Thoughts on The Militarization of Police and Black Lives Matter Movement

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A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTSH3XR

I’ve been following the recent police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana and the horrific attack on police officers in Dallas. The level of violence and discord seems to be reaching a new crescendo.

The US is at a potentially dangerous point. We’re divided. People are getting their news from the sources of their choosing, so news stories reporting on the same event can have a diametrically opposite headlines. We’re living in our own realities. We’ve seen it coming to a head in politics. But the latest manifestation has been during the latest spate of gun violence. People seeing the exact same events have oposite interpretations of what really happened. Here’s some of the things I’ve been thinking about over the past week.

You can be Pro Police and Pro Black at the Same Time!

Many people, including many in the media, are painting the choices as “pro-Black Lives Matter” and “anti-police” vs. “anti-Black Lives Matter” and “pro-police.” This division isn’t right. It leads to people taking positions they can’t walk back from. It raises tensions, creates more misunderstandings and is harmful to the US.

Trevor Noah said it best, but I’ll reiterate. Continue reading…

How To Come Up With Startup Ideas


Note: A version of this post originally appeared in Spanish with the title Cómo encontrar ideas para emprender in El Mercurio, one of Chile’s leading newspapers. I use my monthly column to give mainstream readers exposure to startup ideas. It’s a shortened version of Paul Graham’s original post How to Get Startup Ideas.

Lots of people dream of starting their own business. They want something of their own, to be their own boss and to try to build their business into something big and successful. As an investor, I meet with hundreds of hungry potential entrepreneurs looking for capital to start businesses. Their ideas run the gamut from small businesses to scalable tech startups. Their funding plans cross the specturm from VC, friends and family to bank loans.

The vast majority of the best Latin American companies that I see come from people looking for solutions to problems they’ve seen close up in their daily lives. Paul Graham, the cofounder of Y Combinator, the world’s most successful accelerator, put it extremely directly: Continue reading…

Startup Valuations Created By Government Investments Aren’t Real and Can Hurt Startups


A version of this post appeared in the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio on August 18th with the headline Inversión sin riesgo no es inversión.

The Chilean government, via CORFO, has tried to seed the Chilean startup ecosystem to get it to grow more quickly. There’s always room for improvement, but overall, they’ve done good work and the ecosystem has grown. The three main programs CORFO has to support startups are:

  • Startup Chile – $20m ($40-25k depending on exchange rates) equity free grants
  • SCALE – $60m (89k-120k) equity free follow on grants
  • SSAF – $20m, then $40m (89k-120 total) follow on either direct or via incubators for 7% option for up to three years

CORFO awards many SSAFs each year, most via incubators that use CORFO’s money to “invest” in startups. These startups pass a selection process, then get $10-20m upfront, and then if they make it through each incubator’s unique process, they can get the $40m follow on. The incubators put the startups through an acceleration process, which can either be helpful, neutral, or in some cases harmful to the startup, depending on the incubator’s skillset. Continue reading…

Teaching as if You Could Never Teach the Same Thing to Anyone Else Ever Again

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A few months back I heard someone explain the merits of teaching something as if it were the last time you could ever teach it ever again. In your entire life. Their logic was threefold.

  1. If you taught something like it was the last time you could ever do it, you’d do a great job teaching it.
  2. If you recorded the information in a way such that you could send the lesson to anyone who ever needed it, it would save you time so you could focus on the most important things in your life.
  3. If the person you taught left your organization, you’d have a quick tutorial ready for the next person to get them started quickly and hopefully seamlessly.

Continue reading…