When I am working on the technical due diligence of a startup company before VC investment, one of my goals is determining in what ways the technology being built affects the company’s strategy: how (and if) it contributes to the product’s defensibility.

I feel proud that I have not used to word “moat” even once in this article.

Technology is not the only way to create defensibility. Network effects, having better data or money than the competition, a strategic relationship with key players, etc. can all be important. In some cases it makes sense to invest in a company where the technology is only an afterthought, assuming that the engineering involved is at least adequate. However…

(Initially, this was a Facebook post. When my American friends started resharing it even though it was in Polish — apparently it translates fine — I decided to write an English version.)

SARS-CoV-2 is still at large, and the responsible thing to do is practicing social distancing: that seems the best strategy to flatten the curve. In Poland, the government introduced a state of emergency on March 13, 2020. No international trains or air travel, big stores are closed, no gatherings bigger than 50 people. It’s supposed to last 10 days, but we’ll see how the situation develops. Whoever can…

In January 2019 I joined Inovo Venture Partners. After being always on the startup side of the table, the experience has been eye opening. Here are a few things that surprised me.

They really, really want to invest

Many startup founders trying to raise money tend to see venture capitalists as gatekeepers. They stand between them and the sweet, sweet capital they need to buy fuel for their rocket. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth. No one got rich in the VC business by being amazing at not investing in shitty companies. The only way to make money is to invest in the good…

Let’s say that you are hiring for your engineering team. You go through the usual motions. You put up an ad on the Internet, you receive some résumés. You sift through them to find the promising candidates. You invite them for interviews. Your engineers spend time interviewing them, and finally: you found a good candidate. They solved the interview questions with panache, and they are nice people. You know you won’t mind spending half of your waking life with them. Now the tricky part left is giving them an offer that they will accept.

S#!t tech interviewers say: “How would you simulate a fair coin using a biased one?”

There’re a few things that can…

We are in the middle of an AI boom. Machine Learning experts command extraordinary salaries, investors are happy to open their hearts and checkbooks when meeting AI startups. And rightly so: this is one of those transformational technologies that occur once per generation. The tech is here to stay, and it will change our lives.

That doesn’t mean that making your AI startup succeed is easy. I think there are some important pitfalls ahead of anyone trying to build their business around AI.

My son and me, image processed using Artistic Style Transfer. This technique sparked my fascination with Deep Learning.

The value of your AI skills is declining

In 2015 I was still at Google and started playing with DistBelief (which they would later rename…

A software house is a very common type of business in my part of the world. It is a company employing engineers to work on software products, and sells the IP created in its entirety (or almost) to the customer. In Poland these are usually small to medium operations (5 to 300 employees). They keep their hiring bar pretty high, salaries are decent, and they tend to focus on things like the higher-end aspects of web/mobile, Digital Signal Processing, or Deep Learning. …

Business books were not my usual genre. However, I had some time on my hands this December, and went from one amazing recommendation to another. What they all have in common is that they significantly changed the way I think about some aspect of work, or startups, or doing business. And reading them together, as a package, somehow makes them more impactful.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

1. Designing Your Life

A few month ago, I decided I had not been completely satisfied with my job, and I wanted some change. Around the same time my best friend Nick was getting married, so I flew for the wedding to…

Ryszard Szopa

Aspiring to be a gentleman and a scholar. Ex-Googler. Trained to be a philosopher. Interested in Deep Learning, scalability and startups.

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