Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Recruiting for an Unknown Startup

Source: Fast Company, Aug 2016

OFFER A CHANCE TO MAKE OUTSIZE CONTRIBUTIONS

One of the biggest advantages startups have over well-established companies is that new team members are expected to wear multiple hats and make major contributions without having to climb corporate ladders.

LAY OUT YOUR PLAN FOR SUCCESS

… validate that there’s a real opportunity to make money—both for employees and the company.

So be transparent. Share your market research and projections. Whatever type of success you’ve already experienced—even if it’s modest, like a promising Kickstarter campaign—proudly show it off to prospective hires. They need to be certain that there’s potential here. Explain where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

EVERYONE ALREADY ON YOUR TEAM SHOULD DOUBLE AS A RECRUITER

As a founder, obviously you’re going to be enthusiastic about your startup. Because that’s expected, it’ll be harder for you personally to instill that same enthusiasm in candidates who’ve never heard of your company before. They may, however, want to hear from the people who already work there. Whether if it’s an advisor, coder, or investor, having someone do some recruiting legwork for you can be an effective tactic. The reason? They’re already sold. And they can explain to others what it exactly was that made them join your startup.

OFFER JOB PERSONALIZATION

TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE

Recruiting great hires for a new company that’s just making a name for itself isn’t easy. But trying to ignore the fact that you’re just setting out and have a minimal cache as an employer is a bad idea. Instead, talk about where you see the company headed. When you use phrases like “we will,” it shows confidence that not only is your startup going places, but that the recruit is going to be a part of the action. When you talk with potential team members, discuss all those possibilities—the ones you’re both doing to achieve together.

Why Minecraft Succeeds

Source: MIT Technology Review, 2013

Minecraft embodies few of the video-game fashions that were current when it appeared. Coded in Java, a general-­purpose programming language that emphasizes speed and lightness over the grand capabilities of more powerful tools, it features pixelated scenery that has nothing in common with the lifelike, polygon-stuffed characters and objects furnishing the blockbuster video games of the day. There is a certain Lego-like charm and blunt handsomeness to the rectangular clouds that throw shadows on the game’s pea-green hills and the dumpy sheep that roam them. But in an industry traditionally obsessed with chasing realism and authenticity, its kindergarten aesthetic at first appears anachronistic.

what has turned success into sensation is the social aspect of the game. Not only are players encouraged to head out of its confines onto YouTube to share tips or show off their grand designs, but the game also allows for communal construction projects, in which players can visit one another’s worlds and collaborate on virtual pyramids, a scale replica of the Taj Mahal, or a fully mapped Westeros, the fictional land from HBO’s television series Game of Thrones. The inclusion of giant, hand-built logic gates has enabled some smart players to build functioning computers, scrawled boastfully into the landscape, while other players have opted to simply journey to the center of the earth.

While Minecraft’s loose, player-defined goals are its strongest draw, there is an endgame for those who feel the need to beat a video game rather than simply enjoy one. If at this stage a giant dragon is discovered and felled, that will conclude the story line. The reward for defeating the dragon is a poem, written by the Irish novelist Julian Gough, that describes Minecraft as a dream. It reads:

This player dreamed of sunlight and trees. Of fire and water. It dreamed it created. And it dreamed it destroyed. It dreamed it hunted, and was hunted. It dreamed of shelter … And the player started to breathe faster and deeper and realised it was alive, it was alive, those thousand deaths had not been real, the player was alive … And the game was over and the player woke up from the dream. And the player began a new dream. And the player dreamed again, dreamed better.

Minecraft’s mainstream appeal may not lie in the poetry tucked away in an endgame few will see, but it is to be found in this poetry’s sentiment. Here is a game that enables humans to experience an accelerated form of existence—of dominion but also of stewardship.

It makes clear the ancient ties between creativity and survival, and the wonder of collaboration, coöperation, and community, both in its world and in the reality on the other side of the screen. This is a recipe that demonstrates how video-game design, in the right hands, can be elevated to an art form every bit as strange and wonderful as any other, revealing deep truths about the human condition.

SG Invests in the Future, including $2.5B for “White Space” Research

Source: Straits Times, Jan 2016

Related Resource: The Edge Markets, Jan 2016

In RIE2020, the budget allocated to “White Space” or new and emerging sectors, has been increased by more than 50% to $2.5 billion from $1.6 billion previously.

Low explains that budgeting for White Space is crucial. For example, when RIE2015 was introduced, cybersecurity was not even an area of interest at all, he recalls.

However, when its importance was quickly recognised, the government was able to allocate funds from the White Space to help set up the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore.

It was also be to fund various labs jointly set up by other government bodies like the Infocomm Development Authority and private, international cybersecurity companies, to, say, train more cybersecurity professionals.

Besides cybersecurity, other areas that were funded using “White Space” included marine and offshore as well as satellite technology, says Low.

$0.4 billion will be committed for Services and Digital Economy, which will look at how Singapore can weave together its existing and new IT capabilities as part of the Smart Nation programme. Researchers in this sector will also be looking at how technology will change the nature of some jobs.

For example, smarter machine learning capabilities has given rise to what is known as “AOKW”: automation of knowledge work in areas like finance and legal.

Christensen: What is Disruptive Innovation?

Source: HBR, Dec 2015

Disruption” describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses. Specifically, as incumbents focus on improving their products and services for their most demanding (and usually most profitable) customers, they exceed the needs of some segments and ignore the needs of others.

Entrants that prove disruptive begin by successfully targeting those overlooked segments, gaining a foothold by delivering more-suitable functionality—frequently at a lower price. Incumbents, chasing higher profitability in more-demanding segments, tend not to respond vigorously.

Entrants then move upmarket, delivering the performance that incumbents’ mainstream customers require, while preserving the advantages that drove their early success. When mainstream customers start adopting the entrants’ offerings in volume, disruption has occurred.

Disruptive innovations originate in low-end or new-market footholds.

Disruptive innovations are made possible because they get started in two types of markets that incumbents overlook. Low-end footholds exist because incumbents typically try to provide their most profitable and demanding customers with ever-improving products and services, and they pay less attention to less-demanding customers. In fact, incumbents’ offerings often overshoot the performance requirements of the latter. This opens the door to a disrupter focused (at first) on providing those low-end customers with a “good enough” product.

In the case of new-market footholds, disrupters create a market where none existed. Put simply, they find a way to turn nonconsumers into consumers.

For example, in the early days of photocopying technology, Xerox targeted large corporations and charged high prices in order to provide the performance that those customers required. School librarians, bowling-league operators, and other small customers, priced out of the market, made do with carbon paper or mimeograph machines.

Then in the late 1970s, new challengers introduced personal copiers, offering an affordable solution to individuals and small organizations—and a new market was created. From this relatively modest beginning, personal photocopier makers gradually built a major position in the mainstream photocopier market that Xerox valued.

  1. Disruption is a process.
  2. Disrupters often build business models that are very different from those of incumbents.
  3. Some disruptive innovations succeed; some don’t.
  4. The mantra “Disrupt or be disrupted” can misguide us.

Big Ideas

Source: The Reading Bird twitter feed, Dec 2015

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Growth by Experimentation

Source: NY Post, Nov 2015

 Al Gore and Barack Obama brag that the government created it. The truth is that it wasn’t until government got out of the way that what was once the Arpanet, a Pentagon creation, evolved into the Internet. “If you really want to see the Arpanet as the origin of the Internet,” Ridley asks, “please explain why the government sat on it for 30 years and did almost nothing with it until it was effectively privatized in the 1990s, with explosive results.”

Until 1989, the government actually prohibited Arpanet from being used for private or commercial ends. Ridley quotes a handbook distributed to MIT users of the Arpanet that read, in the 1980s, “sending electronic messages over the Arpanet for commercial profit or political purposes is both antisocial and illegal.”

As for the involvement of Internet pioneers such as Paul Baran, Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, what they devised was bound to be created by somebody because of the simultaneous nature of invention and innovation.

The reason the Internet became what it is now is its decentralized, non-hierarchical, almost unregulated character — the exact opposite of how governments usually operate.

Consider the divergence of South Korea and Ghana, two countries that had about the same per capita income as recently as 1950. One chose trade, the other picked aid. Aid creates lots of fun jobs for central planners who use people like chess pieces and figure out how to distribute the wealth from the top, whereas trade simply allows for wealth to rise up from the bottom. Aid, it turns out, is simply an unsustainable solution to poverty, and today South Korea has about 10 times the per-capita income of Ghana.

Imagination -> Creativity -> Innovation -> Entrepreneurship

Source: Maria Shriver blog, Jun 2015

a hierarchy of skills, starting with imagination:

  • Imagination leads to creativity.
  • Creativity leads to innovation.
  • Innovation leads to entrepreneurship.

… proposed definitions and relationships for moving from imagination to entrepreneurship:

Imagination is envisioning things that do not exist. This requires curiosity, engagement and the ability to conceive of ideas in your mind.

Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge. Creative ideas fill a specific need and are manifest in the world. They are new ideas to you, but not necessarily new to others. It is important to distinguish between imagination and creativity. It’s imaginative to fill your thoughts with scenes of the seashore, and it’s creative to apply your imagination to paint a picture of the scene.

Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions. In contrast to creativity, innovative ideas are new to the world, not just new to the inventor. This necessitates looking at the world with a fresh perspective, and involves challenging assumptions, reframing situations and connecting ideas from disparate disciplines. The resulting breakthrough ideas reveal opportunities and tackle challenges that haven’t been addressed the same way before.

Entrepreneurship is applying innovation, to bring unique ideas to fruition, thereby inspiring others’ imagination. Clearly, entrepreneurship is needed in businesses that are designed to commercialize innovations, but it is equally important in all endeavors that depend upon entrepreneurial thinking to address thorny problems. Entrepreneurial doctors develop and deliver lifesaving procedures; entrepreneurial educators invent and deploy effective teaching techniques; and entrepreneurial policymakers craft and implement groundbreaking laws to address social problems.

The Invention Cycle

  • Imagination is envisioning things that do not exist.
  • Creativity is applying imagination to address a 
challenge.
  • Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions.
  • Entrepreneurship is applying innovation, to bring unique ideas to fruition, inspiring others’ imagination.