A few weeks ago, I wrote about the opportunity to build community-curated knowledge networks. About how social media feeds have made us obsessive consumers of the present, but indifferent to the archives of the past. About how we’ve gotten used to consuming information in environments that strip context and discourage reflection.

As someone obsessed with startups and ideas, this problem has felt especially personal when it comes to startup knowledge.

In my work with startups, one thing has become clear; the future is up for grabs. Every major industry will be upended in the coming decades, and change is going…

The Internet put thousands of years of human thought at our fingertips, and enabled billions of people to create content. At least 2.5 quintillion bytes of information are produced every day, which is approximately what was produced during all of 2002. While this presents enormous opportunities, our brains are not equipped to deal with this abundance.

In Curators are the new Creators, Gaby argues that this will create opportunities for curators — increasingly, we will pay people with good taste to help us sort through the ever-growing mass of information.

The business of good taste has been well documented. There…

A new wave of startups is using aesthetic intelligence to infuse delight into brick and mortar experiences. But are they disruptive?

Millennials and younger generations have vastly different expectations around aesthetics, customer experience, and values, which has led to an emerging class of DTC brands reinventing legacy product categories — think eyeglasses, mattresses, shampoo (a handy list of such companies is here).

Now, a new wave of companies is applying that playbook to consumer services, the brick and mortar locations that make up cities (think your therapist, nail salon, primary care doctor).

Tend, Dntl, and Henry the Dentist are applying…

I’ve launched a newsletter. You can subscribe here, and read the first issue below:

If you follow me on Instagram, you likely saw the weekly “What Inspired me this week?” roundups I put out last year. The feedback was incredibly positive, but what I realized after posting for a few months is that Instagram, with infinite scroll and stories that keep playing until you force yourself to stop, is not conducive to long stretches of focused thought, which is exactly what I’m craving.

I crave a quiet space where people can come to read and think without distraction. …

Below is a scattered list of themes/projects/startup ideas I’ve been thinking about and would like to see in the world. If you’re working on something like this or know someone that is, I’d love to learn more, brainstorm and see what I can do to be helpful –shoot me a note at sari@level.vc

I’m particularly interested in speaking to domain experts in the areas I define below. My skills are primarily in customer experience, human centered design, UX/UI, storytelling, brand building, organizational design and fundraising.

Future of education

· Tuition free education: I absolutely love what Lambda school is doing (free computer science education until you get a job) and think this is only the beginning for more outcome based higher ed that combines online and real-world collaboration. Lambda is focused on more technical fields (data science, engineering), but what does the future of education look like for storytellers, marketers, excel modelers, and designers?

· Life school: While the future is highly uncertain, we know that mental health, resilience, and emotional intelligence will help the next generation face anything that comes. What would a tech-enabled General Assembly for…

Bonus: Take a quiz to find out if you have a VC-fundable brand

It’s never been a more exciting time to build a consumer brand. Consumers are hungry for products and stories that resonate with who they are and they have little loyalty for incumbents.

Technology has advanced to the point where the ability for brands to reach consumers directly is possible and preferable. Legacy brands that have traditionally sold through third parties are realizing that they don’t know their customers and are being undercut by new entrants that significantly improve the product and customer experience.

Amazon may have no plans for slowing down, but there’s also a lot of evidence that it…

Every year, my husband and I share things we want to improve and plan goals for the upcoming year. We’ve been doing this for the past two years and it’s worked really well. This year, I am enhancing the tradition by reflecting on my 30 years of life and condensing that into a public post. So much of my day-to-day work is spent evaluating technology companies, understanding what beliefs and values are unique to a team. Being so close to entering the fourth decade of life has inspired me to apply that same thinking to my life and values. …

LIKE THIS ARTICLE SO FAR? THEN YOU’LL REALLY WANT TO SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER. IT’S DELIVERED ONCE A WEEK AND PACKED WITH IDEAS ON INNOVATION AND SOCIETY THAT WILL CHALLENGE YOUR THINKING. SUBSCRIBE OVER HERE

In the past five years, I’ve invested in and helped launch dozens of consumer technology companies.

During the course of that time, I’ve noticed a pattern:

The best companies don’t think of their story as a nice way to package their finished product, but instead view their customer’s transformation story as the main thing they’re working towards.

Despite this, most founders stumble when asked why their company exists. Many companies boast that they’re “Transforming X”, “Disrupting Y”, and “Building a Better Z” without clearly communicating what they are transforming X/Y/Z into? …

I’ve read it all; all the startup and parenting advice articles, newsletters, and podcasts.

You shouldn’t raise outside capital before you build a product. ‘Zero’ questions your execution. Numbers, even if they’re small, prove that you can execute. You should raise capital before you launch. ‘Zero’ invites imagination, small numbers invite doubt and questions. You should raise as much money as you can. You should only raise the amount you need to meet specific milestones. You should focus on monetizing your customer and getting to “ramen profitability”. Forget revenue –focus on understanding your customer and building something they want, then…

Taking a breather is not something I’m particularly good at but I find that when I don’t listen to the voice inside me that tells me to slow down, it inevitably catches up to me. My doctor recommended I go on bed rest last week (I am welcoming a newborn in just a few days); and having spent the last week bound to my bed has naturally led to some bigger picture thinking and got me reflecting on my work and my life.

We launched Level Ventures in 2016 with the mission to fuel the ambitions of missionary founders by…

Sari Azout

Building products and brands that solve important problems @levelVC. Subscribe to my newsletter: https://sariazout.substack.com/

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