Inspired by my friend George Zachary of Charles River Ventures, who implemented a “no 3′s” rule for himself while judging our Founder Showcase events, this scoring system is designed to polarize and extract blunt feedback from mentors.
When you can’t rate somebody a 3 out of 5, you are forced to choose negative or positive… and then ponder why. This ultimately leads to deeper and more honest insights for startups in dire need of exactly that. You would be surprised at how well this works, because it forces even the nicest of mentors to be blunt and introspective.
A common question I get about this practice is, “why not just do a 1-4 scale?”
The answer is simple: this is about polarizing results. If you rated something a 2 out of 4, that could be seen as average – but a 2 out of 5 is clearly poor.
We want our mentors to consider the 3, and then judge whether or not the founder’s plans clearly fall on the positive or negative end of the spectrum.
The reason for that decision is most often where the most valuable feedback lies.
CIVC had a number of highly successful non-technology investments made in the late 1970’s timeframe, such as:
LB Foster: Repurposed old train tracks
JD Robinson Jewelers: The original “diamond man” (Tom Shane’s inspiration)
National Demographics: Mailing Lists
American Home Video: Video Stores
Michigan Cottage Cheese: Yoplait Yogurt
The Aviation Group: Expedited small package delivery
JMB Realty: Real Estate Management company
None of these companies fit Mr. Neumann’s definition of the era’s venture deals and each generated returns we would welcome today.
via Brad Feld’s A Venture Capital History Perspective From Jack Tankersley, a response to Jerry Neumann’s popular post “VC Heat Death”, which covers the VC industry in the 80’s.
I would recommend (the) Webvan investment again and again and again. We don’t succeed by avoiding failure. It’s not how the model works. We aim to back ambitious founders — just like Louis Borders.
The top prize winner spent $18K in Facebook ads to eventually win the 100K shares. Does he qualify to join the ever increasing group of micro-VCs?
I get a lot of requests to introduce people to companies that are hiring. And I’m usually happy to do it if the introduction request is structured thoughtfully.
Here are a couple of ways you can craft very thoughtful, concise introductory emails that are easy for others to forward on.
Read this book and follow the recommendations
I wrote a (short) book (free download) about how to write effective job search emails that people will be happy to forward. The book contains actual emails that helped secure job search introductions I was seeking.
It’s an easy read (10 minutes, tops) and will help you become a better writer of emails, particularly in a job search context.
For the impatient: Cliff Notes version :)
- Send me a separate email (w/ new subject line that refers to who you want to connect with and why)
- Keep it short (1-3 short paragraphs or an intro paragraph with a few bullets)
- Make sure the body of the email makes it clear how your skills and experience map to the job you’re interested in.
- Attach your resume and make sure your LinkedIn profile is in the body of the email
- Double check your spelling and grammar in the email AND in your resume (there’s an app for that)
One last thing:
Did you get the job? Did you get an interview? Please let me know where the introduction led.
I really like to know what happened and if what I did ended up helping you reach your career goals.
I’ve talked to other “serial introducers” like myself and I know they also appreciate the follow through. For instance:
(Hint: You can use a tool like Boomerang to make it really easy to track who you need to follow up with re: intros, Thank You’s, and the like.)
Here it is: When you eventually become a $100 million dollar company, what will your customer base look like? Will it be:
1 customer paying you $100 million dollars a year
10 customers paying you $10 million a year
100 customers paying you $1 million a year
1,000 customers paying you $100,000 a year
10,000 customers paying you $10,000 a year
100,000 customers paying you $1000 a year
1,000,000 customers paying you $100 a year
10,000,000 customers paying you $10 a year
100,000,000 customers paying you $1 a year
You get the idea. It’s really important that you place yourself somewhere on that list, and I encourage people to pick one, not cheat and find something in between.