At Bloom, entrepreneurs work together to maximize each others' long term impact.
We repeatedly test ideas, create new startups and then grow them into sustainable businesses.
Below are some of the things we are working on:
Infrastructure for a new generation of startups.
A virtual shoulder-tap for remote teams and communities.
Better conversations for remote teams.
Language learning powered by gameplay and AI.
Better decisions for teams and communities.
Remote coaching platform for trainers and their athletes.
AI-augmented accounting software.
Diff and sync any two data-sets.
Encrypted collaborative spaces for security-conscious conversations.
RAD web framework with UI as an extension of the database.
Caching proxy that always serves from cache and updates out-of-band.
Declarative CQRS domain logic.
Fail2ban-like middleware for Clojure web apps.
Minimal-comparison sorting in Clojure.
what is bloom up to? well... eventually, we'll have a nice polished story to put here with our mission and whatnot, but for now, a braindump: the "grand vision" is something we're currently calling "vntrhb": a company/community/movement of entrepeneurs, designers, developers, creatives, engineers, makers(etc.) *collaborating* across a number of business ventures the hope is to create a new alternative path to massive value creation (vs. the current "startup path" of: young people grinding away, some getting into YC, some getting investment, and then playing the VC game for a few years, chasing growth at any cost, getting acquired for strategic reasons, etc. ...most failing, most burning out, most burning through their savings). the closest analogy is, say, what "open-source-software and surrounding community, technologies and practices" are and how it all works ...but, where the artefacts are viable impactful for-profit ventures, not just code ...and, the answer is not just a "github equivalent", ie. some software platform (though it is a part) but also: the culture/practices... the people involved... and whatever else is needed to support a system of collaborators for example, one of the core enabling "technologies" of vntrhb is what we call "dynamic equity", which is a financial / legal structure for doing equity "compensation" that is amenable to part-time / flexible / in-and-out collaboration (for now, the closest write up of what we have in mind is: "Slicing Pie" - google it) we've been dogfooding this "new venture creation" model for a while now... and iterating... lots of iterating... to be honest, it hasn't been easy working on multiple ventures AND figuring out the "meta" piece AND the supporting tech AND trying to recruit more people... but that's how these things are... if it was easy, it would already exist anyway... there's more words to read below, but... if this (admittably nebulous) distributed remote async network of collaborative value creators is something you'd like to see exist, be a part of, and/or... help create... in any way... please hit me up: - raf (email@example.com) some history: the goal is value creation. value creation = impact. impact is good. ideally: massive (ie. scalable), self-sustainable and growing. the model that exists now (founders working on for-profit corporations, incubators/angels/VC investing in stages, etc.) is one approach that works for value creation, but, it's a raw deal for the entrepreneur: it relies on the entrepreneur's having to bear the cost of early stage failure. ("the market is built on the burnt-out husks for failed entrepreneurs") it's a lonely, stressful, high-cost path. (no wonder, the primary factor affecting venture success is "access to personal capital") for investors, it's a numbers game: at best, they're trying to pick winners - we'd like to change how things are done to help make winners. increasing the odds of they get a unicorn =/= increasing the odds of my venture succeeding. the v1 of our idea was a classic "venture studio": an umbrella corp with full-time entrepreneurs collaborating across a number of venture concepts, doing ideation, customer development, prototyping and product development... with the hopes of spinning out ventures when they hit "product/market fit", raising money and growing them it could probably work if you had a critical-mass team of at least 15 top-notch folks and raised enough money to fund them for several years, and a strong culture of Steve-Blank-style-venture-development --- ie, Idealab --- but even that doesn't guarantee success, because a studio captures the (huge) early stage failure costs that the YCs of the world don't have to. we, on the other-hand, tried to bootstrap, starting with 2 (then 4) entrepreneurs... and we kept evolving the model to fit our needs. originally, we all worked full-time for the umbrella corp owned, which owned everything, and we bootstrapped via consulting work through the company... but... life happens and people have different needs... so we evolved the model... and let people consult independently on the side... and came up with "dynamic equity" for the parent company based on people's contributions... but even that, ended up evolving: we moved the equity from one-big-pie for the umbrella-corp to hundreds of independent pies (one for each venture, unincorporated, but stewarded by the umbrella-corp). this got rid of part of the 'hedging' aspect of our initial set-up (ie. even if you worked on venture A and B, but C took off, you made out ok), but let us better handle ventures failing and contributors leaving, making it more favorable for new people to join (and to allow people to participate in one venture without having to buy in on the entire concept)... but, then, with the hopes to "grow faster", we wanted more people involved... so we shifted towards the "grand vision" of a distributed, loosely connected network of semi-independent ventures with cross-collaborating entrepreneurs came to be. we're big believers in collaborative parallel entrepreneurship. it's got a lot going for it and we've seen it in practice: - it's good to have the perspective of being involved in multiple ventures (it's a lot easier to know/feel how 'good' a venture is by comparing it to another, than via some absolute metric) - you avoid "my baby syndrome", where founders continue working on their one venture well past the time they should, because it's-the-only-thing-they-have-and-they've-been-working-on-it-for-so-damn-long-they-can't-give-up-now-goddamit! (wheareas when working in parallel, it's not so painful to 'put a venture on hold' when another starts doing better -- you were working on both anyway, and, technically, you're not giving up on anything, just... indefinitely pausing work on one in-lieu of the other) - ventures have different needs at different times (customer dev, design, dev, sales...), and having part-time collaborators lets everyone always work on the highest-value-task at each time... and each venture only has the most-critical-high-value tasks done (not nice-to-haves for the sake of make-work) - some things take time, ie. some things you can't just throw man-hours at to make faster, you just have to wait (we "grew" one of our ventures from 1 thousand to 1 million users just by waiting a few months while working on other stuff; in an alternative universe, we probably could have spent a couple hundred thousand dollars on sales staff to accelerate that... but would that have been much better?) - lots of opportunities for re-use of code, content templates, etc. - being a solo founder sucks (emotionally); (with our model, you also avoid the multi-month-dance of evaluating cofounders, or being stuck with co-founders that you don't mesh with) Q: what if one of our ventures starts doing well, won't we just 100% focus on it and abandon the "studio" approach? A: maybe? we'll deal with it when it happens, it sounds like a good problem to have. many studios have certainly followed that path (ex. Obvious Corp -> Twitter, then Medium). hopefully, there will be enough people involved that they won't ALL need-to / want-to switch to the hypothetical rocketship. there's value to maintaining a permanent "search / exploration" company/community. Q: ventures are really hard work! everyone says FOCUS! how can you split your time between a bunch of ventures and not half-ass everything (...and fail)? A: there's a balance. yes, too many ventures-per-person makes for too much context shifting (and in particular: emotional context shifting). you can definitely just jump unproductively from one idea to another making no progress anywhere for months. it takes discipline and the right approach. our current thinking is that every contributor should have one main venture, where they are the primary steward, and it is top-of-mind for them, and they think about 'what is needed'. this takes, say 60% of their time. while in the other 40%, they contribute to 1 (or more) ventures, but in more of a consulting or pure-execution capacity (where the other venture's steward at the time outlines the tasks that are needed). a lot of our culture is still "to-be-cultured"...but some random values we've developed so far... - we bias towards working remotely - we bias towards async workflows - self-allocation (nobody can make anyone do anything; discuss, then vote with your feet) - we tend to avoid things that "other people are working on", because we're happy to have someone else eventually solve that problem (ie. we like to work on things that no one is working on rather than compete for a slice of "the new hotness") - we avoid building things that prey on people's weaknesses - work-life balance is important - we're running a 20+ year marathon - we bias towards software (a strength of the initial team), and we almost exclusively use Clojure/Clojurescript (a language that is general purpose, very good for prototyping, performant, and, still-readable-a-few-months-down-the-road) it turns out it's really hard to "build something people want". it's more fun to tinker and build what you want. "your needs", as a consumer, are a tiny fraction of the fractal that is "the world's needs". it's more motivating to work towards "what you want for the world", vs. "what the world wants". even if you give users what they ask for, it turns out they want something else. "the market" is complex and you can't bend it to your will, you can only understand it and nudge it towards a favorable direction. (the fact that VCs get the 'pick of the litter' amongst startups and still, most VCs have negative returns and the VC industry as a whole has below-market returns... shows how hard it is to build something "the market wants")... we're always looking to expand our team. particularly, if you're *not* technical. we're almost exclusively sweat-equity, so candidates should be able to support themselves indefinitely in some way, while being able to contribute 10+ hr/s week to bloom projects.