Reading up on the taxi protests has made me wonder whether any of them ever downloaded music

Though you might find this a strange title, please bear with me. Since the launch of Uber, I have been following the company with interest. I love the service. If I am somewhere where I need a taxi, I will first check if there is an Uber available. Why? Not necessarily because of the service itself, but because of the way it fits me.

I like things to be easy for me. I dislike standing in the streets of Paris at night and having to wave my arms off to get a taxi to stop, only to almost experience a case of involuntary kamikaze. Ok, granted, there are many great taxi drivers. Honest. But I like the convenience of a service that I can call wherever I am, that comes to me and that allows me to pay regardless of whether I am carrying cash. And that has changed the way I use taxi’s.

Great. But how about those protests? Are they stupid? Not really. In a way I can see their point. But then again, I cannot. After all, the world is changing. Technology has given us opportunities to do things in ways we had never thought possible 10 years ago. In 2009 I sat at a dinner with the CEO of a large newspaper who was complaining about newspaper sales going down. I asked him why he was surprised. After all, newspapers and their business models have been around since around the 12th century. It was bound to change someday. A couple of months later, I was at a table with several Swiss bankers that assured me that the world would always need banks. Naturally, I showed them that there were initiatives around that could make them completely obsolete.

Times are changing. Business models are changing and the expectations of our customers change faster than most of our businesses can. After all, the taxi licensing system cannot just be scrapped overnight. However, both the taxi drivers as well as the governments need to be prepared to consider doing just that. And I know that that is going to be hard. But creating a way to keep your business profitable against the expectations of your customers is not going to work for long. After all, how many of those artists will have benefitted from (il)legal downloading of songs? Not too long ago they only expected to be purchasing full albums at record stores. And if I may remind you, many of those have had to close. I never saw those on strike either. Not that anyone would have noticed.

The whole idea here is to move on. Yes, you are in an old profession that has cost you a large investment, but what are the earnings in the future? If the only way you can earn money is through the protection of your industry, I am sorry, but you have lost already.

Your tone of voice defines you

The tone of voice in the contact you have with your customers defines you in their minds. This is much more serious than most people think. Because their return business relies on how they feel about you. And that could very well be different from what you believe has been your attitude towards them.

As an example, I just sent an email to a vendor in the US that I have bought an item from. I thanked him for the item, but also told him that Dutch customs read the paperwork he included with the item and charged me extra duties for it. I thought it nice to inform him of this matter because I had never had that happen with his colleague vendors. So, I reckoned he might like to know. Then the return email arrives in which the vendor basically tells me that I just need to suck it up and that it is not his fault.

Granted, he is right. It is not his fault that I got charged extra and he did list that taxes and duties are my responsibility. However, it is the tone of voice of the email that makes me unhappy. By the end of the message, I was feeling as if it were my fault that I bought from him in the first place. And that is the message that will stick. Meaning that I will not do business with George again, if I can help it.

If you get something that you might feel is a complaint from a client, make sure you respond to it correctly. Sympathy goes a long way in securing a next order. If this guy had told me: “Hey, I am sorry to hear that. Thanks for sharing and next time I send something out, I will check whether there are other ways to do this.” That would have made a world of difference. I would have appreciated the response and would have bought from him again.

Be friendly and be compassionate. You often don’t have to offer anything that costs you anything. But if the client feels like you care, that will make all the difference.

Why I believe crowdfunding could be great for your startup

I read an article on The Next Web today with the title: “Why crowdfunding isn’t funding anything at all“. The author, Yaniv Tross, reasons that crowdfunding is not that at all. He renames it as a group pre-ordering platform and puts it squarely in the marketing corner. And I disagree. Let me tell you why.

I strongly believe that crowdfunding could be great for your startup. You have to read that correctly. I do not believe that crowdfunding is the best way of getting investment into every single startup, but it could be great for yours. Or not. But you will have to read on to find out which is the case.

First off, crowdfunding is different from most other types of funding. Even though both versions include pitching your ideas, products or services, the actual transaction is very different. An investor is a professional. He will judge your startup on a completely different level than end users will ever do. And that, in my opinion is part of the great opportunity that crowdfunding is giving your startup. Lets face it, people that are into crowdfunding rarely do it because they love the team, or because they think you would be great at doing a pivot and building something completely different. Those are two arguments Yaniv Tross holds against crowdfunding. For me, those are solid advantages. It is a clear case of people voting with their wallets.

If you are connected to the startup world in any way, you will have heard about lean startups and minimum viable products. Crowdfunding might be one of the fastest and most effective way to see whether people are willing to spend money on your product or your services. You pitch it and you offer them to be able to take part in what you are achieving or are going to achieve. That, to me, is brilliant. It is not down to the whims of an individual investor, or a group of investors, but it is down to your end user to vote whether or not they think you are important enough to them to survive at all. In many ways, that is the ultimate test. Instant customer feedback, plus the marketing opportunities that go with it.

Depending on the platform you are using, crowdfunding might allow you to pivot sooner than you ever would have otherwise. At Kickstarter, you need to raise your full amount to be able to get it. At other platforms, like Indiegogo, you don’t have to. Even if you raise less than your goal, you can still continue and deliver on your promise. But the great thing is that you can now contact your backers to see what they liked about your product and where they found it lacking. It is market research that is paying you, instead of you paying an agency. With the added bonus that you have early adopters that can introduce their friends to it once it is at a level where they wanted it to be. Plus the added bonus of your early adopters feeling like the in-crowd. They know they have made a difference and that the product they are using is there because of them. That is empowering customers.

And lastly, crowdfunding is not about equity shares, legal structures and other troubles that most startup owners really don’t want to deal with. I know that you will have to at some point. But why rush it? The money you raise is related to the use of your product or your service. That is also where your passion is. And yes, raising more would mean that you have to include all kinds of extra perks. But those can be found in defining extensions to your services or having access to the team and its dreams. After all, if you are building a service or product that addresses your own needs, chances are that you have the same interests as your early adopters. So, use that.

As an added bonus, when you get crowdfunding in, you will have users. They will give you traffic and traction. And there is nothing like having a startup with traffic and traction when the time comes to really raise funds.

Interview with Jeremiah Owyang at LeWeb

It has been my pleasure to interview Jeremiah Owyang at LeWeb this year. At LeWeb 13 London, Jeremiah moved the discussion from the sharing economy to the collaboration economy. A term that I personally like much more, because it encompasses so much more. And that is a much better reflection of the social trend.

On Tuesday, Jeremiah officially launched his new company Crowd Companies on stage at LeWeb. I have included the video below, so you can see the whole presentation and the background on his choice to start his company. As I talked to Jeremiah in London about his ideas on the collaboration economy, I asked him to get back together on Wednesday and do a short video interview on his ideas and his drive to start Crowd Companies.

Jeremiah and myself had been talking before I started the video and I managed to fit in a complete rookie mistake to forget to introduce Jeremiah in the video. Sorry about that.

This is the video of Jeremiah’s talk on stage at LeWeb’13 Paris

Fred Wilson on investments, trends and opportunities

LeWeb-FredWilsonFred Wilson is kicking off the talks at LeWeb. As a VC he is sharing the way in which he is looking at opportunites and how their firm chooses what to invest in. His first statment is one that I absolutely agree on. If you have ready the post I wrote before LeWeb, you will see that I wrote about the fact that I said that society changing is much more important for the next 10 years in technology than the actual technological developments are. And Fred came out and says that they do not think in technologies, but they think in trends. Tech is important, but to him trends in behaviour and society are a lot more important to base their choices on.

The first big macro trend Fred talks about is the move from burocratic hierarchies towards technology driven networks. It is no longer about the hierarchical structure. It is no longer about one person at the top making the decision, then feeding that down through the pyramid to wait for feedback to come back up to help him make more decisions. For a long time, that actually used to be the most efficient way to work. But now we see technology driven networks replace those hierarchies. As an example, Twitter replaces the newspaper. A newspaper is a very bureaucratic product. The content is decided upon by the chief editor of the paper and he filters and decides the content of the things you are reading. That makes it a slow process to produce the news and it also filtered based on the prerferences of the ediitor. And then you have Twitter that allows networks to decide what the news is based on the people they follow, the retweets they do and the way they interact with messages that make it news. News is created by the interest of the crowd and at great speed. The first place we have seen this was in the field of media. But we now see it in hotels with Airbnb and others. We see it with Kickstarter and others. It is in learning with Codecademy and others.

The second big megatrend Fred names is unbundeling. It is a bit about the first trend, but it is even more about how products and services are delivered. In the traditional world, it was expensive to get things packaged up and delivered. But now we are unbundeling that and you can buy products that are much more focussed on what you need. And you pay just for the things you need or want. The product is usually better as well, as it is created and provided to you by people that are doing the things they are best at. Which means that you get the economic news from the guys that specialize in economic news. Or the sports news from the people that are specialized in sports news.
Fred also names the banks as one of the examples of this. And I completely agree with him on that. In fact, back in 2009 I was on a table with a number of bankers in Zürich, Switzerland with a number of bankers and they stated that we would never be able to do without the banks. And at the time I told them that we could if we were to pick separate banking functions from separate startups through the internet. At the time they thought that I was kidding. And now Fred Wilson also states that the unbundeling of banking services has started. You used to go to a bank and then get everything from that single bank. Now you might do international payments through PayPal, get money for a project through Kickstater etcetera. You can now pick parts of what the bank has been providing you as a complete service from other service providers. The same goes for education where you no longer need to have the building and all the equipment for research, but you can also bring those things together from various sources and get to a better result than you could have before.

The third trend is that we are all nodes on the network. We are all connected to each other all of the time through our smartphones. Look at Uber where we are a node on the network and so is the driver. You can connect together and get a ride. Or get transportation. And that will change the way things and people are going to be transported in the future. And that is the same thing with many new services.

Fred obviously sees more opportunities. One of them is on money and new money systems like Bitcoin. Another opportunity will be the way devices are going to monitor our health and wellness and change the way in which we live our lives and improve on our health. Another opportunity is in big data. However, Fred has a very different angle than what we would normally hear. Fred calls big data the pollution of the information age. Our data leakage through online services is also what allows organisations to spy on us. And as trust and identity are big things, or at least should be, this is something that we ought to be aware of. If we would have realized at the start of the industrial revolution that polution would cause so much damage, we would have addressed it from the start. Yet we are allowing Twitter and Facebook our identity services on many other services. We are allowing data leakage that way. So Fred sees a huge opportunity for a identity system that is set up in the same way that Bitcoin has been set up. Not controlled by anyone, but a place where we are the one that controls our own identity and the related data. He has not seen that solution yet, but he is looking forward to finding it.

Guy Kawasaki on the future and entrepreneurship

LeWeb-GuyKawasakiFor the first time, Guy Kawasaki has made it to the LeWeb stage. Fortunately, Loïc and Guy reached an agreement that he is going to be back next year. And that is a good thing as this session had great content and it also as a great laugh.
Guy looked back on the past 10 years and said that back then everyone said that myspace was going to be the operating system of the internet. And some 7 or 8 years ago nobody really thought we needed twitter. In fact, I personally remember a conversation I had with some Dutch early adopters back in 2008 when we said that Twitter was probably not going to be there in three years time. And as Loïc and Guy reminded everyone, Twitter is worth about 20 billion. And Guy went on saying that if we would look at his past at Apple, who would have thought that they would have become the most valuable company in the world. It is really hard to predict the future. That is hard for the next 10 monts, but impossible to do for the next 10 years.

Guy feels that Bitcoin is a lovely idea. Even if for nothing else than that it is completely outside of the grasp of Goldman Sachs. There have been people questioning the Bitcoin because it can be used to fund illegal things as it is not traceable. However, Guy says that there are a lot of technologies that are coming up that will be enabling that. And they will have a balance where some of what they are used for will be for good, and some will be used for bad things. But all of that technology is important to have as that helps us grow and develop new things. And sometimes it can even evolve from something that starts without control and evolves into something that grows something that goes into a control situation. It is when we started with Napster which grew into a movement which has then helped a whole new industry grow. Including iTunes which is very controlled.

Loïc triggers the social media card stating that Guy is a social media powerhouse. Guy answers that his approach is very different from most ‘experts’. And he adds that he uses the term experts very lightly. Social media for Guy is a means to an end. He is not looking to make more friends and more relationships. He says that he has a wife and four kids and that is enough for him. He is not looking to meet new people and have more friends. Social media for Guy is about building a platform. He has embraced the public radio model. At NPR they provide great content 365 days a year and then they gain the privilege to run the telethon once a year. So, his model is to constantly provide great content. He also has a team constantly curating great content, so that he is constantly able to provide his followers with great content. And that also gives him the opportunity to run the Guy Kawasaki telethon, because he has earned the right to do that. That is why he is constantly sharing great content, so that when he publishes a book, he has gained the right to promote his book. Or a new Evernote function as he is an advisor to Evernote. He does read all the interactions and every response from the account is done by him himself. Nobody on the team does that. Guy also repeats all of his tweets four times eight hours apart. The reason for that is that he does not believe that everybody is going to be awake and looking at Twitter at the moment a tweet is posted. Plus, he is not assuming that people are going to be scrolling back through their timelines to find that one awesome tweet. And even though that might piss people off, his reasoning is that if you are not pissing off people on social media, you are not using it hard enough. Also, he has found that posting a tweet with a link four times, really does deliver four times the clicks. He is not using different links for those four links as people rarely see that same tweet and that same link twice. And with a smile he adds that if you see that same link more than once, you probably do not have a life.

Loïc asks Guy to share some tips on entrepreneurship with the audience. He believes that the most important thing an entrepreneur can do, is to make a prototype. If you build a prototype you may never have to prepare a pitch, powerpoint deck or a projection. Because at a pitch, everyone everyone says is that they are going to be doing 100 million in 5 years. If you say you will do 500 million investors feel like you are overestimating yourself and if you are saying you will do 25 million, they think they do not take yourself serious. So, the best thing you can ever do with an investor is to show them a demo that is already in use with actual users and signup numbers. His second tip is that the challenge for European entrepreneurs is to create a product or service that is so good that American entrepreneurs want to copy it. Not to make your own local version of a great American service, but to create something awesome yourself. And there are a few European startups that have made that status like Soundcloud or Spotify. The fun part was that then Loïc took this as an insult to European entrepreneurs where he felt that Guy was saying that European startups just copy American startups. Where Guy is just saying to look beyond the Americans and paying a compliment to the companies that did just that and are defining the playing field they operate in. And his third advice to businesses is to never ask anyone to do something that you would not do yourself. Because that will never work.

Guy shared that the richest vein for Sequoia investment is two guys of girls building something in a garage that are building something they want to use. That is very different from people that build something from a business point of view to earn money. Again, I personally agree with that and that has been a point I have been pushing since 2008. If you want to build a startup, make it something that you want to use yourself and that addresses a problem that you have yourself. If you are just doing it for the money, you will have a hard time making it.

A guy from the audience asked Guy what he thinks about an investor offering to invest money if the startups would move to their area. And Guy said that if this would be the decisive factor on whether or not you can get the investment, they ought to drop the investor and find another investor that will work with them However, he does offer a middle ground where you keep your developers local, create a Delaware corporation and a west coast head office in Silicon Valley. Because it allows you to have the best of both worlds for both parties as investors do not really want to fly for 11 hours for a board meeting. And that is a factor for Guy himself as well. He is not specifically looking for opportunities that are far away. His statement literally was “why fly 30 hours to loose money there, when you can loose the same amount of money closer to home”. Mich Atagana came back to that statement and asked Guy whether he thought that not investing further away from your home town is a potential for lost opportunity? Guy agrees, but from the investors perspective it is a slightly different issue. They do not know a thing about the financial laws for investments or IPO’s and then the board meetings are 30 hours away. That is just throwing up speed bumps while you are the one looking for investment. But he does agree with Mich that the next Google might be in South Africa for instance and an American investor would not know about it.

LeWeb – And we are on!

leweb1Yes, it is the start of LeWeb. I will be enjoying my time here. Hope you will as well. There are a number of speakers that I am looking forward for. If you don’t want to wait to see what I am seeing and hearing here, you can follow the live stream yourself. Check it out at live.leweb.co.

The next 10 years – LeWeb 2013

Ten years of LeWeb, how time flies. I have been at LeWeb for the past four years and it has always been a privilege. The theme for LeWeb for this year really triggered me to think about the future of technology and naturally of startups. As ever, I still strongly believe that startups are the best option to turn our economic processes on their heads. And the past ten years more than prove my point. Startups like Google, PayPal, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, Uber, AirBnB and many others have changed our lifestyle and our habits in amazing ways. However, for the next 10 years, I believe that technology will not be the primary driver of innovation.

In the past twenty years, a lot of innovation has come through the fact that we finally could. The world shrank as we finally could easily connect and keep up with friends around the world. New cell phone technology allowed us to move around and still access the same online resources as at our offices. Computers in everything have allowed us to automate many processes and make them much more efficient. But times are changing. I am not saying that technology is slowing down, because it is not. However, I strongly believe that we will see more and more technology that is driven by social developments.

I believe in the collaboration economy. And I believe that that is the track for the future. Technology that allows us to share with each other. So we can share knowledge, but also resources that we have to our disposal and that we do not use 24/7. Like the extra bedrooms we are offering on Airbnb, the rides on Blablacar, the communal bikes in cities like London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Kopenhagen and others. I believe that in the next ten years, we will see technology integrate more and more into our daily lives to make it more a part of it than an attachment.

Take Google Glass for example. It is one of those developments that can change the way in which we interact with technology in relationship with others. But it is not the glasses themselves that will trigger us. It is the things they can do for us that are becoming more and more important. So, I do not believe that wearable technology as such is going to be a technology driver. But I believe that the way it will allow us to interact with our friends and our environment, will be the driver for technological innovation.

That is where startups come in. The next ten years are a time to reassess all the processes that run in the world to see whether we can replace them by a combination of individual masses and resources. Because there is a lot to gain in a revision of our daily routines to make them more fun and more effective through new technology. And startups are the ideal vehicle to question these daily routines.

What are your thoughts? Add them in the comments, or talk to me at LeWeb next week. I will be interviewing interesting people at LeWeb and hopefully posting some blogposts and some videos. See you there?

Five reasons why I love Webit

I never considered going to Istanbul for a tech conference, even though Plamen Russev has been trying to get me here for years now. Until this year. I decided that 2013 had to be the year and so I am now at Webit. And I have to say that I love it so far. Why? Let me quickly break that down for you:

1. I meet people that I have never seen before, from areas that I do not usually see at other conferences. Just this morning I talked to startups from the Ukraine, Estonia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Germany. (I stand corrected, I talk to startups from Germany more often.)
2. Especially when you book early, the ticket prices make Webit much more accessible than most other conferences. Off the top of my head, a silver ticket costs around €150 when you pre-register. So, is it cool because it is cheap? No. It is cool because this ticket price allows startups with a much tighter budget to enjoy a conference and especially the networking.
3. People are eager. A lot of the people I have met are eager. They want to learn, they want to grow, they want to change. And there is a great opportunity that I rarely focus on when I am back home or at conferences in London, Paris or Amsterdam. I keep asking myself why I do not think about eastern Europe, Africa and Asia more often. Sure, I have met guys that do startups in Beirut, Tel Aviv and Cairo. But here, eastern Europe, southern Europe and many Arabic nations are standing in line with me to get lunch. And talking to them has allowed me to see new opportunities beyond our regular markets.
4. Networking. Did I mention that already? I have yet to try the networking site, but so far I have met some great people. And with 8100+ attendees, there are lots of networking opportunities.
5. Short sleeves. Yes, I know, a rather unprofessional reason. But lets face it, I left Rotterdam with pouring rain and 6 degrees. It is November and I am in Istanbul, wearing a short sleeved shirt and eating kebabs and networking on the water front with some great people pushing great technology. It is hard to get it better than that.

So, five reasons why I love Webit. And if you are up for the challenge of taxi drivers that do not speak Turkish, it could be a great experience. Anyway, I am off again. Time to meet more people, to have more food and to visit a party in a club on an island between two continents in the middle of the Bosporus tonight.

- And in case you were wondering, Plamen has not bribed me into writing any of this. ;-)

The ultimate use for Google Glass, the Age of Context and Ikea

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 10.53.12Google Glass has been the first to move information from your pocket to your line of sight. There are two sides to that story and you can love it or hate it. Regardless of your opinion of Google Glass, fact is that this kind of technology will probably be the next generation of wearable technology that will be finding its way into your life in the coming ten years. The reason for this, is that it is just much more convenient to look into the right top corner of your eye, instead of reaching into your pocket. And in turn, due to the fact that Google Glass is always on your head (note: I did not say that Google Glass is always ON), you allow it to relate to everything around you much easier. That is the Age of context. (Yes, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel are writing a book on the subject.)

Anyway, because Google Glass is so much more aware of your surroundings, it is in a completely different league when you are talking about providing useful information when you need it. No longer will you have to look for information on a detached box. Google Glass will develop further, so it can ‘sense’ your surroundings and answer your questions. That might all sound very sci-fi and that probably is true. On the other hand, it is a lot closer than you might thing. And that was a thought that crossed my mind when I looked at a picture from Daphne Channa Horn today.

Why is that picture relevant for me? Not because she was trying to navigate to her destination using Google Glass. That was nice, but that is something that has been done before. No, the picture triggered me because she was at Ikea. And we all know what Ikea stands for. And I don’t mean great furniture for good prices. I mean that for many people, Ikea stands for evenings of frustration trying to figure out how to mend your relationship after the assembly of that great looking cupboard failed. Enter Google Glass. Finally, you can assemble your cupboard without screaming, yelling or delays. I can see people pay good money for the Google Glass Ikea app. With a simple “Go Glass, build Billy” it will take stock of all the parts you have laid out on the floor. As you look around the room, it will identify the pieces one by one and point you to the right boards and the right screws at the right time. Who needs to 3D print a cupboard at home when we are finally able to assemble our own flat packed furniture?

Ok, granted, some of you might be better at flat packed furniture than I just gave you credit for. But there is a huge market out there to provide real interactive manuals to get things done by using tools like Google Glass. And I am excited about this. You can now fix things yourself. You might even have a professional looking over your shoulder as you do it to give you directions like the surgeon operating via the internet. The possibilities are endless.

What would you like Google Glass to assist you with?

Why I believe most startup accelerators will not help your startup

plastic-rocketWith startup accelerators popping up all over the world, this might not be the most popular thing to write. However, it is something that has been on my mind for the past year. As a mentor for one startup accelerator and a visitor of many, I have gotten to know the inner workings and discussed them with others. And they all lead me to draw the same conclusion. Most accelerators do not fit the needs of startups.

So where is that gap between the holy grail in startup growth and my own statement? Well, let me put it this way. There is a distinct difference between the way forward for a great startup and the goals of an accelerator. This might sound strange to you, but unfortunately, it is very true. The biggest problem is the way in which most accelerators focus on the business model and their demo day. The success of most accelerators is judged on the performance of its startups on a podium on the last day of the program. And most see the number of startups leaving the accelerator with funding as the biggest factor for success. Unfortunately, this is often much further from true success than you would think.

Through the years, I have worked with, spoken with and advised a lot of startups. They all had their share of challenges and even though many saw their funding as their primary problem, it seldom was. I will not deny that you need money to pay your team and improve on your startup. However, more often than not, money will not solve the problems, but only make them bigger.
As a startup, your first focus should be on product development, finding a connection to your market and launching and developing the leanest product you can. Most accelerators agree with this up to this point. After which they will then go and work with you on your business models and marketing strategy to make sure that you are going to get funding down the road. For most startups, this time is put to much better use if they can focus on product development and finding the connection to their market through the feedback of their users. After all, money will only speed up the process and if the direction of the startup is not 100% right, it will only send your startup on a course to distance yourself from the market more and more.

That, to me, is another problem that comes with startup accelerators. Usually, the founders of the accelerator are paid, but none of the mentors are. And there is a problem with that strategy. Naturally, I am such a philanthropist that it never bugged me. But I know that not getting paid brings out the worst in people. I know that many mentors in accelerators only mentor startups in which they see a possible monetary gain over time. Subsequently, they try to steer the startup onto the course which they believe will bring in the big money. This might not be in the interest of the startup at all, but as the mentors are part of the program, their advise is followed. And before you know it, your startup has turned into something that is chasing the possibility of big money with a super smooth pitch, while alienating itself from its potential user base.

So, are all accelerators evil? No. I think the original idea of a startup accelerator can still be successful. But we need to remember what the original intention of an accelerator was. It was meant to speed up the process of startup development and launch the startup into a higher orbit than it could have obtained in the same timeframe otherwise. If you read this correctly, you will see that there is no specific mention of money or business model in there. Those can be part of the process, but should never be leading. The leading factor in an accelerator is whether they can help you develop both your team as well as your product beyond what you would be capable of yourself.

If you ask me, this is the best -and only- way a good accelerator can work. In my opinion, this is also the only way in which an accelerator can make sure that the startups that go through their program will become exceptional and will achieve great successes. Unlike startups that are built up on a diet of business models and the chase for investment money. It is rare to see those rise beyond average bread and butter companies.

If you are considering joining a startup, make sure you ask the right questions and have a clear idea what is going to happen. And if it is not purely aimed at developing your team and your product, you are better off gathering your own team of mentors around you. It will allow you to grow faster and be a better quicker than you think.

Go find your own grand adventure – Chris Guillebeau – LeWeb

leweb-day1This morning Chris Guillebeau shared three quick lessons that he had learned while he visited every country in the world.

Time and Money
If you cannot understand all of the different costs of a project, then the project or the quest becomes much easier to pursue and to complete.
For Chris personally, he just wanted to travel. And then he changed it to visiting 100 countries in the world. He thought about it and started to share it. But then he got the criticism from someone that visiting these countries was not going to be hard, all you need is enough time and money. Which caused him to structure his quest. Which meant figuring out what he had to do to succeed and what the cost of succeeding would be. And then he could break it down and share it as it all grew and became possible for him.

Experience produces confidence
Actually going and doing, helps you become confident that you can do it. Start with the smaller things first, then build up. It will help you grow. As you succeed in smaller things, you will help you understand that you can succeed at the big goals as well. He has seen others look up to him and playing down their own quest, because his had been much bigger. But whatever your quest is, it is the most important thing for you to focus on. The most important thing in your life at that time.

You are not alone
The new demographics are less about where you come from, but more about psychographics. About shared views, shared values etc. In essence, you are not allone. If you have a crazy idea, if you believe there is nobody as crazy as me, then there certrainly other people all over the world that share your passion. That want to make the same ideas succeed. So, it has helped him a lot to see that other people had the same dream and made it succeed. And it helped him to tell their tales to grow in his own understanding of his own quest.

Two suggestions to live by:
Get your own quest. It is important. As Elon Musk said, we spend too much time on small things. And we need to move up in the world and build a bigger thing. And all the people Chris has talked to that have gone on to try their own grand adventures, and they shared with him that at some point they had just decided to go for it. Whether it would succeed or not, it was important for them to do it and it changed them.

Find a way to tie your quest to something that makes the world a better place.
There are so many opportunities to mean something to the world. And it is not meant to sound heavy or be a heavy responsibility, but it is about sharing and helping build the world. And doing that is not just about giving things up for others, it is also about the fact that through doing that, it will contribute to us. It will change us, build us up which he shared he experienced when Chris and his wife worked with an NGO on a hospital ship.

A great story. And yes, I want to live up to at least part of that. That is why I am building TechPastors. Because I have a dream, I want to pull it off and I believe that I am not alone in believing that the church and Christian organizations could really do with a clear view of what you can do with technology. So, I am going to push forward. Want to help? Let me know!