Archive for August 2015
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.