Andrew Dudum has played a role in 12 plus companies, raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, and has created a venture producing machine. What is he up to now?
Starting, scaling and selling just one company is a feat of a lifetime for most. It’s definitely worthy of applause. Create two, three or four startups and you’re a success by virtually any benchmark. This serial founder is a machine when it comes to startups. Even more stunning given he took a leave from college early on to pursue his career.
Andrew Dudum recently appeared as a guest on the DealMakers Podcast. During the exclusive interview, he shared his journey, what he has learned about success patterns in entrepreneurship, product-market fit, taking an unconventional approach to marketing, and many more topics.
The Art of Entrepreneurship
Andrew Dudum was born and raised in San Francisco. While he always knew he didn’t want to have a boss, his early life was consumed with music. As a cellist, he toured America and Europe, played at Carnegie Hall and hundreds of concerts and weddings.
Clearly, creativity is an incredible asset when it comes to entrepreneurship. Yet, he wanted to balance that out with business fundamentals, strategic thinking, and knowledge of finance. So, he headed off to The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
It was there at just 19 years old that Andrew Dudum launched his first project, LendforPeace. The micro-lending platform, which funded small business loans from $200 to $2,000 primarily in the Middle East, eventually blended with Kiva.org.
Kiva is now the largest lender in this space and is out there making a difference. The experience taught him a lot about building a scalable and sustainable business.
Dropping Out & Surviving an Exit
Andrew found he was spending so much time with other creators, trying to get them to skip class to build things (more time doing that than actually going to class), so he decided to take a leave from Wharton after his second year.
That gave him the chance to go work for Sequoia portfolio company TokBox, an early live video platform to power companies like YouTube.
TokBox offered Andrew an incredible learning experience on how to build a high-growth business, bring things to market, and use analytics.
TokBox was acquired by Telefónica
Acquisitions can be an emotional rollercoaster both as an owner and employee. The one main piece of advice that Andrew says he likes to give all friends who are going through this process is to be patient and to be open-minded to whatever the outcome might be.
Acquisitions are big. They involve the merging of cultures, the merging of companies, the merging of processes.
Realistically it takes time to figure out whether or not those entities are going to be able to work together well, and how they’re going to find synergies. Be patient, watch how it unfolds, and be a part of the process of making it successful.
Building a Startup Producing Machine
Some of Andrew’s other friends from Wharton had also built companies and sold them to large companies during this time. So, they banded together to bring the best operators, builders of technology and startups under one roof, and couple them with the best investors. They created Atomic.
The thing about successful investors is that they have incredible pattern recognition. They’ve gone through the process of funding, helping, advising, restructuring, and hiring for startups countless times.
When you bring together operators who have built and scaled companies before and put them in the same room as investors who have funded and advised dozens of companies, you should be able to build a much better system for bringing enduring, scalable brands to market.
So far Atomic has raised close to $600 million to fuel those efforts, from investors such as Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Andrew’s top ingredients for a successful startup:
- Creativity and big markets you can’t stop thinking about
- An emotional, meaningful story that is very easy to understand
- A proprietary growth strategy
Of course, you also need product-market fit. Andrew says you know you’ve found a special idea when people come across your idea and put their purchasing power behind it.
What it Looks Like When You Get it Right
His latest ventures, Hims & Hers are a clear example of what it looks like when you get product-market fit right.
The brands offer a modern approach to health and wellness by eliminating stigmas and making it easier for people to access care as well as treatment for the conditions that impact their daily lives.
Hims did a million in sales in the first week of the business operation. That was the smallest week in sales to date. Every month, the acceleration continues to grow, making it one of, if not the fastest growing consumer brand from a revenue standpoint.
In just over a year they’ve raised over $200 million in funding. Their investors include Thrive Capital, Forerunner Ventures, SV Angel, Redpoint, Founders Fund, IVP, Cherubic Ventures, 8VC, Maverick Ventures andUphonest Capital.
Alejandro Cremades – Forbes