Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Address objections, don't hide from them

In response to my blog post on Cutting The Bullshit, the good folks at Storygami pointed me to a blog post they had written about their approach to applying for TechStars:

The Storygami team addresses the probable objections head-on, including one objection that is typically a deal-killer:
Two Of Our Founders Are A Couple

So this is one of those things that is a thing but shouldn’t be. We’ve met other tech startups that were founded by couples and we always get asked whether we’re okay with being so ‘open’ about it. Yes, we’re okay with it. In fact, last year I did a TED talk and started out by mentioning how we argue all the time but that this was a good thing – at least for the business side of our equation! Now, granted I would say this, but having been with Heidi for nearly seven years and engaged, to me this is kind of a cool thing and not something I feel the need to repress for any application to anything. I’m sure this sounds strange to any other startup out there but my advice to those in a similar position is to not worry about it, it really isn’t a thing if you don’t let it be.
This is a very real investor rule of thumb.  Ironically, sometimes it even helps the couple.  Clint and Miriam Korver of Ulu Ventures founded a company together; their VC made one of them leaving the company a precondition of investment.  After a lot of soul-searching, Miriam left the company...which then failed.  Fortunately, after leaving the company, Miriam joined a small startup as General Counsel.  The startup turned out to be Google.

This is the kind of objection you can't hide from.  Investors can be lazy, but not so lazy as to miss that two of the founders are engaged to each other!

I think Storygami handles it exactly right--acknowledging the fact, explaining why it's not an issue, and moving on without a lot of drama.  Not every investor will agree, but almost all will appreciate how they handle the issue.

I'll be interested to see (takes off sunglasses) how their story turns out.

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