This week’s links

Building RxBar – Talks at Google

  • Spent 2 years direct-to-consumer via cross-fit gyms and the like. This unlocked intimate feedback, and hence via packaging and marketing they could approach retailers with an already well-positioned product.
  • Looking at crowded spaces for adjacencies: can we add an improvement (e.g., protein)? Can we add ingredient simplicity?
  • Early adopters were Whole30, gluten-free, paleo dieters. But the target market was clean eaters – hence the lack of “paleo” branding.
  • Unconventional route to market: started with e-commerce, built up from there. Hard for businesses to grow in reverse order; once you’ve secured Kroger/Walmart/CostCo partnerships, you’re not going to invest in individual points of distribution. Hence more pilot launches of new products with cross-fit gyms, etc.
  • Two weeks in customer service for all new on-boards to keep values and customer-centricity maintained.

Growing Pains at Startups

  • The “right” person for a job can change as the job changes – which means you can pour your heart and soul into your position at a startup, but as the company scales and pivots, you can sure enough be re-positioned and even demoted.

A Perspective of Shenzhen: MIT Tech Review

  • Shanzai: a process of product development and distribution whereby hardware can be built quickly with easily sourced and readily interchangeable parts.

A Look at the French Protests: NYTimes

Overview of Ethereum’s Landscape: One of the best overviews I’ve read of crypto & current limitations

“A blockchain is essentially a shared database, stored in multiple copies on computers around the world. These computers are known as “nodes,” and any computer on the internet can become a node in a blockchain network by installing and running specially developed software. What makes a blockchain different from a regular database is that, thanks to the innovative use of cryptography, there is no need for a central authority like a bank or government to maintain it. The nodes run the software, and collectively they make sure every new transaction follows certain rules before adding it to the blockchain.

This process, called mining, requires a lot of computing. That makes it very hard to tamper with the blockchain’s record of transactions, since doing so generally depends on controlling most of the network’s mining power, and that would require an enormous expenditure of resources. Hence the ideal blockchain is “decentralized,” i.e., it has lots of independent users so nobody is in control.

The first blockchain application was Bitcoin, a system for peer-to-peer payments. Ethereum goes an ambitious step further. Instead of just processing and storing currency transactions, its nodes are supposed to collectively function as a “world computer” on which, using specialized programming languages, people can build applications that are supposed to look and feel much like the ones already on our phones—except no one is in charge of them.

These decentralized applications, or “dapps,” might include such things as voting systems, trading markets, or even social networks—imagine a Twitter or Facebook that nobody owns. Being decentralized, they would theoretically be immune to attempts to manipulate them or shut them down. For Ethereum’s most avid believers, these contain the promise of an entirely new kind of democratic society in which it is much harder to concentrate wealth and power, hide corruption, and exert shady, behind-the-scenes influence.”

The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce: The Making of Silicon Valley

The best article I’ve read on America’s middle class

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