‘Bold’ is a guide for those who want to use exponential technology tools to succeed. The initial focus is on the concepts of exponential and disruptive technologies, and how you can take advantage of some techniques used by successful companies to succeed. Also, the book covers topics such as crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, and how you can take advantage of these trends, which do not seem to go away anytime soon! Learn from great examples and discover how to take advantage of innovative ideas and exponential technologies to grow your business.
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How exponential technologies work
Exponential technologies are those that not only grow linearly but continue to grow exponentially. Humans are not very good at understanding exponentials because growth is very small in the early stages and it seems like nothing is happening, and then that growth accelerates.
Thanks to computers, sensors and communication technologies, we are living and working in an exponential world, where the opportunities are fantastic and can explode in the next few years.
To give an example, if you take 30 successive steps starting from a specific point, you will reach 30 meters away. But if you take 30 exponential steps from the same point, you’ll reach a billion feet away. The final stages of an exponential sequence generate impressive growth.
The best-known example of exponential growth is Moore’s Law, created in 1965 by Intel’s founder Gordon Moore. He stated that the number of integrated circuits in transistor doubles every 12 or 24 months. Moore’s Law remains intact to this day and is one of the reasons why the smartphone is a thousand times faster and a million times cheaper than a computer in 1970.
To avoid underestimating exponential growth, use a framework called “The Six Ds of Exponentials”:
- D1 Scanning – when the process changes from a physical state to digital, the exponential dynamics
- D2 Deception – the early stages of exponential growth are indifferent
- D3 Disruption – new markets are created, and existing markets are disrupted
- D4 Demonetization – consumers stop buying old technology, and it becomes free
- D5 Dematerialization – technology becomes part of other products
- D6 Democratization – the objects become available on digital platforms for all
Digital cameras are a perfect example of this phenomenon. In 1996, Kodak sold movies and had 140,000 employees and $ 28 billion in the market. Digital cameras came in 1976 (D1) but had no resolution until 20 years later (D2). After digital cameras passed the 2 million pixels (D3) barrier, people stopped buying movies (D4), and Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January 2012. After smartphones came on, people stopped buying digital cameras ( D5). These days, you can share photos for free (D6) with your friends on various websites.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, the perfect time to engage with an exponential technology is when it comes out of the starting part and begins its curvature. Indicators of this transition include:
- Best practices being developed
- Rapid supplier proliferation
- Secondary funding available
- Simple, elegant interfaces for users
Currently, five technologies are poised for exponential growth shortly:
- Sensors and networks: Today there are about seven billion smartphones, but in the next ten years, there are more than one trillion sensors connected to the Internet. These sensors will provide real-time information and automation capabilities that will be innovative for many industries. The “internet of things” is poised for explosive growth in reach and capabilities.
- Infinite Computing: Computing is evolving rapidly, from a scarce source to such an inexpensive and abundant thing, which becomes free. The opportunity here is that everyone will have the ability to build great ideas with powerful infrastructures, which are cheap, available, and unlimited. This will stimulate a period of global innovation.
- Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) is about to become part of our daily lives. Currently, 80% of jobs in the service industry can be broken into four skills: searching, reading, writing, and integrating knowledge. Computers can now outnumber human beings in all of these abilities, and this is all about artificial intelligence. IBM loaded Watson (its AI supercomputer) in the cloud and made it available as a development platform for anyone who wants to use it. The applications are unlimited. We can see another example in a startup called Modernizing Medicine, which allows any physician to look for millions of articles, books, and prognoses to generate individual information through an AI interface. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
- Robotics: iRobot now sells Baxter, a robot. You can program it by moving the robot arms to make the moves you want it to replicate. Soon, AI will let you program Baxter to hold a conversation. It has been suggested that 45 percent of American jobs are at risk of disappearing over the next two decades because of robots. This presents an incredible business opportunity.
- Synthetic biology: Synthetic biology was built around the idea that DNA is software – a four-letter code arranged in a specific order. DNA commands a cell to make specific proteins. Researchers can now exchange the original DNA code for a written code, programming the cell to produce what is specified. While this sounds like science fiction, synthetic biology is already working. It is a form of genetic engineering that has gone digital. You can use synthetic biology to make new fuels, foods, medicines, building materials, clothing and even new organisms in the laboratory rather than the industrial process.
Use experimental laboratories
In 1943, the American Department of Defense contacted Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, Lockheed’s chief engineer, in a panic. German jets were rising in the skies of Europe, and the United States did not know how to respond. Kelly set up a group with her best engineers and sent them to a circus tent located near a plastics factory. Engineers began calling their secret workplace “skunkworks, ” and the term continued to be used today.
Lockheed engineers succeeded in delivering the first US military jet to the Pentagon, 143 days later. What was the secret of their success? The Lockheed engineers were given a very important mission, they were free to design and were cut off from the world. And that great goal, saving the Nazi regime, inspired engineers to deliver crucial military equipment in a short space of time.
You probably will not be on a mission to save the world, but the reality is that this “skunk” approach has worked for many companies in the past and the present. Apple used this approach to build the Macintosh. Google uses it today with its GoogleX project, which is designed to take Google photos of the moon that may be useful in the future. An experimental laboratory is a catalyst for innovation.
A good experimental laboratory acts as an innovation accelerator. The three characteristics that make an experimental laboratory feasible are:
- Isolation – so that the organizational inertia is neutralized and also so that the workers have autonomy.
- You need to chase after an inspiring goal – which gives a psychological boost to everyone involved. GoogleX, for example, goes after 10x more improvements than 10% gains. This is a daring goal.
- You need to have a high tolerance for experimentation and failure – rapid iteration is the best way forward.
Be aware and have great ideas
Bold ideas are always great. To be bold, you need to be prepared to have some great dreams that give you credibility.
If someone presents you with an idea that is below your line of credibility, you will quickly dismiss it as being ridiculous. If you are presented with another idea above the line, you will give the benefit of the doubt and see what happens. But there is also a line of super-credibility. When you hear a new idea that is above the line, you accept it and say, “wow! This idea is fantastic! How can I get involved? ” Great ideas can be so compelling that your mind will accept them as a fact, and instead of worrying about the odds, you will begin to think about the implications.
To be bold, you need to have an idea that is above the limit of super-credibility, but that is divided into small, realistic subgoals. Your audacious goal becomes more possible as you reach your sub-targets. When you combine enthusiasm with a bold idea and realistic subgoals, you can achieve incredible things. You have to have the right mindset.
Think in scale
When you see successful entrepreneurs who have built multibillion-dollar businesses that have changed the world, you will notice that they all ran after bold ideas. Also, the billionaires think and act in scale.
Billionaires such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Larry Page use the same eight mental strategies to think in scale:
- Take risks and control risks
- Fast Iterations and Incessant Trials
- Passion and Purpose
- Long-term thinking
- Customer-centric thinking
- Probabilistic thinking
- Optimistic thinking
- Trust in fundamental truths
Learn to use crowdsourcing in your favor
In the next decade, approximately 3 billion people will start using the internet for the first time. And this will happen thanks to the communication technologies, which are becoming more accessible. This means that people are getting more connected and responsive.
As a direct consequence, crowdsourcing is flourishing. There are some very powerful tools available to everyone, and crowdsourcing companies are growing. Some of them are:
- Freelancer.com – has 10 million users who held more than 5.4 million jobs, generating $ 1.39 billion in revenue last year. Software companies are outsourcing their jobs all the time.
- Tongal – a crowdsourcing platform that creates ten times cheaper TV commercials and takes ten times less time to get ready, than the traditional process.
You can outsource all types of business tasks, creative accesses or operational assets, run tests and discover projects, and many other things using only your credit card and crowdsourcing services. The possibilities are endless.
So how can you use crowdsourcing? The 12 best practices of crowdsourcing are:
- Do Your Research – Try to search for options for everything you need. They already exist and do cheap and quick things.
- If occupy register, post a project and make a try. Learn by doing. You may even get interesting ideas from people who subscribe to your projects.
- Use message boards – and learn how to run projects using expert advice. Each platform has a community that you can use.
- Be specific – people will not understand the philosophy of your business. Make it easy for people to understand what you are trying to do.
- Prepare your data – and be ready to arrange the necessary files.
- Qualify your workers – give them some small pilot projects, and see how they do.
- Make it clear and specify the roles – tell people exactly what you want.
- Communicate in detail and continuously – give lots of feedback quickly.
- Do not be a controller – be open to new and different ways of thinking. They can suggest very good things.
- Always value quality – do not just accept those who offer the lowest price. It pays to pay a little more to have the best workers.
- Get ready to receive many messages – many ideas will come up from potential employees.
- Be open to new methodologies – Crowdsourcing can put you in touch with highly qualified people who want to work on new schedules or requirements.
Make crowdsourcing competitions
One of the most powerful mechanisms available to the exponential entrepreneur is incentive competitions. The concept is simple: you offer a prize to the winner, and let people get organized and work.
Incentive competitions are very powerful. They attract visibility, new ideas and financial support for potential solutions. Sponsors and advertisers love incentive contests. Also, these competitions attract a lot of people and that’s exactly what you want.
One quality of incentive contests is that you only pay the winner, but you also get the ideas from the other competitors. And that gives you a great advantage and a great platform for finding solutions. If your premium is large enough, your competition can feed the market and create a demand for the solution.
However, remember that incentive contests are not a solution to every business challenge you have. They only work if you have a clear goal in mind but do not yet understand how to get there. Competitions need to be in a field where there are innovative people and teams that are able to solve the challenges. If you go after something that needs a lot of capital, the competition will probably not be a good way out. You will also need to be flexible about the intellectual property generated by the competition.
Remember the three great motivators that will attract teams to compete: money, recognition, and frustration with the current situation. You need to design your competition so that it manages those motivators.
You will also need to specify a goal, but leave the process open on how to achieve the goal.
The best practices for creating an incentive competition are:
- Identify the core problem you want to solve – and make sure it’s delimited correctly.
- Define your guidelines and metrics – how you measure when the finish line is crossed. Be clear about how the process will be measured.
- Structure appropriately – specify the name of the challenge, the awards, the duration of the competition, the format of the solution and who will have the intellectual property at the end.
- Set the rules well – have clear indicators of progress and make sure rules avoid cheating. Estimate your competition costs.
- Start your competition – and position it above the super-credibility line. Create publicity about who is competing. Make a great launch that targets the right niches and communities.
- Operate your competition in a transparent way – have the resources you need to connect with teams, deal with legal requirements, generate publicity, and so on. You also need to have a public face for your competition and a panel of judges. Make sure you have all elements of highly successful incentive contests.
- Leverage your competition and end with power – determining the winner’s requirements without any controversy. You will also want to have an awards ceremony to maximize your advertising.
Learn to use crowdfunding
Raising the money needed has always been one of the great barriers to starting a new business. And that’s changing thanks to crowdfunding. Millions of supporters have already put billions of dollars into startups through crowdfunding, and that trend will grow exponentially. Experts predict that $ 15 billion dollars raised through crowdfunding in 2015 will increase to at least $ 300 billion in the next few years as crowdfunding grows.
The great thing about crowdfunding is that it offers a social proof of market demand. It also allows an entrepreneur to start working. You can fund and launch a project at the same time, using crowdfunding. There are already over 700 crowdfunding sites online today, and that number will double in the coming years.
The four main types of crowdfunding are:
- Donations – you give money to a cause and expect nothing in return.
- Debt – You provide funds that will be paid with interest.
- Capital – you borrow money from investors in exchange for shares of your company.
- Reward or incentive – the founder offers some prize to support the creation of some product or service that you want to use.
Donations usually work well for social causes and political campaigns. Debt financing is best considered for local projects that benefit a community. Capital financing is the new type, and it is still too early to know how this kind of crowdfunding will work in practice. The crowdfunding of reward or incentive now has a great track record of success and has proven highly effective for creative projects and products.
For obvious reasons, crowdfunding is not for everyone. The best crowdfunding campaigns usually have these characteristics:
- The product is in an advanced stage of prototype and can already be shown.
- You have a good team of managers and people can trust that something will happen to the money.
- The product is based on the community and the consumers – it is something that potential investors would buy and use.
- The management team has a network of potential investors.
- The product seeks to solve a compelling problem.
From your perspective, crowdfunding will give you market validation and a measure of actual demand. A good crowdfunding campaign can see a community of consumers emerge, who can buy the products for a low cost. Crowdfunding usually works best if you are enthusiastic about your product and want to get the project done quickly.
The twelve steps involved in a good crowdfunding campaign are:
- Choose your ideal idea – it will be the junction of what excites you and something that is important to other people. Ask your community for help to get ideas about what matters.
- Establish your crowdfunding target – Decide how much money you need to raise. This will be the function of what kind of incentives you can offer to funders. You will also want to raise some money for your development costs. You need to show that you know what you are doing to pass credibility. Raise enough money for you to make progress, but not much. Also, have some goals in mind that describe things you can do if more people get involved.
- Establish the duration of the campaign and create a schedule – typically 30 to 120 days.
- Shorter campaigns work better. You should organize what you will do during that time.
- Specify your incentives and goals – what supporters will gain by contributing you. Most campaigns have incentives of $ 25, $ 50, $ 100, $ 500 and $ 1000, keep in mind that usually $ 25 generates 25% of responses. Offer something valuable and unique that can not be bought elsewhere.
- Build the perfect execution team – a celebrity, a campaign manager/strategist, a specialist, a graphic designer and a technology manager. You may also have a public relations manager.
- Prepare yourself carefully – gather materials and resources that you will need before starting your campaign, do not leave it for later.
- Tell a Meaningful Story – Have a powerful and compelling narrative about why your product will be very good. Focus on telling why it matters more than explaining what the product is.
- Create a viral video – that brings your product, and that demonstrates your ideas. Campaigns with short videos earn 239% more money than campaigns without videos.
- Develop your audience – with affiliates, advocates, and leading activists. Make it clear that you are embarking on a cause, not just selling another tool.
- Launch your campaign – engage your first donors and shake things up. The first few days after the release are important to gain traction and make money.
- Keep engaging week after week – keep in touch with everyone, and let them know how you are. Provide status updates and ask supporters to invite their friends. Keep your campaign on the news, with promotions and contests.
- Make data-based decisions about when to scale, when to engage, and when to use trends. Consider investing in Facebook, YouTube, and Linkedin to advertise.
Build online communities
Your chances of doing something bold increase if you build an exponential community. Today’s online communities can handle impressive, scaled-up tasks. A current community can deal with the types of projects that were previously uniquely owned by large corporations or governments.
A strong point of communities is that they can be self-organized. People like to do things that impress their peers and increase their reputations. If you build a community that is dealing with an important task and then provides opportunities for individuals to excel in that community, you will be impressed with the energy and creativity generated.
One of the most interesting tools on the web is called “The Law of the Niches.” No matter what your passion, there are countless people who share your passion. Communities are a way to find other people and to create a platform that will suit your needs. You can take advantage of this community to build a business, or to deal with difficult challenges.
Building a vibrant exponential community involves eight steps or stages of development:
You define your transformative process – what you are trying to achieve with the community and how you want to make a difference. Tell your story.
- Build your community portal – something authentic that allows for a simple record and flow of information.
- Start recruiting members – pick your pioneers by finger and start some ritual for newbies, which helps people feel part of the community.
- Create content for the community – in the form of an event, product launch, newsletters, online magazines, interviews, etc.
- Apply engagement strategies – so people connect with their emotions. You can have talented leaders, set up meetings in person, or promote challenges that require collaboration to increase engagement.
- Actively manage your community – acting as a benign dictator. Communities are messy, so you need to keep things in order and avoid distractions.
- Keep building the community – expanding opportunities for people to talk to each other. Promoting inspirational competitions is also a good growth strategy.
- Monetize your community – this will be feasible as long as you are transparent and authentic about how to do this. The best way to monetize is to sell what your community needs. You can sell ads or premium memberships.
Taking advantage of exponential technologies is the secret to having a successful business in the technological world of today and the future. As stated before, take advantage of the moment when the technology begins its curvature and leaves the early stages (D3), and engages with one of the five technologies that are prepared to grow in the future – sensors and networks; infinite computing; artificial intelligence; robotics and synthetic biology.
An important point about exponential technologies is that its cycle is fast and complex, so if you realize an opportunity, do not wait to take advantage of it! Use crowdsourcing and crowdfunding tactics as well as virtual communities to get the most out of your business!