I am very excited to announce that I have officially left the slackard world of opining and pontificating on other people’s businesses (and occasionally providing them with capital…) and have enthusiastically entered “back into the arena” (to borrow from the Teddy Roosevelt quote on the left sidebar of this blog).
I co-founded Analyte Media (originally called Ajuga Media) with a fantastic partner and an equally fantastic group of initial team members. I serve the business in the capacity of CEO. Our initial team spent the better part of 2008 spending our own capital in trial-phase of the business model, and when that worked out well we decided to step on the gas and raise several million dollars in venture capital from two (also fantastic) venture capital firms.
The success of our trial phase led us to the conclusion that we did not NEED any outside capital, but we chose to do so anyway because we wanted these two particular VCs to be part of our team. Their capital just happened to come along with them (believe me, I tried to get them without the dilution that came with their capital, but it just doesn’t work that way). We also did it because our team does believe in my previous post on how growing a high-growth startup without engaging the people who help entrepreneurs do that for living (i.e. venture capital investors) is similar to raising children as a single parent…it can be done but you miss out on a valuable “other” perspective.
Since I left my first and only, real job at the age of 23 to embark on an entrepreneurial career, 19 years later I am now rounding out the last of the four primary seats that exist in the startup ecosystem.
- The first one was being a bootstrapped entrepreneur (twice), with one of those being part of the founding team that was acquired by a public company that was in turn acquired by CA.
- Then it was being a professional VC, including being an alumni of that great VC education and networking program called the Kauffman Fellows Program where I learned the business from Fred Wilson at Flatiron Partners (now of Union Square Ventures).
- Then it was being an angel investor, with the good fortune of being involved with some teams that created some great, market-leading companies, including Feedburner, comScore and TicketsNow, among a few others.
- And now the last seat at the table is that of the VC-backed entrepreneur.
In baseball, they call that “hitting for the cycle”, and I’m very excited to start this next phase of my career. However it turns out, I’m sure it will be a lot of fun!
In the future, I will post more frequently about the variations inherent in those four different positions. For now, I’d like to offer a few sound-bites:
- A simplified generalization is that there are “thinkers” and “doers”. Obviously, successful people need to be able to do both, but most people are more drawn to one end of that spectrum over the other. Investors are “thinkers” in that their personality type prioritizes analysis over action. Entrepreneurs are “doers” in that their personality type prioritizes action over analysis. I’m not denigrating either one at all. To be a good VC, you have to be really sure the gun is aimed at the right target before pulling the trigger because you have a limited number of bullets. To be good at operating startups, you have to be able to put a lot of balls in the air knowing that you can’t focus on all of them, and then be willing to operate in trial-and-error mode to flush out which balls to drop and which to keep going. They are two pretty different ways of day-to-day operating and decision-making.
- Everyone exists on a spectrum, but it is generally correct that entrepreneurs focus on what can go right (“half-full” people) and investors focus on what can go wrong (“half-empty”). Entrepreneurs really need that investor / half-empty perspective because there are a lot of things that can go wrong that can become fatal if the team is not prepared in advance for them. This goes back to my previous post about how growing a high-growth startup without having VCs involved is like raising a child as a single parent….it’s not just the lack of time but more importantly the lack of perspective that’s the problem.
Since I have traits of both sides (as evidenced by my historical career choices), the only thing I can hope is that as CEO of Analyte Media I have the self-awareness, and am willing to listen to the people that I have surrounded myself with, to know which situations warrant which types of behavior. It will be several years before I can let you know how that one turns out…
Those astute readers of this will blog will realize that I have not described what Analyte Media does, who my co-founder is, who invested or any other specifics…I will do that in the near future but for right now we aren’t publicly unveiling ourselves. When we are ready to put up a corporate site at www.analytemedia.com, I’ll also discuss it more informally here on my blog. We will also be cranking up the recruiting engine pretty soon, and then I’ll be quite forward (possibly in your face!) about what we do and why people should want to join our team.