Monday, July 16, 2012

Contained Failure

One of the core messages of lean is "fail fast." Ryan MacCarrigan, VP of Marketing at Lean Startup Machine and one of LSMs best teachers, likes to tell the group that "failing" fast doesn't mean catastrophic-I-went-bankrupt-and-my-wife-left-me type failure. Quite the opposite: testing your riskiest assumptions first helps you avoid catastrophic failure, because the "failures" that you have in your model are contained within the boundaries of the experiment, and so become valuable learning moments rather than disasters.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Favorite Block in NY

One of the things I love about New York City is the ingenious uses of space you find here. Putting retail in the first floor of residential and commercial buildings to take advantage of the premium they are willing to pay for the frontage / foot traffic is the most obvious. Building a state park on top of a sewage plant, slightly less so. But my favorite block in NYC for this by far has to be Grand Central Terminal.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday America, or Startups and Immigrants

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me"
        - "The New Colossus," Emma Lazarus, 1883

This year I'm especially proud to be an American. Working in VC has given me insight into so many founders' stories and helped me see how much of our innovation has come from immigrants and their children. US immigration policy is unnecessarily restrictive, but once you are here the sky is the limit. Other countries may have higher percentages of foreign-born citizens, and there are always the gold rush countries de jour (China and Dubai come to mind in recent times), but those places will never accept outsiders as their own. America is still the place whose national dream anyone can aspire to, and this is why the world's hungriest and most ambitious individuals still to come here to seek their fortunes, as they have for centuries. Democracy, capitalism, freedom of speech, and rule of law are the foundation; but immigration is the engine that will keep America exceptional long after China's economic growth slows.