Links for 20 March 2017 – Shipping containers, pizza and unicorns

Happy Monday all

In today’s links, we start off with a remarkable, relatively unknown story of how a North Carolina trucker revolutionised the shipping industry by inventing one of the most important inventions of the 20th century.

If you would like to find out what a spoodle is and read about how Domino’s Pizza staged an incredible comeback in the last few years by doing the unthinkable – realising their pizza actually wasn’t very good and fixing it. Domino’s went from having a 9% share of the pizza restaurant market in the US in 2009, to 15% in 2016. Sales over the period increased every year during that time, last year rising 10.5%, the fastest growth rate amongst the top 10 quick-service chains in the US.

Our last link is a lengthy interview with Scott Belsky that is well worth the read. He is an entrepreneur who left Goldman Sachs to start up a company called Behance which he sold to Adobe for $150 million. He then started investing in other start-ups very early on. Some of his notable investments have been Uber, Pinterest, Warby Parker and Persicope. Some of the more memorable quotes from the interview:

During his businesses start-up phase:

I went without a paycheck for about two years.”

On what he calls the “messy middle” of a start-up phase:

“…the press and media, and everyone else, loves covering the romanticism of the start, when people quit their jobs and start something and launch a new idea or raise some funding. And then we also love covering and talking about the finish, whether it’s an acquisition or an IPO, or a bankruptcy. Or a legal investigation… What doesn’t get covered really as often is just everything that happens, as like you said, in the messy middle. And all of that is really, in my mind, two things. It’s endurance. It’s enduring the amenity and the uncertainty and the lack of rewards, or financial rewards, or customers… it’s enduring that, and hacking yourself and your team to be able to withstand that. And then it’s also optimization. It’s constantly optimizing anything that actually is working, like the way your team is working, the way you’re hiring, the way you are working and being productive. Optimizing your product or service, constantly making it better.”

On the hottest trends in the tech world right now:

“I’m seeing a lot more of companies building things off of the address book rather than off of Facebook or other established social graphs… And if the quality of the connection matters more than the number of connections, which I think is another trend by the way, that real connection over mass connection. Facebook is really just about the number; LinkedIn, or whatever. But when it comes to commerce and collaboration and working together, whatever, your network is basically already in your phone. And so I think more products are being built off of that, and so I think there’s options there whether it’s marketplaces or different things like that.”

PS: While reading the article, if the term unicorn is only familiar to you as a legendary single-horned creature, please note it is also a term describing a private company valued at $1 billion or more. According to Fortune, Uber tops the list of Unicorns in 2016 with a valuation of $62bn.

May you have a blessed week ahead

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