There has been many attempts to define what is likable? What is beauty? Is there a formula? It seems there is and it makes a lot of sense. It is called “Optimal Newness” as defined by a research team from Harvard University which conducted a study in 2014 to know “what sorts of proposals were most likely to win funding from prestigious institutions such as the National Institutes of Health—safely familiar proposals, or extremely novel ones? They prepared about 150 research proposals and gave each one a novelty score. Then they recruited 142 world-class scientists to evaluate the projects. The most-novel proposals got the worst ratings. Exceedingly familiar proposals fared a bit better, but they still received low scores. “Everyone dislikes novelty,” Karim Lakhani, a co-author, explained to me, and “experts tend to be overly critical of proposals in their own domain.” The highest evaluation scores went to submissions that were deemed slightly new.” writes Derek Thompson in his 2017 article for The Atlantic – The Four-Letter Code to Selling Just About Anything”.
There is no denying that we are living online. And we are just about waking up to its fallout in our lives. The loneliness, the attack on privacy, the temptation and the habit of instant gratification. It’s all there. Ashesh Mukherjee, McGill University Associate Professor of Marketing, wrote one of the early insights into five noticeable trends that are shaping our lives – “too much temptation, too much information, too much customization, too many comparisons and too little privacy.” These costs come in two categories – commercial costs we pay as consumers in the form of overspending for instant gratification with very little actual value and social costs we are paying as individuals in terms of exposure to unverified opinions, fake news and increasing loss of privacy which will further erode as we integrate our lives with IOT devices.
Jason Lemkin, the founder of Saastr has written “The Ultimate Guide for scaling, sales and Raising Capital” compiled from his responses on Quora. All 100 of them. Here are some of my favorite questions and their answer highlights. Read the book for the detailed responses. It is a quick read and the Return On Time is phenomenal.
Will start with the Good news. According to Tomasz Tunguz the fundraising scene has become extremely sophisticated “along three dimensions: diversity of product offering, pricing sophistication, and efficiency of investment processes.” The types of rounds and ways to raise them has become more science than art. Five flavors of seed, wide range of A, B and C rounds with a wide array of sources – “Founders can raise $7M Series As and $15M Series As. Would you like a series A from a generalist fund or a specialist fund? Founders can raise a $15M Series B or a $200M Series B. Would you like that Series B from an opportunity fund, an SPV funded by direct LP investment or from a third part?” The options of IPO, ICO, secondary markets, venture debt – for businesses with the right indicators neither valuation nor money is going to be a problem, according to TomTunguz all indications are that 2019 will be a strong fundraising market.
When I look around for tech business related nuggets for myself, some of which I share in this series, my primary go to topics are related to software, SaaS and startups. Then super high level ideas that need pondering about or keeping them in the periphery of your vision lest they become a Tsunami behind your back. Time to time I come across a story which does not fit my normal scheme of things but are so compelling that I feel like sharing it with friends. One such came out just a few days back in Fast Company written by Joel Johnson. It is the story of how the USB port came about.
The sales community on Linkedin is vibrant and inspiring. I enjoy the discourse and try to share thoughts from time to time. The fact that the focus is shifting from the supply side (read Sellers ) to the demand side (read Buyers) is evident. However, to ask any leader of any organisation “Tell me, do you personally prefer – to buy at your own pace or to be sold to?” what answer do you think I got every time? Imagine, I asked you this question right now, what would your answer be?
It is Wednesday. My date with finding life hacks that help us be more productive, be a better version of yourself. I do not think that anyone needs to really read this stuff if you are content with what and where you are. But the compelling reason to examine that is this: The time each one of us have is limited and doing useful productive work that contributes to better society and world will make you a happier and content human being. While looking around for clues I found Darius Foroux. He made it his life mission to focus on 4 areas – Productivity,Habits, Decision Making and Personal Finance.
The latest episode of Masters of Scale features Ben Chestnut, Co Founder and CEO of Mailchimp, and champion of simplicity and bootstrapping. When Ried asks him about when he started figuring out Dashboards and analytics stuff (Mailchimp ARR $600mn) Ben says – “Gosh, that’s a good question. I think to this day I still keep it very simple, myself. I obviously have a CFO who cares about it. He has big fancy reports, but I really say, you know, “How much money did we make this month? Is it growing? At what rate?” That’s all I really care about. I keep it pretty simple.” Strangely enough I also happened to read this article “Don’t Build a Startup, Build a Movement” by Ali Mese and guess who was the centerpiece of his narrative – Ben and Mailchimp. Ali makes a passionate plea for differentiated approach to your brand storytelling. Ali writes – “Over the last years, MailChimp has built an iconic brand with its design-centric approach and unconventional marketing campaigns.” that took Mailchimp, which was essentially a side hustle for about 5 years for Ben and his co-founder, to 15 million customers. So what did MailChimp do? They decided early to “Focus on building a brand customers love.”
Hugh Durkin, Director of Platform Partner Success Hubspot, has been following mobile habits and writing on shifts that he sees in the space. Way back in 2016, when he was a Senior Product Manager at Intercom, he wrote about how browsers are the future of mobile. Data in support – “ most US smartphone owners ( read 65%+) download zero apps in a typical month,” according to Comscore’s then report on mobile apps ( how many new apps did you download last quarter?) and it goes on to show that the top App takes 50% of use time while the top 3 are responsible for 80% of the mobile usage.