The most valuable companies are able to defend their position in the market from competitors, writes James Currier, a co-founder of NFX Guild. Technology has eliminated many of the opportunities for competitive advantage that were available in the past, but startups can still differentiate themselves through economies of scale, network effects and a powerful brand, he writes.
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Artificial intelligence and genetics are two potentially huge drivers of change, but there's nothing wrong with creating a company that tackles a smaller problem, said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. "Stuff doesn't need to change the world just to be good," he said.
Instacart is on its way to becoming "cash flow positive" within one year, said CEO Apoorva Mehta at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Mehta also discussed how the company makes money off advertising, why an acquisition by Whole Foods isn't in the cards and why comparisons to failed dot-com startup Webvan miss the mark.
Technical founders fall into one of four categories depending on their skill set, writes Greg Sands, founding and managing partner of Costanoa Venture Capital. Most founder cannot alone handle all technical leadership duties, so recognizing the gaps in your team's knowledge is crucial.
Trust is still essential to the sales process, but technology is reshaping how people buy, writes Frederik Groce, venture capitalist at Storm Ventures. Millennial consumers "expect either an effortless fully automated sales process or fully concierge sales process with a human that knows us and our needs," he writes.
Crowdmix, which entered administration in June, was burning $2.65 million each month and hadn't even launched its app for letting users and their friends listen to music together. Crowdmix was acquired, largely by forgiving debt, by a business controlled by its lead investor.