Hello! Welcome to the fifth weekly newsletter.
This week I’ve been thinking about how bigger, existing businesses can harness the innovation of startups, and thinking about one model in particular: the startup studio. Also known as a venture lab or a venture studio, it’s a way of launching lots of startups and then spinning out the ones that work into independent businesses.
This week’s article explores whether that model makes sense as a way for businesses like agencies and consultancies to get in on the ventures game and get involved in early-stage businesses – and in the process, get the returns that only startups can deliver.
All other things being equal, startups are able to innovate more easily than larger, more established businesses. There are lots of ways for existing organisations to involve themselves in startups: startup accelerators, internal startups, and so on. Is the startup studio the most useful model?
The wonderful Craig Mod exhorts us to look – to really look:
“This act of ‘really looking’ is deceptive. It requires an almost ‘unlooking’ to see closely, a kind of defocusing. Because: We tend to see in groups, not details. We scan an image or scene for the gist, but miss a richness of particulars. I suspect this has only gotten worse in recent years as our Daily Processed Information density has increased, causing us to engage less rigorously – we listen to podcasts on 2x speed or watch YouTube videos with a finger on the arrow-keys to fast-forward through any moment of lesser tension. Which means we need all the help we can get to prod ourselves to look more closely.”
It’s interesting observing the vaccine rollout in the US, which seems to be continuing at pace despite some of the structural differences that make it harder than the UK’s rollout (like the lack of a single, coherent, nationwide healthcare provider, with primary healthcare information and the ability to contact virtually the entire population).
One of the things that seems bizarre is the sheer number of organisations responsible for distributing and administering the vaccine, and the lack of a clear picture for individuals. Where should you go for a vaccine? Who has availability? How do you book?
The VaccinateCA project is fixing that, in perhaps the most lo-fi method possible. A team of volunteers telephones, every day, California’s vaccination centres and asks them how much vaccine they have, who they plan to administer it to, and how to get an appointment. It then collates that information and makes it available to the public.
This blog post, which shares learnings from the project so far, is a great writeup of what it’s like to deal with a shifting, complex, emergent situation and to try to make sense of it. #