In the first episode of Bold Conjectures podcast, I talk to Dr Anders Sandberg who is a Senior Research Fellow at Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University. His academic collaborators include nanotechnology pioneer Eric Dexler and the philosopher Nick Bostrom.
A massive, 100-part essay.
I recently finished this excellent short book titled What Has Government Done To Our Money. It's available on the Internet for free and I highly recommend reading it. But in case you want the key insights, here are my notes.
Determined to never let a crisis go to waste, I and rest of the leaders at my company reflected on how the year went by for us and the lessons that stood out. I decided that it'll be a good idea to publicly share these learnings, so here they are.
There are two ways an entrepreneur can fail: a) launch a product that nobody desires; b) launch a product that people desire but with no significant advantage over established competitors (hence give no strong reason for a customer to switch away).
These two failure modes have their analogous success modes: a) culture-led startup success where a new desire is discovered and fulfilled; b) technology-led startup success where new technology is used to fulfill an existing desire.
The business that dominates the market is often not the first but the one that learns from the first to finally get it right enough to penetrate the mass market. Think Facebook, not Myspace. Think Google, not Altavista. Think iPhone, not Blackberry. History is littered with late movers over taking first movers.
The best way to discover unambiguous market trends is to look for instances where customers are innovating by themselves by modifying or re-imagining existing products.
Another way to discover good business opportunities is to take the latest innovations in technology and imagine how can such innovations offer a radically better solution for existing customer desires.
It's important to clearly distinguish between what people desire and how they fulfill them. Our desires usually remain the same, but methods of fulfillment keep changing. For example, the desire to have good oral hygiene can be fulfilled in multiple ways: toothbrushes, mouth wash, or even by crunchy foods like carrots that help clean mouth as we chew on them.
What people care about is their desires and not how they’re currently fulfilling them
Many people say they want to quit smoking or reduce their alcohol intake.
Yet days later they find themselves smoking or drinking again. How many times your friends have told you that they want to get fitter, only to later discover them ordering a large, cheesy pizza?
Human desires have been shaped by millions of years of evolutionary programming and therefore haven't changed much during the course of history. In fact, the most fundamental desires of food, sex, health and security have remained the same as they were for our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Startups succeed because people are forever looking to fulfil their desires better than before.
You create value when you fulfill the unmet desires of people better than the alternatives they have (from competitors).
However, a fatal but common mistake that entrepreneurs make is misjudging what makes something valuable.