#748 WP-Tonic This Week in WordPress & SaaS: With Special Guest David Rashty

February 13, 2023

Early-Stage WordPress Startup Investing The Key Factors

David was one the first web pioneers, Back in 1992 he developed a line-mode web client and also contributed code to the initial WWW library. Was the first to introduce and promote Hebrew on the web.

He has over twenty years of experience as a CTO and a CEO and was involved in several start-ups and established companies and was the founder of two successful ventures.

His academic background is in computer science (BS) and educational technology (M.Sc). Was adjunct university professor, an IDF “Basmach – Mamram School” instructor, gave numerous workshops on Information Architecture, UEX, E-Learning, and Cyberwar, wrote two books and several articles on the early days of the Internet and received innovation awards including the Hebrew University Kaye award for innovation (twice).



Main Questions For Interview

#1 – David what have been some of your most interesting and exciting investments in WordPress?

#2 – What is the start-up investment scene like at the present moment in Israel?

#3 – What are some of them of the most interesting start-up companies or sectors on your radar at the present moment?

#4 – What are some of the key factors that you look for in early-stage investing?

#5 – If you go back to a time machine at the beginning of your career, what advice would you give yourself?

#6 – Are there any books, websites, or online recourses that have helped you in your business development that you like to share with the audience?

This Week Show’s Sponsors

Zoho: Zoho.com

Sensei LMS: Sensei LMS

LifterLMS: LifterLMS

LaunchFlows: LaunchFlows

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00.000] – Introduction

Welcome. to the WP-Tonic This Week in WordPress and SaaS podcast where Jonathan Denwood interviews the leading experts In WordPress, eLearning, and online. Marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SaaS.

[00:00:10.700] –

Welcome back, folks, to this week in WordPress and SaaS. This is episode 748. We’ve got a great special guest. I’ve got my co-host as well, Kurt. Our guest is David Rushdie.

[00:00:29.880] – Jonathan Denwood

Sure, David, do not take it personally because I manage to butcher every guest’s surname, almost every episode. So don’t take it too personally, Dave. David’s a really experienced investor. He’s been involved in the WordPress space for many years. It’s going to be a great conversation. First of all, I’m going to let my co-host, Kurt, introduce himself. Kurt, would you like to introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?

[00:01:00.120] – Kurt Von Ahnen

Absolutely. It’s great to see everyone again. My name is Kurt Von AhnenI own an agency called Mañana no Mas. I focus mainly on membership and learning websites, and it’s great to meet David.

[00:01:09.860] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. David, would you like to give the listeners and viewers a quick intro about yourself and how you got involved in the crazy world of WordPress and investing in it?

[00:01:22.850] – David Rashty

Yeah, sure. I’ve been studying computer science since I was 13. In those days, I was punching cards, as we say. It was the early days of the computer, so I was sitting in a room with a huge machine that punched cards. After punching a bunch of cards, we would take it to another room where we put the cards in another machine in a slot, and then it reads the cards, and then we wait another hour to get the output. So that’s how I started. And that’s a huge way to go. Your journey to the days that we move with iPhones or watches like I have an Apple watch and I have my Apple phone and everything is connected and very, very quick. So that’s my journey. I graduated in computer science when I was 24. Since then, I’ve been involved in startups and building new companies, selling them, and doing a lot of consulting for government agencies and other startups. Going forward in 2005, I got the first kick of WordPress. A friend approached me, someone from the startup industry, told me, Listen, we are building a website for our own new startups. Can you help us with that?

[00:03:02.070] – David Rashty

That’s how I got to know WordPress. And in 2012, I started building products for WordPress, mainly plugins. And that’s what I’ve been doing in the last 11 years or almost already. And that’s aside from being an investor. So I would say that my personality, like from my working experience, is divided into a couple of fields, and building products for WordPress is one of them. And doing investment in different areas, not just high tech, is much bigger or much more dominant in what I do. But all around the day doing both of them, all my doing is circulated throughout the day. So I’m just switching from one thing to another, and that’s what I’m doing.

[00:04:01.860] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. It’s going to be a fascinating discussion. I’m going to be asking David about what he thinks of WordPress, and the opportunities. Are there any of his recent investments in WordPress that he’s really excited about? It’s going to be a fascinating discussion. We’re going to go for our first sponsor break. We got a couple of messages from our leading sponsors. We’ll be back in a few moments, folks.

[00:04:27.540] – David Rashty

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[00:04:30.810] – David Rashty

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[00:04:35.870] – David Rashty

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[00:04:50.980] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:04:52.860] – David Rashty

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[00:05:00.100] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:05:07.540] – David Rashty



[00:05:07.920] – Jonathan Denwood

You got a WordPress website, membership website, and you’re looking to link it with a great financial management package, Zolo can provide this solution. So all your bookkeeping needs are done through Zolo. If you need new inbox email functionality and you don’t want to pay the high charges that Google will charge you, Zolo offers a great email inbox platform. They’ve got over 50 apps and services that all integrate fantastic with WordPress at great value levels, and they almost always offer a fully functioning free product as well. So it’s just amazing value. Also, if you’re a WordPress developer or agency owner, Zolo are looking for great partnerships in the WordPress space. To get all this information, all you have to do, folks, is just go over to Zolo. Com and they have the products that you’re looking for. Thank you so much, Zolo, for supporting WP Tonic and the Machine Membership Shows. It’s much appreciated. We’re coming back, folks. I just want to point out we got some fantastic deals from our sponsors. Also, we got a curated list of all the best plug ins in various categories.


[00:06:40.680] – David Rashty

If you.


[00:06:41.160] – Jonathan Denwood

All have been used by me or my team and I’m recommended, it will save you a ton of time if you’re looking for the best solution for a particular job on WordPress. To get all these good news, all you have to do is go over to WP Tonic deals, WP Tonic deals, and they’re all laid out for you. Plus you can sign up for the WP Tonic weekly newsletter, which has great stories about WordPress and SaaS in general. So, David, so what any of your investments in WordPress or your involvement in plug ins that you’re the most proud of your family of WordPress? I know it’s difficult. You should choose a favorite when you’re talking about your children. But is there any particular one that you’re the most proud of or think is the most interesting you can share with the audience, David? Yeah, sure.


[00:07:42.180] – David Rashty

So to be honest, as an investor, I’m trying to balance my investment and being a bit away from workforce, so we’re not investing in the field that I’m working in. M y investments are a bit elsewhere, mainly cyber security. And in the last couple of years, I’m also investing in architect, agriculture, technology. These are the two main domains of my investments. But in WordPress, what I’m doing mostly is investing in my company. So I do get proposal or people approach me about investing in their venture, which is like WordPress based or close to WordPress. But usually, I’m keeping away because I think that it’s too much weight on my portfolio with my funds in the same place in which I’m working on. So that’s how I balance my portfolio. I’m putting the stakes in my work on WordPress, but when I’m doing investments, I’m going elsewhere. Although my knowledge is very deep, usually you invest in places in fields that you understand mostly. I see myself as an expert with many years for experience in the workplace. I understand the environment, the ecosystem, et cetera. But I do investment elsewhere. Also, it feels that I did work in the past and I understand very good.


[00:09:14.240] – David Rashty

That’s how I balance. But if looking at my company and what we do in Creative Minds, just general background about how we started. As I said, I started building plug in 2012. I didn’t have an idea where it’s going to take me to. I did it as a side hobby, maybe you can say. Then I started to see that you can upload a free plug in to the WordPress org repository website. People download it, and then if you offer a premium version, some people convert and buy the premium version. So that was new to me. Then I took the first plug in which I wrote or even enhanced. I took a plug in that was abandoned d. It was the tool tip glossary. Then I rewrote it and republished it. Then the first thing we did is to publish a premium version of it. Since then, we invested 12 years of development. If I’m thinking about what is the most expensive investment we made in our company, Creative Minds. When I’m speaking about ours, I should mention my colleague or my partner, Martin. He’s located, by the way, in Poland and I’m located in Israel. We meet a lot.


[00:10:45.840] – David Rashty

It’s not just we meet virtually, but we actually literally meet. I’m flying there or he’s coming here. And we have sessions in which we work face to face, we sit face to face and speak and discuss how we’re going forward. Maybe I’ll speak about it later because I think that’s part of the culture that we are trying to promote. So we started working together on developing the glossary plugin. And again, 12 years of investing so many hours. I think looking at the company that we build, that’s our biggest investment. And it’s like our most selling plugin. And every month, there’s something new that we add to it.


[00:11:31.680] – Jonathan Denwood

What does this particular plugin does, David?


[00:11:37.060] – David Rashty

This plugin lets you organize all the terminology terms and knowledge of your website in a glossary, or you can say a dictionary because you can use it also as a dictionary. Then you can link to the dictionary from all the post or pages on your site. Once you link, you can also show a tool tip. But once you hover over the term, it shows you an excerpt of the term itself. So it could be like three lines out of the whole term. This is really the essence of what the plugin does because it does many more things. Just now, the last month, we connected it to chatGBT, which is the last buzzword in the area. But to be honest, it’s very suited to our plugin because part of lot of what people are looking for is that you would tell them what’s the content of the term. So if they come up with the term for their website, they don’t want to write the content. So in that case, what we do, we just import the content from ChatGBT. We just let them define the query, like, let me know what is this term. For example, they write the query and they save it.


[00:12:55.810] – David Rashty

So all the terms use the same query and that’s how you get your site full of terms that ChatGBT wrote for you. That’s just a recent example, but the glossary is so huge in its functionality, it can act as a dictionary. It can do many, many things. That’s our most comprehensive and developed product that we invested the most in. Just for WordPress, we have more than 100 products. It’s a huge collection of products already that we developed over the years and we keep updating all of them. Of course, there are those that are more popular and those that are less popular. But again, there is a huge collection of products and the glossary is for sure the most sold and used. I think that the one that we are mostly proud of.


[00:13:57.930] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. Over to you, Kurt.


[00:14:03.860] – Kurt Von Ahnen

Excellent. Having been in the plug in game for so long and working with the internet for so long, you have experience with startups.


[00:14:12.000] – David Rashty



[00:14:12.440] – Kurt Von Ahnen

The startup investment seem like in Israel? I ve seen over here in America, I’ve seen shows on Discovery and the History channel and stuff about how Israel and Tel Aviv and stuff is like this hub of IT. What’s it like over there?


[00:14:28.720] – David Rashty

Just to give you a bit of background about the… First of all, Israel is small. If you travel from north to south, it might take you five hours, but the startup industry is in much shorter distances. T he big hubs are around two hours max from each other. So it’s very close. And there are many, many industrial areas which are full of high tech company. Although in these days, many people go virtual, so you have mixed companies that work both from home and in office. There are more than 10,000 companies like startup companies in Israel. So it’s huge, so many. And every year, there are more and more that are coming to the market. In the recent years, the number is going down. And the reason is partly because companies are maturing. And once they are maturing, they are looking for more and more funds from one side and more and more developers. And again, the number of relevant or people in the market is not unlimited. So you’ll see company maturing. Of course, there’s a lot of M&A’s and mergers. But the ecosystem is huge. Around 200 funds, VCs are in this market. 80 of them are not local.


[00:16:07.900] – David Rashty

So you have the big names from the Silicon Valley, also in Israel. And there are something like 400 active investors. So it’s a huge ecosystem. Many conferences, meetings, whatever. And I think that the fuel to this market, and I think that to understand how the ecosystem in Israel works, you have to understand the cycle of… I think that’s related to the Israeli Army. If we just want to look at it from this perspective, because every year there is a bunch of very, very talented engineers going out of the army to the market. Because in the army, there are many, many units using very sophisticated high technology. For instance, the intelligent units, the Air Force units, and they’re doing cutting edge technology and many engineers going out of them and then going to the market with those new ideas. And to connect to that, to add to that is that the climate in Israel is for innovation. If you want to succeed, you don’t work in IBM or the big names of Intel. You start your own company. That’s what people are looking for. Just as a note, when I started working in WordPress, we opened an office in Poland in Kraków.


[00:17:42.160] – David Rashty

The atmosphere there was completely different. It was strange for me because in there, if you want to succeed, you go and work in IBM or Intel or Google or the big names, and that’s completely different from what happens in Israel. In Israel, people are looking to innovate themselves. That’s the cycle. It’s a very vivid environment. Lots of companies, lots of ideas. Of course, not all of them succeed everywhere, but people strive. There are many, many things happening all the time. Very interesting.


[00:18:20.040] – Kurt Von Ahnen

It’s excellent. Thank you. Jonathan, I’m back to you.


[00:18:23.700] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m going to change my next question slightly, David. In WordPress, I would say the most dominant, the most well known Israeli based company in the WordPress space is Elementor and their success. So when it comes to specifically WordPress, are there any particular sectors opportunities that you think are still possible to build opportunities in the word space area? Or do you think it’s become mature? Because I’ve got mixed feelings about it. In some ways, I think it’s a mature market. But in other ways, I still think there’s some great opportunities in this particular area.


[00:19:20.920] – David Rashty

That’s a complex question. I met the guys from Elementor when they started. Even before they managed to get to raise the first $1 million, that’s how they started. And we spoke and I could also invest there. But at that time, again, I used the same methodology I’m using now to keep things in mind, like my investment and my work. Maybe it was a mistake, of course. I don’t think that WordPress, as a platform, if I might say, evolves in the right direction. And saying that, and I’ll explain myself, I think that the opportunities are not so big as they should be for new startups to join. It’s becoming harder and harder for startup to evolve in this atmosphere, in this environment. When we started, we started with our own funding, like we did self funding. We didn’t take any money from external investors. And I think doing what we did now would require funds, at least to start with 1 million or 2 million dollars just to kick everything up and market things, etc. That’s what Elementor did actually. And the risk is big. The risk is not so small as it seems. I think that nd going back to my statement about WordPress as a platform, I think that in a way it’s a bit stuck, if I may say that.


[00:21:13.020] – David Rashty

It’s a very hard statement, but it’s stuck in a way that it’s not enough user friendly from my point of view as a platform. You can install a plug in that is very user friendly and very communicative, but people are looking for something much more friendly, much more intuitive. I think the platform itself is stuck somewhere. Since it has a lot of history and it gained a huge amount of people using it, nobody’s going to leave so fast. But if you look at other competitors in the market, you see that they come up with much more intuitive interfaces and a much robust platform as a platform. It has a lot of functionality inside the platform. So I think that the core of WordPress need to change or need to evolve in such a way that, first of all, it will be much more user friendly, mature in terms of user interaction and friendliness. And at the same time, when it does that, I think that new gates will open. New opportunities will evolve. I can give an example from what happened with Magento, which is another platform in the e-commerce business. I think that Magento declined because the same reasons.


[00:22:40.950] – David Rashty

It wasn’t friendly enough. It wasn’t as a platform. It wasn’t robust enough, although they claim that it’s very, very robust. Then then came Shopify. Almost overnight, it took a lot of users from Magento moving to Shopify. Although Shopify is not a platform that you can install on your servers, but you have to use SaaS platform. I think that WordPress is not in the same place. Magento was maybe 10 %, and WordPress is more like even less than that. WordPress is more like 33 % out of the overall website. So it’s much, much bigger numbers, multipliers. But again, I think that it’s not evolving in the right direction from my point of view. Since of that, I don’t see… It’s very hard to start new innovation and to see new technologies. Again, plug in and interact with chat UBT. It’s nice. That’s what we do. But is this revolution? Is this something that takes WordPress to a new prospect? I don’t think so.


[00:23:56.100] – Jonathan Denwood

I would agree with some of the things you’ve said there. In the second half of the show, we will delve. I think you’ve made some interesting points. We’re going to go for a break, folks, and then we will continue this really interesting discussion. We’ll be back in a few moments, folks.


[00:24:15.240] – Kurt Von Ahnen

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[00:24:17.170] – David Rashty

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[00:24:21.210] – Kurt Von Ahnen

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[00:24:22.280] – David Rashty

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[00:24:30.010] – Kurt Von Ahnen

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[00:24:37.310] – Kurt Von Ahnen

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[00:24:38.240] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:24:42.540] – David Rashty



[00:24:42.720] – Kurt Von Ahnen

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[00:24:43.640] – David Rashty

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[00:25:24.890] – Jonathan Denwood

We’ve had a really fantastic discussion with David so far. Just want to point out, if you’re looking, if you’ve got a client or you’re looking for a partner that’s got great experience in learning management systems and community websites using Buddy Boss, why don’t you look at becoming a partner with WP Tonic? We provide hosting, suite of plug ins, and the experience to help you if you’re a power implementer developer or designer. Plus, we offer some great partnership deals. If this is interesting, go over to WP Tonic partners. Wp Tonic partners sign up and we can have a chat and we can help you build fantastic websites for your clients. So, David, I think you made some fantastic… Just to follow through with our last question in the first half of the show, I think you made some fantastic points. I’ve been thinking about this considerably. Obviously, I don’t think open source platform like WordPress can ever be totally as user friendly as a totally focused SaaS based product. But on the other hand, a lot of SaaS products, they get bloated, they add more and more services to themselves. So in some ways they end up in a similar situation to WordPress.


[00:27:04.040] – Jonathan Denwood

But the thing that does help them is they have a much unified, to some extent, unified UX design. So are you saying, obviously, I’m sure you’ve taken that in your statements that being it’s an open source project, it can’t be totally similar to a SaaS product. But are you saying that, which I would agree with, that it is the UX design and usability? And in some ways, you can see that with Guttenberg because it’s coming on. But in UX usability, I think it’s been one of its greatest weaknesses. How would you respond to those comments, David?


[00:27:53.440] – David Rashty

I’m looking, first of all, the user’s perspective, what the user is looking for. And they’re looking for ease of use. That’s what they’re looking for in their goal. They want to build content in the easiest way and to have tools that can help them build the content or use the content or change the content in the lowest amount of effort and time. And so the ease of use and usability and user experience is for sure very, very important. And I do agree that it’s easier to build to do that in a SaaS platform that you control everything rather than in an open source platform that so many people contribute to. But I think that going back to how WordPress evolves, I think that it lacks standards that people really stand behind. There are standards and they are published and you can read them. But when you look what’s happening, it’s like chaos. We know that as we are plugin developers, so we take all this on us when we build a new product and we need to make it run on so many environments with so many themes, plugins that interfere with what we did. And you hope that the standard that WordPress…


[00:29:21.900] – David Rashty

There is a standard, there is a code, but not many follow it. So things doesn’t work. And then you start, you go to your product because you cannot tell your customers, they don’t do the good work, only we do. They don’t care. They want the product, they purchase the product, they want it to work. Or even if they download it for free. So you start patching your product to bypass all these anomalities to make it work. And that’s created the chaos by itself because there are many, many products which are building patches and patches to work with other products in the same environment. And that’s because there is lack of standard. And it’s not working well. And t here are two things, from the developer or company point of view, as a developer or somebody that tried to contribute to this ecosystem, I think the problem is standard. There’s no standards. Supposedly, there are, but nobody really follow them or stand behind them or check them or take off plugins from the repository that don’t follow them, so many. From the user point of view, again, UI, and again, also in here, there’s room for standards because if there was a standard UI or UX or usability basic checklist that you had to follow, then things would look different.


[00:31:07.920] – David Rashty

But it also starts from how WordPress back end looks like. If you were speaking about UX and UI, let’s look at the basic. And again, it’s a bit back in time. I think that’s part of the problem. You need to look at the two side of it. But at the end of the day, it’s standards that are applied and somebody’s taking them seriously and checking them and making sure that they are followed and used. Now it’s a bit late because so many products are in the market and they are written so many ways. It’s really hard. But you could say this is a democracy in a way.


[00:32:01.100] – Jonathan Denwood

I think the major hosting companies are looking at this problem because it’s a major concern for them. And if they’re going to manage any more growth or sustain their position. Now, Go Daddy, Blue Host, WP Engine, Site Ground, these are the major people that make the major money in WordPress, apart from automatic. But they are the major Elimator is an outliner because it has been highly profitable. It has turned itself in some ways a Quazile hosting provider because it offers a hosted solution plus a plug in solution. That’s where I see… I think you’re totally spot on on what you’re saying, David. My own thoughts have been around that. Over to you, Kurt?


[00:33:03.290] – Kurt Von Ahnen

Well, we just talked about maybe some of the negative aspects of WordPress and development or jumping in, but what makes a new startup or a new product attractive for early stage investing? How can someone approach the getting into making plug ins or products, WordPress or not WordPress, and be attractive for early stage investing?


[00:33:27.820] – David Rashty

Okay, so we are shifting away a bit from WordPress, which is fine for me. I mean, that’s my other half. So I think that if I reframe what you asked is what makes a startup, a new startup, interesting for an investor? So how do investors look at startups? So I think the first thing that we look at is the team. That’s the most important thing. People come to us and in a way it’s an interview. We meet them and we speak to them, but we are trying to understand who we are talking to and what their strength as developers or business makers or people are innovators and what their background is. I think that’s very, very important to us. Usually, we look for teams, not for one person who have an idea because it’s a long road usually. There are many, many curves around the way and you have to take shifts and you have to change your product and you have to reinnovate it. So it’s like you have to have a lot of strength and breath to take all this journey to get somewhere. So we’re looking for people who have usually experienced people, not newcomers.


[00:34:45.020] – David Rashty

It’s really hard to invest in newcomers, team, like a team of people that knows how to work together, which means that they have some experience working together. And then the next thing that comes up is, do you have any MVP, like a minimum viable product that we can look at? Are you managing to sell anything already? And as the market mature, we’re looking more and more at product that already have initial sales. So if in the early 20s, people came with a PowerPoint and they got money. These days, they need to come with product that is already working, some an MVP, that they already managed to have some subscribers and they already managed to convert them to paying subscribers. It depends in which field. What I’m saying now is very generic because if you’re in the health care business, investing in developing new drugs or medications, there’s no chance you come up with an MVP. What I’m saying now is mostly as product or technology oriented. That’s the main thing that we’re looking for. Again, the team, their background, if they have some proof of concept, if they have any initial sales, and then we can continue to do some research a bit and understand what we are investing in.


[00:36:23.720] – David Rashty

How new is this concept? Is there a market for that? Or they are trying to invent a market which is already always hard. If you are the first one in the market and you’re trying to build one, rather than you already have competitors and you’re just doing better than them. That’s our main focus. And when it comes to the end of the road after you’ve vetted everything and you said, Wow, it’s very interesting. Again, there is the valuation and the terms for investment, but that’s at the end of the road. If you think that they are really interesting and it’s worth your time as an investor and also your money from the investment point of view, then the valuation part is the last thing to look at.


[00:37:15.350] – Kurt Von Ahnen

Usually. yeah. Now, do you think that people that are getting involved in startups, do you think they have a better chance of being part of an incubator and a group of startups, or do you think they are better off to be individual and separate and carving their own path?


[00:37:29.280] – David Rashty

I guess I think that goes back partly to what my initial points about what I’m looking at. I think that if you are not a strong team, or even if you’re missing a team and you’re just an innovator, then you better go to incubator then you’ll find other partners maybe joining you. It depends what incubators are different part of incubator. Some of them just will help you grow and et cetera. If you’re not very attractive, usually, then the incubator may let you incubate a bit, grow, sharpen your idea. If you’re really hot, if you have something really hot and usually you tell it’s generally speaking. I’ve seen many unicorns, not many, but there are few unicorns that started in incubators. Saying that is like, that’s not true. But the 80 20 % rule would say that the companies that would get funds easy, very easy, because they have something really amazing with a good team that is inside the company, then they won’t have a problem getting funds, so they won’t join an incubator because the incubator take it all. They are taking usually depends which incubator, which model. Again, very generic. Some of them take 20 %, some of them take 15 %.


[00:39:02.820] – David Rashty

Again, depends on the model that they are applying. So I would say that goes back to the same thing that we spoke about. I invested only once or maybe twice at companies that came through an incubator. Nice. And one of them is already becoming a unicorn. So saying that means that it’s not a straight thing. You can say if you go to an incubator, you don’t have a chance. That’s not true. Thanks.


[00:39:36.140] – Kurt Von Ahnen

Thank you, David.


[00:39:37.380] – David Rashty

Jonathan, back to you.


[00:39:39.960] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m going to slightly change the twist of the next question a little bit, Dave. Has there been any opportunity, any investment that you decided not to take that you really regret that you’re prepared to share that? Yeah.


[00:39:59.420] – David Rashty



[00:40:00.460] – Jonathan Denwood

It’s a bit like the date that we read that was somebody that you should have asked out, but you never did. If it comes to mind, and maybe you can give some insight on why you decided not.


[00:40:16.760] – David Rashty

To invest. That’s something that crossed my mind a lot of time because when you see so many companies over so many years, I’m looking at companies for around 11 years. So I decided to invest in some of them and some of them not. I’ve seen probably hundreds of companies. And of course, there are those that I didn’t join, but usually as investor works, we’ve each other’s colleagues. You never invest by yourself. They’re always, let’s say, friends or people who also do investments. We’re not incorporated in any company or any whatever organization, but we are helping each other because people help each other because nobody knows what is right and what is wrong. Nobody knows what will succeed and what will fail. So you always need someone like, aside you taking the same risk or joining the risk so you feel better. He’s also doing that. So I’m okay. So people are helping each other. So I would say that looking back at the investment I didn’t take, I think that for me, there is one common thing that I can say that if I didn’t like the people, didn’t like the team, I couldn’t feel comfortable investing.


[00:41:39.240] – David Rashty

And the fact that I didn’t look at the team was not because they were not professional. I think that there were three cases that I didn’t like the team because they were very outspoken people full of themselves. But that didn’t count for anything about their future success. Sometimes you know you dislike… Somebody told me once, never choose people who are like you for investment. You don’t invest in yourself or something which is mirroring of your personality or whatever. You listen to people that they have a dream, they have their drive, their personality, or the way that they take their dream forward is completely different than the way that you would do. It doesn’t mean anything about their ability to succeed. So I think that in two occasions at least, that was the case. The people in front of me were really full of themselves, not very sympathetic even. They said, We know what we’re going to do. And I didn’t feel comfortable in that situation, and I didn’t invest. But looking back, that was a mistake. So what I’m trying to take out of it is don’t try to look for people who are nice according to your standards.


[00:43:03.780] – David Rashty

It doesn’t mean anything. You need to filter out these filters that you… Usually when you meet someone, when you want to have a friend, you look for friends who are like you. But that’s not the same when you’re trying to invest in someone. He doesn’t have to be your friend. He doesn’t have to have the same characteristic of people that you like. It doesn’t matter. His job is different. His job is like, his goals are different than yours. His personality is different than yours. His attitude is different than yours. That’s fine. He can still succeed. Nothing to do with the criteria that you should have as an investor. So that’s something that I learned over the years. I know that that’s something that I shouldn’t mock out someone who’s not the same as I would expect an investor to be. Sorry, entrepreneur to be or inventor.


[00:44:03.340] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, it is a balance, isn’t it? I think that’s very insightful. But on the other hand, if you really don’t trust somebody as an investor or business partner, you really think this person is very untrust. You got zero trust. You’re probably wise not to invest. So I suppose it’s a.


[00:44:26.460] – David Rashty

Balance, isn’t it? Right. But what I was talking about was not about trust. It’s more about personality. You sit with someone who is not polite in your terms. We have even different cultures sometimes. And in one culture, this will be polite, in another culture, it won’t be polite. I’m not speaking about trust because if somebody is not trustful, then that’s it. There’s no question. But usually, the problem is that it’s someone who is really… In my case, what I’ve seen is people that are really outspoken, they are very aggressive. And sometimes for me, it was a bit hard to feel comfortable investing in them. And looking back, it was a mistake. I’m thinking about it and looking at those companies, a lot of my colleagues invested in them, so I know what happened or what’s happening along the years with those companies. And I know that that was my mistake.


[00:45:27.000] – Jonathan Denwood

I have a tick. What was it you? Because I lost track. usually could.


[00:45:33.020] – Kurt Von Ahnen

Usually, Jonathan gets to ask this question, but it looks like it fell to me this time. David, if you were able to go back in time, if you were able to go back to the beginning of your career, what advice do you have for advice? What advice would you give yourself other than investing in that company that you didn’t.


[00:45:51.830] – David Rashty

Invest in?


[00:45:54.080] – Kurt Von Ahnen

What advice would you give yourself then, knowing what you know now?


[00:45:58.400] – David Rashty

I think to start investing earlier, to start acting as an investor, you need to have these guts to say, Okay, I’m risking my money and I know what I’m doing. You have to have this gut feeling or trust in yourself that that’s not a lost or sunk investment, something that you understand and you know what you’re doing. Although the risks are very high, it’s high risk investment. I started investing as a high tech investor, like a seed investor, around 11, 12 years ago. I would say I would tell myself, start earlier because you know what you’re doing. You understand things well. My portfolio is like f I’m looking back about my investment, I’m quite positive about what I managed to invest in, how successful it was. First of all, to tell myself, trust your gut feelings, start investing earlier. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be afraid of losing your money or losing whatever your savings are. So that’s one thing about like related to investments. I think that the other thing related to what I did in my past, I was a bit involved in the government sector and also in the education sector. And I think that I have two remarks that if I could change what I did in the past.


[00:47:34.940] – David Rashty

I think that, first of all, the government sector is really problematic. You can come with a new idea, everybody doesn’t understand what you do, so they give you the space to do what they do, to do what you do, and then they take the credit for the success. But once they understand what you did, then you don’t manage your space is getting slower and slower and slower over time because politics can get into it. And then you should just quit and leave. Don’t wait to the politics. Don’t wait until it started. If you have innovation, do them and just walk away from those sectors because it’s not something that can evolve over time and have the same speed as it… Because the politics kills it. So that’s one thing that I stayed too long, I think, in those sectors. And in the education sector, and I think that’s worldwide, where technology has been with us, or all the technology has been with us since the 90s, the amount of change in that regard in the schools and the university has not been so much. Where it has been considerably amazing is that how people teach themselves.


[00:48:56.310] – David Rashty

So I think that the massive change in education is not because schools have evolved so much or universities. Of course, there are online courses and Zoom, whatever. I think the COVID made the most significant change to education. But I think that the most prominent change is that the people can teach themselves or take online lessons just self study. And looking back at what I did, I try to change the system. I try to change the school, how school looks, how school performs. Instead of saying they won’t change so fast. They don’t want to change. So try to give enough tools to the kids, to students, so they can learn themselves and they can teach themselves instead of making the school change or adapt to the new technology and provide it or transfer it to the students. And again, that’s after many years of trying to do that. So I’m looking back and saying, Okay, it’s not what I did wrong, but what I believed in that turned out to be a bit problematic. And I think that these days you see many, many investments in companies that are creating valuable content for learners, for students.


[00:50:30.620] – David Rashty

And they are succeeding because the students are paying for that and the students are enjoying that. And the system itself, again, it’s moving slowly. It’s progressing slowly. But the bigger progress made is by students and by those tools that are providing aid or help or support for students. And there are many examples like that. So if I’m looking back at my background, what I did, that’s the things that I would say myself. Don’t try to change the system. Try to provide more tools to the people who enjoy or are trying to use the system or trying thing as part of them.


[00:51:18.070] – Jonathan Denwood

Right. We got one final question and I’m going to wrap it up. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation, David, you’ve been a fantastic guest. Are there any particular books, website, individuals, online resources that recently have really influenced you and thought they had any original ideas that would be interesting to our audience that you would like to share, David?


[00:51:43.740] – David Rashty

Well, that’s hard because I’m very eclectic at what I read. I’m just gathering pieces of information and just inside me. I’m cycling a lot and I’m doing a lot of outdoor cycling. So that’s the best time where ideas pop up, really. It’s quite amazing. I’m just going out in the middle of the day, taking a one hour, one and a half hour trail, and then I come back with more ideas. And all those ideas are based on things that I’ve read, not specific. So my feeds are from multiple places. I cannot even tell you that there is something very specific that continuously brings me those ideas, but I’m collecting ideas in many places and trying to digest them. And then again, the magic happens when I’m cycling.


[00:52:44.760] – Jonathan Denwood

Your tip is the cycle. I walk in the morning and walk in the evening about five miles a day. So that’s when I do my thinking. Well, we’re going to wrap it up, David. Hopefully later on in the year, you decide to come back because I thought it’s been a fabulous discussion. So if people want to find out more about you, David, what are the best online resources to find out something more about you?


[00:53:11.520] – David Rashty

Sure. So first of all is my LinkedIn page, David R ashty, as it spells in this interview. And there’s the website of my company, www. Cmin, cminbs. Com. It’s Creative Mind. If you look for Creative Minds, also WordPress, and you’ll find us. My email is d avid@cminds.


[00:53:36.250] – Jonathan Denwood

Com. That’s great. And Kurt, what’s the best way for people to find out more about you and what you’re up to, Kurt?


[00:53:43.720] – Kurt Von Ahnen

Similar to David, I am really active on LinkedIn, and I’m the only Kurt von Ahn and you’re going to find on LinkedIn, so that makes it easy. And then anything under Manyana no Mas, that’s me. Manyana no Mas is my agency and the URL to find me. That’s great.


[00:53:57.210] – Jonathan Denwood

We will be back next week with another fabulous guest, and another great interview. We’ve got some fantastic guests like David coming up in the next few weeks. I’m always amazed and privileged at the standard of guests that agreed to come on the show. It’s quite humbling sometimes. I think it’s quite humbling for some of the guests as well, dealing with me. But we will be back next week, folks. We’ll see you soon. Hey, thanks for listening. We really do appreciate it.

[00:54:29.580] – David Rashty

Why not visit the Mastermind Facebook group?

[00:54:33.180] – Jonathan Denwood

And also to.

[00:54:34.020] – David Rashty

Keep up with it.

[00:54:34.520] – Jonathan Denwood

For the latest news, click WP-Tonic.

[00:54:37.460] – Jonathan Denwood


[00:54:37.900] – David Rashty

Com newsletter. We’ll see you next time.


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