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Constraints, Creativity, Startups, Funding

When options are limited, people produce more solutions  – not less.

When people are limited they try to improve and optimise.

 

The opposite is true.

It is known as Parkinson’s Law :

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion”

 

Well, seems like what is true for time budget is also true for financial budget.

The more money there is available the more money you will use for your project.

 

Introduce Juicero – a startup that has come under heat recently for doing just that.

Juicero sells a machine that makes juice.

They have also received some nice juicy VC money too (investment) of $120 millions.

That’s a lot.

Especially, to make a juicer.

Even more, when this juicer also costs $700 when they launched.

Today, they have cut the price down to “only” $400

Yet, it remains expensive.

So expensive, than Bloomberg went to investigate.

As you can see for yourself – the all Juicero machine sounds like a scam by now.

But honestly, creating a hardware company, raising $120 000 and working for 2 years to build a product is not the smartest way to set up a scam to get rich quick.

The reality is simpler.

And a bit sad.

Ben Einstein (yes, it is his name… no I don’t know if he is related to Albert – but in any case he sounds like a smart guy) did some research on the over-expensive juicer (full piece here).

What he found is simple:

The engineering team had too much money.

(Remember they rose $120 000)

What they have build is a wonderful machine.

A solid piece of engineering.

But an expensive one.

Teardown of Juicero juicer by Ben Einstein

The Juicero Press can :

  • connect to your WiFi network (via TI’s CC3200 chipset, purple arrow),
  • has optics/camera assembly for scanning QR codes on the juice packs (green arrow),
  • to illuminate QR codes – equipped withLED board (blue arrow)

Juicero press teardown – by Ben Einstein

 

I am just going to quote Ben here:

“It is exceptionally rare to see a custom power supply on a first-time hardware startup’s product as these are inspected very carefully as part of UL/ETL certification, creating additional cost and risk.”
Notice the motor (blue arrow, part number JQ42-1210N1) which is manufactured by Jiaai Motor Company, a common supplier of cordless drill motors. Like many of the other systems on this product, the motor is seemingly custom to account for the exceptionally high rated power (stalls at 5A at 330V DC, which is hard to believe, possibly even a misprint on the motor casing) and sports a custom encoder system designed by Juicero (yellow arrow)”

If you read the whole piece, you will see it goes on and on and on.

The amount of customisation these people went through to make a machine that just press juice is quite amazing – and expensive – and possible stupid.

It is like they have tried to make a Apple computer version of a juice machine.

If apple had done this product and call it iJuice,  I am not sure anybody would have been that surprised.

The only difference is that Apple is making product that people buy.

Juicero not quite yet.

So, there is that.

Time will tell.

But one things comes to my mind, when we have all these investment in startup land and these companies keep failing.

The core of the problem might be the same thing that we try to use to enable innovation: resources.

If we give too many resources to a team, you might not see this team actually succeed.

Because of the lack of constraints.

Food for thought.

 

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Remote preparation for your next networking travel – Hustle Hacks 101

So you want to grow your network and are prepared to travel for it – or the other way around – you are travelling to a remote place and you see this as an opportunity to network and grow your base.

You will be town for a day or two, maybe a week maximum, and you want to see how to find the right people and the right event to get on your agenda and make the best out of your trip.

This article is for you.

What I will cover here is just how to prepare the networking itself – filling up your agenda – not necessarily the logistics of travelling or using your travel as part of building your brand – that will be for an other article.

This is also not an article on sales technics. If you do not know how to approach people, check this article.

Ok, back to our concern, filling up your agenda.

Stripped down to the bare essential,  you need to:

  1. Find interesting events – signup and go there and meet interesting people
  2. Find interesting people and set up a meeting with them

Find interesting events

Define interesting first.
Once you know what interesting looks like, translate into keywords.

Entrepreneurship, design, Startup, Tech or anything that you are into, be it social activists gathering, or business breakfasts for HR leaders, just find your thing.

Then go to a place where you can look for events:

Just check which one works best for your needs. Meetups are pretty common in most area I have checked, closely followed by EventBrite, but I have had nice surprises on Facebook too.

Meetup.com

 

Doorkeeper seems to be hot in japan. Funzing have a surprisingly good hebrew interface, Citysocializer is a more about big towns in the world. Reddit has a bunch of local subreddits for towns.

Whatever site you want to use, just pick a few events to go to, and use this as an opportunity to shake some hands and get a feel of the place.

Reddit is also an option to check

Reddit is also an option to check

Now that let’s keep filling up the agenda with some in-person meetings.

For this part, you need interesting individuals (I will leave you to decide what interesting means.)

So here are some tips on how to get to them:

1. Reverse engineer your events

In the previous steps, you have selected a bunch of events you like, right? Well, chances are that, depending on the even site you used, that you can see who else is coming at this event, or even who is coming regularly.

Meetup leaders

In which case, grab yourself a coffee and let the digging start:

  • check the profiles
  • google their names
  • find them on linkedIn, or on twitter
  • maybe they have personal website with a contact form
  • or they work at some place and you can contact their secretary…

Then get in touch with them, present yourself and ask for a coffee.

2. Ask for introductions

Introductions can be awesome. You can ask people you know, but you can also use twitter to reach to some people you know have a large network and they will simply retweet your request and some people will reach out to you.

Get intros

You might be surprised…

3. Use the company registers

Depending of the kind of people you are looking to meet, checking the company register of the area can be a good idea if you want to find founders or CEOs of companies within your vertical.

Corporate register

 

4. Twitter

Obvious, but under-used. Just go to advanced search, and select the place in which you are searching.

 

Twitter advanced search

 

 

Again, here I am not giving you much help on how you can sell them why they should meet you, and I know it can be hard to figure out how to approach people, but really you should keep it simple and say straight what you want from the go and if they are cool with that, then they’ll meet.

It does not have to be super complicated – you are in town and you want to meet interesting people, you like their company, or their book, or the industry in which they operate, and you want to have lunch with them or get to know more their company or their ideas on something or whatever… just be you and meet people who will take you as you are.

 

If you really need some help, check these out:

 

A few more tips

1. Don’t forget to send a confirmation the same day or the day before

We all get busy, and forget things from time to time. A quick email/tweet to tell them you cannot wait to meet them will be appreciated for sure.
2. Be the one who move

Avoid setting up meetings where you have to wait for someone to join you at some place. It is better if you are the one who comes to them. Find an excuse to pick them up, or meet them at their office, this kind of things.

Just move your ass

This will just prevent you from getting dumped. Because people get lazy, and skip meetings. They just do. Why getting out in the cold if they can just forget about you and keep doing what they are doing anyway. Nothing personal, just more convenient this way. But if you are the one to meet them, they don’t need to leave the warm environment of their office and you increase your chances of not being cancelled.

Of course it is not always possible to get such a set up nor is it always necessary but always good to keep this in mind.
3. Think about the day after

Networking is great but very often people do not keep in touch after they discuss, and not because they don’t want to, it is just not as much a priority anymore, life goes on and you forget.

 

Building a network takes time and require regular communication. This is why be ready for the follow up,  simply thanking them the day after for giving you some of their time, either by email or on social media.

It is a simple thing to do. Just to do not forget to do it.

 

Wrapping up

Not much more to say actually. You now know where to look for people and events, you even got a few links to tip you on how to introduce yourself.

Now, it is your turn to work. Take the time you need and fill up this agenda.

Of course, all this research and all this work is quite time-consuming, but hey, no pain – no gain.

Like you expected something else…

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Time Management – Hustle Hack 101

Yes, procrastination sucks, but it is part of life, stop complaining about it and do something about it.


Here are some tips I am using myself or have used at some point and have helped me along the way.

Start somewhere with a schedule for your days with objectives

Achieving your goals assumes you have defined some, and if your day is not going as you want, probably worth thinking what was that you wanted on the first place, what were you goals for the day, and what did you plan to achieve that you didn’t do. Because if you don’t make goals, that’s the best way to fail at meeting them.

 

Claim back your time by cutting your meetings in half

Yes meetings are important – but if you try to cut the chase in the meeting and get to a conclusion in half the time, you’d be surprised how much blabla and useless talk can go into a meeting and you’d be able to achieve more.

 

Gain clarity by defining clear deliverables

It is what you create not what you do that matter.

Focus on the outcomes, not on the activities.

People do not care what you did all day, if there are no results.

What is the result of your work?

Can it have a tangible form?

These are questions you may need to ask yourself from time to time.

These outcomes can be :

  • an email produced
  • an presentation
  • an article
  • or report.
  • etc.

It is also okay to explore, especially when you do not know what you need to do or produce, especially true when you deal with some innovative and creative process, when you are not sure, you need to think, so you spend a lot of time researching.

But even this can be structured in a deliverable:

  • it can be a list of materials you gathered
  • it can be made into a blog post
  • it can be a zip file, with a bunch of PDF for reuse.

Anyway, when you feel your time is going away with no result, it can be useful to clarify the deliverables.

Get your focus back with the pomodoro technic

Just check Wikipedia:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro\_Technique

TL;DR
Set up a 25 min timer – work focused during this time.

Then set up a 5 min break to reward yourself and then do it again.

Can’t get the Pomodoro thing to work?

Try any of these any other focus-driven method:

The 1-3-5 method
http://jasono.co/2013/08/25/why-the-pomodoro-technique-doesnt-work-for-me/

The 2-min rule
http://jamesclear.com/how-to-stop-procrastinating

The 50-10 rule
https://theproductivephilosopher.wordpress.com/tag/the-5010-rule/

The 10-min rule
http://www.naomiliddell.com/10-minute-rule-do-the-work/

 

Time is a question of importance

In the end time management is a question of importance

In the end, it is all question of importance. You lose time because you don’t care enough about your time to take your day seriously and make every minute count.

 

Finally watch this :

David Allen has broken down the science of productivity into a method he called GTD – for getting things done. It is based on real scientific data, originally from some work done by the the NASA on stress. I am a big fan of his work personally and would strongly recommend you get his book.

Meanwhile you can watch a talk he gave at Google a while ago but which is to me still one of the best out there:

Getting things done – David Allen at Google:

 

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NGO biz dev tip of the day

Hi there!

A quick tip today for NGO’s :

We live in a world with tight interconnections. It means that your cause, whatever it is you are rooting for – from handicap to poverty to your local social community service – chances are that people who don’t care for your cause are actually caring for a joint cause.

So, when you throw your next fundraising event, instead of doing it all alone and hoping for the best, go partner with an other NGO whose cause complement yours and share revenues from the event.

Examples:

Your NGO is into young adult education – go partner with a social inclusion NGO. You do food for Africa, go partner with water for Africa NGO. You run a church, go partner with a NGO that fight against drug or illiteracy.

Split revenue in half – or whatever make sense and benefit from a new audience that will view cause differently now.

Of course, we could go on and expand on how you can use storytelling to bring some extra humf to this partnership and impact your fundraising campaign, but we’ll keep it short for today.

 

Let’s be blunt

is-what-it-is

You don’t know me and I don’t know you.

However you are still reading.

There might be something you expect to get from reading me.

It’s ok, I am cool with that.

 

That’s why I am writing for.

I want to provide you value. One day, we might be doing business together, or we might not.

Hell, you might never come back again… making it even more vital, in this very short amount of time of asynchronous exchange, that I try to bring my best to the table.

Which mean that when I write, I need to cut the bullshit and get to the point. 

Chances are, you customers / clients / audience / people you interact with, also, want you to just tell them what’s up for real. It is saving everyone’s time.

Once you told you, they might not like you, maybe it also means they will not make business with you, but it is still worth it, because in the long run, you win. 

First, you are saving yourself a huge amount of time by working with the right people, the one who made a informed and educated choice to work with you, knowing who you are.

But also, you are doing them a service – because if they know who you are and what you think, they are not in for a bad surprise. Human expectations are set very early in the relationship, from the very beginning what you plan to bring to the table and how you roll. They will thank you for that. And they will trust you for that.

No one need your political correctness, no one need you to disguise your thoughts. Just be you, and try 100% to bring value to the other side.

 

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The 1 thing you need to make your marketing work

Patience. Grit. Perseverance. Borderline Stubbornness.

<sidenote>

Successful Startup founder are usually painted as stubborn asshole who don’t want to hear anyone else advice. While some are like that (anyone can be a startup founder, especially these days) the one who succeed are not usually stubborn, but they have grit, they do not give up easily. However, pure stubbornness wouldn’t work since they need to be able to learn fast and listen a lot… but I’ll leave that for an other article.

</sidenote>

So, you need to stick to the part of the plan that said keep doing it.

The number one reason people failed, especially when it comes to content marketing and organic reach, is a lack of patience and will try one more time.

The beauty of digital marketing is that it brings you statistics, and you know pretty much what’s happening with your content, which at the beginning, is not much.

It is very tempting to let it go, drop it slowly, miss a few milestones until your plans to post on your page daily are gone, or your twitter engagement is running at an all time low.

Statistics will be your first enemy, and you’d be tempted to drop because of it. Instead, ignore statistics in the first 6 month to a year of your activity, until it become significant, and keep doing it. Every single day. And if you miss a day or a week, who cares, just get back to it, no bad feeling.

For every business owner, the day to day is soooo packed you’d be tempted to drop it entirely, or delegate it totally to some external agency to deal it for you, but even if an agency can come to help you with both the strategy and execution at scale, there is nothing that can replace you own personal involvement in your own company communication.

You have to do it, to be it and to sweat it.

Because in the long run, it matters. For real. To a point you cannot even imagine when you are at the beginning of the way.

So now go and get some of your marketing content done.

Yalla, davai, go do it… stop reading the internet, and go make the internet.

 

 

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Do the work. What for?

Do the work.

You know it is true. You know it is right but you do not get to do it.

Too busy? Too lazy?

Maybe you are just unclear with your goals.

Humans are goal-driven animals. We just cannot move our little finger if we do not have a reason for it. It may be a primal instinct that drive you toward action, and skip the rationalisation altogether, or it may be a cold rationalised series of strategic moves, or a mix of both. Whatever it is, the clearer it will be for you, the better off you will be.

Too often, lack of productivity and the feeling of being in the busy hamster wheel is the result of a lack of clarity.

By lack of clarity, I mean that your head tells you one thing, but your guts tell you an other one, and you get confused.

When you get confused your brain is activating its internal brakes and you won’t get far.

Like, you know you should be finishing this report, but hell, that TED talk on the future of education is soooo interesting… hey! look a video on hamster… 2 hours later… no new lines on this report, or not much progress on this design thing, or whatever you were supposed to get done is yet to get done.

Why?

Because you don’t know why you were supposed to do this report on the first place… Like, yeah, you know it’s tied to your project/job/commitment to someone, but why was that someone important? What do you do this project? How is this linked to your long terms goal? etc.

 

In short, you need to get your guts and your brain to reconnect.

 

How?

Get a piece of paper, your daily journal, an old envelop, whatever you can, and a pen. Write down:

“I want to do this report because X”

“I want to do X because Y”

“Y because Z”

etc.

Go as far as possible in your chain of causality until your life purpose and this report reconnect. Until this report make sense in your life again.

Unless it doesn’t, and then figure out how to get out of here, because your life won’t get much better if you keep doing shit you hate because it is not what you want to do anyway.