“The Lesson is, we all need to expose ourselves to the winds of change” ― Andrew S. Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive
Have you ever wondered if some obscure startup will disrupt your industry and your company out of the blue, causing the experiences and skill sets that you've built up over the years to become irrelevant?
I wonder about that all the time, and lately I have seen this happening to my friends. Disruption in your industry is always something that happens to other people... until the day it happens to you.
I want to find a better way to help everyone track whether their industry is on the verge of change. If we cannot stop the change, we should at least be prepared by catching the early signals.
The rule is simple: Follow the money. Smart money invests in industries and companies that have the potential to change the rules of the game. But how? Here are a few questions to keep in mind:.
1. Which industries are Venture Capitalists investing in?
We call VC money, "Smart Money," and there's a reason. If VCs are investing in a certain segment - let's say, getting a taxi with the press of a button on your phone. That means a lot of smart people will be building new companies with new ideas in that area and if you are in the taxi business, you need to pay attention to the activities of these startups.
How do you follow where the VC's collective brain is going? I love the blogs of well-respected and generous VCs, such as Brad Feld and Chris Dixon. If you are real geeky like me, you can devour brilliant VC data analysis on CB Insight. Their newsletter is super cool. Check out their research on Consumer Product Goods Startup Ecosystem Disrupting Procter & Gamble.
2. Which companies are being covered by the new media? If reading VC blogs is too much, there's a growing field of tech media that can give you early access to what's hot in the investment circles. If someone shows you an article about a startup in your industry written in the New York Times, or god forbid, Time, you are probably too late to the party.
Techcrunch is a good news source, but if Silicon Valley speak is too much for you, Business Insider can give you a far more entertaining version of the same news. If you only know Foxand CNN, it is time for you to take a look at emerging media empires such Vox and Vice.
3. Which industries are celebrities investing in? I saved the best for the last. Not interested in reading tech news sites either? You can still figure something out by looking at where celebrities are putting their money. Hollywood and Sports celebrities these days are very much in tune with the startup world, and what's not to like when you can get business insight while reading People?
For example, did you know that Ashton Kutcher is a respected Angel Investor? Jessica Alba's billion dollar baby product empire, Honest Company, will go public this year. Wiz Kalifa is investing in the weed business. You see where I'm going?
Next time when you come across the latest picture of Ashton Kutcher's cute baby girl, make sure you read up on where he's investing too. Knowing where the smart money is going is not just fun, it can help you see whether your industry is at the crossroads of change.