Michael Mayer – Pseudonymous Social Capital and Bottomless Coffee – [Invest Like the Best, EP.123]

My guest this week is unique and so requires a short story.

I met our guest Michael Mayer because of twitter. I followed and enjoyed one of several pseudonymous accounts that he maintains to experiment with ideas. His various accounts have wide followings.

I think many of the best accounts on twitter are anonymous or pseudonymous, and I’ve always made a point to get to know the ones I like best. As it turns out, Michael was also an entrepreneur. He’d been building a new company and was raising a small amount of outside capital.

I didn’t invest personally, in part because he raised it so quickly after I spoke with him. Ever since, I’ve gotten to know him better and followed his company, Bottomless, with interest. You know that I am always hyper transparent about any potential conflicts of interest, so its worth noting that while I am not an investor in this company, I expect to be at some point in the future.

The topic of our conversation is both his social media activity and his company. I am a coffee fanatic, and the problem he is solving is one I live. I order a weekly bag of coffee beans but I often have too much coffee or run out. Bottomless solves this by shipping you a simple scale which you keep wherever you store your coffee, connect to your wifi, and set your bag of coffee on. It automatically orders new coffee for you at the right time. Thus the name: Bottomless. If you like the conversation, check out bottomless.com

With this podcast, all I’m really trying to do is find, meet, and learn from interesting people. Michael certainly qualifies. I hope you enjoy this unique episode.

Show Notes

2:06 – (First Question) – Why he writes under a pseudonym online

2:58 – Positive impacts of writing this way

3:45 – His background

5:02 – Habits he improved upon

7:03 – Where did his exploration into technology and start-ups come from

            7:33 – Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

10:32 – Elements of business that interest him most

13:26 – Building social capital vs the current state of education

17:06 – What information does he like to consume

            18:17 – Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

            18:34 – Jerry Neumann blog Reaction Wheel | Podcast episode

            18:39 – Kevin Simler’s blog  Melting Asphalt| Podcast Episode

21:01 – Why the current education system is busted

22:54 – Formation of his business

24:04 – Importance of making things legible

25:54 – On demand delivery vs subscription business models

30:16 – Early day in developing the scale for his business

33:50 – What he learned about coffee roasters

35:29 – thoughts on supplier power

36:17 – The customer relationship

39:50 – Best objections to his business

41:58 – Biggest operational/emotional challenges

42:56 – Best moment

44:39 – Time at Y combinator

46:28 – His unique co-founder story

49:47 – Marketing strategies and acquisition costs

51:37 – The idea of a commercial loop

53:27 – Discarded ideas, such as spaced repetition social networks

57:38 – Having a long-term plan vs reformatting a business into success

1:00:35 – What works on twitter based on his experience

1:03:09 – Most controversial opinion

1:05:59 – Kindest thing anyone has done