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117. Lessons from the Lean Start-Up by Eric Reis

"Successful entrepreneurs don't have better ideas, they have a better process," says Eric Reis in The Lean Start-Up. To learn how to innovate with speed, listen to this week's episode.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • A start-up is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty,” says Reis.
  • Do not to apply your corporate experience to start-ups.
    • Corporates have:
      • Departments
      • A known business model
      • A known problem
    • Start-ups have:
      • 3 people and a dog
      • No proven business model
      • A problem hypothesis
  • To test new ideas in conditions of extreme uncertainty, follow the Build-Measure-Learn cycle:

(Diagram from The Lean Start-Up)

  • This process is not only for tech products. Use it to invent new products and services, and if you get traction with existing tools, then consider investing in tech.
  • If you do not have a technical background, you will not know how to build a product so you could...
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116. Introduction to Deep Tech investing

When investing in Deep Tech, remember that technology is just a tool, not an end in itself. Understanding who will use it and why is key to becoming smart money.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • When investing in any business, you must consider these questions:
    • What problem are you solving?
    • Who are you solving it for?
    • Are they willing and able to pay for it?
  • Understand what stage of the innovation cycle the start-up is in. This will help you evaluate risk properly.
    • For example, the first lab grown burgers were unaffordable for most people. The risk at that stage was not whether the product can be made, but whether it can be made at a cost that would allow wide scale sales.
  • Get a technical expert to evaluate the start-up’s invention and help you understand their risk. Take note if no other deep tech investor is involved.
    • This is what happened with Theranos. Prominent biotech VCs passed on the round because they had the expertise to know that what Elizabeth Holmes was...
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115. Commercialising innovation and breaking into Deep Tech

Great technology is not enough to build a successful business. You need customers who understand its benefits, and are willing to pay for them. This is why storytelling is a key part of commercialising innovation.

Lauren Xandra, Head of Marketing at Two Sigma Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in deep tech, talks about her role in building successful tech businesses and how she transitioned career into deep tech.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "Just as important as supporting startups' technical growth is helping them to be understood and able to tell a story that not only resonates with their end users, but also with potential corporate partners and outside investors, who are often less technical," says Lauren.
  • Venture Capital is usually a job that people transition into, rather than start their careers in. 68% of venture capitalists in the US have backgrounds in start-ups, according to research by Diversity VC.
  • "Making a strategic career move requires thinking...
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114. What is Deep Tech?

Companies like Deep Mind fascinate investors and innovators, but what is a deep tech company really and how does it differ from other types of tech firms? Listen to this episode to find out.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Deep Tech is a sub-sector of the technology sector where the emphasis is on tangible engineering innovation or scientific advances and discoveries. It includes artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, advanced material science, photonics and electronics, biotech and quantum computing. 
  • Deep Tech is usually B2B: these companies usually sell their innovations to other businesses, rather than directly to consumers.
  • Deep Tech companies are usually founded by technical founders, and sometimes have non-technical co-founders who help them commercialise the innovation. A good example is biotech tech start-up Vitro Labs, where a scientist teamed up with a fashion industry expert to create laboratory grown leather.
  • The biggest risk to Deep Tech...
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113. How porn drives tech innovation

The porn industry is behind many of the innovations that drive e-commerce and the consumer internet today. If you want to know what new trend is going to be the hottest thing in tech, the makers of smut probably have the answer.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The adult industry pioneered streaming video, tracking devices and online credit card transactions.
  • Even before the advent of the internet, porn drove consumer tech. Author Patchen Barss  says that without porn, the VCR might have never taken off as a consumer product.
  • Pornographers are not necessarily the inventors of new technologies, but they are  the first to use them and thus drive consumer adoption. Once a technology works for porn users, they often flow down to the mainstream.
  • If you are a tech investor or a tech innovator, seeing what new products or use cases are happening in the adult industry, can help you spot the next big trend. The more you can pick up ideas from wherever they...
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112. The three stages of start-up teams

A tech start-up begins its life with a tiny team. The founders are either technical or tech savvy, but as the company scales its team has to change. 

Learn about the three stages of start-up team growth here.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • At stage 1, the start-up is focussed on building its first product and getting the first customers. The team is usually tiny, and each team member is either building the technology themselves or is very closely involved in the process. Everyone learns from each other on the job.
  • At stage 2, the start-up has raised Series A or Series B and is focussed on scaling. This is when specialists in non-technical fields start getting hired: HR experts, sales people etc. The gap between the techies and the non-techies widens, and this is where opportunities get lost.
  • At stage 3, the start-up is a late stage venture and is either preparing for a merger or an IPO. At this point, the original founder is very unlikely to be the CEO....
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111. B2C vs B2B start-ups

The biggest difference between business to business and consumer facing ventures is how they grow. The growth curve and costs of B2B vs B2C growth is what surprises (and sinks) many start-ups.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Business to consumer start-ups growth through paid marketing. If you launch a consumer app on the Apple App Store, expect to pay around 40% of the money you raise on Facebook advertising.
  • Business to business start-ups grow through sales. Sales is much more dependent on relationships and human interaction, than digital marketing. 
  • In the early stages of a B2B start-up's life, the founder is usually the one doing sales outreach.
  • Both approaches have serious costs. Do not make the mistakes that because marketing requires money and sales requires elbow grease, that sales is free. Always remember opportunity cost: if you are doing something, you are not doing something else.

 

 

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110. Cutting through tech hype with the Actionable Futurist

Conferences are full of speakers saying that the latest tech will change the world, but that often leaves smart people even more confused. Knowing about trends is irrelevant if you don't know what to do about them.

To learn how to cut through the tech hype, listen to this episode with Andrew Grill, the Actionable Futurist. Andrew began his career as an engineer, became a Global Managing Partner at IBM and today is a keynote speaker on tech & business trends.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • “To understand the technology, you need to play with it,” Andrew says. Using new software or devices at home makes you comfortable with trying new technologies. (e.g. try TikTok! you'll see what an engaging algorithm really feels like and you'll have a laugh)
  • Innovation theatre is a problem if there is no clear understanding why a company has a digital strategy. This is usually a leadership issue, not a tech issue.
  • The job title of Chief Digital Officer or...
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109. Do this to become a Digital Collaborator today

To lead in the Digital Age, you need to become a Digital Collaborator. The best way to learn anything quickly is to put yourself in a situation where not doing it isn’t an option.

Listen to this episode to learn what you can do to start collaborating with tech teams and take your career to the next level.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • If you work in a corporate, set up a weekly meeting with technologists and your team to discuss what they’re working on and how it impacts scale, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. This public commitment to collaboration removes your choice to delay.
  • For example, if you work in marketing, set up regular meeting with the data science team and begin by outlining your goals for the year and where you see the biggest bottle necks. While the data science team might not have solutions right away, this will lay the foundations for future collaboration. 
  • Another way to do become a Digital Collaborator is to volunteer...
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108. How to work with a data scientist

Some problems that annoy you daily could be solved by AI, but most business teams don't know that because they’ve never discussed them with a technologist. Listen to this episode with Dr Catherine Breslin, a machine learning scientist with a PhD from Cambridge, to learn how to make the most of the AI revolution.

Dr Breslin was one of the first people to work on Amazon Alexa and today leaders Kingfisher Labs, a consulting company.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • For AI to have the biggest impact, data scientists need the input of domain experts, who are usually non-techies.
  • To collaborate successfully with a data scientist, Dr Breslin suggests that non-technical teams bring their business wish list to a data scientist. Some of the items will probably be easily solved by technology, while others will not. Having regular discussions between tech teams and business teams will widen your scope of what’s possible.
  • Buying data to build models is a significant...
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