What your garage & spare room can teach you about the future

There’s a pretty good chance your spare room and garage is full of yesterday. The equipment, events, life stages, projects and stuff, but mostly ideas of what mattered then. Unless you clean it out (and I know you’ve been planing too for some time) it will be pretty hard to fit anything else in there. In fact, you might have been planning to clean it out to make space for that new project…. some clean floor space to get that idea underway…. some space to let the new come into.

Garage full of junk

Our brains are like that too. They need a spring clean. I’ll go even further and say we need to unlearn some of our outdated ideas from our past. Make room for the new truths of the world we are about to enter. The future will arrive regardless, best we make room for it mentally.

Follow me on SnapChat – search ‘Sammartron’ for more business insight. Click here if on mobile to add now.

The tradeoff Startup founders must never forget


So, we’ve just nailed our MVP and we are getting some real traction.  Next we’re going to raise capital, get some funding. We’ll probably go to the Valley as it’s easier to raise there. The valuations are more generous. We’re super pumped, finally getting our startup off the ground.


I thought you were an entrepreneur? 


What are you talking about? Of course I am – didn’t you hear what I just said?


Yes, but here is what I heard….  That you’ve finally got something people want, you’re probably solving a real problem and you’re on your path creating value for others, and eventually yourself. But in this process, you’ve got caught up in pop culture. You’ve forgotten that a big part entrepreneurship is independence – creating your own path. So, you’re off to raise money and get caught up in someone else’s objective – that of the venture capitalist. The same group of people who’d rather see you fail trying to build a billion dollar company,  than help you build a $10 million company. Their business model you see, is based on the former, not the latter. 

Venture Capital - the downside

If there is anything startup founders should remember it is why it’s worth doing at all. Startups are hard, and rarely a path to riches. Entrepreneurship is more about exploration and freedom than money. If you want to be rich, there’s more chance of that happening being an employee of a company that already has a billion dollar valuation.

In both cases: a funded startup or being employee – you’ll compromise control. In that case you may as well have the certainty of money that goes with stock options and employment. If you want to be answerable to anyone other than your customers that is.

It’s a rare event indeed when the deal terms favour the founder. Real entrepreneurs find ways to make money independently with that anti-modern thing called a profit. For every example of an entrepreneur succeeding with funding, there are 99+ that do not. It’s a bet I’d never take unless the VC came knocking on my door and / or I could maintain total control and independence.

Follow me on SnapChat – search ‘Sammartron’ for more business insight. Click here if on mobile to add now.

What do Google and George have in common?

Famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is known for doing lots of things; he invented the first graphical web interface, he said software is eating the world, and his motto is that he has ‘strong opinions loosely held’ – which I dig. We all ought to be able to change our mind when new information arrives.

And let’s face it, new information is arriving daily with new possibilities to match. Take this recent quote from Andreessen:

“One guy can now build a self driving car. We recently backed a founder who had built his own self driving car. Literally, one guy can now build a self driving car. Ten years ago this was like a DARPA Funded Grand Challenge Research Project. Five years ago this was a team of a thousand at Google. And now, it’s George. It’s one of those things (AI & machine learning) that looks like it’s about to tip, there is one George today, and a thousand Georges tomorrow.”

George & his self driving car

He was referring to George Hotz above.

The insight for entrepreneurs is that the pace of change is faster than a linear human mind can cope with. That idea or technology that you think is just a little too early probably isn’t. The most important thing in society, economics, business and Government today is the law of accelerating returns. And this is just one example of it in action.

If you you’d like to learn more, there is a rare opportunity to attend Singularity University in the Souther Hemisphere. An SU summit is being held in Christchurch this November. I’ll be there absorbing everything I can – why not join me? More details are here – I imagine it will sell out quick given the 2 year plus waiting in the Silicon Valley Campus.

This is the best efficiency hack I know

Have you ever noticed how you floss more frequently when a dentist appointment is looming? 

Our brains have a bias for focus on imminent events. Knowing this, here’s the best hack ever to GSD. 

Set up a meeting which creates a deadline before the work is done. And then make the meeting sooner than you think you can finish the work. You’ll find a way, simply because this leverages another human bias we have – our need to maintain social contracts. 

Getting stuff done is hard, sometimes the  thing we need to hack most in startups is ourselves. 

As seen on Hacker News

It’s easy to believe that reading Hacker News, Techcrunch, Quartz or Aeon is keeping us update with our industry.

It’s not.

Reading this stuff is the reality TV of the technology industry. It’s entertainment disguised as knowledge and personal growth.

All of us have already got a plan, and a list of things to do. If we invest more time executing that, there’s a far greater chance we’ll instead be written about in one of these forums.

So what’s after the MVP?

First ever hammer

Ok, so we know we’ve gotta build an MVP.

Then, we go build our MVP.

Now what?

It’s time to find out if it was actually Viable. Find out if it was viable by the truth of how the market reacted. Did it solve their problem? If it didn’t we need to build a new kind of Viable. What we should never do is make it a bigger Minimum and hope that that increases the probability of the Viability.

Only once we have a proven “V” should we increase beyond the “M”. And we’ll know if we’ve nailed the MVP by the traction or lack of it we achieved.

Follow me on SnapChat – search ‘Sammartron’ for more business insight. Click here if on mobile to add now.

Why the order of what we build matters more now

When the connected society arrived on the back of the web, companies who made stuff moved to make networks to connect directly to their customers. But it kinda shows that they are more interested in the stuff they make, than the connections they need. The supply chain has moved from a set of separate steps, owned by different people, to a network which can be staffed by a single firm.

So what we see now is many companies who started by building connections, and added the product once the connection was established. They earned attention and now they plug in the products their audience needs to a system they control.

In a world where connection is the core asset, the latter strategy will become infinitely more poweful than the former.