Five Years Too Late

March 15, 2010

Everyone Deserves a Trophy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiveyearstoolate @ 5:13 pm

Stuart Ellman

Jim Robinson IV

As if often the case at RRE, Jim and I tend to be of one mind (some say we share a single brain – which may explain a lot).  I have been thinking quite a bit recently about a phenomena around expectations I am increasingly noticing with some entrepreneurs, while Jim – as usual coming to the same conclusion from a completely different direction than myself – has been kvetching about a trend of political correctness that seems to be creeping into our industry.  We think both the causalities and the symptoms are important, so we decided to address them in a combined fashion for this piece.  Let the chips fall where they may….

EVERYONE DESERVES A TROPHY?

When I grew up, it was hard to get a trophy.   To get one in sports, you had to play in a competition with a large number of teams and come in at least second, if not first.  Even more vividly, I remember the ice cream.  To get an ice cream after the little league baseball games, you had to win the game.  Not tie, not come in close, but win.  I remember clear as day my little league team losing the first 5 games and not getting an ice cream at Friendly’s or Carvel for the whole first month.  But when we did get it, it tasted sweet.  Sometime after my generation, everybody became a winner just for trying.  Everybody got an ice cream.  Everybody who participated got a trophy.  It wasn’t about winning or losing but about trying hard.

It sometimes feels like this attitude has crept into the psyche of some entrepreneurs.  I respect nothing more than someone who quits a safe job and takes a huge risk to start something new.  I did and I know how scary it can be.  But startups are a brutal business, where few make money and many lose.  The following are situations where I find myself having to tread carefully when I know what the right answer is.

1) Don’t tell me my idea won’t work

The right answer: Look, I do not know for certain as I have been wrong before, but I am highly confident your idea will not work or ever get funded.  The key to being a venture capitalist is pattern recognition.  I have seen what you are trying to do many times in many industries, and it has never worked.  There is a small chance that I am wrong, but a much larger chance that you are about to waste years of your life.

What I feel I am supposed to say: It’s an interesting idea but we cannot fund it at the current time.

Why?  Because it would be hurtful to say that I don’t believe the idea won’t work.  But maybe being truthful would save this entrepreneur years of his career or his life savings.  If I tell the truth though, then I am arrogant or dismissive.  I gain a reputation as being a jerk and won’t see the more interesting deals.  So, what is the upside for me to tell the truth?

2) Don’t tell me I am not an entrepreneur

The right answer: Look, if you are telling me that you don’t want to take any risk in your job and need at least the same amount of cash as when you worked for IBM, you are not an entrepreneur.  Startup guys (and gals) take a lower cash salary for the higher upside they get in stock.  They love working without a bureaucracy, contributing concrete results, are okay making do with less and having no staff.

What I feel I am supposed to say: You have a great background; sorry we have no openings right now at our portfolio companies.

Why?  Because it would be hurtful to tell the truth.  But, by not telling the truth, certain people will continue to seek jobs where they will not excel and will likely get fired.  But if I tell people that, again, I will be called an arrogant jerk.  So what is the upside for me to tell the truth?

3) Give me a follow-on as convertible debt

The right answer: Look, you have missed your budget or tried a different business model.  You are not worth as much as the last time I invested but I still want to back you because I believe in you.  Go out to the market and get a term sheet from an outsider.  That will be the right price for the company at this time.  I will do my part once new money has set a price.  But don’t push me to give you convertible debt at a price that both you and I know is too high.

What I am supposed to say: Go to market and get a term sheet.  I don’t know whether you are worth more than the last round or less, but we need to let the market decide it.  If you can’t then I will likely support you anyway.

Why? Nobody wants to admit their pride and joy is not performing while the team tried really hard.  But, get ready to be known as a monster if you try to explain to the CEO what the company is really worth right now.

4) Don’t disagree with me on selling the company

The right answer: When you (the CEO) raised money from me at $25 million post, you showed me how you were going to sell it for $200mm or more.  Now, you have an offer for $30mm to sell the company and you are upset when I am unenthusiastic.  Why? Because you personally own 20% of the company and will make $6mm.  I get back $6mm on my $5mm investment, for a profit of $1mm after x number of years, leading to a poor return, on a company I believe has a huge upside.  It is not a good deal for me as an investor, and you promised you wouldn’t sell it at a cheap price like this.  Now that you can put away $6mm personally, however, you don’t care what you told me.  If I try to block the deal using the terms we both agreed on when I invested, I am an ogre, a financial engineer who doesn’t understand entrepreneurs.  But I am the one holding true to my word, you aren’t.

What I am supposed to say: I really think there is a huge upside to this business and believe we may be selling it prematurely.

Why?  Who wants to be called an ogre.

5) Pay me a bonus whether I hit my plan or not

The right answer: It is a pay-for-performance job and if the company doesn’t perform, then investors and our limited partners make no money.  You have a guaranteed performance bonus and you missed it.  It doesn’t matter if you tried really hard.  You didn’t win, you lost.

What I am supposed to say:  Yes, you tried very hard and we will come up with a bonus that reflects your efforts.

Why?  Perhaps in part because I need to keep the employees that are critical to the business, but increasingly often it has more to do with an expectation that trying hard = winning.

This is a black and white business.  You either make money or you don’t.  Somewhere along the line, being politically correct has entered the fray.  And when that happens, people stop communicating honestly.  Bad things tend to follow.

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32 Comments »

  1. Well said. If you don’t have the stomach for hearing the truth from VCs, you don’t have the stomach for being an entrepreneur. Hearing what someone really believes pales in comparison to the challenges that an entrepreneur faces making a success out of a company.

    As an entrepreneur, if a VC tells me the truth I can choose to agree or disagree (VCs likely get it wrong as often as entrepreneurs after all, otherwise VC returns would be far higher than they are) but regardless, I’ll learn from the feedback and mulling it over. Vanilla platitudes are not something you can learn from.

    I particularly agree with your comment about telling people that they are not an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship has become romanticized by the press to the point where many have a completely distorted view of what it’s like and how much money they are likely to make. For everyone involved, it’s best of those who won’t hack it as entrepreneur don’t ever get in the game. When hiring, I’ve always tried to get people to self select out or at least to recognize that they may find out that working for a small company is not at all like working for a big company and they won’t actually like it.

    Comment by Elie Seidman — March 15, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  2. Hi Guys,

    First time founder here. My thoughts on each point below…

    1) Don’t tell me my idea won’t work
    -So sure, everyone hates getting told their baby is ugly. If you tell me, “this idea sucks, eat a dick,” then yes, I will hate you and tell our friends. However, if you take the time to teach me something about my industry, project, or explain to me how you saw something like this fail in the past and why you think it failed, then I’ll respect you more and think “damn, this dude is f’ing smart. I want him on my board!”

    2) Don’t tell me I am not an entrepreneur
    -This is hard because those people tend to just not get it. That said, I think there’s a way to de-personalize the charge by framing it less as about your personal prefs and more about what you’ve seen succeed in the past and the risk profile you’re looking for. Mike Maples does this really well in his Thunder Lizard speech. http://bit.ly/a1QyTR

    3) Give me a follow-on as convertible debt
    -Honestly here seems like a good policy. “You’re missing your numbers and things ain’t working. If we lead this round, we’ve got numbers in our head that you’re not gonna like, so go out and get a term sheet from on the market so we don’t have to be the ones that hose you. And hey, you might get lucky.” I mean, I understand why the CEO is gonna push back hard on this, but c’est la vie. I’d rather have someone give it to me straight. (Caveat: I’ve never been in this situation…ever.)

    4) Don’t disagree with me on selling the company
    -No way around it, this is where the interests of investors and entrepreneurs diverge. Founders are unhedged, VCs are not. So why not offer to give the Founder some early liquidity?

    5) Pay me a bonus whether I hit my plan or not
    -This is complete and utter bullshit. If you want a bonus for non-performance, then you’re probably the wrong fit for my company. Go work for AIG. Or the Post Office.

    I fear for the company that pays for non-performance. It sets a horrible precedent for the company and the culture. Agreeing to such a scheme is a failure of leadership and nerve.

    Nice post!
    -Matt Mireles
    Founder/CEO, SpeakerText

    Comment by Matt Mireles — March 16, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  3. I call it entitlement. I tend to see it as a product of particular business schools, which teach you how to succeed in a bureaucracy rather than to think on your fit and keep your options open. I’m trying to train myself to recognize entrepreneurship and avoid entitlement!

    Comment by Stewart Alsop — March 17, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    • Me too! Let me know what you come up with….

      Comment by jdrive — March 17, 2010 @ 10:47 am

      • Agreed Stuart. But then again, Harvard B School convinced me to start up a company rather than work for Morgan Stanley or McKinsey. So it is not all bad.

        Comment by Stuart Ellman — March 17, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

  4. Excellent post! Brutal but necessary

    Comment by Rhitu — March 17, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  5. Solid post. This reminds me of one of the first pieces I wrote after leaving the venture business, explaining how many times my fund passed on an investment because of the team – but how do you say that without sounding like a jerk? http://www.startable.com/2009/05/27/its-not-me-its-you-the-untold-reason-startups-dont-get-venture-capital/

    Nobody likes hearing “no” but that is one of the biggest jobs of a venture capitalist. The trick is to work with entrepreneurs who can handle the truth and to understand/respect their point of view when delivering the message. And of course that is easier said than done.

    Comment by Healy Jones — March 17, 2010 @ 11:10 am

    • Just read it; good post. Turn-downs, while a major part of this business, are always a challenge. Complicating factors include how the entrepreneur came to you in the first place (friend of a friend, network, prior company exec, etc.), how much you like them personally, and on and on. Not easy.

      Comment by jdrive — March 17, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    • Just read your blog post; great read. Always so many issues with saying no, including how they came in (friend of a friend, network, former exec at prior company, etc.).

      Comment by jdrive — March 17, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

  6. [...] are invested in idea/company. Stuart Ellman and Jim Robinson of RRE Ventures have just published a good post highlighting some of the difficult messages they have to deliver. It reminds me a bit of the “you are the problem” post I did when [...]

    Pingback by VCs delivering tough messages | Startable - Healy Jones' & Prasad Thammineni's Blog — March 17, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  7. The problem with your pattern recognition is that about 97% of all VC moneys over the last 10 years invested never created public value, and that not only disproves that the suggested pattern recognition works, but it challenges what merit you have as an individual investor within that failing ecosystem. You may well be right and I agree with some of your answers, but you (VC in general) have no political leg to stand on to declare you know the way to “True North” better than the entrepreneur.

    If you want to change the interaction with entrepreneurs you need to start by picking prime deals, operate as a marketplace in which real GP competition, not syndicated mediocrity becomes the de-facto modus operandi and take real risk. That in turn attracts quite a different breed of entrepreneurs, with whom you will not have these useless interactions. You reap what you sow.

    Best,

    Georges

    Comment by Georges van Hoegaerden — March 17, 2010 @ 11:31 am

    • I’d like to start with your second paragraph, with which I agree whole-heartedly. Their is a ‘mediocrity’ effect when we as investors keep checking our own bellybuttons to divine direction. AKA the herd instinct.

      On your first paragraph, if I am understanding your points, you are crossing a couple of concepts up… ‘97% of VC moneys invested never create public value’… If by public value you mean they never went public, true, as the IPO market – improved as it did for the 2005-2007 timeframe relative to the prior crash, has been stagnant for the rest of those ten years, both before and after. (Incidentally, with a couple of prominent exceptions for short time periods, the vast majority of all venture exits over four decades have been in acquisitions, not IPOs). That will also be the future.

      If, on the other hand, you are making a statement that 97% of that money was not of value, wasted, or somehow lost, that isn’t close to correct.

      First, from a societal good point of view, virtually all investment in startups is good, whether it results in a win or not for the individual company or investors. Balls gets furthered. Competition increases. The better companies pick off the ideas, people and products from the weaker, etc. But where’s the fun in that?

      Second, I have never seen more mature vc-funded companies – with hundreds of millions in revenue – than I see today in partnership portfolios. In more ‘normal’ markets these might have been sold or gone public by now. But they have real value, and prove it annually with their financials. As the economy starts to breathe in again, expect to hear more from many of them.

      I think the statistic you are actually referring to is that 90+% of Value Creation (the actual number is both variable and debatable but probably close) – in the form of public market cap – has been created by 10% of the dollars. This is true. That’s what bull market run-ups will do for winner-take-most markets. Know the names in that figure? They include MSFT, CSCO, INTC, GOOG, AAPL, YHOO, EBAY, DELL, HP, AMZN, and many others. This is no way implies big wins in literally thousands of companies sold, many to those same names.

      As for ‘true north'; no doubt, no one (yet) owns the patent. If you figure it out, let me know and I’ll invest. In the end, we VC’s are at our best when we think original thoughts, look for outliers and place our bets. We are at our worst when we follow what everyone else is doing, our noses pressed up against the glass wondering why those inside are having so much fun. That said, most VC’s that have been at it for awhile actually do get pretty good a patten recognition. If they don’t, it may take time, but they do go away. In the end, returns speak for themselves, and are an unforgiving metric.

      Comment by jdrive — March 17, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

      • jdrive, you should start by practicing marketplace transparency by exposing your real name. It’s just a polite thing to do in an environment where we respect each other.

        See, I don’t buy into the esoteric definitions and aberrations of markets and certainly not in its negative effects on disruptive innovation. It is just such an easy cop-out to tag our performance in Venture to the macro-economy. First, they are not at all in cadence. And Apple, Facebook and a few others prove that if you carry real value, economic aberrations are irrelevant.

        Frankly startups should benefit from economic pressure as they rely on new groundbreaking economics to promote its unique value. There are many other arguments that refute the cadence, that I covered in 2010: The State of Venture Capital on my site.

        True North is quite easily defined in goal: costumer adoption and speed: conversion rate. It is that simple. No mysteries here. It is really not that hard to build a successful company, as an experienced entrepreneur there is very little Voodoo involved. Coming up with the idea is much harder than the execution. True North is not the direction most VCs think it is, as witnessed by their performance.

        But VCs en masse have deployed inappropriate risk to the investment thesis, turned it subprime, and actually as a result created more risk (by fragmenting, syndicating and over-diversification etc)). And now that subprime thesis consistently attracts the wrong entrepreneurs (leaving the smart entrepreneurs where they are), and together that combination is lethal (not in a good way). So, now VCs better make sure that they can prove their merit, the same merit they expect to assess from entrepreneurs.

        So I want emphasize to the folks at RRE, to spend more energy on exposing their merit (in absolute returns), if it wants to attract entrepreneurs that do not give them the runaround.

        Think different, Invest different.

        Best,

        Georges

        Comment by Georges van Hoegaerden — March 17, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

      • Georges,

        jdrive is Jim Robinson IV just as I am Stuart Ellman. I just thought that was clear by reading the post. Nobody is trying to hide names.

        I am a little confused by your comments that MOST venture capitalists don’t understand true north. A venture capitalists job is to invest in great companies and exit them when possible. When we made investments in 1996, it was easy to exit, the markets were available. You are insinuating since there have been few exits in the past decade, that VC’s don’t understand how to invest and that the performance will be subpar. That book is not yet written. Many investments made in 2002-2005 at low prices have been quietly generating significant revenues. A vc’s job is to access the markets when they are available and to be patient when they are not. They have not been available. I was talking with one of my portfolio company CEO’s a few weeks ago. We invested in his company when he had $0 revenues at a valuation of about $20mm. Now he will do approx $80mm in revenues and the bankers want to take him public for around $350mm. Not a bad profit. But, he believes that if he waits another 8 months, his valuation will be signficantly higher because of some things going on in his business. Right now, since that investment is marked at the last round, it looks like a mediocre return. But the reality is much higher. What I am saying is don’t write the book on this decade of investments until the fund cycle is really over. When markets open up, there will be a lot of surprises.

        Comment by Stuart Ellman — March 17, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  8. Loved this post. Not only does giving a trophy for trying start at a young age in the US but now I am finding out that we don’t want to upset our kids so we aren’t scoring anything. I don’t have any kids but in the last 8 years or so many of my friends have been having kids and I have come to find out that scores aren’t kept at sporting events and grades aren’t kept in school for many years. What the hell is up with that? We are teaching our kids that it’s OK to just participate while every other country is teaching kids that winning is important. Now, I know some of you reading reading will give me an argument about how if our kids “lose” or get low grades in certain subjects that will discourage them from trying. But aren’t we just setting those kids up for failure. Either having them continue to do things that they are clearly not talented in or teaching them at a much LATER age that life is about winning. They should learn what they are good at or not good at and learn it early.

    Shifting to entrepreneurs and VCs. I am an entrepreneur and have raised 3 rounds of capital. I understand the tough spot that VC’s are in. They can’t be brutally honest because they feel they won’t see great deals. But I think they are wrong and being short sighted. I wish more would have the courage to be honest because here is what it would accomplish. If you are honest with your feedback then it’s either going to motivate the entrepreneur to prove you wrong or get him out of wasting his or her time pursing an idea that wont get funded or won’t succeed. In either case it would help the entrepreneur which means in the long run should lead to that VC seeing more deals because he or she will be not only have a great reputation of being brutally honest but also be considered THE litmus test.

    Comment by Emrah — March 17, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    • Emrah,

      The problem is that a single VC by him/herself, (or the entire VC community for that matter) can not set up etiquette standards that differ from what the larger society considers polite behavior.

      Comment by Tom O — March 17, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

  9. Stuart,

    Most VCs don’t make any money, and therefor their merit should be heavily debated and questioned, yet it is often not under the cover of the “black box for entrepreneurs”. Money does not equal merit.

    The deplorable performance in VC started in 9/11 minus give or take 9 years (without extension), as their vintages should have popped post 9/11. So, already (even in hay days) from funds starting in 1993 and onwards the result that showed up on many LP books have yielded much dissatisfaction. Subsequently the next 10 years appear quite dramatically worse, as we can gleam from some public reporting and some personal interactions with LPs I’ve had. So, much so that some large LPs are contemplating getting out of the sector and many have no intention of getting in. So the span of discomfort with the state of VC is almost 20 years, not 10. Of-course, your specific performance may be better, who knows?

    So, to return to your previous comment, just investing in something is never good, investing in disruptive innovation that actually has the propensity to generate absolute returns that should be expected from VC is crucial. VC is a special sector that taps into (more or less) phenomenal market growth (the rapid penetration of technology and its still massive greenfield), if we have VCs that cannot outperform that growth, LPs will simply invest their 10-15% of allocation elsewhere. Some told me, that they consider not deploying that VC portion at all.

    So, suboptimal performance in Venture causes a retreat of LP moneys, that is counter intuitive to the vast opportunities and greenfield that still exists. The problem is in the subprime nature of the matchmaker between the assets of the LP (money) and the assets of the entrepreneur (idea) as deployed implicitly by the market model.

    I don’t know how this pertains to your specific portfolio company (none of your readers can assess the scenario the way you have) and I elevated your scenario to the more systemic issue. Your blog just happened to ignite my thoughts about the systemic issue in Venture, and is not based on my specific understanding of your scenario.

    As an entrepreneur with exits under my belt I can anecdotally assure you that the state of VC (even in brand-name VC) is very poor and that it needs help in attracting and picking truly disruptive innovation in the first place (more so than the subprime people that are attracted by subprime VC).

    I hope you are right on the future, but I don’t believe it. A systemic lack of competition between GPs has dumbed down the investment thesis dramatically and (generally) turned VC subprime. Only a new market system can attach the unique merit of the GP with the unique merit of the entrepreneur. I do believe Venture can scale, but not with a market model that does not allow for marketplace transparency and merit.

    For more on my thesis visit venturecompany.com or better yet let’s meet next time.

    Best,

    Georges

    Comment by Georges van Hoegaerden — March 17, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

    • Georges,

      You are obviously an intelligent and experienced individual with a well reasoned point of view. As my mouth tends to run faster than my fingers type, I would love to sit down with you and talk. Should be both fun and a learning experience. All my info is at our website at http://www.rre.com

      Regards,

      Stu

      Comment by Stuart Ellman — March 17, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

  10. As a recent immigrant from an oppressed country, I actually feel more censored in America than when I lived under dictatorships.

    Too many people with a sensitive skin and an expectation of political correctness that bothers on tyranny.

    This is why I watch American Idol (and House) just to see Simon Cowell and Dr. House speak in public like I’m used to seeing ordinary people elsewhere speak i.e. “You suck, give it up”

    Comment by Tom O — March 17, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    • Tom I think you have hit the nail on the head. It’s fine to run on about theoretical vc futures and whether it is an imperfect capital allocation model, behaviorally flawed, etc., but mostly that’s just blather, and gets regurgitated about every ten years in this boom-and-bust driven business. In the end, if there is something indeed ‘broken’ with the model, it is, as you point out, an increasing lack of honest direct discourse between investors and entrepreneurs. Once we stop communicating, we run the risk of polarizing what should be much more of a partnership, with aligned incentives and a simple goal of building the best businesses possible together. The reason we wrote this post is we worry about the loss of honest, clear communication in favor of the tyranny of political correctness. If I sit at a dinner with an investor and he or she tells me what they really believe, but then I see them communicate something entirely different when talking to entrepreneurs, I can predict the future. And it worries me.

      Comment by jdrive — March 17, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

  11. Indeed Tom O, and that works both ways. My point is that many VCs have been given the seat of Simon Cowell but don’t have the merit to sit in it.

    I see the relationship as a marriage (and actually agree with many of the RRE point with regards to directness), where you decide to have a baby together and give it a happy life. That means you tell each other what you want, and what you believe in and share and commit to those goals. And so why is it that while the merit of the entrepreneur is so clearly visible, but that of the VC is not? Just because they carry money?

    My dutch heritage would say: the current crop of VC is primarily subprime and they suck.

    My political way is: I don’t see how a market without real GP competition can outperform mediocrity.

    Best,
    – Georges

    Comment by Georges van Hoegaerden — March 17, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  12. Great post fellas. I guess this is why it is just easier to work with entrepreneurs you have worked with in the past. We can speak directly and know each others interests.

    Comment by M Tucker — March 18, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

  13. Stu, Jim – Good post. I’ve lived and am living the first two, haven’t experienced the others yet, though I agree w/ the premise.

    I think someone addressed it before re: the 1st point: “the idea won’t work”. I think on that actually, if they believe the team is good, some VCs will point out the other directions where the entreprenur could take the idea or to evolve it. I have first hand experience that you guys do that, but I wish more VCs did that. But, this is a two way street, so the entrepreneur needs to be willing to listen as well. Having gone through this in the past 18 months, I know that we evolved our vision and focus tremendously from conversations with VCs, angels and customers – something we wouldn’t have done on our own – collaboration, if you will!

    Re: the 2nd point of risk taking: I feel that somewhere along the past few years, the risk factor in being an entreprenuer has been lost on some people – there has been too much glamour attached to it – probably an effect of easy money. As you say, and I can testify after 18 months of bootstrapping and practically no salary, entrepreneurship is hard, hard work! Yes, there is potential for reward, but there is a huge amount of risk involved. You do it because you feel passionate about something and are willing to take the financial risk. Also, if you are still making the same money you were at some big, public company – likely, you don’t have your feet being held to the fire which is a big part of the startup drive. On a related subject, I wonder what your thoughts are on bootstrapping and how much do you see it these days vs. before. Could be an interesting blog topic…

    I’d be curious to know if you had any data points on whether you see these issues more with 1st time entrepreneurs or serial ones.

    Puneesh
    http://www.copiun.com

    Comment by Puneesh Chaudhry — March 19, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  14. If you have a thin skin you won’t make it as an entrepreneur anyway, so why soft-pedal this sort of feedback? Tell it like it is, better to have a reputation for brutal honesty than being overly smooth.

    If you think information that needs to be imparted is important but too harsh coming from you as a VC consider enlisting an EIR or seasoned entrepreneur friend to take the person to lunch and break it to them. After all if you can save a few years of a life, and many hours of other VCs wasted time, isn’t it the right thing to do?

    Comment by Joe Pantuso — March 23, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  15. Share a brain? More like you borrow a brain from Rent-A-Center!

    Comment by PVSB — March 23, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

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  17. I enjoyed your post Stuart — each vc/entrepreneur scenario is familiar, and I’ve found myself in similar positions — first as an entrepreneur and later as an investor. I’ve taken to skipping the b.s. however — I haven’t any time nor an ounce of interest in sugar coating my assessments. Entrepreneurial endeavors and execution, not only limited to budding startups, but equally relevant in accompanying partnerships, are either brilliantly executed or they’re just crap. Crap doesn’t get a candied coating in my corner — what I think is worth its weight without added obfuscation.

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