I never imagined replacing Apple’s default mail software as my email app on the iPhone, but it just happened. Microsoft’s free Outlook app for iOS is awesome. It’s super-fast. It presents conversations in a clear and easy to understand way. It does a good job at separating conversations between important items and “other”. It also lets you see your entire mailbox if you prefer to do that. It manages attachments intelligently and allows you to connect to Dropbox. It also works effectively with multiple email accounts.
The calendaring functions are also second to none. You access your schedule without leaving the app and easily allows you to schedule meetings and invite guests. You also can quickly send via email the times when you are free during a day (to attend other meetings).
It’s also easy to customize. I changed the default setting such that a left swipe deletes emails, while a right swipe moves them.
Try the app!
As we scaled up our operations, Jose and I more pro-actively assist our portfolio companies. We now help them fundraise, share best practices and do business development deals with each other.
One of our initiatives is to organize regular breakfast meetings for marketplace startups. We did the first one in New York a month ago and recently organized one in San Francisco. The first ones were limited to our portfolio companies, but we will probably open them up to a wider audience going forward.
We discussed everything and anything ranging from marketplace design, ideal take rate, fundraising strategies, tracking tools, how to avoid disintermediation and much more.
We look forward to organizing many more such events in the future!
I gave a few speeches last year on building marketplaces. I covered the evolution of marketplaces, what it takes to build successful vertical marketplaces, marketplace design, how to growth hack liquidity and manage your suppliers. Even it’s missing the commentary, I felt some of you might appreciate the supporting slides.
Like in 2013, I spent most of 2014 living with the consequences of the life changing decisions I made in late 2012 (2012: A Transition to New Beginnings!) of leaving OLX (Why I am leaving OLX) and radically simplifying my life (The Very Big Downgrade). However, with the benefit of 2013’s experience and repeated iteration, I started tweaking my life choices (Update on the Very Big Downgrade) culminating with the decision to partially rematerialize in 2015.
In 2014, I still traveled too much with frequent trips between Kiev, Bucharest, Zurich, London, Paris, Oslo, San Francisco, New York and Cabarete. It’s still nonetheless much improved from a flight duration and time difference perspective from the OLX days. Moreover, I was able to spend over a month in row in New York and Cabarete a few times. I now hope to both spend more consecutive days in New York, San Francisco and Cabarete, to travel less to Ukraine and Romania and to be able to spend more time in the same apartment or house.
Cabarete has successfully become the de-facto meeting place twice a year for all my friends and family – around my birthday in August and for New Year. To my horror, bewilderment and utter astonishment I turned 40 this year. While that is truly incomprehensible to me, I was surrounded by 40 friends and family and we had a blast.
Spending time in Cabarete allowed me to continue playing sports with gusto, only tempered by a tendinitis and left knee injury late in the season. I went heli-skiing at Mica in January and continued to work on my kiting skills. I also went on a fun trip to the Galapagos with Otilia.
On a sad note, I bid farewell to Harvard, my beloved yellow lab and extraordinary ball of spastic insanity.
On the professional side, Jose and I pursued a hybrid venture builder and investor model. We continued to support Beepi’s growth as the company is off to a great start and recently raised $60 million.
I was interviewed by Jean-Christian Agid for the FIAF event last December. We talked about everything and anything: the nature of entrepreneurship, life philosophy, the importance of culture in our lives and much more.
You can read the full interview at: http://www.fabricegrinda.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/9e303284f06de2733b196c96ab3e3242.pdf
La Tribune just published an interview where we discuss the nature of entrepreneurship, the necessity of failing in order to succeed and my current thinking about marketplaces.
It’s a very flattering article, but what I liked best about it was how extraordinarily well written it is.
French speakers can enjoy it at: http://www.latribune.fr/blogs/la-tribune-des-expats/20150105trib2ed37484a/fabrice-grinda-l-entrepreneur-comme-homme-eclaire.html
It was an honor to be awarded the Pilier d’Or by the FIAF on December 5 at the Plaza. Receiving the award was the culmination of an extraordinary year. In the FIAF’s words: “The Pilier d’Or recognizes a leading business figure, diplomat or philanthropist for outstanding contributions to the French-American community.” I was really surprised to be given the award. It’s historically been given to captains of industry. Last year’s winner was Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan-Renault. I am humbled that they chose a relatively young Internet entrepreneur.
It was a privilege to be introduced by my good friend Jeremy Levine. Jeremy is amazing. He was in the office next to mine at McKinsey and was the lead investor and board member at OLX. Beyond being brilliant, modest and an all-around great guy, he’s probably one of the most successful, if not the most successful VCs of the past 10 years.
Giving the acceptance speech made me reminisce on what it took to get there. Reading the one line version of my biography “Princeton, McKinsey, Zingy, OLX and investor in Alibaba & Brightroll” might make you think it was a long string of uninterrupted success, but far from it. My first startup failed. 12 years ago, I was essentially bankrupt, living in the office off of Ramen and fresh water. Most of my angel investments failed. Worse I witnessed the failures before the successes because it takes a lot longer to build a successful company, than to fail. Even OLX took years and multiple strategic pivots to get right. This award is as much a tribute to grit, tenacity, perseverance and good fortune as anything and I am truly grateful for how things turned out!
Watch Jeremy’s introduction and my acceptance speech: