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134. 2023 Prediction 2: Silicon Valley’s white male focus brings opportunity for everyone else

Despite the many press releases touting Silicon Valley's diversity efforts, the majority of funding from this innovation will still go to white males in 2023. 

While this reality is not what many of us want, it is an opportunity for investors and innovators to capture overlooked user markets.

 Learning notes from this episode:

    • A product is a solution to a problem a human is experiencing. Innovators make solutions for problems they are familiar with, which means that homogeneity in founders means homogeneity in products.
      • This means there is more competition amongst products that solve problems experienced by male founders, such as laundry services and food delivery apps, than in other niches, such as female healthcare. 
      • While funding will be harder to get for products not aimed at the white male market, competition in these sectors will also often be lower. Ultimately, this means big untapped opportunities.
    • Companies ran by founders who are not white...
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119. Why smart leaders expect the unexpected from software updates

Software updates can have weird unintended consequences that the company doesn't even know about. Existing features that worked perfectly can stop working, leading to lost revenues and annoyed customers.

Listen to this episode to learn why this happens and how non-technical leaders deal with it when it does.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • A developer could write a line of code to affect one outcome, and there could be a completely different unintended outcome that they don’t even know about it.
    • When an app, site or algorithm gets complicated enough, these unintended consequences are more and more likely to happen.
  • To prevent this, make sure that different people test the new version on different devices and browsers.
    • In tech teams, this function is called Quality Assurance.
  • Remember that these unintended consequences are inevitable. The key is to catch them early and correct course.
    • Create a process for your users to quickly tell you if something goes...
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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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107. Top questions to ask about an app to become smart money

To become SMART MONEY as an investor, founder or corporate innovator, you have to know what questions to ask about a product. This helps you spot signs of early success or early warning. 

Listen to this episode to learn what questions to ask and how to link product innovation to business strategy. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The questions fall into three buckets:
    1. How do my best customers behave?
    2. What are the characteristics of my best customers?
    3. What has to happen for them to abandon the product?
  • For bucket 1, you could ask:
    • What features do my most active users use?
    • What screens do they visit?
    • How often do they open the app?
    • What time of day do they open it and on which days?
  • For bucket 2, you could ask:
    • Where did these customers come from?
    • What are their demographics? Are there any patterns?
  • For bucket 3, you could ask:
    • What screens tend to be the last screen that people get to before they shut down the app?
    • What prices of other apps they use have?...
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106. What angel investors REALLY need to know about tech

Even the smartest professionals who don’t have backgrounds in digital businesses make the same mistakes when it comes to tech start-ups.

They often want vanity metrics, as opposed to what truly matters, and because they don’t know how a tech product gets made, they don’t know how to properly evaluate an opportunity. 

In this episode you'll learn 3 core tech concepts and how they apply to early stage investing.

Learning notes:

  • There are fundamental differences between software products, that are especially important at the early stages. This is because, when a product is very new, it is still in development mode. This is why understanding product development is vital at the early stages.

    For example, evaluating Airbnb as a listed company focusses on typical investment metrics: revenues, costs, growth etc. These would have been unavailable when Airbnb first launched, so investors must look for other signs.

  • Tech products are always evolving. For example,...
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98. Feature creep – why apps get too complicated

When an app has too many features and pop ups, most users get confused and frustrated. This is feature creep: when the product’s core functionality becomes hidden in too many options and things to do.

Feature creep happens when a team is determined to stay productive, but loses sight of its strategy. Sometimes stopping is better for the product than doing more.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Feature creep is problematic for two main reasons: it confuses users and it costs money. This is because product teams have to be paid to design and code, and you also have to pay cloud costs to store your pointless features.
  • Feature creep happens when there is a pressure to produce, which is contrary to the ability to focus. It can be easier to present new features as productivity to investors and corporate bosses, rather than saying that the product team took time to review results and reflect.
  • To prevent feature creep, go back to the fundamental product development questions...
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92. How to get people to be nice to each other on your platform

On Airbnb, people stay at strangers' homes. On Twitter, people get trolled. Both are global tech platforms, but why do people treat strangers well on one, and badly on the other?

The answer lies in platform governance: the rules you make to encourage good interactions and punish the bad stuff. Learn how to set up platforms where people are nice to strangers with this week's podcast episode.

Learning notes from this episode.

  • Platform governance touches product development, engineering and marketing. It isn't just a corporate mission statement nobody reads.
  • The logic we apply to creating good offline environments also apply to platforms, but just on a bigger scale. Ask yourself: how do I want people to feel when they get here? What do I want them to do?
  • The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker is an excellent book on how to create offline environments. You can apply these lessons to the online world you are creating. 
  • Community leaders and opinion...
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88. You can't be half pregnant

Developers don't work in the same ways as non-technical professionals. If you don't know how to work with developers, you can waste thousands of dollars and get very frustrated, as you'll see from the story Sophia shares on this week's episode.

Learning notes from this episode:

    • A feature cannot be released when it is not ready. It is either ready to release, or it is not. There is no half way line. A feature can't be half ready, just like you can't be half pregnant. 
    • Developers usually work in two-week cycles, when they are focussed on a specific set of tasks. For example, in a two week period, developers may be working on a specific feature for an app. Then they release it, and start on another feature.
    • Since what developers do affects the rest of what the product team does, this lesson is relevant if you want to work with other people in the product team, like designers, community managers and data scientists.
    • Corporate accelerators for technology start-ups, which...
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87. How to commercialise innovation

Success in tech consists of two parts: making great products and using them to build a business. No matter how brilliant an app or algorithm is, if people do not want to pay for it, it is unlikely to live for long.

This is why all tech innovators need to learn the core skills of commercialising innovation.

Listen to this episode to learn how Salesforce, Starbucks and Xero commercialise their tech products, and so you can apply their lessons too.

The top 3 questions you need to answer to ensure your tech product has business success are:

  1. How will this product help people make more money?
  2. How will this product improve customer experience?
  3. How will this product improve efficiency?

Always focus on the benefits that the product will bring customers, not its features.

Tell Sophia what you’re working on and submit your questions to her on [email protected]

Or reach her on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Listen here...

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83. How tech companies bring new ideas to life

If you have an idea for a new product in a traditional business, you will probably have to work on an extensive plan before you do anything else.

This is not how it works in tech companies. When the likes of Airbnb and Slack bring new apps or features to market, they use the Sprint Method. It is a methodology developed by Google Ventures to bring new ideas to life and test them quickly and cheaply.

Learn how this works in this podcast.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The aim of a sprint is to test an idea for a new product to find out whether it is worth investing more money in. For example, you can use a sprint to test an idea for an app by creating a prototype. If users like what you’ve made, only then should you hire developers.
  • Each sprint should focus on one idea to test. Do not try to test multiple ideas in one sprint.
  • To figure out where the biggest risks in a new idea lie, ask yourself: if this time in a year, this project failed, why would it have done so?
  • A sprint...
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