Due to the holidays, no editorial this week. Do hope you enjoyed yours, and a heads up: It’s the holiday party season, a time when things supposedly slow down, but do they really? Reminder: it’s a very good time to get out there and meet new people – some of whom may be able to introduce you to people you need to meet in order to get you to the next level – and truth be told, investors never rest. They do like to kick back, however, and enjoy this time of the year as much as anyone else, but if you see them around town or at gathering, introduce yourself, get to know them, ask if it would be all right to follow up with them after the holidays – and do – and this above all: remember that tech never really rests, either. It is always moving…onward and forward.
The Presidential election is over. The electorate has spoken, and we do know that there is great discord in the tech sector that a particular candidate failed to win, and considering the shockwaves that went through that sector, in particular, we’ll take it as a sign that there is indeed a tech bubble. Has tech totally lost touch?
We thought it would be interesting to view the election as a lesson in brand-building and how to not simply launch a company, but some pointers on how to take it to the finished line.
Customers vs Investors. One of the investors who spoke at a recent SOS Breakfasts mentioned a company in which she had invested. The company had a growing sales pipeline – until the founder started focusing on raising the next round of funding. Fund raising is a full time job, as we know, and when you have a skeleton staff, hard to keep all of the balls in the air. Nor do paying customers understand it when they’ve purchased a product and have to wait for it, as the CEO is busy raising funding. The company was falling off the cliff, and the investor suggested that the founder focus on sales and put the fundraising on hold. Result: the sales pipeline grew to the point where the company no longer needed to raise funding. One candidate focused on wealthy donors, qua investor; the other crisscrossed the country relentlessly, reaching out to the electorate, qua customers. At some point, you have to stop fundraising and focus on business.
Full disclosure: the subject of today’s newsletter comes at the request of a number of investors, advisors and startup consultants whom we know.
We all know the old tech adage: if you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money. Some entrepreneurs genuinely do want advice, especially from a consultant, advisor or investor, which is when they reach out and ask that question that is the #1 deal killer for d) all of the aforementioned:
“Do you mind if I pick your brain?”
That’s not a typo. We’re referring to Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey and bear with us…
Silicon Valley is often referred to as a monoculture, and it’s something of a misnomer, as lately especially, it’s gone well beyond that. True, it’s basically a one-industry town, but in order to work in that industry, you also need to be of a certain mindset – and political bent. Of course, all are entitled to their opinions, and all well and good, even in Silicon Valley – as long as you move along lockstep with the accepted opinions.
Republican and staunch supporter of a certain candidate for President Peter Thiel comes to mind who, as a gay man, an immigrant and an extremely successful serial entrepreneur and investor, was practically a poster child for success/diversity/acceptance in Silicon Valley – until he expressed his political views and turned out to be – gasp – supporting a supposed homophobic xenophobe for President, who invited him to speak at the party’s convention – and Thiel accepted! Oh, wait, isn’t Thiel both homosexual and foreign-born? Never mind. Not all things have to track. Let’s stay on point here.