to no tangible advancement in blood testing technology Holmes was able to deploy a “fake it till you...

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