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Refactoring

A quarterly recap from our founder.

Q123 Letter // BY Cornelius MCGrath

Dearest Reader, 

I hope 2023 is off to a flying start for you and yours.

We’ve been on the right side of daylight savings for the last few weeks, and it’s been incredible.

I can feel summer edging ever closer. Spring in the Midwest is special because every passing day brings you one step closer to ‘summertime CHI’.

Chicago is the best city in the world in the summer. And there’s a deep satisfaction in knowing your home is the place to be for the next 6 months.

We’ve earned this. Cue visitors, please.

At Everyday Ventures, we’ve been off to the races in Q1, and I’ve been busy as a result.

I travelled 15,000 miles last quarter — bouncing between Pasadena, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Cancun, Austin and Florida.

It’s been an incredible mix of new experiences and rekindling relationships with old faces. I started in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl Parade and ended in the Windy City with visits from my mother dearest and an old high-school teammate. 

The interim was punctuated by plenty of beautiful meals, bottles of wine, airline lounges, epic Manchester United wins and gym sessions.

If I had to pick, the chef’s table at Flour + Water in San Francisco and Harry’s Steakhouse in Cancun were top highlights food-wise. On the vino front, this Vivanterre contact SGU might be the best orange I’ve ever had.

Wedding planning has also been in full swing. We’ve crossed off (almost all) the big logistical items on our to-do list. I got my James Bond custom tux sorted from Suit Supply and started immigration proceedings for my impending GC.

Everything is starting to fall right into place.

I even squeezed in an interview for Monocle with Foxtrot founder Mike LaVitola. He’s an incredible bloke, and Foxtrot is fast becoming one of my favourite brands. Keep an eye out for my piece in the May edition of the magazine. You can find Monocle in almost every major airport or newsstand worldwide.

Anyway, enough about me. Onto the business.

You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. 

Capital.

In my last letter, I announced the launch of Everyday Capital and said I felt I was being given a chance to get on the ‘right side of things in 2023’.

It’s clear to me now that the ‘right side’ is the equity ownership side. It’s the position from which I and we can capture our true value.

Q1 saw us raise $250,000 via SPV (Hospitality I) to back 2x Bib Gourmand Chef Mark Steuer’s latest hospitality concept here in Chicago.

Located in the former home of award-winning cocktail bar Lost Lake, Chef is using our capital to complete the buildout of a new speakeasy-bar-grill.

We raised funds from ~40 LPs who hailed from all over the globe — London, D.C., Tampa, New York, Chicago, Indianapolis and Memphis.

LPs were a mix of up-and-coming professionals and more seasoned executives; just shy of half were also non-accredited investors. Every LP invested for different reasons, but some recurring themes were:

A desire to get exposure to a new asset class

A yearning to be ‘more than just a patron’ in the F&B space

Belief in the concept, history of the space and track record of the team     

All encouraging reasons. However, most LPs were won over by the fact we have skin in the game as investor-operators. In addition to being General Partner (GP) of Hospitality I, I’m also an operator alongside Chef and three other partners.

Much like our LPs, I’m beyond excited to leverage the ideas and infrastructure we’ve used to build this business and apply them in a new domain.

I’ll be running point on driving customer retention, designing loyalty programs, curating VIP experiences and private events, and overseeing all creative and external comms — think PR, photos, social etc.

Tactically, I’ll be hiring some of the best minds I know in the business to help me execute, including those of our LPs, whose professional backgrounds and expertise I can leverage to add even more add strategic value to the new venture.

In short: we will create the ultimate seal-team six for hospitality, ensuring incentives are aligned, and expertise maximized across all key stakeholders. 

If you are fundamentally building and marketing something that’s an extension of who you are, no one can compete with you on that.

A couple notes on the future.

First, on investment areas. This raise helped me realise that I’m not chasing illiquid equity positions (e.g. technology) but rather investments in businesses with Day 1 positive cash flows where we can disproportionately impact success.

If I were to generalise, ‘community-driven’ businesses are where I believe we can have the most success.

Community is my forte. My genuine curiosity. It’s how I think and see the world. Not because I’ve raised venture dollars to do so but because it’s what I’ve been building for the last 9 years since I first arrived in the USA.

I know what you’re thinking: what isn’t a community-oriented business?

It’s an excellent retort and rabbit hole which I’ll save for another day. My underlying point is if community is my forte, then there really isn’t a better beachhead market for me to execute a play in than hospitality.

Restaurateurs have built many of the world’s most beloved and influential brands, but  haven’t captured nearly a proportionate amount of value.

I credit Dan Frommer for helping me realise the untapped potential of hospitality.

During the pandemic, Dan was the first person to say that the industry needed to stop selling commodities (e.g. food and drink) and restaurants tethering their futures to leases predicated on their ability to fill rooms of empty tables each night.

Hospitality was so much more to Frommer than yummy food and drinks his visits to his favourite haunts were driven by a yearning for community, entertainment, education, culture and experience.

So why not build products and a revenue model around that?

I wholeheartedly agree with Frommer’s thesis. However, what’s crazy is how little has changed since. Hospitality is exactly the same (bar the QR codes) as it was pre-pandemic. Everybody’s competing on the sale of incrementally better commodities.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I see it now as my job to ensure chefs, restaurateurs and operators actualise Frommer’s ideas. Succesfully monetizing them is the only way to prove to themselves and the world that their best customers are buying something much deeper than delicious food and beverage.

Second, on investment structures. This raise exposed me to a litany of brilliant minds who suggested structures I could take in future deals.

We can play the role of advisors, operators, investors, or all of the above. It’s a cool ‘quiver’ to have, and the point of integration that we take in future deals can change based on the entrepreneur’s needs or said investor’s appetite.

Here are a few structures I could see us taking:

Continue to fundraise via single-asset SPVs
We act as GP and get paid carry on the economics we negotiate for our LPs.

Direct invest in community-oriented concepts (e.g. hospitality, fitness)
We get paid as investor-operators. No carry. LPs get their own slug of equity.

We raise a fund
Pre-raise $500K-$1M. Take 15 diversified bets instead of 1. Charge 2/20 to LPs.

We don’t fundraise
We sell our infrastructure to entrepreneurs. Get a fee plus % of equity upside.

It’s early days, but I like the flexibility of our model.

Time will tell what’s most effective.

Under renovation.

Content.

When I wasn’t consumed with the raise, I started to refactor years of “digital detritus” stuck in my iPhone, Google Drive, Kindle, Pocket and MacBook. As an obsessive reader and note-taker, this is no mean feat. I spent countless hours refactoring 1000s of thoughts in my Apple Notes. 

My goal is to build a library that reflects all I’ve learnt, know and believe to be true in business and in life. Think of this as a modern-day version of Franklin’s Library Company. It’s a mammoth task. However, I’ve finally got a structure down that I love, and I’m finding great joy in the clarity. 

The most difficult part has been designing a layout and architecture that’s both intuitive and reflective of the breadth of things we do here.

The site is ‘under renovation’ for now, but some solid bones are emerging. And those with a penchant for website speed will be delighted to know ours is as fast as ever — amazing what a few plugins and the right Upwork developer can do.

I’m hesitant to put a timeline on completion. But I’m hopeful the library will be fully functional by Q3. If you’d like to be a beta tester, shoot me an email

A-Z list of services for professionals and businesses.

Concierge.

On the services side of the business, we’ve done a lot. I’ll break it down by specialty:

Advising
I’ve been working with the Chief Strategy Officer of MrBeast’s new multi-language business. We’ve begun building out his very own executive team. Most of my work is centred around navigation – helping the CSO prepare for his biggest partnership meetings externally and critical conversations internally, as well as providing recommendations on the talent, frameworks and ideas that can solve the problems or bottlenecks he’s facing. I’ve also been training his team on systems thinking and how to think about creating value for the broader organization.

I’m part attache, coach, teacher and speechwriter. Excited for this to evolve.

Travel
We had our best-ever month on Spotnana in February thanks in large part to Uproute Travel. Founder Sam Viola decided to bring Uproute onto the platform in January. Spotnana gives Uproute clients access to rates they can’t find anywhere else, enables Sam to book/manage all travel on their behalf and the peace of mind that comes with worldwide coverage from a 24/7, 365 human concierge.

It’s a natural extension of our partnership, and I’m excited for continued growth. Sam’s had an incredible last 12 months overall. If you haven’t booked a trip with him yet, I highly recommend that you do so. Summer is just around the corner!

Our travel platform Spotnana continues to go from strength to strength. Q1 was a massive quarter for them with two new important public use cases announced with Chicago-based TMC Solutions Travel and the unveiling of their travel-as-a-service partnership with Brex. This underlines why I’m so excited about Spotnana as a business: every single player in the travel industry is their client. And any company that’s a win for all parties win is an unstoppable market force.

If you’d like access to Spotnana, sign-up here. It’ll redefine how you travel. I promise.

Convening
I’m (unfortunately) yet to do any corporate offsites or executive retreats in 2023. This has been, in large part, a function of the macro environment scaling back budgets for internal events. I’m in ongoing talks with a few partners, but nothing concrete has arisen just yet. I hope this will change. I’m a huge believer in the power and ROI of quarterly IRL experiences in any market — bull or bear.

That said, I look forward to being in D.C. in May. I’ll be hosting a smattering of dinners and talks in the US Capitol over May 18, 19 and 20.

If you’d like to join, please do get in touch.

700 people and counting.

Community.

And last but certainly not least, here are some of the latest updates on the burgeoning ventures and projects run by members of our global community.

Break Into Tech Sales
Cole Feldman launched Break Into Tech Sales for individuals seeking sales career opportunities in the tech industry. Including a free Recruiting Guide, Sales Bootcamp, and several blogs about how to get a job and sell. Join his Discord to chat with job seekers and network with sales professionals. Or follow him on TikTok and YouTube for videos about breaking into the industry.

GoodStuff Design Co.
Shaun Malinowski has run GoodStuff Design for just shy of 15 years. He’s the mastermind behind EE’s entire brand aesthetic, having designed everything from our website and logos down to our business cards and journals. Shaun’s working for agencies, action sports companies, restaurants and painting new building signs for the historic Salomon Farm in Fort Wayne. He’s finalizing a personal collection of sketches from a 100-day surf and beach-themed study. Find him on Instagram.

Habitable
Former Monocle and Modern Farmer editor Ann Marie Gardner recently launched Habitable — a new tool that helps you make informed decisions about where to live as the climate changes. Their weekly newsletter (where climate change meets real-estate porn) finds ‘habitable’ properties and beautiful places for you to live in with the least climate risk for flood, heat, fire and drought. Check the climate risk of your property today or the property you are considering buying. Sign up for their newsletter or follow @habitableliving on Instagram.

Sauvage PHX
Chris Lingua opened Sauvage Wine Bar at the Helen Anderson House in downtown Phoenix. Chris is a total wine-savant and the man who got me into natural vino. Opening this bar has been Chris’s dream ever since I’ve known him. If you find yourself in Phoenix, treat yourself to a glass at Sauvage. Natural wine, funky tunes and small plates in a historic British cottage. What could disappoint?

Shoutouts
I’d also like to make some special shoutouts to the Hospitality I LPs, Chef Mark Steuer, the Carta team (Uade, Jake, Kate in particular), our counsel Winston & Strawn (Michael, Rachel), and several close contacts (you know who you are) who provided countless edits on materials, investor docs, contracts and website layouts.

Drinks on me when we open.

If you have independence and you’re accountable on output, as opposed to your input — that’s the dream. 

Looking back, Q1 was honestly life-changing.

I went from consultant to owner-operator in one move. I’ve moved beyond renting out my time for a living and am now taking equity positions in businesses run by innovators that I believe in.

It’s a structure through which I capture my true value, get upside, pay the bills and share in it all with the incredible community I’ve built. A win-win-win.

Looking ahead, Q2 will be equally crazy.

I’ll be in 7 cities in the next 30 days, and we’ll be opening our first concept. But I’m excited. After all, this is exactly why I’m playing the game.

If you’d like to follow along, please drop your email here for updates or reach out directly if you’d like to get more involved in the world we’re building.

We’re always on the lookout for new deals, innovators, clients or partners that are ambitious and can benefit from our help.

Until next time — CGM.

Never Miss A Letter

A quarterly reflection from our founder.