PEPSI – Startups

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Unicorn = A startup with over $1 billion in valuation

A: Why are you all dressed up? You look very handsome.
B: I’m going to meet a very important angel. A friend of mine helped me set up the meeting.
A: I’m sure you’ll get funding. Your technology is way ahead of the curve. The sky is the limit.
B: Thanks for saying that. I’ve invested all my life savings into this venture. All my eggs are in this basket.


To dress up (pv): to wear smart and formal clothes.
To set up something (pv): (1) to organize or plan something such as a meeting. (2) to start something such as a business, or organization.
To be ahead of the curve (i): to be above average, to perform well, ahead of current thinking or trends.
The sky is the limit (e)(s): there is no limit to what someone/something can achieve.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (p): to make everything dependent on one thing, to place all your resources in one place (if the basket drops, you lose everything).

A: Let me get this straight. You want me to invest $30 million dollars for 10% of your company? Are you nuts? You have no sales, no product, and no customers.
B: I know we have a tough road ahead of us. Just believe me.
A: This is the worst pitch I’ve ever heard. It’s a pipe dream! Your valuation of the company just doesn’t sit right with me. You absolutely bombed it. The ship has sailed.
B: If you could reconsider.
A: Listen, read the room. No one is interested. We have a lot on our plate and we have bigger fish to fry. We’re out.


Let me get this straight (e)(clarification): To understand, clarify or summarize. To check if something is right. Let me get all the facts.
Nuts (s)(adj): crazy, insane.
The road ahead (i): The future, the journey in front. Synonyms: A long/tough road ahead. A pipe dream (i): a fantasy, a dream with very little chance of happening, a hopeless dream.
To sit right | To sit well with someone (i): to be acceptable or understandable. Often used in the negative form, to no sit right/well with someone – difficult to agree/accept, to dislike an idea.
To bomb something (s)(v): to fail miserably, a fiasco (a complete failure)(Italian).
The ship has sailed (e): refer a missed opportunity, a situation that can no longer be changed, an opportunity has already past, it’s too late now.
Read the room (e): to interpret, detect and understand the mood, biases and tendencies of the people in the room. To feel the atmosphere.
To have a lot on one’s plate (i): to have a hectic schedule, to be very busy, to have many things going on in your life – work, career, family, health.
To have bigger fish to fry (i): To have more important things to do or think about.

A: Did you get the funding? This was our last chance.
B: Unfortunately, we came up short.
A: What happened?
B: They wanted too much equity. For crying out loud, they asked for 50% of our company. They wanted to call all the shots. We turned them down. All our hard work went down the drain. Maybe, we should throw in the towel. There’s no future.


To come up short (i): to fail to meet expectations or standards, to fall short of reaching a goal.
For crying out loud (e)(s): used for emphasis, an exclamation of anger, exasperation, irritation, frustration, impatience. Synonym: For God’s sake, for heaven’s sake, Jesus Christ
To call the shots (i): To make the important decisions, to be in a position of power, to be in charge.
To turn someone/something down (pv): to reject or refuse someone/something.
To go down the drain (i): to be wasted, to fail or be destroyed.
To throw in the towel (i) (boxing): to quit, to give up.

A: Do you remember those kids who pitched their idea about an apartment rental platform?
B: It doesn’t ring a bell.
A: I think they called it ‘Airbnb’.
B: Oh yes, I remember now. That was a few years ago. So what?
A: We missed a golden opportunity. They struck out on their own and now they’re worth billions of dollars.
B: You win some and you lose some. I guess, that’s life. I didn’t want to invest in them because I thought they would just burn through cash.


To ring a bell (i): to awaken a memory, to remember something, to seem familiar, to hear it before.
A golden opportunity (i)(n): a rare and excellent chance or opportunity.
To strike out on one’s own (i): to start to live, work or travel alone, to begin a new activity alone.
You win some, you lose some (p)(encouragement): you can’t always be successful, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. (use after you lose usually, to give encouragement)
That’s life (e): use to accept a difficult situation or misfortune. Synonym: c’est la vie, shit happens.
To burn through cash (i)(s): to spend money very quickly.

PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. What do you like to wear when you dress up? What kind of accessories do you add?
  2. How can companies stay ahead of the curve?
  3. When is it a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, when is it not? Should companies seek diversification?
  4. Tell me about a time you did something nuts.
  5. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the road ahead? What are your plans for the future?
  6. Have you ever bombed an important presentation?
  7. Tell me about a time when the ship sailed.
  8. Are you good at reading the room? Do you think it’s an important skill? How can we improve this skill?
  9. Do you have a lot on your plate right now? Tell me about a time you did.
  10. Do you like calling the shots? When?
  11. At what age should people strike out on their own? What kind of lessons can you learn when striking out on your own?
  12. Why do investors miss many golden opportunities when investing in startups?
  13. Why do startups burn through cash?
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