Jumping on Entrepreneurship

Parkour, Startups, and Travel

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The Problem with Palestinian Startups

Last week I was in Austin, Texas for South By Southwest, which I’ve described as “a magical fairy land where nothing makes sense and everything is awesome.” I was back in Seattle for 65 hours, and now I'm 33,079 feet in the air, heading into four more weeks of traveling. I’ll be in Ramallah, Palestine for a week, followed by a week in Israel, followed by two weeks in Xi’an and Beijing, China.

I'm being flown out to Ramallah by Leaders.ps, a startup accelerator in Palestine, to mentor several Palestinian startups. I met the director of this accelerator through my friends at Mercy Corps in Gaza, and jumped at the chance to come out and help.

Based on our conversations so far, it seems like entrepreneurs in Palestine have great technical skill, but due to the political environment haven't had many opportunities for physical connections to the rest of the entrepreneurial world. This causes a pretty big problem.

Startup culture, just like a startup company, moves very fast. Things are tried, iterated on, and best practices are developed. If a process or methodology isn’t working, it dies off (either by being thrown away or because all the companies using that process fail).

Before I Forget, I Want to Make a Public Commitment to Charity

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

You know how you get excited to do all sorts of stuff, but you forget and it doesn't pan out? Well, like I wrote in "The Joys of Public Accountability," making a public commitment helps you follow up with things.

I'm going to set aside some of my income for charity henceforth forever. I'm thinking 10%, but I'm not sure yet. I just listened to the audiobook of "The Richest Man in Babylon," and it was really amazingly excellent and it's got me inspired. I ran a couple small charity events in the past in London, and given a bit of money to charity, but nothing systematically. So, I'm committing to doing that.

To clarify a few points -

Note that I wrote "set aside" - I'm not going to dump the money on whoever has nice marketing materials, I really need to do some research. If I've got the money sitting in a bank account marked for charity for a year or two before figuring out what has high impact, so be it. The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and I want to make sure I'm supporting the right causes. I'll let you know the who/what/when/where/why/how of how I'll be going about charity later.

Note that I wrote "some of my income" - I'm not sure exactly what I'll donate on. All cash received annually? Earned income? How about if I get stock options as part of a deal? How about if I'm in a deal where I've agreed to automatically reinvest the profits for the first few years? Only when I cash out? I'm not sure on these details yet. Definitely earned income cash, at least. I'll figure out the specifics later.

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