John Salter

Founder @ Overcome
910 karmaJoined Sep 2022Working (0-5 years)www.overcome.org.uk


Founder of Overcome, an EA-aligned mental health charity


Are you open to comments offering constructive negative feedback?

Strongly upvoted. I think someone independently verifying your work would go a long way re: credibility. Might you be up for sharing your code? 

Y-Combinator wants to fund Mechanistic Interpretability startups

"Understanding model behavior is very challenging, but we believe that in contexts where trust is paramount it is essential for an AI model to be interpretable. Its responses need to be explainable.

For society to reap the full benefits of AI, more work needs to be done on explainable AI. We are interested in funding people building new interpretable models or tools to explain the output of existing models."

https://www.ycombinator.com/rfs (Scroll to 12)

What they look for in startup founders

Just commenting to say that I endorse this report. I think it contains the forum's very best summary on EA mental health space. Upon first read, there's nothing in there that I object to or that I feel my peers would.

This is one of the most interesting ideas I've seen proposed on the forum. I'd love to see more research on this.

1. Get a pilot up and running NOW, even if it's extremely small. 

You will cringe at this suggestion, and think that it's impossible to test your vision without a budget. Everyone does this at first, before realizing that it's extremely difficult to stand out from the crowd without one. For you, maybe this is a single class delivered in a communal area. 30 students attending regularly, demonstrating a good rate of progress, is a really compelling piece of evidence that you can run a school. 

- Do you have the resilience and organisation skills it takes to independently run a project?
- Will people actually use it?
- Can you keep your staff?
- Can you cost-effectively produce results? 

It can compelling prove the above, whilst having a ton of other benefits.

2. YOU need to be talking to funders NOW

Don't fall into the trap of trying to read their minds. Get conversations with them. Get their take on your idea. Ask what their biggest concerns would be. Go address them. Repeat. Build relationships with them and get feedback on your grant proposals before submitting them.

As the founder, its YOUR job to raise money. Don't delegate it. It'll take forever to get them to understand your organisation well enough, they won't be as sufficiently motivated to perform, and you won't learn. This is going to be a long-term battle that you face every year. You need to build the network, skills & knowledge to do it well. 

3. Be lean AF

The best way to have money is not to spend it. Both you and your charity may go without funding for months or years. Spend what little money you have, as a person and as a charity, very slowly. The longer you've been actively serving users, the easier fundraising gets. It's about surviving until that point.

4. Funders will stalk your website, LinkedIn, and social media if they can

As much as possible, make sure that they all tell the same story as your grant application - especially the facts and figures. 

5. When writing your proposals, focus on clarity and concreteness above all else

Bear the curse-of-knowledge in mind when writing. Never submit anything without first verifying other people can understand it clearly. Write as though you're trying to inform, not persuade. 

- Avoid abstractions 
- State exact values ("few" -> "four", "lots" -> "nine", "soon" -> "by the 15th March 2024")
- Avoid adjectives and qualifiers. Nobody cares about your opinions.
- Use language that paints a clear, unambiguous image to the readers mind

OLD:  mean student satisfaction ratings have increased greatly increased since programs began and we believe it's quite reasonable to extrapolate due to our other student-engagement enhancements underway and thus forecast an even greater increase by the end of the year" 

NEW: When students were asked to rate their lessons out of 10, the average response was 5. Now, just three months later, the average is 7/10. Our goal is to hit 9/10 by 2025 by [X,Y,Z].

Good luck!

People massively underestimate the damage alcohol causes per use because of how normalised it is.

Either it'll be recieved well, or you get free criticism on your ideas, or a blend of the two. You win in all cases. If it get down voted into oblivion you can always delete it; how many deleted posts can you tie to an author? I can't name one. 

Ultimately, nobody cares about you (or me, or any other random forum user). They're too busy worrying about how they'll be perceived. This is a blessing. You can take risks and nobody will really care if you fail.

Is perhaps testable by RCT amongst earn-to-givers because we could quantitatively measure their impact more easily.

Perhaps one group is coached on taking more small altruistic actions, the other is coached to preserve their resources for the big moments / decisions. I think six months to one year with yearly followups would be a suitable length.

I think limiting factor would be number of earn-to-givers willing to partake. Any other ways this could be tested objectively? It does seem very important to know, and it seems there's little compelling evidence either way.

I think this comment would be more persuasive if it shared some evidence or reasoning as to why its claims are likely true

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