Author Archives: cankut

Fully articulating your thoughts

When you’re thinking, you internally articulate some of your thoughts in full while leaving others unfinished.

The ones that you articulate in full, you learn from and use to guide your actions. You should therefore fully articulate as many of your important thoughts as you can.

However, leaving a thought unfinished isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can anticipate the conclusion of some thoughts without having to fully articulate them, and others just aren’t important enough to warrant full articulation.

The danger lies in those thoughts that you leave unfinished despite knowing that they’re important, and despite not knowing their conclusion. When you do this, it’s often because you’re trying to ignore the reality that you anticipate a fully articulated thought will show you in order to protect yourself from short term pain.

But it’s exactly those thoughts which, if you force yourself to fully articulate them, enable you to achieve the greatest progress after fighting through the pain.

Technology and jobs

When people talk about the negative impact of technology on jobs, the impact of e-commerce on jobs at brick-and-mortar retailers is an often used example.

In reality, this is an incomplete analysis. While e-commerce does indeed reduce jobs at brick-and-mortar retailers, it creates even more jobs at warehouses. Specifically, when the jobs which e-commerce has created at warehouses and those that it has taken away at brick-and-mortar retailers are both taken into account, e-commerce has created 54,000 net jobs over the last year.

This doesn’t mean that technology will always create jobs. This is just one example. For example, as warehouses become increasingly automated, eventually the aggregate impact of e-commerce on jobs will be net negative.

However, it’s a useful reminder that many analyses about the impact of technology on jobs are incomplete.

And when technology does indeed create a large net negative impact on jobs, then we’ll have the time to focus our energy on more creative endeavors. As John F. Kennedy said “If men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work.”

A different story from the Middle East

I wrote about our first meeting with Chris Schroeder, author of Startup Rising, in May 2015. Startup Rising covers the rise of technology and entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

Fast forward two years, and the startup ecosystem in the Middle East has developed significantly. Companies like Souq, Namshi, and Careem have each proved that large tech businesses can be built in the region.

What hasn’t changed is Chris’ dedication to the region. In this insightful article in the MIT Technology Review entitled “A Different Story from the Middle East: Entrepreneurs Building an Arab Tech Economy”, Chris shares some of the most recent positive developments and entrepreneurial success stories emerging from the region.

Chris’ active coverage and global promotion of tech entrepreneurship in the Middle East continues to be very valuable for the region.

Back to Istanbul

It turns out that my China visa won’t be ready in time for the current trip.

I’ll therefore be returning from Singapore to Istanbul today.

Although disappointed that I won’t get to see Beijing, I really enjoyed Singapore. The people are very kind and respectful, a characteristic that likely extends to other Far Eastern cultures. In addition, the small city-state has a somewhat unexpectedly large tech scene.

Finally, the wide range of hole in the wall restaurants serving spicy soups and curries is a real treat. I look forward to going back, hopefully on a visit where I’m also able to see Beijing.

Slowing down time

Sometimes you feel like life is passing by at a very fast pace and you want to slow it down. There are two ways to slow down time. More accurately, since time doesn’t actually objectively slow down, there are two ways to slow down your subjective perception of the passage of time.

The first is to do less. When you do less, you have more free time in which to think about the passage of time. This makes time pass more slowly.

While this approach works, it can lead to boredom and a feeling of missing out. Since we’re alive for a limited amount of time, most of us want to put that time to good use by being active rather than not doing much.

This is why I prefer the second approach. This consists of doing new activities that break the repetitive cycles of your daily life.

When you repeat the same activities over and over again each day, you get used to performing the activities without much active thought. You’re on autopilot and, as a result, time passes by quickly.

If instead you do new activities, or at least variations of your existing activities, you can’t do them on autopilot because you haven’t done them before. You need to actively think about what you’re doing. This immersion in the new activity slows down your perception of the passage of time.

When you’re truly ready to pitch

Before you start pitching to sell something, it’s useful to prepare. This means knowing the content of what you’re pitching and practicing the delivery to increase the probability that it evokes a positive response in the recipient.

However, no matter how much preparation you do in advance of the actual pitches, you will face unexpected questions when the pitches begin. Game time always creates surprises that you didn’t anticipate in practice.

The good news is that, after a few pitches (usually less than 5), you’ll have been hit with nearly all of the different questions that could be asked during your pitch. After this point, the same questions that surprised you in previous pitches will no longer surprise you in future ones.

While you may have felt ready by preparing well in advance of your first actual pitch, you’ll only be truly ready after giving a few actual pitches. As a result, you should schedule a few initial pitches where the stakes are low (in other words, being turned down isn’t that important) so that you’re truly ready when the stakes are high.

Ininal’s public API

Ininal is a digital banking service where we’re investors. In a post from October 2016, I shared how Ininal launched its API for developers to build apps that leverage Ininal’s technical banking infrastructure. This includes the ability to create accounts and prepaid cards, deposit money, and perform money transfers.

At the time, several companies including Bitaksi and Sinemia from our portfolio began to leverage Ininal’s API. However, Ininal offered its API privately to developers working on specific projects on a case by case basis. It wasn’t public.

Now, Ininal has officially launched its public API. This means that Ininal’s API is now accessible to all developers. As a result, the pace at which we’re going to see new projects being built using Ininal’s banking infrastructure is going to increase. That means more financial services innovation, which is a great thing.

You can check out Ininal’s public API here.

Singapore and Beijing

The most exciting part of my international trip has arrived. This evening, I’m heading from London to visit Singapore and, if my visa arrives on time, Beijing.

I’m looking forward to the trip both professionally and personally.

Professionally because I want to get a glimpse of what competition in the Far East is like, and personally because it’s the first time that I’m going to both of these cities. I had only visited Hong Kong before.

Both cities are 5 hours ahead of Istanbul, so my daily blog posts will be published around 5 hours earlier than usual each day.

It’s not the category

Most investors state that a startup’s team is the most important determinant of its success.

Simultaneously, when a few companies in a category run into trouble and/or fail and the category therefore falls out of favor, we are quick to dismiss new companies which emerge in that category.

This happened for mobile gaming companies several years back when Zynga, the at the time leader of the pack, started facing difficulties.

More recently, it’s happening in e-commerce as all but a horizontal approach is falling out of favor.

The first two statements of this post are contradictory. Specifically, if a startup’s team is indeed the most important determinant of its success, it isn’t correct to explain failure by pointing to the category.

And the reality is exactly that. Most startups that don’t succeed are faced with this outcome because of the team’s approach to and decisions within a category, not the category itself.

Outsiders don’t see the inside of a company. As a result, they assign responsibility for the outcome to the category. When, in most cases, insiders know that responsibility lies with the team.

This creates opportunities for great teams in out of favor categories.

The relationship vs what you believe is right

When I was younger, I used to believe in doing what you believe is right at all costs, even if you knew or thought that there was a high probability that it would damage a relationship.

As I grew older, I first began to question whether always doing what you believe is right at all costs is the right approach to life.

And more recently I’ve concluded that it isn’t.

Sometimes the benefit of doing what you believe is right is small. On the other hand, its cost in terms of the damage that it has on a relationship is large. When this is the case, I now believe that it’s worth forgoing what you believe is right to preserve the relationship.

I can think of two reasons for the change in my approach. The first is that I’ve been sufficiently burned by doing what I believe is right to justify the change. The second is that most people have a tendency to value relationships more as they age and therefore face their relationships’ and their own mortality. This is certainly the case for me.

In addition, prioritizing the relationship in the short term often increases your chances of getting to what you believe is right in the long term.