Long-Term Investing Ideas in a Volatile Market
Simon recently spoke with a $35 billion global asset manager about how they're navigating the market volatility. The key takeaways are to think long term, tune out the noise...
Wayne Gretsky used to say "skate to where the puck is going to be." 7investing CEO Simon Erickson chats with technology evangelist Evan Knowles about how to invest in three of the market's most innovative sectors.
October 15, 2020 – By Samantha Bailey
The stock market provides investors with more options than we can possibly keep track of. There are more than 4,000 publicly-traded companies on US exchanges alone. Keeping up with that many companies is simply not an option (at least if you ever plan on sleeping again).
One option is to just buy everything. S&P index funds allow investors to get ownership in the market’s largest companies. It’s a popular way to get the stock market’s broader-based returns without putting in very much effort.
For those willing to put in a bit more thought, another option is to selectively invest in the market’s pockets of innovation. By putting money into the most promising new trends, investors get access to a handful of companies who are a step ahead of others in defining the future and capturing its profits. For the Wayne Gretsky fans out there, this is “skating not to where the puck has been, but where it’s going to be.”
But this “basket approach” strategy also has challenges of its own. Since we never know what the future holds, how can we know which trends are indeed the most promising? And even within those trends, which individual companies should we be buying into?
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To answer those questions, we’ve brought in technology enthusiast Evan Knowles. Evan wears several different hats, including the co-founder of Symba (a real estate CRM), the host of the Middle Tech podcast, and more generally as an ambassador of startups all across the country.
In an exclusive interview with 7investing, Evan describes why “enterprise software”, “consumer-focused platforms”, and “developer tools” are the three categories he chooses to invest in. He explains his thesis for each of these segments and reveals actual companies he’s investing in.
Evan also describes how real estate can offer a hedge against growth-style investing and why data moats are something that investors should be keeping an eye on.
00:00 – Introduction to Evan and how he got involved with technology and startups
04:50 – Enterprise Software and Yext (YEXT)
15:27 – Consumer-Focused Platforms and Roku (ROKU)
21:19 – Developer Tools and Twilio (TWLO)
26:09 – How real estate could be used as a hedge to growth-style investing
28:22 – Why data moats are something investors should be keeping an eye on
Publicly-traded companies mentioned in this interview include DocuSign, Livongo, Netflix, Roku, Slack Technologies, Twilio, and Yext. 7investing’s advisors and/or guests may have positions in the companies that are mentioned.
This interview was originally recorded on October 6, 2020 and was first published on October 15, 2020.
Simon Erickson 0:00
Hello everyone and welcome to today’s episode of the 7investing podcast. I’m 7investing founder and CEO Simon Erickson. I’m very excited to welcome my guest today. Evan Knowles is the co founder of Symba. He’s also an investing and technology enthusiast. He really has his pulse on some of the most innovative things going on all across America. Hey, Evan, thanks for joining 7investing here this morning.
Evan Knowles 0:22
Hey, Simon, super excited. I’m glad we could get to do this.
Simon Erickson 0:25
Absolutely. Evan, you and I have chatted for a while here. And we’ve been talking about your background, because I know you live in Kentucky, and you have kind of an interesting way that you got into investing and technology and startups in the first place. Including a crazy story as you describe it to me. Can you start with your background, and kind of tell me how you got into this in the first place?
Evan Knowles 0:45
Yeah, absolutely. So I grew up here and Kentucky, very small town. About 30,000 people. Kind of grew up just, you know, normal kid enjoyed sports and had no idea technology would be something I’d love in the future. But went to UK and start a technology startup my freshman year of with some friends, and really kind of fell in love with software and entrepreneurship at that point, learned a whole lot. And at that point, I began to realize that, you know, I was going to college for finance and economics. I love finance, I love you know, the macro economics concept. And really studying how the world works from from a macro perspective and how people and their minds can affect an economy. But then once I kind of really fell in love with technology and startups, I kind of dove in and just really kind of stopped paying attention in school, honestly, and just kind of wanted to dive full headfirst into the space. And so I ended up dropping out of college and joined a startup called Fuji. And Fuji has that crazy story you just referenced. And that was kind of where my career I guess you could say began to take off and I just grew exponentially as I just kind of got thrown into it, I was kind of thrown to the wolves and had to learn on my own. And so Fuji was a crazy story. Because we had started as just three people in Lexington, Kentucky, in a small studio apartment, we had some remote engineers and the founders had come to University of Kentucky and said we’d love to have a student help us grow this company here in Lexington. I was that student that UK kind of pushed towards them as somebody that might be interested in helping them build the company. And so we went from three people and basically zero revenue to 65 people in about two and a half, three years, and scaled revenue to close to 10 million. My role was to help build the sales team alongside the the founder and CEO. And we had amazing product, the product was pretty revolutionary, I still think to this day, it’s going to be a big future part of the marketing landscape. So what we had built was, it was essentially connecting social media to on demand delivery services. So on demand delivery services are hot right now, obviously with COVID. But we had done was we connected those two through API’s, and we use them as a marketing channel. So basically what that looked like was Walt Disney or Disney for let’s say, Star Wars, we work with all the Star Wars movies, instead of buying Facebook ads or Twitter ads they put some budget towards Fuji, and delivering physical product. And so we would put out on Twitter, a tweet that would say, hey, Star Wars fans tweet this hashtag and this emoji for a chance to win a free lightsaber delivered to you in 60 minutes. And so what happened, when you’d have all these people across the country tweeting about Star Wars, to get this physical delivery, that’d be brought to their front door within 60 minutes. And so we were really connecting the physical world to the digital world. And this really unique way, leveraging on demand delivery services. So what you had were thousands and thousands of people tweeting about Star Wars. And then you had all these people sharing pictures of the delivery they received. And so Disney would get a ton of organic media off the back of this user generated content versus having to pay for all that attention in the form of impressions. So it’s a really amazing product. And we really scaled the company. And it was a crazy story, because we had scaled to 65 people raised a good amount of venture funding, completely ran out of out of cash. We burned through that pretty fast and went down back down about 30 employees. And so the company is still around. It’s still growing. It’s still very doing very well. But it’s just a really amazing story that happened right here in Lexington, Kentucky, that’s not really that known for innovative companies like that. Yet, I’ll put yet because I’m sure we’ll get to it. But I think this region is really going to be growing. But it’s just an amazing story to happen right here in Kentucky.
Simon Erickson 4:50
Yeah, that’s fantastic. It really is pretty impressive. You jumped into the deep end and got into that whole startup and technology system. You mentioned API’s and I want to talk about that a little bit more, because you know, our audience here at 7investing, we’re individual investors, we’re looking for publicly traded companies, which, you know, kind of removes us from a lot of those startups or earlier stage companies. But there’s a lot of technology that’s very interesting to them. And that’s what I want to dig a little bit deeper into.
Evan Knowles 5:17
Simon Erickson 5:17
Evan, you’ve said that, you know, you’re an investor as well, you invest in publicly traded equities, and you tend to structure your own portfolio into three buckets. One is enterprise software, one is consumer focused platforms, and the other is developer tools. And I’d like to touch on each one of those individually, because they’re very interesting, not only to get an understanding of why you’ve picked these buckets to invest in, but also to give an example from each one of those. And so let’s start with enterprise software. This is something that has been a very popular segment of the market in recent years, but what is it kind of generally about enterprise software that you find so intriguing?
Evan Knowles 5:56
Yeah, I mean, I really like enterprise software, because you know, these software solutions, like, you know, I’m sure we’ll talk about Yext, DocuSign, WeWork or not WeWork, I always say that with work, Slack, you know, Microsoft, these companies are really providing very vital software for enterprises to help them grow. And I think that I view them just like I view developer tools as utilities, and they’re really helping these companies with very critical, you know, solutions, like you know, electronic signatures, communication, you know, all these things are vital to these businesses. And I just view them as things that are not going anywhere. They’re very steady in my mind, at this point, you know, maybe a few years ago, they’re viewed as as risky. But at this point, I think they’re the new, you know, staple companies to invest in that provide growth into the future, and I don’t see them going anywhere.
Simon Erickson 6:56
You mentioned Yext, that’s a company that I’m also a big fan of you and I have talked about this many times. In fact, you were the very first person to introduce me to Yext. So that’s something I credit you with it, quite thankfully, because I think it’s a great company. But tell me a little bit about why you’re so interested in Yext, what are they doing out there that’s so intriguing?
Evan Knowles 7:14
Yeah, I mean, when I first came across, the them I was tipped off by a friend. And I just kind of began to look into them, and at first, I really wasn’t all that impressed. But once I really started to dig deeper, because I think it’s a company that really at the surface is hard to understand. They’re doing something totally new, they’re creating a brand new software category. And so once I began to dig deeper, I began to realize that they’re solving a pretty big problem in the world. So traditionally, a business would have pretty good control over their brand, you know, prior to the social media age and the digital assistant age and, you know, a lot of these artificial intelligence based tools. They would have pretty good control over their brand through their website. You know, normally, as a customer, you’d go to their website, you’d learn about their services, you might purchase something from them, you might look at their menus there. But what has happened over the last, you know, I’d say 5 to 10 years is now you’re starting to see all of that brand control be shifted out of their hands and into social media, and to services like Yelp, and to services like Google, and Amazon, and Apple. And so now their brand has become extremely distributed. And that’s created a pretty big problem. And it’s created a problem of they no longer have control over this brand. And so what Yext has come along and done is built search and assertive search experience cloud or digital knowledge management cloud. And so many of us are familiar with, you know, Google has a knowledge graph. And so does you know, Microsoft and Amazon. And so what Yext has come along and done is built a knowledge graph for these businesses, to input their customer facing data, their publicly facing data, and then Yext syncs that across all the places that consumer can access that that data again, it’s Snapchat, it’s Facebook, it’s Google, it’s Yelp, it’s all the services where now consumers are looking for information. And that’s super important, because again, it gives control back to the brand. And it puts the truth out there, like they like to say, so that consumers can access the correct information. And so that I like to paint the picture of you know, during COVID, a lot of restaurants have had to change their hours. They’ve changed from physical brick and mortar to deliveries or takeout. Well, with Yext, now businesses can make sure that consumers who might be looking for food get the correct answer, whether they’re getting takeout or going and eating in person. And I had this personal frustration where I would show up to a restaurant, it’s hours or its status would not be updated and it’d be closed and I wouldn’t be able to get that food. And that’s a bad experience for me as a consumer. Yext is kind of giving that control back to businesses. I think it’s just a really big model and has a lot of implications for, you know, artificial intelligence going forward, Internet of things, autonomous cars. And so many things are going to rely on this structured, very accurate data. And, you know, Yext allows, you know, these services consume that data directly from the source.
Simon Erickson 10:23
Knowledge graph is huge, like you say, controlling the experience, controlling the brand out there in this distributed world that we live in now. Glad you touched on that. But as you also mentioned, COVID has kind of changed the game in these these last couple of months where retail companies are having a tough time, you know, restaurants and everyone else that has a physical presence. This is very challenging for them. And we’ve also seen Yext pivot the business to adapt to that – to Yext answers recently, and for those who are unfamiliar, Yext Answers is kind of the control that a company has over its own search experience on its own website. And something Evan, that you mentioned recently was about conversational intelligence, where Yext is now not only going out and controlling the search experience, but also giving companies control over their own website, how important is Yext Answers for this company?
Evan Knowles 11:12
Yeah, I don’t know if I would view it as a pivot, but it’s this is a very innovative company that’s building on the base of that knowledge graph. You know, as they get more businesses to build on this knowledge graph there, they’ll continue to launch products like answers on top of this. So I think it’s always been in the plans to have answers. And I think it’s really important now with COVID. Because, you know, I think one of the reasons that, you know, they’re not growing as fast as we had hoped right now, in this particular time, because they were always leading their sales with this listings product that I mentioned, where it syncs all of their listings. But now that COVID has happened, it’s a good thing that they launched Answers is because that doesn’t rely so heavily on brick and mortar brands. Anybody can launch an answers product with with their brand. And so, you know, to answer your question about conversational intelligence, there’s really not a big difference between search and conversational intelligence, you’re asking a question, and you’re expecting an answer. And so what Yext is doing is they’re building a conversational Knowledge Graph semantic search. So they’re connecting this digital structured data semantically, so that when somebody types in a question, they’re able to analyze the way that they’re asking that question using natural language processing, and spit out a direct answer. Whereas before with searches, spitting out documents or spitting out, you know, all of these keywords is taking these keywords and spitting out, you know, documents, and then the new world where things are heading, it’s conversational. And so they’re going to be using natural language processing with answers, and other products, they’re gonna launch in the future and give direct answers. And so to me, this answers product is the beginnings of them really kind of leading the charge in conversational intelligence. And you’re going to see it on websites, you’re going to see it with Alexa. Alexa is just in its early innings. What right now we’re asking questions about the weather, or the time of day, or what what’s my alarm clock in the morning, but in the future, we’re going to be asking questions like how many calories are my big mac? Or you know, how many AutoZone locations are there here in Lexington, Kentucky, which ones closest to me. And we’re gonna be asking very particular questions about brands like that. And Yext is giving them the power conversationally to answer those questions and not just return a link.
Simon Erickson 13:32
Does that make Yext Answers the the ultimate, digital, completely efficient customer service rep that every company would like to have?
Evan Knowles 13:39
I think it’s moving in that direction, honestly. So part of the thing that’s interesting to me about them is how they’re releasing their case studies related to answers. If you read some of these case studies, one of the key metrics they’re putting out there as costs saved, related to customer service. So anytime you call a brand and have a customer service question, and you’re on the phone with somebody, I think it’s something like $8 that a cost for that time. And so what answers is doing is now somebody can go to a website, ask question, get a direct answer. and that takes that $8 out of the equation, you’re not having to talk to a rep. But what’s more important here is it’s training itself. The brand is training itself. So anytime you ask a question to this answers product, and you don’t get a direct answer back, on the back end, the brand can see what question you asked, and make sure that the next time somebody asks that question, they get a direct answer. And so they edit the Knowledge Graph as time goes on, based on how people engage with it. I think that’s huge. And that’s some, that’s a type of transparency that brands really haven’t had in the past that I think is, you know, exponentially valuable as time goes on. Because eventually to get to the point that somebody comes to website ask a question, and they get an answer every time. So there’s a there’s definitely a long tail here. As far as like what questions people ask, and it just gets to the point where there’ll be like an 99 percentile of an answer and then the always the the .1% will be something that you’re always adding in after the fact. And so that transparency will eventually get to the point where somebody gets an answer almost every time.
Simon Erickson 15:13
Well, there’s someone who spent a fair amount of time waiting on hold when I call the cable company, and then I don’t even get their correct answers at the end of those hour long conversations, I’m certainly looking forward to the better experience. I think that’s a win win for companies and also for their customers. Evan let’s move on the second platform. I’m sorry, the second segment of investments that you tend to like, is kind of consumer facing platform. So we just talked about the enterprise and you’re talking about DocuSign. We talked about Yext, but then there’s also another group that’s kind of more facing directly to consumers. Broadly speaking, what is it about this category that you’re really interested in?
Evan Knowles 15:47
I think it’s extremely high growth. And if you’re using, you know, really great artificial intelligence, you’re collecting really valuable data over time, that creates a really good moat that I’m attracted to. So there’s all kinds of moats. But one of the ones I’m most attracted to right now is a data moat. And I look for companies that are collecting really valuable data or aggregating really valuable data, and using that to their advantage to provide next generation services to consumers. And some of those that come to mind were Livongo, Roku Stitch fix, and Square.
Simon Erickson 16:23
Let’s talk alittle bit more about Roku. That’s that’s a familiar one. You’ve described this as kind of the operating system of the next generation of entertainment of television. What is it that attracts you to your Roku so much?
Evan Knowles 16:34
Yeah, I mean, I really like their business model. I like how they are subsidizing TV manufacturers to provide a lower cost TV for consumers. And that’s basically their cost of acquisition. And then they’re monetizing that that user base with their user interface, as well as taking a percentage of ads off of some of these more traditional cable companies or not cable companies, but the providers of media and the media company, so like HBO, or Comcast, or some of those are taking a percentage of ad based revenue, in line ads with with the content. So I think that’s a really interesting model. And I like to look at again, as you said, as the operating system of TV, I think that’s really important, because of how big of a market share they have in the Smart TV market, you know, I think they have close to 40% of all new smart TVs being sold or, you know, have Roku built in, and I think that’s really important. And I think it’s one of the last big platforms in the home to be owned by somebody, and Roku, right now owns that, you know, there’s also other players like Amazon and Apple, Google Play into the space. But the problem with them is they’re not a third party, they’re going to be biased because they also produce media. But Roku does not create its own original content, they don’t have their own media. And that’s really important because a lot of these media providers, they want to see that. So there’s no bias, there’s no ads that are pushing people towards their own services, they’re not favorably placing their own content. And Roku is in a really good position. You know, it’s almost again, like Yext. Yext is in a great position, because they’re a third party that sits that’s aggregating all the other services, they’re not biased as far as what information they’re putting out into the world, they’re helping spread the right information. Roko is doing the same thing with media, they’re aggregating a lot of the media in one place and don’t necessarily have a bias towards one or the other. And what that does is it creates a great experience for the consumer. At the end of the day, the consumer gets what they want, and they’re not being pushed towards anything in particular.
Simon Erickson 18:44
I think that’s an interesting point, you know, as you mentioned, their independence could be a huge advantage in the operating system, like you mentioned, you’ve got TVs, and we’re all going out and buying TVs, but those TV manufacturers know that it’s a benefit for them to have something like Roku built in directly. So there’s no friction, you don’t have to go out and buy the little stick anymore to put it into the TV. It’s already embedded. We’ve seen Netflix, of course for several years kind of controlling their own experience and their own subscription. Roku, like you said, is more independent, they don’t really have to own the content. They’ve got others that they have subscription channels. Is this a winner is going to take most future of entertainment where we’ve got a couple of channels, or a couple of options that are built into our TV and then the rest are just kind of pushed out because we’re not watching those anymore.
Evan Knowles 19:43
Yeah, I mean, Roku or Disney and Netflix certainly have a great advantage because those that own the content, the best content, obviously going to have the most consumers. Disney’s always had, you know that that advantage and you know, Netflix has a obviously, but you know, steamed ahead of majority of the pack, because they’re early to this recurring revenue business model, and took all of those, all that cash and just fed it back into content. I do think that, you know, it’ll be, you know, two or three people at the top that have the vast majority of market share, I think those two will be Disney, with their, you know, Disney+ their ESPN, and some of those other subsidiaries that they have, along with Netflix. I do think that it’ll be winner take most. I don’t think it’d be winner take all because there’s always going to be that long tail. But in the age of subscriptions, I think those that own the most content and have the have the early advantage, which is Netflix and Disney, I think they’re just gonna reinvest and take more of the market share as time goes on. Those that were late to the game like like Comcast, Viacom, I think that, you know, ultimately, what either happens is they just accept that they have a smaller market share, or some of those brands that they own, like MTV, or BET, some of those that Viacom ended up just getting acquired, so I could see Viacom getting acquired in the future. So I think there’s gonna be, you know, a winner take most and then there’s gonna be some consolidation.
Simon Erickson 21:19
That’s great, Evan. The third category that you mentioned was developer tools. And we’re talking about software developers here, because this is really interesting. The past couple of years, we’ve really seen a movement to be more open source, where companies are really kind of sharing the source code of the things that they’re developing, rather than trying to have proprietary or just have their own coders do all of the work in house. And we’re also seeing through cloud computing, you just a huge shift from on premise software to cloud based software. And so there are a ton of developers out there that are tweaking and changing things. And there are a couple of companies that are really making it as easy as possible for developers to do that work. But what is it about this segment that really, I guess draws you to it in terms of investing?
Evan Knowles 22:04
Yeah, I mean, what what originally attracted me was just the the concept of, you know, paying as you go and paying for a tool that you might not want to build yourself. So if you’re building a house, you don’t want you don’t want to build a hammer, you know, you want to go buy a hammer. And so what really attracted me to developer tools was the fact that these businesses are building these tools and saving developers a ton of time where they would have to build this stuff in house. So that was kind of what originally attracted me when I really started to study Twilio, I came across Twilio, before went public. And then when they went public, I started to, you know, dig in even more as the transparency of their financials came out. And at that point, I really fell in love with really the economics of these developer tools and their business model. You know, the the usage based model, I think, is, I’m not sure how you could create a better business model than usage based. It does so many great things for all parties. It perfectly aligns all the stakeholders, especially, you know, those that are purchasing these tools. Again, I mentioned that these developers are no longer having to build these large infrastructure based tools like communications, or cloud computing. Fastly is one of the ones I love. Edge. You know, these are things that are very expensive lifts. But now these developers can just plug in these API’s that these companies like Twilio and Agora and Fastly are building. And so that’s really important, the low barrier to entry. So you can basically just create a really low cost test with something like a Twilio. There’s no really big upfront cost. And that what that allows is really brand new business models to be created. If you think about, you know, Uber. When Uber launched, they were leveraging Twilio, and the fact that you could summon a car and communicate with that driver, and communicate with Uber through text – that was magical, you know, that really hadn’t happened to consumers up to that point, really well. And Twilio allows that to happen and take place. And so you’re gonna start to see you’re already seeing it, brand new business models built off the back of these developer tools in the healthcare space in the restaurant space, when somebody does other industries that are traditionally very brick and mortar and legacy. They’re leveraging these developer tools to kind of re accelerate their their innovation because again, it’s it’s very low cost they pay as they go. And they’re saving the developers time so they can focus on, you know, maybe what they’re better at a healthcare company should not be in the business of building communication tools. It should be in the business of creating great healthcare experiences. And so it really allows us for them to do that.
Simon Erickson 24:39
It’s a perfect description, you call it a utility, you know, you have a meter that monitors your electricity in your house, you have a meter that monitors your water. Those are usage based utilities, just like the tools that are out there are usage based letting companies just run with it rather than a seat based license or something like that. It’s almost like we’re moving in this new wave of tools from human intervention to just to machine to machine communication and build as you go.
Evan Knowles 25:04
Yeah, I mean, you said it, I think they’re high growth utilities, you know, before, you know, I view electricity as computation now. So AWS and Fastly are, are building the new electricity utility. Stripe, and Shopify are building the new POS systems. Twilio is building the new telecommunication systems. And these are all utilities that, you know, brick and mortar businesses relied on in the past, you know, Telecom, electricity, POS systems, and now we’re taking those and just putting those into the cloud. And now businesses can pay as they go. And that frees up a lot of opportunity for these businesses in the cloud era.
Simon Erickson 25:45
Yeah, that’s great. So again, to recap, Evan, you know, we talked a little bit about enterprise software, we talked about consumer facing platforms, you talked about developer tools, obviously, all of these have been great performers, in terms of the buckets of the stock market that they represent, they’ve been up several, you know, hundred percent a couple, I believe cloud computing is up 500% as a basket over the last five years. So it’s been incredible. But they’re also risky investments, right? This is growth style investing, you don’t have a whole lot of, you know, decades of experience, or decades of previous work that’s that’s had these companies around, they’re still relatively new. And I want to shift gears on that note to talk about real estate of all things. Because I know that you are also a real estate investor. And you kind of think about this as a way to diversify, or hedge against a lot of that high risk growth style investing. Explain that to me a little bit. What is it intriguing about real estate, since we’ve been talking about software and cloud and technology so much?
Evan Knowles 26:46
Yeah, I mean, I first got into real estate, you know, when I was at Fuji for my age, I, I had made pretty good money for my age, and I want to do something intelligent with that. And that’s really kind of when I really dug into, you know, equities in the market. But I also dug into real estate. I view real estate, as you know, like you said, diversification, I throw it I love risk, like I go towards risk, I love it. For my age, you know, I’m 24. So I want to seek out that, that risk right now. And so I think that’s important. And what I view real estate as is kind of the opposite of that, if you if you play your cards, right, it’s really not that that risky, and it can generate cash flows, and you build equity. And so that’s what I’m doing right now. And so I started a company two years ago with some friends and began buying multifamily properties. And then also house hack, which means I have a house that I rent out the other bedrooms and and I don’t have any expenses. So I can bootstrap businesses and focus on what I love and, and provide value to this region of United States without having to worry too much about, you know, a mortgage payment or electricity or things like that. And so I just figured out how to leverage real estate. And I think the earlier you figured out how to figure out how to leverage real estate in your life, the more you’re able to hedge risk as time goes on. And so that’s kind of why I got involved in real estate.
Simon Erickson 28:06
I like that story, especially since investing is such a long term game, you want to you want to be able to sleep at night, you don’t want to have to be worried about the market selling off whether or not you can actually pay your mortgage that month, is a great way to think long term and hedge a lot of the risks that you take in other areas.
Evan Knowles 28:20
Simon Erickson 28:22
Evan again, you know, this has really been enjoyable conversation, I know that you have really been on the front lines of seeing a lot of the most innovative things going on out there, you have about 17 different titles, most of them are CEO or co founder. But you know, our audience, again, individual investors, what’s maybe one thing, you know, with everything that you’re looking at out there with all the innovation that you see, with all of the investments that you’re making, what’s one thing you think we should be keeping an eye on or at least should have on our radar? And be thinking about as individual investors?
Evan Knowles 28:55
That’s a good question, I would say, just continuing to look for, I mean, again, one of the favorite things that I like to look for data moats. I think that now in the day of artificial intelligence, the more valuable data a company aggregates and collects, the longer they’re going to be able to provide valuable services, the more of a moat they’re going to have. Because ultimately, data allows you to build unique services on top of and this is why I love Yext. That’s why I loved Livongo. Once I saw Livongo, I really became attracted to that model. Ultimately, they’re data companies, you know, they’re they’re data companies that are building, you know, intelligent products on top of those on top of that data. And whenever I look at a company, I one of the things I always try to look for is, what kind of unique data they collected and how are they going to leverage that into the future? What kind of services and value are they going to provide consumers or businesses with that data? And so I would just say whenever you look at a business, one of the things you could look at and study is is a moat related to the data. You know, I think a lot of the more traditional moats will always still be there, whether its brand, whether it’s some kind of trade secrets, or market share – whatever it is. That’s a moat. I think one of the newer moats going forward is going to be unique data.
Evan Knowles 30:15
So that’s that’s kind of one of the things I always look for.
Simon Erickson 30:19
Once again, Evan Knowles, he is the co founder of Symba. He’s also a technology enthusiast, also has his own podcast called Middle Tech Podcast. Really a guy that I think, Evan I think you’re just brilliant and you’re really at the frontlines of some of the most innovative things taking place out there. Really appreciate you spending the time is 7investing here this morning.
Evan Knowles 30:38
Yes, I mean, I really appreciate you having me on and I I really respect that you guys are doing a 7investing. I’m a very happy subscriber.
Simon Erickson 30:45
Thank you very much for that and thank you for tuning into this episode of our 7investing podcast. We are here to empower you to invest in your future. We are 7investing.
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