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I get so many entrepreneurs telling me that their product isn't ready to be launched. While you definitely have to have something to launch, you almost surely don't need something as good as you think.
As a reminder, here's what the Amazon.com site looked like when it launched:
You might say, "but that was a long time ago. the world has changed." Oh yeah? Here's what Twitter's site looked like in 2006 when it launched:
Shai Agassi is an amazing guy. In this TED Talk from 2009 he outlined a vision for an electric car with swappable batteries -- a startup called Better Place, which raised $200MM but then filed for bankruptcy this year after ousting Agassi. Same for Henrik Fisker, designer of the timeless Aston Martin DB9 and founder of Fisker Automotive, another electric car company that recently burned out.
Then there's Elon Musk, founder of Tesla. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan -- I've written many posts over the past few years about Tesla. Where Better Place and Fisker have seen failure, Tesla has seen massive levels of success.
Here's Tesla's stock price since it went public:
I've always considered Microsoft's WindowsPhone a darkhorse competitor to iOS & Android. Microsoft has boatloads of cash but has never been able to get a meaningful market share in mobile against iOS & Android.
But when I saw the new iOS 7 screenshots on Matt Gemmell's blog, the first thing I thought to myself was "wow, iOS7 looks a lot like WindowsPhone8." So I dug a little deeper. Here's an example:
The new iOS7 as shown on Matt's blog:
Incoming video call on Skype (which MSFT owns) on WindowsPhone:
I judged the NFTE Quarter Final competition at a local San Francisco high school today. NFTE is an organization that teaches entrepreneurship to students in high school and younger. One of the pitches today was made by 9th grader Simran Pabla around a pilot program she's running at her school: A business called Ready4Rain, which offers umbrellas to students so they don't get wet when they're going from building to building between classes. You can see her full pitch to the judges here. I was so impressed with her that I later interviewed her in the school's cafeteria. Here's a 9th grader who's currently running a pilot program for a startup concept she had. And she's not alone. Jocelyn Hernandez has sold over 20 of her custom iPhone cases at $40 each via her company, Functional Couture. And Mariana Ponce has sold over 100 of her Corny Cups at $2.50 each. In the past, I've done talks with Stanford MBAs, UVA McIntire business school students, and Georgetown MBAs and I consistently find that many of them are terrified to take the leap to becoming an entrepreneur by actually doing something, and not just talking about it. Consistently, high school or younger age kids are willing to take more risks than college students. It's almost like some switch gets flipped at some point in college that causes many students to stop seeing opportunities to be entrepreneurial, and become afraid to try jumping into the ones they do see. The interview above with Simran is great, partly because she's so honest about her motivations. She simply saw an opportunity to solve a problem, and went for it. She has no mortgage to worry about. No kids to take care of. Nothing to keep her from simply jumping to solve the problem she saw in front of her. She just proves how simple it is to become an entrepreneur when it's what you really want to do. So, kudos to Simran, Jocelyn, Mariana and their NFTE colleagues. I hope they never lose that risk-taking spirit. What may just seem to be a high school competition is actually an opportunity to effect massive change through entrepreneurism. The great thing about "creating something from nothing" is that nobody cares how old you are when you do it. There's no reason any of these ideas couldn't morph into huge, real businesses. All these kids need is the will to do it, and the means to try. If you're interested in volunteering for NFTE (something I love to do), drop me a comment below and I'll introduce you to someone who can help you figure out how you can really add value to the program.
If I weren't so passionate about the ways that mobile devices are changing the world, I'd be spending my time in one of the following three areas: Crypto currencies like Bitcoin, the commercialization of drones, and the rise of 3D printing.
Oh, time is so our enemy. Even a long-lived life only amounts to 750,000 hours or so. And as per my recent keynote at the 2013 Mobile Outlook on a "Framework for Stupid Ideas," one of my guiding principles is to "focus on focus" to maximize the value of each of those hours. Since mobile is my deepest passion, I'm not willing to dedicate the time to dive into any of these other things.
Another of my framework points is to play in a "space that matters." And these three spaces really, really matter -- that much will be obvious to everyone in the span of a few years. So I'm hoping that some other entrepreneur will be as passionate about one of these three spaces as I am about mobile. I figured I'd present a few highlights from each of them to showcase why they're such a big deal.
The crowd in 2005 vs. 2013 when the new pope was announced.
Yeah, mobile is totally just a fad.
Today at the Mobile Marketing Association's NYC Forum, the CMO of The Home Depot, Trish Mueller, gave a gangbusters presentation on the impact mobile has had to her company.
As she was showing off what The Home Depot's mobile app can do, she mentioned that users of the app can literally place a physical bolt onto the screen of an app to correctly size the bolt, making it easier to find the bolt in the store:
You can find more fascinating stats from Trish's presentation below, but to zoom out and be more macro for a bit: The app's bolt functionality is an awesome example of something that my co-founder Isaac and I have been discussing a lot recently:
That's Barg wearing Google Glass above and also below
A DC-based startup called dSky9 is creating some super interesting apps for Google Glass. At yesterday's Mobile Outlook 2013 event, the founders Barg & Greg showed off a Glass Simulator they've created to develop apps for Google Glass.
A few interesting things about Glass:
Paul Sherman, the editor of Pototmac Tech Wire, puts on an awesome Mobile Outlook panel every year. I participated in 2010 and 2011 and again this year at USA Today's Gannett HQ in McLean, VA. It's funny to go back and watch the older panels when we asked for a show of hands -- back then, everyone was using Blackberry phones and only a few early adopters had Android phones. Oh, how quickly things change -- at this year's panel the ratio was reversed. And interestingly, nobody was using a WindowsPhone device.
As I get into angel investing, I'm creating a framework with which to evaluate potential opportunities, which I presented as a keynote at the event. My main message: Find the good ideas that are masquerading as bad ideas -- therein lie the billion dollar exits. This is a tip I picked up from Paul Graham's excellent Black Swan Farming essay. Here's a Venn diagram of what these "good ideas in hiding" look like:
This is super counter-intuitive, because we all tend to look for the good ideas, both as entrepreneurs and as investors. In the slides below, you'll see that the framework I'm developing focuses on teams that can prototype & iterate quickly, are doing something in a meaningfully large market, and can "dump the poop," or pivot quickly when it turns out that a bad idea is actually just that: A bad idea, and not a good idea in hiding.
Priceonomics just posted a fascinating story mulling over the future of journalism. Here's one eye opening stat from the story:
Wow -- that's shrinkage of over 30% in less than a decade.
But the most interesting part of the post was a thought experiment that Rohin Dhar did -- an interesting twist on the business models for journalism, which was this: Instead of paying for what's already been written, what if we paid to influence what's written next?