Saad Rizvi is the Chief Product Officer and a Venture Partner at Superlayer, the leading web3 venture studio. Previously, he led product teams at Meta (Facebook)’s New Product Experimentation Group. Prior to that, Saad co-founded the govtech company Delivery Associates in addition to multiple consumer product companies backed by YCombinator, including the emerging market crypto exchange CoinBundle. Before startups, he was a Senior Vice President at Pearson, where his responsibilities covered their venture investments. Earlier in his career, he worked in consulting at McKinsey & Company and in investment banking at Citigroup. Saad is a graduate of Yale University.
Where did the idea for Superlayer come from?
Given how nascent the crypto ecosystem is right now, it is incredibly difficult for entrepreneurs to launch new companies in the space in a compliant way that sets them up for success. Superlayer emerged from the need we saw in the industry to resource great entrepreneurs with the hands-on expertise to launch a successful company. At Superlayer, we have world leading experts across all the domains needed for turning an idea into a winning Web3 project. Working directly with project co-founders, we are able to bring great new products to market faster and at higher fidelity.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves working with co-founders across our portfolio companies on various aspects of building their projects. This varies depending on the stage, from developing product strategy and economy design at the earlier stages to customer acquisition and fundraising for the ones that have already found product market fit. I make this productive by ensuring that learnings from more mature companies are applied to emerging projects, so that we can all collectively build better and faster.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We analyze all aspects of ideas to pressure test them. This includes the technology, the go to market, the economy design, as well as the market potential. Once we are confident that an idea has potential, we then work with the co-founders to assemble a world class team to execute and iterate on the concept to bring it to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited by the increasing infrastructure around reducing the complexity of Web3 for new users. Every month, we see more foundational building blocks that make mainstream adoption easier, and the resulting products are more useful for the end user. This trend will continue to expand the applicability and utility of crypto.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Building a company is a marathon, not a sprint. Actively investing in my physical and mental health, as well as in the relationships our teams form with each other is critical for us to cultivate resilience. Throughout market ups and downs, Superlayer continues to persist forward to finding product market fit for the portfolio companies before helping them to scale and spin out.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be more patient. Sometimes it takes years, not months, for an idea to evolve to a point where it meets the needs of the market. Of course, back then, I was working by myself and did not have the benefit of teaming up with my Superlayer colleagues who each are domain experts. I’m glad we can provide to our co-founders the experience and resources that I wish I had earlier.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The next major web3 company will be built not in the US but in an emerging market.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get to market ASAP and iterate rapidly from there based on user and market feedback. Almost always, you wont get it right on the first try (of course there are exceptions!). With rapid iteration that incorporates customer/market feedback, you can continue evolving your business in a direction that will ultimately make it successful.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Taki holds the belief that the network is collectively owned by its users both in spirit and as demonstrated through the economy design. This is a core value that we use in our decision making processes and is something that the community has recognized. It is what motivates our strongest supporters to truly act like stewards of the platform and support its ongoing growth.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had many products that launched in market that didn’t get traction. The way to overcome it is to realize that the frustration of not getting viral growth in initial attempts is part of being an entrepreneur. Receive failure as a signal to learn, evolve the business, and take another swing in a better direction. With enough shots on goals, you’re bound to get the business pointed towards where it truly serves a customer’s needs, which is foundational to success.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Every crypto company faces attacks from bot networks that try to drain value from a token economy. A company which solves this problem by building verifiable user identities that can be taken from one project to another will have demand from a lot of crypto projects.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently got a subscription to a fitness and nutrition tracking app. So far, it has been a good investment as I find it easier to take action based on measurable statistics. As Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it!”
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Zapier is a great tool for creating automated workflows that help you stay on top of your priorities. For example, you can integrate market data APIs with Google Sheets and build simple dashboards. I’ve been using it for years and found it to be super helpful in monitoring all aspects of a business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Victor Frankel. It is a great book to help someone truly understand what motivates them, and align their time and mindspace towards that. This alignment is what ultimately helps people do their best work.
What is your favorite quote?
“Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson. I think the teaching in this quote is not saying plans are useless, but that the act of planning is what helps you adapt quickly in the face of adversity. This is particularly important for startups.
- Building companies is a marathon, not a sprint. Ensure that your team’s mental and physical health, as well as interpersonal relationships, are resilient.
- Your first idea will almost certainly fail (unless you’re incredibly lucky!). Make sure you are constantly learning, iterating, and shipping towards the goal of product market fit.
- The combination of these two learnings, and sharing ownership of the network with the community, have all contributed to the success that Taki has seen so far (over 800,000 users outside the USA).
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.