Momentum Is Everything

And why deepfake detection startups will be hot in 2025

Hey y’all — I’m hosting a founder dinner in NYC this Thursday at 7pm. I’ll randomly select two people who reply to this email to grab the last two spots!

And here’s today at a glance:

Opportunity → Bootstrapped WeWork

Framework → The Spotlight Framework

Tool → Drippi

Trend → Deepfake Detection

Quote → Momentum is Everything

PS — Become a member to get access to my founder membership including an engaged community, fundraising support, fireside chats and more.

🔗 Houck’s Picks

My favorite finds of the week.

  • I just started investing in SEO to drive new leads. You should too. Show up on the front page of Google with Ignite Digital.*

  • Term sheet etiquette for founders (Link)

  • 5 free resources about what VCs look for (Link)

  • Greg Isenberg’s rules for being a founder (Link)

  • A list of things that good investors and advisors do (Link)

Become a member to see all my picks of the week:

  • How this founder who has raised $10M+ plans his day

  • A hiring system from someone who has hired 4k people

  • Counterintuitive leadership principles

  • Advice for founders when presenting an idea in a meeting

  • Why your MVP should be cheap, hackable, and slightly ugly

  • Counterintuitive things learned from building an email platform

  • An early stage hiring handbook

💡 Opportunity: Bootstrapped WeWork

WeWork failed despite being a good idea.

Not all good ideas should be billion dollar companies. If you listen to a description of WeWork’s actual core business it sounds like a pretty great cashflowing business.

But they wanted to go huge and turn it into a movement, a lifestyle, and a philosophy.

Adam almost pulled it off but ultimately failed. It was probably inevitable.

But now that the stock is being delisted (and, surprisingly to absolutely no one, Adam’s looking to re-buy the company) I agree with Greg below that there’s an opportunity for someone with serious real estate chops and available capital to build a bootstrapped competitor.

Hey wait… that sounds a bit like Adam…

🧠 Framework: Spotlight Framework

Talking to customers is a 101 level requirement for being a founder, but it’s easier to get tripped up by either:

  • Not knowing what to do with the feedback you collect from users

  • Turn feedback into actions

  • Separate the signal from the noise within the sea of feedback

The Spotlight Framework helps you avoid focusing on the wrong parts of user feedback by categorizing the following types of questions and statements you get from users:

There’s also a very long, detailed, and helpful infographic in the blog I found the framework on — I highly recommend taking a look! It's too long to fit in the newsletter, sadly, or I would have included it.

🛠 Tool: Drippi

Every startup struggles to find new leads to close business. Drippi is making it easier by scraping leads from Twitter in seconds.

They help you filter leads that match your ICP so you can spend less time sourcing and more time selling. Get their step-by-step guide on how to close 10+ clients/month on Twitter.*

📈 Trend: Deepfake Detection

A weird part of the AI boom has been that we haven’t really seen evidence that deepfakes are becoming much more common (even though it’s clear they’re becoming much, much more convincing:

I say “weird” because I wonder if this is because the detection software platforms use to detect them has gotten better quickly as well, or if this is inevitably going to happen once OpenAI’s Sora is released to the public.

Either way, it’s clear that people are worried about the issue and beginning to look into solutions.

In the past most of the duty of detection fell on social media platforms and search engines since they were by far the easiest ways for deepfakes to get in front of humans and cause issues.

But now there’s a whole new class of use cases for fake videos since they’re becoming much easier to create. Here’s a great example I just saw on X today:

While applicants may get a kick out of this, employers won’t want their interviewers to be taking to an AI — they’ll want to get a sense for what the person they’re actually hiring is like (and won’t accept the argument an avatar can provide that).

I’d love to see an ex engineer from YouTube, Meta, or X/Twitter who worked on detecting deepfakes go and build a startup that can help companies detect videos across many use cases (not just hiring).

💬 Quote: Momentum is Everything

Most founders implicitly realize that in order to get a startup off the ground you need to will it into existence and keep momentum high.

This is good for the startup but it’s also essential for the founder — when momentum is high most founders feel more optimistic about what they’re building, which is obvious to anyone they’re trying to hire, partner with, or raise money from.

What I see a lot of founders miss is that this is true for the entire lifespan of your startup.

It’s easy to understand why.

Once you become a big company with layers of management, predictable revenue, and established processes the loss of momentum either needs to be sustained for a longer period or be much more drastic of a swing to be felt by outsiders or junior employees.

It’s easy for a founder to fool themselves into thinking the loss of momentum is something cyclical, temporary, or easily fixable.

This is a big mistake.

If you lose momentum you need to move quickly to get it back. The faster a ball is rolling down a hill, the more energy you need to spend to stop it — so stop it right away.

I take two learnings from this:

  1. Having a good internal compass for when momentum is slowing down is critical for founders.

  2. Founders need to be hyper-vigilant at keeping momentum high.

💡 How I Can Help

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