Yesterday I ran across a tweetstorm by Jason Calcanis. He dropped some New York City bluntness on people. I love it. He is a very experienced seed investor. He runs Launch, which is an awesome event. He grew up in NYC as a frustrated Jets/Mets fan, but lives in Silicon Valley today. To my knowledge, the Jets still frustrate him. But, so do some pitches he hears.
Back when the financial crisis happened, Bob Geras gave me some good advice He said, “Watch out for founders pitching just to get a salary. The reality is they don’t have the passion. When the economy improves, they will quit and get a corporate gig.”
There are no prizes for second place in Startup Land. I am reminded of what the upper class cadets told me at the academy when we toed the white line. “From this moment on, you will only make five statements….”. One of them was, “No excuse sir/ma’am”. In startup land, there is no excuse. It’s on you. I know to well the feeling of desperation and panic that startup founders feel. This is risky business and there isn’t a cash fairy passing out buckets of cash. A former trader and I recently had a conversation about our lives. He said when he was first introduced to the trading floor he was standing in the visitors gallery looking at the mayhem and a person asked him, “Do you want to make a million dollars?” “Yes”, he said. “Well, all you have to do is figure out how to take it from them.”, the person retorted. Startup Land is competitive.
At the end of the day, it’s “I Can, I Will, I Must.”
I have run across various iterations of what Jason tweeted about but thankfully, they are few and far between. It’s something to ponder. If you are going to start a company, there is a time to begin pitching it. Before you have a working MVP is not that time. The things he says about hiring, publicity and sales are so true. Especially sales. It’s not enough just to sell customers. You have to persuade people to quit what they are doing to join your venture and take a risk on it. This is where there is a big difference between doing a cash flow/lifestyle business and a true blow out venture business. If you are going to take the risk and time to do a startup, be bold. You might as well go for the brass ring. Don’t follow the herd.