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Problem Solution Problem Solution… Details

Pitch decks need to be compelling, in as few slides as possible. Pitch decks need to suck the reader into the story, only letting go after the ask. Thus pitch decks need to be storytelling, not essays about the startup. The trouble is, schools don’t teach story telling, they teach essays. The other trouble is, investors see thousands of pitch decks, creating an expectation for how those...

Camping in an Electric Camper Van

While the news is full of stories of the transition to electric cars, soon to be added into that transition is camper vans, as that is now just possible too, and you don’t even need to buy one. The challenge is that camper vans are much heavier than cars, less aerodynamic, and thus need more power to move about. That, plus campers are intended to go out into the wild, away from civilization...

Money, a true page turner

What is money? It’s a simple question to ask but the answer is complicated. I know, as I’ve read and blogged about Wealth, Capital, Debt, Lords, Americana, and America’s Bank, amongst a lot of far dryer, far more challenging economic history books. Then along came Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing by former Planet Money host Jacob Goldstein, and wow, what a difference...

The power to grow

Growing an economy takes power, especially electricity. One major piece of infrastructure missing in most Sub-Saharan countries is a ubiquitous electric grid. Only South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and Gabon have 85% or better access to electricity, and while I don’t know first hand what the electric grid is like in all four of those countries I do know that while the Kenyan electric grid is...

From the investor side of the table

Most of the entrepreneurs I work with have yet to raise money from an Angel or investment fund (venture capital or debt or any formal institution). It is daunting to sit (face-to-face or online) across the table from an investor, as investors know more about the process of investing than entrepreneurs. Life on the investor side of the table isn’t as easy as entrepreneurs think. The...

Moving money internationally

You probably don’t send as many international wires as I do, and probably have never thought about how the dollars (or euros, pounds, shillings, etc.) move from your bank to the destination bank. What may surprise you is that the money never leaves. How this works in reality is best described with a so-called “minor” currency, e.g. the Malawi Kwacha. I have a few of these in my...

Investors with no Money to Invest

It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not uncommon for investors to interview entrepreneurs while at the same time those investors have no money to make investments. This is one reason some funds take months to make investments, as they themselves are fundraising while simultaneously screening and doing due diligence. The reality is that fundraising as time consuming and challenging for fund...

Startup Luck

In November 2010, Nick Brown happened to find himself at a Manchester conference attending a talk by popular British psychologist Richard Wiseman, who had written a book called The Luck Factor. “Basically, the way to be lucky is to just put yourself in situations where good things can happen,” Brown remembers, “because more good things will happen to you than bad on any given day, but nothing...

One currency, two values

I have a strange attraction to worthless currencies, or those on the path to being worthless. Most people just take currencies for granted, never wondering where their value comes from nor understanding how it sometimes disappears. No one truly knows those answers, but sometimes we get accidental experiments that help us understand. The latest of those is happening now in Yemen. As described in...

Why is it called a Bourse?

I don’t follow the European stock markets but from time to time see and hear them referred to as a Bourse. Ever wonder where that term comes from? Googling doesn’t easily provide an answer. Turns out it’s a family name. The real story is related to the true stories of the original stock markets trading under a tree in a square or on a street. Turns out stock markets were not...

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