Playing With Other People’s Money
I don’t fear many things… but I not fearless, but I know that what I do will either fail or succeed. For the most part I have been very good streak and do calculated risks. So I quit my job without anything really lined up with my only plan was to develop skills. In the last month I have met with companies in LA, Boston, Barcelona and while some of those companies offered me great things, there was just somethings that didn’t click. In Boston, it was the first time I traveled to a place where I was not at peace. I was not able to adapt to city. It was odd as it was not my first time there but something just didn’t vibe. In Barcelona there was just something off with the company. Its structure, the backers; It just didn’t sit well. This is something most people don’t think about when joining a company, but when joining a start up knowing the company and product is only part of the story. You need to know who the investors are, if the company is making money, are they cash flow positive, if not, is there 6 month cash reserve while the founder(s) is/are raising a new round of capital. These are not normal thoughts that people have when looking for a job. Good thing I’m not normal.
While I’ve been courted by startups, I have also been approached my potential co-founders. Having coffee and talking about what they want to build. I’m not going to lie some of this stuff I hear is cool, other are just iterations of what is already out there.
But I’m hesitant. I am new into this world of startups. While I tried once before, it failed before I was able to secure funding, while my partners signed with other studios. This was several months before the crash of 2008 and was able to get promissory notes to a tune of 6 figures, but it didn’t matter. my partners bailed, then the money bailed.
While I’m not completely technical I do have that type of drive, I also know my way around business plans and talking to people with deep pockets. Heck, I did this earlier this year wherein I created a small fund to buy private Facebook stock in secondary markets. While the stock is down now… the fund made money on opening day. I did my part, and from then on everyone was on their own. I have that hustle, I don’t mind working 18 hours days. Doing whatever it takes. I have lost relationships over work and don’t regret it. Things I’ve learned and what I’ve worked on is a reflection of me (to some extent).
People took a risk on me… Heck I took a risk on myself. It was calculates, but risk nonetheless. I was all in. While other investors had some money… I put every cent I had into the fund. I not only wanted it to succeed, I needed to at least break even.
Going back to startups, if I were to become a (co)founder I would want to be financially invested. Have some skin in the game so to speak. It’s only natural that if a VC or an Angel is going to put their trust in me with their money I should do the same. It would be my “child” and would do anything and everything to see it succeed. This drive facilitates getting capitals for these types of endeavors.
But startups fail… a ton of them fail. It’s not because of the talent, or because of where they are located, the culture… the product, they just do… Some are too early, some are too late. It’s common practice to take money. The VCs understand that not all of their investments will have a return, the one that do are usually due to an exit (being about out) or, the very few, IPO. Millions of dollars are invested in good and not so good ideas. I can’t play with other people’s money that in that fashion. If I can’t guarantee success I can’t, in good conscience, take their money. It’s one of the main reason I’m not a stock broker.
Maybe down the line… I’ll be a (co)founder, I’ll find the great idea with right problem to solve but right now… I’ll get back to polishing my skills and build solutions and tools for myself.
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