In continuation from my last post “do great startups solve a problem”, I’ve got another pressing question, which seems to perplex me, but seems to be required by just about every VC/startup I have ever interacted with.
Having looked at some really good startups (my criteria for a good startup is quite simple…its big, people know its name, and it makes money), rediff, naukri, google, facebook, twitter (not sure on this one), orkut, netscape, aol, skype (exception), ebay, alibaba, lycos, monster I could go on, but you get the point, I cant see many if any that had teams which had delivered before. Of course I have not done a in depth study, but I don’t think the founders etc in many of these companies had delivered similar size companies before, or after. So my question is why do VC’s again insist in experience teams, even if you have a look down the ranks in these teams, especially in the early formative years, there were not many grey hairs on the board/management teams.
Of course I maybe proved wrong here, and I guess that would make me sleep better at night, but surely alot of these companies succeeded because they took what was out there and did it differently, rather than just going with the flow. They broke the mould, they changed the way the company operated.
I will take a personal example here, several times I have come up against “old skool (showing how hip I am here :-))” teams who say we should
a) market like this — buy TV ad space, do banner ads blah blah blah, i.e the ibibo way, and it does not work
b) we should run HR like a normal hierarchy
etc etc, you get the picture, but the companies who succeeded wrote there own management tools, there own MIS software, and kludged it all the way they wanted and the way it worked, and I believe its because of that they succeeded, rather than following Management 101. Admittedly in some areas grey hairs are good (finance) and as a company grows, more grey hairs are needed, but by then the company is in a operational state (rather than a growing state), where chaos is king.
Again might be wrong, but when facebook was exploding, it was the lack of experience which took them there, when Myspace was hip and cool, and everyone wanted to be on it, it was the chaos, which made it funky.
Again question targetted at VC’s of the companies they have backed, early on, with experienced management/founders how many are household names, i.e how many past CEO’s have done it again?
Iqbal (aka feelin_tired)
P.S On a personal note, guys I have had my Inbox filled with requests for startup help/mentoring etc etc, and although I am once again free (I have moved on from Nivio, since it is no longer a startup but in a operational stage, with sales, and partners all in place…hence job done), I can only do so many pro-bono things, simply because I do not have the resources (time, money, energy). So unless a VC wants to pay me to do this, or someone would like to donate Dominoes pizzas to me, I’m a little stuck, will always help when I can, but please realise it will be “as and when I can”…..currently working/looking for the next big thing, so if you find it before I do, let me know 🙂
- Building a startup in 30 mins (well 41ish) – Iqbal Gandham - December 3, 2009
- Should Facebook and Twitter bother to make money? (Iqbal Gandham) - February 17, 2009
- How we got Nivio to Davos (WEF)…and won - February 5, 2009
execution without experience? learn from Barack and his friends 🙂
Experience is a double-edged sword. Many VC’s look for experience in the management team to:
1. Hedge their bets
2. If he finds it good then it must have some value
Both can be proven wrong on many occasions but then it is a probability game.
However looking for gray hairs will fail angel investors looking to invest in the next Google of Facebook.
Merit of the idea can and should supersede the need of gray hair IMHO.
VCs often want to play safe even they are in venture business, for some good startups you mentioned, Twitter team had experience with Blogger, Salesfore with Oracle … for young talent team, VCs still want to put mentors into: Eric to Google, Marc to Facebook …