On confronting death, leaving venture capital, and spreading meditation

A Hard Goodbye


Possibly the best scene in one of the best movies of all time, mainly because it accurately depicts how most people feel about printers. (GIF courtesy of Office Space and 20th Century Fox)

Editor’s note: As our Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Eclipse Ventures, Ben brings a founder’s perspective and his passion for hardware design to our discussions. Here, he continues his smashingly popular product-teardown series.

There’s a single product category that is universally despised by nearly every technology-using human on Earth: the printer. While I’ve certainly had my fair share of disagreements with printers over the years, I’ve come to be increasingly curious about a set of intersecting qualities that don’t seem to exist anywhere else:

  1. Technology. Printers are surprisingly complex machines. Manipulating 70 micron thick pieces of paper and accurately applying permanent ink is…


As of today, I’m pumped to join Eclipse Ventures as their very first entrepreneur-in-residence. Believe it or not, this marks the very first day of my life working for someone else! And I couldn’t feel better about the group of humans I’m fortunate to camp out with. After the wild year I’ve had, joining Eclipse feels like slipping on an trusty pair of shoes.

I first met Lior in 2013 when he was running Lab IX, helping Flextronics support small hardware startups, leveraging their giant pool of resources. Since that very first meeting, I’ve been continually impressed with his ability…


From staring at this album cover for far too many hours in high school, this image became the prototypical face of wisdom for me (from The Cure’s Staring at the Sea)

As you may have heard, I’ve had a bit of a wild year. In the past 12 months (almost to the day):

  • Grace (my partner) was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, had emergency, life-threatening surgery and started aggressive chemotherapy shortly thereafter
  • We adopted a dog (Hollyhock!)
  • I (finally) bought a motorcycle and was quickly hit by a spaced-out teenage driver (thanks safety gear for keeping me alive)
  • We got married (4 days after we decided to)
  • Grace’s cancer progressed and she started a second course of chemotherapy
  • We bought a house
  • I was involuntarily removed from the company I founded…


This is a blog post I never expected to write. These past 12 months have shown me how even the most unfair, difficult situations in life can inspire immense moments of joy and deep, meaningful change.

That beautiful woman up there is Grace. Some of you may know her from her work at LinkedIn, Crunchbase, The Dinner Party, Reimagine, and now 10% Happier. I happen to have the deep privilege of calling her my partner (the in-life-kind, rather than the VC-kind).

Cancer


Early-stage hardware companies usually understand the “how” of product development. Product management adds a layer of “why,” “what,” and “when” to the process.

Building hardware is complicated. Many founding teams going through product development for the first time struggle to manage that process on a day-to-day basis. Founders know they need to build a product and that there are many steps, but they might not be sure which steps come in which order, or what features and tests to prioritize. The goal of this blog post is to guide founders through this process of day-to-day product development, or what I call early-stage product management.

Early-Stage Product Management


I always find more truth about a company’s future buried in a company’s products. Long story short: I don’t have high hopes for Sonos’ trajectory. Here is why…

🎵Going deeper underground

For eight years, a war has been raging among a number of unlikely players. This bloodless technology battle is turning out to be one of the fiercest and most expensive we’ve seen in decades. The prize is one of the most sought-after commodities in the world: access to tens of millions of homes. It all starts with a 100-year-old invention: speakers.

The reason this battle matters is that it reflects a huge change in consumer behavior. Until recently, there were very few pipes into the home: Telecom companies like Comcast and AT&T that provided a paid monthly service.

A few…


Peloton is a tremendously successful hardware startup. But without SoulCycle, it couldn’t have existed. Here is how you can find the SoulCycle for your hardware company.

Over the past year, Peloton has taken the lead as one of the most successful hardware startups in the past decade. A strong team and meticulous product execution are driving factors in Peloton’s success. More importantly, the company has a powerful advantage that few people the startup world talk about: an easy-to-disrupt, modern predicate company.

Predicate company: a company that first demonstrates new customer behavior using a new product or service usually driven by a deep understanding of consumer psychology.

We see a lot of hardware startup pitch decks at Bolt. Nearly all of them are laden with phrases like…


This is Part 3 of a three part series. Check out Part 1: Founders and Culture and Part 2: Contributors and Product if you missed them.

A startup is a machine that attracts, supports, and enables large numbers of people with different motivations (the solar system, remember?). One of the key differentiators between decent CEOs and excellent CEOs is their ability to design for the future of the company in the face of immediate pressing needs.


This is Part 2 of a three part series. If you missed Part 1, check it out here: Part 1: Founders and Culture or continue on to Part 3: Management and Scale if that’s more relevant for you.

Ben Einstein

President and COO at Ten Percent Happier. Previously founded @BoltVC, EIR @EclipseVentures.

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