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Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Pro tip: Don’t actually do a demo.

In today’s world of entrepreneurship, “Demo Day” is a pitch event. Startups give a brief presentation on their venture, and hope that perhaps the audience can help with funding, introductions, partnerships, advice, etc. Many incubators and accelerators have some sort of Demo Day.

But the name is a misnomer — Demo Days presentations don’t usually include actual product demos. For one thing, anybody who has tried to do a live product demo in front of an audience knows it can be painful (remember when Elon Musk accidentally broke his product on stage?). …


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Photo by Alejandro Ortiz on Unsplash

This new startup is helping to sustainably feed the world.

Smallholder farms produce 80% of the world’s food supply, and yet the families who run them often barely make a living wage.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 calls for the world to achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture, but this isn’t going to happen unless we help smallholder farms around the world to improve their livelihoods so that they can make investments into their farms and processes.

An entrepreneur in Colombia, Carole Prouteau, is working to help solve this problem. …


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Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

This new startup is working to change the way we think about sustainable fashion.

The apparel industry is the cause of a big chunk of the annual environmental damage done to the planet. About 10% of global carbon emissions come from the apparel industry, and 20% of industrial water pollution. 11 million tons of clothing is tossed into landfill every year — in the US along. It’s a huge problem.

Making the problem even worse has been the trend toward “fast fashion” — the notion of rapidly producing high volumes of clothing using trend replication and low-quality materials in order to bring inexpensive styles to the public. …


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Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

AthenaX provides a digital platform for oncology patients and researchers.

1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer. All of us have either faced cancer or know someone who has. And yet patients still experience a lack of credible sources on cures, cutting edge research, how they can apply personalized medicine to their treatment and how to promote recovery through their behavior.

Meanwhile, drug companies often struggle to get their clinical trials completed so they can bring new products to market. Two-thirds of all drug trials are under-enrolled and 85% of all drug trials are delayed due to lack of enrollment, a costly setback.

COVID-19 has shown us that…


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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Beyond 5G, and into remote locations.

The Holy Grail of wireless internet is anytime, anywhere, and really fast. Unfortunately, despite the current marketing hype from the wireless carriers, we are still a long way from that being a reality. There are many parts of the world — indeed, many parts of the United States — where there isn’t wireless data available at all, let alone fast wireless data.

The fact is, connectivity has become an essential human need. What was once a luxury has become now an issue of equity — without connectivity there is no access to technology tools and global knowledge.

Diana Gamzina, an…


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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Job hunting is a difficult process. Job hunting during a pandemic is even worse. And the velocity of change in the world today makes it challenging all of us to stay updated with new skills that align with new market demands. Identifying the right job, the right skill set, and career growth awareness is more important than ever.

Meanwhile, most companies today use enterprise software called “Applicant Tracking Systems” (ATS) for handling their job applicants and interview process. When you email your resume the ATS sucks it in, parses all the text, makes an instant decision on whether you seem…


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Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Today, it’s more important than ever before to understand where stuff comes from.

I used to eat food without thinking much about where it came from. I was like a Labrador — if you put food in front of me, I ate it. That was that.

Today, of course, we’ve become very aware of the importance of understanding the sourcing of what we eat. And not just food — we want to know that all the products we buy come from a supply chain free of child labor, contamination, and other negative externalities.

Peer Ledger, a tech company in Canada, has developed a software platform to help organizations to ensure traceability through their…


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One Tweet to rule them all.

I woke up this morning and saw this Tweet from Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y-Combinator:

In 99% of startups, failing to execute is a much bigger danger than being copied. So it’s a mistake to risk the former in order to avoid the latter.

I’ve been immersed in the Silicon Valley startup world for my entire career. I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs through my teaching at Stanford and my work with two startup accelerators. This one Tweet sums-up the most important advice I could give any entrepreneur.

Startups rarely fail because of competition. The fail because their product…


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Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash

It’s no longer about a big house with a 4-car garage on a boring suburban cul-de-sac.

The 1960’s California suburban world I grew up in was one where success was defined by the size of your house. The family up the street from us had four bathrooms, two family rooms, and a 4-car garage. That’s how we knew they must be very successful.

Today, some of the most successful people I know brag about their home’s compact floor plan, cozy corners, and energy efficiency. It’s a different world.

There’s a bunch of macro trends driving this, of course. Personal mobility is different today (we’re not a car culture like we once were) and so 4-car garages…


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Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Many great startup ventures begin when when the founder falls in love with a problem worth solving. When I met Noelle Acosta and asked her what problem her startup solves, she responded with:

“Prenatal care is broken. Compared to other developed countries, the US has some of the highest maternal mortality rates. Women of color are disproportionately impacted by these numbers. While there are several factors that contribute to this problem, lack of prenatal care and access to care is a key factor.”

Boom! Now there’s a problem worth solving! But how to solve it?

Affluent families, of course, have…

Bret Waters

I’m a Silicon Valley guy. I teach entrepreneurship at Stanford, coach startup CEO’s at Miller Center, and run the 4thly Startup Accelerator. Also, I love tacos.

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