42 days

Created By
Bo (COO)
Last updated
November 29, 2020
Reading time
5 mins
Many of you may have heard me say from time to time the phrase that “speed is underrated”. I truly think this, even though if you read a lot about startups speed is often the first thing commentators talk about. Still, it is massively under-appreciated, in two specific ways:
  1. Just how much leverage you get by being fast because each time you touch reality (with a new experiment, a new process, a new key hire) you learn. If you learn once every 5 days and the other guy learns once every 10 days, then in 100 days you’ll be on iteration 20 and they’ll be iteration 10. In most things in life iteration 20 isn’t 2x better than iteration 10, but a near-infinite amount better.
  2. Just how much faster most human endeavors can be if you focus on almost nothing else but speed. If you realize that every day, every hour, is a cost and penny-pinch (hour-pinch) each cost, you’ll see most of the time you’d otherwise be paying hours or days for something that doesn’t return that much (waiting for people’s schedules to clear up to schedule a meeting is the classic example).

I was recently inspired while reading about the COVID-19 synthetic mRNA vaccine creation process. 42 days. From the moment the full genetic sequence of the virus was released online, to the first batch of several hundred doses of the vaccine being put in the mail to the National Institute of Health and into people's arms, 42 days [1].

I will remember this and put it on my wall. If a team of scientists can get a vaccine designed tested and manufactured in 42 days… when you hear someone (including yourself) say something will take “2-3 weeks”, it is really half as hard as developing a vaccine for a novel new pandemic? Something for us to keep in mind.


[1] Forty-two days after the genetic code was released, Moderna’s CEO Bancel opened an email on Feb. 24 on his cellphone and smiled, as he recalled to the Globe. Up popped a photograph of a box placed inside a refrigerated truck at the Norwood plant and bound for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md. The package held a few hundred vials, each containing the experimental vaccine. (source)

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