Empowering local businesses and the people who love them

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The Nearby Team

Since “the before times” we’ve known April Underwood well, from her time as Slack’s Chief Product Officer, as co-founder of #ANGELS, and of course as a Venture Partner here at Obvious. She has always led with her values, within every arena she has operated.

She had already been thinking about systems to support small businesses when we all locked down in March 2020. And then it got real.

As she had seen during California wildfires from years past, local businesses in her community struggled mightily from any disruption to foot traffic. Some closed forever after four-day power outages. With the…


A long boom of climate tech is just getting started

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As we finally put 2020 into hindsight, the road ahead is uncertain. On the one hand, stock markets continue to thrive, and the economy feels poised to come roaring back, fueled by a population vaccinated and ready to work and play with others again. On the other hand, many worry which bull markets might stumble, and which bubbles might burst.

Beyond the legitimate handwringing, there’s one economy that will provide steady, consistent opportunities and growth in the coming decade: The Decarbonization Economy. Call this ClimateTech, Cleantech 2.0, or something new, but know this about the transition to an economy free…


Making it happen

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The first steps are the hardest, and I find success in implementation is dramatically improved with a phased approach. First, plan and roll out your team-wide OKRs. Second, take the OKRs down a level in the organization. Finally, use OKRs at a personal level, and integrate them with performance reviews. I’ve seen companies do this all the way through within a year. However, even for agile start-ups, this can take longer.


The basics of setting Lean OKRs: be brief and look for the RAMPS

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Now that you have a methodology for ensuring your Objectives and Key Results are screened against and informed by your purpose, let’s look at a leaner methodology to implement OKRs.

Back to basics: why are we using OKRs again? We use any measure of output to ensure our work creates the value we seek. Objectives and key results attempt to define that measure of success. By defining what success looks like, for individuals and for the team, you are sharing a treasure map. …


Retrofitting a classic tool with purpose, values, and systems that scale for startups

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Volumes have been written about measuring and managing objectives over the last century, and with good reason. If we can improve our processes and execution, so the theory goes, we will have better outcomes.

We’ve come a long way since the days of Taylorism in our effort to improve output by measuring performance. We’ve seen greater value in treating humans as creative, thoughtful people rather than cogs in a machine. Moving from W. …


Quick, convenient, and clean — thanks to RenoRun.

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The RenoRun team.

As we’ve previously written, Obvious is bullish on what we call the Urban Upgrade. When we look forward to the near future we wish existed, three words always jump out for cities: clean, communal, and connected. Put simply, as cities scale at an unprecedented pace, we want them to be sustainable and livable for all citizens.

We’re putting our money where the future is going with industry defining companies across the Urban Upgrade. With Plant Prefab and Canvas, we’re focused on making sustainable building fast, affordable, and gorgeous. Keyo is reimagining a more digitally delightful relationship between landlords and tenants…


Urban infrastructure brings us closer to exponentially better living.

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An article I recently co-wrote with Di-Ann Eisnor sparked some controversy.

The post, about cities of the near future, took as a given that urban dwellers would represent an ever-larger share of the global population in the coming decades. Not everyone agreed. Why, one critic asked, do we take it as a self-evident that everyone wants to migrate to cities?

That question got me thinking more about what might be called the frictionless life, one defined by higher quality of living with deeper community connections.


A great migration forces an existential question for the modern metropolis: how might entrepreneurs upgrade urban living over the next ten years?

by Andrew Beebe and Di-Ann Eisnor

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It’s 2030, and North American cities are choking on poorly planned, uneven growth. The construction industry continues to be plagued by decreasing productivity, rising costs, and an aging labor force. The housing crisis endures; living in cars and on the street is not only tolerated morally, but tacitly approved. Traffic is even more debilitating, with single occupancy vehicles creeping along everywhere. Scooter and bike riders, attempting to skirt the traffic, are injured at unprecedented rates. Charging electric vehicles remains a challenge, proving to be a near immovable barrier to mass adoption of EVs.

The…


Electric flight will transform our cities for the better, and it will happen sooner than you might think.

by Andrew Beebe and Joe Blair

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Pictured above: Lilium

There’s a revolution in the air. Literally, up in the sky. Winged devices and the necessary ecosystem around them are undergoing the biggest transformation since humanned flight began over 100 years ago.

Technologists have promised “flying cars” for decades but the aircraft industry has failed to deliver. This time is different. Instead of cars with fold out wings, there is a new species of aircraft evolving — one that is small, agile, fast, all-electric, and emission-free. …


Milton Friedman would agree: give the people what they want.

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Proterra, pictured above, manufactures zero-emission battery-electric buses that help eliminate fossil fuel dependency, reduce costs, and increase air quality (photo credit: Kevin Gilbert for Obvious Ventures).

Much has been written about the lofty goal of creating profits while somehow also delivering on the goal of providing a social good. “Profits with Purpose” has become something of a romantic rallying cry for those seeking to make a difference. Yet so many great thinkers, most famously Milton Friedman, describe profits and purpose as a choice to make, not a solution to a market demand. To them, it’s an either or. At best, it’s “profits, despite purpose.” …

Andrew Beebe

#worldpositive investor at Obvious Ventures. Former clean energy tech (and just plain tech) exec and founder.

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