Just Say No

I reserve the right to be 100% wrong on any of my investment decisions--but at least I make them, and I try to make them fast.

Too often, I hear of VCs taking four, five, six, even seven meetings with an entrepreneur only to get to a no.  Honestly, if you're thinking about an early stage company, there really isn't enough data to process across seven hours of meetings.  If you can't walk out of one, maybe two meetings without getting there, then you're never going to invest--so just say so.  Entrepreneurs will appreciate it, and you'll free up your time to find something you're really excited about.

The problem is that a lot of investors lack conviction.  Just because you've been able to raise money doesn't mean you know what you're doing.  And yes, a lot of this stuff, frankly, doesn't look like anything at first.  Pouring over it with a fine tooth comb isn't going to change that.

What investors are trying to avoid is passing on Tout when it could be Pinterest or passing on Burbn when it could be Instagram.  They want to hang around the rim long enough without passing to see if it goes anywhere, so they can pounce on it as if they were always interested from the begining.  I'm never going to do that.  The chances of that happening are so remote that it isn't worth wasting my mental bandwidth keeping an eye on everything and certainly isn't fair to entrepreneurs.

In fact, if you attempt to keep an eye on everything in hopes for a pivot or a pop, I'd venture to say that it will actually distract you from gaining insight into something else that will require your full attention.  I say no as soon as I can, because I really can't have you hanging around in my inbox for the next month wondering if I'm in or not.  It takes a ton of time to keep reading persistant e-mails, but takes very little time to just say no.