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How to Trust Your Gut to Make the Right Business Decision

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June 12, 2020 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, business owners have had to make difficult decisions they never thought they would – often on short notice with minimal time to prepare. In a matter of weeks and even just days, they have faced business-critical choices, such as whether to pivot or change revenue streams, whether to furlough employees or even whether to close.

Much of decision making is grounded in empirical data. Numbers don’t lie, whether you’re looking at revenue generation, product success, employee productivity or something else. But something just as important when making tough decisions is your instincts. 

How to know when to trust your gut? It’s not an exact science. However, there are times and places when relying on your intuition can guide you to places that are bigger and better than if you’d relied on data alone — and your instincts may even help you achieve a significant breakthrough.

See the whole picture.

People often try to apply rational logic and data to infer the best option when making a decision. If you’re doing this, you’re looking for patterns — using what you’ve seen in the past to predict a decision’s outcome.

This approach isn’t always effective, however.

For entrepreneurs and startups forging new paths, there may not be enough data to inform the best decision. Historical patterns — the causes and effects of prior decisions, either yours or from companies that inspire you — may not repeat themselves in the same way they did before. This is especially true in the current economic conditions; the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the present and future for both existing companies and entrepreneurs alike. The past may be a poor indicator of what’s to come.

Related: 7 Methods to Maximize Your Decision-Making

This uncertainty makes your instincts and vision crucial for making decisions. Even with historical data in the driver’s seat, you’ll need to grab the wheel and apply logic and intuition to avoid potholes.

Look for the payoff.

When, then, should you trust your gut? In some situations, as when there isn’t enough data available to guide you, you’ll simply have to. And even when data is available, your gut may push you to embrace other factors before you make a decision. Often, it’s worth paying attention to that feeling, especially if you’re hoping for a big payoff.

Consider introducing a new product, for instance. If there isn’t precedent for how people will react to it, your instincts should be a significant component of your decision-making. Even with all of the data in the world, you won’t know how people will react to something novel.

The most innovative entrepreneurs define their categories by trusting their instincts. Imagine if Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Evan Williams decided against building Twitter based on the information available to them at the time. Of course, now it’s a multi-billion-dollar company providing a service many people can’t imagine life without.

Related: How to Avoid Making Disastrous Decisions

When BlueVine introduced a credit line product, I initially got pushback. Was it necessary, I was asked. But I saw a gap in the market and read between the lines of what I was hearing from both our customers and our partners. Trusting my gut was the right move: BlueVine’s line of credit has been immensely successful.

Of course, not every gut decision turns into Tesla, Uber or even your company’s best product. There’s a risk in following your gut instead of data, and sometimes your instincts can lead you astray. That’s happened to me, too. 

It can be risky to make an instinctual choice in an uncertain economy, so make sure your business is ready to accept the risk. But when the risk is big, the reward can be, too. 

Find your instinctive leaders.

You may not be the kind of leader with strong instincts, or you may be too nervous about trusting intuition over data. There’s nothing wrong with that. 

If that sounds like you, look to your team to find the person naturally gifted with strong instincts because they can add a piece to the decision-making puzzle that may be missing. Leadership on major decisions may come from an unexpected person or place. But if you want to create an incredible product, identify the bloodhound on your team.

Related: Let Go of These 10 Things and Start Making Better, Faster Decisions

Remember that choosing the right path for your company isn’t formulaic. You can’t go with your gut all of the time, but neither can you always trust data alone. The right decisions are usually a combination of both data and instincts. But in times of uncertainty, like the one many people find themselves in today, it’s especially important that you listen to the inner voice guiding you towards what’s best.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/entrepreneur/latest/~3/Mo6ZSzgV-r0/350419

Big Data

FanGraphs’ advanced baseball analytics has a new cloud home: MariaDB

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With the 2021 Major League Baseball season opening today, fans will be filling out their scorecards as they return to stadiums for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last spring.

Of course, the data that is now regularly made available by the MLB goes well beyond the hits, runs, and errors fans typically record in a scorecard they purchase at a game. MLB has made the Statcast tool available since 2015. It analyzes player movements and athletic abilities. The Hawk-Eye service uses cameras installed at ballparks to provide access to instant video replays.

Fans now regularly consult a raft of online sites that uses this data to analyze almost every aspect of baseball: top pitching prospects, players who hit the most consistently in a particular ballpark during a specific time of day, and so on.

One of those sites is FanGraphs, which has transitioned the SQL relational database platform it relies on to process and analyze structured data to a curated instance of the open source MariaDB database that has been deployed on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as part of a MariaDB Sky cloud service.

MariaDB provides IT organizations with an alternative to the open source MySQL database Oracle gained control over when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009. MariaDB is a fork of the MySQL database that is now managed under the auspices of a MariaDB Foundation that counts Microsoft, Alibaba, Tencent, ServiceNow, and IBM among its sponsors, alongside MariaDB itself.

FanGraphs uses the data it collects to enable its editorial teams to deliver articles and podcasts that project, for example, playoff odds for a team based on the results of the SQL queries the company crafts. These insights might be of particular interest to a baseball fan participating in a fantasy league, someone who wants to place a more informed wager on a game at a venue where gambling is, hopefully, legalized, or those making baseball video games.

The decision to move from MySQL to MariaDB running on GCP was made after a few false starts involving attempts to lift and shift the company’s MySQL database instance into the cloud, FanGraphs CEO David Appelman said.

One of the things that attracted FanGraphs to MariaDB is the level of performance that it could attain using a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) platform based on MariaDB and that it provides access to a columnstore storage engine that might one day be employed to drive additional analytics, Appelman said.

In addition, MariaDB now manages the underlying database FanGraphs uses. Appleman said he previously handled most of the IT functions for FanGraphs, including the crafting of SQL queries. Now he will have more time to create SQL queries and monitor the impact they have on the performance of the overall database, Appelman said. “I like to see where the bottlenecks created by a SQL query are,” he added.

FanGraphs plans to eventually take advantage of the data warehouse service provided by MariaDB, Appelman noted.

It’s not likely any of the analytics capabilities provided by FanGraphs and similar sites will one day be able to predict which baseball team will win on any given day. However, the insights they surface do serve to make the current generation of baseball fans a lot more informed about the nuances of the game than Abner Doubleday probably could have imagined.

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/01/fangraphs-advanced-baseball-analytics-has-a-new-cloud-home-mariadb/

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AI

Curri nabs $6M for AI-powered last-mile construction logistics

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Curri, a Y Combinator-backed logistics startup delivering construction supplies and materials, today announced the closing of a $6 million funding round. The company says the proceeds will be used to expand its services as well as its market reach.

Last-mile delivery logistics tends to be the most expensive and time-consuming part of the shipping process. According to one estimate, last-mile accounts for 53% of total shipping costs and 41% of total supply chain costs. With the rise of ecommerce in the U.S., retail providers are increasingly focusing on fulfilment and distribution at the lowest cost. Particularly in the construction industry, the pandemic continues to disrupt wholesalers, highlighting the need for flexible and reliable delivery.

Curri claims to solve this problem in construction with an “Uber-like” last-mile delivery model. The company makes available to customers a fleet of drivers with trucks, flatbeds, cars, and other vehicles who can deliver items like pipe bundles, water heaters, and lumber. Curri users arrange an order, open the Curri app, and enter pickup and dropoff locations to book the service. Curri’s drivers then pick up the supplies and ensure the order is correct before fulfilling the delivery.

Curri offers live updates via the app to let customers follow and share the status of their deliveries. It also provides proof-of-delivery signature and photos for tracking, regulatory, and compliance purposes.

Curri competes with a number of startups in a last-mile delivery market that’s anticipated to reach $66 billion by 2026, including Bond, Bringg, Onfleet, DispatchTrack, and Deliverr. But Curri claims its secret sauce is something that cofounder and CEO Matthew Lafferty calls “elastic scale.” Basically, it’s a concept where customers only pay for what they need. While traditional fleets can underutilize trucks or idle drivers as they wait for orders to come in, Curri says it delivers loads faster thanks to a deep layer of predictive machine learning.

According to Lafferty, thousands of customers use Curri to deliver shipments throughout the U.S. “Suppliers who don’t have the ability to make urgent, on-demand, or long distance deliveries are leaving sales on the table and risk losing customers and business to suppliers who do,” he said in a press release. “Fleet augmentation is the secret weapon of suppliers who care about getting material in their customer’s hands, fast.”

Los Angeles, California-based Curri’s series A funding announced today included participation from existing backer Initialized Capital in addition to new investor Rainfall Ventures. It brings four-year-old Curri’s total raised to date to nearly $7 million following a $150,000 seed round in August 2019.

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/01/curri-nabs-6m-for-ai-powered-last-mile-logistics-for-construction/

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Device monitoring and management startup Memfault nabs $8.5M

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Memfault, a startup developing software for consumer device firmware delivery, monitoring, and diagnostics, today closed an $8.5 million series A funding round. CEO François Baldassari says the capital will enable Memfault to scale its engineering team and make investments across product development and marketing.

Slow, inefficient, costly, and reactive processes continue to plague firmware engineering teams. Often, companies recruit customers as product testers — the first indication of a device issue comes through users contacting customer service or voicing dissatisfaction on social media. With 30 billion internet of things (IoT) devices predicted to be in use by 2025, hardware monitoring and debugging methods could struggle to keep pace. As a case in point, Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 estimates that 98% of all IoT device traffic is unencrypted, exposing personal and confidential data on the network.

Memfault, which was founded in 2019 by veterans of Oculus, Fitbit, and Pebble, offers a solution in a cloud-based firmware observability platform. Using the platform, customers can capture and remotely debug issues as well as continuously monitor fleets of connected devices. Memfault’s software development kit is designed to be deployed on devices to capture data and send it to the cloud for analysis. The backend identifies, classifies, and deduplicates error reports, spotlighting the issues likely to be most prevalent.

Baldassari says that he, Tyler Hoffman, and Christopher Coleman first conceived of Memfault while working on the embedded software team at smartwatch startup Pebble. Every week, thousands of customers reached out to complain about Bluetooth connectivity issues, battery life regressions, and unexpected resets. Investigating these bugs was time-consuming — teams had to either reproduce issues on their own units or ask customers to mail their watches back so that they could crack them open and wire in debug probes. To improve the process, Baldassari and his cofounders drew inspiration from web development and infrastructure to build a framework that supported the management of fleets of millions of devices, which became Memfault.

By aggregating bugs across software releases and hardware revisions, Memfault says its platform can determine which devices are impacted and what stack they’re running. Developers can inspect backtraces, variables, and registers when encountering an error, and for updates, they can split devices into cohorts to limit fleet-wide issues. Memfault also delivers real-time reports on device check-ins and notifications of unexpected connectivity inactivity. Teams can view device and fleet health data like battery life, connectivity state, and memory usage or track how many devices have installed a release — and how many have encountered problems.

“We’re building feedback mechanisms into our software which allows our users to label an error we have not caught, to merge duplicate errors together, and to split up distinct errors which have been merged by mistake,” Baldassari told VentureBeat via email. “This data is a shoo-in for machine learning, and will allow us to automatically detect errors which cannot be identified with simple heuristics.”

Memfault

IDC forecasts that global IoT revenue will reach $742 billion in 2020. But despite the industry’s long and continued growth, not all organizations think they’re ready for it — in a recent Kaspersky Lab survey, 54% said the risks associated with connectivity and integration of IoT ecosystems remained a major challenge.

That’s perhaps why Memfault has competition in Amazon’s AWS IoT Device Management and Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge, which support a full range of containerization and isolation features. Another heavyweight rival is Google’s Cloud IoT, a set of tools that connect, process, store, and analyze edge device data. Not to be outdone, startups like Balena, Zededa, Particle, and Axonius offer full-stack IoT device management and development tools.

But Baldassari believes that Memfault’s automation features in particular give the platform a leg up from the rest of the pack. “Despite the ubiquity of connected devices, hardware teams are too often bound by a lack of visibility into device health and a reactive cycle of waiting to be notified of potential issues,” he said in a press release. “Memfault has reimagined hardware diagnostics to instead operate with the similar flexibility, speed, and innovation that has proven so successful with software development. Memfault has saved our customers millions of dollars and engineering hours, and empowered teams to approach product development with the confidence that they can ship better products, faster, with the knowledge they can fix bugs, patch, and update without ever disrupting the user experience.”

Partech led Memfault’s series A raise with participation from Uncork Capital, bringing the San Francisco, California-based company’s total raised to $11 million. In addition to bolstering its existing initiatives, Memfault says it’ll use the funding to launch a self-service of its product for “bottom-up” adoption rather than the sales-driven, top-down approach it has today.

VentureBeat

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  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/01/device-monitoring-and-management-startup-memfault-nabs-8-5m/

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Sarah Kunst will outline how to get ready to fundraise at Early Stage

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Sarah Kunst, founding partner at Cleo Capital, has worn many hats. She’s been an entrepreneur, served on plenty of boards, is a contributing author at Marie Clare, has been a senior advisor to Bumble and worked as a consultant in marketing, business development and more.

With all that experience, she knows all too well that the process of fundraising starts well before your first pitch meeting. That’s why we’re so excited to have Kunst join us at Early Stage in July to discuss how to get ready to fundraise.

This isn’t the first time Kunst has discussed the topic with us. On a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, Kunst and one of her portfolio company founders Julia Collins described how to conduct the process of fundraising.

For example, there is a story to tell, metrics to share and an art to building momentum before you ever start filling your calendar. That all requires preparation, and Kunst will outline how to go about that at our event in July.

Early Stage is going down twice this year, with our first event taking place tomorrow! Here’s a look at some of the topics we’ll be covering:

Fundraising

  • Bootstrapping Best Practices (Tope Awotona and Blake Bartlett, Calendly)
  • Four Things to Think About Before Raising a Series A (Bucky Moore, Kleiner Perkins)
  • How to Get An Investor’s Attention (Marlon Nichols, MaC Venture Capital)
  • How to Nail Your Virtual Pitch Meeting (Melissa Bradley, Ureeka)
  • How Founders Can Think Like a VC (Lisa Wu, Norwest Venture Partners)
  • The All-22 View, or Never Losing Perspective (Eghosa Omoigui, EchoVC Partners)

Operations:

  • Finance for Founders (Alexa von Tobel, Inspired Capital)
  • Building and Leading a Sales Team (Ryan Azus, Zoom CRO)
  • 10 Things NOT to Do When Starting a Company (Leah Solivan, Fuel Capital)
  • Leadership Culture and Good Governance (David Easton, Generation Investment Management)

The cool thing about Early Stage is that it’s heavy on audience Q&A, ensuring that everyone gets the chance to ask their own specific questions. Oh, and ticket holders get free access to Extra Crunch.

Interested? You can buy a ticket here.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/31/sarah-kunst-will-outline-how-to-get-ready-to-fundraise-at-early-stage/

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