At Trig, we dedicate the occasional Friday afternoon to non-work, non-client, free play time. We call it Overhead Friday Afternoons (OFA). In all honesty, this is the first thing to get ditched when we get busy. Over time, it has become a key part of the Trig culture.
In past weeks, we have been discussing Trig's 2-year future, getting the chance to collectively work ON the business, instead of IN the business. Following good creative process, we explored a number of strategic alternatives, thinking divergently about the different paths we could follow, then came to the conclusion that being able to invest in the companies we help get started was the most promising option we explored.
Fail Early to Succeed Sooner
The key to prototyping is to develop an experiment that tests the most dubious assumption in the lowest-cost approach possible. Since we perform a lot of quantitative survey analysis, a quick paper-trading survey was created and presented to the team for today's OFA. The criteria for start-ups to invest in was simple - pick two start-ups from TechCrunch 2007 that still had a YouTube video online and ask each respondent to allocate a $20,000 portfolio across the three options of the two start-ups, or not to invest. Interested in taking the paper trade test yourself? We've made the survey available here: Investing Survey
Each designer was given 30 minutes to evaluate each start-up and make a decision. We then came back together as a group and compared our insights pulled from the start-up presentations and rationale for making a decision. We affirmed that as individuals, we can each identify the nuances of when good branding decisions are being made. We also learned that, as a group, we have not yet identified our values for investing. What timeless principles do we hold to regardless of the financial upside of a given investment? Learning that we needed to answer that foundational question easily justified the small investment of time in today's experiment.