Have you heard the one about the investment banker and the tech entrepreneur?

by Picklive on March 30, 2012

I have two rules that I used to follow in life:

  1. Never watch HBO box-sets;
  2. Never read business books.

In the past month I have watched Series 1 of ‘Breaking Bad‘ on DVD and read the Eric Ries book ‘The Lean Startup‘. They were both excellent and I found them to have a lot in common.

At the recent London Web Summit the organiser Paddy Cosgrove announced that “no ties are allowed“. This caused much mirth on twitter but it got me thinking, what are the differences between investment bankers and tech entrepreneurs? Anything more substantial than a tie?

  1. The lean startup methodology is widely followed by tech entrepreneurs.  It encourages you to focus on  following existing consumer demand to make decisions that make you as much money as possible as quickly as possible;
  2. cloning existing products de-risks them (someone else has taken the risk) and results in ventures that’s sole purpose is to make money.

What the lean startup, cloning products, investment banks and HBO box-sets have in common is that they all focus on getting you to the end as quickly as possible. They are about the destination and not the journey.

I wholeheartedly endorse the lean startup book and tech clones (more people should do them), but then I also wholeheartedly endorse working in investment banks too. The hypocrisy is the celebration of tech entrepreneurs as visionaries trying to change the world (generally good guys) and the damnation of investment bankers as folk who only care about making money (generally bad guys), when the only difference between them is a tie.

But what of the entrepreneurs who really are trying to change the world? Those that see their vision as the destination, rather than creating something (anything) that people will pay money for? What’s needed is a differentiation mechanism within the tech industry so that everything from tech publications to VCs to hiring is de-marqued so that it’s clear what is aimed at those that are trying to change the world and what is aimed at those that are trying to make as much money as possible out of the world that they live in. My previously published clone/innovation continuum is a good starting point for doing this.

A rare example of a continuum.