My name is Kris Nair and I'm an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist turned business-designer.
My work moves around the intersection of technology, design, architecture, venture capital, psychology, economics and applied physics. I work with startups and large corporations on business design and future design.
In my work, it starts with ideas. It starts with design. It starts with writing. It starts with strategy.
In my work, It starts with getting started.

Sequoia Capital India has an image problem, and why outbound programs of Indian VCs usually suck

I’m sure most of you saw this Secret thread on the most visible seed+growth venture capital fund, backed companies like (you all know the list)

One investment professional responsible for the seed program of Sequoia India was the key target of this Secret conversation, and it was all ugly. 

First things first: THIS IS A FUCKING PR NIGHTMARE for any fund. 

Some Sequoia backed entrepreneurs joined the thread & tried to firefight the scenario, and got trolled by a dozen people who claimed to met this professional in question.

I don’t know much about the truth in this case, but I had long conversations with some of the portfolio entrepreneurs (past/current) of the Fund, and this is not good for the fund, firm, and the ecosystem. 

We are going through tough times in the ecosystem, where most Series Seed/A funds exhausted their capital for fresh investments, and relatively difficult for entrepreneurs to raise capital in favorable terms. I hope the Bros. in the investment business shake things up and grow a pair and some empathy soon. 

You see, Plato once said “VCs are not in the investment business - they are in the co-creating business”. 

Plato is the best.



Alright, off you go. 

Treat your user/customer like your mother.

I had a long chat with my mother about what we are building at fusedcow. I’m sure she was confused, and i explained it again and again about how stuff works, what is 5D design, and how building codes change. I did it patiently and took me an hour and half to explain everything. 

I face the same problem with my end-customers and sometimes they think we are a design firm, and we are not. That makes me angry and I’m sure I need to work on what we communicate to our end users. They really don’t care whether you are using Revit or Laravel. But then, why we really don’t get angry when we are explaining things to our parents? 

Maybe it is time to consider a different approach: 

Treat your user/customer like your mother. 

They are cute, and they might ‘get’ what you are doing, but they don’t most the time. 

Whatever the scenario maybe, try to simplify or over simplify, tell them why you are doing this and how much this is important to the world and her.  Take time, and explain slowly, with empathy. Listen to everything she says, sometimes that is the only thing they expect. 

She has the right to yell at you. But love your user unconditionally. Because when every door you know shuts, she will be the only one who will motivate you and stand by you. 

Create an amazing product which solves a real problem. Make her proud so that she will tell her friends about it. 

Try to spend more time with her. It is good for you and your product. Have you called her lately? 


Great words from Vivek Ravisankar, HackerRank.


Great words from Vivek Ravisankar, HackerRank.

When you don’t have the means to build an empire of your vision, and you don’t have the means to buy looking glass, you build a monocle. The monocle my friends, gives you one eye and two ears. It gives you focus.

The antidote to fear is trust, and we all have a desire to find something to trust in an uncertain world. Fear and trust are powerful forces, and while they are not opposites, exactly, trust is the best tool for driving out fear.

There will always be plenty to be afraid of, especially when you are doing something new. Trusting others doesn’t mean that they won’t make mistakes. It means that if they do (or if you do), you trust they will act to help solve it. Fear can be created quickly; trust can’t. Leaders must demonstrate their trustworthiness, over time, through their actions — and the best way to do that is by responding well to failure. […]

Rather than trying to prevent all errors, we should assume, as is almost always the case, that our people’s intentions are good and that they want to solve problems. Give them responsibility, let the mistakes happen, and let people fix them.

If there is fear, there is a reason — our job is to find the reason and to remedy it. Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the ability to recover.

Market leadership can translate directly to higher revenue, higher profitability, greater capital velocity, and correspondingly stronger returns on invested capital.

Jeff Bezos knows when to use economies of scope and scale to his advantage. He also knows that in maximizing absolute dollar free cash flow, velocity of capital and inventory turns matter in a huge way. When Jeff Bezos lacks scale or scope advantages in a given business, Amazon’s attack on competitors will be asymmetric in nature. 

At this point readers might expect that I would give my opinion of the value of a share of AMZN stock. I will give readers a methodology but not a number. If you can’t calculate your own number, like 97% of all investors you should be buying a diversified portfolio of index funds/ETFs anyway.  If you want simple numerical stock “tips,” there are lot of other bloggers and writers who will to give them to you. If you invest based on these third party stock tips, your performance will fall somewhere between lousy and dreadful. Me giving readers of this blog a valuation number for a stock just encourages the wrong investing behavior. I will say that to generate the return on invested capital necessary to support the existing stock price you must believe that AMZN’s cash flow will at some point in the future rise significantly faster than AMZN’s need for new capital expenditures. Under this thesis as capital expenditures fall, depreciation’s slower growth will mean it will have less negative impact on GAAP results. This thesis requires that you believe that AMZN will create a more significant moat for itself via brand, intellectual property, supply side economies scale, economies of scope and demand side economies of scale (network effects).  How much any company’s moat will increase or decrease in strength over time is a qualitative and not quantitative determination. The definitive essay on moats has been written by Michael Mauboussin and I am on record as saying that you are a damn fool if you do not read it. 

— Tren Griffin

The definitive essay on moats has been written by Michael Mauboussin. [PDF - Credit Suisse] 


In a recent article, Adweek proclaimed that taglines are dead. Steven Milunovich, UBS technology analyst and a veteran of Wall Street  disagrees and in a note to his clients this morning he defended and outlined the importance of tag lines: 

A good tagline is concrete and, more important than being catchy, summarizes differentiation. In this time of technology disruption and increasing competition, clear positioning is valuable. Problems occur when the company does not have a focus, the CEO delegates marketing, or the tagline could apply just as easily to other companies.

In the venture capital world, entrepreneurs are urged to condense their company pitch into an elevator speech. In the public company world, taglines or slogans (a memorable phrase as a repetitive expression of an idea) are used to quickly communicate company differentiation.

We think taglines can provide insight into management thinking. Perhaps more important than a tagline influencing customers is whether management is able to succinctly state its differentiation. The importance of slogans is understood in politics, where a campaign must be summarized on a pin or poster. Strong slogans differentiate a candidate and are two-sided—they not only reflect positively on the candidate but negatively on the competition.

In the tech industry, there have been a few home runs. Apple’s “Think Different” campaign caught attention with pictures of famous independent thinkers but more importantly tied back to the company strategy of providing different products (particularly relative to Microsoft). Another hit was “Be Direct,” Dell’s slogan that enjoyed the double entendre of expressing its direct selling model in contrast to the indirect distribution of its PC rivals at the time.

A good tagline doesn’t work for competitors. Unfortunately, most tech taglines are generic and meaningless.

Apple is the Michael Jordan of tech advertising and slogans. Over the years, Apple has had great product taglines, such as “1,000 songs in your pocket” for the iPod and “The Internet in your pocket” for the iPhone. Also effective were the “I’m a Mac, you’re a PC” series with 66 TV spots that promoted PC-to-Mac switching. In recent years Apple has lost some of the magic. Samsung a couple years ago in TV ads humorously got across the point that Apple’s hardware lead had diminished. Apple smartly has returned to an emphasis on customer experience rather than specs, such as its iPhone “Misunderstood” Christmas ad and the iPad “What will your verse be” spot, both showcasing use of the devices. With larger- screen phones and new categories like watches coming, we hope to see some sharp product slogans return.

This essay is reblogged from Om Malik’s blog

Focus on the road, not the wall.

When someone learns to drive a race car, one of the first lessons taught is that when you are going around a curve at 200 mph, do not focus on the wall; focus on the road.

If you focus on the wall, you will drive right into it. If you focus on the road, you will follow the road.

Running a company is like that. There are always a thousand things that can go wrong and sink the ship. If you focus too much on them, you will drive yourself nuts and likely crash your company.

Focus on where you are going rather than on what you hope to avoid.

Those who travel with the current will always feel they are good swimmers; those who swim against the current may never realize they are better swimmers than they imagine.

Shankar Vedantam’s book The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives (public library) explores. 

In the introduction, Vedantam contextualizes why this phenomenon isn’t new but bears greater urgency than ever:

Unconscious biases have always dogged us, but multiple factors made them especially dangerous today. Globalization and technology, and the intersecting faultlines of religious extremism, economic upheaval, demographic change, and mass migration have amplified the effects of hidden biases. Our mental errors once affected only ourselves and those in our vicinity. Today, they affect people in distant lands and generations yet unborn. The flapping butterfly that caused a hurricane halfway around the world was a theoretical construct; today, subtle biases in faraway minds produce real storms in our lives.