Aquariums and Startups - creating new worlds

Yrjö Ojasaar
4 min readDec 14, 2022

Part 2

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.

The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists,
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

Baz Luhrman

You will be overwhelmed with contradictory advice

As a new aquarist you will be absolutely overwhelmed with advice from friends, the community, and various levels of experts. Some will tell you that you need to go the low-tech and all natural style (sometimes referred to as the “Berlin” method), others are fans of the mid-tech style that adds a skimmer and powerheads to the aquarium (sometimes referred to as the “Dutch” method), while others will swear by the high tech route that adds calcium reactors, UV purifiers, dosing pumps, wave makers, etc.

It will take a while to figure out who is right, and even longer to understand that they are all correct. Each one is advocating the method that worked for them. Since each aquarium is different and each owner’s style of feeding, cleaning, lighting and stocking with wildlife is very different — each requires a unique solution. The trick is to narrow the advice by figuring out which setup is the most similar to yours, and then consider this advice first and foremost in finding techniques to emulate.

Startup founders are also bombarded with advice from coaches, mentors, consultants and investors. Much of it is contradictory and even mutually exclusive (e.g. you have to sell before you build v. product led growth is the way to sell effectively; first product should be bare bones MVP that you are a bit embarrassed of [R. Hoffman] v. public launch needs to have all the key value drivers and have a great UI/UX that customers will love and recommend, etc).

All this advice is correct (for someone), but is it applicable to you? Advice that is applicable and most relevant will vary dramatically whether you are an enterprise SaaS startup serving multinationals, or you are building a consumer marketplace for meme merch. Similarly, prior success stories or case studies may not be applicable to you at all if they are not sufficiently analogous to you in facts, market and time.

Also founders should be weary of the Halo Effect surrounding entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Steve Jobs whereby they are held out to be rolemodels to be emulated. For example, while lots of people will quote Steve Jobs truisms and platitudes as advice to you as a founder, quite often it really doesn’t make sense to follow Steve’s actions, just a small sampling of questionable Jobs working methods:

Do not design products like Steve Jobs did with Apple III and Next

Apple’s Apple III computer was a total failure because of the instability resulting from the motherboard overheating — the reason: Steve Jobs ordered the cooling fan removed because it made too much noise for his taste.

Next’s computer was very expensive (A Next computer with a hard drive cost more than a brand new Ford Escort car in 1990), difficult to upgrade and repair, and required buying to hard drive separately for $2K, resulting in only 50K units ever being made — the reason: Steve Jobs insisted that the metal box has to be perfect — made of magnesium, with all inside surfaces of the computer painted, it had to be built at non-standard angles according to demands from Jobs so it would appear “optically perfect,” and the computer had to have an optical drive (CD-Rom).

Do not micromanage like Steve Jobs

Jobs spent massive amounts of time agonizing about the shade of yellow for the letter “e” in the Next logo, the exact shade of beige for Apple II, the shade of grey Apple should use for the bathroom signs, the shade of gray of Apple store floors (all Pietra Serena sandstone had to be imported from Florence at a massive cost — “only 3% of what comes out of the mountain, because it has to have the right shading and veining and purity,”), he supervised the color, finish, quality and assembly of metal beams for the Pixar HQ, the color of flowers in Apple offices, the design of the Apple HQ (led to billions in cost overruns) and other minutia of micro management.

Do not interview like Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs interview questions included: “Who are you?” “You’re not very good at interviews, are you?” How old were you when you lost your virginity?” “Are you a virgin?” “How many times have you taken LSD?” “Everything you’ve ever done in your life is shit, so why don’t you come work for me?