Pretotyping – Making sure that you are building the right ‘it’

The tag line says it all –  “Make sure your building the right ‘it’ before you build it right.”

Pretotyping differs from prototyping in one important respect. The main objective of prototyping is to answer questions related to building the product: Can we build it? Will it work as expected? How cheaply can we build it? How fast can we make it? The main objective of pretotyping is to answer questions about the product’s appeal and usage: Would people be interested in it? Will they use it as expected? Will they continue to use it? …

How do you make sure that you are building the right “it”? This is much harder than you imagine.

The Foundation for the Next Generation of Innovation

NSF will invest in the multi-agency National Robotics Initiative (NRI) to help develop robots that work beside, interact cooperatively with, or assist people in manufacturing, space and undersea exploration, health care and rehabilitation, military and homeland security and surveillance, education and training, and safe driving.

Biological systems provide architectural and operational blue prints to guide the engineering of adaptive technologies. NSF will support the Research at the Interface of the Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (BioMaPS) program that will integrate biological, engineering, mathematical, and physical sciences research to better understand and replicate nature’s ability to network, communicate, and adapt. BioMaPS will accelerate the generation of bio-based materials and sensors, and the advanced manufacturing of bio-inspired devices and platforms.

New to NSF’s portfolio, the Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) program catalyzes interdisciplinary research. As the only federal agency that supports all fields of science and engineering, NSF is positioned to catalyze hybridized fields of research such as synthetic biology, social cognitive neuroscience, nano-eco-toxicology, and information theory. INSPIRE will address critical evaluation issues by implementing a system to assess the impact of these awards.

Many of these sound fascinating. What similar organizations exist in the world? What kind of efforts are they working on? This will be a some great information to track.


LinkLog: How to Evaluate and Implement Startup Ideas

The best way to prioritise the questions is by uncertainty. An initial order for these three questions might then be:

  1. Can I make money from it?
  2. Can I get people to know about it?
  3. Can I build it?

A good read. I especially like the way it starts with a specific order of questions and reorders the questions based on uncertainty. I guess the order depends on who you are. If the startup has a marketing background the ordering may be different.

Seven Pleasant Surprises from 32hourstartup

Here are some very pleasant surprises from 32hourstartup experience.

  1. How many people actually turned up and pitched (with  less than two weeks notice)
  2. How many projects were presented (about 14)
  3. How much of time people spent helping others (instead of just working on their own projects)
  4. How powerful some of the tools are – OrangeScape’s Cloud App Builder (Mani did an awesome job and so did another team that never saw this product before the event). Krishna’s Facebook AppBuilder helped create three products and one was built in 20 minutes.
  5. How many  Social Innovation Apps were taken up.
  6. I thought only coders would turn up. I was pleasantly surprised to see business ideas, some Arduino hacking.
  7. How much learning there was – for all of us. I learned more about people I know and lot about people I have never met before this event.

When asked,  “How frequently should we do it?”, pat came the reply “as soon as we get enough sleep and ready to go again”.  That sums up the spirit.

The SSN campus  the location of 32hourstartup was really cool and very spacious. Surrounded by green grass and  lots of trees was ideal for  ideating and innovating.


Lucky People Generate Good Fortune via Four Basic Principles

unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

Thanks to Sukumar Rajgopal (@rsukumar) for discovering and tweeting this article. It is really fascinating and a great read.

The Idea of Proportional Growth

This concept, The City-States of America, is similar to that of the primate city, a term coined by Mark Jefferson in 1939. A primate city refers to a city that is disproportionately larger than the other cities in that country or region. This idea is related to the Zipf distribution, a scale-free or power law distribution that often describes the ranks of the city sizes within a single country. In these distributions there many small cities dominated by a small number of extremely large cities, whose sizes are described by the exponent of the fit of the power law.

An explanation for how such an even distribution can occur is that of Gibrat’s Law, which posits the idea of proportionate growth — larger cities grow proportionally faster — can lead to this long tail of city sizes. A recent scientific paper that explores cities and Gibrat’s law is found here.

it is fascinating to note that the concept of proportional growth is a pattern. You can see it with companies, products and even ideas.

LinkLog: Motivation and Success

Extrinsic motivation is a great way to get people to do boring and repetitive tasks, but it actually harms performance on more creative tasks. Creativity is a surprisingly fragile thing. It comes from deep inside, and external concerns (most especially, “What will people think?”) seem to scare it away.

I spent most of my life trying to escape from boring, repetitive tasks. I don’t know how much I succeeded. My current list of things I am working on, all have an a high “Interestingness Quotient”. There are few signs that I may slip into some boring routines and I need to quickly get out of that.

One of the reasons I like software is that you can build something that can take a boring repetitive task and delegate it to some automated agent, leaving you to just do the interesting bits.

Work is never really boring if you like what you are doing. So I constantly try to find things that I like doing and see whether I can get paid to do that.

Linklog: Big Data

It’s been said that 90 percent of the data that exists today was created in the last two years. That staggering “hockey-stick” growth presents challenges that must be met if we are to gain valuable insight from that data. If there ever was a time to have a big data strategy in place, it’s now!

That is amazing. It is something we need to pay attention to.

Blogging – Does the Frequency Matter?

Someone told me that once you start blogging, you need to do it daily. I don’t really believe that. It depends on why you are blogging. If you need to write every day, you need to find something interesting to say every day. If not interesting, it should be something useful. But I know that there are days I neither have anything interesting or useful to say (IMO).  Some days I may have something but just may not have the time to blog.

So I decided on a compromise. I will not blog daily but will write whenever I feel like. I may mostly point you to other interesting blogs I read. I may add a comment or two.  Or do short posts like these. I hope that is ok.