The Tesla connection seems like nothing more than click bait since it's not related, except maybe gave him connections to be able to raise $450 000 from angel investors.
Come to think of it, how do you test a hangover cure drink? What is your control?
Instead, mix a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt into a quarter-glass of water. Mix well, drink. You'll rehydrate far better and faster with this than with just water.
This is probably why Gatorade works so much better than just water, but this method is far, far cheaper.
Why does dehydration give a person a headache?
People are more interested in how he got where he is, not the product itself.
Just because it's not FDA approved yet, doesn't mean its garbage. Not to mention the countless harmful and down right useless products that are pushed and approved by the FDA every year.
Tesla connection is important because people have been on an anti-Tesla tear lately, and this paints them in a pretty good light as far as big companies go.
He is being praised for his cautious and systematic approach to building a start-up, versus the rockstar/reckless founder meme that is prevalent these days.
There's no comparative studies, there's no cross-drug studies, there's no major side-effect studies. FDA testing is almost purely Drug vs Placebo.
So if things aren't FDA approved or otherwise are avoiding FDA studies, you need to be cautious with those products.
The reason why so many "harmful" products get past the FDA is due to the lack of testing btw. Its a known problem, but no one wants to make FDA testing harder for some reason. I guess the drug lobby has done a good job at making people distrust the FDA.
For more details, look up "Phase IV Clinical Trials", which are the studies people want to standardize that go above and beyond the FDA minimums. (Including cross-drug interactions, better studies into side-effects, comparative studies, cost-benefit studies, patient-centered surveys, etc. etc. There's a LOT of studies that simply aren't done)
That's the D part of the FDA. The article specifies that he was advised not to call it either of a "cure" or a "drink".
Drinks fall under the FDA's core F responsibility. But he's ordering this drink from a factory that already produces enormous quantities of the same drink for consumption by Koreans. I'm not really worried that drinking it is unsafe, so the dietary supplement branding seems fair.
As to drug testing, doing better than placebo in a trial the FDA will accept is incredibly expensive regardless of how effective your drug is.
It seems that on HN -- and in the startup culture, in general -- this is considered a "hack" and is something to be proud of.
Kinda like how Uber skirting around those pesky laws and lawmakers was seen as clever and inspirational.
My point being we should not rely on government agencies as our source of truth.
Additionally, the misuse (or overuse) of "snake oil" is becoming cliche. This hangover cure may work or it may not. But it certainly isn't snake oil because it has a limited scope of operation. And, until proven otherwise, was created as an honest attempt to alleviate hangover symptoms. Rather than being a callous money grab at the expense of people's health.
ps: the cure for hangover is breakfast
NAC improves the performance of your liver enzymes, helping break down alcohol and lessening alcohol-related liver damage.
Vitamin C helps replenish lost vitamins through alcohol consumption.
Thiamine helps replenish vitamins necessary for energy production in your brain, lessening alcohol-related brain damage. And water. Cuz water.
This combo as you drink or after you've finished consumption will severely reduce any adverse hangover effects. Maybe I should make a hangover drink.
And sleep and plenty of water ;)
I don't like capitalism but I like games, and this guy played the game very well. If we don't like the constraints/rules why are we blaming the people who followed those constraints when establishing their algorithms, especially when culture tells them to do so?
Basically, don't hate the player, hate the game.
(Also let's go ahead and get post scarcity asap please starting to get tired of capitalism)
Why can't I hate both? That's how values work, I don't value his methods, and I don't value the person that chooses the methods I don't value.
I also don't like snake oil, but I don't blame agents for acting in a fit manner.
What you're saying is what's usually said about animals, "don't blame the bear for eating you if it's hungry and you're there". Only difference is that animals are pure instinct, whereas people aren't.
(edit: not just having a sidegig, but being able to launch and run his startup for ~1 year while employed at Tesla)
I also have a low bar after reading "Bad Blood", the book about Theranos. One of Theranos's chief engineers, on his own time, came up with a cool idea for bike lights and ran a successful KickStarter . Elizabeth Holmes' response:
> Kent told Elizabeth about his successful Kickstarter campaign, thinking she wouldn’t mind. But he badly miscalculated: she and Sunny were furious. They viewed it as a major conflict of interest and asked him to transfer his bike-lights patent to Theranos. The paperwork Kent had signed when he joined the company entitled them to any intellectual property he produced while employed there, they contended. Kent disagreed. He’d worked on his little venture during his free time and felt he had done nothing wrong. He also failed to see how a new type of bicycle light posed a threat to a maker of blood-testing equipment. But Elizabeth and Sunny wouldn’t let it go. In meeting after meeting, they tried to get him to turn over the patent. They ratcheted up the pressure by bringing Theranos’s new senior counsel, David Doyle, to some of the meetings.
Eventually Kent, the engineer, was allowed to go on leave of absence to work on his bike-light. I don't think he ever came back, and he was the guy who was the chief architect of the piece of crap that Holmes would later describe as "the most important thing humanity has ever built".
Please don't give them kudos. This has to be normal behavior. Being employed by a company doesn't mean being owned by them.
But that just means they can't enforce the contract as to work it can't legally apply to, not that they can be hit with penalties for drafting the contract that way. If they choose to fight over it, you'll still have to fight.
No kudos for Tesla. In California, they're not allowed to demand a cut of employees' side income streams if that income is unrelated to Tesla's business. The CA Dept of Labor punishes such things very heavily.
(This is why Theranos failed to acquire Kent's patent. In California, the IP assignment clause in his contract legally does not extend beyond inventions within the scope of Theranos' business lines if developed independently.)
Though it's not just about trying to grab rights. Here's a blog post the founder last year, which describes in detail what he was doing from 2016 to June 2017:
He sounds like a hard worker and seems to have been at enough places (Facebook and Uber) to know not to mix hobby with work. But it sounds like he really hustled over the year to the point of his startup being a second job. He doesn't say anything more about Tesla, but I guess I'm assuming his startup passion couldn't have been a total secret. And despite his likely well-paid role at Tesla, they seemed to have tolerated his work-life balance to the point that he got to pick the time of quitting.
Yes, I agree that's the way things should be, that companies don't have any influence what you do once you've put in your 40/week. But that doesn't seem to be the status quo in tech, especially at highly ambitious companies like Tesla
According to the article, Lee was able to launch and his own startup for a year, while still working full time as a product manager at Tesla. Would most startup or startup-like (trying to reach stable profit) companies be OK with that?
I encourage everyone to push back against wording that is more restrictive than that. In fact CA (and I believe WA as well), it is unlawful for employers to be more restrictive than that. Employment shouldn't make an employer the owner.
Tesla had no legal leverage whatsoever to ask for a cut.
It's the equivalent of saying we should all get kudos for not stealing from each other. You've made the act of stealing the baseline for moral judgment rather than the reprehensible exception.
If he doesn't fulfill his duties they can fire him. Otherwise it's not their business what someone does in his free time.
The work environment was incredibly toxic as well:
For example, Balwani took it upon himself to keep track of how long employees were working. In one encounter, Balwani brought up security footage that showed a software engineer only working an eight-hour day. He told the employee, "I'm going to fix you." The engineer promptly resigned and left the building, even as Balwani sent a security officer to try and stop him. Balwani then called the cops on the employee.
One of the main themes of the book is her worship of Steve Jobs. Ripping someone for having a side project, instead of full dedication to the company, does sound like something Steve Jobs would've done.
- kept his day job while working on startup
- did fake campaign on FB to gauge demand
- got friends to try product
- croudfunded the first batch
This is a really risk averse guy who is making it big. Sort of the opposite of the bombastic risk-it-all founder we often see in SV hero stories.
Swinging for the fences is more apt for companies like Magic Leap, Groupon, Gilt, Pebble, etc.
I'd characterize this guy's approach as being more like "Moneyball." 
I'm not sure "Moneyball" fits here, the premise of Moneyball was using advanced analytics to take advantage of market inefficiencies.
I would say the baseball idiom that fits here is "cover (one's) bases"
>cover (one's) bases
To ensure one's safety or success by dealing with every potentially problematic aspect of a situation or activity. A reference to baseball, in which the defensive players must make sure all bases (and baserunners who may occupy them) are accounted for.
(I am fascinated about how many English (American?) idioms are derived from baseball and how I never really thought about it until a couple years ago)
Eg. making 101 100:1 bets makes way more sense than risking everything on a single victory-or-bust gamble.
Quitting your day-job, sitting in a co-op space, risking thousands of personal funds, building, and building, and building, and building, and then finally releasing something with no real idea of it's potential is an almost sure-fire way of failing, and risking your well being at the same time.
This "prove-everything-at-each-step" side hustle method is how most businesses should be started.
Take notes, well done.
These days I wouldn't do that, because I have a kid and a mortgage, but I don't regret doing it at 19 - it taught me a hell of a lot of things that I'm not sure I would have if I'd only tried the cautious approach, and it still I think affects how I do things (e.g. it taught me that as much as testing and validating is important, sometimes it's better to just dive in, try, and fail fast - which is right depends how much you're risking and for what; you just need to actually assess your risks first).
I'm not sure if there's a moral judgement to be made here that's meaningful, but it's an interesting approach to product validation. I feel like we see this approach with Kickstarter style approaches, but without the refund step (and without ultimately delivering the product), but this idea of getting transactions and refunding them to validate interest is... well it feels a bit off-putting(?), but interesting none the less.
The company isn't worth more than $1 million until someone else exchanges shares or money for it for over a million dollars. VC funding does not make someone a millionaire, except in rare cases where founders are allowed to sell shares to 'take money off the table'. VC money is the hope that the company will be worth $X in the future.
A VC investment is literally the exchanging shares for money. No it doesn't make someone liquid. Yes it does set something sorta like a market value, though it's usually really high. In more meaningful terms, that company now has $8 million in cash. There's almost no scenario where it's worth less than $8 million now, because companies at that stage usually have very little debt.
Based on that article, we don't actually know if Lee has assets worth $1 million. This is all before even bringing up how liquid he is.
The expectation of funding is that it is spent growing the company (employees, inventory, etc), not immediately paid out to the founders.
Now we don't know the exact nature of the share distribution, but since this is such a lean company I'm willing to wager that the found is still in the vast majority.
For a hangover cure. The shit I can walk into half a dozen different convenience stores and whole foods and find half a dozen varieties by the front counter.
This person must have been a good PM.
Many other startups (I'm looking at this week's LiDAR fundings) live in a headlong footrace as they try to get to market sooner with a better solution. No time to measure twice.
However, now that the cat's out of the bag....
I'm always curious how this company will truly scale? Having this club at nightclub and bars is cool but what's next? How is it going to deal with multiple competitors coming out with "better" drinks?