Tag Startup

Posts: 7

Autonomous Drone Project

I have some sad news. The autonomous drone startup I was a part of just shut down. Bummer.

All is not lost though, I learned a lot on building a drone and how the NVIDIA Jetson TX2 works. So what's next?

Pi Drone

An autonomous drone with a Raspberry Pi. I'm trying to recreate the TrailNet experiment, sstay tuned for some summer fun!


Got MBA? Buy ~~that~~ the Right Business!

Brian tweeted an interesting link the other day about a new trend that HBR picked up on. It was about newly minted MBA graduates buying existing businesses instead of going into right into the consulting world.

At the Harvard Business School, for example, the number of MBAs who decide to look for a business to acquire right after graduation has gone from less than a handful a decade ago to more than a dozen, and in an occasional year, twice that amount.

I'm surprised that this number isn't higher but it's probably because of the stress that these students experience in the search for that special business.

One of the most common concerns that we hear as we advise our students at HBS is that searching for a business to buy — a full-time endeavor — is too “risky.”

It appears that financial risk has less weight than the finding the right business to buy. This is interesting but makes complete sense to me.

If you want to be an entrepreneur and be successful, you need to either fill a need or solve a problem in an industry that you are passionate about.

This is why the search for that right business can take a long time and requires lots of reflection. Just because a business might be cheap to buy, it might not have long term potential. This is key. You want to find that business that has the potential to disrupt the status quo.

Now go forth and find it.


Taxis v2.0

I'm completely boggled by the vast amounts of money that's looking to be invested. It's been finding homes in Startups from AirBnB to Domo and Uber. The money raised by these Startups is so insane that Fortune dubs them unicorns. The king of the Unicorns is Uber.

Uber is ranked #1 on the list with a valuation of $62 Billion dollars.

Yes you read that right. 62 freaking billion dollars! How is that even possible for a taxi service? This means that Uber's valuation is roughly equal to the entire GDP of Uzbekistan. What's even crazier than this is that Uber owns no taxis! They just have a fancy app that allows you order car rides from people willing to rent their cars at the time you need a ride. Don't get me wrong, it's a novel idea and it's definitely disrupting the old taxi cab business (competition is always good) but I can't wrap my head around the $62 Billion valuation.

Of course there will be the shrill few that say the valuation is justified because "they'll just monetize all that data!" Alright, fair enough, but what do you think that data is really worth? In 2014 Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 Billion. That acquisition was believed to be mostly for WhatsApp's data so if we add another 10% on top of that, we can guesstimate (back of the envelope calculation) that the data Uber is collecting might be worth $21 Billion. Let's be nice, assume $25 Billion. That means the remaining $37 Billion is for the Uber App and the company.

I'm sorry, I don't get it. Maybe the VC's are smarter than me and see something that I don't. I still can't wrap my head around a company that's worth more than the GDP of Uzbekistan, is nearing a greater valuation than Ford and Honda, and has nothing more than some data and an App.

I'll say it, I'll jump on the bandwagon, the Startup world is in a bubble.

When will the bubble pop? Who knows. Just stay vigilant.


Who has the biggest...raise?

Venture Beat had an interesting article about Domo's recent raise, Tableaus's disappointing market guidance, and Slack raising $ to a possible $5 Billion valuation. The one thing I got out of all this is the following:

Beyond the money needed to invest in the business, one can begin to see that these crazy financing rounds maybe be as much about making a statement. If you’re making purchasing decisions and you glance around at a bunch of companies that each are only a few years old, you start to wonder which one might be around for the long haul.

Making a statement? Yes, it does make a statement but it sure sounds like a pissing match to me. It reminds me of Dot Com era and how eerily similar all these "massive" raises are, how insane this market is right now.

Call me cynical but I don't believe that this time it will be different. Sure VC's now invest in companies that actually show a revenue stream (something that wasn't necessarily true during the Dot Com days) but you can still "over pay" for something.

Only time will tell and the market will discount prices. There is so much pressure to preform that even just a small hiccup in future earnings guidance can slash market valuations. Just look at Tableau's performance once reality caught up with it. It's now trading below it's IPO day opening price of $47.


It's the Blockchain, stupid.

I've been a big fan of Bitcoin for a while and the potential for a true digital currency, but lately it's been having problems. Some prominent voices in the Bitcoin world actually say it's dead and that got me a little worried. I'm no longer bullish on the Bitcoin currency itself partly because of Hearn's departure from the project, but mostly because first innovators usually don't survive. I believe something else will take Bitcoin's place one day as the defacto digital currency.

That said, I'm actually quite bullish on Blockchain technology. It's the system that makes Bitcoin work.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about blockchain is that there's no central authority or single source of the database. Which means it exists on every system that's associated with it. Yes, every system has its own complete copy of the blockchain. As new blocks are added, they're also received by every system - for the ultimate distributed database. If you lose your copy, no problem. By rejoining the blockchain network you get a fresh new copy of the entire blockchain. (h/t @ischwartz)

You can't have Bitcoin without a Blockchain but you can have a Blockchain without a Bitcoin. In fact you can create a Blockchain for all kinds of things, especially financial transactions.

When you talk about blockchain in the context of Bitcoin, the connection to Big Data seems a little tenuous. What if, instead of Bitcoin, the blockchain was a ledger for other financial transactions? Or business contracts? Or stock trades? The financial services industry is starting to take a serious look at blockchain technology. Citi, NASDAQ, and Visa recently made significant investments in Chain.com, a Bitcoin blockchain service provider. Oliver Bussmann, CIO of UBS, says that blockchain technology could "pare transaction processing time from days to minutes." via Web 2.0 Journal

I think it might be time invest in Blockchain Startups.


Neural Market Trends is the online home of Thomas Ott.