Some of my reflections from working at a Next Big Thing, a venture studio for the Machine Economy, as Director of Ventures.
I think of myself as a founder. I have built several companies over the last 12 years, some more successful than others. But each company is always a huge learning experience. I joined Next Big Thing (NBT) — a company builder — because I was interested in learning more about the model. Specifically, my question was: how can an organization remove the fragility, whilst retaining the agility of early-stage ventures?
Over the last 6 months as part of…
I have arrived in countries twice as an immigrant.
Once, in a burgundy Peugeot estate that tended to overheat on motorways, swooping across the Severn Bridge and into Wales. In the background my dad swearing at traffic, my Mum with a big AA map across her lap. My brother and I fighting across the back seat.
I was raised in the Rhondda Valleys —oxidising coal skeletons beneath my feet. Even as a child I remember finding comfort in the symmetry of the landscape and houses, we lived in the extrusions of terraces pinched between folds of mountains. …
Provisor: I am not claiming to be an expert in the local ecosystem, but the first interactions often give the clearest feedback. Please challenge my views in the comments!
Industries with higher barriers to entry for technology are often late adopters. Healthcare is a good example for this. Though this can frustrate certain stakeholders (cough*startups*cough), there are advantages of coming later.
However these advantages are not the obvious ones of “the technology is better”. Technology will inevitably improve. Instead the advantages lie, in my opinion in the improved mental models for good delivery. The how/when/why, more than the what.
However, this requires the leadership to adopt those models. In healthcare, leadership is earned over decades. Meaning many of the people who end up running systems, have only ever experienced…
I’m guilty of it. You’re guilty of it. Every human is guilty of it. We are a social animal, so we embellish and refine our stories to maximise their impact on our peers. I can tell you a dozen anecdotes from my career, each one subtly tweaked for emotional resonance. Put this through the lens of “founder stories” and the urge to twist the narrative to “growth” and “success” becomes stronger.
A trope I find myself guilty of frequently is to highlight that there is “no failure”. There is only “learning”. The growth of my intellect. But if I’m honest…
I still don’t like touchscreens. Swipe is awkward.
I don’t like voice. I don’t remember what to say.
I don’t like gesture, it makes me feel foolish.
I really want to live in a world without all these interfaces that I have to learn and compare and relearn.
What I really want is intelligent or overt. I want a butler who figures it out before I ask or switches and buttons that clunk and thunk into satisfaction.
In short, assumptions. The assumption that something is a product, builds a false idea in the minds of the team building it. Without going too deeply into the semantics of the word, in the context of digital, I’m defining a product as:
“A discrete, complete solution to a stakeholder need”
We use products like this, all the time. We less frequently use MVPs, because as by their very purpose, they don’t scale. This means that for inexperienced teams, the idea of constitutes “minimum” and “viable” is skewed. …
An important note: These are reflections, not facts, I reserve the right to change my mind in the future about them.
Lesson: The founding team IS the business. Fight hard with money, time and passion to get the very best people in the room on day 1. If you’ve never run a burger shop…
I’ve spent the last 5 years, working with ministers, civil servants and public services to create new innovations. Though rewarding, it’s not easy. This is part of a series of articles I’m writing to capture insights related to working with Public Sector. I’ve also written about policy for non-policy people and how public sector treats failure.
Public sector tends to be seen as less innovative than private sector. This is probably true, but there are some good reasons for this:
Note: There’s a glossary at the end with a load of terms you’ll likely need to be familiar with as you raise money, I also try to explain the concepts as they come up
The scenario is made up of a couple of simple concepts:
I love startups, strategy and human centred design. 10 years building smart teams to solve tough problems. Lots of scars and great stories! Based in Berlin.