Advice from Johnson on fund raising

Entrepreneurship is much like playing competitive basketball where it is becomes more mental competition and less physical competition as the game wears on. There will be phases during the fund raising process when you get so much external rejections and internal failed experiments that you starting thinking “am I just being a con-artist” when entering into the next fund raising session.

The real work of the entrepreneur is the mental exercise. Do not let external rejections and internal failed experiments cause your conviction to waver. Let the investor deal with their job (where to park their cash) and the management deal with theirs (how to use the cash). Your job one and only job is to convince the investor to part with his cash so that you can pass it to the manager to use the cash.

Do not confuse the roles of Entrepreneur, Management and Shareholders

  • Entrepreneur: role is to acquire external resources required to grow the company
  • Shareholder: role is to keep watch over security of the capital invested and have it grow
  • Management: role is to ensure the externally acquired resources get put to proper use with minimal wastage

When in fund raising mode, do not emotionally entangle yourself with “being accountable/responsible” for the funds that will be acquired externally to be put to good use internally. Just dealing with all the multitudes of external rejections during the fund raising exercise is in itself already a Herculean chore. There is no reason to self-sabotage by causing yourself to waver from your conviction by further introduction of self doubt during this critical process.

There is a difference between marketing the product and marketing the company. Products are marketed to customers while the company is marketed to the investors. The three classes of investors:

  • Angel investors – buy the story
  • Venture Capitalist – structured as a fund to ensure compliance with governance
  • Private Equity – late stage fund to get the company ready for IPO
  • Public offering – the general public as well as trust funds

The important thing during fund raising is to rapidly filter out the naysayers and frame a story that will excite the remaining investors to want to part with their cash. Do not waste time with the naysayers.

It is unlikely that you will be able to haul in all the capital you need in one shot. Just figure what story you need to tell to the next person to pull in the resources necessary to snowball the idea bigger and repeat that process until the entire idea gets fully realized.

Ideas/ brain child a fragile creatures that need to be protected and nurtured by the founder.

People who started companies but only have experience working in technical functions will under appreciate the importance of story telling. These companies will ultimately fail. They do not see all the marketing the partners in the company did to get it off the ground initially. People who started companies but do not attempt to build up the company in fear of failing are people simply just trying to find a job for themselves. They are not entrepreneurs but self employed.

The reason why entrepreneurs like to hang out with other entrepreneurs is that they feed off each others energy. And that is crucial for the mental game that they have to deal will on a daily basis. The most classic example is Steve Job’s reality distortion field.

There is one fundamental difference between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos is from the investment banking background, since series A he constantly tweaks his story to the tune of the market to get the resources the company he require. Whereas, Elon Musk was so strong in his belief and charisma that right out the gates he was able to create a cult following around his company while polarizing all the naysayers. These two approaches are reflected in their companies share prices with Tesla being really really turbulent.

Balancing features on between power users and general masses

Observations for the day: After studying the behavior of more than 3000 users over the past four months, I conclude the level of abstract thinking required to understand how this one single button works is too complicated for 99% of users to grasp.


Only nerds/power users who are already familiar with the notion of the schematic web would get excited when they see this button.


Building a UX that caters for the general masses as well as the few power users is challenging. Too much stuff for the power users and the general masses will feel overwhelmed thus shy away from the tool. Too little stuff for the power users and they will feel frustrated for not being able to realize their vision of what they intend their tool for.


At this point I am opting to hold off implementing some of the functionalities that I (the ultimate power user) personally need from this tool. Or if I did, more as an Easter Egg like feature that you would only find if you go hunting for it within the tool. This is to avoid forcing the general masses to think too much. People do not like being forced to think.

When the tool is too “powered up”, you see lowered percentage of newly registered users making it to the magic moment. To know this, you will need to maintain historical records of your activation rates.

When the tool is too “weak”, your power users all complain about the same missing stuff.

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui way of life

Shamanic world view

The practitioner of the shamanic tradition at once sees the world as it is as well as a manifestation of infinite energy that is is constant flux.

The sequence of four enemies a knowledge seeker must inevitably face

  • Fear: The fear of uncertainty and the unknown is the first enemy a knowledge seeker must face. As he progresses along his journey, he will be faced with fear over an over again. The work is to face the fear and keep moving forward in the question for knowledge. With time, this fear will dissipate and he will get clarity
  • Clarity: Clarity is a subtle enemy. Succumbing to this enemy means the inability to decipher real clarity from one’s egotistical illusion. The work is to constantly question the perceive clarity while moving forward in the quest for knowledge. With time comes true clarity which brings with it a lot of power
  • Power: Power is a very seductive enemy. With great power comes the temptation to abuse this power. Succumbing to this enemy brings around rampant destruction due to abusive use of power. The work is to constantly keep power in check while continuing the pursuit and application of knowledge. With time, comes the final enemy, old age.
  • Old age: Is an enemy that can only be conquered temporarily. The work is to constantly fight the desire to lie and rest. Yielding to this enemy will result in no further pursuit and application of the knowledge acquired.

Noteworthy plants

  • Jimson weed: Psychedelic to help you relive and see your past memories
  • Peyote: Another plant to aid in the communion with the spirits
  • Mescalito: Hallucinogenic drug made from the flowering heads of cactus

Permain basis observations

American frontier society principles and worldview

  • Trump is the best president that God has given to America
  • God’s deeds are done in actions not words
  • If you do not appreciate what God has given, it was be taken away and replaced with something not as good
  • God created put the government in place to maintain law and order
  • Your purpose is to become the best possible version of yourself in service to God
  • What you can do you keep. This is how you keep cash in the business
  • Observe the actions not the words. When you follow your line of reasoning from actions that actually happened, the outcome of your thought process must be true
  • Apply the principles of auto-suggestion. People will more readily to respond to your actions than your words. Never use it for evil. Examples:
    • stand by the road on the highway holding an empty tank and chances are someone would stop by and offer you a ride to get gas
    • setup a table properly with all the meal and bring out a container showing empty butter and the guest will likely volunteer to go get butter

Economic environment in Permian basin

  • Permian basin is the heart of America’s oil supply. It has gone through multiple cycles of boom and bust over the past 20 years. Each bust cycle typically last for a year.
  • Property valuation. and taxes
    • before 2018
      • Valuation USD150,000
      • Taxation US1500
    • 2018
      • Valuation USD4,000,000
      • Taxation USD40000
  • Boom years
    • Total revenue for Roper motel was above USD1,000,000 during 2018 when demand for oil was strong.
    • Property taxes is calculated based on property valuation. Property valuation is assess every year.
    • Government started including motel furniture installations as part of annual property taxes as it was considered capitalized expenditure used for the purpose of generating revenue
    • Water taxes increased as usage was categorized as commercial leading to a doubling of water bills
    • Motels are charged USD200 a month for ambulance service in town
  • Post COVID era
    • while taxes were increased during the boom years, downwards adjustments were slow. Pecos is ailing for heightened level of taxes and low oil demand

Social environment in the Permian Basin

Reflections on navigating inflection points

Sometimes there comes an inflection point where you have to make a great leap of faith.

I can still remember that morning back in 2008, when I woke up in Shymkent, Khazakastan. I was feeling undecided about taking up Bernhard and Franzikas’ offer the night before to go visit them in Europe or just turning around and heading back home to Singapore overland. I was down to just USD3,000 in my bank account at that point. Shymkent was about the half way mark if you were planning to travel overland from Asia to Europe.

Sitting in the cafe sipping my coffee, I saw then the only other backpacker I have seen during this entire period, other than the pack I was with, walking through the door.

I soon realized after a quick chat he was heading in the direction of Asia overland. He had maps for territories westwards and I for those eastwards. After brief moment of deliberation I exchanged maps with him.

2008 was a period before smart phones and Google maps existed, giving up the map eastwards was like shutting the door to retreat back to Asia if I decided at any point to abort. You could imagine how frightening that experience was.

24 hours later in Astana, I saw broadcast over the news that severe riots had finally broke out after months of tension in the western region of China. The path back eastwards overland was closed and nailed shut. I guess I had no choice but to fully committed at that point. Strangely, with total clarity of purpose brought about a profound sense of calm.

Three months later after experiencing an actual deport, crashing at a few friends’ place and sleeping in the streets on multiple occasions I arrived in London UK, accomplishing my overland trip from Asia to Europe. And it was at the height of the 2008 financial crisis… Oh boy…

And that was definitely not the only inflection point I have experienced. In hindsight, inflection points tends to force you to either fully and totally commit to whatever your pursuits are or give up. The process catalyzes a one way change. It require a great deal of faith. Successful navigation of such events brings along with it total clarity of purpose until the next inflection point.

I guess part of the reason I founded GetData.IO was to provide people with a simple and affordable way to get the data they need so as to navigate those inflection points that life inevitably throw at them.  To help them make that decision they know they need to make and to have that peace of mind when the decision is finally made.

Diogenes the Cynic: The war against the world

Diogenes the cynic: the war against the world

The building blocks of Diogenes’ philosophy

  1. Self sufficiency: only need yourself and dispense with societal support
  2. Shamelessness: be willing to break even the most sacrosanct rules to express absolute freedom
  3. Indifference: be unconcerned with things not within your control
  4. Insensibility: to become insensible to both pain and pleasure
  5. Ignorance: To limit intellectual activities to those that are of immediate value for human life
  6. Disciplined training:
    • commit to a program of self training that strengthens his character,
    • lessens dependencies on social and physical needs,
    • maintain his desires and impulses under strict rational control
  7. Strength of character:
    • aspire to develop in himself a character and physical constitution like those associated with Hercules
    • that renders him impervious to vicissitudes and sufferings of human life
  8. Poverty:
    • understand that virtue and happiness cannot be found in the search and acquisition of physical possessions
    • divest himself of as many things as possible,
    • retaining the bare necessities to keep him alive and that assure him the freedom that Hercules esteemed as the most precious thing in the world
  9. Philanthrophy
    • Recognize his moral obligation to make himself useful in the task of dispelling illusions that rob people of their ability to be happy and live in accordance with nature
  10. Contempt for the opinions of many
    • renounce the need to be honored or appreciated by others
    • welcome repudiation and insults
    • look with contempt or suspicion at the values and customs by which people guide themselves

Realizations from nights spent isolated in the wilderness

There are only so many nights you can spend alone in isolation out in the wilderness before your brain fully discards all the faulty wirings imprinted by Hollywood’s horror movies.

What’s left is this primal realization that human is a very vicious predator perched pretty high up on the food chain. Further arm him with tools and he ends up right at the top of the food chain.

It is easy to forget about this fact when you have spent much of your life living in the city amongst other men following man made rules while attempting to play “civilized”.

Between groups of men there always exist collaboration and competition for resources extracted from nature. There also exist this constant jostling of position, usually labelled “politicking”, to gain more of these resources while exerting the same amount of effort. The bulk of the “stress” of “modern life” stems from “acquiring” what you need through the collective efforts of the group.

Between men and nature, the relationship appears simpler. The rules are pretty much fixed at the on set by nature. Man’s primary task is to figure out if the season is conducive for the activity being undertaken. Nature’s feedback is usually pretty immediate.

Related readings:

  • The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris
  • The nature of technology, Brian Arthur
  • Why the west rules for now, Ian Morris
  • Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari
  • I-Ching, the books of changes
  • Tao De Ching, Lao Tze

Thoughts on advertising

Getting a deep level of empathy from another fellow human being is one of the most yearned desires of every person.

A message in recognition of a person’s  actualized self is more powerful than one centered around what you are trying to sell.