my values as an investor: an open letter to founders

dear founders,

over the past few years, i have invested small amounts of money where the founders have given me an opportunity to do so. for each such opportunity to share in their quest, i have learnt something – and i am thankful.

as i talk to the founder(s) and the team, i find that some teams are naturally curious and want to know why i’d invest and what my relationship to that startup would be. one word that rarely gets used in these conversations and questions is ‘values’. i have written previously about startup values and as an investor, want to make sure that founders talking to me about angel/seed investments understand my values.
values
my values are expressions of some simple viewpoints and actions i strive to live by and bring to the table as an investor. these are:

  • are you taking enough risk?
  • optimize for the long term – always.
  • do I identify with, understand, and agree with your mission, not just your idea, technology, products, and startups.
  • the small amount of money ($5K to $50K) i invest carries with it the ability to turn to zero or be padded with zeroes. if it enabled you to make an effort you couldn’t otherwise make, it will be well spent.
  • while i will make an effort to help whichever way I can, you should understand that:
    • i am not your product manager
    • i am not your rolodex. access without context means nothing.
    • i am not a visionary. i am investing in your vision which is tuned constantly, by every day interaction with your users, technologies, products, and your peers. chase what you see, not what i or others ask you to chase.
  • i have failed many times at many things. i have learnt from failures. successes taught me more, but failures caused me to learn more.
  • while you focus on user growth and customer associated metrics, don’t lose sight of personal growth metrics.  i pay particular attention to personal and inter-personal growth within your startup.

and finally, the most important metric for me – your success as a founder isn’t measured in dollars raised or valuation or money earned for investors, it is measured in how many other people did you make successful. this is my yardstick for a founder.


 

  • nathan bricklin

    Nice post. I particularly liked the “I am not(s)”

    • https://twitter.com/#!/rohit_x_ rohit

      thank you Nathan. it is important to lay out the right ‘investor’ recommendations up front – and for the right reasons. its not that i don’t or cannot do that particular function for the startup, it is that i *should* not be doing it.

  • http://www.semilshah.com Semil Shah

    This is an awesome “investor” statement. Well done.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/rohit_x_ rohit

      thanks semil. honesty removes friction from information flow.

  • http://bluebirdinteractive.net Lyle McKeany

    This post struck a cord with me because you touch on some important values that often aren’t addressed when it comes to investment in startup companies. It also fits in nicely with my startup’s slogan, “people before pixels.”

    • https://twitter.com/#!/rohit_x_ rohit

      people before pixels (or products, profits,…) – well said.

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