Mapping The Startup Scene

We heard the stats from Google this week as they launched Google for Entrepreneurs – right now there are around 400 million entrepreneurs operating across 54 countries!

400 million entrepreneurs!

It is fantastic to hear that so many people out there are doing things their way, trying to solve problems they’ve encountered.

And programs like Google for Entrepreneurs are excellent tools for upskilling entrepreneurs. However, the entrepreneurial ecosystem globally is still not matrixed.

How do entrepreneurs find the right people to work or partner with?

Shaun Campbell and Adrian Randall are doing their bit to bring entrepreneurs together in a more transparent way. This week they launched OzFounded, a map of the Australian startup community aimed at connecting investors, incubators, co-working spaces and entrepreneurs.

Their aim is to created a greater sense of community and to facilitate networking amongst entrepreneurs and tech company who may be unaware of useful contacts working around the corner.

Anyone can add listings for activities within the startup ecosystem.


SODA: 4 Steps To Achieve Optimal Focus

As we’ve mentioned before, at Metacoach Labs we believe there are three core ingredients for entrepreneurial success: Focus, Accountability and Balance.

In this post we are going to hone in on Focus. It requires a laser-like vision and absolute commitment to achieving your goals.

But how do you get yourself into the Focus Zone – that special place where nothing else intervenes? You are totally committed to being in the moment and to achieving your goals.

One of the key mechanisms we use for achieving optimal focus is SODA.

It favors agility over raw power in dealing with human-centric situations. Think of it as a core method for achieving a high level of dynamic focus and staying ahead of the curve.

At its most basic level, SODA is built on the premise that all decision-making takes place in a series of recurring cycles of See, Orient, Decide and Act.

The thesis behind SODA is that one main focus point has a myriad of mini-foci. As an entrepreneur your aim is to build a highly scalable, high growth startup in a high value business – that is your main focus. To get there, though, will require many thousands of mini-foci, each requiring you to make a decision.

Dave McClure, Founding Partner of 500 Hats, a Silicon Valley early stage investor that provides companies with up to $250k in funding and runs a startup accelerator program, explains how he uses this approach in his investment activities, “By making lots of little bets, my feedback loop on learning is tighter and faster than most, and we can course-correct.”

Traditionally decision-making in the world of venture capital is relatively slow. It can take months for a VC to conduct adequate due diligence before making a single investment. A partner at a VC firm usually only makes a handful of investments a year.

Against this backdrop, Dave has outmaneuvered his competitors by operating at a faster pace, making a higher number of smaller investments and learning from each experience.

Focus requires a high degree of agile performance and it is essential that you have superior personal compute power and the ability to process these SODA cycles more rapidly and efficiently (they do draw on your energy) than the people you are dealing with.

Given that other people are also operating with some form of thought process, you can achieve a major advantage by processing SODA cycles more rapidly than them. This will allow you to get into a SODA flow, a focus zone, and be able to anticipate their decision cycles.

In essence, your decisions are going to be driven by what you SEE within an evolving situation, filtered through your own logic gate to ORIENT you uniquely to anyone else.

Your logic gate consist of your predispositions (culture, prior experiences) and mindset.

You can optimise this logic gate filter by maintaining a positive outlook.

The point being that two people with equal compute power may in fact SEE the exact same things, but they are likely to ORIENT themselves differently based on their personal logic gates, which they will DECIDE differently and ACT differently.

If you are able to maximise your flow and get inside the mindset of those you are interacting with, you can throw out readable patterns that either increase or obstruct their ability to SEE, or read, you properly.

For example, if you are wantig someone to do a deal with you, you want them to read into your body language and what you are saying (your observable data) that the deal is to mutual benefit.

However, when you are up against an adversary, for example, both competing for the same deal, you may prefer to throw out fale readings to them. These reading will confuse them causing them to act sluggishly and make decisions that favor you.

Obscure or exacerbate your intentions to make them predictable or unpredictable, while you simultaneously seek to clarify the other party’s intentions.

Sun Tzu tells us that life consists of a series of conflict and conquests. Our primary purpose against this backdrop being to survive.

A combination of dynamic behavior, rapid response, a deeper harmony in action and taking initiative are the optimal personal traits that empower you to adapt to and shape outcomes within the rapidly changing macro environment we define as life.

Same thing goes for business. Although in business you are dealing with other people on a higher order level. In many respects, business has an adversarial quality. The conflicts can come quicker and from multiple angles and your survival is predicated on your ability to achieve a continued series of conquests.

Sun Tzu’s Art of War strategy plays into how you utilise SODA in business.

As part of your gaining data and SEEing your opposition, you should probe them to reveal their strengths and weaknesses. Look  for patterns in their behavior and intentions. As a picture emerges, consider shaping their perceptions by anticipating their actions and manipulating them.

Don’t attack them directly unless absolutely necessary. Instead aim to disrupt their plans and their partnerships. Shatter their power base without engaging with them directly. And when you do attack, do so at pace and in ways they don’t anticipate.

As you get expert at using SODA you can allow chaos to become a part of your game plan. This heightened unpredictability will keep people guessing and ensure you remain ahead of their decision-making capabilities.

Be dynamic, shifting your tactics, your body language, the cadence of your response and the number of positives and false positives you give off.

SODA is a behavioral art form. To perfect it requires practice and mental focus.

Photo: Falcon shot courtesy of AirmanMagazine

Incubate: Driving Campus-wide Entrepreneurship

I’ve been advising the Student Union at The University of Sydney on the setup of Incubate, a campus-wide startup development program. This initiative is designed to assist students get their ventures off the ground and will commence over the summer.

The launch event for Incubate is taking place at 5h30pm on the 20th September  in the foyer of the New Law Building on the Darlington campus. I’ll be chairing a panel on the innovation shift from Silicon Valley to other global centres. Panelists include Matt Barrie (Freelancer), Nikki Durkin (99dresses) and Matt Byrne (Curicon).

Come on over – it will be a fun event.

Three Years On: Liberating Corporations Through Social Business

Well here we are, three years to the day  since I made the call that social business as an industry was birthed.

What do you think, was I right? Are you still trapped in your inbox? Are you still tied to a structured database? Do you know what other teams in your organisation are doing? Yes – there is still a long way to go before all organisations embrace social business, but some sure have.

The industry is maturing – look at the recent acquisitions – Yammer, Buddy Media etc, but it still has a long growth curve ahead of it.

It’s great to see how some people have become absolute evangelists for the social business approach. Take Luis Suarez at IBM – his company heavily relies on email as its primary communications system, still using Lotus Notes. Yet he took the bold step almost four years ago and freed himself from his inbox. Here is his story, what’s yours?