TroyLabs Weekly: Spicy Founder Takes
“We provide Trojan founders with an all-in-one framework to get their startups off the ground.” 🚀
Week of April 4th: Spicy Founder Takes, Elysian Highlight, Startup News & Hiring Opportunities
It is Easter, friends! To celebrate, we're switching it up this week and throwing in some new sections for you. Ready for some spice?
First and foremost, though, we have some 🚨 IMPORTANT NEWS🚨:
DEMO DAY, USC's biggest startup exhibition, is back on April 16th!
From aspiring founders to "startup-adjacent" students, this is the perfect place if you want to:
👨🏽💻 Get hired
🤯 Blow your mind with some great products
🕸 Grow your network
🛋 Or even just hang out!
This year, we have an absolute 🔥 list of speakers, investors, and founders- come treat yourself to a good time, and tell your friends to come, too!
🔥Spicy Take of The Week
Starting this week, we're posting founders' Spicy Takes™! Want to submit your own? Scroll on!
This week's take is from [redacted]:
“The aesthetics of your pitch deck are never going to be the deal breaker for an investment. Focus on the sh** that matters: product and people!”
Spiciness Rating: 🌶🌶🌶
Elysian Won TroyLabs’ LAUNCH. Here’s How. ✍️
After watching 1000's of startups pitch, we've figured out the recipe for a snooze-fest:
Start with "Have you ever experienced [problem]?"
Wait for uncomfortable nods from your audience.
Close with, "Me too! Introducing [solution], the all - in - one ... blah blah blah."
Leave empty-handed, since the investors fell asleep during your pitch.
Thankfully for everyone, the talented Elysian founders decided to take an innovative approach to storytelling. Co-founder Vincent Perez embraced the raw truth behind why he started Elysian: the loss of a loved one, and the harrowing confusion that comes with navigating death. Perez's moving story allowed the audience to truly step into the shoes of what the broken status quo looks like, highlighting the issues with deathcare today.
Elysian's pitch managed to beautifully lay out the problem in a compelling way, provide a thoughtful solution, and wrap up with some great Q&A that resonated heavily with our investor panelists- something only a select few founders can do.
You constantly hear stories of successful founders complementing each other: Jobs and Wozniak. Ben and Jerry. Bill Gates and Paul Allen. And soon, Neilda and Vincent will join the greats with their stunning chemistry: Neilda’s experience as CEO of MindGlow and Vincent’s background in program management makes this pair a dynamic duo. The chemistry, the emotional hook, and an amazing product made Elysian truly thrive at LAUNCH, and we at TroyLabs can't wait to see where they lift off to! 🚀
Learn more about Elysian here.
💡Weekly Insight: Finding a Niche
Why start with a niche?
All big startups had to start somewhere. So why did they all start small? Peter Thiel, entrepreneur, investor, and all-around smart dude, argues that it comes down to math:
A business creates X dollars of value, and captures Y% of X. X and Y are independent variables!
What this means for those of us who get dizzy at the sight of a variable is that dominating a large portion of a small market is superior to trying to compete with giants!
It gives your startup a great beachhead to expand from, and you can focus on gaining a few users who are absolutely in love with your product, rather than tons of users that think your product is "meh."
Okay, fine. What's my niche?
That's the fun part: you gotta find it!
If you already have a product or MVP, find the audience that loves you most, define what their unmet need is, and work your butt off to fill that need better than anyone else!
If you're still considering your product, find a target audience, do as many user interviews as possible until you come across a problem, and then solve the hell out of that problem!
Seems simple when we type it out, but it's a time-consuming process with huge rewards if you're up for it!
What areas do you enjoy working on?
What problems can you solve?
Finally, and most importantly, will people pay you?
Ugh. Now I have competitors!
Yeah, every founder has that moment where they freak out about the competition. Keep in mind, most failed startups don't lose to the competition: they end up failing on their own!
So, you have competitors. That's a good thing! It means your niche has a market that's attractive to other people: other founders have validated your problem and your market! Remember, this is a good sign.
So how do we deal with the competition? Well, we want a big slice of this small pie, so you as a founder need to differentiate: what insight or solution makes you way better than everyone else? Figure out what your customers are raving about, and double down on that! If you aren't either building product or figuring out your customers' problems, drop whatever you're doing, and go do that!
That's all for finding a niche, this week. Now go get 'em, tiger!
Here's a cool extra bit of reading if you're interested!
Startup & News Radar 📰
NFT's NFT's and more NFT's. What the h*ll are they?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) offer new ways for consumers to collect, wear and trade fashion online, and now that most fashion shows have scaled back or gone virtual, they may become an important tool for the industry.
We live in a strange time. Humans are buying products they will never actually touch...Gucci really said, "Why not us then?"
Designed by Alessandro Michele in collaboration with Wanna, Gucci's new sneaker has a low price point and unlimited quantity, created to reach a larger audience.
Artificial Intelligence systems are learning at an exponential rate, but—thankfully—humans are still better at classifying art! Superrare is THE OG NFT platform, proudly curating fine digital art from collectors around the world. Clearly, they are doing something right with their newfound influx of cash money.
SpaceX's Starlink network is a multitude of internet satellites that work in collaboration with receivers on Earth. This massive yet impressive system can potentially provide us with a network connection that makes today's connections seem like doodoo.
China’s Taobao Live, Douyin, and Pinduodup have brought a sweeping wave of social shopping: Chums aims to build this beachhead in the U.S. by creating a social network platform in which you can save and recommend products to friends.
🔌 Get Plugged
Dorm Room Fund's HQ is hiring!
Dorm Room Fund is a student-run venture fund, built by students and powered by the nation’s best early-stage VC fund, First Round. Student investment partners get to invest $20k checks in other student companies!
If building world-class brands, telling powerful stories, and using great design to move mountains runs in your blood, DRF wants you!
RedLino Is Hiring!
RedLino aims to foster a community that provides an authentic space where influencers and fans can create new genuine connections together.
As we continue to make key partnerships and make key high-level decisions to strive towards this goal, we can use some more technical stars (web developers/mobile developers) to join our team.
If you are remotely interested in hearing more about our mission or joining the team, reach out to email@example.com or phone 
EthSign Is Hiring!
EthSign is a decentralized, versioned, and consensus-based electronic agreements signing application built on Ethereum, Matic, Avalanche, Binance Smart Chain, Near and Fantom.
We provide a simple and decentralized alternative for DocuSign. EthSign bridges Ethereum with Filecoin, where Ethereum powers our smart contract and Filecoin/IPFS provides decentralized hot and cold file storage. Valued at 3 million USD, EthSign has secured funding from Jack Ma’s Ant Group, Liang Xin Jun’s Foshun Group, ANKR, and other top venture capitals.
Looking for Front End developers that are familiar with React.JS, Website3.JS or other UI/UX skills and backend developers that are familiar with solidity and with tremendous passion for Web 3.
We want to create an application that is truly decentralized and profitable.
The future is bright, come join us! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quote of the Day 💭
"The real test is not whether you avoid this failure because you won't. it's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”
- Barack Obama (44th U.S. President)