Domain knowledge

August 29, 2018

Domain knowledge is undervalued in Silicon Valley.

I spent the last four years working with people in their 40s and 50s in the hospitality space. Perhaps they weren't "smart" or "sharp" in the Silicon Valley sense. But man, did they knew how to run hotels.

I imagine that whatever you're doing—shipping, payments, retail, robotics, hospitality—there are people out there who have spent an entire career doing it in traditional industries. These people might not be forces for innovation but they know a lot about how things are done, and why they're done the way they are. They understand their industry's challenges, worldview, and business cycle.

You want help from one of these people. If not on your team, get them as an advisor. It's easy to ignore them because they tend to be older, don't have finance / engineering / stats degrees, and their outlook tends to be more "Middle American". But they'll save you from trying to solve problems nobody has, or building something that's impossible to sell.

Related: The Hard Thing About Software Development…Why you should aim for "deep context", and why the price for some remote developers is dropping to zero.

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