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067: Environments where you create value
We compared and contrasted accelerators and incubators; and yes, Creativity+AI updates
There are so many ways you can be an entrepreneur, it’s almost exhausting.
Which means how you go about succeeding in your endeavor can also prove a challenge. It’s the same mix of emotional, psychological, cultural and political baggage common to generating and selling ideas—i.e. What don’t I know yet that I should? What perspectives will enhance my work? How can I de-risk my idea so others will more likely accept it?
What you need are nurturing environments.
And that’s where the concept of business incubators and startup accelerators come in. They are the writer’s rooms of television. The painters retreat my Mom, a painter, is currently attending. Or the confines of a creative team within a brand or agency. (FYI, the long history of business incubators in the U.S. is fascinating!)
Ideas rarely emerge fully formed, pre-built to succeed. Typically, there’s just enough of an insight, a concept, a construct, a phrase, a combination to merit attention and continued effort. The same holds for entrepreneurial journeys, perhaps on a more complex scale.
So we seek out fellow travelers.
Marty is a rare breed: The first Minnesotan startup founder to participate in the infamous Y Combinator accelerator, as well as one of the few founders to also engage in the TechStars program. Marty gave us a thorough grounding in the differences and peculiarities of both environments—which you could boil down to the quantity of mentors (more with TS, few with YC).
Ideas, whatever their ultimate form, are originally fragile
So, too, are their founders.
Which is why nurturing and nourishing environments become critical. Notice I didn’t say “easy,” or even “safe.” (Let’s assume professionalism runs rampant.)
Whether it’s the fast-paced, pressure-filled gauntlet of a 90-120 day accelerator program barreling towards Demo Day, versus a slower-paced incubator, both environments ask their entrepreneurs to set aside ego and focus on making their ideas clearer, more distinctive, more compelling, and likely to thrive. And in so doing, each entrepreneur builds their tribe, which expands the ability for the idea and idea-maker to succeed.
Speaking of which…
TWIN CITIES STARTUP WEEK is next week
The annual gathering of accelerators, incubators and fellow travelers in my neck of the woods is almost here.
Homework for next week is to review all of the events available during 2023 TCSW, pick two, then write a brief description of how each event might help your entrepreneurial journey. Feel free to do this yourself. Here’s my tentative schedule—if you’re attending, let’s meet up!
AI + CREATIVITY UPDATES
🗣️ File under: Elevating Creativity. Roblox is beginning to reveal its promised AI-generative toolkit. You might recall CEO David Baszucki referencing a moment in the HBO series Westworld, where a game developer character “codes” just by telling a story. No typing, no coding, just speaking. And he suggested such technologies would be available in “less than five years.” The whole point, assets Roblox at its annual developer conference, is to leverage AI to make the task of creating easier.
😬 File Under: Too Creative? I’m not a Wall Street Journal subscriber, but they’re reporting on research comparing ChatGPT to Wharton MBA students (Prof Ethan Mollick’s?) in the task of generating innovative product ideas. As the WSJ puts it, “The results weren’t even close.” The LLM took 35 of the top 40 spots (based on purchase intent), notes Platformer.
🥱 File Under: LLMs, They’re Just Like Us! Thank goodness for TikTok, because that’s where I stumbled on Nicholas Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of The Atlantic, waxing philosophically on Google’s latest prompt engineering research. Turns out, inserting the phrase, “Let’s take a deep breath and” at the beginning of ChatGPT prompts improves their output. Adding “let’s think step by step” apparently also helps. Just like talking with teenagers.
🎛️ File Under: Preferences. And speaking further of prompting—there’s a reason ChatGPT generally won’t give you instructions for violent activities. As you submit text, it gets evaluated by different filters/layers within the LLM, one of which OpenAI calls “alignment,” by which I infer, are we aligned on our purpose? Clearly, OpenAI believes a purpose of ChatGPT is nonviolence. Another layer of alignment occurs when you define Custom Instructions. This is where and how brand voice will get embedded within proprietary LLMs. As brands tune their LLMs, layers of alignment—our purposes in using the tool—will become increasingly important for creative people to comprehend, and direct.
Just imagine more of this in your inbox at least once weekly, and for free!