Watch out for startups with autonomy

Markets around the world are dominated by large incumbents with a ton of market power – whether it is media, logistics, e-commerce or finance. For a startup to succeed at a busy market they need to out-execute all the incumbents by an enormous margin.

Why is it that only 1 in 100 startups ever succeed after raising $5m in series A? They always have a good idea that could work. Where startups fail after Series A is execution, specifically the speed of execution.

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Why does TransferWise have fees?

Money is information. Using, storing, moving money should be as cheap and instant as exchanging information. As cheap as sending an email. And certainly it shouldn’t be more expensive or slower if the information crosses country borders.

That’s not the reality. World Bank calculates that people lose 7% on average on cross border, others triangulate the total fees banks charge be $200bn. With TransferWise we’ve brought the fees down to 0.3% on some routes, but we believe it can and should be much cheaper. We have made 27 price drops in the last 9 months and plan many many more. Here’s how we do it.

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Stage 4: Namibia – Tanzania

Four weeks and 3400km later we have reached the Indian Ocean. Kotilda and Suusi did well. Kotilda was fighting back a bit in the beginning, but we reached an agreement. She is now already parked at a friend’s yard inside a deserted shipping container near Dar-es-Salaam. Juka and Suusi are still travelling in southern Tanzania, but in a few weeks Suusi will join Kotilda to wait for next December to continue the journey to Ethiopia, Sudan and the Mediterranean coast in Egypt.

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Tanzania: rain and truck stops

Entering Tanzania we find ourselves in another National Geographic scene. Rolling hills of tea fields and rows of ladies clipping away the harvest. What they don’t show on the NatGeo channel is when it rains.

We’re already behind time. I was hoping to make it to Dar by the 5th to find parking and fly out on the 7th. Now there is also the thundering sky that we have to race away from and many times unsuccessfully. Riding wet is very unpleasant, riding in the dark is even worse.
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Malawi: praise the lord and new skills

Through the dust of the road we can see a crowd of people gathered around the gates to a compound. We have arrived at M1 Centre Point. I have no idea what it is – a bar, a club, a venue – but certainly something exciting enough for lots of people hustling to get in. Every little while the gate is opened and a car is let in. Next time the gate opens we squeeze through with the car, waving to the security as if they should have expected us. The party had already started.
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Zambia: drums in the village

Zambian “industrial break” means that everyone goes off before Christmas and comes back middle of January. Luckily there is KTM Zambia and they agreed to come out on the 28th to help me fit the electric starter clutch (for the 3rd time) and see if there is anything we could do about the bomber exhaust. Kotilda is leaking exhaust where the pipe is connected to the engine. Not only does it scare the animals and villagers, it is so loud it is hardly hear my own thoughts when riding.

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