13 reasons why your startup will fail:

29. February 2012

As a co-founder of five startups and a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, David Feinleib has seen both sides of the startup world.

From 2009 to 2011, he was a general partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, where he got his fair share of terrible pitches.

He’s also an entrepreneur. He’s sold two startups, Consera (to HP) and onDevice (to Keynote Systems), and is still running three others he cofounded: Speechpad, Onepo.st, and Likewise.

Despite his success as an entrepreneur, Feinleib felt like everyone was focusing on all their attention on the startups who made it big like Facebook. The reality is that eight out of 10 business fail in their first three years and venture capitalists only fund the top 1 percent of pitches they see, he said.

In 2008, he wrote a blog post, Why Startups Fail. The post got so much attention that Feinleib decided to turn it into a book called Why Startups Fail: And How Yours Can Succeed, which was published in December.

Feinleib gave us a cheat sheet and told us 13 things startups do that make them fail:

  • There’s no place for your product: “Investors are fond of debating which they care about more: the market or the entrepreneur. The reality is, great entrepreneurs find great markets. Many startups never achieve the elusive product-market fit. Some companies, like Facebook and Zynga, find product-market fit right out of the gate. Or at least they appear to. Others, like Intuit, go along for years until they crack the code.” 
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How Target Knew a High School Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Parents Did

21. February 2012

Date: 21-02-2012
Source: TIME

In Charles Duhigg’s new piece for the New York Times, a father finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to apologize to a Target employee. Earlier he had stormed into a store near Minneapolis and complained to the manager that his daughter was receiving coupons for cribs and baby clothes in the mail.

Turns out Target knew his daughter better than he did. She really was pregnant.

It was a fact Target had obtained after carefully collecting information about her. The company, like many others, assigns each shopper a unique Guest ID. Every time you buy toilet paper with a credit card, visit its website, fill out a survey or, really, interact with the retailer in any way, Target assigns this information to that ID. Read the rest of this entry »


How Companies Learn Your Secrets

20. February 2012

Date: 19-02-2012
Source: The New York Times

Andrew Pole had just started working as a statistician for Target in 2002, when two colleagues from the marketing department stopped by his desk to ask an odd question: “If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn’t want us to know, can you do that? ”

Pole has a master’s degree in statistics and another in economics, and has been obsessed with the intersection of data and human behavior most of his life. His parents were teachers in North Dakota, and while other kids were going to 4-H, Pole was doing algebra and writing computer programs. “The stereotype of a math nerd is true,” he told me when I spoke with him last year. “I kind of like going out and evangelizing analytics.”

As the marketers explained to Pole — and as Pole later explained to me, back when we were still speaking and before Target told him to stop — new parents are a retailer’s holy grail. Most shoppers don’t buy everything they need at one store. Instead, they buy groceries at the grocery store and toys at the toy store, and they visit Target only when they need certain items they associate with Target — cleaning supplies, say, or new socks or a six-month supply of toilet paper. But Target sells everything from milk to stuffed animals to lawn furniture to electronics, so one of the company’s primary goals is convincing customers that the only store they need is Target. But it’s a tough message to get across, even with the most ingenious ad campaigns, because once consumers’ shopping habits are ingrained, it’s incredibly difficult to change them. Read the rest of this entry »


Big Data. Big Impact.

13. February 2012

Date: 12-02-2012

Source: Jim Baum Former CEO

I had the honor this week of speaking with Om Malik of GigaOm on stage at the Structure: Big Data event in New York City. This was a first of its kind event, bringing together an incredibly interesting group of entrepreneurs, enterprises, industry luminaries, investors and press to discuss the state of the “Big Data” revolution that manifests itself throughout the industry. I must say, I feel “vindicated” by all this activity. I have been talking for years about “category convergence”, suggesting the convergence of business analytics, data management, search, data warehousing, ETL, text analytics, data protection, and a few other “categories” as necessary to create the business value we all expect from these technologies.

Let’s go back in time. Historically, we have always talked about “structured data” and “unstructured data” as two, independent, separate things. That segregation is incredibly important as all this “data” is at the root of everything we are doing to make sense of it, improve business and societal decision-making, and create some type of sustainable value from this ever-increasing asset. Yet as a result of this thinking (or perhaps at the root of this dichotomy), the technologies to extract knowledge and insight from these data assets have evolved along largely separate paths. Think databases vs. search. Read the rest of this entry »


Big data’s big impact

13. February 2012

Date: 12-02-2012
Source: Reuters By Chrystia Freeland

The Internet is, of course, old hat. We are all getting used to social media, too — your grandmother probably has a Facebook account, and every CEO worth his salt, along with all the world’s would-be revolutionaries, is on Twitter. Mobile, once the new thing, is now taken for granted as part of the world’s hardware. In 2010, more than 4 billion people, or 60 percent of the world’s population, were using mobile phones. Twelve percent of them were smartphones, whose presence is increasing more than 20 percent a year.

But don’t get complacent. A new wave of the technology revolution is cresting and, like its predecessors, will again change the way we work and live. This latest transformation is being called “big data” — a term for the vast amount of digital data we now create and have an increasing ability to store and manipulate.

If wonks were fashionistas, big data would be this season’s hot new color. When I interviewed him before a university audience a few weeks ago, Lawrence H. Summers, the Harvard professor and former Treasury secretary, named big data as one of the three ideas he was most excited about (the others were biology and the rise of the emerging markets). The McKinsey Global Institute, the management consultancy’s research arm and the closest the corporate world comes to having an ivory tower, published a 143-page report last year on big data, trumpeting it as “the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity.”

To understand how much data is now at our fingertips, consider a few striking facts from the McKinsey report. One is that it costs less than $600 to buy a disk drive with the capacity to store all of the world’s music. Another is that in 2010 people around the world collectively stored more than 6 exabytes of new data on devices like PCs and notebook computers; each exabyte contains more than 4,000 times the information stored in the Library of Congress.

McKinsey believes that the transformative power of all of this data will amount to a fifth wave in the technology revolution, building on the first four: the mainframe era; the PC era; the Internet and Web 1.0 era; and most recently, the mobile and Web 2.0 era.

Like the four previous stages of the technology revolution, McKinsey predicts big data will lead to a surge in productivity. In the U.S. retail sector alone, for example, the consultants calculate that big data could increase a retailer’s operating margin more than 60 percent. Read the rest of this entry »