April 14, 2014
The blog post is motivated by an article by knowledge@wharton business school with the title “The Next Generation of Investor-Startup Ecosystem“. I have written a lot about the need for Investors to be empathetic to Startup Founders and how value gets destroyed when that does not happen. I have seen it too often that Investors arbitrarily change the dynamics of a discussion with the Entrepreneur especially when it is time to commit on the amount of investment and value of the investment. There was also a blog post on Wall Street Journal based on a Twitter burst by Marc Andreessen about investors coming into Silicon Valley and get ahead of the other local investors by initially suggesting a very high value to the Entrepreneur only to use the Due Diligence phase to negotiate the value down and also to box out the Entrepreneur. A lot of dirty tricks to watch out for especially if you are an Entrepreneur and new to the game. These discussions also show an ominous sign that things are starting to get too frothy in the Startup Universe especially in Silicon Valley. A number of startups are taking in more money than they ever will need for the next 3 to 5 years.
Macro trends matter, the time of cheap money will end and then the cost of funding will go up and then this froth will dry up, taking that into account many large startups like Quora, Uber, Fab etc have taken in multiple Tens of millions of dollars. Here is the article that outlines this trend. All this being said, the important thing that remaining is the struggle of the entrepreneur and those investors who stand on the side of the entrepreneur to say be strong as I am on your side. I see so little of that with the investor community. I struggle a lot with the same challenges that I write about. My dream is that we are able to create a vibrant Startup Community in Iceland. I am happy to see that entrepreneurs have more options now with accelerators and the flurry of discussion arounds money flowing into the entrepreneurial companies, however ventures follow a power law where the top 1% take majority of the funds. Despite all these challenges if entrepreneurs have bargaining power to demand that Investors bring more than money into the game, that would be a great win. Here are some excerpts from the article by Wharton which I thought was great:
As investors ask for proof of sustainability, startups in turn want backers to help them grow instead of just writing a check. The explosion of incubators and accelerators like Y-Combinator, 500 Startups, RocketSpace, Rock Health, Plug and Play and others is in large part attributable to this need. Even many institutional VC firms, such as Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and Sequoia, are selling more than money. “Other things like the operational metrics, recruiting capability, marketing and industry expertise and connections, these things have become hugely important,” says Chaudhuri.
Did I mention that I am big believer in Accelerators? I think creating more accelerators that are focused on specific industries is another way to create better Investor-Startup Ecosystem, for example there was a suggestion to create an accelerator in Iceland focused on Tourism and Hospitality. I think that is awesome, creates so many tangents of value that it solves big challenges for Investors and Entrepreneurs. I love the following video that shows the relationship between the some of the Entrepreneurs and Venture Investors. I would build the same relationship with every entrepreneur that I will back. That is a promise.
April 14, 2014
As an entrepreneur you are constantly fighting the grips of Fear, Doubt and Failure. It is a natural part of being on a journey that is low on data and high on uncertainty. I wanted to share the learnings from the CEO Bootcamp, the first day we discussed the 5 mistakes CEOs make and how to deal with them. We were made to deal with our Fear and Failure thoughts during the second day of the CEO bootcamp. I have written about being Fearless, and my role model there was my Father. God I miss him! He was always fearless in everything he did sometimes foolishly so but never ruthless or mean. So the fundamental question that you should ask yourself is why are you fearful, Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders are typically impatient with the status quo, pathologically optimistic and the ones who challenge and inspire because they want to make the world better. That is a pretty lofty goal to go after and we wonder why are we scared? I think being scared is natural part of the journey of an entrepreneur. The next logical question is ok, how do we deal with it? There were 3 questions that were posted to all the participants:
What are you afraid of?
What are you afraid of?
What are you afraid of?
it is not a trick, you have to dig deep to find out what you are really afraid of, the superficial narrative that is on the top of your head is not the only answer, there are layers of fear. We fear failure and therefore we fear uncertainty. Uncertainty is painful, uncertainty undermines our sense of safety, uncertainty fuels our expectations of infallibility and luck exacerbates the uncertainty. Did you see that? getting lucky actually makes the problem worse.
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April 9, 2014
The Flatirons rock formations, near Boulder, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I started writing this post on the first day of the CEO Bootcamp, but the bootcamp was so intense on me personally that I could not sit down to write the rest of the program. I will do that in the coming days. This has been one of those life changing week and event.
I wanted to document and share the pre-work that I had to do as part of the Leadership/CEO bootcamp that I wrote about earlier. The camp has not yet started, I left Iceland on April 1st and reached Boulder around 10pm about 2am Iceland time and just did not have any energy to do anything. After a good 6 and half hour sleep, I got up at 4:45 am and did some work and did my 8km run and got some really nice Egg Benedict for breakfast. I was watching some of the videos that was our pre-work before the event. I have already shared some of them before, here is one that I thought was very relevant it is a bit long but totally worth it. I highly encourage all Entrepreneurs and Startup CEOs/Leaders to watch it, Jerry goes through a number of things that you are always afraid of asking.
In addition to the above video, here are a bunch of videos that I highly encourage all the Startup CEOs/Leaders to go through.