Books Read in 2018

Posted by | Life | No Comments

Another year into the books. Boy, was this year nuts. I’ll lay more of that out in a separate post but 2018 was by far the most intense year of my life.

For books, I didn’t get to sit down and physically read that many books but definitely got to spend time listening to them. 15 books in total; a mixture of sci-fi with philosophy and business. Here’s what I was able to plow through this year.

  • 33 Strategies of War – Very interesting book and highly recommended not only for the interesting strategic content but the amazing historical lessons I learned.
  • Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital Future – Really average book if you’re in the field. I don’t think I learned a single interesting thing from this book and probably should have tossed it aside after 1/3 way through.
  • Principle: Life and Work – This was an interesting read that had some thought-provoking content. My biggest take away was to let ego take the back seat and focus on meritocracy.
  • Shoe Dog – Awesome and inspiring book about the creation of Nike. Especially interesting if you’re a founder building a business. It has helped me come closer to comfort as a bootstrapped business to how difficult it can be to pay the bills sometimes.
  • Iron Gold – Another book in the action-packed series. It was a little slower with more plot creation but leads up to some exciting future plots in the next set of books.
  • Never Split the Difference – This is a must read. Period. This book literally changed my life. I was able to negotiate $8k off a car purchase and $80k off a housing purchase after listening to this book. It has extremely practical examples and will help shape your mind around deal negotiating.
  • The Millionaire Next Door – Good book but nothing riveting. Most of the financial content in here I already knew about, so it read more like a reminder rather than revelation. Worth reading if you desire more financial mastering.
  • The Collapsing Empire: The Interdependency Book 1 – Action packed sci-fi book. It was pretty good but I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest in the series. It was more military focused rather than deep sci-fi with multiple interesting thoughts.
  • Children of Time – I loved this book. It took a while to really get the plot going but it was extraordinarily thought-provoking. I found myself rethinking evolution and the exploration of these fields. It also gave a cool perspective as to how lucky we are that we, homo sapiens, have and experience what we do on a daily basis.
  • Columbus Day: Expeditionary Force – Another military sci-fi battle book. It was fun and exciting. Definitely helped ease the morning commute. That said, it wasn’t a super high caliber sci-fi so I won’t be reading the rest in the series.
  • The Republic – Dry read but highly philosophical and shed light on some extraordinary societal concepts that I hadn’t previously thought of. If there’s an abridged version of this, I would recommend it.
  • Excelsior – Another military-esque sci-fi book. This one had more of a plot with deeper character development. I enjoyed it while I went out running and would probably read further into the series if there was one. It’s short and fun so I’d recommend it.
  • Constitution – Yes, another military sci-fi. This one was fun and focused primarily around a large battle with detailed sequences. I liked it a lot but it was a typical “underdog” plot.
  • Extreme Ownership – Great book with exceptional principles worth learning. While I’m still putting into practice what I learned, I’ve seen early results that make me a believer. This is a great book for those who are looking to take a step upward.
  • Bad Blood – Holy smokes… this read like a fictional novel. This was an amazing book to read and even more fascinating if you’re in the field (much like we are). The rise and fall of Theranos definitely eclipsed the silicon valley bullshit that frustrates me to no end. This book capture why you should focus on funding reality and diving to make sure that really is true.

In 2019, I plan on being much more open to throwing away books that don’t grip me within the first 1/3 of their writings. There’s only so many books that I can read in my lifetime and, for the most part, most books are pretty average. I plan on focusing on reading more industrialized books that dive into specifics around building rather than just concepts.

Stock Picks

Posted by | Stock Trading | No Comments

I had a fun conversation this last Friday with some of my friends around stocks that we were holding on to. In early 2016, I remember telling them that Nvidia was the company to own for the next decade. Fortunately, we all had bought in at various points and have made a killing so far.

However, I remember telling some of my other friends back in 2014 that Nvidia was the biggest growth company and is one of the few companies that are creating exponential value. I sent the email on February 15, 2014 back when the stock was trading at ~$15/share. It now sits at $201/share, around a 1,171% gain.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a “I always pick the best stocks” post but rather just a more concrete way to seeing whether I’m actually right or not when I pick stocks. I never seem to log the trades so I figured I’d put it here. Below are my picks with price targets. Let’s see if I’m right!

  • NVDA – $350 by end of 2018 (currently $201)
  • BOX – $50 by end of 2018 (currently $21)
  • MULE – $50 by end of 2018 (currently $24)
  • MSFT – $175 by end of 2018 (currently $84)
  • MA – $225 by end of 2018 (currently $149)
  • HON – $215 by end of 2018 (currently $146)
  • JNJ – $200 by end of 2018 (currently $141)
  • WEC – $110 by end of 2018 (currently $67)

Just to be clear, these are completely non-calculated, non-scientific estimates. I’m basing my judgement purely on just looking at the business model with current market climates and thinking about where value may increase. Here’s to hoping!

Learnings on Opening a Lab

Posted by | Genomics, Startups | No Comments

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here. However, I have a good excuse! We’ve been busy opening a next generation sequencing lab!

Last year, by Dad and I were looking heavily at the space. It’s been a long time dream of his to build out a genome sequencing facility and it’s been a long time dream for me to once again blend software and life sciences (dabbled with this on my first company). Through a series of fortunate events, we had the opportunity to pull the trigger in September this year so we founded The Sequencing Center.

Since then, we’ve been working hard on the website, building out our marketing and content strategy, finding lab space, and so much more. My sister came on board to help out with everything as well, from social to account management. It’s been an all hands on deck situation. Now, we’re bootstrapping this and funding this from our day jobs, we haven’t quit the primary jobs so it’s double duty 7 days a week.

Just recently in March we found our new lab space. It’s a 1,400 sqft former surgery facility that met all the specs. A little old in age and a bit dirty but nothing a bit of TLC couldn’t solve. We signed in the middle of March and have been purchasing equipment since then. Here’s a list of just random shit that we learned throughout the process.

Getting used equipment takes forever. Seriously. The vendors in this space take forever to get anything done. Emails are usually responded within 24-48 hours, they’re highly unhelpful, and getting the equipment through QC often takes weeks. If you’re building out a similar lab, make sure that you have about 3 months of capital allocated just for the lease for while you’re purchasing equipment.

The price you see is never the final price. While this is pretty much true for most purchases, it’s especially true in this field. The vendors we worked with would provide insanely high quotes that we would haggle on heavily. As an example, one vendor quoted us $20,000 for a device which was about $6,000 more than another. However, they also had another piece of equipment we needed that the other vendor didn’t so we proposed to purchase the other piece of equipment at full price if we could get the $20k unit for $14k (a $6,000 discount). After adding a bit of added pressure to close the deal, they agreed. Everything is negotiable and if you’re a small startup on a budget, fight for the discounts.

The laws and regulations are extremely vague. Our lab is technically BSL2 rated which means we can handle a variety of sensitive organism. These aren’t likely to kill you but you have to have a BSL2 lab to handle them. Here’s the kicker: BSL2 labs don’t actually have a certification. This sent us down a rabbit hole because we assumed there was something we needed to prove that we could handle these organisms. However, after calling the EPA, CDC, local health inspector, and reviewing the 438 page document from the CDC on biosafety labs, we couldn’t find anything. Then, after talking with an equipment certifier to certify our biosafety cabinet, they said that only BSL3/4 have hard requirements. BSL1/2 have more “guidelines” than anything – an area of grey operation. As long as you had the proper certified equipment, manuals, processes, etc., then you should be fine.

Electric outlets. Make sure that you know the amp and volt limits of your outlets. Then, make sure that when you buy big equipment (such as a -80 freezer) that they map to your outlet specifications.

Have all refurbished equipment go through quality control. Make sure that in each of the invoices that you sign with resellers/refurbished vendors that they include the quality control inspection. Often times this just means turning the machine on and making sure it has some basic operations (centrifuge spins, freezer holds temperature, etc.). This is really more of a small insurance policy for you than anything else and will save you headaches.

Do a full run through the lab before accepting clients. This seems like a no brainer and fortunately it’s not something we’ve messed up on (yet!). However, this is extremely important because if you’ve accepted clients before the lab has completed a full run through and one of your equipment pieces fails, it could take weeks or months to fix. This will provide you with some pissed off customers and a hurt reputation.

We’re on the cusp of opening up our lab after a few months of painfully getting all of our equipment. We have 2 more major devices that we need and then we’ll be good to go. It’s been a journey so far and it’s only just starting. Should be fun!