Business Case Study

A company research

As a computer science student, I was hooked after seeing the global programs initiated by Nesta. The subsidiary projects of Nesta. The websites created for those programs. See https://findingctrl.nesta.org.uk/ and https://www.bi.team/ as an example.

The reason behind researching Nesta was to ensure the company I want to apply for can provide an opportunity I can take to a future where I can become one of the best software developers in the world.

Somewhere I can work to become the best version of myself and I know the support system will be there. Ultimately this will lead me to make a difference in the world, change people's lives. 

I encourage you to look through this summary and I hope it will encourage you to browse through their website as well as reports to see the list of global companies making an investment in Nesta, the team and trustee that provide rich expertise, commitments they have made for a greater good and how Nesta are leading the way by practising what they preach.

View the full research at Medium.com: [LINK]
The research is available as a PDF here: [LINK]

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I have seen my friend really struggle to find a successor for her not for profit, and we at www.GYAEN.com was unsuccessful in finding a successor.

This is why it is back in my and my partner's hand, and it's back with a vengeance.

However, over the next 5 years of running it, we are going to be looking for a successor, rather than doing it overnight. We will follow on these 4 key rules.

1. Establish a time frame (3-5 years)

2. Focus on the skills, not relationships (no family!)

3. Find the right fit (ideally around the age 20-23 and willing to run GYAEN for 5 years)

4. We start the challenge from today

 

 

Getting started with an industry insight

Whilst large technology companies have for decades thrown money at research and development.

Speed of technology development is accelerating. Focus point of medium-sized companies are turning towards understanding deep technology. Fear of being in the crosshairs between developments.

Looking to move forward through breakthrough technology, sprung from research out of Universities. Desire to get ahead of their competition. Aiming to fuel technology advancements. Determined to lead the next industrial revolution.

What is deep technology

Deep technology is not technology based on providing regular product or service. It is a recent coined term. Deep Technology design is developed in-house and is different from what is out there.

It is not someone saying: “I saw this can be done, now I’m going to take the same tech and apply it to a different problem”.

It is actually that the technology in this company has only become possible. The academics have only written the paper on it.

Ideally, it has only just become possible.

This is why deep technology research and development services are so attractive. Deep technology is a perfect basis for building a company around it. It is much harder for competitors to follow you.

In the past, there was a longer time-frame to take an idea to commercial viability. The support system at present is crating shorter time-frame.

With this foundation, you can get operating leverage out of it as you scale, better the gross margins. As you scale you can go to more countries, more regions, more products so on and forth. These characteristics are fundamental to entrepreneurs. Giving ability to medium-sized company and build a big business.

If you’re differentiated then you can scale quick.

Bottom line is, if you’re effective and differentiated, your growth will be quick.

Source of development

Image: Oxford University

When it comes to deep technology, universities have various operations.

At one end, you have got professors using a public funding to build multi billion-pound facilities to do deep deep deep science. At the other end, you have got talent pool. Students who have new skills specifics to enhance technology development.

They lack commercial experience.

Current commercial experience comes from research and development companies. Venture capital firms are also hands on.

They do so with the interest of being at the heart of the next industrial revolution. Acting as middleman between companies aiming to develop deep technology, and academic talent pool.

They understand the unique requirements of companies to create new research or take existing research outputs of the staff and professors from universities. Then wrap commercial team around it to build a successful project.

This practice being effective, but often leads to closed doors practice and an exclusive network. Leading to painful slow speed development of technology clusters. And to stress the reduction of transparency. At the other end of the ‘human spectrum’, there are the deep technology academics which world is miss out on.

Moving forward we have made it our job to open up the discussions. Reaching out and collaborate with universities, venture capital firms, research and development companies.

This is the perfect opportunity for medium-sized companies to get involved.

Inspiration and imagination

Image: Kim Taylor

Deep genetics, material science, chemistry, there’s all sorts of stuff. Some fantastic opportunities are out there implemented across global industries.

People look at Deepmind as an example, one of the first companies to use the ‘deep’ word, now a fashionable term. They are not the exception in this space. But, they are a catalyst on getting companies inspired in developing breakthrough technology.

Indeed, it’s hard to exaggerate the positive impact Deepmind story has had. Within the machine learning world, Deepmind shows what’s possible for technology advancements.

The amazing combination of talent they have achieved is without precedent. Showing the utmost importance of building the correct combination of drive and skills. This talent pool in U.K and across Europe exist. They may be graduating or currently working at a deep technology company, they go on to invent the next generation of advancement.

Looking at machine learning, it is an area where a lot big exit are happening i.e. Magic Pony technology. Which is in a way is not a dissimilar model to Deepmind. A group of 15 machine learning researchers, applying very novel machine learning techniques to problems in video. In this case, around compression.

Many promising deep technology companies sold at the early stage of their lifetime. Twitter brought Magic Pony Technology relatively early in the company’s genesis for a large amount of money.

Is approach is lucrative. A financial gap in the market exists for deep technology companies. They are unable to grow into likes of Twitter scale business. (We cover this issue in further detail below.)

European technology ecosystem

Image : Google DeepMind

The big change we have before faced is the ability and the willingness of the medium sized companies to say, ‘No, we can do it here. We don’t need to go to the Silicon Valley. We can develop the technology and the talent pool. We can execute the company vision. We can get the finance. We can do it right here.’

We encourage company’s permanent home to be in their specific countries. Allowing these customers to create unique technology clusters around them. Allowing them to build and lead a successful ecosystem.

When raising funds, even to this day, many of the US investors will make it a condition for the companies to move over to the US. Having spent time in the US, there’s no magic pixie dust over there.

In Europe, you have access to a lot of raw talent. Hiring is much better and people are loyal and they stay with you through the journey. In a specific way, it is a lot better. This is due to our universities right across Europe.

To make a ‘go to market’ point, I want to go back to Deepmind. For them, it will be hard now to replicate and start again, doing what they did and what they’re doing. Deepmind said that “…we are only ever gonna do research, we’re not going to really solve commercial problems…”.

In the present moment, you can no longer do that. Our experience, sitting with academics, who love doing research. We have to often steer them towards understanding the end vision. Where it is going to end up commercially. Indeed it is a best quality problem to have.

We recommend medium sized companies to to engage with academics. Bouncing experienced commercial perspective and entwine them with experienced research developers. Allowing you to build strong foundation to let deep technology in becoming a reality. Furthermore, allow you to prepare and accelerated route to market.

It is important to consider the post knock-on effect of deep technology development. All the negative and positive. Preparing strategies to avoid or tailor effective resolution for negative impacts.

It takes one bad actor to create distrust in an entire industry. Technology leaders, universities and government bodies need consider regulations which protect consumers.

This requires enabling a voice at all levels from all sides.

VC and the Government on Deep Technology

Image: Marçal Prats

A lot has progressed for the better in the last 10 to 15 years. Through accidental or planned policies, organisations have worked hard in collaboration to develop breakthrough technology ecosystems. This was not an easy task and a lot of work left to do.

It is multi-factorial in the sense that, there were an enormous number of internet entrepreneurs in the late-90s. The intrapreneurial boom but there were few scientific talent.

In the present day, several things have changed. The VC ecosystem which went through a bad time in the early 90s, almost disappeared mid-90s. They reemerged really around that time. It has grown ever since to the present moment.

With a couple of hard knocks post compost of the financial crisis, it’s now in a better form than ever.

VC ecosystem is now recognised as an important instrument in the whole of economic policy. Europe financial system started to allocate capital to VCs. This goes back to 1997 when the EIF was formed, now has grown and still provide strong support for VCs.

One of the things that is not well known. Life sciences in European VC ecosystem has done better than Information Technology sector. Where there are unicorns are being built and surviving inside the European environment. We have got to solve the next edge problem and then move on to the next one.

The UK government has spent a lot of time figuring out how to get angels involved. The EIS tax system which many of our customers are the end beneficiaries of. This goes back to 1995, which has been improved on, enlarged and embraced as a mechanism to bring capital into the early stage.

On top of that, the other thing that’s happened. It happens in Europe and it happens in the UK as well. An active investment approach in research and development with outlook of economic growth.

The horizon 2020 program. This is the EU program for research and development won the battles of the budget of the program from 2013 to 2020. It was able to get 90 billion, a pretty impressive at the time. This was the EU side.

The UK government has invested substantially in research and development. The phase we’re in right now is that they understand, the politicians understand. They are allocating further capital both near and in the UK.

There’s also the issue of translation. It is how you then get the research and development outcome out into commercial scale. This has been left to more or less the private sector to some extent.

There is a financing gap as our customers start research and development, think of moving towards commercial implementation and growth. Mark Zuckerberg had up to 10 billion in the offer and he turned around and I said ‘No. I’m building something bigger’. This is a perfect example, when given the right encouragement, companies will wait for big outcome.

Mark Zuckerberg was did that in a context where he had access to capital.

With a correct eco-system has access to finance, talent pool, unbeatable attitude by VCs and government bodies. This allow ambitious deep technology companies to keep going for the long-term success. This will also prevent market dominance by a handful of companies.

The need to build this eco-system is why our work on deep technology is important and urgent. As an industry, we need help with moving forward, faster and overcome obstacles.

We need to select deep technology developers as ambassadors. Create voice at government level. Hold university posts and leadership roles from industries.

There is also a mass gap between white male holding privileged advocate roles over white women and other ethnicity.

Women are creating louder voice and striving forward with each others support, there is a lot of work to be done.

There is a gaping hole for people of different ethnicity. Again, the world is missing out on amazing talents, rich diverse thinking and opportunity to understand the world.

Our vision is when we have not one or even 50 unicorn companies. But when that becomes a regular feature of our landscape. When in our market cap, unicorn businesses that were founded less than 25 years ago as opposed to companies that are nearing century old. That is when we’ll see that we have made it.

We haven’t got there yet. But all that fabric for it to happen is here. With a support system, we can preserve and advance this. No matter what happens politically in the near future.

Being a revolutionary

Image: Peter Goes

Companies thinking about breakthrough technology space, see the big talent allocation problem. Building the correct source of development and the perfect team with balance skills.

Where do companies go, what do they want to do? Yet, more and more companies are jumping in to develop breakthrough technology. Partly because of the advantages created by structural policy, tax and investment reasons.

Fundamentally, it is a better time to build deep tech businesses.

These ideas need structured support to have a higher rate of success. Technology transformation have 70%+ failure rate. Building transformation through deep technology is a case by case unique game.

Although they can be costly and time-consuming, each step taken are calculated. Focused on the specific area with return on investment around 7–10x. Each idea can change the face of your industry. It is a transformation with prepared solutions for risks, but only with the right idea.

On the upside, firstly, we are now seeing the proof of the ability to scale business globally from Europe. This has become much more real than it felt 20 years ago.

Secondly, the cost has fallen dramatically. An example being, the largest companies are competing with each other to give server space. This is oppose to you having to build or buy a physical piece. This tells us all something. Almost all technology-based business operating structure can be found or created.

And third, our area of interest is the breadth and universality of some of the techniques that we talk about on deep technology. A fact, some of the most important companies in sectors like transportation, hospitality, agriculture which don’t sound like tech problems or didn’t in 20 years ago. They now are technology problems waiting to be solved. They are waiting on an impact solution created by the most daring and smartest talents.

Thanks to the miracle of the search engine, it is not hard to find these organisations. In many sectors across Europe and the wider world, to whom you can provide breakthrough technology based solutions.

Why there are not more and more Deep Technology unicorns

With all this opportunity, the question we should all ask is: Where are the Google scale and Facebook scale deep technology companies?

Simple. It’s the financing gap. It’s pretty straightforward.

European capital markets aren’t really in love with tech the way the Nasdaq is. This is also about the depth of the asset management system look at technology. You don’t have analysts who understand deep technology. They don’t buy growth, they buy dividends.

Lack of funding cuts the long-term growth. Deep technology companies are getting acquired in the early stage of their life.

By acting as an advocate for growth, we need to go deep into a series of matters to get European capital markets further interested in technology. Provide tangible execution of deep technology visions. Enable support and structure to achieve Google scale. We believe this is absolutely possible.

It is up to companies like us to solve the edge problem and then move on to the next problem. That’s what we’re doing and continue to need further help moving forward.

Peeking at global Deep Technology

Image: Florent Hauchard

Exactly the same factors that make Europe competitive with the US, now exist in India, Turkey, Indonesia and other countries. We are now no longer competing with the US and must recognise that. China is on the list but they tend to be rather insular.

The same factors are affecting deep technology companies and talents around the world. We must better make use tools and structures that we have access to in order to make deep technology successful.

Although Europe is leading in many aspects. Having diversity of ethnic deep technology leaders at all levels, will allow the promoting cross-border partnerships, learning opportunities and trade.

U.K and Europe staying ahead

Among gaining access to capital, attitudes and universities. One of the outstanding things Europe has for companies is, a diversity of thoughts. There are a lot of people, trying a lot of different things and that’s an important piece of it.

For example, no one has nailed AI yet. They have got lots of good tools for solving nice problems and they look like they can scale well. Yet this is some things we don’t know that yet. It is not guaranteed.

This is where Europe’s creative diversity will be the soul of technology advancement. This is one of the things that should make all companies across Europe hopeful and ambitious.

Organisations working with deep technology companies need to encourage a focus on building powerful outcomes rather than segmenting it into tighter and tighter fields.

Ensuring projects, customers and consultants are part of the global network. Are competing with other academics and companies on deep technology development. Become further active on grand challenges, competition and prizes.

If this doesn’t exist at your location….. create it. The US has done a great job of this but not done that as well here in Europe.

Our aim should be to further galvanise companies into attacking problems and create big impacts. The government absolutely has a role to play here. They need to continue to support and build on the strengths of our universities.

U.K. is an extraordinary country, which is relatively small to have so many leading universities, particularly in the deep technology space. These universities allow access to their innovation centres. They provide incredible research and development service to companies looking to make a difference.

Examples being Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, University College London, Warwick, Edinburgh etc. These are some among many others in the U.K. and across Europe which are magnets for the world’s best talent.

This is a big priority, we need to make sure that we continue to be the magnet for the world’s best talent.

Joining the Deep Technology race

Image: Renaud Roche

The companies working on developing deep technology must aim to quickly build a team with specific background around their transformation project.

The speed of action is, if there’s one, the difference between Silicon Valley and Europe.

We are still slower on the speed of action in both areas of hiring and partnerships. Getting started beats getting ready. There are amazing infrastructure and systems in place to support your needs.

If we can increase the clock speed of research, prototype, tests to fail fast and then move on or build something quickly. This will allow rapid creation of a seamless route from development to commercialisation.

There’s a lot of money about. Particularly at the very early stage of deep technology development. We need companies to be totally convinced by their idea. If you are not convinced, then others will not be convinced.

Find guidelines to help you monitor and collaborate with someone else’s idea that you are sure about. Join their ourney until you get your own convincing idea.

About The Author

Mousuf Zaman.C — Managing Director of GDN Intelligence, inventors of new standards in deep technology research and development services. Standards that you deserve. www.gdnintel.com.

Foreign embassies in the UK.

Use this list responsibly. Be creative in your approach. Adding value in an unselfish way is the best strategy for collaboration.

Here is the London Diplomatic List contains the addresses and contact details of all embassies and High Commissions.

London Diplomatic List

Heads of Mission in order of precedence and their spouses

Consular Offices outside London

Honorary Consulates within the UK

 

Updated January 2018

Tools of Titans (Timothy Ferriss)

- Your Highlight at location 5075-5186 | Added on Thursday, 28 December 2017 20:11:15

 

1,000 TRUE FANS—REVISITED I have recommended Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 True Fans” to literally millions of people. Many guests in this book have done the same. “If you only read one article on marketing, make it this one” is my common wording.

Here’s a highly simplified synopsis: “Success” need not be complicated. Just start with making 1,000 people extremely, extremely happy.

Kevin’s orginal piece has grown outdated in a few places, so he was kind enough to write up a newer summary of core concepts for readers of this book. Since I first read the original nearly 10 years ago, I’ve tested his concepts across dozens of businesses, many of which are now multi-billion-dollar companies. I’ve added some of my core learnings and recommendations at the end. Enter Kevin I first published this idea in 2008, when it was embryonic and ragged, and now, 8 years later, my original essay needs an update—by someone other than me.

Here I’ll simply restate the core ideas, which I believe will be useful to anyone making things, or making things happen.—KK To be a successful creator, you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, clients, or fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only 1,000 true fans.

Truefans-1

A true fan is defined as “a fan who will buy anything you produce.” These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audio versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine, sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free YouTube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month; they will buy the superdeluxe reissued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version.

They have a Google Alert set for your name; they bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up; they come to your openings. They have you sign their copies; they buy the T-shirt, and the mug, and the hat; they can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans. If you have roughly 1,000 fans like this (also known as superfans), you can make a living—if you are content to make a living, but not a fortune. Here’s how the math works.

You need to meet two criteria: First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan.

That is easier to do in some arts and businesses than others, but it is a good creative challenge in every area because it is always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to find new fans.

 

Second, you must have a direct relationship with your fans.

That is, they must pay you directly. You get to keep all of their support, unlike the small percentage of their fees you might get from a music label, publisher, studio, retailer, or other intermediate. If you keep the full $100 from each true fan, then you need only 1,000 of them to earn $100K per year.

That’s a living for most folks. 1,000 customers is a whole lot more feasible to aim for than a million fans. Millions of paying fans is just not a realistic goal to shoot for, especially when you are starting out.

But 1,000 fans is doable. You might even be able to remember 1,000 names. If you added one new true fan per day, it’d only take a few years to gain 1,000. True fanship is doable. Pleasing a true fan is pleasurable and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that true fans appreciate.

 

The number 1,000 is not absolute. Its significance is in its rough order of magnitude—3 orders less than a million. The actual number has to be adjusted for each person. If you are able to only earn $50 per year per true fan, then you need 2,000. (Likewise, if you can sell $200 per year, you need only 500 true fans.) Or you many need only $75K per year to live on, so you adjust downward. Or if you are a duet, or have a partner, then you need to multiply by 2 to get 2,000 fans, etc. Another way to calculate the support of a true fan is to aim to get one day of their wages per year.

Can you excite or please them sufficiently to earn what they make from one day’s labor? That’s a high bar, but not impossible for 1,000 people worldwide. And of course, not every fan will be super. While the support of 1,000 true fans may be sufficient for a living, for every single true fan, you might have 2 or 3 regular fans.

Think of concentric circles with true fans at the center and a wider circle of regular fans around them. These regular fans may buy your creations occasionally, or may have bought only once. But their ordinary purchases expand your total income. Perhaps they bring in an additional 50%. Still, you want to focus on the superfans because the enthusiasm of true fans can increase the patronage of regular fans. True fans are not only the direct source of your income, but also your chief marketing force for the ordinary fans. Fans, customers, patrons have been around forever.

 

What’s new here? A couple of things. While direct relationships with customers was the default mode in old times, the benefits of modern retailing meant that most creators in the last century did not have direct contact with consumers.

Often even the publishers, studios, labels, and manufacturers did not have such crucial information as the names of their customers. For instance, despite being in business for hundreds of years, no New York book publisher knew the names of their core and dedicated readers. For previous creators, these intermediates (and there was often more than one) meant you need much larger audiences to have a success. With the advent of ubiquitous peer-to-peer communication and payment systems—also known as the web today—everyone has access to excellent tools that allow anyone to sell directly to anyone else in the world. So a creator in Bend, Oregon, can sell and deliver a song to someone in Kathmandu, Nepal, as easily as a New York record label (maybe even more easily).

This new technology permits creators to maintain relationships so that the customer can become a fan, and so that the creator keeps the total amount of payment, which reduces the number of fans needed. This new ability for the creator to retain the full price is revolutionary, but a second technological innovation amplifies that power further.

 

A fundamental virtue of a peer-to-peer network (like the web) is that the most obscure node is only one click away from the most popular node. In other words, the most obscure, under-selling book, song, or idea is only one click away from the best-selling book, song, or idea.

Early in the rise of the web, the large aggregators of content and products, such as eBay, Amazon, Netflix, etc., noticed that the total sales of *all* the lowest-selling obscure items would equal, or in some cases exceed, the sales of the few best-selling items. Chris Anderson (my successor at Wired) named this effect “the Long Tail,” for the visually graphed shape of the sales distribution curve: a low, nearly interminable line of items selling only a few copies per year that form a long “tail” for the abrupt vertical beast of a few bestsellers.

But the area of the tail was as big as the head. With that insight, the aggregators had great incentive to encourage audiences to click on the obscure items. They invented recommendation engines and other algorithms to channel attention to the rare creations in the long tail. Even web search companies like Google, Bing, and Baidu found it in their interests to reward searchers with the obscure because they could sell ads in the long tail as well.

The result was that the most obscure became less obscure. If you live in any of the 2 million small towns on Earth, you might be the only one in your town to crave death metal music, or get turned on by whispering, or want a left-handed fishing reel. Before the web, you’d never have a way to satisfy that desire.

 

You’d be alone in your fascination. But now, satisfaction is only one click away. Whatever your interests as a creator are, your 1,000 true fans are one click from you. As far as I can tell there is nothing—no product, no idea, no desire—without a fan base on the Internet. Everything made or thought of can interest at least one person in a million—it’s a low bar.

Yet if even only one out of a million people were interested, that’s potentially 7,000 people on the planet. That means that any 1-in-a-million appeal can find 1,000 true fans.

The trick is to practically find those fans, or, more accurately, to have them find you. One of the many new innovations serving the true fan creator is crowdfunding. Having your fans finance your next product is genius.

Win-win all around.

 

There are about 2,000 different crowdfunding platforms worldwide, many of them specializing in specific fields: raising money for science experiments, bands, or documentaries. Each has its own requirements and a different funding model, in addition to specialized interests.

Some platforms require “all-or-nothing” funding goals; others permit partial funding; some raise money for completed projects; some, like Patreon, fund ongoing projects. Patreon supporters might fund a monthly magazine, or a video series, or an artist’s salary.

The most famous and largest crowdfunder is Kickstarter, which has raised $2.5 billion for more than 100,000 projects. The average number of supporters for a successful Kickstarter project is 241 funders—far less than 1,000. That means if you have 1,000 true fans, you can do a crowdfunding campaign, because by definition a true fan will become a Kickstarter funder.

(Although the success of your campaign is dependent on what you ask of your fans). The truth is that cultivating 1,000 true fans is time-consuming, sometimes nerve-wracking, and not for everyone. Done well (and why not do it well?) it can become another full-time job. At best, it will be a consuming and challenging part-time task that requires ongoing skills. There are many creators who don’t want to deal with fans, and honestly should not.

 

They should just paint, or sew, or make music, and hire someone else to deal with their superfans. If that is you, and you add someone to deal with fans, a helper will skew your formula, increasing the number of fans you need, but that might be the best mix. If you go that far, then why not “subcontract” out dealing with fans to the middle people—the labels and studios and publishers and retailers? If they work for you, fine, but remember, in most cases they would be even worse at this than you would.

The mathematics of 1,000 true fans is not a binary choice. You don’t have to go this route to the exclusion of another. Many creators, including me, will use direct relations with superfans in addition to mainstream intermediaries. I have been published by several big-time New York publishers, I have self-published, and I have used Kickstarter to publish to my true fans. I chose each format depending on the content and my aim. But in every case, cultivating my true fans enriches the route I choose.

 

The takeaway: 1,000 true fans is an alternative path to success other than stardom. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status, you can aim for direct connection with 1,000 true fans.

On your way, no matter how many fans you actually succeed in gaining, you’ll be surrounded not by faddish infatuation, but by genuine and true appreciation. It’s a much saner destiny to hope for. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there. Some Thoughts from Tim Kevin distinguishes between “making a living” and “making a fortune,” which is an important starting point for the discussion. However, it’s worth noting that these aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Creating 1,000 true fans is also how you create massive hits, perennial mega-bestsellers, and worldwide fame (be careful what you wish for). Everything big starts small and focused (see Peter Thiel, page 232). 1,000 true fans is step #1, whether you want a $100K per year business or the next Uber. I’ve seen this with all of my fastest-growing and most successful startups.

 

They start laser-focused on 100 to 1,000 people, niche-ing down as necessary with their messaging and targeting (demographically, geographically, etc.) to get to a manageable and cost-effectively reachable number. So, you may ask yourself, “Why aim for a mere $100K when I can try to build a billion-dollar business?” Two reasons:

1) Aiming for the latter from the outset often leads to neglecting the high-touch 1,000 true fans who act as your most powerful unpaid marketing force for “crossing the chasm” into the mainstream. If you don’t build that initial army, you’re likely to fail.

2) Do you really want to build and manage a big company? For most people, it’s not a fun experience; it’s an all-consuming taskmaster.

There are certainly ace CEOs who thread the needle and enjoy this roller coaster, but they are outliers. Read Small Giants by Bo Burlingham for some fantastic examples of companies that choose to be the best rather than the biggest. And, as Kevin noted, the number of your true fans can actually be far fewer than 1,000.

This is particularly true if you

  1. produce content that attracts a niche but well-heeled group, and then
  2. invite and look for indirect revenue opportunities not based on onsite transactions (e.g., paid speaking, investment opportunities, consulting).

These can be far more lucrative than most advertising, tip jars, and the like. One reasonably common critique of “1,000 True Fans” comes from musicians, for instance, who say something along the lines of, “But I can only sell an album for $10, and I can only produce one per year. That’s only $10K and not enough to live on. ‘1,000 True Fans’ doesn’t work.” Scores of book writers have a similar argument, but it’s flawed. Remember, a true true fan will buy whatever you put out.

If they refuse to purchase above $10, you haven’t done the work to find and cultivate real true fans. If you have true fans, it’s your responsibility to consider (and test) higher-priced, higher-value options outside of the $10 paradigm. Don’t be locked in the pricing model of the incumbents. In 2015, Wu-Tang Clan sold a single bespoke album at auction—in a handcrafted silver and nickel box made by British-Moroccan artist Yahya—to one person for $2 million.

There are a lot of options between $10 and $2 million. See my “free or ultra-premium” approach on page 290, which has provided me with complete creative and financial freedom. You do not have to sacrifice the integrity of your art for a respectable income. You just need to create a great experience and charge enough. Not sure what to charge?

Perhaps you should figure out your Target Monthly Income (TMI) for your ideal lifestyle and work backward. For examples and a simple worksheet exercise, visit Tim Ferriss website: fourhourworkweek.com/tmi