Recently I’ve been mentoring founders at Singularity University, an organization and accelerator program that bets on exponential tech to improve the lives of billions of people.
Here are some questions I like to ask when I’m talking to founders there.
10 questions to ask when planning for 10⁹⁺ impact:
- How will we create a laboratory where our first 10 users will teach us what we need to know to reach 10,000? 10,000 to 100,000? 100,000 to a million? And so on.
- How might we bake positive systemic change right into the business model, such that even if we are acquired and run by BigCo, our product will continue to have a positive impact?
- How might we measure or estimate the systemic impact of our product as it scales? What might the systemic effects look like?
- What technologies do we have now that the incumbent products didn’t have when they got started? Why is the window of opportunity opening up over the coming years?
- Which parts of our vision are we unwilling to cede to the inevitable tradeoffs and nasty side effects of scaling?
- No product has scaled to a billion people without harming some people, companies, industries, and governments. What will the collateral damage look like? Who should we absolutely avoid harming?
- What is the anti-vision, and how do we avoid accidentally building it?
- Our startup worked! In fact, it worked too well. And now we’re a victim of our own success. Why?
- How will we avoid becoming out of touch with our users as we grow? What will it take to develop a team and culture best mirror the makeup of the people who will use our product (hint: diversity!)?
- Who will pay for our growth at each stage, and how will we ensure the money lines up with our values?