The immigrant mentality is the technologist mentality.
The technologist mentality is the immigrant mentality. Mobile, entrepreneurial, restless, a bit paranoid, striver, something from nothing.— Balaji S. Srinivasan (@balajis) June 24, 2014
"Like watching sausage getting made"
Idiom: If something is like watching sausages getting made, unpleasant truths about it emerge that make it much less appealing. The idea is that if people watched sausages getting made, they would probably be less fond of them”
We are the sausage makers.
We turn the achingly ugly into the incredibly beautiful.
We subscribe to the rules of making, only to break them later.
We admire the process of making, only if the sausage comes out well.
We may break the process, but the sausage we will not.
We build things.
We build them with craftsmen, artists, hustlers, mechanics, and businessmen.
We build with anyone who’s willing to join the sausage factory.
We make things, for people who’ve never had them before.
But we make sure as hell, those are the best made things in the world.
We make sausages, sometimes without the right ingredients.
Sometimes without the meat.
Sometimes without the oil.
Always with care.
Sometimes with brute force.
Sometimes we cut or burn our fingers.
But we make a great sausage anyway.
We make sausages. No one will ever know we made sausages.
Through several ups and downs, our Nairobi family has come a long long way. Strangers have become family and we’ve found comfort in this incredibly diverse collective. A collective that holds through the most difficult of times.
2013 was a year of clarity. A year of saying ‘no’ more often and fervently chasing the ‘yes’.
Startup life, as the cliché goes, is a roller coaster ride and Kopo Kopo in 2013 was exhibit A. We went through all the classical pains — sleepless nights, rapid scale, difficult market conditions and some political risks that are unique to frontier markets. Our fundraising process deserves a book in itself and experiencing it from close quarters was education for me.
In the deep trenches of our world, it’s easy to be swamped by the sheer number of opportunities available on platter. It is perhaps truer of startup life.
In these trenches, I’m fortunate and thankful to have found a branch to hold on to. Constantly building things with the heart of a motorcycle mechanic and the mind of a surgeon, while total disregard to getting fingers in grease or blood. It’s an exciting tension to manage and I hope to carry the same excitement to each new relationship — professional and personal — in 2014.
2014 will be a massive, albeit different, leap of faith for Kopo Kopo and its extended family.
To another year of building good things with great people. Amen!
Thanks for reading!
The contrarian thing is not to be with the crowd, or fashionably against the crowd, but to think. Your life is not probability, it’s calculus.
The secret to avoiding burnout: be on a mission that doesn’t suck.
He poured out his energies in a thousand ways but always, always with wit, with panache, with a sumptuously exquisite use of language, with a deep understanding that the connection between style and substance is absolute. A true thing badly expressed becomes a lie.
When the train of history hits a curve, the intellectuals fall off first.
Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.
We live in a time when building a startup is increasingly becoming a science. The world is awash with ‘lean’ methodologies, ruthless A/B and multivariate testing and communities where ‘talking to customers’ is known as ‘customer discovery’. Is that signalling goodbye to the good ol’ ways of building a company? I’d argue not.
Data, of course, is a great leveler. Suddenly, every idea is an opinion that needs to be proved or disproved. It keeps the team on one page without hierarchical bias. Warm and fuzzy feelings of anecdotal growth are irrelevant.
In its most extreme, anal and obsessive avatars however, this culture can be fatal.
A better way to understand data is that it helps you get comfortable with your counter intuition. To arrive at a mental state where the exact opposite of your expected result is equally obvious. Go beyond just objectivity and start telling your intuition that it’s ignored brother named counter-intuition is also important. It’s almost a deep, philosophical level where useful contrarians exist.
Let the science underpin your art. Not the other way round.
Too often in the race to compete, we learn to confuse what is hard with what is valuable. Intense competition makes things hard because you just beat heads with other people. The intensity of competition becomes a proxy for value. But value is a different question entirely. And to the extent it’s not there, you’re competing just for the sake of competition. Henry Kissinger’s anti-academic line aptly describes the conflation of difficulty and value: in academia at least, the battles are so fierce because the stakes are so small.
That seems true, but it also seems odd. If the stakes are so small, why don’t people stop fighting so hard and do something else instead? We can only speculate. Maybe those people just don’t know how to tell what’s valuable. Maybe all they can understand is the difficulty proxy. Maybe they’ve bought into the romanticization of competition. But it’s important to ask at what point it makes sense to get away from competition and shift your life trajectory towards monopoly.
Source: Peter Thiel’s Startup Class: Chapter 4
It should be obvious, but it isn’t. Placements are killing Indian education.
Every year, families, friends, neighbours and marriage bureaus go frantic about the size of ‘packages’ in Indian universities.
What do we lose?
Imagine a world without mass recruitment
I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant where you get the dish that the person next to you orders.
Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.
It’s a critical balance, often debated among entrepreneurs.
Professor D.Sarasvathy draws a clear line through a nuanced rendition of the famous Alan Kay quote - “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
In Prof. Sarasvathy’s words, entrepreneurs think Effectually - “To the extent that we can control the future, we do not need to predict it.” Managing uncertainty and chaos.
Causal thinking, on the other hand, says “To the extent that we can predict the future, we can control it.” Prediction dictates, while control takes a backseat.
The ‘control’ bit in Effectual thinking doesn’t imply total ignorance of research/data/evidence. It’s like being an airplane pilot. Before taking off, you’d at least ask the Air Traffic Control if there are planes on the same runway, won’t you? That’s the bare minimum to fly.
P.S: If you have a moment, please read the Paper by Prof. Sarasvathy, delightfully sprinkled with annotations.