I was up at Columbia University on thursday speaking to Steve Blank's students. Steve did a weeklong version his Lean LaunchPad class at Columbia last week. During the Q&A, a student asked me how I engaged with the startups we invest in. I answered that I planned to play paintball with two of our portfolio companies on the coming weekend. That got a chuckle from the class but it wasn't a joke. I don't think VCs should be meddling with the companies they invest in but I do think they should be engaged. And playing paintball is a good way to do that.
I like to stop by the offices of the companies we invest in and have lunch with the team. Over one of those lunches at Canv.as a few months ago, I told the team that I had been in ROTC in college and that I still had decent skills. I described a paintball game I had played with my son and his friends a few years ago. The next thing I know, Chris Poole, the founder of Canv.as emails me and tells me that he wants me on his team for a paintball throwdown with Codecademy, another USV portfolio company. How could I say no to that after bragging about my skills to the Canvas team at lunch?
So we trucked out to Staten Island yesterday morning to Cousins Paintball and spent three hours running around the woods shooting each other with paintballs. It was a blast. There are a couple photos of the event here.
I got to know everyone on both teams a lot better and got shot by most of them at least once. Chris and Zach trash talked and beefed a fair bit at the start but by the end it was all hugs.
Great day, great bonding. That's what I call engaging wtih the companies we invest in.