Monday, October 22, 2012

How to turn a win-lose to win-win not lose-lose?

I have been put into a win-lose situation lately (me=lose). First, it is a good sign of bad faith of who you are dealing with or bad lawyer advices. A bad layer will advise you to push a win-loose deal it is most likely going to end in a lucrative billing lose-lose situation for him. So please, fire your law firm if it is happening to you.
A lose-lose is the biggest wealth destruction you can go so you need an alternative sometimes when you need to choose your battles. Now, how can you turn a win-lose to a win-wing?
Accept the win-lose but transfer the lose to a win later on. Make a side deal or informal deal so they own you one. Transform an enemy to an ally later on.
If you are badly advised, you might be stuck in that situation and might be willing to take the risk of been able to make a win-lose proposal pass. Don't forget that all deal should be a win-win, its ensure failure is not a option (win-lose to lose-lose).
There is a rule to succeed, ensure failure in not an option.  
Last, before taking the risk of pushing a win-lose, ensure yourself that the other side won't take the challenge, they might have nothing to lose or might have super ego but why taking the change. It is basic risk management. If you end up in that situation, your management team isn't doing its jobs. Someone has to be fired. If you decide to keep the management team who put you in that situation, you might want to force them taking sales classes and basic human psychology.
Win-lose is definitely the best way to destroy trust and without trust it gets messy. Don't forget, people hate losing and might be spiteful so why taking that risk, it is a wast of time and energy. Why taking the chance of underestimating who you are facing instead of a win-win which is eliminating failure alternative and is optimal energy and time wise.      

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Double disruption?

I am trying to find a way to double disrupt an industry. What does that mean?
Every companies are trying to create barrier of entries. Here are common way to create barriers:
  • Just be faster 
  • IP protections
  • Be first, first in a channel with exclusivity if possible
  • Pricing (cheaper)
  • Domain knowledge 
  • Expertise
  • Network
  • ...

Competing in some tech industries these days is insanely hard do to due to way lower level of barrier of entry. In many cases, the only barriers is having a laptop, dev expertise and spare time. Network and channel is the biggest barrier of entry if you are competing in that domain which explain why incubators are so powerful tool. 

Let's take an example: you are trying to disrupt an industry were most competitors are VC founded, what can you do?

The most powerful strategy is to use there advantages against them. In this example by using an alternative founding strategy that will create a barrier of entry on the monetization (can't compete pricing in the long run).

If you want to succeed, you have to play the game. Its the jungle out there, harm yourself and use the chest strategy, try to move first, get momentum (users) and create barriers of entries along the way. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

How I suspect Canadian gov. is approaching the dept pension bomb & how it could kill innovation

You might have notice the news about the public pension budget hole.
Our Canadian government has to face this issue.  Dumping it on the new generation or increasing even more taxes will just fuel more the generation clash problem and I don't think we can afford a social crisis. The students strikes might just be the beginning of something much bigger.

As discussed in my previous post on sred, our federal wants to make R&D subsidies more accountable of creating wealth. In order to do so, our government wants to make better investments and has chosen to leverage NRC through its IRAP programs and slowly get rid of the sred program has we know it now. Innovation and commercialization lead to more wealth creation in short term then sred.

Now, according to my initial analysis, only companies that are backed by BDC can leverage this vehicule now (IRAP $100K+). It seems to be the same strategy for DEC who is providing generous loans to finance commercialization but you have to be BDC founded again.

Its a smart move, you finance public pension hole by leveraging better allocation of public subsidies.

Let's phase is differently. More taxpayer is redirected to finance missing founds of public pension plans.

Even if you flip the problem, canadian taxpayer will pay for the missing pension money so the solution might be the least worst of both solutions.

But now, if you think about it, this will have global bad effect.
Why would a non BDC founded tech company stay in Canada anymore?

In this highly competitive market, high salary, high tax level and lower access to subsidies will make Canada and Quebec less competitive and increase the entrepreneur barrier of entry. This will destroy the throughput of value creation by removing fuel to the early stage companies that are the basis of the entire system. In theory it will create more competition but it will attract way less people.

But there is an in-between solution. Renegotiate pensions plans to reduce gv weigh and keep all innovation been fueled.  Hopefully this process is already taking place. 

If this is the reality, it is a bad news for the canadian techno community in the long run and even for pensions because the choice of truly innovative companies will decrease which should have a direct correlation with pension results.

On the surface it seems a good idea but I think this will destroy a big part of the basis of innovation and will make it a loose-loose situation. SRED program initial review started on the right track I think.
It the same as the education debate, if less people can access university, its a loose-loose for the society. The root cause is the same, financing the heathcare system of the previous generation take precedence.

Don't take me wrong, the basis are right. sred program has to be revised but it should be for better no the opposite. Leveraging NRC is good but it shouldn't exclude alternative founding. I do hope I am wrong.

But even if pension budget hole is an issue, knowing that the process will create unequal chances to companies to get subsidies and worst, it will only finance mostly public pensions, it is unequal solution for all taxpayers which should lead our gv to renegotiate public pensions plans.

The strong argument of risk control is in favor of this strategy but VC have tendency of selling too early and loosing huge value due to constraints of porfolio expiration policies.

But I might be all wrong, I hope there is a arms-length principle in place.  The arm's length principle (ALP) is the condition or the fact that the parties to a transaction are independent and on an equal footing.  

We might be shitting in our plate,

A bias guy. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

startups and upcoming Canadian federal fix to R&D

In 2009, as discussed in this post, simplification of paperwork for sred was a good news for startups. But now, will the upcoming changes be as good.

Here is a list of things that are might be good:
  • “We are at the dislocation point between an old economic order and a new one that may last for decades, if not centuries,” Mr. Jenkins wrote in a recent paper for the Institute for Research on Public Policy. “Innovation is the wealth creator in this new order.”
  • A report Friday from the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation urged Ottawa to dramatically cut R&D tax breaks and plow the cash back into targeted grants for businesses, a model embraced by innovation leaders Germany, Sweden and South Korea.
  • As Mr. Jenkins has certainly discovered, the only way to succeed is a much more targeted and strategic approach to spending all that money. That will likely mean favouring the few at the expense of the many, with perhaps more emphasis on grants, along with tighter controls on tax credits.

Here is a list of things that aren't exiting for early stage start-ups:
  • In an interview Friday, federal Science Minister Gary Goodyear acknowledged he’s looking at a major restructuring of the tax-credit regime and other programs. But he wouldn’t commit to a timetable.
  • Ottawa wants to build world-beating companies, but it’s giving away millions to $10,000 R&D projects.
  • R&D requires critical mass, but SR&ED has no minimum threshold. Maybe it should. And Ottawa must do a better job of identifying real R&D.
Five keys to getting innovation right:
1. Put innovation spending under the control of one federal minister and one agency. (OK)
2. Make programs simpler, transparent and accountable. (OK)
3. Shift balance from tax breaks to direct grants. (Scary)
4. Put more money into “late-stage” venture capital. (Good but not now)

So overall, it doesn't look good for early stage startups.

Study urges drastic cuts to federal R&D tax breaks

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Having issue installing ubuntu with your NVIDIA GeForce GXT260M?

You can't install ubuntu 12.04 on your laptop due to your ndivia graphical card (GTX 260M)?
You get this message Failed to initialize the NVIDIA graphics device!

Doing the following solved it for me on Ubuntu 12.04 64bit with 3.0.29 kernel. Hope it helps.
  • install alternative version
  • restart in recovery mode 
  • sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
Don't wast your time with:
  • trying the default xorg.conf
  • trying the alternative 12.04 or server installation; it will not help
  • trying to desable GPU (glx)
  • playing with nvidia-xconfig nor nvidia-settings
  • rebuilding the driver ( -> I kept getting the looping NVIDIA API mismatch....
  • additional driver using jocket interface (minimal video configuration)
  • When I discover the solution, I challenged Michael Faille and he automatically said the right solution...I should have asked him before....I learned the hard way. 
PS: If you want to enable your second screen (disable by default), do sudo nvidia-setting + active it. (configuration: Disable to TwinView) 

I see that Linus Torvalds think the same as me: "Linus Torvalds Calls NVIDIA The Worst Company Ever"

references and trial documentations: 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How to better phrase your startup vision?

  1. Traditional Business Models are definitely outdated. 3-5 years projections based on hypothesis is a wast of your time. Garbage in garbage out, what can you expect more. It simply give banker or investors power to kick your ass. As pointed out in "Founder at work" it is required to start but it will be mutated so don't wast too much time on it. 
  2. Lean startup and the usage of continuous innovation is definitely a good approach to iterate faster but you need a starting point. 
  3.  Business model canvas and a marketing plan is definitely the optimal approach I found to build a starting point of your iteration process. 
But there is something missing. You have to answer some key questions. Why am I doing this? How long do you want to commit? What level of financial risk are you prepared to take?

You need to answers keys questions and have answers and understand the 9 elements of a successful business model. This will help you clarify your vision and lead to your financial strategy and help you better identify who you need as advisory board and employees. 

Now if you have a unique product or concept, a passionate founding team and a large potential market you will be most likely in a intense competition landscape and will need to move rapidly. 

At this point, you will need a good template for a deck.  The best inspiration I have found is the one from Ryan Spoon deck on how to create an early-stage pitch deck for investors. Don't forget your great one liner and to tell a story. Your deck will be shared.  

Don't forget, if your are looking for cash you will most likely fail. Find smarter people then you to improve your business and you will most likely hit 2 birds at the same time. 

facebook business model iterations

As a BIGDATA-miner, facebook social graph is an amazing gold mine we leverage at QMining which lead us to follow facebook chaotic business model iteration.    
I have been quite surprised by at Business Insider article published on Sept 25Th by Nicholas Carison: "It's Become Tragically Clear That Facebook Chased The Wrong Business For Years".
Basically, this article throw away facebook social graph because they still haven't find a way to monetize it properly and that standard re-targeting works. Nicholas, are you kidding? Re-targeting is the simplest way to increase conversions rate. As it is pointed out in the article, yahoo does it since a long time but is this enough to throw what facebook built for several years.  

Yes targeted ads inside facebook don't work well but I suspect that what Nicholas is missing is that the facebook social graph can be leveraged outside facebook. Here is a simple example: I want to measure the persona fit of my conversions and non conversions users? What is the persona fit of X?
Now imagine if you what to mine why people aren't buying and your data are boosted with facebook data. This is just a goal mine Nicholas. Why do you thing google is pushing so much google+. How can you improve ads targetting without powerful info such as user info? How to you think must corporation will optimize their online sales? Social graph is definitely part of the solution, re-targeting is easy. The only reason they haven't done it before is that facebook had no big revenue pressure before its IPO. Re-targeting is the easy part.