I was privileged to be invited to speak at StartupFestival Montreal this month - great city, great event, great team [thanks Alistair]. My favorite time was spent meeting with startups. At one point I found myself in the advisor tent with three companies' founders chatting tech, culture, politics, business models and global scene. Amazingly these founders all grew up outside North America - Singapore, Ethiopia, Norway, Hong Kong and Brazil. And each had spent a significant time living outside of their native countries. They all run virtual teams but place equal importance on meeting face to face to build their companies. They understand the importance of the human side of success and are driven not by money or selling their companies to Google or Facebook but want to build something innovative and lasting on their own terms . That's why we all got into this game to begin with, ey?![nod to Canada!]
These are exciting times to launch a startup - Internet focused or not. Technology is quickly becoming a means to an end rather than an end to itself. The way it should be. We can start building companies that put people and human behavior at the center rather than forcing us humans to alter our behavior to fit the tool. With that in mind, I spoke about the importance of the people side of tech and your business. Algorithms alone won't be your differentiator. Unless you're in bio-tech the tech won't differentiate your company. The User Experience, Features and understanding of human behavior will be where we are seeing the true differentiators. A good point in case is Path [see Brendan Mulligan's recent piece] and Nir Eyal's work at Stanford on human behavior.
Here's my talk - enjoy.