Welcome to Rate of Return!
Rate of Return is a publication where anyone can find curated financial news, analysis and commentary to attack the investing day.
Every Monday morning we share The Investing Week Ahead, equipping you with all you need to know to make the most out of the coming week in the markets — then summarize those same events every Sunday in our Week in Review.
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Spotlighting My Favorite Startups:
One of the best things about the last couple of years has been the opportunity to meet, advise, invest in, and (most importantly) befriend founders of startups.
The startup lifestyle is extremely difficult.
The vast majority of founders have quit their jobs, foregone other lucrative employment options, and generally run around like chickens with their heads cut off looking for some semblance of structure in their day-to-day.
The purpose of this post is to spotlight some of the startups I’m working with and briefly introduce you to their products - some of which you may choose to use yourself!
I also know there’s a lot of college students and recent grads that receive these emails - I’ll attach each company’s job board for your review. I encourage you to reach out to them, or share with a friend that may be interested. I’ll be here to answer questions if you’re curious about any company.
We’ll do 2 or 3 more editions of Startup Spotlights over time - with some very attractive job opportunities. If uninterested in a job change, enjoy checking out the products!
Startups You Should Know About: Part 2 — linked here.
Creative Juice (getjuice.com):
Creative Juice is an all-in-one banking solution for content creators like Mr. Beast, Graham Stephan, Justin Kan, and myself. Through their platform, we’re able to bank, send invoices, digest analytics (YouTube, Patreon, Substack, TikTok, etc.) and get paid upfront on brand deals.
The company is sort of putting an interesting spin on the “creator economy” in the sense that they’re actually investing in the creators themselves. Here’s an article published by Business Insider detailing their $1M cash investment into 4 creators on YouTube. If you’re a well-established creator yourself and are looking for a monetary boost to purchase new equipment, hire staff, or anything in between - let me know and I can put you in contact with Creative Juice’s team to see if you’d be a good fit.
Sima Gandhi is one of the most empathetic founders I’ve ever met. After obtaining her J.D. from New York University School of Law, she was a corporate tax attorney. Over the next few years she found herself pivoting toward economic policy - eventually advising for the United States Department of Treasury.
After her 2 year stint there, jumped into corporate America working on product development for American Express - leading their strategy division. She soon found herself leading Plaid’s business development and strategy team - something she’d do for half a decade.
At the onset of 2021, Sima began building Creative Juice - taking all of the banking tool inspiration she garnered while working for Plaid to unlock unlimited value creation for creators.
If you’re looking for a job, here’s a link to Creative Juice’s open positions.
Finary is a social investing platform building group chats for Gen Z and Millennials. You can chat with friends about your investments, share your portfolio, and make trades.
As you all know, I (try to) use Finary on a weekly basis to casually communicate with you all in real time. Think of Finary as sort of a “home base” for any community of investors.
Roger Cawdette dropped out of Harvard to focus full-time on building Finary as their CEO. While studying technological and social innovation at Harvard, Roger was involved with the school’s orchestra, their VC society, Asian & international relations, and politics. Past work experience includes being an Analyst at BlackShip Ventures and Venture Partner at Contrary.
Darian Bhathena dropped out of MIT to be the company’s CTO and lead engineer. Despite his young age, experience is not lacking for Darian. He’s interned for Apple in two different capacities, and ended up denying a full-time offer to build Finary’s own masterpiece instead of iPhone features.
Jack Phifer also dropped out of MIT to become the the COO and community engagement lead of Finary. Jack has a variety of experiences as a software engineer and machine learning researcher, working for incredible companies like Data Intelligence Technologies and Nasdaq.
These guys are pretty much the fintech version of the ‘96-’97 Chicago Bulls.
After leaving Harvard and MIT to build their social investing vision, the ‘Finary Fellas’ were accepted into the esteemed Y-Combinator startup accelerator program. Well-known alumni include Airbnb, Amplitude, Coinbase, DoorDash, DropBox, GitLab, Instacart, OpenSea, and Stripe. Here’s a write-up about them in Forbes.
If you’re looking for a job, check out Finary’s open positions here.
Stan is empowering creators to become entrepreneurs. By working 1-on-1 with top creators to help them develop monetization strategies, Stan has created a solution that’s far beyond the typical “link in bio” solutions.
For example, through Stan you can build a mobile-first “Funnel” - allowing you to create a beautiful landing page for things like promoting your online real estate course, selling your new cookbook, or anything in between.
Other features include audience backlogging, performance analytics, integrations with helpful external apps, and other significant ways to progress as an online creator.
John Hu is a rockstar founder. After snagging his Bachelor’s in Finance and Computer Science from UNC at Chapel Hill, he took to Wall Street to work for Goldman Sachs as an analyst in their investment banking division. After realizing that sucks, he flew across the country to work as a senior associate for one of the more well-known VCs in the country - Norwest Ventures.
Norwest were early investors in Opendoor, Plaid, Calm, Dave, Spotify, Udemy, Vuori, and Uber. They just raised another $3 billion fund from to deploy over the coming years.
After becoming a creator himself, John realized that content creators have a hard time selling products.. and generally need to become human billboards for brands. He built Stan 1.0 - which is an excellent LinkTree + Shopify solution. Now he’s building Stan 2.0 - which is more of a focus on building “marketing relationships” with your audience, enabling you to sell them a product or service over a longer period of time.
If you’re looking for a job, Stan is currently hiring a product designer.
LevelFields is what happens when data science, software engineering, and entrepreneurship intersect. LevelFields, as the name suggests, is working toward leveling the playfield between retail and institutional investors by screening million of signal related to over 6,000 stocks - sifting through the noise to find events that materially impact prices over time.
Here is an example surrounding GameStop on their website.
The company’s entire purpose is to use artificial intelligence to sift through billions of data points surrounding real world events (stock buy backs, new CEOs, short reports, etc.) that aren’t earnings related - to then best figure out where the stock is headed in the coming 6-9 months.
Andrew Einhorn is an ambitious founder who, after graduating with an engineering degree from The George Washington University, went on to start a technology company called Synoptos. The company focused on building AI systems to help detect patterns in the media, identify pathways to influence stakeholders, and improve operational decision making.
Synoptos helped organizations around the world launch products in new markets, obtain international agreement, win ballot initiatives, obtain drilling right, and improve public health campaigns.
Andrew took his experience in media intelligence and is now applying it to the stock market through LevelFields. If you want to read more, here’s an AP News press release from a couple of months ago
Sparrow’s mission is to accelerate the transition to sustainable finance. Sparrow allows users to compare and borrow personalized credit offers through a single application - bringing simplicity, choice, and transparency to an otherwise inefficient and opaque lending process.
Long story short, they’re like Credit Karma in the sense of financial offers and “best fit” scenarios - but for your student loans. If you’re borrowing, refinancing, or just learning - Sparrow scours the interwebs to find you the best terms possible.
Once you tell them the loan, the amount, your credit score, and your estimated income upon graduation - they immediately match you with dozens of lenders or refinancing options.
Harrison Hochman is another visionary founder. He took what he learned from his Bachelor’s and Masters at Stanford (Science and Engineering) to build Sparrow full-time upon graduation. While at Stanford, he served as an operations analyst for the Minnesota Vikings Football team, an analyst for various VCs, and finally as an analyst for Evercore’s investment banking division before starting Sparrow.
Daniel Kahn completes the two-headed monster of Sparrow, acting as the company’s COO. He graduated from Duke with a degree in Public Policy Analysis and has extensive experience interning twice in Tel Aviv, Israel (where he met Harrison). The combination of Daniel’s well-rounded experiences and Harrison’s highly-technical background has allowed Sparrow to move very quickly over the last six months.
At the moment, Harrison is hiring junior, mid-level, and senior backend developers to help him build Sparrow. Let me, or him, know if this is something you’re interested in.
The name of the game for Heyday is making online research easier. This Google browser extension automatically saves content you’ve viewed online and resurfaces it when you need it most.
Long story short, every time you search a topic on Google, Heyday looks to see if you’ve researched the topic before. If you have, they’ll resurface the most important content you’ve seen while conducting research. This could be website, videos, or even Tweets.
Sam DeBrule is a graduate of Brown University - after bouncing between ideas, he finally began leading market efforts for Mattermark. After spearheading integrations with companies like Salesforce, Google, Microsoft and Apple, Sam left to start Heyday.
Since 2016, Sam has been building Heyday with simplicity in mind. For the type of people who find themselves putting off tedious tasks, struggle to maintain systems within their workflows, and just don’t really enjoy the process of organizing things.
As someone who spends a lot of time researching on the internet, Heyday is worth its weight in gold for me.
If you’re in the market for a new job, consider poking around each company’s job boards. Full transparency, I receive no compensation of any kind if you accept a position at any of these companies - just trying to help founders I believe in build their rockstar teams.
If you want to apply or simply learn more about any of the companies listed here or on my website, reply to this email and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Disclaimer: This is not financial advice or recommendation for any investment. The content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.