Three Mathematical Models for Building a More Valuable Company

"All models are wrong, but some are useful."

- George E. P. Box

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Tit-For-Tat Office Hours with a Seed-Stage VC

For a while now, I've wanted to try holding office hours. I've been a big beneficiary of Silicon Valley's pay-it-forward culture, and I'd love to play a part in maintaining that culture. Winter holidays are a forced vacation for VCs*, so this seems as good a time as any to give office hours a try. The experiment that I want to conduct is "tit-for-tat office hours": each person I meet with can ask me whatever they want for 20 minutes, and then I can ask them to teach me something related to their professional experience for 5 minutes. I've never tried this before, but hopefully it'll be useful and fun for everyone involved.

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How to Use Thought Experiments to De-Risk Your Startup

"In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

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How to De-Risk a Startup

In a previous post, I wrote that startups are collections of risks, and that the best way to make progress on a company (and to get higher valuations from investors) is to address the biggest risks as quickly and thoroughly as possible. But how do you actually mitigate different types of risk? How do you convince yourself that you have product/market fit? How do you persuade investors and employees that you can build a lasting company? How do you demonstrate to early adopters that you're good at building products?

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Startup Cargo Cults: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

"In the South Seas there is a Cargo Cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things Cargo Cult Science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land."

- Richard Feynman, 1974 Caltech Commencement Address

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