How Hambrecht Uses Machine Learning to Up its Venture Hit Rate 3X

Venture capital is a “hit business.” The relatively few hits pay for the flops. And it's the tantalizing possibility of a mega-hit that animates the industry, that keeps investors dreaming, prospecting and writing checks. For venture capitalists, it’s the hits and the mega-hits that make the high flop rate tolerable. But is frequent venture failure inescapable? Could a probabilistic approach…


Is your company anti-innovative?

It’s been said that launching a new innovation from within a big company is like getting a bill through Congress. You spend a ton of time getting votes from peers whose buy-in is critical, officially or unofficially. You have to raise money, and defend it, over and over again. Promises are made, and broken, along the way. Then, even if…


In strategy, a little evidence goes a long way

Pretend your new business has a choice: it can target high-end markets with a premium offering, or it can target low-end markets at the lowest price. What should it do? Rather than jumping to an answer, let’s slow down and investigate. One idea is to ask the industry’s top customers what they’d prefer. The customer is “always right,” after all.  Spoiler…

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Cool Kids in the Kingdom of Venture Capital

The kingdom of venture capital was largely built on the grounds that a startup’s founding team, above all else, is the greatest predictor of success. Success breeds success, so the prophecy goes. First and foremost, most VCs seek startups with founding teams that have been successful (i.e. been acquired or gone IPO) in the past. These founders are the “cool…


Strategy by Storytelling

I love stories. They help us learn and can be powerful, wonderful things. As a kid, stories were entertainment. Yet as an adult, stories can also be a form of currency. In business, managers with the best arsenal of stories tend to have the nicest offices. Stories are the troops in the war of ideas. Yet despite how helpful stories can…

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Help! My boss doesn’t speak “data”

If there were a Top 5 playlist for things data scientists gripe about, this would be Track #1: How can I get my boss to understand the value of data science? We all know data science has done, and continues to do, amazing things. The movie Moneyball was about how data science can improve baseball recruiting. Las Vegas knows how…


A Tale of Three Startups… and how they mess with our brains

Do you recognize this story? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Entrepreneurs we’ll call “Alan,” "Ben" and "Colleen" started competing companies around the same time.  In the chart below you can see their competitive rises and falls over a period of several years.  The X axis is time. Consider the Y axis each firm's…


School admissions suck! Can data science help?

Remember the college admissions process… and how much it sucked?  After years of struggling to get decent grades and racking up brownie points, you throw yourself at the feet of admissions people.  Getting into college has become insanely competitive, with amazing students from every corner of the world competing for relatively few slots in great schools. This creates problems for…


Data science is a state of mind

Recently a number of people have emailed asking how they can become data scientists. What degree should they get? What experience? What’s the career path? These are tough questions because, almost by definition, data science crosses multiple disciplines. Whether you analyze business, healthcare, nuclear fusion or weather, the details of data science are always different. Yet what makes something “data…


Mutual Exclusivity Kills Innovation

Mutual exclusivity.  It’s when two things can’t happen at the same time.  It’s when two propositions can’t both be true.  It can also be when a business unit is told to both extend its parent company’s core franchise while also being a new growth effort.  You’ve been warned.



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