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When solving problems, there is a conflict between puzzles and mysteries.

Derek Watson
Derek Watson
Startup Investor

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Startup opportunities: Fitness meets Gaming in the metaverse

💡 How do some startups seem to raise so fast?


💡 When solving problems, there is a conflict between puzzles and mysteries.



➡️ Startups and Investors need to be able to distinguish between them in a world filled with both.


✅ Puzzles are solvable, with clear rules and objective answers. 

✅ Mysteries are complex, with unclear rules and no immediate solutions. 


The dichotomies appear everywhere, implying two different mindsets of problem-solving. 

➡️ Corporate v startup mentality

➡️ Suits v creative

➡️ Quant v qual

➡️ Logic v limbic 


But which is correct?


💡 For startups and investors, it is pretty straightforward.


➡️ Identifying the problem is a Puzzle, and there is data to prove that it is slow, expensive, inefficient or whatever other quantifiable metrics can be assigned. 

Solving the problem is a mystery; no amount of data about yesterday will solve the mystery of tomorrow. 

We can see that most people are puzzle solvers, as the quantity of backwards-looking data approach versus the quality of real-time data is a true pandemic of our time.

➡️ Real innovative Startups are not crossword puzzles with predefined correct answers; they are outliers going into the unknown. 

➡️ Startups approaching these two things as the same, will end up with a convoluted solution narrative. It is not a puzzle to solve but a mystery to explore and experiment with to gather and apply more information.

✅ One of the most critical areas to focus on for Investors and Startups is what and how this information will be collected and used to iterate.



➡️ One reason investors find it so hard to invest is their funnel approach to solutions as puzzles, not mysteries. 

➡️ Not having a strong ten-year view of the future, where identifying opportunities fall into a strong thesis, investors become historical data-driven trend followers, backing copycat solutions to comfort decisions.



✅ This is not (AD)venture capital in its true meaning; it is just trend following, hoping to make quick financial returns, and there is nothing wrong with that.



💡 We can avoid the misdiagnosis of puzzles and mysteries in two ways.

➡️ See things from the opposite perspective; our biases and desires shape our perception of the situation.

➡️ Apply a heuristic, a mental shortcut to simplify problems and avoid cognitive overload.




💡 Gregory Treverton, a national security expert, drew the distinction between puzzles and mysteries. 




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