The three remaining questions are: Can I afford the time and resources? What does the worst outcome scenario look like? Can I withstand that scenario?

The above questions are centered on the concept of risk. I view risk as : Risk = (value of ideal scenario )—( opportunity cost). If the equation is positive, do it.

My considerations are colored by what I believe to be our future relationship between human and machine. I believe white collar jobs will disappear rapidly, systemwide software updates are easier to install than robots on a production floor. …

Is the market big enough? Can I afford the time and resources? What does the worst outcome scenario look like? Can I withstand that scenario?

To tackle the first question we need a market definition and estimation. As noted in Crossing the Chasm, we cannot simply estimate the coffee market and claim to capture x% of that market. I could easily claim that 10% of coffee drinkers will use this product, the U.S. coffee industry generates $50 billion in annual revenue, so I am looking at a $5 billion opportunity. This is a bad approach.

Instead, the better approach is…

Rating: 3 stars

Rework, written by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, is an unconventional business book and a New York Times Bestseller. It delivers simple and compelling advice for how to get a startup running. This book is best for someone right at the edge of starting a business.

Unfortunately, this book is also rife with contradictions. On one page it extolls the value of operating in the shadows and on the next it claims the best thing to do is build an audience. However, Rework forced me to do quite a few thought experiments on what concepts I…

“Hey, I have this idea. It’s water that makes coffee taste good.”

“Ha! That is a horrible idea. Not one person would buy that.”

“Okay, but water is important for coffee flavor.”

“Why would someone buy something they can get for free?”

Good question.

“…because it makes the coffee taste better.”

“I don’t think it would work. I don’t think you’ve thought about your target market or the product concept enough and if you did, you would realize this would not work.”

Good talk.

One week later, on a call with a VC.

“So the concept is: there are a…

Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, is a book about creating new marketspace, “blue oceans”, by transcending the “red oceans”, where competition is stiff and gains are small. This book is more geared toward strategy formulation for established companies rather than the process for bringing a startup concept to life. I would recommend pursuing other reads for directly relevant advice on building a startup or thinking about gaining market share. However, there are lots of fun real-world examples and a few key takeaways that are helpful. Quotes/concepts I thought relevant are below.

· The current focus…

“Yea so that’s going be about seven thousand five hundred dollars”.

HA! Hilarious….Oh wait, he’s not kidding.

“For a water filter?”


“Does this water filter out gold?”

“Ha, we need it, can we get it?”

Can we get it? What a question. Well, can we not get it? No. After spending many times more than that on a new factory, we cannot exactly let a water filter be our hang up. Our payables were well past due, our credit facility was maxed out, our receivables had been scraped to the bone, and payroll was just barely going to make…

Geoffrey A. Moore focuses entirely on tech, but there is a lot of value to be gleaned from his chapters for other industries. I found the discussion directly applicable to the CPG industry and my business. Cliff notes & key takeaways are below.

· A chasm divides early adopters from the early majority, and is difficult to cross with new products. This chasm is the cause of many failed startups and is largely unrecognized. The problem with the hi-tech marketing model is the notion that rapid, mainstream market growth could follow continuously on the heels of early market success. …

There are lots of business books out there. And many of them are the hard-fought stories of some heroic entrepreneur creating kingdoms from nothing. These stories provide the real world lessons of the brutal reality that is entrepreneurship. However, nearly all of them are diluted with hindsight. I am always left wondering how it actually went down. Was the vision that clear and the entrepreneur that driven? Or was everything as the rest of us mere mortals perceive, fractured and opaque, teetering on the edge of meaninglessness.

The biggest suck of the abyss is the real, ever needling question, “will…

Chipping Away at Zero

CJ is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and adviser to startups. Hobbies include mountain biking, reading dictionaries, and making gnocchi.

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