Grace Choi was at Harvard Business School when she decided to disrupt the beauty industry. She did a little research and realized that beauty brands create then majorly mark up their products by mixing lots of colors.

“The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bulls**t,” Choi said at TechCrunch Disrupt this week. “They charge a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. That one thing is color.”

Choi created a mini home printer, Mink, that will retail for $300 and allow anyone to print makeup by ripping the color code off color photos on the Internet.

Building traditional hospitals is insufficient to bring healthcare to a part of Africa that lacks proper transport infrastructure. The solution? Amy Lehman dreams up a floating clinic complete with ICU and operating room to serve not just one but 4 countries at the same time.

For those who are dedicated to jumping on the mobile app startup bandwagon but are starved for ideas, I’ve got news for you.

Let’s start with the bad news: You’re yearning for the wrong thing (ideas) to help you start up. The good news is, what you really need are problems, and they’re everywhere! Chase problems and not ideas.

Successful entrepreneurs solve problems and in a way that we could not have imagined. When you look around you, every product and service you use were all created to solve a problem. You wanted to get from one place to another faster, you got a car. You wanted to get from one country to another faster, you got planes.

Legendary tech entrepreneur and Silicon Valley venture capital investor Marc Andreessen this morning posted a series of tweets (@pmarca) on what to look for investing in a tech startup. Valuing a tech startup is not about looking at future cashflows of past products, it should be about future products that can generate “tons of cash flows” in the future.

“For new & rapidly growing tech co’s, up to 100% of value is in terminal value 10+ years out, so DCF framework collapses,” he tweets.

He further tweets: “Related to fact that tech co’s don’t have stable products like soup or brick companies; future cash flows will come from future products.”

So what should a smart investor look at?

He says: A – future product roadmap/opportunity, B- bottoms-up market size & growth, C – talent and skill of team.

“Corollary: For tech companies, current cash flow is usually useless for forecasting future cash flow–lagging not leading indicator.”

“Always, always, always, the substance is what matters: WHO and WHAT. WHO’s building the products, and WHAT products are they building.”

“Brand will not save you, marketing will not save you, channels will not save you, account control will not save you. It’s the products.”

“Which goes right back to the start: Who are the people, what are the products, and how big is the market. That’s the formula.”

For all of my talk about the leaders of thriving companies who did stupid things because they’d failed to pay attention, I discovered that, during the making of Toy Story, I had completely missed something that was threatening to undo us. And I’d missed it even though I thought I’d been paying attention.

Throughout the making of the movie, I had seen my job, in large part, as minding the internal and external dynamics that could divert us from our goal. I was determined that Pixar not make the same mistakes I’d watched other Silicon Valley companies make. To that end, I’d made a point of being accessible to our employees, wandering into people’s offices to check in and see what was going on. John Lasseter1 and I had very conscientiously tried to make sure that everyone at Pixar had a voice, that every job and every employee was treated with respect. I truly believed that self-assessment and constructive criticism had to occur at all levels of a company, and I had tried my best to walk that talk.

Now, though, as we assembled the crew to work on A Bug’s Life, I discovered we’d completely missed a serious, ongoing rift between our creative and production departments. In short, production managers told me that working on Toy Story had been a nightmare. They felt disrespected and marginalized—like second-class citizens. And while they were gratified by Toy Story’s success, they were very reluctant to sign on to work on another film at Pixar.

If there was one thing we prided ourselves on at Pixar, it was making sure that Pixar’s artists and technical people treated each other as equals, and I had assumed that same mutual respect would be afforded to those who managed the productions. I had assumed wrong. Sure enough, when I checked with the artists and technical staff, they did believe that production managers were second class and that they impeded—not facilitated—good filmmaking by overcontrolling the process, by micromanaging. Production managers, the folks I consulted told me, were just sand in the gears.

My total ignorance of this dynamic caught me by surprise. My door had always been open! I’d assumed that would guarantee me a place in the loop, at least when it came to major sources of tension, like this. Not a single production manager had dropped by to express frustration or make a suggestion in the five years we worked on Toy Story. Why was that? It took some digging to figure it out.

For me, this discovery was bracing. Being on the lookout for problems, I realized, was not the same as seeing problems. This would be the idea—the challenge— around which I would build my new sense of purpose.

Because making a movie involves hundreds of people, a chain of command is essential. But in this case, we had made the mistake of confusing the communication structure with the organizational structure. Of course an animator should be able to talk to a modeler directly, without first talking with her manager. So we gathered the company together and said that going forward, anyone should be able to talk to anyone else, at any level, at any time, without fear of reprimand. Communication would no longer have to go through hierarchical channels. The exchange of information was key to our business, of course, but I believed that it could—and frequently should—happen out of order, without people getting bent out of shape. People talking directly to one another and then letting the manager find out later was more efficient than trying to make sure that everything happened in the “right” order and through the “proper” channels.

Improvement didn’t happen overnight. But by the time we finished A Bug’s Life, the production managers were no longer seen as impediments to creative progress but as peers—as first-class citizens. We had become better.

Virgin Empire founder Richard Branson’s first job was selling Christmas trees. NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s first job was selling newspapers. Groupon co founder Eric Lefkofsky’s first job was selling carpets. And Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and PayPal, started his working life writing video games.

FORTUNE — In the eye of some entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, the Bloomberg terminal is a bit of an anomaly, perhaps even an anachronism. In the era of free information on the Internet and open source Big Data tools, here’s a business that charges its users to access data that it generally obtains from third parties, as well as the tools to analyze it. You’ll hear the occasional jab at its interface as reminiscent of the 1980s. And at a time of accelerating “unbundling” across many industries, including financial services, the Bloomberg terminal is the ultimate “bundling” play: One product, one price, which means that that the average user uses only a small percentage of the terminal’s 30,000+ functions. Yet, 320,000 people around the world pay about $20,000 a year to use it.

If you think that this sounds like a perfect opportunity for disruption or “unbundling” at the hand of nimble, aggressive startups, you’re not alone. I spent four years at Bloomberg Ventures, and this was a topic that I heard debated countless times before, during and after my tenure there. The most recent example is a recent Institutional Investor article that declared the start of “The Race to Topple Bloomberg,“ with a separate article highlighting my friends at Estimize and Kensho as startups that “Take Aim at Bloomberg.”

Yet, over the years, the terminal has seen its fair share of would be disruptors come and go. Every now and then, a new wave of financial data startups seems to be appearing, attempting to build businesses that, overtly or not, compete with some parts of the Bloomberg terminal. Soon enough, however, those companies seem to disappear, through failure, pivot or acquisition.

What gives? And where are the opportunities for financial data startups?

Frontal assault: good luck

To start, Bloomberg is not exactly your run-of-the-mill, lazy incumbent. Perhaps I drank too much of the Kool-Aid, but I left the company very impressed. Bloomberg, which was itself a startup not that long ago, comes armed with a powerful brand, deep pockets, a fiercely competitive culture, a product that results from billions of dollars of R&D investment over the years and a technology platform that basically never goes down or even slows down, supported by generally excellent customer service.

But great incumbents have been disrupted before. So there is perhaps another set of less immediately apparent reasons why the terminal has so far been very resilient to disruption by startups:

Fresh out of Stanford Business School, I started a software company, T/Maker, with my brother Peter. Two of our developers, Randy Adams and William Parkhurst, went to work for Steve Jobs at his new company, NeXT, and that’s how I ended up head to head with Steve Jobs.

Turns out, Steve had a problem and Randy and William thought I could be the solution. Steve had done an “acquihire” of the developers who had written the Mac word processor MacAuthor. In order to make the deal economics work, Steve had promised to publish MacAuthor and pay royalties to the developers. But now, with the world’s attention on his new startup, how would it look to have NeXT’s first product be a word processor for the Mac? Randy and William suggested to Steve that if I were to be the publisher, the problem would be solved. Steve liked the idea, and invited me in to talk about it.

Shortly into my pitch, Steve took the contract from me and scanned down to the key term, the royalty rate. I had pitched 15%, our standard. Steve pointed at it and said,
“15%? That is ridiculous. I want 50%.”
I was stunned. I started to defend myself, stammering about the economics of my side of the business. He tore up the contract and handed me the pieces. “Come back at 50%, or don’t come back,” he said.

Dan’l Lewin, one of the NeXT co-founders, had a cubicle within earshot of Steve (actually, at that time, every employee was within earshot of Steve.) Dan’l had been working with me in background over the last few weeks and we’d developed a good relationship. If this deal did not get done, it was going to end up being his job to find someone else, so he really wanted me to get the business. Dan’l put his arm around my shoulder, and said one sentence, which I will never forget.

“Make it look like fifty percent,” he said.

“But I can’t afford to pay fifty percent!” I complained.

“I get that you can’t afford to pay fifty percent of gross,” said Dan’l, “but Steve wants to see 50% on that contract. So figure out a way to make a contract that you can live with that also says 50% at the bottom.”

That’s when the light bulb came on. I had to make the business make sense financially. I just needed to make my 15% look like his 50%. To do so, I reduced the nut to split by first deducting the cost of packaging, of technical support, the salaries for some developers on my side of the business to implement fixes, and when I still couldn’t get the math to pencil out, I added a $6 per unit ‘handling fee’ thanks to some inspiration from an infomercial on the Home Shopping Network. My new “Hollywood net” number read 50%, but fully-loaded it was pretty close to the 15% of gross I needed to make the deal work. Magic!

Steve was happy with his 50% and the deal got inked.

Health and wellness dominate early stage financing for Internet of Things startups High-res

Health and wellness dominate early stage financing for Internet of Things startups

Like most parents my age, I have memories of childhood so different from the way my children are growing up that sometimes I think I might be making them up, or at least exaggerating them. I grew up on a block of nearly identical six-story apartment buildings in Queens, New York. In my elementary-school years, my friends and I spent a lot of afternoons playing cops and robbers in two interconnected apartment garages, after we discovered a door between them that we could pry open.

I used to puzzle over a particular statistic that routinely comes up in articles about time use: even though women work vastly more hours now than they did in the 1970s, mothers—and fathers—of all income levels spend much more time with their children than they used to. When my daughter was about 10, my husband suddenly realized that in her whole life, she had probably not spent more than 10 minutes unsupervised by an adult. Not 10 minutes in 10 years.

It’s hard to absorb how much childhood norms have shifted in just one generation. Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now routine. In fact, they are the markers of good, responsible parenting. One very thorough study of “children’s independent mobility,” conducted in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods in the U.K., shows that in 1971, 80 percent of third-graders walked to school alone. By 1990, that measure had dropped to 9 percent, and now it’s even lower. When you ask parents why they are more protective than their parents were, they might answer that the world is more dangerous than it was when they were growing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think. For example, parents now routinely tell their children never to talk to strangers, even though all available evidence suggests that children have about the same (very slim) chance of being abducted by a stranger as they did a generation ago. Maybe the real question is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our children lost—and gained—as we’ve succumbed to them?

In life sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

One of the reasons why a company makes it or doesn’t make it is because of the quality of its angel investors.

At Bonobos we have two founding angel investors. They’ve been perched on my shoulders for six years now, and they’ve been whispering in my ears.

One is an Oracle, one is a Jedi.

They were my lifeline in the three years before the company received venture funding. Without them, we couldn’t have gotten started, and once started, we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. They remain my lifeline when the going gets really tough.

If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.
The Oracle schooled me on judgment, the Jedi schooled me on empathy. When it comes time to do battle, you’ll need both.

The Oracle
The first time I ever talked to the Oracle, I pitched him on an idea I’d been working on for three years. Here is the first thing that he ever said to me:

I think it’s a terrible idea.
He went on to explain, cogently, why my idea wasn’t very good. Turns out that telling someone what they’re envisioning is not good can be the beginning of a great relationship.

One of the worst things about the entrepreneurial ecosystem is we pretend to like ideas that we don’t. Potential entrepreneurs deserve our honesty. People do in general.

Two years later I wrote the Oracle a love letter, describing what I loved about him for the first two pages and then describing over the next two pages the thing I thought he was doing wrong as a new professor.

I later learned that when he got the letter he cried. Not because it had heart-wrenching content, but because the letter validated the career choice he had made to retire from VC to teach.

What I learned from the Oracle:

It’s actually not nice to not be honest with someone. It’s actually not nice to be positive about something you don’t authentically feel positive about. It’s nicer to actually have the courage to be honest, even if what you’re going to say is going to make the stomach turn in the recipient of your honesty.

What does honesty have to do with judgment?

Everything, it turns out.

Judgment is about decision making, and a person can’t improve at decision making without being iteratively honest with themselves and others.

Apply this to your life for a decade or so, and you might just find your Oracle. When you do, here is how you will know it: you will experience an honesty so uncaringly precise it will feel like one of the best forms of caring you have ever known.

The whole point of Chineasy is to give the Chinese language context in order to make the thousands of characters easier to learn and remember. “The Chinese language has long been considered the most difficult major language to learn,” explains Hsueh, “Largely on account of the vast number and complexity of the characters.”

Each of the characters is turned into a clever illustration that is meant to make a memorable impression on the learner. So for example, the Chinese character “person (人)” traditionally looks like a wishbone, but in Chineasy, Hsueh has added a head and shoes to make it look like a person walking. Likewise, for the character “big (大 ),” a straight line with hands is added to “person,” which makes it look like a person stretching his arms wide to signify how big something is.