Introducing a new experiment: Teardowns by SandHill.io
Deep-dives on the fastest-growing companies globally
We’re launching a new series focused on studying the fastest-growing companies globally. Subscribe now to get first-access.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an extraordinary acceleration in the creation and deployment of startups globally. Across every market, new businesses are scaling up at lightning speed as the internet becomes ubiquitous and capital for ventures becomes abundant.
I’ve had the opportunity to see this acceleration first-hand. My first role in VC was in the summer of 2015, a time when most investors tended to be generalists. 2015 saw 996 venture rounds of $50m+ globally, fewer than 3 / day1. At the time, it was pretty common for most VCs to be aware of the notable companies transforming markets.
Fast forward to 2021 and this number has grown to over 4,500 rounds of $50m+ in size (>12 / day). Even investors whose full-time job is to stay on top of markets generally can’t keep up with all the companies that are scaling up. Many have been forced to reduce their coverage area and hone in on specific markets.
Want to stay up to speed on the latest developments across eComm, healthcare, crypto, and the dev tools market at the same time? Good luck!
I felt this pain acutely since studying the fastest growing companies from across markets has been a big part of my own thesis development and ideation process. Even though it was my full-time job to study markets and spot opportunities, I found it impossibly difficult to keep up with all the developments alongside the other day-to-day responsibilities of being an investor (sourcing, diligence, portfolio work, platform, etc).
As an experiment, a year ago I partnered up with a research analyst to see if I could systematize some of the initial research and get the same level of insights while spending less time personally chasing down the insights. The intention was to do this for the key markets I was covering, and also to leverage it to get smarter on markets I was interested in but didn’t have the time to study.
The idea was that the research analyst would spend a full day studying a company and distill all that they uncovered into a single structured brief that could be read in 3-4 minutes each morning. They would be responsible for reading every blog post, article, and press release on the company, going through any podcasts or videos on the company, analyzing reviews and competitive intel, and trying out the company’s product. They would then produce a brief that breaks apart key aspects of the business, how it delivers value, its performance, and how it has scaled.
These briefs ultimately turned into a teardown format that became an indispensable component of my own thesis development process and enabled me to better stay on top of existing markets of interest and get up to speed on new markets.
Open-Sourcing the experiment
When I left VC last year, one of the things that I felt I had to build was a public version of the process. The intention is to create a resource that enables anyone to gain insights from companies across different industries and geographies that we can apply to starting or building our own ventures.
Today, I’m excited to launch this project at teardowns.sandhill.io. We’ll be starting with coverage over 4 sectors to start with the intention of expanding this over time. Each week we’ll publish ~10 teardowns across the 4 areas that we’re covering.
Over time, we’ll be looking to expand our coverage beyond the fastest growing companies to cover dominant older companies, companies with lower NPS, and businesses that once dominated but have since faltered. We’d also love to do more to connect the community in our network in order to enable them to connect around markets of interest and team up to start and build ventures.
I’m excited to be joined by Soughat Uderani and Sarah Pariwush as our lead analysts, Nikko Guiam as a supporting data analyst, and Nahal Sheikh as our editor. These teardowns are very much an experiment in public beta. We’ll be modifying our templates and processes – please do share feedback through our typeform or via email (email@example.com) with any suggestions!
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These teardowns have taken various forms over the past year and would not have been possible without the help and feedback of several friends and advisors.
A huge thank you to Ahmed Al Rawi, Rick Zullo, Richard Kerby, Simran Suri, Chelsea Zhang, Salman Chattha, Nicole Ruiz, Abhinaya Konduru, Ishani Ummat, Nikko Guiam, and Joseph Lissak who all provided invaluable feedback on iterations of this brief. And a special shout out to Agha Hamza and Mutaher Khan for helping us build out our team and implement key processes for producing these teardowns.
There are several writers whose work I was especially inspired by for launching the first version of these briefs privately a year ago.
Julie Young (Newsletter) – covering companies that are relatively under the radar in the tech & business zeitgeist but have built really interesting companies
Mikal Khoso (Emergent) – covering startups and business models that are growing across emerging markets
Mario Gabriele (The Generalist) – producing extremely deep dives on interesting businesses across categories and the globe
Shefi & Avi Ben-Hutta (Coverager) – For producing analyses on companies that pull in insights and competitive intelligence from various digital sources and tools. See their coverage on Assurance IQ (here & here) to see what I’m talking about.