J. Kelly Hoey

The Yes, Virgina. Send The Update Edition.

Ho Ho Ho

Starting the holiday newsletter season with the gift of direct advice. This question from a startup founder landed in my inbox this past week:

We’re a hardware startup. Meeting after meeting with investors they say “this is great, but too early for me.” Are we wasting our time taking meetings now? Or is there more benefit in balancing our time and keeping everyone updated? Fundraising takes time away from getting our product developed and showing the data that investors want to see. On the other hand, our beta will require a few hires and manufacturing, without funds we are likely to move slower than planned.

Yes, Startup Founders there is a benefit to keeping investors in the loop. And yes, when you take a meeting IRL you make a much stronger connection than you would otherwise through a tweet, email or “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.” Take the meetings that matter. Seek advice. And yes, manage your time wisely. Hey, startups are not about work/life balance, they’re about innovation and disruption (neither of which fits in a 9-to-5-with-evenings-and-weekends-off-plus-nicely-timed-vacations-schedule).

As I wrote in my Linkedin post “With Startup Communications There is No Try, Only Do”:

Regular communications are the map to your startup journey and your friends, family, advisors, mentors and (potential) investors are on that journey with you. This group of people wants to help you, now, when you need help much more than you need money. You may not think so, but you need feedback, guidance and advice much more than money. That insurmountable problem you’re facing? — chances are you’re not the first to face it and likely there is someone in your network (or someone who knows someone) who can provide guidance. Free, experienced, informed guidance that will happily be delivered up in an email, call or coffee if you simply share the challenges you’re facing. Guidance that could save you a whole lot of time, energy and money aka the resources you have in very short supply. By helping you and being heard by you, this network will only become more vocal supporters and champions of you and your venture.

Investor Adam Quinton starts his post on this very subject noting that the big problem most startups have is no one knows who you are. As Adam notes:

If you accept that premise then it seems obvious to me that a startup should use all of its friends, supporters, advocates etc to magnify its voice. That way you can get an assist in solving your “who knows me” problem and specifically can use your growing ecosystem to help drive leads, add credibility, grow visibility, crowd source answers to questions you might have etc.

One last point to drive this home….Jason Calacanis includes in his “Rule of Startups” this gem: “If your startup isn’t sending you monthly updates it’s going out of business.” My view: if your startup isn’t sending regular updates, you’re really missing the whole startup business. If investors indicate they want to hear from you, make it happen. If investors (who you have identified are good for your startup) are willing to take a meeting with you — then take the #!$?!!! meeting (regardless of where you are in your fundraising cycle). Your timing and an investor’s willingness to whip out a checkbook may never be perfectly aligned. That’s just the way it is. Irrational (perhaps), inconvenient (definitely), and just the darn reality.

In case you missed it…..First Round Capital just dropped their State of Startups. The firm surveyed 500+ venture backed startups to get the pulse from the founders on how they are feeling and where they feel the market is headed. It’s an intriguing snapshot. Hiring and revenue growth are top concerns — which is a good development when most also believe we’re in a tech bubble and raising funds is going to become more difficult. If you’re a startup founder worried about raising follow-on rounds, I’d suggest you become a little more focused on reducing your burn rate.

Take a break from your product to experience the magic of Food 52 offline at their holiday pop-up shop in NYC. Created by pop-up architects the Lion’esque Group, Melissa and her team are also the creative minds behind the Mira popup and Nora Gardner’s holiday boutique.

Need a mental break and pamper escape? The best getaway hour I’ve had recently was at Savor Spa in the West Village. A perfect oasis of organic bliss.

Need some inspiration to get you through the holidays? Check out#PoweredbyHer an initiative of JPD Studio designed to celebrate, showcase and support the efforts of girls in tech. This past summer over 200 final projects (websites, games, apps, robotics) were uploaded to the #PoweredbyHer platform by Girls Who Code students graduating from GWC Summer Immersion Programs located across the US! A common feature of these projects? Students are using technology to create social change. Check out these projects:

  • The Angry Girls game brings awareness to women’s issues and empowers girls to overcome these issues.
  • The Lumos robotics project helps us locate objects or keep track of where our loved ones are.
  • The U-Swap website is an online marketplace that helps college students buy, barter or sell their items within their campus.

#PoweredbyHer recently launched a “Women in Tech Portrait Series” to highlight extraordinary women in tech.

Till next week……and yes, take my “send regular updates” to heart. This is week 41 of my commitment to send a weekly newsletter. Doing not only what I say but what I actually do.

Get this on your calendar! January 20 I’m speaking at the Dreamers & Doers “Making-it-Happen Soirée” event series (hosted at General Assembly in New York City). For more information and to RVSP, click here.

This post originally appeared in Innovator Insights, Kelly Hoey’s weekly newsletter. To get insights in your inbox, sign up here.


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