I’m always amazed when people who I meet for the first time come up to me and say “I really love Hyperpublic, it’s awesome.” I think to myself, “gee, that’s weird. Unless this person is a developer, I can’t imagine what they love about us.” I ask for a layer of detail and they pretend to appreciate the display application that we’ve pushed at Hyperpublic.com. I say “thanks very much, but there really isn’t a lot to do there, Hyperpublic,com is just meant to show engineers and developers what types of data we’re working with and making available through the HP API.” They sort of smile awkwardly, and that’s pretty much that.
In light of those types of interactions, I thought I’d uncover a little detail about what we’ve been up to at HP. Really, I’d prefer to stay under the radar, given the massive companies triangulating around our space, but recruiting an A+ team has become our number one priority and I want the top engineers in NYC and beyond to understand what we’re focused on and how interesting it is to be a part of the effort under way at HP.
Hyperpublic.com represents about 2% of our attention and bandwidth at HP, with the other 98% focused on the crawling, ingestion, normalization, organization, dissemination and surfacing of geocoded data. We see a world where consumers are starting to believe that they can navigate the physical world with the same ease and insight that they navigate the web. In order for that belief to become a reality, someone needs to build and organize an underlying geodata set that is incrementally specific to what is available within the tools consumers are most commonly using to effect local discovery on mobile devices today. At HP, we are building the infrastructure that will allow hundreds of thousands of location based and location aware applications to satisfy their users’ demands for more acute and deliberate movement through physical space. We are not a recommendation engine, we are not a reviews product, we are not a social network, we are a data platform. There is a killer application for the dataset we are working with, we have a pretty good sense of what it is, and if you like building Google scale consumer utilities, we are hiring PM/Mobile Dev/Back End Devs for our Apps team, but to date, our IP and accomplishments are squarely in the realm of “big data.”
The good news is, we’ve captured and organized hundreds of millions of local objects and metadata points and our asset is scaling very fast. The bad (and good if you are a masochist) news is there is effectively an infinite amount of data that exists in the physical world (hard to index infinity). If you are excited about working with large data sets, mashing up disparate data sources linked by a common lat/lon in order to deduce interesting signal and product, or generally excited about working with a team of deeply thoughtful engineers in New York City, we’d love to share some more secrets with you. Email: Jordan.firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t care if you are looking for a job, or happy at your job, or whatever. Emailing me does not = applying for a job, it just means you want to understand WTF I’m talking about. For the right people, our effort will consume you. Oh, and we pay absurdly well, full healthcare, real equity, flexible schedule, wonderful people, yada yada yada.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Lerer Ventures has been growing up over the past few months. Super pumped to announce the addition of Steve Schlafman to our team. Steve is joining us as a Principal most recently from Stickybits (aka Turntable.fm), but as you’ll see below, he’s had amazing experience both as an operator and an investor prior to LV. He’s a deeply thoughtful guy so I asked Steve to write a guest post to share his latest decision to join the fund. Without further ado, Steve Schlafman:
Betting on NYC and Joining Lerer Ventures
By Steve Schlafman
Only a year ago I decided to leave my dream job at The Kraft Group / The New England Patriots to jump head first into the NYC startup scene. During my time at The Kraft Group, I focused on early stage investments, strategic partnerships and digital media strategy. While I enjoyed living in my hometown of Boston (Go Sox!) and working for a highly respectable and influential company, I recognized something special was happening a few hundred miles south. The NYC tech community was heating up, and I was itching to join a startup.
That opportunity came when Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein of Stickybits (now Turntable.fm) made me an offer to join the company as their VP of Biz Dev and first business hire. I arrived last summer and worked out of DogPatch Labs. Immediately I realized that the startup culture here had a distinct energy and momentum, different than anything I had experienced in Boston, Seattle, Austin, New Orleans or LA.
After spending the last twelve months entrenched in the NYC tech community, I’m now convinced that we are witnessing a tech renaissance – and in less than a decade, the tech industry will certainly be as influential (if not more) than any other sector in NYC.
Here are my top 9 reasons why I think NYC has all the elements of a world-leading tech ecosystem:
- Talent: Startups in New York City are attracting talent from cities across the country, well-established companies in NYC, and world-class universities. New York has always been known for creativity and innovation in the arts. For the very first time, the creatives in NYC are shifting their focus to digital.
- Co-Working Spaces: Co-working spaces like General Assembly and DogPatch Labs are helping entrepreneurs get their business off the ground and get plugged into an instant network. For a comprehensive guide to NYC co-working spaces, see A Hitchhikers guide to NYC.
- Meetups: Meetups are critical to our ecosystem because they physically connect the community, facilitate new relationships, foster collaboration and encourage discussion. To stay on top of the latest events, subscribe to Charlie O’Donnell’s weekly email and the NYC Startup Digest.
- Hackathons: These are essential to any thriving tech community because they provide developers and designers with an opportunity to improve and showcase their skills, build and test new products / ideas, and meet other members of the community. A handful of recent hackathons include: TechCrunch Disrupt, Startup Weekend, Music Hack Day, News+Gaming Hackathon, and FourSquare hackathon. To catch details on the latest hackathons, follow John Britton on Twitter.
- Strategic Partners: NYC has a treasure trove of strategic partners including large financial institutions, advertising agencies, and media companies. Even the tech titans have established and grown their offices here over the past decade to take advantage of the talent and innovation that is taking place.
- Customers / Users – NYC has the largest population and highest population density of any city in the US by more than a factor of 2. Additionally, there are tens of thousands of large, medium and small businesses. Because users and customers are everywhere, it’s arguably the perfect petri dish to test / launch new products.
- Government Support: Mayor Bloomberg’s office has made a commitment to the local tech industry and he recently hired Rachel Sterne as NYC’s Chief Digital Officer. Additionally, the mayor’s office recently released NYC’s Digital Roadmap outlining the path to embrace NYC’s potential as the world’s leading digital city.
- Breakout Companies: The city now has more than a dozen breakout companies such as FourSquare, Etsy, BuddyMedia, Tumblr, Gilt Groupe, and Kickstarter. And there are some super innovative newcomers like Turntable.fm, Skillshare, GroupMe, Lot18, Canvas and Kohort.
- Venture Capital: It might be the best time since the 90s to raise money as an entrepreneur. Capital is abundant and the terms are favorable. West coast firms like Accel have set up shop here in the city. Others like SV Angel have partnered with Lerer Ventures to gain access to the many great entrepreneurs here in NYC. Even investors from Boston are spending more time here than ever before.
That said, I’ve decided to go all in and bet the house on NYC. I’m extremely bullish on this amazing city and I’m thrilled to announce that I have joined Lerer Ventures as a Principal to help Kenny, Ben, Eric and Jordan partner with and support this world-class community.
Here’s 6 reasons Lerer Ventures is getting me out of bed in the morning/and keeping me up late at night:
- Team: Companies are only as good as their people. That said, I’m most stoked to join Lerer Ventures because the team is first class. Everyone here has built, operated, sold and invested in startups. And each person has a high degree of intellectual horsepower and a strong moral compass. Additionally, the firm has expertise in media and entertainment, technology, publishing, e-commerce, and finance, which aligns with my experience.
- New Fund: During TechCrunch Disrupt in May of this year, the firm announced a new $25M seed fund, which will be used to back even more awesome companies in NYC and elsewhere.
- Value Add Investor: Working at The Kraft Group taught me that all money is not the same and entrepreneurs should always strive to find smart money. I’ve already witnessed Lerer Ventures working tirelessly for our portfolio companies. Whether it’s making high value introductions or helping our entrepreneurs think about their business strategy, the firm is continually helping entrepreneurs grow as business leaders and build special companies.
- Portfolio: I absolutely love our current portfolio because they are run by awesome entrepreneurs and have innovative products and business models. Some of our partners include BirchBox, WarbyParker, GroupMe, Greplin, BankSimple, Pulse, and OnSwipe. I’m very much looking forward to helping our existing (and future) portfolio companies any way I possibly can.
- Investment Focus: The fund has a heavy emphasis on the core competencies of New York and many sectors that I’m particularly passionate about. This includes, but is not limited to, social commerce, media, ad tech, gaming, and mobile / social broadly speaking.
- Co-Investors: Lerer Ventures has a strategic relationship with SV Angel and we regularly invest alongside some of the most respected firms including Union Square Ventures, Founder Collective, IA Ventures, First Round Capital, Accel Partners, and Softbank.
I love nothing more than learning about new companies, meeting passionate entrepreneurs, and helping them succeed, so don’t hesitate to connect with me.
I’m looking forward to working you all in the coming years and supporting NYC as the premier digital city on the globe.
Have a great summer and here’s how we can keep in touch:
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/schlaf
- LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=hb_tab_pro_top
- Tumblr: http://schlafnotes.tumblr.com
- OfficeHours: http://ohours.org/schlaf
1) the sex is not in the seed: market and media attention is moving away from seed phenomenon to late stage $1B rounds. Both the capital markets (public and private) and M&A markets for scaled late stage assets is extremely liquid. Founders who have built companies with $20M+ revenue can exit at least part of their position should they wish to.
2) Previously “disruptive” concepts such as “social” and “commerce 2.0” are no longer disruptive, but rather expected and moving toward commodity. Those that have moved first in applying social and subscription mechanics to successful 1.0 models have built valuable positions, those thinking that they are a “social” ______ going forward should note that the entire market is or will soon use the same mechanics and “social” will not be a form of differentiation.
3) Once the concept of social has penetrated every corner of the web, a new wave of applications will disrupt through the capture and application of data to 2.0 socially enabled models. This has begun already, but activity and innovation for the coming “data disruption” or “3.0” web exists at the infrastructure and business to business layer to date. Massive companies will be built in the development of plumbing for a “data enabled” consumer web.
4) Massive dollars have flown into the consumer application layer in the mobile ecosystem. Pressure to monetize those applications is going to get ugly, with a coming but not yet arrived mobile ad ecosystem. The “first wave” of mobile applications that have been created and fueled by an optimistic seed market are going to be in for a wake up call come Series B. Many will die, attention will flow toward building out a more sophisticated and liquid mobile ad ecosystem, mobile targeting and adtech will heat up, and only after will we see massive shift in ad dollars to support the mobile consumer application layer.
5) From that point forward, “mobile first” will be a derisked strategy for consumer facing entrepreneurs, while today it is brilliant but risky given the future expectations of the capital markets for follow-on financing.
6) At the nexus of the 3.0 data enabled web, mobile ad value chain, mobile first consumer application wave, and allocation of investment dollars over the next 36 months lies the location datapoint and if we don’t fuck it up, Hyperpublic. If you believe points 1-5, we’re hiring across the stack, technical and non-technical: Jordan.email@example.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
PREFACE: This is a little heady, and i definitely missed in places, but i think there are a few nuggets if you persist through the post. Sorry, wrote it on the back of an envelope on the street…
So much of the data we consume that informs our decisions and our being is “pushed” at us, we do not “pull” or ask for it. We place ourselves in contexts where we are likely to consume certain patterns of data, but it is the decisions and will of other individuals that move through the context in which we exist at any given moment that determine what we do and who we become. A man walks by me in a purple shirt and a yellow hat and I am literally changed forever. There is not a single moment of my life that will not be influenced by this occurrence. My local decisions (where to live, where to eat, etc.) are simply attempts at placing myself into contexts in which those that move into them and therefore shape/define me will be of a type and quality that furthers me in a direction consistent with my concept of my future self/life.
In an analog life, people fearlessly move into a physical environment where others see and observe them. They are conscious of the context which they have entered and there is a predictability around the result of their presence in it. As we shift into a digital age, there are increasing numbers of those who view the digital realm as an extension of the context they enter (“physical/digital thinkers”). They are aware that their position in space is not the only dimension they enter and act accordingly. They have no fear of their visibility and presence in the non-physical dimension. Those that grew up in a world where this dimension was not a part of day to day context (“physical world thinkers”), cannot process or understand their presence within it and therefor fear being “consumed” by others within it, despite the fact that they lack fear of similar self-exposure and consumption within the physical context.
One potential mitagant to this type of fear is a stronger feedback loop from the digital realm. When a “physical world thinker” is observed in the physical world, his image, movement, words, and even affinities are observed by those within eyesight. The observed can not only gauge reaction from thsoe consuming his image, but he can also make some assessment and observe “who” is consuming his image. Although he cannot attach an identity to or attain certainty around the qualities of those within his physical context, he takes comfort in the consumption of even light and insignificant data about those consuming him.
Conversely, when an image of that same person is captured within the physical world, but then housed in the digital dimension of the same “context” (i.e. a photo stored online), the consumed is no longer capable of seeing “who” is consuming him. In neither dimension does the consumed actually know those consuming him, but without a visible and physical representation of those consuming, the “physical world thinker” perceives instability and lack of safety. The “physical/digital thinker,” who recognizes this newly emerged dimension to context does not fear her presence within the digital dimension, as she can “see” it despite it’s lack of physical visibility in the moment. She carries around a device in her back pocket (smartphone) which is a window into that dimension of her present context, accessible only seconds from the point in which she demands entrance. We increasingly move between the physical and digital dimensions of our context, to the point where the “self” exists no more in one dimension than the other. I believe fear of the self being visible in the digital dimension will one day be perceived in a similar vein to our present day concept of agoraphobia.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
On Sunday I ran my first ever Half Marathon. Yesterday one of the guys at Hyperpublic asked me if it was hard. I thought about it for a minute and said, “you know, it really wasn’t that hard.” There were 10,000 other people of all shapes, sizes and ages who were able to run the 13.1 miles, and the reality is, it’s not some huge accomplishment to run that distance. There are hundreds of thousands of people who run at 2x the distance in traditional marathons every year. As I reflect on the race, I am drawn less toward the physical implications of completion, and much more toward the mental aspects of it. The coolest thing about finishing that race was that I took something that at first glance, seemed unattainable, and then I attained it. I had never run 13.1 miles before (i think the furthest i had ever run was about 8), so when faced with the prospect of running, my mind immediately assumed that I could not run 13.1. Typically, it is at these moments, where I confront something unattainable, that I am most motivated to attempt.
Each time, in life, that you reach something that at first seems impossible (or even improbable), it inspires you to attempt the next. Having repeatedly attempted the unlikely across facets of life ranging from physical, mental, professional, romantic, and beyond, I have developed a confidence that the seemingly unattainable, is in fact within reach. There have been times when I have reached for these improbabilities and come up short…but i have defied my “instinctual odds” enough times to know that initial disbelief is not a good barometer for what I should and should not attempt. My dad asked me if I felt proud to have finished the race, and I replied, “no, I don’t feel proud, I feel empowered.” Empowered to attempt something greater, or harder, or further away, because I yet again proved wrong the rational or fearful side of myself that ascribes to a mantra of “can’t.”
I often tell people who feel trapped or incapable of doing what they really want that “there is no such thing as can’t,” and I genuinely believe that. I literally cannot thing of a single thing in this world that is impossible. There is much that is hard, or highly improbable, but there is no goal that is not worth attempting for fear that it is not reachable. If you’re an entrepreneur, but really if you are anyone at all, try to isolate the moments in your life that your mind reverts to a concept of “can’t.” Take a couple hacks at things that seem impossible. As soon as you attain one, the world will never look the same.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )
Dear seed investors, let me give you a little tip that you wouldn’t ever arrive at if you haven’t been a seed-backed entrepreneur. When one of you portfolio companies sends you an email update with what’s been going on at the company…respond. It doesn’t have to be anything earth shattering, in fact it can even be two words, but some acknowledgement that you have, in fact, read the update, would be more appreciated than you know.
We are invested in almost 40 companies at Lerer Ventures, and I read every single word of every single update that every single founder sends to me. I always make a point of writing back, sometimes with ideas and questions, other times just a “great update, thanks,” but something to let the founder know that we are reading and listening. I think I developed this practice out of my own experience, sending out updates to a syndicate of 5-8 investors, and than anxiously awaiting feedback. The strange thing is, it is not uncommon to send out an update and then….crickets….nobody writes back.
One of our founders sent me a note a few months ago, thanking me for my attention and saying “you’re the only one who ever writes back to our updates, I really appreciate it.” I told her, it’s not that the others aren’t reading, it’s just that they are detatched enough from the vulnerabilities of being an early stage founder that they either never knew or have forgotten what it’s like to send out an update and not hear anything back. 90% of seed investors probably do read what’s going on, ingest it, make decisions and give advice going forward based on the content of the update, but they just don’t think to take the extra 60 seconds to 5 minutes to close the feedback loop with their founders.
So investors: we write you updates because we want to make sure you know what’s going on, but also because we want to get feedback on our thinking and progress. I know we interact in person and on the phone in between updates, but take a second to respond to what we’ve sent you. It means a lot to us to know you’re engaged.
And entrepreneurs: it’s not that your investors aren’t listening or don’t care, they are just viewing your update as information and not a request for response. If you hear crickets…don’t sweat it.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
I read in the Economist this week that an estimated 5,000,000 people move away from rural environments into cities every month. That means that almost 1% of the human population will move to urban environments in 2011. Pretty staggering to think what this means for the physical distribution of people in even 100 years. On the surface, it looks like urbanization is the future and we will all live in cities one day. I have written previously about the fallacy of assuming trends like this are linear, as opposed to cyclical, and lately I’ve been thinking about urbanization through this lens. The impetus: parallels between our 7 Billion person system and the system of the web.
The concept of urbanization is a very 1.0 idea. The web used to be dominated by destination sites that demanded that every node on the web travel to a central destination to extract whatever value they sought. So if you were in the market for a new car or a piece of news or a date, you would travel to Cars.com, Newyorktimes.com, and craigslist respectively. Everyone had to go to the central location because that’s where everyone else was, and that’s where information or value was most easily transferred. Similarly, in our physical system, nodes (people) are flocking to the destination (cities) in order to extract greater value than is achievable in the country. Urbanization is an optimization effort on the part of our system, increasing productivity, yield, and ultimately health of the system.
But wait a minute….destination sites are the past, not the future. Now the web is distributed. Nodes no longer have to travel to a destination in order to extract information or value, the information value flows away from the destination to the node. This is a more efficient and more optimized architecture than the 1.0 destination, and in theory, could be predictive of our physical system’s evolution.
So maybe this trend toward urbanization will, in fact, reverse over a long enough time horizon. As resources/land becomes scarce and expensive in urban environments it makes sense that the population would redistribute, sending value away from the destination to the less populated areas where people could exist in a more distributed fashion. The internet itself, has actually lowered the requirements of city dwelling insofar as we don’t need to share physical proximity to other nodes in our system in order to move information between us.
I see the main constraint of a distributed human system being our inability to move physical matter as effortlessly as we do digital matter. Innovations in transportation have helped to ease this constraint. As we have moved from the invention of the wheel, to the bicycle, to the car, ship, and now the plane, our system is able to push physical matter between hubs with an ease that alleviates the need for a “destination” architecture to some degree, but the constraint is still very real.
I look to innovation in transportation as the gating factor on weather our physical system could ever achieve a perfectly distributed architecture. Perhaps teleportation will be the catalyst that will drive nodes away from cities back out to the rural environments from whence they cameRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )
So it’s 70 degrees and sunny in Palo Alto right now. I am sitting in a cavernous and empty loft in new york city, listening to a rainy sleet drip against the air conditioner outside my window. You are riding your bike down University Avenue right now, waving to all your friends who work at Facebook and in 2 weeks your life is going to change forever. In 2 weeks you are going to quit your job at Google or Quora, throw all your shit in a suitcase, throw that suitcase in the back of your Prius, and you’re going to drive that little Prius 3000 miles from Palo Alto to the NYC. You’re going to crash on your awesome friend’s couch for a few weeks while you take in NYC and learn what makes each neighborhood so fucking awesome and different and unique and stimulating and your going to taste the energy here. You’re going to discover all of the amazing things in this city, you’re going to snap photos of the places you discover and want to remember, and you’re going to use Hyperpublic to capture and organize this experience of discovery. You’re going to leave the sun and the valley, and the echo chamber and the quiet and your going to venture out on this Odyssey because your are the next person we are going to hire at Hyperpublic. You are going to propel yourself into the depths of a New York winter because you have the opportunity to not only join but define what is going to become the first multi-billion dollar public true technology company to be built in New York City. You are going to introduce a piece of the valley’s DNA into a market that desperately needs it.
As a city, we are long on design/UX innovation and weak on deeper technical DNA. New York has always had a creative class, but only recently have they been empowered to productize that creativity on the web. Always lacking deeper technical DNA, in a world where building robust applications was actually difficult, this creative class was not capable of harnessing it’s vision and talent into products. As the cost and difficulty of building an application has reduced, talented but not deeply technical New Yorkers have become capable of supporting and productizing the vision locked within our creative class. This change, in conjunction with an influx of capital from Boston/Sillicon Valley, and the mass dissemination of tactical startup advice through social media channels, has set the stage for an explosion of activity and innovation that our city has not seen…ever.
Hyperpublic has begun to build the infrastructure that will support the swelling tidal wave of lightweight social and mobile applications that leverage the location datapoint and that interact with the physical/local environment. These are applications only conceivable within the parameters of an urban landscape, and there are going to be tens of thousands of them…
When you move here, you will be in the top 2% of engineers in New York City. We welcome you with open arms.
This is our app: http://hyperpublic.com/
This is what’s underneath the hood: http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/01/hyperpublic/
This is how you make it happen: Jordan@hyperpublic.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
If you worked here, you’d be participating in the most anticipated intraoffice pool tournament of the year today. Our shit is so fun, make our shit your shit, quit your boring job and help us grow next year’s bracket from 6 to 32. Happy Holidays!
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Hyperpublic is about to go live with a local experience that is going to change things. From our secret loft in the meatpacking district, we have been mapping the DNA of your neighborhood. We’ve been quietly building something awesome, and in a few weeks we are going to be less quiet. When that happens, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re going to unleash a product that is going to make consumers swoon, and then, like all great products, we are going to need to claw our way toward distribution. That’s where you come in!
- The most creative, intelligent, hard working, hustling, day 1 marketer in New York City.
- You have experience taking a consumer facing internet product from launch to 100K users and beyond.
- You are a user of contemporary internet products and understand their adoption curves.
- You are not afraid to market against the likes of Craigslist, Yelp, Milo, or Google.
- You are versatile. As capable of executing on partnership marketing and guerilla efforts as you are familiar with demand side and self serve ad platforms.
- You are a doer, self starter, resourceful and hungry. You require little to no direction in order to achieve your goals. You demand and earn respect through performance and accomplishment.
- Like everyone on our team, you take extreme pride in your work and are motivated by personal excellence and achievement
- You are addicted to traffic and analytics
Seriously though, if you want to own this, be put in a position of extreme responsibility and visibility, and work along side really talented and inspiring people, we’ll give you a job, very competitive compensation package, meaningful equity, and the opportunity to contribute and define something that is going to touch millions of people and change the way we interact with our local environment. Email resume/online presence/products you’ve helped distribute to Jordan.firstname.lastname@example.org with “Day 1” in the header.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
STOP: Play this song in the background while you read this post http://bit.ly/i3GYea
What is connection? Connection is an absence of solitude. It is a recognition, of varying depths, that we are not in this alone. It is not just a reminder that we can interact with others, but also a reminder that we are the same. That there is someone else out there who is going through this mind blowing experience of being human, and somehow the fact that this bizarre array of emotions and thoughts and events and actions is not completely unique gives us comfort, that we are somehow doing it right, or that we are normal, or at least that we can handle the next unpredictable turn that is upon us, because the guy to our right, or the person across the street, or our friend, or our mother, has experienced some aspect of our future and lived to breath another breath.
In connection comes a communication of experience that helps us to see where we overlap with the rest of the world. The closer our connection to another human being, the more of their experience we are able to observe, at closer range, with less filters. For most people family is the tightest connection we experience to other human beings. We are able to check the scariest parts of our experience against those of our family. We gain exposure to issues of health, emotional distress, financial pressure, and even mortality, all up close and personal because these tight connections communicate their own experience to us fully and without fear of judgment or disconnection.
One connective sphere out from family we have friends, who share a subset of their own experience, and remind us that we all are searching for love and success, that we all make bad decisions and have to pay for them, that it feels great to win a basketball game, and that watching a family member die can affect our professional performance. They are a barometer that communicates not only their experience, but an analysis of their experience that is incremental, educational, and softening to our own jarring life.
Push out further, and we enter the realm of loose ties and connections. This sphere can be approximated by our 500 Facebook connections, or even our 10,000 friends of friends. Our connection to these people is distant enough that their experience is heavily filtered when communicated to us. We only see the representation of them that they wish to project to the external world, but we are close enough that we ingest it repeatedly through sheer proximity. Although the communication is filtered, through repeated exposure we are still able to relate and analyze their experience relative to our own. We see what they wear, how they move, who they move with, and the various other attributes of their external profile, and yet again we are able to find overlap and similarity in these distant behaviors with our own.
Connection keeps us sane when faced with the aspects of our experience that are difficult to understand. “Where the hell did we come from?” No idea…this started to freak people out, and then religion comes along and institutionalizes a connection to others who are grappling with the same issue. It is not so much the answer that religion provided, as evidenced by the multitude of beliefs to which people subscribe, but rather, religion provided a recognition of the question that reminded people that they were not alone in this common human challenge. Imagine if I walked through life believing that I was the only one who was asking the question of human creation, or that I, alone, was grappling with the concept of God. That would be maddening, alienating, and potentially debilitating.
One of the oldest forms of connection that I can think of is our connection to our local community. Trends of cohabitation and urbanization reflect a recognition that the people who surround us can satisfy much of our connective need. I share space with people in my neighborhood and experience an extremely lightweight connection that in many ways contributes to my sanity. I am sitting in this café right now, writing this post, and the girl next to me is studying for a biology exam. I see the diagram of a heart and the path of blood into and out of it, and am reminded of my own high school education. I see her gaze away form the page, and we share a common affliction known as “distraction.” This observation of her is an extremely lightweight connection that reminds me that distraction is normal, and that I do not need to freak out just because I cannot focus for 2 hours at a time. I understand my own experience through the observation of my neighbor’s.
Various discovery and communication mechanisms have been developed to help people map, discover and strengthen their connection to the different groups I have touched upon in this post. I believe the local and hyperlocal experience has not been mapped, so we’re going to do it at Hyperpublic. As much as I hate to use the catch phrase, you could say we are building the “local graph.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Last night I went to Charlie O’Donnell’s Shake Shack 3 event. As I bounced from person to person, as is the protocol for networking events like that, I stumbled upon a few very creative solutions to an often awkward occurrence. What do you do when your conversation with someone has expired, and you want to go talk to other people? It’s very difficult to gracefully say “okay, I’m done talking to you because I’d prefer to be talking to someone else, I don’t know who, but I’m going to walk around because I’m sure there is something better than prolonging this conversation.”
So, the most creative exits to an unproductive networking conversation that I heard last night were:
1) “I’m going to circulate a bit, very nice to meet you”: This came from a 60 year old super experienced guy. There was something about the word “circulate” which was unapologetic about his purpose of doing business at the event, and yet classy and not at all ingenuine. Left me feeling great about being “event dumped.”
2) “there are a couple of people here that I really want to hunt down”: Again, recognizing explicitly a purpose beyond socializing, this exit said “it’s not that I don’t think you’re interesting, I just have a very specific goal”
3) “I am on a mission to find [explicit name of person]”: Same gig as above
Personally, I tend to wait it out until someone else comes over, taps me on the shoulder, and I sort of “break off” from the group I’ve been talking to. It’s a much more passive style of moving through an event, where I probably don’t meet as many new and interesting people as I could, so I think I am going to take a page out of these creative networkers’ books, and be a little more active about how I move through a crowd in the future. Had I done this last night, maybe I would have met the one person I was hoping to see there: Marco Arment, you are going to be my [explicit name of person] at whatever the next thing I go to is. I am slowly becoming obsessed with Instapaper.
Nothing earth shattering here, just some reflection on being thrown into a 300 person professional pinball machine.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
Yoga has always been a practice that I dive into and out of depending on my state of mind. I will go every week for 3 months and then not once for 6 months. I first discovered Yoga when I was 23 years old and a freshly minted banker on Wall Street. The transition from a life of freedom and nourishment in college, to one of shackles and pressure was weighing on me to the point where I was modeling in my dreams and waking up stressed and exhausted. Days began to bleed together and I decided that I needed some escape from the job. Every morning I walked by a Yoga studio in midtown on my way from the subway to the office and one day I decided to wake up extra early and try it out before work. What I found was that most of the practice was about shedding context and devoting 100% of your attention inwardly to yourself. I would leave that class remembering that I existed independent of the loudest temporal influences on my time and mindshare, and that was super helpful in grinding it out.
Aside: I can’t discuss my experience practicing Yoga during that year without mentioning a short lesson on why exercise with colleagues is a risky pursuit. A few months into pre-work Yoga, I began to evangelize the merits of this practice to my fellow analysts at work. Everyone was experiencing the same pressures, so I would try to wrangle them into coming with me in the morning. I used to sit next to this incredibly sweet girl who was sort of soft spoken, extremely fair skinned, and easily flustered into a tomato red state. She finally agreed to join me one morning, and we met at the studio to begin her discovery of the calm that I promised. In a class of about 10 people, she lined up next to me and we began to move through the instructions of our teacher. After about 10 minutes the teacher called for us to spread our feet into a standing straddle, and bend at the waste to touch the floor (effectively propelling our butts into the air). At this juncture, my coworker let loose one of the loudest and most apparent farts I have ever heard in my 28 years on earth. There was no ambiguity around the culprit of this act, and she wore her guilt on her face to the tune of a beet red complexion and a countenance of pure humiliation. The next 50 minutes were incredibly awkward, she raced out as soon as the class ended, and we never spoke of it again. Needless to say, that was the first and last class she ever came to with me.
Anyway, back to business. After probably a year long hiatus, last night I dropped into the 9:00PM Yoga to the People session on St Marks between 2nd and 3rd. The teacher said something during the class which I found particularly interesting: “There is more power in harmony than there is in chaos.” I found it interesting because it was not a trite statement that “chaos is bad and harmony/calm is good,” but rather a recognition that there is, in fact, a real power in chaos. I think in a world of hyper-multitasking and constant frenetic execution, my natural inclination is actually more toward harnessing that chaotic energy into results, but her words reminded me to check back into harmonious (or calm) execution more often than I do. I think there is actually a place for both in the life of an entrepreneur, and it is worth becoming proficient in both styles. The New York Times has been running a series on how technology is changing our brains (MUST READ) under the basic thesis (with scientific support) that with increasing volume of data stimulus we are rewiring our brains toward attention deficit and away from focus and sustained attention. Similar to my Yoga teacher’s call for an attention and practice toward harmonious execution, I have begun to control the amount of twitter/SMS/Email I engage with, in an effort to strengthen and remain facile in both the style of execution that technology is mandating I master (hyper-multitasking), as well as the one it is slowly conquering.
If you feel like the startup game has got you wrapped up in context (which it probably has), drop in to Yoga to the People. It’s donation based, so even those bootstrapped to the teeth can enjoy.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
I feel like partnering with an investor is a bit like searching for your dragon in the film Avatar. There are many dragons out there, all of which are capable of connecting to your strange hair braid or whatever that thing is, but there is only 1 dragon that perfectly complements you. You have to approach a bunch of dragons, look them in the eye, most will turn away, but one will get a crazy look in their eye and decide that they want to tangle. At that point, you need to fight them for a while, deflect their various attacks and attempts to kill you dead (they are just testing you), and then, if you survive the tussle, and earn their respect, you’ve learned how each other operate, and you can form a bond. That bond is a partnership. From that point forward, you communicate without effort, and fly or fight through your market as a team.
One of the most important things to look for in finding your dragon is a common language. You need to find investors who can process your thoughts in the language that you think in. If all of your ideas, learnings, and plans need to be translated into a different language that your investor thinks in, you are not going to benefit from the full brilliance or value of that investor. Something will be lost in translation, and re-translation when they guide you in their framework and you need to input their guidance back into your own. Frictionless information flow between you and your investors (or advisors for that matter) is key to maximizing such a relationship.
If you are building a syndicate of investors, not every member of the syndicate needs to have this frictionless transmittance. Different investors can offer you help in various facets of your business, but your key investor, or the guy/girl who sits on your board, or maybe a non-board member but your closest strategic confidant, must be someone who speaks and thinks in the same language as you.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I was talking to a very close friend yesterday who was pretty down, having fallen short of his own professional expectations of himself. He is an extremely high achieving guy, years ahead of himself in the professional realm, and like many folks in our world, he expects to crush any challenge in his path. After 4 or 5 months trying to turn a business around, the numbers aren’t what he hoped, and we talked about how to deal with professional disappointment.
Dealing with disappointment and executing both personally and professionally through it, is one of the few skills that I don’t think you can shortcut at a young age. For the most part, I like to believe that a brilliant 25 year old is capable of performing at the level of a less brilliant 35 year old, but there are some parts of business that require an emotional maturity that may only come with experience and time.
Specifically related to disappointment, what I’m starting to realize is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to never fuck up or fall short. If you don’t experience any disappointment in your professional pursuits, you are playing it way to safe.
The first time or two that you disappoint with a lot on the line, it feels like the end of the world. In fact, sometimes the consequences can be quite serious. Jobs are lost, money is lost, respect is lost, and without the benefit of 10 or 20 years seeing a healthy sample size of disappointments and how they pan out, those consequences are extremely hard to work through. As I approach the 6th year of my professional life, I think I am getting a little better at dealing with disappointment. My guess is when I’m 40 I will know exactly how to deal with it.
Disappointment is a part of life, no matter how good you are or how good you will become. We do our best to prevent it, and hopefully we achieve more than we disappoint, but with disappointment we also develop humility. It is this humility that allows us not to be shocked by future disappointment. Without shock, we become better at executing through the bad, and toward achievement. I’d be interested to hear from older guys/girls, but my sense is great operators learn over the course of their careers how to address disappointment effectively.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
For no particular reason, I’ve been thinking about a question. If you wanted to become the next Craigslist, build a better matching mechanism between local supply and demand, and present local sellers, whether they be individuals, or independent service providers, with a better vehicle for finding buyers, what would you do?
1) You wouldn’t try to take down Craigslist out of the gate. Craigslist doesn’t topple in 12 months, craigslist slowly dies over 10 years. As long as they represent a high volume of local consumers, they will attract local suppliers.
2) You would build your UX under the assumption that your users will touch both your product and Craigslist in the same search for a local supplier or local buyer. You’d respect the incumbent.
3) You would focus on amassing an audience of local consumers that is large enough to provide incremental selling opportunities to local suppliers not achieving 100% success through competing channels (read: all local sellers)
4) You would develop a toe hold in a single vertical, and then start “inviting” that audience down adjacent vertical funnels (Craigslist started w local event listings)
5) You would buy traffic. I can’t see anyone becoming liquid fast enough without paying for audience.
6) You would take that bought traffic, and make sure each purchased user perpetuated your product beyond his own consumption.
7) You would figure out what socializing listings really means, and what incremental value consumers get from engaging their graph in their own local buying and selling.
8) You would figure out how to promise local suppliers higher close rates with less work.
9) You would create a user experience that engages local consumers, not only at the point of buy/sell, but across points where they seek to engage with a local population (whether they seek to communicate, publish, ask, answer, meet, watch, etc…that population).
10) You would recognize that buy/sell is not just buy/sell, but also search/find, speak/speak, give/take, trade/trade, and any other iteration of match between two complimentary local needs.
11) You would not require local buyers or sellers to repeatedly return to your destination. You would capture and categorize whatever they were buying and selling, go out, find the other half of their match where it existed, and deliver their match to them wherever they are engaged online.
12) You would not try to “own” your users. You would certainly service your users and build a relationship around that service, but you would allow anyone who is helping local buyers and sellers get together to pull your data into their environments. You’d be happy when one of your local sellers found their buyer, independent of who delivered it to them.
13) You would build a brand that focuses on the people behind the listings. A neighborhood or city is not defined by geography, but by the people that inhabit it.
Not that Jumppost is doing this, we are JUST focused on local real estate. Seriously. Jumppost.com is not just a revenue generating local funnel that pays back in 30-45 days and allows us to cost effectively buy a large local audience (see #5)…
If you want to change how people in a local environment find each other based on need, you should come work with us. email@example.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
I’ve been thinking a lot about the debate around privacy these days, and it occurs to me that the very concept of privacy is at odds with a much more powerful evolution in our species which I would broadly call systemic functioning. There is nothing new to the idea that humans are social creatures, and as I look over the course of our development as a species, individuals grouping together first in the form of family units, then groups of families cohabitating, all the way up to and through urbanization, it becomes clear that our ability to preserve and perpetuate our species, compete for resources, and generally further ourselves relative to competitive species within our environment is vastly enhanced when we work together.
Over time, as we have grown to become more collaborative, our duration of life and rates of reproduction have grown in kind, and there is undoubtedly a correlation between our advancements as a population and our progression to functioning in systemic ways.
Wikipedia defines a system as:
“System (from Latin systēma, in turn from Greek σύστημα systēma, “whole compounded of several parts or members, system”, literary “composition”) is a set of interacting or interdependent entities forming an integrated whole.”
It used to be that our species operated in groups of small systems, and then advents of transportation mechanisms initially (wheel, boat, car), and the communication mechanisms such as the telephone began to connect these small systems and allowed them to become part of a larger system, where learnings, advancements, and general best practices for preservation and perpetuation of human life were shared across these small systems. Still, data was largely transmitted physically or verbally, and was not easily disseminated to all members within these small systems. In essence, there was still a massive chasm between the volume of data one member of a system in Mongolia learned and knew, and what another member of a separate system in Peru could leverage and implement.
Obviously, with a common backbone which enables all individuals to push data into and pull data out of a shared repository (the internet), our species has largely become networked into one giant system, sharing learning and data in a way that has already and will undoubtedly continue to enhance the metrics around preservation and perpetuation at the species level.
Given this trajectory, there is no evolutionary advantage to having an individual human being value their “privacy.” The idea that I am not a part of the system is not an idea that is “selected for” in a world where our species thrives and advances at a more productive rate as one collective system. Granted, as we, and Mark Zuckerberg, push the limits of this movement toward one singular and fully networked system, we will continue to come up against small backlashes (hi diaspora), but the general curve is going in a single direction both within the existent population, but even more prominently in new and future generations that are coming down the pipe.
Privacy is not just less important to younger generations, it is actually at odds with our advancement as a species. Younger generations don’t consciously view it this way, but that concept is digested by them through the everyday value they extract from parting with it.
My prediction is that 100 years from now people will look back at the concept of privacy as we know it today and perceive the societal and individual value placed around it as an absurdity.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
It’s the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. I was up at 6:30AM, working from my iPad in bed by 6:31, at the gym before 8, and at the office by 9:30. As I walked from the East Village to the West Village, I passed young professional after young professional carrying tote bags donning the words JPMorgan, KKR, etc… They all had their “summer weekend” outfits on. Sunglasses, newspaper poking out the side of their bag, boat shoes no socks, and a smile on their faces like they were going to coast through this Friday and “slip out” at 4 to catch the early train to the Hamptons. They walked with a cadence that said they’ve been thinking about this 3 day weekend for the last 2 months, and it occurred to me that the holiday weekend meant so much more to them than it does to me.
I remember when I used to work in finance (first job out of school), the briefest glimpse of a break from the grind and routine was a very big deal, and as I now watch what this holiday weekend means to these guys, it occurs to me that they are not really living. Every day I wake up and I am doing exactly what I want. Yes, I work hard. Yes, I am tired sometimes. But at the end of the day, I am not searching for a break from my everyday life. There is a fundamental problem with a life where a 3 day weekend puts a hop in your step that won’t return until Labor Day rolls around…
I walked by a 30 year old dude in a small BMW that said “I’ve been dreaming of this aspirational lease for the last 6 years in my cubicle,” and he had his “weekend bag” on the passenger seat, shades on, heading for the west side highway. I could see he was “sneaking out” Friday morning when all the other suckers were working a full day. It occurred to me that I don’t want to sneak out. I want to get to the office, write a blog post, focus on my to do list, get better, learn more, prepare, because all the work I’m gonna do while that guy is drinking Amstels by the pool of his shitty summer share is for me and my team. Not some 40 year old Managing Director who’s been in the Hamptons since Thursday morning at his place on the beach that this 30 year old guy would kill a 6 month old puppy to call his own.
So, I guess in some ways I pity that guy in the beamer who’s at this point probably at exit 63 on the LIE, salivating over the sign to Montauk Highway. Because Monday night is going to come around, and he will return to a life that I almost lived, that you couldn’t pay me $5 Million a year to return to.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 24 so far )
Jon Steinberg wrote a post this morning exploring some of the parallels between business thinking and poker strategy. Much of his thinking focussed around changes in probability resultant from environmental (the flop) as opposed to operational (the player’s decision making) occurrence. His post reminded me of something I wrote nearly a year ago, in the midst of some very hairy career planning post Untitled Partners. In the height of macro decline, I found myself parsing through opportunities to work in VC, start a new company, etc… my approach, which is fairly unconventional during times of career transition, was to exercise extreme patience. My theory then, which is consistent with the career advice I give almost everyone who asks for it now, was as follows:
By definition, in our careers, we only get to make 5 or 6 “5 year decisions” in our lives. When faced with the prospect of unemployment, I think most people make these 5 year decisions around future direction quickly, in the midst of bias and incomplete data, in a sort of flight from uncertainty. In reality, much like in a game of poker, I believe the correct strategy is to let a ton of hands go by, watch the game, watch the players, wait for Aces, and then push your entire stack into the middle.
Below is a fairly unstructured account from the depths of a very intense poker game I was playing in late spring of last year:
Business and Poker 7/22/09
In my life I have won and lost surprising sums of money at the poker table. I don’t really play any more, mostly because I don’t have time, but when I did, there were 3 factors that affected my success, two of which were relatively constant and one of which was variable. My skill was relatively constant…I suppose with volume of hands played, pattern recognition and probabilistic intuition improved, but I was generally equally capable of winning every time I sat down at a table. Second constant was luck (or probability depending on how you want to look at it). With a large enough sample, good hands are evenly distributed across time played, hands that should win do win, etc…but in a small sample size, or an individual session as the case may be, these odds don’t always hold true…I recently heard some professional poker players refer to this concept of occurrence against odds as variance…so I will borrow it. The third factor, which was not constant, but in my opinion, the greatest predictor of my success or failure was my own patience…It takes tremendous discipline to sit at a table for 8 hours and not play a single hand…but commitment to playing winning hands is what allowed me to win more than I lost…sometimes I would get impatient, especially when I was younger, and played hands I shouldn’t have. Sometimes I won them, more times I lost them, but I craved opportunity to the point where even a 20% chance of victory was an opportunity to win, not a likelihood to lose…the real money was never won on flyers, or paying to see flush draws…it was won by waiting as long as it took to see winning hands, and maximizing my bets on those winning hands…
The last 3 months of my professional career has felt a lot like one of those 8 hour sessions…the kind where I’ve been tempted by 20% hands, but certain that they aren’t the right ones to play…My friend Andy suggested that maybe I am playing this game too tight…waiting for pocket aces to push my stack in, when Jacks is a really good hand worth playing…I can’t disagree that Jacks win more than they lose…the problem is Jacks aren’t even Jacks anymore. The rate of change in the venture capital industry, the startup ecosystem, the broader industrial landscape, and the global macro environment is so great that I don’t feel confident relying on Jacks right now…And it’s not just the rate of change, it’s the opacity of change that is commanding my absence from the action…the process of identifying opportunity for me is a combination of understanding the current state of things very well, seeing the direction of change, and determining the likely future state of things…as I try to go through this process, a major hurdle is the quality of data informing my understanding of the current state of things…traditional sources, such as media, academia, and industry thought leaders, don’t really have a clear picture of how there respective areas of focus have settled post meltdown…and the reason? Because things haven’t settled…still moving targets. Plenty of people are willing to admit that it’s too hard to see the future right now and how things are going to play out, but I’ve heard very few voices admitting that they don’t really see the present. A source of this opacity, I believe, is a reaction to loss in consumer (and enterprise) confidence. Everyone is so focused on affirming the security of their place in the future environment (both to outsiders and themselves), that they cannot stomach an objective present examination and communication of their own business, industry, country, etc…And I get that…there is an element of self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to uncertain situations such as ours…those who claim to be the winners, gain traction and attention and support, and may become the winners for that reason, but everyone is not well positioned to emerge from this disruption to the context in which they previously existed and operated, and NOBODY has emerged because we are still mid-disruption.
Anyone who tells you they are playing 90% hands right now, likely had a 20-50% hand 18 months ago, that got a lot better when the flop came out “meltdown.” So I have some guesses as to where we are right now, and where things are going, and who is well positioned for the future…but they are 20-50% hands at best …and I don’t play 20-50% hands anymore…but shit…how long can someone possibly sit at the table and watch hands go by? After a certain period of time…your neck gets stiff, your legs and butt begin to cramp…and you need to either make a move or get up and leave the table…normally, I would get up and leave, but then there are these factors that are accelerating my need to play a hand: 1) boredom: I can’t stand not having something interesting to run at, things are getting too academic, not enough action; 2) money: I’m fortunate to have saved up some scratch over the years, so I could do this for a while, but the bank account is steadily declining…3) momentum: momentum in a professional trajectory is not to be taken lightly. Networks atrophy when not utilized. Action abstracts into theory, and the energy required to speed up a ball that has decelerated is much greater than the energy required to maintain a ball already in motion at desired pace.
You know a great place to sit around and watch a ton of hands go by without playing any right now? Venture Capital. Still collecting sweet management fees to eliminate factor #2 (money), no pressure to push the stack in on a hand (in fact LP’s would prefer it if you didn’t), and access to better data on the current state of things. So what’s the problem? Seems clear, go work in venture capital until you see a winning hand, and then leave and play it, right? Wrong..[truncated]
P.S. I ended up working with a VC for the summer, watched a bunch of hands go by, used that as a platform to find my “aces” in JumpPost, and only after did my gig with Lerer Ventures emerge…Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
One of the most important factors in the success or failure of a venture capital firm is their ability to attract and partner with entrepreneurs whose financings are competitive. These “top tier” entrepreneurs have either built an asset which is visibly valuable to the market (all investors) or achieved something in a previous endeavor which differentiates them from the average early stage startup. In this scenario VC’s are actually competing for the opportunity to invest in a company.
Last night I stumbled into a conversation between one of General Catalyst’s Limited Partners (LP) and a group of young entrepreneurs that broadly fit the bill of “top tier” founders. This LP is responsible for investing the endowment of a major university, and his job is to measure the efficacy and trajectory of the funds in which his endowment is invested. There are concrete metrics of success and failure in VC (namely returns and exits), but because those metrics don’t materialize for 3-10 years from the time a new fund is closed, LP’s must use softer metrics to measure the health of a fund. This particular LP, recognizing the importance of a firm’s brand in winning competitive deals, asked these 3 young founders the following question: “When you meet investors and are deciding who you want to work with, what factors influence your decision?”
In listening to their responses, many of which echoed the value propositions a fund would use to market themselves into a deal (i.e. team building, relationships, introductions, etc..), I realized that my view of what makes an interesting investor may be abnormal. To me, there are 3 things worth paying attention to:
1) Incremental data: as a founder, you are constantly making decisions based on incomplete data sets. An investor sits above your market, and through investments and involvement in companies adjacent to your product or market, or through past experience building analogous products or companies to yours, they represent access to a more complete dataset. With more complete data comes better decision making, so an investor’s ability to ethically and frequently improve your datasets is of real importance. If you’re building a company that is dependant or interfacing with the twitter ecosystem, there is an obvious advantage to having Fred Wilson or Jack Dorsey as investors.
2) Incremental thinking: When speaking with investors, my goal would be to communicate all of the important data I have as clearly and quickly as possible. More often than not, as a founder, you will have spent way more time studying and understanding your market than an investor, but I think the goal of getting to know an investor should be to learn how they think. Get them up to speed as quickly as possible, and then see if, based on a common dataset (or even better, with a common dataset, plus their incremental dataset), the investor identifies the 3-4 most important levers that impact your strategy and vision. Ideally, you will see eye to eye, but then you hope they will push you with new thinking and ideas that you would not have arrived at without their help. This incremental thinking and analysis will be something you can look for from an investor over the life of your startup. The more data you collect as you continue to execute, and as your market evolves, the more important it becomes to have an investor who will be capable and excited to help your interpret it when making directional decisions. (NOTE: I hear many founders talk about wanting their investors to give them money and then “get out of the way.” This is arrogant and an underutilization of a relationship that should be a major boon to your company)
3) Trust: I can’t stress enough the importance of trust in a relationship with investors. There are different levels of trust. First and foremost, you need to be able to look the guy or girl in the eye from whom you are raising capital and see that they are a good person. Ask yourself, “is this guy ethical? Do we share common values? Can I predict how he will react under stressful situations and do I trust that he won’t compromise our common values no matter what the circumstance?” If you can answer yes to that level of trust, the next layer of trust is trust that you can expose all the data you have without fear. Many founders feel like they have to “manage” their investors, share the good data, and deemphasize or mask the bad data. This feeling largely comes from a lack of predictability around an investor’s response to bad data. Personally, I would look for an investor who you feel comfortable exposing your weaknesses to. Trust them with the whole dataset and you can maximize the “incremental thinking” piece of the equation. Trust them with only a partial dataset and you reduce the likelihood of success. I guess I’m saying find someone you trust not to freak out when bad data emerges, because I can guarantee you…it will.
So to recap, look for data-driven thinkers with experience executing around dynamic and changing datasets in a fashion and cadence that is consistent with your personality and ideals.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
« Previous Entries Next Entries »