vaishnav

7Joined Aug 2021

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What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship

Given the constraints highlighted above, It seems like a venture builder model (focussed on a specific cause area) may be more effective, wherein the following process is repeated:

 (1) Generate plausible venture ideas from existing research within EA orgs

(2) Analyze ideas on two dimensions - (a) Cost benefit Analysis (b) Operational feasibility

(3) Incubate and recruit EA aligned technical and non technical co-founders (who then build their own team)

(4) Tie further funding and possibly  bonuses to specific short term milestones

 

  • It seems like EA orgs with existing research capabilities are best suited to support  above steps #1 and #2a . This is essentially a high level analysis of the expected value of building this company, a rough estimate of costs (in orders of magnitude) which helps us quickly come to a "Go" /"No go" decision.
  • I think step 2 (b) needs to be outsourced to technical consultants or economic consultants (think Analysis Group, Brattle group etc)  who can conduct feasibility analyses or more accurately estimate lifetime costs. Let's say we wanted to produce and distribute some state of the art PPE equipment. We'd need to have a rough understanding of  things like  supply and demand dynamics of raw materials, regulations around PPE equipment, legal risk etc. Answers to these questions could determine whether it's worth doing something even if the high level cost benefit analysis was positive. These also don't seem like the type of questions orgs like Open Phil routinely answer. 
  • Step 4 could potentially unlock some talent constraints and allow founders to recruit a management team or lead scientists that may not be completely EA aligned or long termist but are still incentivised economically to help move things along.

Everything above is of course contingent on the ability to actually generate actionable ideas that pass Step 2(a) in a particular cause area.