Next: 3 September
Review the intention: what do we expect to learn or make together?
Pull together the great people I know around a theme of common interest Make a new partnership to explore business possibilities Learn what it takes to set up a viable business (or indeed a big company!) Ray: we have been talking about business stuff for a while. Look more critically at our thoughts and see if there is a practical plan in there somewhere. Joe: wanted to get the ideas clarified and realised if possible Simon Sinek: “What’s the purpose of the business we’re creating?”
Establish what is happening: what and how are we learning?
- - Got a lot of great advice from Deyan, and Charlie, Steve, Zoe, and others who know about business stuff Either Oushesh & Joe didn’t look like credible people, or they just thought “this is never going to work”, because we always got low scores.
As business people they want to hear something that you’re super convinced
If they say no, you say “We’re sure!”
Zans: So I can see it going a few ways. Exploring could be done in various ways.
We’re still at the exploration space and haven’t found “the one thing”
This is similar to what happened last year. They want a specific thing that
will make money.
Joe: I’m likely not to be the best “CEO” for this company even though I was the
person who brought this group together. Compare Eric Daimler relative to Connexus, who made the thing take off. Daimler is still quite academic but he knows how to do the business stuff. We could find someone on the intersection.
But as a counter to that, maybe we’re not at that point... maybe we’re at the point
where squeezing an idea out may be premature. Last year the ideas were a bit boring. But if we had
What are some different perspectives on what’s happening?
- - - - Brainstorming meeting with 4 people in Authorea (Marketers, CEO, Deyan). “Why are we doing what we’re doing, why did we start this thing!”... 45 minutes in had a great list of community serving things, then reminded that one of the purposes was to make a lot of money . We come here often with an academic mindset ? Vitor + Deyan: Business model canvas...? ; Lean startup ; Start-up Own Manual Ray: What is the market ready for. In academia you do research at the edge of what’s possible. In the practical world “yes this is good cutting edge research but it’s not ready for production...” 2- - - - - - Vitor: we have a lot of hackathons where people present ideas that the market does not yet want. Joe: this is a complex thing, not ‘rapidly’ commercialisable (and I didn’t have the startup mindset). Vitor: “A lot of startups need to be scalable, fast growing, pain that serves a lot of people.” — That’s how you say “where your margin comes from.” If you don’t have to add many people or costs per margin, then you have a great margin. Adding teachers per margin. Deyan: you’re either inside academia or business! Ray: There are multiple kinds of businesses, not funded by VC Cameron: If you’re not building something that’s sustainable in the long term you’re not doing it right. Sustainable org ideas. — JC: B-Corp book. If you really have an idea you can execute, do you want to offer equity at that price? They would get to diversify their portfolio and invest early on... but from the perspective of someone trying to find a price on the open market... it may not really benefit the idea of learning from scratch. So think much more strategically about whether the thing you’re selling them by reentering is actually useful to our. (What’s the standard raise?) HDtP organised summer school: One of the theme was “testing things”. As PL people, you come up with an idea, it’s a type system, you publish it. In HCI you evaluate by putting things together with people. If we connect our prototypes to people using things — hyping things on Twitter, getting feedback on what’s going on. EF: looking at exporting US businesses to elsewhere. Gumtree: that was invented by a German company called Rocket who just has under-paid junior developers & hack things together and they are billionaires.
What did we learn or change?
JC: I learned a lot of business stuff but also what else there is to learn.
Got a business model and business plan. They might not be the right ones but I
know what they look like. Vitor, Analua talking about other models. Make an NGO? Partnerships? We did get $10K+ from cloud providers “Whitepaper” is pretty crappy but we could maybe turn it into a survey paper, for those interested (write or find) AI Review paper: “Advances in Natural Language Processing in Sentiment Analysis” “Advances in tutoring systems for programming” (or just production systems for tutor systems for programming) 3- - “Advances in knowledge mining from technical documents” — these exist (but are they starting to become applicable)? It was awkward to have a mismatch between the startup incubator and people that know each other. What even would be the vision that we would present? With the possibility to reset? It’s hard to activate the seed funding without an idea that is worth the effort. “Get successful but not successful enough to get noticed.” (E.g., Etherpad .)
What else should we change going forward?
What is actually ready for commercialization ? E.g. “Shopping on Mars” was back in the day of early PC’s before public internet access. E.g., no non-disclosure agreements; EF has the ability to invest Joe: wants to explore other business models Other program synthesis methods. But “mining stack exchange” would be noisy so this might be away to prune it Try out some educational models, just to get some experience with this. Who would be interested? E.g., take HDtP, how would our way of teaching compare with the way people are learning. All previous deadlines are dissolved, now with open conversations... Joe to get back about small print about T&C. Possible option to re-apply with Zans... but is there a business model that’s actually viable on that time frame??
Noting that September 6 months (2X FT)
The other option: work half time, slowly grow it, maybe teach a course with 50 people... Meetups are a great place to find customers Alumni network may be a good place to get investors, maybe by cultivating relationship with investors... but emailing them isn’t a totally secure. You don’t pitch a product, you pitch a vision. You can get a seed round from anyone: glass of wine , 1 hour conversation, then $300K in the bank. All that was pitched was the vision. There was a slide deck not a product. If you have credentials that is important. “Keeping Joe fed” — is a different problem form “Having a business”. So, businesses usually aren’t started by people who are trying to feed themselves (case of Ian). It’s kind of an introduction: 1st, I have invisible shackles, which means I can’t participate in any side ventures. I am someone who shares experience and interested in open source. What I’ve been interested in the last couple years, to illustrate that I have a focus 4that hasn’t been discussed in these meetings but is very adjacent. What we’re currently working on this year is a fresh effort for the MathML standard. In FF, Chrome, making it accessible for text-to-speech standard. Have a working academic product, it ties into e-learning with math texts. The data mining is attached to this level of representation. Very excited about anything to do with mathematics and e-learning. ○ “Let’s build a few showcases and see what works.” ■ Compatible w/ “I’m scratching my own itch” or “I’m using it with 10 students” ■ Still, how many people can you get excited for it...! (Many of Deyan’s ideas got shut down until they hired a designer.) — With Emacs it’s not going to be a company, though some could be reimplemented. Emacs is like a breadboard. But we could use it to teach someone to do something. Put this out, advertise on Reddit or whatever, does anyone learn from it? — This is exactly the learn startup way. ■ Once we have excited users, the business side can fall into place, including both business & operations. We have to be a bit skeptical, but until we reach that point it’s a distraction to get too focused on the business side. They can’t answer the questions until you’ve achieved. ○ No shame in getting a postdoc to clear up the concepts. Find a nice topic & investigate it, then you can make a company out of that later. Academia gives you the comfort to investigate at leisure. In startup there’s no leisure. Important to get through a bunch of ideas, rather than having a formal process. We can formalise it later once we know the ideas that are being thought of at the individual level. E.g. “the unifying idea is model construction” — start with a bit of abstraction or how to raise funding will not be determinable. “What’s the vision” Academic tends to be theor