Grow Conference Day 2 Notes

Posted on August 16, 2013

As usual, I took detailed notes during the talks from some great speakers at Grow Conference today.  The format of the event changed from when I bought my super early bird ticket (February).  I really wish I had attended Day 1 of the event based on the comments from other attendees.  Sounds like some of the talks were absolutely amazing! This conference continues to amaze and I will definitely be attending next year.

Debbie Landa
-one of the largest entrepreneur events in the world at over 1000 people and right here in Canada
-drowning in me too companies
-supply of people and capital has grown and eclipsed the good ideas
-learn how to think big and use design culture to change your company

Munjal Shah – Charles River Ventures EIR
-design thinking your startup idea
-live the problem, be a beginner, create lots of options and then refine/execute
-realized next mission was around digital health based on his own passion but unclear what to do
-decided to apply design thinking to the process and immersed himself in getting fit
-then bought every single quantified self device. After 3 weeks he abandoned every single one.
-then tried every single diet and eating strategy
-diet is 95 percent of all weight loss not exercise. 28 good decisions vs 4 bad decisions for exercise. Much harder cognitive load.
-exclusion diets were easier than counting. Counting sucks hard. Estimating was way wrong.
-tried many exercise strategies including yoga.
-cross training is key, strength training was better than cardio and very high intensity was better than doing it for a long time
-then went back to school and took endocrinology class
-reviewed 742 journal articles from PubMed
-downloaded 12 years of CDC data for big data analysis looking for interesting correlations
-diet soda drinkers had higher body fat
-then surveyed 12,500 consumers using Ask your target market tool. Focused on will power for eating. It was second to last and exercise was last.
-as time progresses they get worse about eating and exercising will power
-starting a company to get people off the couch won’t work
-generated ideas but in a broad way with 5 ideas at the start rather than going deep with one idea
-try to avoid convincing yourself your idea is a great one
-next create options for different audiences across both demographics and psychographic combos
-for example boomers who are retired and starting to weight train
-then come up with generative and adaptive ideas (generative cannot be found through surveys where adaptive can)
-then decide how to pick from your ideas. Ultimately you have to pick one. Pick the biggest idea with the smallest beachhead. It should sound crazy because they are easier to recruit for, raise for and get PR for. But harder to execute.
-because the Internet is so large now people aren’t in tech anymore. Software is eating the world.

Greg Petroff – Chief Experience Officer at GE
-bringing design culture into the industrial Internet age
-lots of challenges to GE right now and culturally want to make things that matter
-GE is not a design led culture but shifting now
-even with 100s of products released each year but without product or experience strategy
-big believers in the software eats the world mantra. Worried about being cut out
-whole generation of people who will never use a PC especially in emerging economies
-used nest as a great example of a focus on experience but also a whole new way to interact with technology
-great software companies aren’t in software
-this is where bringing design into yor culture makes a big impact. Combine business, technology and design
-great products are made by the synthesis of all three areas
-shifting from think to make to make to think. Stop spending time talking about it and spend more time doing it. Iterating quickly.
-you should have multiple MVPs at the same time. Abductive thinking posits what could be true. Envision postcards for the future
-examples are Philips Hue, Automatic (plugin for cars), quantified self, pebble (companions), Tesla
-GE announced relationship with Quirky and will release Internet of things enabled products. Worth checking out.
-taking leaps of faith to understand the space for themselves

Raj Singh CEO Tempo AI
-initial vision was a search box for your data and no one used it!
-people want data in context so wondered what would happen by putting it into your calendar. This became anticipatory search.
-calendars on mobile devices haven’t changed and aren’t smart
-make a new calendar both smart and beautiful
-data is also becoming increasingly silo’d
-AI is the new smartphone layer all with varying levels of context
-calendar is one of the most actionable items on your phone and can change human behaviour!
-assistant is really a layer. The same as lbs that adds value to existing apps. Assistants use your data to deliver a more personal experience.
-web 3.0 is bringing an assistant into your app

Ellen McGirt and Phil Fernandez (CEO of Marketo)
-May 17th Marketo went public
-this is Phil’s 3rd company he took public and he has seen the changes over time
-venture experience was hard. He was well connected from previous successes but timing in the market was tough (2006)
-routinely heard his idea was stupid and dumb even when armed with tons of data from potential customers
-really want to try to keep a really stable executive team since switching out people can be very disrupting
-needed to morph his board from VCs to external stakeholders who could provide different perspectives
-took epiphany public at the height of silliness (1999)
-so much more real right now and with substance to get valuations that fit
-for Phil he looks for a set of customers who will buy the product when he makes it.
-preparing for the IPO roadshow is daunting just due to the sheer amount of work to do. Personal liability for the CEO is scary too.
-you really are liable for everything you write and say in your documents
-the concept of watching the share price internally has huge cultural elements. Sales guys were ready to just go wild when they see such tangible success from their efforts
-let it run inside the company for the motivation factor and upside opportunity
-built a formal compensation committee as part of going public and was successful in getting a good bit of stock into the hands of employees. A real feel good moment so that everyone has a stake and long term holding power
-stakes seem higher with being public now with more money and more regulations compared to the 90s
-need to be incredibly careful in what you say and to whom
-every word coming out of your mouth could be a business changer
-figure out what kind of company you are building and Phil builds for the long run. Are you building something big? A platform? A quick turn over?
-make sure you have something special
-just keep moving the ball downfield. Follow your North Star and where you are going not where others are going. Don’t follow and chase. Listen to others but follow your North Star to make your organization more valuable every single day
-every day more progress has to be made and then looking back the sense of relentless progress shows amazing movement
-enjoy the journey and the building/creative process. Celebrate that you won’t know what each day will hold. Take pride in getting to the top of each hill.
-provides sense of excitement and discovery and this is what sustains Phil during the hard times

Pablos Holman – Inventor at Intellectual Ventures Lab
-hackers go through a discovery process to see what is possible
-takes real world problems and combines with hackers to attack the protocol at every layer to find possible ways to solve the problem
-your job is to solve the real problems of the 8B people worldwide
-look at big big problems that are worth solving. Immerse yourself.

Panel – Andrew D’Souza, Tobias Lutke, Kirk Simpson and Ellen McGirt
-importance of finding and retaining great talent
-there are a ton of different approaches but main item is to use creativity.
-there are challenges to bringing in senior executives and ensuring they fit. The execs are joining because there is a ton of potential and they could see the benefits of what their skillset brings. It requires trust to hire them to do what they do. Hiring smarter people than you requires immense trust.
-Andrew gave his sales director a final veto on the hiring of the VP sales. It worked really well to ensure there was buy in.
-only hire people into jobs you have done yourself before. Do the sales job and then hire the person to do that job when you understand it.
-don’t hesitate to use your investors to provide credibility for why great talent should join your company. Use their network to find great people too.
-look for authentic/passionate people and high potential. Less interested in skillset when you can shape them using talent acceleration
-this is a primary concern for Shopify to leverage great potential in their staff and help them through each of the hurdles they will hit as employees
-two life cycles for your startup – attracting amazing people initially. Then becomes more about installing process that is startup friendly to accelerate talent. Once you grow bigger you simply can’t spend the individual time to mentor staff
-you are really hiring their learning curve
-encourage people to move around roles to learn about different parts of the company.
-you need to spend as much time and dollars investing in your employees and you spend finding them
-Wave is running a pilot program for strength finding to really align that with what roles they play. Will see if it can build a more formal mentor relationship
-the review process is just fundamentally broken. So celebrate their strengths.

Robert Scoble – age of context 
-context is wearable computing.
-it is Bluetooth radios and the ability to map the world around us
-it is big data and data computation
-sensor data and doing new and interesting things based on what you are doing. Studying you.
-social network data (expecting 1b tweets every 18 hours)
-ultimately becomes a highly personalized solution and anticipating what you need next
-means knowing your customers in immense detail
-think about having cameras in the audience that can detect real time whether people are happy and enjoying the talk
-it means a new way to work.
-context will eventually affect every kind of product and service
-cool story of a google glass app integrated with Tesla to control it
-better sound to have sensors detect movement of the head to keep the band in one spot
-new drinking games to study alcohol levels for 20 dollars
-context provides even better augmented reality experiences
-hopefully it creates a new type of health system. Like tattoos that can study glucose levels or heart rate
-parc is inkjet printing circuitry right now and bringing the price down dramatically

Jay Giraud CEO Mojio
-there is a paradox of car ownership
-car ownership isn’t what it is advertised to be.
-empowering app developers to make your car experience more interesting
-integrating new tech into cars takes 6 years and so waiting for a connected car is taking too long. Mojio is using your phone instead
-cars produce 20gb of data per hour!
-Mojio wants to give your car a voice and making it aware of its surroundings

Jef Holove (Basis), Alex Hawkinson (SmartThings) and Kevin Talbot (Relay Ventures)
-the Internet of things will change the world in ways we can’t imagine
-possible to connect anything to the Internet. There will be a digital representation of every physical object in the world. For every physical state changer there will be a digital event created
-we now have the ability to add processing to every day items
-every physical object will be connected to the Internet if they can be made more valuable by doing so
-quantified self or the connected home are the two most common ways to get exposed to Internet of things
-basis has a wearable device that tracks activity and real bio signals (heart rate, perspiration, etc) that offers more context
-your smartphone becomes the remote control for your world
-hardware renaissance is driving a big part of this change and the proliferation of the cloud
-battery innovation could be one of the most enabling technologies for wearable computing
-the benefits are also so profound and can solve for major problems like energy efficiency
-data plays an increasingly important role and interpreting it in a meaningful way for customers
-how do you abstract the data to provide more meaning
-there are risks with the Internet of things in terms of security, privacy and many other elements
-what happens if your computing elements stop working?
-each technology wave has risks and this is likely the most profound simply because it is our every day objects
-centralized services will become more common since each device cannot have its own settings
-more likely someone will kick in your door than hack your door system
-many items now still have physical back up plans (keys for digital locks too)
-“it is called hardware because it is hard” Tony from Nest
-many people underestimate the effort to move from a prototype to mass market ready product
-Alex really excited about enabling the developer community to engage in the physical world without writing firmware
-Jef excited about context similar to what Robert Scoble discussed earlier

Doug MacMillan (Bloomberg), Shamir Karkal (Simple), Stefan Thomas (OpenCoin)
-talking about the future of money
-built a new network called Ripple ??? To solve problems with just building a currency
-OpenCoin has control now (protocol) and people run it for themselves. They plan on giving it away and it should stand on its own eventually
-regulation is going to continue to be a challenge and there is a goal to find a way to meet in the middle
-perception of bit coin is that it is anonymous but in reality it is a public ledger where all of the information is out there
-disruption of banks is the goal of both companies and evolving the business model
-new breed of startups succeed by providing value to consumers rather than legacy infrastructure. There isn’t enough pressure on banks to innovate
-banks will have to change in the future
-the biggest challenge for existing banks is overcoming their current mindset
-the financial crisis changed the perception of banks and their stability. It has enabled new entrants to come into the market. The biggest change for bit coin was the Cyprus banking crisis and watching money disappear
-more than half of bitcoin traffic comes from China for Ripple. Huge market and adoption showing willingness for virtual currencies
-in the future predict you can create bank account in a country simply because you plan on travelling there
-or go for months or years without walking into a bank or using cash

Danae Ringelman Indiegogo
-the future of funding
-most private companies don’t ever get venture funding. 0.04% based on latest us stats
-either they are not right for VCs or not ready for VCs
-it isn’t about the money. Used the flexible framework of perks and offerings to test pricing, bundling and which versions of products are more appealing. Even discovered new opportunities for products based on feedback.
-so running a campaign is about performing market validation. It is about reducing risk.
-it is about building a brand and understand what marketing elements work
-can also help identify social influencers
-creating an incubation platform for businesses

Rob Hayes (First Round Capital), Dana Settle (Greyloft), Dafina Toncheva (US Venture Partners) and Paul Singh (500 startups)
-how the business of venture has changed
-in 2013 there are 1600+ incubators on AngelList versus 1 in 2010
-VC returns have sucked for the past 10 years and LPs have been very unhappy. Without good results it is causing change in the industry. The other side is that entrepreneurs need less money. Now more are looking for good partners who can provide value outside of money.
-venture has to move away from “money and a smart person” to so much more
-the late 90s when too much money came into the market changed the venture market so it adapted to the number of new funds
-the right amount of money seems to be in the market now which has bifurcated the venture business (Series A/B funds are taking less risk) so that angels/incubators/accelerators filled that early stage gap
-First Round has invested over 1M in tools to help their portfolio teams. They view their companies as forming a community. 8 people focus on helping these teams grow and being more tactical. Less about board room help and more about on the ground help.
-venture is about caring and succeeding when your companies succeed. You will never be successful as a VC to get the big salary.
-more and more money for VCs is going into resources and people to help the companies
-now seems like it may be costing more money to scale compared to the trend that it costs less to start up
-costs have really come down in testing a hypothesis
-in 20 years venture capital will look wildly difficult

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