As part of UCLA's MBA program, I've had the opportunity to sit in on some VC pitches. It's been a while since I've stepped back and looked at the broader startup ecosystem. My head has been in the micro saas space for a bit too long.

I don't believe engineering is a moat for most tech companies, distribution is. Even for series A companies which is what I've been looking at. Their tech is sometimes absolutely crazy with PhD level research resulting a truly insane product. But more often then not, it's some simple technology that has distribution figured out.

What does distribution look like for the zero to 1 phase right now:

  • Post on Twitter / X / Linkedin / Reddit / Indie Hackers
  • Product Hunt
  • Different "lists", like betalist, etc.
  • App Sumo Lifetime Deals
  • Ads
  • Newsletter sponsorships
  • Cold Email
  • Affiliate

This list is roughly 80% of the normal pathways.

So if I try to think about the long term (tough right now), I want to get better at distribution. I want to be able to buy something and make it more valuable simply because we bought it.

Ways to accomplish this:

  • Have a large personal brand
  • Partner with a content creator in the space
  • Aggregate - acquire tools with the same customer base (i.e. all dev tools, or all sales tools)

Large Personal Brand

I have some followers. Not a ton but more than I used to. It doesn't help with sales. Having followers and having engaged followers are two different things. It's also a bit tricky. I write a lot about XO, but not as much about our portfolio. This makes growing through my personal social somewhat difficult.


Mikey and I are exploring this approach for Content Crew (pivot from Cold Email Studio). This looks promising for the service business and I'm excited to see how this plays out. This model brings to mind a few ideas:

  • Every saas we buy has to have a partner / creator attached (probably something we do after we buy it, but work with a creator during the search)
  • Start every new project with a creator as an equity holder or significant rev share

D2c figured this model out a while ago. I think it's making it's way into SaaS.


This is the simplest. I'll take dev tools as an example. Buy dev tools. Cross promote dev tools to developers. This sounds cool but our experience with screenshot and sheet best is that cross promoting didn't materially increase sales. But, it might help with having a singular audience. We could then justify acquiring a media thing like a newsletter and "sponsoring" our own newsletter / podcast with our own tools. This is much better than currently trying to sell many products through myself and Danny's personal socials.

We haven't picked a lane on this, but it's fun to ideate.

What we know doesn't work:

  • Shared services. Each biz needs FT people
  • Many industries. Companies with no synergy have to be sufficiently large as a stand alone business to justify an acquisition.

I used to believe product is everything. That's not wrong, but the second 80% is distribution.