VC Cliché of the Week
Last month my friend Seth sent me an email asking me to explain one of my favorites, "there’s a pony in there somewhere".
So often I see something and my gut says that there’s something interesting going on but at face value it’s just not very compelling. And that’s when I claim that there’s a pony in there somewhere to my colleagues.
But I don’t recall where I got that phrase. So I went looking on the Internet (check my search query history on the lower right sidebar for proof) and this is what I got back:
familiar story of the optimist who is sent to Hell and discovers that
he’s up to his shoulders in manure. He immediately jumps into the pile
of manure and gleefully starts swimming around. A pessimist walks up
(they always do) and asks the optimist why he’s so happy. The optimist
replies that with all this manure, there’s got to be a pony somewhere.
That’s me, the optimist. I always want to try to find the pony.
Being a VC is a gift because we get to see so many ideas and so many entrepreneurs. We are exposed to cutting edge thinking every day. And it’s impossible not to build a map in your brain of all that data. Sometimes you see something that fits into that map, but just not the way the entepreneur sees it. That’s when I think there’s a pony in there. It’s like I even know where it is.
What you do with that insight is more tricky because most entrepreneurs don’t want to hear that their plan, their vision, their current direction isn’t where they should be going. Sometimes I’ll give them the pony line. Sometimes I won’t. It largely depends on how well I know them, how willing I think they are to hear a different idea.
Swimming in shit trying to find the pony isn’t easy work. But I find myself being pulled toward it time and time again. Because finding the pony and riding it is a lot of fun, particularly if it’s an orange one like the photo at the start of this post!