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WhenHub Hackathon – An Example of Systems over Goals

Regular readers of this blog know that I wrote a book about the benefits of systems versus goals. You also might know that I cofounded a startup (WhenHub) using a systems business model approach. I’ll use this blog to keep you updated on how that works out compared to the traditional goal-oriented business model that almost all startups follow.

A goal-oriented startup would have a specific customer and a specific product in mind. If that doesn’t work out, the startup might have enough cash left over for a pivot, or maybe two, to try again. But in each case, there is a specific goal. And the way startups work, the odds of any particular startup hitting its goal is dismal. That’s why WhenHub was designed from the ground-up to be a systems business model instead of a goal-focused model. The idea is to get something like a portfolio effect to increase the odds of at least one of the things we’re doing becoming a profitable line of business.

What that means in practical terms is that WhenHub has a huge set of features that can be combined in lots of ways to create a vast array of different applications for all sorts of uses, both business and personal. We launched without knowing which types of applications users would find most valuable. We’re in that “discovery” period now, and we’ve already learned a ton.

Now we’re taking it up a notch by running an online hackathon for our WhenHub platform. We’re inviting developers to use our API (the technology that allows external applications to access our platform) to invent their own applications using our technology, and win valuable prizes.

This is a pure systems approach. We have no idea what kinds of applications will come out of the hackathon. But we do know that bringing this much creativity to the platform will greatly increase our odds of finding a profitable application that no one on my team thought of.

But that’s not enough to call what we are doing a “system.” The way you know you have a good system is that you come out ahead even when you fail at whatever you’re doing. In the case of a hackathon, developers all over the world will be exposed to what WhenHub can do. If nothing comes out of the hackathon itself, we have still acquired real estate in the brains of hundreds of developers who are in this space. A year from now, one of them could use our API to create a billion-dollar application. Perhaps one or more developers will want to work for WhenHub in the future. Maybe a developer will mention WhenHub to a friend in an unrelated field, and that will be the connection that matters.

In other words, WhenHub has literally thousands of ways to win with the hackathon and no real way to lose. We’ll raise awareness of the company with exactly the right kind of people no matter what comes out of the hackathon itself, and we will do it at a reasonable cost. That’s a good system – lots of ways to win, no way to lose.

Our ideal future would involve an ecosystem of developers and designers who can extend the WhenHub platform with their own special-purpose visualizations that work on desktop and mobile. Eventually we hope to have something similar to Apple’s App Store for WhenHub apps.

Details of the hackathon can be found here. It runs until May 8th, after which, my esteemed judging partners and I will pick winners. We have awesome prizes in three categories:

Best Visualization (Code) — for developers, 

Best Visualization (Design) — for designers (I don’t know why this font is small)

Best Use of WhenHub API — for developers

Will WhenHub become a billion-dollar company someday? I have no idea. But I do know our odds of success just increased substantially by the hackathon systems-approach. Where it all leads, we’ll find out together.

No need to tell me in the comments that this post is too “commercial,” and that you wish I would blog about other topics. I hear you. But keep in mind that the blog is a system, not a goal. I try out a lot of different topics here. My only criteria is that it be entertaining or useful in some way. I think it is useful to see how a new type of business model performs. I hope you don’t mind that I put a high value on the attention it brings to WhenHub as well.

You might enjoy reading my book because systems are better than goals.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925

Facebook Official Page:

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It Costs a Lot When Government Sets Prices: New at Reason

From sin taxes to tariffs to minimum wages, politicians of all stripes want to set prices. And you pay.

A. Barton Hinkle writes:

You probably couldn’t get New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Trump to agree on the time of day. But on the question of prices they are of one mind. Both of them think they know better than others what stuff should cost.

De Blasio recently boasted he will raise (apparently by decree) the price of a pack of cigarettes to $13—”the highest price in the country.” The New York Times said his goal “is to persuade or coerce 160,000 of the 900,000 New York City residents who smoke to stop doing so by 2020.”

De Blasio clearly understands the law of supply and demand: When you raise prices, demand falls. But he evidently hasn’t applied that lesson to labor; he supports raising the minimum wage to $15 (which, incidentally, would help the poor afford cigarettes again). Advocates of minimum wage hikes like to claim raising the price of labor doesn’t affect the demand for it. They’re about as convincing as skeptics of climate change.

View this article.

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Trump Beats Clinton in New Poll, White House Pushes Congress to Use Government Shutdown to Secure Border Funding, Le Pen, Macron Headed to Second Round in French Presidential Elections: A.M. Links
  • A new Washington Poll finds the approval rating for President Trump at 42 percent—it also shows 43 percent of respondents saying they’d vote for Trump again and 40 percent saying they’d vote for Hillary Clinton, leading Trump to tweet that he’d “still” beat Clinton in the popular vote, which he lost.
  • Officials at the White House are pressing Republicans in Congress to use the prospect of a government shutdown to secure funding for the border wall.
  • Bernie Sanders says Ann Coulter has the right to speak at Berkeley “without fear of violence and intimidation.”
  • In France, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron head to the second round of presidential candidates, the first time neither of the two largest parties advance out of the first round.
  • North Korea says it’s ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier that’s supposed to be headed to the area.
  • An American monitor from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was killed in Ukraine after his vehicle struck a land mine.
  • Five Somali soldiers were injured in a roadside blast in Mogadishu.

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