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Solving important problems
              Method: agnostic to
            definition of “important.”


         Focus: positioning oneself in
       current institutional blind spots.


  Metaphor: A ladder to pick well-developed,
  medium-hanging fruit all the low-hanging
  fruit opportunists missed.


                                            Sam Bhagwat
                                            CFO, Blueseed
Solving important problems

                 Solution is moderately
                    capital-intensive




    Solution                               Problem
    has little                            considered
    new tech                               political




                   Solution combines
                  two disparate fields
                                                       Sam Bhagwat
                                                       CFO, Blueseed
Capital intensivity
                        Large Capex                             Blue-ocean
               Corporate planning / real estate inv.   Deep-pocketed eccentric / crafty pitch

High Capital




                     Small business                             Lean Startup
                       Banks, companies                      Typical Silicon Valley VC


Low capital




                Old business model                      New business model
Politics vs. technology
                Policy innovation        Lobbying


  Political
  solution



                 Engineering          Radical pragmatism


Technology
 solution




              Problem considered    Problem considered
                 technological            political
Adjacency distance (“X for Y”)


  •   What are the core competencies
      required?

  •   And how far apart are they in skill-
      space?
Adjacency distance (“X for Y”)
 Communications satellite (1960)                      iPod (2001)
                           Solar      Music
                                      distribution
                  large
Rocketry
                                                            large
  small
           Communication tech                                        Computers

           Paypal (1998)                             Blueseed (2011)

  Payment                                                              Maritime
  processing
                                      Silicon
               medium                 Valley              large

                      Electronic         small
                      communication                  Immigration law/politics
Invention vs. repurposing
                 Breakthrough improvement                Crazy sh*t
       High
                                  Brilliant

                                              Crazy & loaded




Technological
innovation       Incremental improvement               Repurposing


                                 Skilled
                                 tinkerer
                                              Clever

        Low

                 Small:                                               Large:
                Overlapping                                           Disparate
                                  Adjacency distance
Solving important problems

                 Solution is moderately
                    capital-intensive




    Solution                               Problem
    has little                            considered
    new tech                               political




                   Solution combines
                  two disparate fields
                                                       Sam Bhagwat
                                                       CFO, Blueseed
Additional reading
•   Working on important problems:
     – “Good and Bad Procrastination,” Paul Graham,
        http://www.paulgraham.com/procrastination.html
•   Working on important problems & capital-intensivity:
     – “What Happened To The Future?”, Bruce Gibney, Founders’ Fund:
        http://www.foundersfund.com/the-future
•   On multiple competencies: “Career advice,” Scott Adams,
    http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/07/career-advice.html

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Sam Bhagwat: Solving Important Problems

  • 1. Solving important problems Method: agnostic to definition of “important.” Focus: positioning oneself in current institutional blind spots. Metaphor: A ladder to pick well-developed, medium-hanging fruit all the low-hanging fruit opportunists missed. Sam Bhagwat CFO, Blueseed
  • 2. Solving important problems Solution is moderately capital-intensive Solution Problem has little considered new tech political Solution combines two disparate fields Sam Bhagwat CFO, Blueseed
  • 3. Capital intensivity Large Capex Blue-ocean Corporate planning / real estate inv. Deep-pocketed eccentric / crafty pitch High Capital Small business Lean Startup Banks, companies Typical Silicon Valley VC Low capital Old business model New business model
  • 4. Politics vs. technology Policy innovation Lobbying Political solution Engineering Radical pragmatism Technology solution Problem considered Problem considered technological political
  • 5. Adjacency distance (“X for Y”) • What are the core competencies required? • And how far apart are they in skill- space?
  • 6. Adjacency distance (“X for Y”) Communications satellite (1960) iPod (2001) Solar Music distribution large Rocketry large small Communication tech Computers Paypal (1998) Blueseed (2011) Payment Maritime processing Silicon medium Valley large Electronic small communication Immigration law/politics
  • 7. Invention vs. repurposing Breakthrough improvement Crazy sh*t High Brilliant Crazy & loaded Technological innovation Incremental improvement Repurposing Skilled tinkerer Clever Low Small: Large: Overlapping Disparate Adjacency distance
  • 8. Solving important problems Solution is moderately capital-intensive Solution Problem has little considered new tech political Solution combines two disparate fields Sam Bhagwat CFO, Blueseed
  • 9. Additional reading • Working on important problems: – “Good and Bad Procrastination,” Paul Graham, http://www.paulgraham.com/procrastination.html • Working on important problems & capital-intensivity: – “What Happened To The Future?”, Bruce Gibney, Founders’ Fund: http://www.foundersfund.com/the-future • On multiple competencies: “Career advice,” Scott Adams, http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/07/career-advice.html

Editor's Notes

  1. Largecapex: New cruise shipsNew airplanesReal-estate constructionEtcBlue-ocean:Minerva UniversityTeslaGoogle self-driving carsTitanic II
  2. Radical pragmatism:India rural cellular & solarAirbnbUberHigh-speed LA-SF self-driving shuttleBlueseedPolicy innovation:Bandwidth auctioningAirline deregulationPatent reformMPG requirements for carsLobbying: lots of examplesEngineering: lots of examples
  3. Goal: pretend like the adjacency difference is lower than it is (show video of Dario to BBC)
  4. Goal: pretend like the adjacency difference is lower than it is (show video of Dario to BBC)
  5. Breakthrough improvement:A. Prolonged processes:Moore’s Law20th century telephony20th century car safetyB.One-time events: PenicillinPolio vaccineCotton ginIncremental improvement:YouTube (“Flickr for video”)Facebook(“Myspace for college students, well-designed”)Moneyball(“analytics for baseball”)Repurposing:Cardboard bicycleBlueseed(“Cruise ship for international entrepreneurs, long-term”)Crazy shit: Asteroid mining (?? for ??)Google self-driving cars(Airplane autopilot for cars)
  6. Goal: act like the adjacency difference is lower than it is (show video of Dario to BBC)
  7. Goal: act like the adjacency difference is lower than it is (show video of Dario to BBC)