Nurture Mode

Craig Dunk
2 min readMay 24, 2023

Some processes take time — you can’t grow a tree 10 times faster by planting 10 trees. This is where I find myself with the “Eggs and Algae” build-in-the-open startup. I have had a great round of conversations with experts and possible collaborators, but many processes take time to play out: whether it is discovering and developing plans with pilot customers or various incubator opportunities, or even the fundamental work on engineering organisms.

When you combine this with my 6 week “spring” to get to a milestone decision point it has led me to move into a nurture mode for the next 16 weeks. Essentially I am moving from the rapid and active development to an opportunistic nurture mode for this period. This decision will let some of the processes that I have kicked off play out, and provide another pivot point in the future.

In making a decision like that it is important to still keep focus on outcomes and exit conditions from this stage — otherwise it is possible to just taper off (this is why many incubators ask whether the startup is your full time focus). In this scenario there are three outcome areas I am monitoring:

  1. Customer pilot opportunities — A pilot egg producer with enough scale, who is open to innovation, and ideally co-located near existing natural algae supply.
  2. Organism engineering — Co-developed research with academic institutions selecting and optimizing algae strains takes time to kick off and play out.
  3. Funding and accelerator opportunities — more opportunistic than the other areas — but an opportunity to connect with other partners and investors remains relevant.

Early exit condition for this nurture mode would be strong achievement in any of these three areas. And then at the end of the 16 week period taking another bearing on overall progress.

Intended Startup Takeaways:

  • Be deliberate about decisions to avoid “backing into” a situation
  • Outcomes and exit conditions for an operating mode can be a useful framework.

Intended Eggs and Algae Takeaways

  • Organism engineering still is a longer cycle than the software development cycle
  • Getting closer to relevant customers takes time and effort — especially when the product involved is “real world” rather than just “click a link”. Shouldn’t be a surprise :-)

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Craig Dunk

Tech leader, speculative fiction fan, parent to adult children, and a big fan of camp fires.