Ultimately, how you choose to lead your startup in the post-2022 Tight Money Era depends on what lessons you’re taking away from the 2018-2022 Loose Money Era, and where you’re at on your own leadership journey. In this post, I’ll describe where my stance is at the end of 2022 with respect to a systemized study of new venturing knowledge. How We Got Here: The Loose Money Era Money was cheap between 2018 and 2022 [1]. Stupidly cheap. You know how I know money was cheap? Check the links: Intensely. Stupidly. Insanely. Idiotic. Terribly. Sweatily. Moronicly. Cheap. Cheap money enables radical conservation of thought. (I’m picking on scooters because it’s physically obvious, but there’s plenty of incredibly silly things going[…]

You only have so much attention. When you consume media, roughly 27% to 30% of your attention can be directly monetized, and there’s perhaps a tolerance for another 15% that can be wrung out with product placement. As a result, Time Spent is an attractive metric for those who create and monetize attention. For example, if you can attract 1,000,000 hours of attention, then you can monetize 300,000 to 450,000 hours of it. In theory, the amount you can charge for your attention depends on the value advertisers place on the audiences’ attention. And that depends on who they think you are, how susceptible you are, how much you spend in the relevant category, how causal the purchase decision is[…]

Why is it easier for an individual to identify a valuable problem and solve it in a startup than it is in a business? Will be the same in most Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO)? In this post, I’ll argue that information is a key enabler that makes it all the easier for an individual to identify and solve valuable problems. If we’re in the age of information, then why does information seem so scarce? The reasons for information scarcity are many and emergent, including status-quo preservation and self-identity protection. To understand the resistance to solving a valuable problem, it’s useful to think of Lock-In [1] and to mark the distinctions between startups, businesses and DAO’s. A startup is not a[…]

If a quality attribute is an adjective describing something, and an organization is a set of people segmented by purpose, then what kind of quality attributes could be used to describe an organization? A good place to begin is with a segmentation of purposes. What is the purpose of the organization? I am bathed in neoliberalism. You might even say that I have been marinated in it. Pickled. The first segmentation that comes to mind each contain the term profit. There are for-profit organizations, non-profits, and not-for-profits. Profit-as-a-Purpose predisposes an organization whole range of quality attributes. Non-profits and not-for-profits are predisposed to another set of quality attributes. Profit motive offers one cleavage for segmentation. It’s obvious because it’s the neoliberal thing to[…]

If a quality attribute is an adjective describing something, and a virtual good is something that does not occupy a physical space, then what kind of quality attributes could be used to describe a virtual good? The most common physical goods (I.e. found in the real world; found in meatspace) that most humans come into daily contact with are clothing and water. Many come into contact with the floor of their shelter and experience walls and a roof. Not enough humans come into contact with enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Physical goods are physical, and we experience them all the time. Many humans don’t ever encounter any virtual goods. Virtual goods aren’t physical. These words, the ones you are reading[…]

What are the quality attributes and need-solution pairs of Web3? At minimum, the key quality attribute is decentralization. The key matching need is fairness. There are good reasons why this is so. I’d love to be able cite someone that there is a natural tendency for humans to centralize power. I’d love for that statement to be axiomatic. I can cite quite a few papers that appear to just take it as a given (Aristotle (301 BCE, Machiavelli (1513), Bloomfield and Coombs (1992)). But, I can’t find a passage for the axiom anywhere. For the purposes of this post, I’m importing the assumption as a truth: there is a tendency for people to centralize to power. Decentralization is a counter-force[…]

A quality attribute, in systems engineering, is a non-functional requirement. I think of them as adjectives that describe a system. They’re useful tools. There are dozens of quality attributes in systems engineering: accessibility, accuracy, durability, flexibility, observability, repeatability, safety, sustainability, testability, upgradeability, usability, vulnerability and so on. They’re useful tools because they’re the core of discriminator statements, and as such, can help us think about Need-Solution Pairs. Quality Attributes and Need-Solution Pairs What if, in the context of a Need-Solution pair (von Hippel and von Krogh (2016)), a solution can have a large number of quality attributes? When comparing a product to a substitute, you can think of faster, cheaper, and easier. This laptop is faster than that one. It’s[…]

Von Hippel is onto something with the idea of need-solution pairs. This is how I understand the idea: Most management literature is focused on problem definition. (See: James G March for one of the best models of how problems drives search). Often, searches are sparked by a problem. But what if it isn’t always sparked by a problem? Von Hippel argues that search isn’t always motivated by formalized problems. Sometimes people are just discovering alternatives based on needs, and then, they compare a new alternative to the status quo. If the alternative is predicted to be better than the status quo, then the alternative will be substituted. If not, it’s rejected. This is a kind of a neat way to[…]

“I’m seeing things Believe me I’ve never seen before Little things Deceive me” Seeing Things, Theme Song, 1981 One common formula for a product vision comes from Steve Blank (2010, 2020). It goes like this: “For <customer segment> our product, <product name> is a <name the sector that customers say> that <benefit>. Unlike <competitors>, our product <discriminator>. Our product is <product name>.” And each bit of that formula can be systematically turned into a set of hypotheses that can be tested and refined until the vision is sufficiently true, or likely, to create a wonderful business if scaled. Blank himself repeats that entrepreneurs are rule breakers, so it’s really up to them which ones they want to break. Osterwalder and[…]

Leopold makes the argument that business agility isn’t software agility [1]. It’s a very good argument. Here’s a few ways to think about Leopold’s insight. Most products are static. A pie is made, purchased, and consumed. As are most physical goods: toasters, fans, mattresses, tables and so on. Most goods leave a residue behind but their core essence is completed. A toaster will persist in the landfill unless it’s dug up later. Otherwise, it’ll go onto form a line in the geological strata. Most virtual goods are static too. A lottery ticket, a podcast, a book, a brand marketing campaign, an episode of Avenue5. Most of these goods are shipped and then they’re effectively gone from their creators. They leave[…]