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Smoke, Mirrors & Rising Tide

Weekly eNews Update 42

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February 5, 2018

Smell The Smoke, Break Some Mirrors

In the wake of a slew of national newsworthy South Florida exits, acquisitions, capital raises, and sky-high valuations — need we mention, Cyxtera Technologies,, Boatsetter, Magic Leap, or Modernizing Medicine?—there’s a hopeful excitement that we’re finally maturing into an ideal breeding ground for successful, high growth companies.

But, to whom much is given, much is required.

Nearly every emerging startup ecosystem is tinged with an air of frivolity, often rooted squarely in dreams to discover the next Facebook or Uber (as opposed to, you know, that deeply-held desire to create something meaningful).

Thus begs the question, how do we separate smoke and mirrors from sound innovation-fueled solutions that have the propensity for large scale impact?

Stay Out Of The Matrix
It’s a long-shot to say that all startups are tech companies. Yet, it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that majority of companies now are tech-enabled.

And, to their credit, being a luddite is not always good for the bottom line. Technology has an uncanny ability to make our daily lives easier–it can increase productivity, foster equitable distribution of ideas and stuff, plus it’s fairly addictive (ahem, entertaining).

As we develop new technological tools, maybe our emphasis should be on human-centric operating systems. No, don’t go out and construct the Matrix of 2017. Rather, let’s create frameworks that enhance the human experience, not displace it.

Trust The Processors
Every relationship, be it interpersonal (or inter-inanimate) thrives on trust.

Presumably you trust your family. More likely than not, you trust your colleagues. You should probably trust your co-founder (if not, perhaps it’s time to regroup). And, you definitely trust your phone, or what every electronic device captures 90% of your time and attention.

But, as Perry Chen, co-founder of Kickstarter, reminds us, it’s important to understand that “trust is binary.” Once you loose it, it’s quite difficult to win back.

Annoy or Disrupt?
How many apps do you have on your phone? I have 123. Yes, I counted them one-by-one. (Don’t even get me started on my tablet!) Are they helpful? Yes. Are they fun? Yes. Are they annoying? Yes, sometimes. Will they change my life? No.

By no means is this intended to be a manifesto against apps. It is, instead, an invitation to consider the value of platforms and other through-cycle products. The longevity of an application is incrementally tied to the breadth of problem it seeks to eliminate. Start with big ideas, not small fixes. Then seek, what Knight Foundation President & CEO, Alberto Ibargüen, describes as “risk capital for brilliant ideas . . . fund[ing] for opportunity over need.”


Venture Café Miami

P.S. so many folks have asked who pens our weekly cacophony of ideas. Not quite a ghostwriter, but our own Executive Director.



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