Making Sense of Numbers in our Digital World

If you have an E-Commerce company or know someone who does they’ll probably find the benchmarks in this blog post pretty valuable.

We live in a world now awash in data. So the biggest challenge is not taking measurements but MAKING SENSE of them, in a way that drives insightful action.

Numbers do not speak for themselves. Working with numbers is fundamentally an abstract interpretative endeavor at every step of the way:

1. In the design of the metic
2. In the method of capture
3. In the contextual interpretation of the output
4. In the corresponding consequential actions.

The ability to know how to make sense of data and metrics is important not just for E-Commerce companies but for so many parts of our life that are influenced by data: finance, health, technology etc.

And context is always an essential sense making ingredient. And benchmarks are one of our favorites.

Here is a preview of some of E-Commerce Benchmarks.

1. Google Adwords was the paid acquisition channel with highest conversion rate
2. The average conversion rate was 1.4%, top performers 3%
3. The average Bounce rate was 57%, top performers 35%
4. The average monthly repurchase rate was 9%, top performers 16%

Read more here:

Compass E-Commerce Benchmarks for 2016

Irrelevant Academic Entrepreneurship Research

I’m going to an event tomorrow where there will be a lot of entrepreneurship researchers and academics and I’m feeling irritated by how inane, arcane and irrelevant most of their research questions are.

God…so many financial resources and brain cycles spent researching topics that will not hardly move the needle on anything important — and which essentially completely miss what’s most important:

How to maximize the economic growth and the job growth of the global economy with powerful new products and services that make everyone’s life more good, true and beautiful.

I’m looking forward to laying down a new paradigm of entrepreneurship and innovation at the level of the startup, the level of the startup ecosystem and the level of the global macro economic system. Most of the hard thinking is done, for me now, it’s all about the grind of developing business systems and writing.

And then over the next few years aligning an abundance of resources to establish a feedback loop between cutting edge theory and cutting edge practice.

As of January 1st, 2016, my writing on Entrepreneurship and Innovation has now become my #1 priority…and I’m Charged Up like Drake, ready to go Back to Back.

P.S. (In case I offend any academics, let’s have a discussion where you try to convince me your research is relevant and I try to convince you to pursue a different research question).

An Evolutionary Developmental Lifecycle Model for Startup Ecosystems

Compass just released our first report focused on how individual Startup Ecosystems around the world can accelerate their growth and traction.

After the success of the 2015 Startup Ecosystem Ranking (200k reads, 13k downloads and global press coverage in major media e.g. CNN, Forbes, FT, TC, etc.), we’ve had a lot of demand to provide actionable insights on how smaller startup ecosystems can grow and compete with the top Startup Ecosystems.

We did just that with this new report, selecting Waterloo, Canada, as the best case of the David vs. Goliath dynamic on which to build a set of recommendations for David’s such as Capital Attraction, Talent Attraction, Government Tax Law Optimization, relevant to dozens of other emerging Startup Ecosystems.

In 2010 I built an Evolutionary Developmental Lifecycle Model for Startups, where the Stages are: Discovery -> Validation -> Efficiency -> Scale -> Sustain -> Maintain -> Decline

I will be sharing much more about the major evolutionary upgrades I have made to that model in my forthcoming book on Startups and its companion writing.

My main contribution to this report was, in collaboration with Jean-Francois Gaultier, the creation and articulation of an Evolutionary Developmental Lifecycle Model for Startup Ecosystems, where the Stages are:

Emergence -> Activation -> Regional & National Integration -> International Integration -> Maturity

It provides a framework for Startup Ecosystems in any location around the world to understand what stage of growth their at and what they need to do to continue evolve and stimulate economic growth and job growth in their respective regions.

The world is in the midst of a major economic transition where businesses founded on Industrial Era principles and economics are rapidly losing of all their ability to sustain themselves. The best hope for economies and societies all around the world to the Thrive in the 21st Century is to grow a Startup Ecosystem.

You can read the introductory blog post here:…

And download the full 70 page report here:…/the-david-vs-goliath…/

Max Marmer's photo.

Journaled Reflection on Integral Theory, Entrepreneurship and My Journey

Journaled Reflections on:

– The Societally Transformative Power of Integral Theory

– The Intersection of Integral Theory and Technology Entrepreneurship

– Highs and Lows on My 6 Year Journey to Develop a New Paradigm for the Management Science of Entrepreneurship and Innovation


Bold, eloquent profundity from my friend Zak Stein at the Integral Theory Conference this July on a debate panel on Human Development and Global Crises.

“Although we are sometimes in dialogues like this [pitted against each other], we are so fundamentally on the same team. And it is critical to understand how essential it is we get our acts together as a team, even though we have diverse perspectives. You have to understand we are in the midst of a compounding meta-crisis at the global level. One of the crises, is a crisis of Capability, which is an Educational crisis. And as the situation gets worse we’re going to have increasingly coercive measures used to change the nature of human capital. The most obvious one is psychopharmacology. Which is an actual physical intervention into the central nervous system of over 6 million children in the United States. And this is because we have a psychology that does understand development organically— or development at all. So there’s a way in which we are debating, but a much more profound way, in which one of our tasks is to change the way we think about what it means to change people’s minds. And that requires thinking deeply about developmental psychology, and developmental measurement, and trying to supplant what has become a Human Capital Management System on a global scale, that is decimating the life prospects of up and coming generations. So there’s an urgency I feel to align and to build a way forward for Human Development as a field, if only so that the Educational Systems of tomorrow are dignified.”


Zak is a trailblazer in the field of Developmental Psychology and it’s applicative dissemination in the worlds of Education, Business and much more.

I was at this debate live in July at the Integral Theory Conference. It was a true highlight: Zak, this panel, and this community of Integral Philosophers, Scholars and Practitioners, who are light years ahead of the mainstream Intelligentsia.

This differential between cutting edge thought and mainstream Intelligentsia has led to a world where the leaders of Education, Business and Politics are “in over their heads”, working with tools and models with insufficient requisite capacity to handle the enormous complexity of today’s 21st century world. As a result: Societal Chaos, all around, barely being held together by systemic inertia.

Essential aspects of the Future of Humanity live in the minds of those attended the Integral Theory Conference in July. Potent Visions waiting to virulently spread through Culture as a Memetic Virus as soon as the conditions are right.

A big part of my work right now is in setting the conditions for this Academic to Market transference by integrating Integral Theory’s cutting edge philosophical and psychology paradigms, methods and tools into the world of Technology Entrepreneurship — the most powerful engine of socio-economic progress. The co-arising of Integral Theory, Startup Management Science and a Transformational Ethic generating Societal Bliss like Peanut Butter and Jelly…or Shiva and Shakti.

What I am able to do with these Integral tools often astounds me in its power and its simplicity. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke who wrote 2001: a Space Odyssey famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Learning from brilliant Integral thinkers like Zak, Ken Wilber, John M. Smart, Robert Kegan, Clare Graves, Bill Torbert, Susanne Cook Greuter, Michael Commons, Daniel Schmachtenberger, Dustin DiPerna and so many more…I feel like I’m working with true 21st century Magic.

My work has been ramping up with exponentiating pace the last few months. I’ve started applying my latest Startup Science work with founders, in service to their vision, and in service to generating case studies and conceptual and methodological refinement.

I’ve put more brain cycles into the development of the Management Science of Entrepreneurship than anything else in the past 6 years; and to feel its present coherence, clarity, fractality, power, and precision in describing and prescriptively guiding transformational tech startups warms my heart with love, gratitude, and quite frankly relief — that all my intellectual wandering was not for naught.

I am in deep gratitude to my Intellectual Forefathers and Foremothers whose Giant Shoulders I stand on that make my work possible. At times I have felt incredibly isolated, alone and weary, journeying into the disorienting worlds of undiscovered and uncreated thought forms.

Attempting to build a new paradigm for the Management Science of Entrepreneurship and Innovation is not a quest for the faint of heart. But “No Man is an Island”, and my inextricable, interconnection to the aforementioned ideas and thinkers gave me the strength I could wander through the Intellectual Valley of Death, not get lost and make it out alive with Buried Treasure.

I don’t have any exciting new quantifiable results to share with you yet, but I know a Golden Thread when I’ve found it and I trust the autopoetic process of unfolding that is occurring before my eyes.

I’m very much looking forward to sharing and co-creating Magic with you all in the near future, so that we may Realize a more Perfect World.

A ho!

Traction Book & Compass Collaboration

My friend Justin Mares’ new book launched today:

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth

He and I are beginning to collaborate and undertook a fun little project the last few weeks, analyzing Traction’s core thesis, framework and recommendations in the context of Compass’ massive data set on startups.

Here is our blog post:

If you haven’t heard of Traction, it’s a great book designed to help startups solve one of their most important problems: getting more customers.

The book is centered around something they call the Bullseye framework, a framework for exploring and prioritizing marketing efforts in 19 different customer acquisition channels. It’s also packed with reflections and traction lessons learned from interviews they conducted with entrepreneurs like Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Paul English (Kayak), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit) and many more.

In this blog post, we drop the basics of how to get explosive Traction and reveal 3 key new data driven insights.

In the post, we provide data-driven insights on:

#1) What the relationship is between the number of acquisition channels a company is pursuing and it’s revenue growth

(i.e. how many different channels should I focus my energy and resources on, and in what order?)

#2) What acquisition channels work best for what types of companies?

(i.e. what channels should a Marketplace use vs a SaaS or E-Commerce company)

#3) What acquisition channels work best, based on company’s average monthly revenue

(i.e. what channels work best when I only have $30,000 in monthly revenue vs $300,000)

If you’re involved in startups in anyway I encourage you to check out the post and Justin’s new book.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or feedback.

And thanks to Alexey Ilyin as well, resident data scientist at Compass, for pulling so much great data together last minute.

Here’s the link again to our blog post:

Normal Entrepreneurship Vs. Revolutionary Entrepreneurship

Many friends of mine complain most startups are building marginally useful shit.

Here’s an orienting frame for how to think about this issue:

I addressed this topic somewhat in a series of essays in 2012 for Harvard Business Review titled Transformational Entrepreneurship. (links to them in the comments)

Perhaps we draw a semantic analog to Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions and use the Kuhnian inspired words of Normal Entrepreneurship and Revolutionary Entrepreneurship.

I think much of the process is the same for both Normal Entrepreneurship and Revolutionary Entrepreneurship, with a few key differences.

In Revolutionary Entrepreneurship:

1. The founders are more consciously evolved and better leaders.

2. The founders have a deep understanding of the world, a normative vision about where the world should go and a product idea for how to bring an aspect of that vision into reality.

3. There is much more philosophy, science, and research and development work done up front. Most revolutionary ideas are not something you can simply begin coding in a hackathon.

I don’t believe everyone needs to develop a Revolutionary Startup. And as long as what someone is building is societally net positive with no harmful externalities being outsourced to the environment (i.e. CO2 emissions) or people’s psychology (Zynga’s addictively engineered pointless games that prey on weak housewives from the mid-west) a plethora of new Normal Entrepreneurship based startups is a good thing.

I personally would like to see people attempt startups with visions and ambitions commensurate with their abilities and potential. Which means I am disappointed when I see very bright and well advantaged entrepreneurs start companies that are marginally or negatively beneficial to society.

Getting Started with Compass

A new blog post I contributed to for Compass just went live.

Context: Compass is a company I co-founded in 2011, that I left in 2013 but re-engaged in 2015 to work on Special Projects.

If you run a company where you use Google Analytics or Shopify, you should definitely check out our new product and let me know what you think.

Here’s an excerpt from the blog post:

Do you ever struggle with making sense of your marketing data?

If you do, you’re not alone.

Counter intuitively, this is actually a widespread problem. According to a study done by Cardinal Path, the use of data to support the online marketing related decisions has actually decreased by 37% over the past three years.

Why has this happened?

We’ve found that even though most companies are able to define their marketing goals, they are not able to use data to support their process because they have trouble with some or all of these three key steps:

(1) Breaking their marketing goals down into the right, concrete metrics
(2) Tracking those metrics correctly
(3) Interpreting those metrics accurately, so that the right prescriptive actions are taken.

In the following blog post Ramon, sheds light on how to make sense of your marketing data with the all new upgraded Compass product.