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It is 2017. We have Agile. We have Lean Startup. We have a million (give or take) product management blog posts about how to properly do A/B testing and experimentation. We have incredible off the shelf testing software like Mixpanel, Optimizely, and (nameyourfavoritehere). Heck, we’ve killed the MVP and replaced it with the RAT (one of my fave product posts of the last year).

And yet every single investor deck, board deck, and company all hands deck has it. And it’s a train-wreck. You know what I’m talking about. The 12-month product roadmap.

I’m just telling it like it is. Whether you are a CEO, board member, investor, or employee…EVERYONE knows that the roadmaps that are published in these documents are a joke. And yet, there they are. Every time. A random list of features with monthly or quarterly delivery dates assigned to them. …

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Photo from Flickr by Dean Hochman

We’re excited to announce that we’re deepening our commitment to the rapidly emerging startup ecosystem in Kansas City with the launch of Techstars Kansas City. Applications will open in January 2017. We will select 10 startups and the program will begin in July 2017.

Lesa Mitchell will be the Managing Director and the program will run with a horizontal focus in a manner similar to our other accelerators in Boulder, Boston, Seattle, Austin, New York City, London and Berlin. …

Why now is actually a good time to be a music startup

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Photo by @pbernosky on Flickr

Yesterday we announced our latest Techstars offering for startups, Techstars Music. Music has been a notoriously challenging category for startups, but I’m beyond stoked. Here’s why:

  1. Music drives culture. For many people, musical taste defines style and is a bedrock of personal identity. Boomers, Gen X, Millennials…the generations may be wildly different but the importance of music to youth culture, creativity, and consumer behavior has been as consistent as a John Bonham beat, or a Grandmaster Flash beat. Take your pick.
  2. Music is massive. What would Apple be without music? What would YouTube be without music? The size of the recorded music industry has changed over the years and consumption formats have evolved considerably, but the overall value that music as a category drives — including the indirect impact to businesses of all kinds — is massive. …

What should we expect from a bot ecosystem?

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Image via Giphy:

Thoughts on bots.
Hot hot hot.
Bots have thoughts on lots and lots.
No dots. Just bots.
Hot / not? Great Scott!

If you talk like Dr Seuss to a bot, can it learn to respond in rhyme? We shall see. Yippee!

The internet is abuzz this week on the bot ecosystem that Facebook is seeking to create around Messenger, and of course Slack has been investing here for some time as well. Personally I found the bot announcements at Facebook’s F8 way less profound than Zuckerberg’s approach to a 10-year roadmap, his images of airplanes that can fly at 60K feet for months at a time and beam internet around the world, and his vision that in an AR-enabled future everything that projects an image today (such as a television) will be just a $1 app in an AR app store. (If you have not watched his F8 keynote, take the 30 minutes to do so.

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Cover of TIME, 25 July 1994. From,9263,7601940725,00.html

1994. Friends and ER debut. Kurt Cobain departs. Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. The OJ chase. Forrest Gump.

Oh, and the consumer internet as we know it is born. Netscape, Yahoo!, and Amazon all appear. And a complete restructuring of power in the areas of Communications, Content, and Commerce begins.

If the last twenty-two years were crazy, the next twenty-two are going to be wild. But first, let’s review…

Communication becomes instantaneous and free

Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Phoebe, Monica, and Joey first appeared in our living rooms on September 22, 1994. But when Central Perk appeared on air in that pilot episode of Friends, there were no wifi-enabled laptops there. No one was chatting on their LTE-connected iPhones with their…friends. In fact, Mosaic Netscape 0.9 launched exactly three weeks later, on October 13, 1994. The Netscape debut gave the average non-technical person a window to the internet for the first time and changed how the human race communicates at a scale never before imaginable. …

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Amazon Echo

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the power of voice. Not voice as in self-expression (though important!), and not voice as in voice calls or — worse! — voicemail, but rather voice as the next major UI layer for software in the living room and beyond.

As voice recognition and, more importantly, AI-driven understanding of the meaning behind voice-based commands and queries all develop to maturity, we’re seeing a dizzying array of voice-driven use cases start to take shape. Don’t get me wrong, I think voice is a feature not a product, but I think it’s a convenient enough feature that it will change consumer behavior significantly. …


Cody Simms

Partner at Techstars

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