Video Of The Week: The kbs+ Ventures Interview

I sat down with kbs+ Ventures late last year and they produced this interview which I think came out well. This video is part of a series on Creative Entrepreneurship that includes a book on the topic. The book is available for a free pdf download here.

#entrepreneurship#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Lots of wisdom in this interview. You said that sometimes entrepreneurs don’t share well what’s happening inside their startups with their VC’s.Why? Is it the entrepreneur’s mistake or sometimes the VC is at fault too?

    1. fredwilson

      they are scared to be transparent. at least that’s what i think.

      1. David Semeria

        Understandably so because not all investors are cut from the same cloth.This is one of the many reasons you have a queue at your door…

      2. Charlie Crystle

        exactly–because it can have real consequences depending on the investor.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I’d like to think that in the end the investor knows that he/she is dealing with the good/bad/ugly in each person and situation and that what you don’t know can hurt you more than what you do know, creating the space for transparency. But I know it’s not that simple.This reminds me of some of the same concerns that have come up following some of the recent suicides in the startup world and the discussions around depression. People have talked about what a difference it might make if the entrepreneur could be open and have support. Someone asked Mark Suster in the comments of one of his posts about this if knowing someone suffers from depression would make a difference in the investment decision.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        Wouldn’t that fear exist if they didn’t know how to deal with it / have a solution / plan? Not saying they should be capable of all, but that’s the point of having good VCs you can tap into who hopefully have or have access to people with relevant experience.

      4. LaVonne Reimer

        It’s great to see how many of the comments relate to what you were saying about mentors. I started taking notes like mad at that part of the video. It is true that there is some fear that your weakest moments are the ones that are remembered if not stored for subsequent use. I think the bigger justification for a great mentor is that those moments of stress or even a fledgling instinct on where the startup could go next are very messy moments. Sometimes I just need to sort of barf it all up with someone who can take the time to work it through with me. You figure a good mentor has signed up for that whereas your investors are already pressed for time. A great mentor can help us distill and organize our thinking and also enable discovery of options if not the solution.



    2. Andrew Cassetti

      Besides future financing, turning the filter off might not get you a key introduction down the road.

    3. FlavioGomes

      That comment Fred made stood out to me as well. An ideal investor partner would be someone you can be brutally honest with and something you really need to consider/determine when accepting the partnership. Trust is such an important success factor. Maybe I’m an idealist…..

    4. Charlie Crystle

      Because it can destabilize the relationship–they’re right to worry about that (depending on the investor)Investors have a stake in the outcome, and if you open up about issues or weaknesses (perceived or real), they can develop a negative opinion of you and change their behavior/attitude/actions toward you and the company as a result.It’s better to open up to a confidential peer mentoring group like Startup Lancaster or Startup Lehigh Valley,…or find a coach like @jerrycolonna:disqus

      1. JLM

        .Perfectly said. The notion to expose your fears to a person who has a financial stake in an enterprise is not a wise practice.They are, after all, your employer.JLM.

        1. William Mougayar

          Exposing what you need help with is not the same as exposing your fears. I’m not talking about fears.A startup’s life is FULL OF FEARS, from the beginning til eternity. A wise VC knows that. It’s how you surmount these fears and hurdles that matters.

          1. Charlie Crystle

            But I am; I’m talking about the emotional side of things–fear, anger, self-doubt, frustrations, personnel clashes, internal politics, burnout.I raised burnout with my board in 2007 and said that I only had a year left in me at that pace and needed a break, and they freaked out. Good people and I considered them friends (still do), but they freaked. I stayed on, still burned out, and performed accordingly.

        2. FlavioGomes

          I wrote about this on an earlier post “keep your phantoms to yourself, but be transparent on risks”

          1. Donna Brewington White

            That’s good.

          2. ShanaC

            how do you identify if it is a phantom or a risk? Sometimes they blend into each other

          3. FlavioGomes

            Phantoms are issues that you’re not sure are real and it’s really difficult to develop a contingency plan for. In other words, really hard to objectively measure, “Distortion of the senses” as it were… We all have them at various points of the business building process. Good mentors are really helpful in these circumstances. Having someone challenge these notions or support them as potential real problems is an invaluable excercise. Investors benefit from the result and are informed, if and when those phantoms turn Into real risks with a well thought out plan on how to attack them. Investor input on your risk mitigating plan is where they are best applied. Keep the phantoms outside of that dialogue.

          4. FlavioGomes

            Phantoms are issues that you’re not sure are real and it’s really difficult to develop a contingency plan for. In other words, really hard to objectively measure, “Distortion of the senses” as it were… We all have them at various points of the business building process. Good mentors are really helpful in these circumstances. Having someone challenge these notions or support them as potential real problems is an invaluable exercise. Investors benefit from the result, and are informed if and when those phantoms turn Into real risks, with a well thought out plan on how to attack them. Investor input on your risk mitigating plan is where they are best applied. Keep the phantoms outside of that dialogue.

      2. William Mougayar

        I can’t totally agree with that. A relationship of trust shouldn’t be de-stabilized by issues that the entrepreneur is facing. If there is no trust, then you’re right, but you probably have the wrong investors too.You’re right if everything goes well in the long term, so that the bad stuff washes out. But if expectations change, you HAVE to keep your investors aligned, or you’ll have nasty surprises about their behaviour when they find out things afterwards.David Cohen calls it The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, i.e. they expect the entrepreneur to share that.

        1. Charlie Crystle

          I think we’re talking about different things; I’m not talking about hiding business facts or issues within the company or poor alignment.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Ha — I just commented to Charlie above and used the phrase good/bad/ugly.I know this discussion is about business issues, but for entrepreneurs business and personal don’t have as clear a demarcation as in more established environments.

  2. awaldstein

    Nice!Good to see someone who edits with the viewer in mind. Video needs to be parsed into bite sized pieces not just turning on the camera. Video and interviews should never be boring.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i like the way they edited it.

    2. Taylor Davidson

      Thank you. Our video-editing team at kbs did the editing. They edited it to focus on Fred’s key points, which was easy to do because Fred gives such great insights in easy-to-understand ways.

  3. jerrycolonna

    I love your description of mentoring and what it takes. Notion of being present, as you described it, is spot on. Thanks, too, for the kind words. I think the really powerful piece of mentoring is the reciprocity of the relationship. Too often people think that mentoring is about one person being on some sort of pedestal, wagging a finger, and telling the other what’s wrong and right. The real value comes when the exchange is mutual. So Brad and I are mentored by you every day. That kind of peer mentoring has great qualities like mirroring that allows us to cut through the bubble of our own bullshit.

    1. JLM

      .What you are describing is what I call the Wisdom of the Campfire. Peers comparing notes and furthering their own understanding of life, business and each other.It does not happen enough.I recall a dinnner that Fred, William, Arnold and I had in which the range of conversation was enormous. Truly covering the entire world.And great fun.Fred picked up the tab. William picked the place. Arnold handled the wine.I think I was the entertainment.The conversation was the entree.This is one of the greatest features of the Army. The Officers Club was just that. A salon lubricated by beers.The company grade officers would congregate naturally.With the “line” officers — Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Combat Engineers — gelling in one corner and perhaps even further subdivided with those commanding companies sitting around together.Once in a while a smart General would wander in and sit with the company commanders and dispense a bit of wisdom around that particular little campfire.A good General could let his guard down a bit — Hell, he was still a General — and tell some story. About when he was a Lt or Cpt and how it was done in the day.I remember standing around having a cup of coffee one cold frosty morning with a bunch of company commanders in America’s “alert brigade” waiting to load up not knowing where we were going and whether it was a training exercise or the real thing.There is something about live ammo and a parachute at 3:00 AM that focuses your mind.For some reason, we were there a long time and I became a bit alarmed because the planes which taxied up were much bigger than normal indicating to me that this might be the real thing — turned out not to be — because we could go anywhere in the world in those big planes.We had a very vivid conversation. Of that group of 12, 5 of them ultimately wore stars.We need those kind of conversations — a salon amongst peers. How I see — a wonderful salon.JLM.

      1. William Mougayar

        It would be great to have an AVC Live event. A day and an evening where we meet in real, enhance relationships, continue learning from each other, etc.If Fred put a button up here that says: Donate $50 to sponsor an AVC meeting, and 1000 people donated, that’s $50K, enough to rent space & offer food for 300 people that would show-up, and we live stream it.

        1. JLM


        2. awaldstein

          Are you talking like a conference with an agenda and speakers? Not certain that a standard format will address the needs of this community.What happened to avc meetups?

          1. William Mougayar

            Format is up for grabs. Nothing is standard :)What do you think the needs are, beyond the commenting?

          2. awaldstein

            I’m not sold initially on this.I like a party. I’m all about gatherings. I love how contextual based events become more because of the interest footprint of the participants. I relish the friendships that I’ve made in real life from this community.What’s the context? Starting without one is alway a questionable idea.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Well of course a party! Love love love parties. But more. Smaller groupings around some areas of interest perhaps? ( @jlm:disqus ‘s campfire analogy.) Some entertainment (a panel of regulars would be entertaining enough — although some of the more rambunctious commenters may be rather quiet in person) — food, a LocalSip tour (yessss), a place to catch up and hear about people’s projects, give input? Just some ideas.

          4. William Mougayar

            Maybe it’s an Unconference, with a couple of panels to spice it up.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            or a party with a couple of panels to spice it up…seriously though, maybe a summit of sorts?

          6. Aaron Klein

            Count me in!

          7. ShanaC

            Reunion.Though I think an MBA monday review might be a good idea

        3. Donna Brewington White

          I’m in. @awaldstein:disqus raises good points and I have ideas about how to address this. JLM’s campfires, for instance? But let’s just start planning and see who wants to come. Let’s talk.

          1. awaldstein

            Of course I’ll come.Offline connections to people you get to know online is what makes this magic.You are proposing by default offline connections to people who you don’t know cause most don’t comment who you will meet and connect with offline.Interesting…

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Looking for any good excuse to make my way to NYC. πŸ™‚

        4. ShanaC

          In! But I think that event would be crazy expensive. Dude, more expensive than a wedding….

        5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. William Mougayar

            That mean,- there’s a 90% chance you show up NOT in disguise?

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        6. Richard

          How about a good old “fast pitch”, 2-5 minutes to show what you are working on? And a avc real time comment session ?

        7. fredwilson

          this is a good idea. the only issue is someone has to manage and lead this effort. and that person is not me.

          1. William Mougayar

            I’ll take this offline with you. We have some ideas. Donna started a hackpad on it. Let’s first nail down the Why & Objectives/Benefits. The How to/Logisitics is easier to get done once we get the first part right.

        8. FlavioGomes

          In. Will there be beer?

        9. panterosa,

          I’d come in a heartbeat. I’ve loved the other meet and greets I’ve been a part of with AVC people, those with agenda, and those without.

      2. ShanaC

        next time I am crashing dinner…

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Good point about the reciprocity of the mentoring relationship. But that also makes it more intimidating to approach someone about being a mentor if you think you must have something valuable to offer the other person. I realize that the value is more inherent than that. But I think that is what causes many of us to be hesitant in seeking out mentors. @JLM:disqus has encouraged us all to be bolder in this regard. But it is hard.

    3. ShanaC

      You’re a good man.Being present with people is an artform and s kill. There is a technical side and an intuitive side. And yes, mentoring is the way to learn how.

    4. fredwilson

      peer mentoring. great concept Jerry

  4. William Mougayar

    Do you make a distinction between mentors and advisors in the same way that @bfeld does? He says mentors don’t have shares or monetary interests. They help you because they want to. Advisors get paid or get shares.I’m asking because when you mentioned the Mentors, you said “…or maybe they own some shares in your company…”

    1. awaldstein

      That is the distinction I make in my relationship with my accounts.

    2. fredwilson

      i don’t make that distinction

  5. Richard

    Yep, Venture Capital and Mentor Capital are two buckets.

    1. JLM

      .Well played.JLM.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      That’s great. Although, really, shouldn’t they both be the same bucket?

      1. Richard

        Fred seemed to think that entrepreneurs should view them seperatly. At least based on my recent experiences, I hv found this to be true.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          No expertise here, just thoughts. Or perhaps… wishful thinking?

          1. Richard

            Remember that saying from intro statistics, don’t confuse correlation with causation (big houses correlate with high test scores does not mean that living in a big house makes you smarter), well I like to thi k of this issue as the opposite. Don’t confuse correlation with causation. Having VC money does make one a de facto mentor (been the case for 3k years) but having $ does not correlate with being a great mentor, only knowledge and experience (good or bad ) can do that!

  6. JLM

    .I love this video for a number of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with content. The content is Fred’s normal superb wisdom but I want to talk about something completely different.This is the future of the internet — video. Well designed, calm, bite sized video which conveys information with authenticity. And allows us to visit with someone we would likely have very few opportunities to visit with in person.The mechanicals are excellent.1. The set up of the camera angle.2. The depth of field — our Fred in focus, the background blurred but lending an enormous air of authenticity with all the activity. We are where Fred operates and we are in the action. We have stumbled into the seat of power.3. The quality of the resolution, lighting, sound. Lavaliere mics, nice tough.4. The graphics presenting the questions — rather than a distracting on air presence — thereby creating a “tapas” sense of feeding our brains rather than a Thanksgiving orgy. Breaks it all down into bite sized chunks.5. The brevity of the entire video.The only things one might add:1. The lead in could have set the stage just a bit more and was a missed branding opportunity for the interviewer and Fred.2. I would love a smidgen of music — Masterpiece Theatre type music for 15 seconds as you read the intro graphics. If you’re going to go for the senses, get all of them.3. Missed branding opportunity to put Fred’s logo of choice on the screen continuously and subtly.4. No contact info for Fred at the end. “Hey, I want more. Where do I get it?”5. Fade out with the same intro music and branding. Intro, body, close.I think this format is the future of the Internet from the perspective of interviews — this interview being a gold standard absent only my petty little nitpicking criticisms above, training, testimonials and a myriad of other uses.I envision Arnold Waldstein — on camera — and a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses and 2 minutes telling us all about a new discovery and where we can get it in Manhattan.He then has a library of such videos on or YouTube or Vimeo and we watch one and are able to search for a nice little playful, naughty, mischievous, celebratory Pinot and not only get a good recommendation but hear it and see it and almost taste it.And know where to buy it.Or Wiliam Mougayar describing a new book he is writing and perhaps reading us a few paragraphs. And he gives us the vision and what we shall learn. Leaves us bookmarking it and pre-ordering it.The search capabilities of the video infrastructure as it exists today are also impressive.The future is here and it’s name is Freddie. Fred.tvJLM.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Although you have to admit, the content was pretty good too.Hmmm… you may have a future in video producing. Or at the executive producer level.

      1. JLM

        .I have at least — at least — 4 more careers in me.JLM.

      2. Richard

        Remember that saying from intro statistics, don’t confuse correlation with causation (big houses correlate with high test scores does not mean that living in a big house makes you smarter), well I like to thi k of this issue as the opposite. Don’t confuse correlation with causation. Having VC money does make one a de facto mentor (been the case for 3k years) but having $ does not correlate with being a great mentor, only knowledge and experience (good or bad ) can do that.

    2. ShanaC

      there was a fred radio. It featured a lot of rap and very little classical πŸ™‚

      1. fredwilson

        it still

        1. ShanaC

          ha, and I bet it still features very little classical :p

    3. JamesHRH

      Everyone wants to direct……. πŸ˜‰

      1. JLM

        .Some day I will tell you about my adventures as a musical theater producer.Everybody wants to hire the Director. I did.I once worked with a guy who was perfectly brilliant. Like Michelangelo brilliant. A first rate primadona. Only I could control him. Or so I thought.We had actors like Larry Gatlin — low 6 figures salaries and participations.One evening at the final dress rehearsal, the show was a disaster. I went home physically ill.My loving wife — “goodness what is the matter?”Me: “I have just witnessed how you lose $1MM in 2 hours. I am going to be sick. Very, very, very sick.”Show was a colossal success.JLM.

    4. Taylor Davidson

      Thanks for the notes. I’ll add a bit of commentary because I was the one asking Fred the questions, and the production and editing was done by our video team at kbs.Good points on branding, but at the same time, we really just wanted to focus the video on Fred and his thoughts.Our blog post about the video (… ) gives a bit more context, but you’re right, we didn’t do the same setup and explanation in the video itself.What’s interesting is that while it’s short at 13 minutes, it’s also long compared to web video in general. There’s a lot of pressure to make video under 2-3 minutes, but content like this deserves more than 2-3 minutes. We debated different ways to cut the video (into different videos per question, or part 1 / part 2, or under 10 minutes, etc.), but liked the way this felt, so we left it longer.I would love to see more web video content like this also (and we are doing more video interviews like this, btw), but this takes professionals and isn’t inexpensive to produce πŸ™‚

      1. Drew Meyers

        Nice job with this Taylor – didn’t realize you were behind it until seeing your comment.

        1. Taylor Davidson

          Thanks πŸ™‚

      2. JLM

        .Big compliment — I thought it was much shorter because the quality of the content (videography and ideas) was so damn good.When you get it perfect, time freezes. I could easily have listened to 30 minutes of your brilliant presentation of Fred. At least a coffee worth at least.Normally something like that is akin to a barbed wire enema.I am interested in your set up. I am backing a brilliant young guy in a startup and I am buying him a Canon 5D MkII x 2 with the necessary lenses and doo dah — tripods, mics, lights.As to the branding stuff — I think that is all just packaging. It has to be second nature and everyone (videographer, subject, audience) has to get a brand.Sounds funny — grown up music makes a grown up expectation. Ever see “Victory at Sea”. The music sometimes drove the stories.The question format — graphics which slices the bread crusts and makes finger sandwiches — is perfect. Just perfect. I have watched such videos in which the physical questioner detracts from the focus on the subject. Your approach very subtly framed Fred as the main course and never let any distractions creep in.You are going to have to get Fred some makeup. Tell him a rockstar like him needs just a bit of foundation and color.This is absolutely the future of the web — video resumes, testimonials, training, introductions, documenting and preserving wisdom. The wisdom of the campfire.A couple of years ago, I hired a brilliant young guy from U Tx RFT School. He produced 600 such pieces of content in one year. Completely changed how an otherwise very pedestrian and mundane retail business was marketed using social media. Old economy >>> new economy transformation.Video — personal TV stations are going to be the new FB. Video will invade FB, LinkedIn and anything else that purports to contain any kind of serious recommendation or testimonial.Well played.JLM.

        1. fredwilson

          makeup! oh god no

          1. JLM

            .Hahahahaha, I knew that would be your reaction. You could always go skiing for a couple of weeks or the the Caribbean. Your choice.The lights are not fair to someone so fair.JLM.

          2. ShanaC

            i’m actually surprised more men don’t wear makeup knowing that it really can even the face out, make you look younger, and make you look less tired…

          3. ShanaC

            JLM is right. Extremer lights like the ones needed for video to be quality will make you look too pale and make the darker areas look darker. (which all in all, generally make most people look older. Unless you 21, then you just look like a bizarre alien, from experience)

          4. fredwilson

            i don’t care what i look like. i do care that i am making sense.

  7. kidmercury

    well folks, it’s saturday, so you know what that means — it’s time for Second Amendment Saturday! woo hoo! *claps*for those just joining us second amendment saturday can be found in the comments section each saturday on it was inspired by the passion and money the top dogs of silicon valley and its new york city farm system put towards anti-2nd amendment policies in the US. let’s help all parties see this issue to conclusion by recapping 2nd amendment news over the past week on each edition of Second Amendment Saturday.1. a group of politicians in missouri are proposing a gun confiscation bill (not just banning sales, but requiring existing owners to turn them in). it is unlikely this bill will pass in missouri because in the state legislature the majority oppose confiscation.2. minnesota is also proposing a gun confiscation bill. i believe this has a better chance of passing than the one in missouri, since minnesota has a larger democratic constituency. some are wondering if this is a concerted effort and if other states will follow.3. but ohio is bringing the 2nd amendment spirit! ohio state senator rebecca scott has proposed a law that basically says ohio will not comply with federal anti-2nd amendment legislation.4. and of course this past week obama made an emotional plea for gun control in his state of the union address. curiously there was no emotional plea made for children who have been killed in gaza from the weapons provided by the US military, or the soldiers and civilians in iraq, afghanistan, mali, and who knows where else that continue to be killed. 310 US soldiers were killed in afghanistan last year, in addition to 1 in Iraq. and of course those numbers don’t count other coalition forces let alone civilians native to those countries. no tears for them, and certainly no emotional plea to end the cash cow that is the military industrial complex. a nobel peace prize for obama though.that concludes this edition of Second Amendment Saturday. be sure to share your thoughts on these news stories and other 2nd amendment issues here in the comments!

    1. William Mougayar

      Do you have a blog, Kid? I’d love to read your long form opinions more regularly!

      1. kidmercury

        i have two blogs:posterous — unfortunately posterous is getting shut down so this won’t continuegoogle+ — i just had to establish a presence on what is the coolest, sexiest social network around! for those reading this also on google+, circling me is greatly appreciated!in general i don’t blog that much though finding difficulty working it into my routine time-wise

        1. William Mougayar

          Did you hear that Posterous is getting resurected as PostHaven?…Their first feature will be an import from Posterous.I love the simplicity of Squarespace and that’s what I just used for my new blog.You’re funny…You write comments the size of blog posts, and you spend enough time answering comments that you can easily branch off an idea or two into a post. Even JLM has a great Blog now, after being a power commenter for a long time. So now he’s a two-trick pony.

          1. JLM

            .William, William, William —I may be a 2-trick pony but I am certainly not a “ponny” whatever that is.You can reach me at http://www.themusingsofthebigredca…But just for the record, it is not me, it is my car. The ’66 red Impala Super Sport channeling me.And, you and Fred shamed me into it.JLM

          2. William Mougayar

            πŸ™‚ I was pulling your leg. I knew my comment would draw your (friendly) fire. Just playing with you. (I fixed the typo to pony…oops…so now your comment is a bit out of context)

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          4. kidmercury

            for blog posts i prefer to think things out, whereas with comments i can just sort of reply off the cuff……for me that is the difference

          5. Donna Brewington White

            You can always reblog a particular comment that you’ve made, here on AVC for instance, on your own blog and state it as such. That takes away the pressure of having it perfected as a blog post.Example:http://hirethoughts.blogspo

          6. jason wright

            i think disqus should have a ‘count to 10’/ ‘bite my tongue’/ ‘pause for thought’ feature. a ‘click to confirm’ five minutes after the post/ reply was written and ‘sent’, but one that could be disabled to enable ‘reflex’ mode as the default setting.

        2. jasonpwright

          “unfortunately posterous is getting shut down so this won’t continue”underage blogging?

          1. Aaron Klein

            Twitter acqhire.

        3. jason wright

          disqus double dealing

          1. ShanaC

            it happens. They’ve been having some problems recently *sigh*

          2. jason wright

            reach further than grasp?it must be a mini nightmare to scale up and keep on top of.

          3. ShanaC

            I don’t know. I do know I spoke to them last week. There has also been some moderation email problems. I think after the weekend (banking holiday) I’ll update them again.

    2. Dale Allyn

      Thank you, K.M.

      1. Jim Ritchie


    3. Richard

      Can the gov be incompetent about most everything, save for conspiracies?



        1. jason wright

          the world makes perfect sense when this is understood.

      2. kidmercury

        i don’t believe the folks who truly control the government at its highest levels are incompetent at all, i think they are far brighter and more capable than the rest of us. i also think they are not of the same human DNA that we are made from, lol…..i’m joking, but the humor is in the truth…….

  8. JLM

    .As to content, Fred dispenses a lot of wisdom — well, the guy is starting to get the hang of it after a quarter of a century, no?The notion that there is a two phase evolution from product to company (delivery system for product) is a very important distinction.I do think there is a bit of intellectual laziness at work here as someone — perhaps a VC firm or someone commissioned by a VC firm or an entrepreneur — should have a primer of each and every feature of a company fully described and vetted and a good “exemplar” at their fingertips.The other day I was giving away a little booklet that I had made and used over the last 30 years outlining Vision, Mission, Strategy and Values. Over 1,000 folks copied it.You can get one here. http://themusingsofthebigre…A serial experienced entrepreneur dropped me an email saying that they just used it in essentially its unchanged form.These kind of exemplars — a library of them — should be out there for company founders to be able to Monkey See – Monkey Do.Everyone should learn from experience but maybe someone else’s and “on scholarship” — no tuition.JLM.

    1. JamesHRH

      The 2 phase description (what & why) as well as the founder’s growth dilemma is excellent. As clear and complete as you could be in a 90 second answer.

    2. fredwilson

      the internet makes this kind of thing much easier. but someone still needs to do the curation part.

      1. JLM

        .As an aside, the Voomly stuff has me doing just that. I looked for a couple of useful exemplars and found about 50 that I had at a touch of a finger.I was talking with startups in Norway, Japan, London, California, California, Kentucky, Chicago and London (2).My wife thinks I am nuts and that I should increase my prices by 10X.I have never gone public with my The Wisdom of the Campfire site and may use that as a vehicle to do just that.JLM.

        1. Richard Carlow

          Your wife might be right…but this time, just this time, don’t take her advice (please).

          1. JLM

            Nothing to worry about for you, Voomer, RC. Haha. You are too interesting.JLM.

  9. sthomaspan

    Does the two phased approach assume that either the entrepreneur is the primary engineer, or that there is already capital infusion (angels?).If the business owner is not an engineer, then he/she has to hire an engineer or they have to find a technical co-founder to work with on the product. If they stay in phase 1 – product development and do not have technical co-founder and do not simultaneously focus on phase 2 – business model development, it’s like they will run out of money.Do you have any examples of companies that focused on both phases at the same time?

    1. fredwilson

      i do have examples of companies that focused on both at the same time but they are mostly failures and i don’t like to talk about failures without the entrepreneur’s OK

  10. Esayas Gebremedhin

    Thank you for your effort Fred. If I wouldn’t have started reading your blog, it would have been pretty alienating for me to race in the startup game. Always saw you as an angel camouflaged as a VC. #blessing

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Beautiful. I think that Fred not only draws entrepreneurs he helps create them… or at least helps to call out what is already there inside them.

    2. fredwilson

      there are many days when i wish i was an angel not a VC

  11. jasonpwright

    the nominees for best performance by a venture capitalist in a supporting role are…

    1. jason wright

      …Fred Wilson in ‘I Gave a Shit’

      1. Drew Meyers

        giving a shit is the best differentiator in the history of differentiators

  12. Donna Brewington White

    Really enjoyed this video. Well done, and good length. I could listen right then rather than bookmarking for later. Although, once it got started, if there was a part 2, I would have clicked to watch it. That might be a good strategy for video. A shorter hook video and then a longer follow-up. Nice shirt too.It’s interesting that almost everything you said in this video is something that I have read here at AVC but hearing you say it brings it further home. Maybe this would also work in reverse and it is the repetition via multiple media factor more than merely the audio factor. But I think not.A lot jumped out, but what you said about the transition from building the product to building the business (i.e., company/team) is one that deeply touches me, along with your comments about Jerry helping you to recognize the importance of the people factor. Naturally, I’d hone in on this, but the more I talk to entrepreneurs the more I realize that these are huge issues… make or break issues…the difference between good and great, if not success and failure.

  13. falicon

    Phase I complete…phase II initiated (def. the harder phase for me). ;-)Love the advice though…agree completely.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      At some point, I’d love to hear how phase 2 is going.

      1. falicon

        Really *just* started it…added a biz dev/sales focused person to the team just about a week ago and his entire focus right now is on getting more installs (ie. showing/growing traction)…too early to say it’s really blowing up, but I can say that we feel like we have a great plan in place now (that is what we’ve spent the first couple of weeks with him on the team figuring out) and we are already starting to move the needle a tiny bit.For now we are both still just doing this part-time around our paying gigs…so of course we aren’t progressing as fast or as much as we would really like, but it *feels* like we are doing things in a smart way and overall I’m very pleased with where we are at in this moment.Prob. the biggest thing I took away from failing with was how frustrating and painful it was to have to completely shut the service down (because of the resources it took to keep alive each month)… is built to be a core service that people really rely on to stay alive (no way in hell I’m going to put myself in a position where someday I’ve got to go to each blog that has it installed and tell them it’s shutting down)…as such, I’m taking extreme care not to explode or push too fast (an approach that *really* hinders my ability to take outside money)…but the plus side is that, outside funding or not, this service can continue to survive forever (and we can continue to grow it based in relation to what our personal resources [and budding revenue streams] can comfortably support).So it’s not *really* a company yet…but it really is *just* in that sweet spot between phase one and two that Fred mentioned…and so I’m full of excitement and enthusiasm right now. πŸ™‚

        1. Donna Brewington White

          This sounds so clean, Kevin and like you are milking lessons for all they are worth. That’s all the comment I will make but there’s tons here to process. Thanks for sharing. You mentioned budding revenue streams — is the monetization plan public knowledge?I think I can understand why you are calling a failure, but it is hard to hear that word associated with such a beautiful product.

          1. falicon

            Thanks ;-)The revenue stream I’m talking about is advertising…a bit of a cross of ad words and sponsored tweets — in that they are ‘paid’ results that show up in searches, but you don’t get to pick the keywords (relevance from the content of the ad is used), at most only one ad would show on any given set of results (and is clearly marked as sponsored), and you pay an insanely cheap flat fee per listing right now regardless of performance (ie. it’s not CPC or CPM driven — so we have no incentive to try and manipulate the system to show more ads; the core of the idea being that only truly relevant ads to a given query are shown so that the revenue stream can actually be value-ad for everyone)…not enough data yet to say if/how well it works for or is received by our three groups (searchers, content creators, advertisers) yet…

  14. Tom Labus

    Oh I like this format a LOT. It’s more a prepared statement than a free form interview. Great job whoever did this one (Besides Fred)

  15. andyidsinga

    at approx 4.12 love the part about layman’s terms and examples.i’ve loved that about this blog ..both with the posts themselves and resulting discussionalso the stuff about two phase process for building a product and company

    1. Taylor Davidson

      His point about writing for the layman was one of those things that has stuck with me ever since.

  16. ShanaC

    I have to say, the blog writing advice is generically good writing advice, particularly about audience. Glad they asked you that (because it bares regular repeating πŸ™‚ )

  17. Balu Chandrasekaran

    It’s really hard/impossible for me to believe that @fredwilson:disqus was a “pure numbers guy”. Amazing, alright I know you got your MBA and all, but what I’ve seen in your blog more than anything else was humanity and the importance of it.

    1. fredwilson

      you learn a lot over time. it changes you.

  18. Seriously_Please

    Good stuff as always ( video and comment threads ), thanks for sharing.

  19. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I just watched and it is a great example of how to pack a ton of useful advice in a short video. Great job Fred

  20. Mark Gavagan

    Very well-edited so the content is in succinct, yet substantive, bites.