Permission to Fail: RIP Karen's Hub

An experiment needs permission to fail. The reason why has nothing to do with the methods and everything to do with the psychology of the experimenter. If the experiment is not allowed to fail, you will always find a way to justify some exception, discount a subset of the data, re-run it over again with a new hat, and then again with your lucky bowling shoes on. It’s very hard to imagine giving your startup permission to fail. »

How to Find Your Founding Values

One of the most fun (and philosophical) parts of starting your own organization is finding your founding values. Today, entrepreneurship is easier than ever, cooler than ever, more valued than ever. As a result, I think that many people are jumping in without any real sense of why. Why is the most important part. The value discovery process I’m going to outline is relevant to anyone starting a company. However, I think it is particularly relevant to the PhD to CEO for a few reasons: »

Money Can't Buy Knives

Most technology startups involve some amount of engineering risk. Can we build it at scale? Can we build it for $X by our launch date? Can we refine the product to be attractive before we run out of money? There is a ton of material from the lean/agile world on how to approach these challenges. I’ve read it all. Frankly, while much of this advice has been useful to me in my transition from PhD to CEO - the existing literature just wasn’t very applicable to the very early stages of polySpectra. »

The Teaching Economy

This summer I had the opportunity to visit the NYC headquarters of Managed by Q, “The Operating System for Offices”, founded by my cousin Dan Teran. I sat in on a meeting where the major focus of the marketing team’s presentation was on creating content that would teach people how to better clean their offices. Why would a cleaning services company teach people how to not need their services? From a classical economics angle, where agents are vying for limited capital, this doesn’t make any sense. »

Open-Source Utility for Stereolithography

The key to successful stereolithography (SLA)1 3D printing lies at the intersection of chemistry, hardware and software. The photopolymer recipe, the optics of the printer, and the print settings are all interdependent. If you make a big change to one, you will likely need to tweak the other two. Despite the fact that SLA printing is now fully democratized (there is a Kickstarter running right now for (yet another) $150 SLA printer), there is not much useful information online about how to ‘dial-in’ a reliable SLA printing process. »