Big Idea: There can be a system to maximize your success on platforms, but often it comes down to luck.
“Here’s the truth—it’s pretty damn obvious when you see someone who’s world class. Think back to when Lebron James was playing in high school. When he was in 11th grade, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline: “The Chosen One.” James was so entertaining, ESPN broadcasted his high school games.”
“You don’t have to be world-class to succeed in startups. You do need to learn from the world-class founders and become great. Great founders build massive companies. “
Tiago Forte asks Obsidian expert Nick Milo: How good is the note taking app Obsidian as a Second Brain? Here’s how Nick rated Obsidian across 10 key Second Brain factors.
Shaan Puri talks about the 4 different kinds of luck, how to put yourself in a position to be lucky, and how to mitigate different kinds of risk.
“The Creator Economy has been massively celebrated for its low barriers to entry: Anyone with a phone can become a successful creator…
But the lower the barriers to entry, the higher the competition. The size of the arena has grown fast, from 50M creators in 2020 to 200M last year to more than 300M in 2022. With so many creators, the dominance of the algorithmic feed that separates the average from the best is almost inescapable, and with it comes a world with no floor and no ceiling, where the winners take most.”
5 strategies for a new brand to stand out online:
- Leverage Emojis ☕️ (e.g. Morning Brew)
- Leverage Colors 🟡 ( e.g. Workweek)
- Leverage Art (e.g Notion)
- Leverage mascots (e.g Duolingo)
- Leverage a signature style (e.g. visualize value)
“What are Token-Gated Communities? How do the work? What are the risks and opportinities to build a web3 business?”
Trends.vc has a large collection of links and examples covering Token-Gated Communities.
Why It Matters
Token-gated communities align incentives.
Traditional communities suffer from noise, spam and other extractive behaviors.
Token-gated communities build deep alignment between members.
Members are incentivized to protect and add value.
“You achieve a Personal Monopoly once you become the go-to person in your area of expertise. Though students are drawn to the benefits of such expertise, they don’t want to pay the price of commitment required to achieve it.”
This is a powerful idea. Not enough creators commit to mastery. Almost everyone gives up too soon.
“The secret sauce to digital writing:
Kill the paragraph.
Nobody reads an entire article, start-to-finish, on the internet. It just doesn’t happen.
People DO skim and scan.
Use clear headlines, give each sentence its own line, and don’t use big words.
This sounds too simplistic, but trust me.”
“Shaan and Sam discuss Miss Excel, her business model, and how she is making millions of dollars being a Microsoft Office influencer.”
There are some interesting ideas talked about here.
Sahil chose a “horizontal” approach to Gumroad versus focusing on a particular “vertical” market. That means he created a platform where anyone could sell almost anything. This is in contrast to a vertical like Substack focused on newsletters. Sahil says this was probably the wrong choice.
Another interesting distinction is between “platform” and “aggregator”. “Sahil’s original vision for Gumroad was a white-label platform: it offered creators access to business without actually locating it for them, and remained invisible to consumers.
Since Gumroad’s founding, platforms like YouTube have shifted to become aggregators — “destination” sites that control interactions between creators and audiences and take a far bigger cut of the proceeds.
Today, Gumroad sits somewhere between those two poles. It has swapped that initial hands-off approach for an active push toward connecting its creators with new consumers.“We’re slowly moving into an aggregator model,” Sahil explains. In five years, he thinks Gumroad is going to look “somewhere closer to where TikTok and YouTube are now,” a destination site dedicated to discovering new creators.”
I think the best opportunities for bootstrapped startups are to be “vertical” “aggregators”. For example, businesses that help us discover and purchase products in a particular niche. You want to be vertical to better speak to customers. You want to be an aggregator because the real value for sellers is getting their products in front of potential customers.