How can we predict whether something will change?

The big topic this issue is on how to figure out if a new technology is worth gambling on or not.

But I’ve also included some practical tools you can use to help you design your brand, your sales channel, your revenue model and your advisory board.

How can we predict whether something will change?

The biggest question we all have when gambling on an innovative idea is whether it will be successful, not just technically but commercially.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. This piece by Benedict Evans is a long article. But it is worth persevering as it offers some real and insightful ways of figuring out whether something is worth a gamble. Here are some nuggets to spark your curiosity:

So, what do we mean when we say that some new piece of technology is a toy? It seems to me that there are two parts to this: either it doesn’t work, or it won’t matter even if it does work. On the one hand, it cannot do what it is supposed to do because it is incomplete, impractical or expensive, and on the other, even if it does work no-one will want it, or, perhaps, even if they do it won’t matter. These are all effectively assertions that nothing will change: the product won’t change, or people’s behaviour won’t change, or the things that are important won’t change.
The question, then, is not whether something works now but whether it could work — whether you know how to change it. Saying ‘it doesn’t work, today’ has no value, but saying ‘yes, but everything didn’t work once’ also has no value. Rather, do you have a roadmap? Do you know what to do next?
…it’s quite common… for something to propose a new way to solve an existing problem. It can’t be used to solve the problem in the old way, so ‘it doesn’t work’, and proposes a new way, and so ‘no-one will want that’. This is how generational shifts work — first you try to force the new tool to fit the old workflow, and then the new tool creates a new workflow. Both parts are painful and full of denial, but the new model is ultimately much better than the old.
…the test throughout this post is falsifiability and predictive power. “That is a toy’, ‘everything looks like a toy’, ‘no-one will want that’ and ‘no-one wanted phones either’, paradoxically, are statements that are both completely true and ‘not even wrong’: you cannot use them as a test for anything. They have no predictive power. Of course, asking whether there is a technology roadmap, or whether this is a superpower, are analytic projects that might get you to the wrong answer. But they do give you a roadmap to understanding what might happen.
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Not even wrong — ways to dismiss technology — Benedict Evans —

A branding tool for people who hate branding

I share Jake Knapp’s discomfort with branding. I veer between my initial instinctive reaction that it’s superficial, and the more sober knowledge that it is essential to distill what makes your business truly different in a meaningful way.

This post has some really valuable exercises to get you started. One of those articles to work through, not just read.


The Three-Hour Brand Sprint — GV Library —

After doing these exercises, the team gets a common language to describe what their company is about — and all subsequent squishy decisions about visuals, voice, and identity become way easier…And the best part is: We squeezed it into just three hours.

Distribution channel design

It’s all about tools you can use. Here is a great one for designing and assembling your sales channel, after careful consideration of all the components. Includes brutal clarity and a fun music video.

Distribution — Andreessen Horowitz

If you are going after targets I and II and you have an [A, C] or a [B, C] product, God help you as you will surely go bankrupt.

Quick Tools

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Storyframes before wireframes: starting designs in the text editor —

A business is a story. Don’t waste time designing, building or trying to sell anything if you can’t tell us a great story. Here’s one way to get that done.

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Start Up on the Right Foot — Build a Customer Advisory Board | First Round Review —

I just can’t believe how many companies don’t take this obvious step.

Revenue models The 10 Most Popular Startup Revenue Models —

A good quick introduction to revenue models, listing the advantage and disadvantages of each.


A free toolkit to help startups and corporate connect and partner up.

Social audionotes

AudioNotes —

AudioNotes (download free) is a macOS menu bar app that helps you record and share audio messages really easily.

Coming up

Ollie Purdue went straight from Uni into our first FastForward London cohort. Great interview on his experience since then. If you want to follow his example, our next cohort starts on the 28th. There’s only two days left to apply at ffwdlondoncom.

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Ep232 — Loot CEO Ollie Purdue on Creating a New Banking Experience at Age 20–11:FS —

My summer course in Simple Venture Design starts 3 July. There’s still 3 places left. You can book here, or forward this to a friend.

Design thinking for business innovation1

Design Thinking For Business Innovation — CSM Short Courses Blog — 
 So what exactly is Design Thinking? Design Thinking is not only for designers and more than just another management fad. Student review of Design Thinking.

But if you’d rather do it all yourself for the moment, help yourself to a Venture Design Canvas here.

That’s it…

Please let me know whether this is useful or not by recommending below. If you do like it, please do forward it to others!

Thanks for reading this far.


Slingshot Venture Development