Teach Me How to Startup

Was Ashton Kutcher High Being Really Dumb During This Interview About Dwolla?

@aplusk gives some entrepreneurs advice about cusps.
ashton cusps Was Ashton Kutcher High Being Really Dumb During This Interview About Dwolla?

Mr. Kutcher, right, explaining "cusps." Ben Milne, founder of Dwolla, left, possibly mortified.

UPDATE, April 11, 4:02 p.m.: Numerous readers, including Ashton Kutcher’s publicist, objected to the suggestion that Mr. Kutcher was high during his interview with Dwolla. In truth, Mr. Kutcher appears sober in the interview; the word “high” was used to imply that his answers did not make sense—but this appeared to be due to the overuse of jargon and simplicity of ideas, not the influence of mind-altering substances. We have updated the headline.

Iowa native Ashton Kutcher returned to the homeland today to officially announce an investment in Dwolla, one of the hottest investments of the moment, and appear with Dwolla founder Ben Milne for a special episode of Silicon Prairie News’s PrairieCast. The A-list actor has invested in A-list startups from Skype to Twitter to Airbnb to Path to Flipboard Gidsy to Zaarly to New York’s Foursquare, GroupMe and The Fancy. He’s reportedly invested in some 40 companies. He’s the Real Deal, we’re told, and not an opportunistic dabbler who only got into the whole startup thing because a long time ago he challenged CNN to a race to be the first Twitter account to hit a million followers.

“Ashton as an investor is brilliant,” Mr. Milne said today.

“I’ve come to realize he’s one of the most insightful investors I’ve worked with,” David Lee, who co-founded SV Angel, told the New York Times.

Mr. Kutcher actually has a lot of suggestions about product, other founders have told Betabeat in the past.

So we were curious to hear the actor riff on startups at length in the live question and answer session with SPN’s live studio audience. Like Paul Graham’s on stage office hours at TechCrunch Disrupt, it offered a rare peek into what meetings between a famous investor and his investments must be like.

We came away… underwhelmed.

A sample Mr. Kutcher answer, to a question about identifying brand advocates to evangelize one’s startup:

I look at the point of any transaction and, whether it’s a social transaction where I’m creating a piece of messaging and I’m handing it to somebody else across the Internet, that’s a cusp, right, and any time you have that cusp, you have an opportunity for social syndication. So if your product works really, really well and you put it in the hands of the original seed users that are going to be passionate about your product and use it a lot, and you give them the opportunity in their transaction, whether it’s a financial transaction in ecommerce, or it’s a social transaction where someone is trading a photo of somebody else, somebody trading a message or somebody trading a song or whatever it is, when that cusp takes place, if you give them the tools to syndicate it, and they’re a passionate user, they will. And that syndication, if you actually have the right product flow, will create a multiple of return of consumers onto your site. And really it’s a traffic game business, right, so the more traffic you have on your site, the more potential transactions you have, the more transactions you have, the more opportunity you have for monetization. So anyime that you can interrupt that cusp and that flow with the syndication, or an encouragement to other people to actually join that platform, and/or an encouragement for individual to use the platform more, those are your opportunities.

So, basically he’s advising you add lots of “tweet this” buttons? Mr. Kutcher spouts this gibberish the entire session.

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