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The most popular posts in 2018

The 18 most popular posts in 2018: Selling the first telephone A realistic view of the startup “hockey stick” The 140-character (Tweet) pitch Investing without “Exits” The unintuitive Hype Curve (of startup value) Your entrepreneurship skills The art of “cold email” messages SunCulture: drip-irrigation for Kenyan farmers Breaking the paradigm of startup investment Before the chasm… comes the...

Infinite games have different rules

We are taught how to play finite games.  Games where there are fixed rules, a fixed timeline, where the purpose is to win.  But life, sustainability, and the world we want is part of an infinite game: players that come and go, rules that change, where the objective is to keep playing the game. Simon Sinek explains this in the following interview, which is an overview of his new book, The Infinite...

Put yourself in the shoes of a startup investor

Put yourself in the shoes of a startup investor. Every day you review entrepreneurs, through a sort of funnel: very wide at the top and narrow down below, with only a few investments coming out the bottom each year. The average venture capital firm reviews approximately 1,200 companies in order to make 10 investments. At Village Capital, we make contact with nearly 10,000 entrepreneurs a year...

Complexify

Working with hundreds of startups, various patterns eventually become obvious.  One common pattern is wrapped around the common refrain of mentors to entrepreneurs, “focus“.  The actual pattern is a bit more complex.  It goes like this: 1. You have an idea.  It may feel fully formed, but it’s half-baked.  You know enough about the problem and just enough about the customers to...

Tomorrow will be worse

Earlier this year I had a most amazing experience, traveling to India to meet the President of the Tibetan government in Exile, the Speaker of the House, the Chief Justice of their Supreme Court and his holiness, the 14th Dalia Lama. One of the take aways from this trip was the Tibetan attitude about the present and the future, first shared by Lobsang Sangay, the current President.  It goes like...

Toyota, Lean, and Lean Startups

“Lean Manufacturing” is the the origin of the phrase and philosophy “Lean Startup” and no matter how many times I see good summaries of the Toyota Manufacturing Process (the masters of Lean), I keep seeing analogies that are useful for startups. Lesson 1- Don’t make the same mistake twice. Lesson 2- Optimizing internal operations can be your secret sauce. Lesson 3...

I don’t want to think about the Money

Episode 4 of ZigZag included the backstory of the company behind the podcast.  It was not an a-typical startup story, but one line caught my ear. I don’t want to think about the money. This too is not a-typical of founders.  They have an idea.  They want turn it into a product (or service).  They like the concept of having customers and running a business.  But when the time comes to ask a...

The future you want, rather than the future that might otherwise be

One of the challenges of being an “impact investor” is explaining to others what you mean by “impact” as the definition varies from person to person.  The best explanation I’ve ever heard came from Ted Levinson of Beneficial Returns on a panel at a recent SOCAP 365 event in San Francisco (which I heard on the “Unusual Investments” episode of the new Money...

Don’t go chasing unicorns [Guest post]

Venture capital should never have become the standard way for us to fund new businesses. As an asset class, it’s uniquely designed to fund disruptive innovations. It does this by funding ventures that are likely to fail, but — if successful — can result in outsized outcomes. In other words, it’s a ‘home run’ based model. For a venture capitalist, seeing 6 or 7 out of 10 portfolio companies fail...

Seeking the Edge Cases

A few times per year I’m reminded that what I do for work is completely unrelated to what I studied in college.  Or at least it seems that way on the surface. I studied Mathematics and Computer Science for my Bachelors degree, then Computer Science and Engineering for my Masters.  I’m thus trained as a reductionist, a logician, a bit of engineering, and a lot of focus on proving how...

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