Just Try It Out
When somebody tells me about a new musical act, I always just go listen to them. No point in reading about something when you can experience it.
Same with a new web service. This morning I read about DailyBooth getting funding from Sequoia, Betaworks, and an excellent group of angel investors. I'd heard about DailyBooth before. It was a Y Combinator company this past summer and some of my colleagues at Union Square Ventures had seen their pitch at demo day. My partner Albert had mentioned it to me as a company that was relevant to many of our portfolio companies.
So, I decided I needed to wrap my head around what DailyBooth is doing. And the only way I know how to do that is to use the service. Here is my DailyBooth timeline. You'll be familiar with most of those images if you follow me on Tumblr.
It took me all of fifteen minutes to set up an account, follow a few people (including Gary Vee), and post a few photos myself. I can't say that I am an expert in what they are up to, but I sure have a good feel for the service, what it is all about, and why it works. And I can't get that from reading a blog post. I have to actually use it.
That is why our firm rarely invests in a company pre-launch. We've done it a few times with successful serial entrepreneurs we know very well. But it is not a comfortable thing for us to do and we won't do it with a team we don't know well. We need to touch and feel a service to get our heads around it, understand who uses it, why they use it, what the value proposition is, and what the potential is.
I get emails all the time that are ten paragraphs or more, and include a twenty page attachment. I do my best to read them and give a good response to them. But honestly, a one paragraph email explaining who you are, why you are writing, and a link to you web service is a whole lot better. If I am going to spend fifteen minutes on your business, I'd much rather it be fifteen minutes using your product than reading about it.