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Why Do You Trust?

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January 14, 2019

Do you remember the Trust Fall? Besides, being an annoying staple at corporate retreats and prescriptive team bonding activities, it is designed to invoke an emotional attachment (artificial or otherwise) in the participants strong enough to break typical trust barriers. 

The Trust Fall only works if (a) you are willing to fall backward into a group of people about whom you only know things shared between the hours of 9AM – 5PM, and (b) if said group of people decides to catch you.  Two very sketchy variables. 

Trust—superficial or rooted in authenticity–is an essential element of every core business.  Often, we overlook the significance of trust in favour of more tangible measures of growth — like revenue, KPIs, customer acquisition rates, and market penetration. 

But, what if we designed and measured for trust first?  That’s the question we’re exploring this week.  And, you’d be surprised to learn that we’re not alone in this inquiry.

Trust Is A Matter of Design
 While the co-founders of AirBnB paid careful attention to designing for trust, Rachel Botsman argues that trust is an economic imperative. In fact, it’s “the currency of the new economy.”  Sure, ROI and customer brand equity are important, but so is consumer trust.

Have you designed your MVP to operate in collaboration?   Seems like an odd question.  Increasingly, however, companies that experience exponential or unicorn status growth (in terms of users, not necessarily revenue)– Uber, AirBnB, Dropbox, Spotify– employ sharing economy business models. Among other features, they incorporate into core services: candid user feedback, net promotion techniques, the sharing of just enough personal information, and 360 style ratings. So it you’re looking to build and break the bank with trust in your business, start designing to increase customers’ trust in your product and also among each other.

Build It or Break It
In his interview with Daniel Ek, Spotify Co Founder & CEO, entitled, How To Build Trust Fast, Reid Hoffman  shared his unique equation: Trust = consistency + time. What a simple distillation of such a hard-to-grasp concept! Yet, Reid’s “trust hack” leads to a bigger question: in what areas should we focus on building consistency? 

Though the priorities may shift among industries or organizational type, consider the four domains of digital trust detailed in the study Digital Planet 2017: How Competitiveness and Trust in Digital Economies Vary Across the World:

The who, why, how , where and when we trust is becoming increasingly complicated.  So hopefully the above food for thought helps!


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