Nuclear is the safest mainstream energy source

Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power will hopefully eliminate, or make negligible, the negative health outcomes of energy production. However, renewables still account for only 4% of global energy production. Until that changes, the majority of our energy is being produced by coal, oil, biomass, gas, and nuclear energy. It’s therefore important that, in the meantime, we produce energy from the least harmful of the currently mainstream energy sources.

And that’s where the problem arises. Nuclear energy is in fact the currently mainstream energy source responsible for the smallest number of short term (generational) and long term (intergenerational) deaths. This article does a great job of outlining the reasons and data supporting why this is the case.

However, deaths from the production of nuclear energy, which take place mainly as a result of nuclear accidents, are very visual. They also occur in the form of a very low probability event with a single large toll, in contrast to deaths from today’s other mainstream energy sources which occur with more predictable higher probabilities, each of a smaller magnitude.

As a result, people fear nuclear energy more than other currently mainstream energy sources, even though nuclear energy is actually safer. Hopefully articles like this will help raise awareness of the large cost of our fears and lack of knowledge.

Investor support for startups’ external and internal activities

There’s a wide spectrum of support that an investor can provide a startup. At one extreme, we can provide capital without any interference. At the other extreme, we can effectively serve as core team members, helping with everything from building the team to designing the product to identifying and building out distribution channels to raising future funding to structuring an exit.

However, based on my experiences, there are 4 specific types of support that great startups can benefit from:

  1. Identifying and helping recruit/transition team members
  2. Thinking of and helping structure partnerships with other companies
  3. Preparing for and raising future funding
  4. Structuring an exit

There are also certain types of support that, if an investor finds themself giving a company, are usually an indication that things aren’t going well:

  1. Designing and providing feedback on product
  2. Identifying, building out, and measuring the return of different distribution channels

What’s common across the 4 types of support that great startups can benefit from is that they’re external activities. Specifically, they’re about connecting the startup with external talent, companies, and financing opportunities.

What’s common across the types of support that great startups don’t need is that they’re internal activities. Specifically, they’re activities that require detailed immersion to do well. As such, great startups do it themselves. So if an investor finds themself being requested to or feeling the need to contribute in these areas, that’s often a negative signal.

The corollary to this analysis is that you should invest in startups who either don’t need you, or benefit from your support in external activities. You shouldn’t invest in startups who need you to perform their internal activities.

HotelRunner partners with Wix

HotelRunner, where we’re investors, is a cloud-based website development and channel management software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool for hotels. Among other services, the company gives hotels the ability to build their website, accept online reservations, push their inventory to online travel agencies, and purchase third party services from the HotelRunner Store.

While giving hotels the ability to build a website specific to the vertical’s needs is valuable, what differentiates HotelRunner is its channel manager service. This is why HotelRunner recently entered into a partnership with Wix, a leading cloud-based website development SaaS. Wix Hotel users will now be able to push their inventory to and accept reservations from the over 80 online travel agencies to which HotelRunner’s channel manager is connected.

This partnership will drive additional guests and revenue to Wix Hotel users. And the fact that a company like Wix chose HotelRunner as its channel management partner shows the quality and breadth of HotelRunner’s service.

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.