How to Decide Fast

And why Jeff Bezos says communication = dysfunction

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If you’ve raised money and are up for a 30 minute chat where I’ll interview you about it 1:1, let me know here.

Here’s today at a glance:

Opportunity → Industry-Specific Business Intelligence

Framework → How to Decide Fast

Tool → Bigin by Zoho CRM

Trend → Consumer Edtech and Self-Improvement AI

Quote → Communication is a Sign of Dysfunction

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🔗 Houck’s Picks

My favorite finds of the week.

  • Embed generalists in your startup to scale operations right away with of All Trades.*

  • 10 takeaways from Jensen Huang and Patrick Collisons talk (Link)

  • Founder advice that turned out to be wrong (Link)

  • 18 learnings about building a team that this founder wishes he had known earlier (Link)

  • The cheatsheet this company used to scale to $13M in 3 years (Link)

  • 10 resources for founders on all types of subjects (Link)

  • 28 founder rules they never teach you (Link)

  • A reminder to young future founders just starting out (Link)

  • A thread of the most memorable pieces of software advice (Link)

💡 Opportunity: Industry-Specific Business Intelligence

Have you ever tried to use Tableau?

Unless you’re a big company with massive datasets and the time to learn a complex tool, you’re probably better off with a simple Google Sheet (more on that below).

But, to a founder, a Google Sheet is an opportunity to build a business.

Whether these opportunities are venture-scale or just great bootstrapped businesses will depend on how early you build this in a niche and how fast and large it grows, but there are plenty of opportunities here.

🧠 Framework: How to Decide Fast

While I’ve built Megaphone to ~$30K MRR over the last ~9 months, I’ve slowly been improving a dashboard that I look at every single day.

It’s just a simple Google Sheet that my VA updates. Nothing fancy.

But it covers all of the important metrics for our business — from financial metrics to marketplace health measures, to cumulative charts that help motivate the team.

As a result I’m always hyper-aware of what’s changing in terms of usage of our product. Not every change is worth acting on but being aware helps me notice trends early.

I’ve talked before about how more decisions at startups are reversible than founders tend to think, so deciding fast is often the right call — moving fast is your advantage.

If you’re looking for the simplest CRM solution to manage your business activities and streamline customer operations, Bigin has your back.

Bigin is built by Zoho, a leading cloud software company trusted by 100 million users.

With multiple pipelines, contact and activity management, automation, and seamless integration with Microsoft Teams, Gmail, WhatsApp, and more, you can sell better and grow faster. Sign up for a free trial and set up in 30 minutes.*

📈 Trend: Consumer Edtech and Self-Improvement AI

Consumer is back. Smart founders are thinking about consumer from first principles now that AI has opened new doors. It’s likely we’ll see a new breakout social app with staying power emerge over the next 1-2 years.

But some verticals are still being overlooked.

I don’t know if it’s fair to say that the "old products mostly sucked” in these sectors but it is likely true that Duolingo won’t be able to compete with an AI-powered language learning tool.

Mentava is already teaching 2 year olds how to read, and there are many similar opportunities that no one’s re-addressed yet with AI.

If you’re in the idea maze, consider that education and self-improvement may offer better venture returns than they did for the last generation of apps.

💬 Quote: Communication is a Sign of Dysfunction

If you follow hockey at all you’ve probably seen the beauty that is the Edmonton Oilers power play.

(If you don’t follow hockey, a power play is when a team gets to have more players on the ice than the other team for a short period, which makes it easier to score.)

The best teams score around 25% of the time on their power play. Edmonton is scoring at a 53% rate so far this year in the playoffs. They’ve effectively “solved” the power play.

Just like any other true example of greatness in a team setting, they’re able to do this because they don’t need to communicate.

Wait… what?

Of course they do communicate and strategize together before a game, but they often don’t need to in the actual moment they’re trying to score goals.

They have the awareness of each other’s tendencies and trust that each other will make the right moves where their power play unit operates like a machine.

They’re running an unbeatable algorithm that forces the other team’s defense to leave someone else open every time they stop a threat.

Here’s an example from last year:

The defense is completely out of sorts, just hoping to stop what’s in front of them and eventually leaving the net wide open for an easy goal.

What does this have to do with startups? Well, Jeff Bezos feels similarly about high-performing teams.

Communication and coordination are signs that there are problems that need to be discussed, and teams should optimize for needing to communicate less:

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