We have produced a report on the future of gender equality for Yell Business.
For the main points, watch the video.
We have produced a report on the future of gender equality for Yell Business.
For the main points, watch the video.
After giving a talk on the future of food in Helsinki, our founder, James Wallman, was interviewed by a Finnish magazine called Yhteishyvä. He was also photographed with vegetables. (None in the rude way you're thinking of, sadly.) One of those pictures is in the slide-show above. The other people are priest, model, mother and TV personality Marianne Heikkilä, and legendary Finnish journalist Kari Lumikero.
Click here to download and read a PDF of the article. Or here to read it online.
How often people skip meals and snack:
Main reason why people skip meals and snack instead:
Meal most missed? Lunch:
48% skip breakfast
64% skip lunch
17% skip dinner
This is from a great article on Medium, called 6 simple questions a venture capitalist should ask before making an investment decision.
I've taken the article and thought about what it means for which investors you should pitch.
A man called Par Jorgen Parson, who's invested in companies like Spotify, shared a bit of analysis he conducted into his own investment decisions and their success.
He found SIX questions hold the key to his success, and so I've turned this into the SIX questions an entrepreneur should ask before pitching an investor:
Here's the interesting bit:
Parson tries to explain all this:
Final point from Parson: he says the key denominator of success is "entrepreneurial team quality and true grit. All other factors are, in my experience, deal specific".
What this means: if you're approaching an investor, quality her/him by asking yourself and them these 6 questions. You'll save her/him and you a lot of wasted time and effort.
The magic of the platform revolution is that platforms (the successful ones!) get very big, very fast. This is what Silicon Valley and VC people call "scale".
For more on this, read our post on the Platform Revolution.
But what if you don't want to be the next Uber or Airbnb? What if you don't want to reach everyone? What if you want a more niche audience?
As it happens, there are plenty of examples of niche platforms.
Besides match.com, OKCupid and Tinder, there are many niche dating sites:
Of course, "Uber for X" has become a cliche. But there are lots of genuine, niche ride-sharing companies.
There are niche versions of Airbnb too.
If you're going to stay in the same business, there are two simple ways to grow: increase the number of customers, increase the amount/regularity they spend with you.
If you want to keep to your niche, and keep your exclusive positioning, the way to grow is by getting your customers to engage and spend more with you.
The FISH says: We think this reflects the need to switch off from the beeps, buzzes, rings, demands of all the incoming emails, texts, WhatsApp and other messaging platform messages and app notifications. Naked is an extreme way of describing this, and reflects the idea perfectly.
We all know the rise of planned obsolescence, throwaway culture and waste is a key part of the success of consumer-driven capitalism. (If not, read Stuffocation.)
But who knew how terrible it is?
What does this mean? It means we have to reduce the amount of waste we create. Especially if we're to achieve the Paris climate agreement target of 1.5C above pre-Industrial Revolution levels by 2100. To do this, we'll have to have net zero emissions (and probably less than zero emissions — that is, to become a carbon sink) sometime around 2070. For more, read Paris climate deal: key points at a glance.
There's no official definition of startup. But a few smart startup guys have a few of their own.
Here's my 3 preferred versions:
There's plenty to like in this examination of a startup by Paul Graham.
This is also useful from Eric Ries, regarding his definition:
The most important part of this definition is what it omits. It has nothing to do with:
The goal of the startup is to figure out the right thing to build (as quickly as possible) which customers want and are willing to pay for.
A new company called Roam is now making it easier than ever to be a digital nomad.
For more, read Instead Of Renting An Apartment, Sign A Lease That Lets You Live Around The World on Fast Company's website.
Co-living? Sure. But we also think what sets this apart is its focus on lifestyle management and curation that you might see from a company like Soho House.
In the future, you won't be allowed to drive a car through your city.
For three reasons: cars are (1) dangerous, (2) inefficient, and (3) cause pollution.
It's (3) pollution that bothers the Parisians the most. Here's some evidence from an alpha city like Paris that suggests that this future is already here:
Paris is banning driving on certain days, and in more places. The city is increasingly pro-bike. For instance:
From May 2016, cars are banned from the Champs-Elysees one Sunday every month
Cars are permanently banned the picturesque Left Bank of the River Seine — so restaurants, cafes and art exhibits have sprung up
From summer 2016, a 3km (1.8-mile) section of the Right Bank will also become car-free
There are plans to pedestrianise some historic central districts, with their narrow, cobbled streets
For more on Paris, see this BBC article, How Paris is stepping up its drive against the car.
E-cars will also help solve the problems of pollution.
Driverless — and connected — cars will be far more efficient, and far less dangerous than human operators.
We've founded a startup. It's like having skin in the game. Rather than simply tell people what they should do, we're now working out what we should do. It's a whole different ball game when it's your own time and actions and decisions you're risking.
And so we're on a very steep learning curve, and learning lots of business bullshit, oops, business jargon, on the way.
Here's a recent favourite:
M — things we MUST do.
S — things we SHOULD do.
C — things we COULD do.
W — things we WON'T do.
What's your MOSCOW?
People often ask me: what should brands do? How can they create the best experiences?
And, what sort of experiences are the ones that'll stand the test of time, and win in this new experience economy?
To be honest, I'm still working on the answer.
But this is one useful answer:
The best experiences are often the ones created from passion, the sort of passion that make a man so dedicated he dreams of sushi.
This movie (which encapsulates the ideal of the experience creator) came to me from a conversation with Jack Huang, founder of awesome experience company Truly Experiences.
The future is here… it's just unevenly distributed.
The unstoppable — and incredibly fast — rise of smartphones is the latest example. Here's ownership rates, as per the US-based Pew Research Center:
S Korea 88%
Its starting point is the work of Sangeet Paul Choudary, including articles and his books, Platform Scale and Platform Revolution — co-authored with the two MIT professors who made two-side markets famous in a HBR, Geoffrey Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne.
In case you prefer to watch than read, here's a keynote he gave about it.
In the 20th century, to get bigger, or "scale" as people like to say today, a business had to own the means of production. To get bigger, they had to scale internally.
Now, in the 21st century, that's changed. The fastest growing companies — and most valuable — in the world scale externally.
A good way to see that is the difference between pipes and platforms.
Instead of creating the supply, and selling it downstream to consumers. platforms don't own the means of production. Instead, they are like marketplaces. They provide the infrastructure, the space, the place for producers to sell to consumers.
The pioneers, and now classics, of this platform model are:
Airbnb — world's largest hotel company, owns no hotels
Alibaba — world's largest retailer, owns no stock
Uber — world's largest taxi company, owns no taxis
Rather than produce, these companies are platforms for other producers to sell to consumers.
All businesses are built to create and capture value. Platforms just do it in a new way. They're key raison d'etre is to make the exchange of value between producers and consumers are friction-free as possible.
The key trends driving the rise of platforms are:
Successful platform businesses are "interaction-first" businesses. The most important thing they do is make the interaction between the producer and consumer as frictionless as possible.
The core interaction is the crux of a platform.
Your central organising principle should be:
"all design decisions should ensure the repeatability and sustainability of the core interaction."
The goal of the platform is to: "maximize the repeatability and efficiency of the core interaction"…
to optimize the flow of value and currency
Beware features and added functionality:
"The prioritization of features and functionality, community management, and marketing, should be based on their ability to make the core interaction more efficient and repeatable."
When you're designing the core interaction, think about the core value unit — which is the equivalent of the ride on Uber: which contains the key data to make the interaction happen:
The platform's role is to match that with the consumer, whose data is similar (if opposite):
When designing the platform, design the core interaction first, then lay out the others, which Choudary calls "edge interactions".
What is essential data for the core value unit? Who, what, where, when… and how good (and who says how good it is — included this because of the importance of quality/trust for consumers: how is this indicated? Consider Uber's, Airbnb's, and Amazon's ratings & reviews.
"Two-sided markets require two companies, often with completely different challenges"
For a platform to succeed, it has to do 3 things: Pull, Facilitate, and Match.
To really succeed it should also Facilitate as many aspects of the interaction as possible, exchanging value between producer and consumer. Consider:
Uber facilitates value exchange:
NB: monetization is dictated by which transfers are captured and tracked by the platform.
NB: if your platform owns the end-to-end interaction, you're more likely to capture the user's input on quality — and hence scale quality as well as quantity.
NB: Interaction ownership is critical to create a sustainable platform business. (If possible, prevent off-platform collusion, through carrots mor than sticks.)
To facilitate effectively, at scale, you don't need to referee and personally oversee every core interaction. (Doh!) Instead, you create a culture where the right sort of behaviours happen. You do that through:
You can create trust in 7 ways
There are 5 ways a consumer can "pay" a producer — that is, offer value:
A platform needs to make that value exchange as friction-free as possible:
NB: your platform should capture some value for every interaction (see the 5 above)
The 4C set of actions that producers and consumers need to do repeatedly for them to derive value from the platform are:
On the producer side:
1. Create — producers do this
Make it easy with neat content creation interfaces
2. Curate — the platform operator designs this
On the consumer side:
3. Customize — the platform operator designs this (this is filter)
4. Consume — the consumer does this.
Encourage this with: newsfeeds, widgets
The platform stack is:
Platforms are OPP. They're Open, Participatory, they're built for Plug & Play: it's key that it's easy for suppliers to plug-in to them. And they need to keep Pulling in the suppliers.
So, how can you design "pull"? How can you get suppliers to willingly, regularly produce core value units?
Supplier relationship management — you could call it community management — becomes key.
Think value, costs, incentives — the value, costs, and incentives that matter to producers.
What are the set of actions that make it easy and simple (and fun) for producers to create core value units?
Reduce the friction. Give them access to consumers (without commensurate investment), and tools to make creating easy peasy. If possible, "break the skill barrier" — make them look good without making them work hard for it. (This is why people pay money to sit in restaurants with candles. Candles make us all look good.)
NB: you may have to give tools away. The money isn't in the tools (like it used to be: this isn't sell one thing and you're done). It's in the interactions (recurring revenue enabled by the web).
Build Cumulative Value — value that scales as the producer uses the platform more often, which will increase the repeatability and desirability of interactions. You can build cumulative value for the producer through:
(Also works for consumer too — cf Nir Eyal's Hooked model; he calls this "investment".)
"Scale the country club" — don't be for everyone! Act like a nightclub bouncer, and encourage the right quality and perceived quality of producers. Any additional friction should signal quality. If you add friction, ask: does it improve quality? Does it signal quality? Does it increase the repeatability of desirable interactions? (Also, is the interaction high value, high risk? In which case, trust is more key than ever.)
Think value, costs, incentives — the value, costs, and incentives that matter to consumers.
What are the set of actions that make it easy and simple (and fun) for consumers to consume core value units?
Curate: to "separate the award winners from the bathroom singers", the signal from the noise.
3 ways to do this:
Build cumulative value: get them to invest in small actions and over time use these to improve the filters, and increase the value they get from your platform
In order to Customize, a platforms filters have to work ever better.
Ideally, your platform should encourage users to make small actions that increasingly improve the filter, so it's easier to customize the offer. (This way, despite abundance, you can still deliver relevance.)
The filter should take the core value unit and match it to what a consumer wants based on:
However you define your key performance indicator, you'll want producers and consumers to stick around.
Make sure long-term investment gives producers…
Make consumers stick around:
"Platforms that enable thriving interactions within a small user base scale much faster."
Facebook at Harvard is a great example. The reason? It isn't the size: it's the thriving interactions, which are key for virality, cycle time… and proof that the platform works!
You might still be designing for a pipe world.
Don't! Instead read this article in Wired. (I'll add the core take-outs here soon.)
It's vital for viral that you design the carrot.
4 elements of how a virus / a viral marketing meme spreads:
Q: Why will sender send units out of the platform?
Don't forget your core!
This incentive MUST be aligned with the core interaction.
It must NOT distract from the core interaction, but be an integral part of it.
It should ENHANCE the VALUE that a user gets from the core interaction.
— think of Instagram, Kickstarter, Youtube
Most viral platforms:
Q: where will the unit from your platform meet current non-users?
Q: what is the network on which the unit spreads?
Many use Facebook. For Instagram, this was Facebook. For Airbnb, this was Craigslist.
4 qs to consider:
Q: what is the minimum transferable unit on the platform that can move onto an external network?
Q: are your core units designed to spread/be spread on an external network? (Hint: they should be!)
Think of Youtube videos, or the game state in a turn-based game.
"The value unit is a representation of the platform that can spread on an external network and act as a demonstration of the platform"
"The spreadable unit remains the most important, yet least understood element of designing for viral adoption."
How to design your core units:
Q: why will the recipient do what you want them to do?
Q: why will a non-user on an external network convert to user on the platform?
One answer: incentivise conversions thru supporting content that travels with the unit
Send: maximise the outflow of units from the platform
Make sharing actions part of the creation workflow
Spread: ensure units spread on external networks
Ensure they can spill over from one network cluster to another
Create cross-cluster inventives
And then you'll benefit from network effects — when more production leads to more consumption
(Not sure what network effects are? Think of the fax machine or the telephone. The more people who have them, the more useful they become.)
Click: test pitches and call-to-actions to maximise clicks (and conversions)
Convert: minimise cycle time… make the steps/effort from the first exposure to a unit on an external network to the start of a new cycle as tiny and friction-free as possible
To plan this out, use the viral canvas!
It's all well and good getting lots of providers on your platform, but how can you make sure those are high quality providers and high quality core value units?
Step 1: encourage repeat participation
(that's the quantity bit)
Step 2: Curate
Step 3: minimise/mitigate risk
eg, Airbnb and Uber invest in insurance & trust mechanisms
Step 4: Customise
Don't forget serendipity
Design a robust data acquisition strategy that captures consumer data during:
ongoing, thru the lifecycle of the user