I started even before you did, when there wasn’t much to do, in order to prepare. …


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Spotify is a company that entered a market with a strong incumbent and carved out a space through a better product. (Credit: 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP) © 2018 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP

As an early-stage consumer VC with a laser-focus for efficiency, few things make me wince more than meeting brilliant entrepreneurs devoted to building products few people will want. They mistake novelty, whiz-bang technology and cool factor as the keys to a breakthrough startup. My advice? Humbly admit that consumers don’t care about you, your billion-dollar ideas, or the technologies behind them. All they really want to know is, what’s in it for me?

What sets successful consumer tech startups apart from the fads is how their products impact customers’ two most precious commodities: time and money. …


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Our work days are filled with a never-ending barrage of audible pings and flashing badges from our email, Slack, Twitter, social media, browser tabs, and more. Despite our best efforts to focus, constant electronic distractions steer us off course and fragment our concentration. Ironically, many of these intrusions originate from the very tools required to complete essential tasks and run our lives.

This is not by accident. The world’s best product managers, designers, and engineers are tasked with getting us to open their apps more often and stay for longer. Notifications and badges are particularly insidious, representing what neuroscientists call variable rewards. When a notification is received, it triggers the anticipation of a dopamine release upon checking it, establishing a habit. …

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