Author: Kanyi

“I never even took the meeting.”

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Essays

I can’t tell you the number of investors that I admire who have a story about how they were offered an introduction to Company X, but turned it down before taking the meeting, only to watch the company go on to be massively successful. This is the second most frustrating feeling in venture, from my experience. (The most frustrating is when you never got an intro to meet the company, because there you didn’t even […]

Prioritizing Product Features

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Essays

Deciding whether to implement sharing tools first, or an email importer, or to add profile picture, or even profile pages, can be a fraught and confusing exercise for young internet companies. Most founders with a strong point of view about what they want their product to do have an intuition for what the universe of features should be, but the extent to which those features should be implemented, and particularly the order of operations, has […]

Interest rates and Venture Capital

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Essays

Ben Bernanke wrote a great series for the Brookings Institution, where he is a Senior Fellow, on why interest rates remain so damn low in so much of the world. His major points were not really a surprise, but were very clearly laid out, and included the following considerations: – Secular stagnationIt costs less to make a a good today than it did last year, or last decade, and so the ultimate price has gone […]

Feature Creep to Mission Creep

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Essays

Lately I have seen a number of very early-stage technology companies add incremental features in a race to instrument user or revenue growth. “If we put a new tab in which allows us to target n+1 customers, that category will take off” or “we have introduced a complimentary product line focused on a higher-margin sale to the same customers” Of course, the most successful software companies have all diversified their offerings; they have added features […]

Founders and Higher-order Volition

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Essays

In Brothers Karamazov, one of my favorite ever novels, Katerina Ivanovna suggests the brilliant notion of ‘second-order love’. At one point in the story, in saying “I love you”, she means “I love (that I love you), but when it comes down to it, I don’t fully love you”. We colloquially refer to this type of circumstance as someone who has been ‘idealized’. That is, I’m experiencing a second-order volition, or will, more strongly than the first-order […]

Understanding Data, Measuring Change

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Essays

Should calculus be required in schools? What about statistics? I have had this debate a number of times over the past few weeks with folks from very different fields (medicine, finance, software, education).  The pro-calculus team says: — understanding the rate of change is critical to how quickly, or in what manner, a set changes in time, or a number grows. This is important for measuring a disease’s propagation, or understanding your 401k’s compounding interest; […]

The BYOV Class

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Essays

This morning I read Matt Yglesias’s incredible post on Vox about the apparent oncoming collapse of the democratic political system. His view, as described in the article, is that political parties are increasingly ideological; that parties are using the extreme political tools of the constitution to create zero sum scenarios in policy-making, eroding the effectiveness of the democratic process. I thought it was interesting (and Chait’s response just as much so) because it got me […]

Experience and Innovation are Frenemies.

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Essays

One of my favorite characteristics of many innovators: “They don’t know what they don’t know” Indeed, the more experience you have in a market, the more confident you are in the status quo, the more likely it is that the scars of trying something new are fresh, and all the hidden challenges of scaling in ‘market X’ are apparent to you, because you’re more likely to have faced them all. “You’d have to be crazy […]

Falling in love with a solution

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Essays

I heard this advice today to some angel investors: “Be careful not to become too enamored with the entrepreneur and their product” Wrong. Painful. Couldn’t disagree more. First of all, it’s very hard to stop yourself from becoming enamored with a founder or idea. It just happens to you. But second, most importantly, the only things worth investing in at the earliest stages are those where you are enamored with the entrepreneur and their product. Angel and […]

Extending Your Runway vs. Focus

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Essays

I sometimes come across a question that founders pose in the context of fundraising, wanted to share my reaction and get yours. One pair of founders are starting a really interesting, technically-sophisticated, company in a smaller (non-SF/Seattle/LA/NYC/Bos) market. They were able to cobble together $150K here, $25K there, and end up with enough runway to last them 18 months working as a duo, building the technical infrastructure that would underpin their product. As they started […]