Thursday, April 28, 2011

Make Your Own Breaks

I can build a company without any outside investment, and very little of my own. In fact I can build a company with nothing at all--I've done it before and can do it again.

But when you want to accelerate something great, and the market's converging on your space and starting to educate the public on your behalf, it helps to have a great team already in place.

So I'm out on the West Coast this week meeting with people, from investors to advisors to potential team members. It's so refreshing to talk to so many sharp people in such a concentrated period of time. Lancaster's got a lot of smart folks, but there's something to the pace and intensity of the Valley that I really love.

When you try raise money, you fail regularly. You get rejected. Rejection sucks. They pass judgment on you, your work, your dream, your vision, your future, and most of the time, the answer is no. Or the VC variation of no, which could be "we don't invest in this space"  or "let us know when you have traction".

Yesterday I had three great meetings. Nobody said no--explicitly or in VC-speak. They were interested, engaged, interactive, smiling, and I walked away feeling great about the time I spent with them.

Usually I learn something; sometimes I get good feature ideas. I don't remember that kind of interaction from the late 90's outside of Steve and Warren from DFJ, who were both makers prior to joining the dark side.

These days it's incredible--tons of capital, lots of smart people, an industry-wide adoption of non-participation  (liquidation preferences can be a bitch), founders openly talking about their struggles, tons of competitive companies...it's great!

It's happening in New York too, and I suspect in other places.

But the rejections, when they happen, are valuable too. And it's painful, because even though I'll nail the right deal, I'll wonder just what it was that didn't convince each VC in each firm.

I realized something this week: I want to win every time. Every single time. It's an incredible amount of drive and ego somewhere in my psyche that makes me want to win everyone over, but I do and I think that's part of my tenacity.

But you have to take the good with the bad, and rejection is part of the process. If you're smart, you take notes, learn from each meeting, don't place too much weight on any of them, and keep plugging away, building your business, making your own breaks.

These next 4 weeks are going to be amazing.

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