Office Hours: I’m Sari Azout, Founder of startupy.world and angel investor in Hippo, Eight, and Mirror.xyz. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Sari Azout, the founder of Startupy.world, a digital playground where thinkers and creators curate, organize, and interconnect the world’s most interesting insights and ideas. I like to describe it as though Roam, Wikipedia, Crunchbase, and a DAO had a baby.

I am also an angel investor - currently spending a lot of time thinking about the future of work, curation, the ownership economy, and web3.

In my spare time I write Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human - find me at sariazout.substack.com.

Lastly, I am a happy mom of three children, ages 6, 4, and 4 months. My life’s work is committed to investing and building empathetic technology products that make human life better.

Ask me anything about startupy, my thesis for information architectures + curation, the future of work and the ownership economy, building a career as a mother, or anything else!

ElphaStaff's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us @sazout!Elphas – please ask @sazout your questions before Friday, December 3rd. @sazout may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Josefina's profile thumbnail
^ Hi Elphas - Just an update: @sazout will be answering your questions on Monday, Dec. 6th - so you have a few extra days to get your questions in! ❄️
KristinaM's profile thumbnail
Hi @sazout, thank you for sharing your experience!I have a few questions that I would appreciate you answering:1. What are the best indicators for investing in an early stage start up and how have they changed (if they have) throughout the years you've been an investor?2. Also, when switching from being an investor to being a founder, what are the biggest challenges that you have faced? 3. Finally, what have been your biggest lessons from both investing in startups and creating your own companies?Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to your responses!
sazout's profile thumbnail
Hi Kristina!1. What are the best indicators for investing in an early stage start up and how have they changed (if they have) throughout the years you've been an investor? Because I invest so early, for me it's all about founder/market fit. I am looking for people who have found their life calling, and would work on this problem for decades. People with unique insights that are uniquely motivated to solve a problem. Building a startup is so hard, I think it rewards missionaries > mercenaries so that's what I look for. 2. Also, when switching from being an investor to being a founder, what are the biggest challenges that you have faced? Investing is about the big picture - being ahead of trends and people. Being a founder is about combining those big ideas with flawless execution - the details are everything. The biggest challenge is being able to occupy both spaces at once - selling dreams on the outside, putting down fires on the inside, selling a vision on the outside, translating it into a Figma design or UX copy on the inside. 3. Finally, what have been your biggest lessons from both investing in startups and creating your own companies? Storytelling is the most important business skill. People don't buy your product - they buy your story.
sbauersc's profile thumbnail
Hi @sazout ! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Side note: I love reading check your pulse! As someone who just finished my education this year & started a job not directly in web3, but who finds it incredibly exciting and am very attracted to - from the outset what seems like - core values of information democracy/transparency, real ownership for creators and community emphasis (to name a few), do you have any advice for how to start/ begin a career in the field? I’ve been trying to attend webinars, read relevant sub stacks and newsletters, and even start some online courses and videos - alongside a demanding day job + staying sane! Things are evolving so quickly it seems and I’m genuinely excited by the coming transition and would like to be a part of it somehow! Thanks in advance and keep doing what you’re doing :)
sazout's profile thumbnail
Thanks for the question!IMO the best way to learn in this space is by doing, sharing ideas, writing, and contributing to communities. You don't need to have the answers - sometimes, having the right question is all you need. For example, I recently tweeted this, and it has now become a Telegram group with over 200 people learning and riffing on incentive design together: https://twitter.com/sariazout/status/1451890834060759049So my advice is: join a Discord, slide into people's DMs, and contribute to a community. The constraint is not having a network, it's being able to provide value to a network. There are dozens of DAOs looking for people who can do the work - and this is the best way in.
laurex's profile thumbnail
Thank you for being here @sazout! I discovered you on Twitter as I try to wrap my head around the potential for DAO as alternative funding structure to a startup, signed up for your Substack, and then heard Li Jin mention you in the most recent Means of Creation podcast - instant fankid here! I'm still pretty close to the top of the rabbit hole that feels incredibly deep in trying to understand this new web3 universe, but I would love to hear your thoughts about this idea for a community-focused product- where both users and employees might benefit from a structure like this, and what might be the pitfalls or gotchas to such an approach. If this is too complex a question for this forum, would love to connect or be pointed to resources.
sazout's profile thumbnail
Love this question!The benefits are obvious, the challenges less so. In theory, crypto makes it possible for users to partake in the success of the products and communities they are part of. In practice, token-based economies are very difficult to design. I think we'll see a lot of trial and error. Some challenges I'm seeing:-Over-indexing on short-term and early adopter rewards results in more people looking for the next shiny object and fewer people contributing in longer-term, more meaningful ways.-Tokens are a great way to bootstrap early adoption. But current implementations take this too far - old projects have a hard time bringing in new people.-When we reward existing early adopters in crypto, that usually means rewarding a mostly affluent, male, and white demo.-Pay to play (ie FWB rewards people with $ as opposed to merit)-Choosing the right performance metric for token rewards is very difficult.feel free to DM me on Twitter and we can continue the conversation offline!
meetamcd's profile thumbnail
Hi @sazout, thanks for being involved here! Are there any female health technology startups you have been impressed with recently? If so, could you please name them and elaborate on why?Thank you!Meeta
sazout's profile thumbnail
Healthcare is not an area I'm an expert in - but as a consumer I love Lemon Lab - they break down a ton of women's health and health tech products: https://lemonlab.co/products
soph's profile thumbnail
Hi @sariazout! Thanks for doing this AMA :) I'm very intrigued by your versatility. I'd love to know how you made the switch from finance to a fashion startup, and then from startups to angel investing and back to startups with your newest venture. Did you always know you wanted to get into fashion and curation? What are you most excited about for web3? Looking forward to hearing from you - from a fellow fashion-loving techie and Miami dweller :)
sazout's profile thumbnail
Thanks for this question Soph!I think the thread that unites all of my passions is bringing more creativity and humanity to tech and business. When it comes to startups, I'm less interested in the tech, and more interested in the people making it, being impacted by it, and experiencing it. As far as Web 3, I'm most excited about the opportunity to build products that better align the incentives of platforms and participants via tokens. I'm also fascinated by the ways in which token-based economies defy the laws of DCF and other traditional valuation models by accounting for intangibles such as learning, community, beliefs, and other non-monetary forms of value. We're seeing a new form of capitalism play out in real-time, and our old mental models do not conform to this new reality.
drluisefrohberg2244's profile thumbnail
Hi @sazout, thanks for sharing your experience & knowhow here!I've been working in the innovation space and have been thinking and experimenting around the thought of a digital playground for innovation and collaboration a lot. I would love to know what a digital playground looks like for you in building startuply. I'm also super interested in what are your recommendations to achieve an initial funding for setting up a DAO and what it needs for people to be convinced to try out this new way of participation and co-creation and add value/ buy tokens etc.Lots of thanks,Luise
sazout's profile thumbnail
Hi Louise!The concept of a digital playground means different things to different people. For me, it's about bringing serendipity back to the web, building information environments that serve humans as opposed to advertisers, and helping people navigate a world of information abundance in healthy ways.If you think about it, we consume most of our information today in feed-based information streams that are obsessed with the present. In the feed, everything is fleeting. This design property means you’re either always on and connected, or you’re off and wondering if you’re missing something important. At Startupy, we are building a curated graph of people, content, topics, and companies - organized associatively. We've drawn inspiration from wikis, digital gardens, search and feeds. I like to describe it as though Roam, Wikipedia, Crunchbase, and a DAO had a baby.Re DAOs, I would start by writing about your mission/purpose on a crypto native tool like Mirror.xyz, which allows you to publish + raise funds. Crypto or not - what ultimately matters is giving people a reason to believe in your project. The utility of the token doesn't need to be defined at the outset, but you need to give people a reason to care. I forgot who said it but it stuck with me and went something like this: "tokens are not community as a service. they are a service for a community, if you have a community to service."