Universities, Incubators, and Venture Capital firms are really “Curation Businesses.”

They build an umbrella brand to attract as many applicants as possible.

They run a tight filter to select the best of the best.

They educate and help the curated in alignment with their brand.

The curated use the curator’s umbrella brand to gain validation with the rest of the world.

The emerging winners become proud alumni

The winning alumni brands reinforce the curator’s umbrella brand.

The curator repeats the cycle, now with a stronger umbrella brand.

if you’re building one of these businesses, use marketing, judgement, and execution to optimize this brand-based virtuous circle.

The hardest part is the initial branding. You can do it by bringing an existing brand from the outside, addressing a new vertical, an audacious new approach, or by creating unique content.

What doesn’t work well is to just enter the business and assume that you’ll build a brand over time. You may never get enough high quality applicants.

Nor can you select too many candidates (unless you’re good at burying your failures). It’ll cheapen your curation signal.

So for a Curation Business, start with a brand and keep your standards high.

You can follow @naval.


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