CategoryAdvice

Fax on the Beach: Too Soon and Too Late

Browsing the tech news I came across Fax on the beach: The story of the audacious, visionary, totally calamitous iPad of the ’90s and had flashbacks from my very first startup back in the early 1990s. This is a great example of how timing is so key to the success or failure of a startup. Timing, as the EO was 15 years too soon. They got the form factor correct, as the EO 880 is the same...

It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble

The title of the post is the first line in a (likely misquoted) quote: It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble.It’s What You Know for Sure That Just Ain’t So.(maybe) Mark Twain, but probably not. This quote shows up in The Big Short book and in the opening of The Big Short movie. It fits that story, as well as startup life. It reminds me of an old Fred Wilson blog post: Strong...

Incompetence, Fraud, and Association Reserves

After finishing The Big Short book I had to re-watch the movie. This time not only was I watching for signs of purposeful fraud vs. emergent fraud, but trying to tease out the difference between incompetence, fraud, and something else that is something between ignorance and stupidity and folly. A real world example of this showed up in my life a week ago. I’m the Treasurer of my homeowner...

Bowie, Jazz, an Unplayable Piano and the power of Business Accelerators

What do David Bowie, Jazz, and an unplayable piano have to do with the power of business accelerators? All get you out of your comfort zone, and that seems to be a secret to success. This episode of Tim Harford’s Cautionary Tales explains how. Listen to the episode first. My analysis is that one of the powers of an in-residency, in-person business accelerator is that it gets entrepreneurs...

How to BCC

When you send an email, you have the choice of putting recipients in three places: to, cc, and bcc. Here’s what bcc is useful for… There is a bit of untaught business email culture that not everyone seems to have noticed or practices.  But should. When someone makes an email introduction to you, the best practice is to (a) Reply All, (b) move them into the bcc: line, and (c) thank the...

The Most Popular Posts of 2019

What you learn from blogging is that you can never tell which posts will be popular: #1 – Selling the First TelephoneBy far the most popular post. Why? I’ve no idea. Not once has anyone every told me they read it. It’s read a few time every single day, and thus it can’t be some teacher somewhere who happens to assign it as a reading. #2 – The Next Step: PodcastThis...

Splitting Equity is Easy without the Humans

Someone wrote me today: I have taken a lot of time to ponder Rule #1 in your ‘Dividing Equity’, “Expect to be Disappointed”. I have also been diving into ‘Slicing Pie’ and talking to Mike Moyer about his ideologies as well. Similarly, I find the same disconnected energetic as he refers to everyone as “grunts”. I ask the question, why is it so difficult for humans to come together? My answer: For...

Popular Questions on Quora (II)

I love teaching, but no longer have a class of MBA candidates to teach each week. To make up for that, I answer questions on Quora. A few months ago I posted some of my most popular answers. Here are some more: Topic: Startups Why do so many startups fail?What aspects of the financial statements should an entrepreneur care most about when starting a business?How do you complete a bottom’s...

If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? Turns out it’s just chance.

I came across this article and its opening line in MIT Technology Review: The most successful people are not the most talented, just the luckiest, a new computer model of wealth creation confirms.MIT Technology Review I said something similar in a blog post 18 months ago, What if 99% of success is luck? And given the craziness of WeWork in the news, this idea that success is due more to luck than...

Yellow Flags, Yes vs. No

A few times per year I attend conferences full of fellow fund managers, managers of family offices, and big impact investors. The rest of the year I share investment opportunities multiple times per week with other investors. From all these conversations, I’ve come to realize the power and benefits of running a business accelerator rather than a traditional venture capital fund. From 10,000...

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