July 5, 2017

#4 Skylights

#4 Skylights
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David Dicko is bringing virtual reality to the skies. It’s an ambitious plan, and he’s going to need $1.8 million to take off in a punishing market. Will the investors trust his team to succeed where so many others have failed?

Today's investors are Phil Nadel, Jillian Manus, Jake Chapman, Howie Diamond and Sheel Mohnot.


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From Gimlet, this is The Pitch. I’m Josh Muccio 

On this show, we venture into the world of startups, to a critical moment, when aspiring entrepreneurs put it all on the line and pitch investors for funding. This week…

David: We do virtual reality on planes as passenger in-flight entertainment.

Howie: You guys are building your own proprietary headsets?

David: So we've built our own proprietary headsets.

Jillian: Do you have patents on this?

David: We don't have patents. We have...

Jillian: That's a problem. You know that, right?

Today we meet an entrepreneur who wants to bring virtual reality 40,000 feet into the air. But first he has to convince investors he's the real deal. 

Phil: I'm Phil Nadel with Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners.

Phil’s investment firm is one of the largest syndicates on AngelList.

Phil: If for some reason members don't bite, then the thing falls apart.

Phil is a straight shooter looking for companies without a lot of question marks.

Jillian: This is Jillian Manus. My fund is Structure Capital.

Jillian is something of a legend in the world of venture capital. In her early twenties, she survived domestic abuse that left her living in shelters in New York City. She was able to pick herself up, start several companies and is now a multi-millionaire. 

Jillian: You can have the most incredible product, but if you don't know how to talk about it, you're going to have a problem accelerating it.

Jillian tends to take center stage and really drive the conversation.

Jake: My name's Jake Chapman with Gelt Venture Capital.

Jake’s investment firm has over a billion dollars in assets under management.

Jake: they're going to shut you down on that name. It's definitely a trademark infringement.

As a former attorney, Jake brings a lawyerly mindset into a pitch – if a founder can hold up under cross examination, he might just invest.    

Howie: Hey, I'm Howie Diamond. 

That’s Howie who founded the VC firm, Ranch Ventures.

Howie: There needs to be a moral and ethical code that's aligned. 

Howie is looking for altruistic companies: he’ll only go in on a startup that’s making the world a better place.

Sheel: I'm Sheel, partner at 500 Startups.

Lastly, we have Sheel Mohnot. He broke into the big leagues of venture capital when he sold his company, FeeFighters, to Groupon.

Sheel: This isn't going to work. You should do something else, seriously.

You can always count on Sheel to say exactly what he’s thinking – and he appreciates the same candor in an entrepreneur.

Alright, here we go.

Today’s founder – David Dicko – walks into the studio. With five investors seated in front of him, it could be easy to feel intimidated. But David isn’t. He has a swagger about him that conveys – this ain’t my first rodeo.

David: It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm David, co-founder of Skylights. And we do virtual reality on planes as passenger in-flight entertainment. So I was an airline executive working for Air France for the past seven years. And then on top of that I was an airline pilot for eleven. And I loved that job. I'm passionate about it. But I left it because of how big this opportunity is of finally addressing the dread and boredom of long-haul flights from a passenger's point of view.

With almost 20 years in the airline industry, David has experienced his share of long-haul flights. You know the kind – where the only thing you can do to pass the time is watch the latest big budget superhero movie on a tiny screen built into the seat in front of you.

David: I know firsthand that airlines hate the embedded seat-back screens even more than passengers. They cost $20,000 each and they're so heavy that the airline industry spends $1 billion in extra fuel costs just to fly them around. Now, VR headsets enable passengers to escape and enjoy immersive 2D, 3D and cinematic virtual reality content on a cinema wide-angle screen. It's first class entertainment but available to everyone.

Imagine slipping on a pair of virtual reality goggles and escaping into a wide-angle, 3D movie during your next flight. That’s the future David is pitching.

David: We're raising $1.8 million. The idea is to move from the 100 flights that we've done so far to 100 flights a day.

Okay. Here’s the thing, if you’re an investor, you’ve heard this pitch before. VR is not a new idea.

The road to riches is littered with the corpses of thousands of VR companies whose founders were sure they had struck gold. And a lot of venture capitalists have been burned along the way. But they keep on coming back – for one reason. 

David: Very, very clearly, virtual reality is looking for its killer use case. It's found one in the gaming, and it's still looking for any other killer use case out there

VR is going to hit. And it’s going to be huge. Just no one knows when – or how. It’s like the early days of the internet, when everyone was scrambling to harness this amazing new technology. A lot of companies failed. But some people got very, very rich. 

And no investor wants to be the one who passes on the next Google. 

It’s this tension that you can feel in the room. 

Here’s Howie.

Howie: What kind of research have you done on, have you proven assumptions and suppositions based on do airline passengers actually want this? Like, is it too early? Do they understand VR?

Sheel: I don't think it's the kind of thing that you're going to ask people and they're going to say they want it.

Howie: No, but I'm working backwards from this, are you building something that people want?

David: The general public killer use case that we found, which is entertainment on board, is extremely strong. We have one passenger out of two – when it's given out for free in business, we have about 50% uptake with four hours on average.

Sheel: The question I have is how many people want it because they've never been in VR before, versus like long term?

Jillian: Right. How many do it just because they're interested?

David: Okay. Obviously, we don't have the depth of operations to be able to look at repeat customers. So the way that we can proxy that is simply by asking those passengers. And that's what we've done. The basic questions that we ask is, are you satisfied? Are you really satisfied? Do you prefer this to seatback screens? And we have about 75% of people who say yes, and the same amount who prefer that to seatback screens.

Right out of the gate, investors are pushing on David to give them hard numbers to prove that they should take him seriously. And David is saying it’s too soon to be sure – but so far, results have been strong.

Sheel: Tell me about the airlines that have done it so far. How have the pilots gone?

David: Very well. So we've done it with four airlines: Air France, KLM, Onur Air and XL Airways. The headsets were brought on board on trolleys. They were handed out to cabin crew. Essentially, free to business and first-class passengers. As a result, we had 235 minutes of average passenger engagement time. That's five minutes shy of four hours. And airlines loved it.

Howie: You guys are building your own proprietary headsets?

David: So we've built our own proprietary headsets.

Sheel: Why?

David: We needed something that didn't need to be plugged, that had at least six hours of battery life, that was very light to be comfortable enough that you could wear it for two to three movies. So that's what we've built.

Howie: So it's fully immersive?

David: Yep.

Sheel: Good timing to show us the headset.

David: Yeah, of course. Of course.

David hands out his headsets to the investors. They look like big, boxy, white snorkeling goggles.

Jillian: Oh I like this! This is actually great.

Once they’re strapped on, our investors are each inside their own private theater, as a montage of movie clips flickers on their screens.

Jillian: It's a little heavy on the face, to watch for three hours.

Jake: It's very light.

Sheel: It is very light.

Jillian: On my nose. On my face.

Sheel: It's light relative to VR headsets. It's heavy relative to what else was on your nose before.

Howie: Yeah, it's way lighter than other ones.

David: You need to adjust it, for you. Because it's very important to have it properly adjusted. If it's too loose, it will hang on your nose.

Jillian: It was hanging on my nose. Okay.

With the headsets properly tightened, the investors seem satisfied with the experience. They pull the VR goggles off, and start digging into the product. 

Jillian: So what, there's an IP? Do you have patents on this?

David: We don't have patents. We have...

Jillian: That's a problem. You know that, right?

David: Well, let me put it this way. We're not a hardware company. The heart of the technology is not patentable. We basically commit to the airlines to use whatever hardware works. I am in the business of making sure that passengers love the virtual reality experience.

Jillian: So what was the content? You produce the content yourself?

David: No, we're not producing the content. We're licensing the content. And there's two types of content that we're using. On one side we're using traditional content, so 2D movies, 3D movies and TV series. And we have a worldwide distribution agreement with Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks for that. But we're also now experimenting with cinematic VR. So we're looking for content that has a strong center of attention in front of the passenger. 

All right, so David said Skylights is a cinematic virtual reality company, but we’re not going to make the VR headsets. And now he’s also saying, we’re not going to create the VR entertainment. 

The investors are starting to look a little puzzled.

Howie: Down the road, you're going to license the hardware, you're going to license the content. What's your business?

David: Content management software. We secure the content licensing deals, we write the content management software, and we source and design the headsets. Make sure that all of this works together and setting up the operations with the airlines. 

The way David explains it, he's basically created an in-flight version of Netflix – before they started producing their own stuff. Skylights assembles an entire catalog of studio movies and TV shows for passengers on long-haul flights.

Howie: So you're a VR content management software platform?

David: Yes.

Jillian: They're really not. Are you really? Because you are just... Twentieth Century Fox are, even the VR manufacturers could be doing this. Right? Just say we will provide you with our headset… 

David: It takes five activities. This is how I would think of it. To do what we need to do, we need five different things that are aligned. One, is you need to have the right content, and that's very important. Two, you need to secure the content…

Okay, bear with me, because this gets a bit complicated. To get investors behind Skylights, David first needs them to understand a pretty detailed plan. For VR to work on planes, he says, number one, you have to have good movies. Second, you need to have headsets that people won’t be able to steal those movies from. Third, you need to get the airline regulatory agencies to sign off on those headsets. Fourth, you need the operations set up on the ground to support everything in the air.

David: And finally you need to package that and sell that to airlines. Let me tell you, Samsung's not going to do that. Netflix is not going to do that. So very, very strongly, we are in a position – this is our point – we are in a position to within the next two years to become the number one virtual reality entertainment distributor in the world.

Howie: Explain to me how the current model works? Where these content providers work with the airlines to provide movies, TV shows, I'm thinking of Virgin Red. Every airline has these deals. What does that business model look like? And could this conceivably be a conflict of interest for those companies that spend a lot of money to have their movies shown on a flight and now there's this new...

David: So short answer is no. Here's the current business, how it works. You have the hardware providers. Then you have three intermediaries between the airlines and the original content owners, which are the studios. 

According to David, in order to get movies to those seatback screens on airplanes, first an airline must wade through several layers of bureaucracy.   

David: It's a highly monopolistic area where there's a big value that's being eaten up by these intermediaries. And what we're doing is we're going straight to the content owners, to the studios, and bypassing everyone.

David wants to bethelink between the studios and the airlines.

Howie: So you're a dis-intermediary, I get that. But aren't these other incumbents going to be pissed off and fight like hell to try to shut you down?

David: Oh yeah, let's be clear. We're competitors to Thales, to Panasonic, to Global Eagle Entertainment, to Spafax, to these intermediaries. Yes.

This is exactly the kind of confidence investors generally want to see in a founder. He knows his stuff and he’s not afraid to disrupt the market. But, for once, they’re the timid ones in the room. 

Jake: I sort of hate asking this question. It's just like, well what if Google competes with you in this space, right? Because Google could basically do whatever they want to do if they really wanted to compete. The last long-haul flight I was on they were pushing carts down the aisle with iPads, right? And so someone is basically doing what you're doing but they're doing it on an iPad. They've already negotiated these deals with planes. So if they were to see you getting some traction selling VR headsets, what stops them from using their own VR hardware? They already have all of the licensing deals, they have the operations in place, the deals with the airlines. It seems like it would be very easy for them to just swap out the hardware.

David: Yeah. So the key thing here is we're going to have at least a year head start to any of these guys that may exist today.

Jillian: You realize that a year is nothing?

David: Yeah, it's... Okay.

Jillian: Okay, there are two things I'm trying to figure out. One is you said you have a year head start, and partially it's because you have the hardware, but then that's not your business. So that doesn't give you… To me I'm looking for the differentiator that's actually going to give you an edge in the business, not in the hardware, since that's just… Right?

Howie: And the defensibility.

Jillian: Right. And that was the next one. 

David: Okay. What we're trying to do is to make sure that we have and we showcase just a premium, fantastic premium VR experience to passengers.

Jillian: So there's a very low barrier of entry. Am I wrong?

David is trying to argue that his VR platform creates a premium experience for passengers – but, if Skylights isn’t making patented headsets, and it’s not making its own movies... 

Jillian: I mean, if there's any other company that wants to get into this, there's nothing that you're doing that any other person can't do?

David: Actually, there's a very high barrier of entry.

Jillian: Because?

David: I will explain. Virtual reality on planes is as old an idea as virtual reality itself. Everyone has thought of this use case. And every single virtual reality headset manufacturer has taken marketing pictures of its headset on an aircraft as a way to sell it to passengers. It's obvious. But what makes it still not done today is because it's really, really hard to do. To be able to have and to get access to early window content from the studios, you need to prove to them that the content that's on your devices will never, ever end up on the internet. 

One of the only things seat-back screens have going for them is that they show new releases. And according to David, the process of getting studios to let you put that early window content on your VR headset, turns out, is pretty hard. And for a while, this was Skylights’ stumbling block, until...

David: We recruited our third co-founder that had 15 years exactly with those skills which was licensing content deals and streaming those on mobile devices.

This is why David says Skylights is going to bethekiller use case for VR. It has the dream team to make it happen. 

David: The only reason why we've been able to succeed, and where we've been able to get to the traction that we have, is our team. There are no other fantastic reasons. And these are the three co-founders that we have at Skylights and that's the only reason why we've been able to succeed.   We could not crack the problem until we managed to have all three of us. We are the right team. And if nothing else, the right proof of that is what we've been able to accomplish thus far.

Time’s up. Has David convinced investors that his VR company is the one worth betting on?

Here’s Sheel.

Sheel: I'll say I like what you do. I think it's really cool. I fly a lot of long hauls, a few a month. I think that it would be cool to have a VR headset on there. I'm probably not your best use case. I mostly just fall asleep as soon as I get on a plane, because I'm chronically tired. But I think that what you said is right. You guys probably are the right team to do this. I just struggle with whether this is a short-term opportunity or a long-term? Will we see lots of people with VR on planes? But totally I think you guys are the right team to do it.  And I know that United for example is locked into a shitty contract with DirecTV on a bunch of their planes. Like you said, selling to airplanes, selling to airlines is very difficult, and it sounds like you have some head starts and you're on your way. So I wish you well, but it's not a great fit for me, so I'll pass.

Sheel’s out. Howie’s up.

Howie: I'm totally on the fence with you, man.  This makes sense. I think VR in general, I stay away from VR because I haven't really found that practical use case. We're still a ways away, there's entertainment, there's gaming but it's like... I think there's some really cool stuff in the future that's going to happen with in-home VR where this becomes, just like you have a video game console, you have an at-home entertainment console, everyone's going to have a VR in their homes, a VR headset. But I think we're a ways away from that.  I think we're five or ten years away from that, lowering that barrier of entry in terms of cost and also in terms of the value proposition. But the way that you're applying it, on an airplane, it's really interesting. Because I can see people who have anxiety on a plane, this could be useful for them. I know people want to be kinda removed from the chatter on an airplane and distractions and just want to be immersed in their own world for three or four hours and not think about the fact that they're on a plane. 

Howie’s undecided. Here’s Phil.

Phil: What do you see as the total addressable market? The total market size for this?

David: $6 billion.

Phil: $6 billion?

David: Yeah.

Phil: I think, my perception of you is that you have the answers. You know this business, you've done your research. You have a clear understanding of what you want to do. You have bootstrapped, you have your own hardware because you needed to. Kudos to you. I'm going to keep it simple. I'm in.

David: Okay.

Phil: I want to be in. I like this deal.

Jillian: How much are you in for?

Phil: How much do you have left on the deal?

Jillian: 500. Are you in for 500?

Phil: No. 250.

Jillian: You're in for 250?

Phil: Yeah.

David: Okay. I would like to just mention one thing that's, I think, very important that we haven't touched upon at all during this discussion. 

Wow. Phil just put in $250,000 to Skylights, but David moves straight to making a last-ditch effort to get the other investors on board.

David: We are in this area where we have the ability to distribute the first VR experience or VR headset experience to millions of people who don't live in Silicon Valley, or who aren't hardcore gamers. And they're spending a lot of time in our environment and they're discovering what virtual reality is about through us. I think there's an extraordinary marketing and leapfrog potential of being a huge VR experience distributor to people with our own brand, which is what we are doing. Trains. We've done pilots in trains. We had the first pilot a couple of weeks ago in France. Long distance buses, cruise ships.

Jake: Self-driving cars?

David: When we get there, that to me is the leap to the consumer place.  Either you think that virtual reality is going to have a hard time penetrating the general public. And in that case, that's an extraordinary opportunity for us. Or you think that virtual reality is going to submerge the market and then in five years everyone is going to have a virtual reality headset. I don't think so, by the way.

Sheel: I don't think so either, to be clear.

Jillian: I'm so on the fence with this.

Howie: Me too.

Sheel: Guys make a decision. Come on. Get off the fence, Howie!

Howie: I like this. There’s a lot of moving parts though.

Sheel: Stop talking. Give me two words.

Jillian: No idea. 

Howie: I really like what you've built. It's a little too early for me. I'm going to pass.

So after all that, Howie passes. Jake’s next.

Jake: I don't know which way I'm going to go. But I'll start talking, and maybe I'll figure it out by the time I'm done talking. So first of all I want to say that I thought your presentation was excellent. I think you know the business exceptionally well, and you answered all of our questions really, really well. I'm impressed. So thank you for that. It helps make this a harder decision.

Sheel: Now you're just stalling dude. Come on. 

Jake: Yeah. Here are my problems. So first, I'm not sure what you're solving in the plane is a real problem. I think currently, for the consumer – and I think that ultimately the consumer matters the most for this business – I think the screens on the back of the planes gets them 80% of the way there. And this might be a little bit better, but I don't know if it's enough to really drive change. So that's my gut reaction. And then if VR becomes huge, people might have their own headsets. I don't know what that world looks like, but I just don't know if this is really solving a problem. And then my other hesitation here is just that there are these other people who are handing out iPads on the plane, who already have the stuff in place, and they could do the business too if it took off. It's a minor concern. It's close, it's a hard decision for me. But I think I'm going to pass.

Jillian: Okay.

Sheel: Jillian.

Jillian: I'm going to pass. 

Sheel: Okay. All right.

All right. So with no explanation at all, Jillian is out.

Sheel: Thanks a lot, David.

David: Thanks.

Jillian: Well, you got $250 out of this.

Jake: Sheel, did you pass?

Sheel: Yeah, I was the first one.

Jillian: And can I just say one thing - 

Sheel: Half an hour ago.

Jillian: One small thing. When someone says, when a VC, a venture capitalist of this esteem says to you I want to put $250 behind you, the first thing that you should be saying is, thank you so much, and I didn't hear that. And I would have liked to have heard that. Okay. So go for it.

David: Thanks a lot. And I look forward to continuing our conversation.

Phil: Likewise. Thank you.

Jillian: And I know we're all going to hate ourselves, and he's going to do fantastic, and we're going to sit here killing ourselves. But great presentation. 

Sheel: Thank you.

Jillian: I know you're going to succeed.

Sheel: I'll say it, I started out thinking I'm going to hate this. I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would.

Jake: Sheel, you're so magnanimous.

Jillian: Wow. Effusive, aren't you?

Jake: I saw you at YC, and I totally zoned out…

David’s expertise convinced one investor to trust him with $250k – but did he have enough to make it through the grueling due diligence process? Find out after the break.

Josh: Well, David, welcome back to The Pitch.

David: Thank you.

Josh: Excited to have you back on. So first of all, tell me what's new with Skylights?

David: Wow. Well, in a nutshell, we have our customers that are using our service every single day. So we have passengers that are writing to us every day. And that's in and of itself a success. By the end of the year, if you're flying on one of the major carriers, you will be given this possibility to use Skylights on the aircraft.

Josh: That's a bold statement.

David: Yeah.

Josh: If you can remember back to The Pitch. Like, what were you sensing in the room, the power dynamics between you and them, and what ultimately happened when Phil went in, and then the others waffled for a little bit. 

David: So I remember that there was this, I wouldn't call it a contentious Q&A, but very clearly trying to show that despite the difficulty of the business that we had the different parts and pieces. And so I was really on the defensive during that first part. And then of course Phil came in and the questions kind of changed slightly. Phil's approach started to be, well, okay, this is interesting. The use case is an interesting one, you have an interesting team, now let's see if this can be a viable thing.

Josh: You feel like there was a tone shift in the room? Like things switched after Phil went in? And it's like all of a sudden the other investors were like, man, should we go in on this deal? And took you guys more seriously?

David: Yep. Yeah. So suddenly, you know, the question becomes, well, are we missing out on something here? And I'm on the fence, I'm not totally convinced, what should I do? And that was interesting to watch.

Josh: It was palpable in the room, and it was palpable when listening to the tape. The tension between those three investors who were on the fence, and undecided. I've seen a lot of these pitches, right, with these particular investors in the room, and I've never seen them so indecisive. They're always decisive, quick to make a decision, and very sure either one way or another, either in or out.

David: One way or the other. Okay.

Josh: I mean, even Jake saying, you know, I'm not really sure but I'm just going to start talking and see what happens. He's never said that before. Why did that happen to your pitch?

David: I was discussing this with my co-founder yesterday and I was telling him, you know, you and I went into this business, into this venture that's really complicated. It's very complex. With every single investor that we were involved with, we've had to fight this hesitation throughout the entire process. 

Josh: Well, and it felt like you had good arguments, you came back, but ultimately what you had to fall back on was, trust me. We know what we're doing.

David: Yes.

Josh: That's a big...

David: It's a big ask.  Yep. And I think that, you know, one of the learnings from all of this was what I really need to do is… We basically decided to cut the round short and focus on increasing our sales whereby trust was no longer, would no longer be the key thing.

Josh: Yeah. Speaking of learnings, do you remember the last thing Jillian said after she passed? She had one bit of advice for you?

David: Yeah. Was to be thankful, to be expressive regarding Phil. Make sure that Phil knew that we were honored to have him trust us. And I think she was right on that. So I was kind of... Stunned is not the right word, but in this very kind of pressured environment. And I didn't take the time to express that very clearly. And she was right in that.

Josh: All right. So let's talk about what happened after The Pitch with Phil. He committed to invest 250k, you guys walked out of the room, and what happened?

David: So we started to engage with Phil by email. So this is where it started to sink in a little bit that this was not the usual way of proceeding that I was expecting. Because what I really was expecting was to have a second meeting. And that's not what was happening. It was straight to the due diligence package. So I prepared what I could, sent that out ten days later, and then he had a lot of stuff to sort through as a result. At one point one of his questions was, well, just give me the rundown of your revenue over the past few months. And I thought, okay, well, what I need to do is, let's get this rolling so that we have revenue flowing in the bank for Phil. And so I kind of put it on the backburner to have the revenue flowing in for Phil later.

Josh: Like you just paused the conversation?

David: Yeah. I just kind of paused the conversation thinking, okay, I'll come back to you with revenue numbers when I have revenue numbers.

I want to cut to the chase here. Before I talked to David, I found out from Phil that he had decided not to go in on Skylights because he didn’t appreciate being put, as David said, “on the backburner.”

David: I'll certainly contact him again with those numbers, once they...

Josh: Well, you should. Because he's a bit miffed.

David: Okay. Okay.

Josh: I sent him an email. And he replied, saying he exchanged a few emails with you seeking additional information, then radio silence. He says, you know, it's not uncommon. Sometimes founders close out their rounds with other investors or simply don't want to go through due diligence with us. But then he says, "I view it as a sign of a founder's character, and I'm always glad to learn about this type of thing before we make an investment".

David: Yeah, I get that point of view. I mean, there's a right and there's a wrong way to do it, and what happened was the wrong way to do it. I regret that kind of radio silence. And I understand, yeah, I understand how he feels. 

Josh:  Yeah, I mean, it sounds like he was really interested in investing. Despite the challenges with revenue and issues there, it sounded like he was still hopeful for a deal to come together.

David: Well, I'll reach out to him. We'll see. We'll see. And if nothing else just to apologize for that radio silence.  And yeah, at least we'll have a...

Josh: Have a heart to heart.

David: Yeah, exactly.

Josh: Buy him a beer.

David: Exactly.

David: You know, it's a very human endeavor, and it's a human relationship.

Josh: Investors are people, too?

David: Investors and founders, both, yes.

I’m pretty sure this goes without saying at this point, but my takeaway is that these relationships are tenuous, and even the slightest offense can take down a deal.

And that relationship begins in the pitch. It’s like at the end of a first date where both people say, ok let’s have a second date. 

Getting to that first yes is step number one, and it’s important. But it's only the beginning. These relationships need to continue with open lines of communication from both parties.

Perhaps if David would have come back to Phil and said, "we don’t have the revenue yet, but we will in 3 months." Maybe Phil still doesn’t invest, but it’s possible he would have appreciated the candor and followed through on his investment after all. 

But we’ll never know.

Let us know what you think. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook @thepitchshow. Or send us an email at[email protected] 

And if the next time you're on a long-haul flight they start handing out Skylights VR, let us know.

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We are on the hunt for new start-ups for our next season that will be recorded this August. So if you or someone you know is building something unique, go to thepitch.show/apply – and fill out the form.

To hear scenes from next week’s episode, stay tuned til after the credits.

Our show was produced by me, Josh Muccio, Asthaa Chathurvedi and Rob Szypko. We were edited by Devon Taylor and Alex Blumberg.

Our theme music is by Breakmaster Cylinder, with original music composed by The Muse Maker, Bobby Lord, and Tyler Strickland. We were mixed by Enoch Kim with help from Matthew Boll.

Thanks to Lisa Muccio for planning the season 2 recording event last fall.  

And a quick disclaimer, no offer to invest is being made to or solicited from the listening audience on today’s show.

Finally, I want to say a quick thank you to the original sponsor of season 2, the It’s Worth Doing Right family for taking a leap of faith on us, when we were just a little independent podcast.

All right. You’ve been listening to The Pitch from Gimlet Media. I’m Josh Muccio. See you next week.

Next week on the pitch:

Anthony: When you're a volunteer football coach and you're responsible for a hundred kids that are bashing their skulls into each other two hours a day, seven days a week, statistically you will miss something.

Jillian: Just so you know. Those kids are never going to come in on their own.

Sheel: I think where you do have an angle is selling to parents. Being like, hey, your kids need to get pulled. Otherwise, you’re talking permanent brain damage.

New episodes of The Pitch come out on Wednesdays, 12pm EST. 

Make sure you’re subscribed wherever you get podcasts.

David Dicko

Founder of Skylights

Sheel MohnotProfile Photo

Sheel Mohnot

Investor / original co-host on The Pitch

Sheel is a co-founder of Better Tomorrow, a seed-stage venture capital fund investing in Fintech companies globally. His own startup experience includes 2 successful FinTech exits – a payments company and a high-stakes auction company, and he is GP of the 500 Fintech fund. He formerly worked as a financial services consultant at BCG and started his FinTech career at the non-profit p2p lender Kiva.

Howie DiamondProfile Photo

Howie Diamond

Investor on The Pitch

Howie Diamond is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Pure Ventures, and early stage investment firm that also invests in the development of its founders. Also a musician, Howie founded and sold a music management/licensing company in Los Angeles called Lo-Fi Music.  After that, he moved to San Francisco and began working closely with dozens of start-ups running business development for a Bay-Area tech agency called Sparkart.

Jake Chapman

Investor on The Pitch

Jake Chapman is a Managing Director at Army Venture Capital Corporation and focuses on companies working on technology that enhances the national security of the United States of America. The sectors I focus on are AI, Robotics, Aerospace, Autonomy, Quantum Computing, Semiconductors, Manufacturing, Security, Biotech, Defense, Energy and related industries.

Jillian ManusProfile Photo

Jillian Manus

Investor on The Pitch

Jillian Manus is Managing Partner of an early-stage Silicon Valley venture fund, Structure Capital. Branded “Architects of the Zero Waste Economy," they invest in underutilized assets and excess capacity. She was named one of the top 25 early-stage Female Investors by Business Insider in 2021. Jillian serves on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, these include: Stanford University School of Medicine Board of Fellows, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center Board of Directors, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Phil NadelProfile Photo

Phil Nadel

Investor on The Pitch

Phil Nadel is the Founder and Managing Director of Forefront Venture Fund and of Forefront Venture Partners, one of the largest syndicates on AngelList. He has started and sold several companies and has invested in more than 200 startups with several exits.