The Pre-Product Phase

One of my big weaknesses as an early stage investor is my eyes glaze over at wireframes, design sketches, photoshop screens, and prose that describes a product. Until I can get my hands on it and use it, I have an incredibly difficult time imagining what the thing is.

For that reason, I prefer working on projects that are designed in code as opposed to paper, photoshop, or some other tool. That’s a lot easier on the web and much harder on mobile, which is a bummer. When something is designed in code, it comes to life for me quickly and I can react to it, give feedback on it, and think about it, and consider investing in it.

I’ve pretty much given up investing in products that aren’t ready for public use. It has not really worked out for me. I really enjoy investing in a business where the product is out in the wild, getting used, and everything else has to be figured out. I am good at that. But I am not good at investing in the figuring out the product stage. My track record proves that conclusively.

I get a ton of requests (mutiple requests a day) to meet with entrepreneurs to give them feedback on their product. I also get emails with links to wireframes and sketches where entrepreneurs want feedback. I generally decline these requests because I know that my feedback will be poor. I lack the imagination to see where the entrepreneur is going with the product.

Everyone has their strenghts and weaknesses. My weakness is the pre-product phase. I thought I’d make that clear to everyone. It will save us all a lot of time and energy.