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Category Design Summit Panel Highlight: Michelle Valentine

Voted one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2019, Michelle Valentine is an ambitious and bright venture capitalist who focuses on machine learning and AI for San Francisco-based Index Ventures

Back at our 2018 Category Design Summit, Michelle engaged the entire panel with an interesting question:

"So all of you have gone through this tremendous mental and physical journey to become masters in your own field. As you’ve gone on to create a product, a category bigger than yourself have you found you have to take a similar journey with your personal brand and be strategic with different stakeholders? For instance, Bianca you engaged with the California state government. Kelly, you’re talking to investors and so forth. Do you see that evolution playing out and what do you think about that?"

Michelle ignited a response from Hanli Prinsloo that really caught the attention of PLAY BIGGER Authors Dave Peterson, Al Ramadan and Kevin Maney. They described Hanli’s comment as one of the best definitions of category design they’d every heard.

"I think when I was in competitive free diving and when I was only in the nonprofit world, it’s easy to be caught up in the 'pie is too small' thinking,” said Hanli. “Everybody wants a slice of the pie and I think the moment when things start moving is when you think, ‘Well, how can I make the freakin’ pie bigger,' and not just look at the size of the pie. It’s not pie. Make it bigger.

“It’s only when you start looking outside of your narrow niche and field that you can start doing that. It’s like Bianca was saying about collaborating with other surfers, Kelly reaching out to other investors, and Kai being open to surfing the smaller waves. It’s about looking outside of the peak of your niche that you start making it bigger. And that only happens in collaboration and it only ever happens when you can let go of this need to own things and your ego and all that. Because when you’re inside of that, then it is really is just pie.”

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