The Next Step: Paperback

The Next Step 10th Anniversary (header)

Nine of every ten startups fail. For the the last decade I’ve been sharing my 30+ years of experience to help lower that horrible statistic. And it is working. Eight of our ten of the companies at Africa Eats are still running, the oldest now over 10 years old and many soon to reach that milestone? How? Business planning. By not stopping with a Plan A, as Plan A rarely succeeds. By not only...

All positive feedback

A common problem early in the startup process, in the market research phase, is too much positive feedback. Positive feedback feels great. Positive feedback is confirmation that your product or plan will work. Everyone loves hearing positive feedback and no one get mad at you for giving positive feedback. Trouble is, Plan A rarely works and you need the negative feedback to fix those flaws. I was...

Financial Ratios

While the expectation of investors is to receive periodic financial reports from investees, in reality few of the raw numbers in those reports are what we’re interested in, but instead ratios of those values.

Growth is hard to predict, especially exponential growth

I’ve talked about the proverbial hockey stick growth in years past, as well as the challenges of predicting the future, but what I’ve yet to mention is the tendency to expect future growth to be linear rather than exponential. Above are four graphs of four technology products, three of which which have seen exponential growth in the last few years: Solar panels (PV), Electric cars...

AI is a (misnamed) tool

AI is a tool. A misnamed tool at that, as the AI in the news these days is a complex web of statistics and matrix multiplication that resembles human intelligence, but which is far from actually intelligent. They are big, innovative, step-function-changing tools, like the printing press vs. hand copied books, like the typewriter vs. hand copied letters, like word processors vs. hand typed...

Developed, Developing, and other outdated terminology

Hans Rosling was an impressive public speaker, with not just an ability to distill complex topics into easy to understand stories, but to do so with a flair of showmanship. One of the many lessons in those stories was the fact that the world is no longer divided into “developed” and “developing” economies, but is instead is now a world with a continuum of incomes. What...

Logistics ain’t sexy, like tech

It’s been over a decade since I was part of the venture-backed tech industry. The only thing I miss about it is the massive amount of attention it receives, and from that, the orders of magnitude more capital that flows to tech startups vs. any other sector. Meanwhile, there is nothing like a decade of decompression and deprogramming to get a better view of the realities of the whole tech...

Debt: A Virtuous or Vicious Cycle, you choose

Over the last decade I’ve spent much of my time managing funds (plus one investment holding company) investing in young companies (a.k.a. startups, a.k.a. SMEs). This includes not only equity investments, and revenue-based investments, but also traditional loans. Most of the borrowers understand what a loan is, and how loans work. For those that understand the follow the expectations, debt...

Properly scaling images in PowerPoint

PowerPoint (and Google Slides) are ubiquitous in modern business, but techniques such as properly scaling images are not. This post is a quick guide on scaling images without distorting those images. For example, the image on the left is taken from a real pitch deck. From the shape of the man’s head it is clear this image has been resized, but in doing so the image has been distorted...

VCs and Capital Efficiency

Capital Efficiency

Hypothetically, if you could invest in any of the following three companies, which would you choose: ABCorp, which is raising $10 million, and with that promises they’ll have a new version of their product in the market, a bigger sales staff, plenty of marketing, 5x growth to $2 million of revenues, a loss of $1 million, and be ready for the next round of $45 million in fundraising. GHInc...


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