Welcome to the April edition of the Uncharted Insider.
- Uncharted Mobile Tech: We just announced a major partnership with a new mobile tech company in the US, targeting non-profit ventures that use mobile technology to create meaningful impact. Learn more.
- West Africa Agribusiness: We're heading to Ghana next week for an investor event as we wrap up a 9-month accelerator supporting new models of agribusinesses in West Africa with our partner, Kosmos Innovation Center.
Ideas on our mind:
- Power Dynamics: We often hear about the power dynamics that exist between funders and fund-seekers. When money is involved, power dynamics exist, and they often distort behavior and create unwanted outcomes. I'm curious if there are models/approaches that are effective at reducing power dynamics. How have foundations partnered in ways where grant-seekers don't feel motivated to contort their strategy to fit into foundation priorities? How have investors been able to get entrepreneurs to be their honest selves when seeking capital?
- Contrarians: We’re curious to hear about foundations and investors that, compared to their peers, are true contrarians and mavericks. What foundations are approaching their work in unconventional ways (and why)? We’re wondering what 21st-century philanthropy might look like, and we’d love to learn from them.
We hide behind research: A few weeks ago I met with two older, experienced entrepreneurs who have been working on their most recent startup for a few years. They referenced all this industry research proving they were on the right track. They unveiled mock-ups and color graphs. They had done everything but figure out if there was a market for their solution. No product, no letters of intent, no conversations with prospective customers. It made me think about the maxim of “measure twice, cut once," and how sometimes we get so afraid of cutting that we obsess over the measuring (our team would tell you I do this too). No matter what business we are in, we ought to lean into our courage and go to market sooner. Sometimes cutting multiple times is the best way to measure.
What I’m reading:
- Innovation is overrated. The case for boring impact.
- How the water crisis in Cape Town is bringing a racially segregated community together. Is social harmony an unexpected benefit of global warming?
- How Slack has built one of the most diverse workforces in Silicon Valley.
- There are 30 million jobs in the U.S. that pay an average of $55k per year and don't require bachelor's degrees. How one of the biggest barriers to the future of employment is stigma.
Recently I’ve been thinking about the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. Not necessarily professionally - more personal stuff like being a dad one day and being a good neighbor to the people who live on my block. I want to be the kind of person who understands how to be a white male ally, and who goes on adventures in the mountains, and who knows how to walk with someone through their grief, and who can taste the difference between types of scotch. Anyway, I started looking for a mentor who was “Banks in 15 years” and I found him, and we’ve been meeting once a month for almost a year. Our careers are quite different, but I can see myself in him, and it’s become a relationship that I know will change my life.
United in the common work,