I trust that everyone knows this age-old adage. Something told to us by our parents, initially understood as a saying that was meant to make us work harder and to never take the easy road. This always went to apply to ‘not’ doing certain things and working hard on things that we didn’t necessarily want to do.
How true this saying is….
Working on creating a new business, a new start-up you are really faced with the intricacies of concurrently running and creating a new entity from nothing. I’ve compiled a team of friends and accomplices that I know will help us bring the company to the best stage possible. Our goal is to become the best friend that a start-up never had.
This is the way I view the venture capital / start-up world today in organizational terms:
Start-Up Incubators are like fraternities – start-ups are requested to pitch their ideas to the board members after which the ‘best’ ones are selected to stay in a room to train and be mentored with others for several days, after which you receive funding and membership into an ‘elite’ society where only the ‘cool’ and ‘brightest’ remain. Really? I’m pretty certain a lot of the other start-up ideas were fantastic as well….
Venture capitalists are the friends you THOUGHT you wanted – start-ups are always keen to reach out to the venture capitalist universe once they have reached a certain amount of success to raise nominal amounts of capital for outsized equity stakes. This is not to knock on venture capitalists. The very business model is extremely risky and requires high returns from the investments that do pan out as successful. Also some VCs have great networks. HOWEVER, they are still the friend you thought you wanted. The advice and investment come with a caveat, VCs have a certain view of a successful business and a very clear exit strategy in mind. The friend that you thought was really cool and had a lot of friends, but in the end was concerned primarily about themselves?… perhaps. If you’ve never worked in the financial services industry, how can you be prepared for fending off unwanted advances?
Start-ups are the ones that didn’t have friends in high school – This is by no means a knock on those who create start-ups. I mean I’ve created a start-up. But start-ups are like the ones who didn’t have lots of friends in high school, because at that point in time the ‘popular’ kids did not really see the value in having friends of that sort or they just were not cool enough to hang out with. Often times they were focused on their studies and self-development, too pre-occupied in succeeding in what they thought was important to be bothered by the riff raff of things that high school students will be preoccupied with. Sound a lot like a start-up?
Not only are we going to start-ups’ best friend, but we’re going to find them a whole lot of new friends along the way.