VCs take a porfolio approach to managing risk; individual company is largely irrelevant because of diversification effects. In fact, one of my portfolio companies was once rejected by Sequoia because, “You’ll almost certainly build a nice $100 million business. But we’d rather have a riskier investment that either flames out or becomes a $1 billion business.” Thus the key metric is expected value.
Quotable quotes, from 21 Million Reasons For Mint To Sell via CloudAve.
I’ve blogged before about Vinod Khola’s video here (iinnovate’s interview), where in it he says one of the problems he notices in entrepreneurs is that they don’t dream big enough. Just recently Sarah Lacy wrote that the consensus of the recent TC50 panel is that nobody was “swinging for the fences“, everyone just playing it safe–basically dreaming small.
Here’s why this matters: Start-ups by definition don’t have the experience, market position, funding or resources to tackle obvious market opportunities. If what they’re trying to do makes clear business sense, a bigger, better-positioned company would do it. A start-up’s only edge is that it’s not built into legacy businesses and preconceived notions and can do something, well, crazy.
There are entrepreneurs somewhere building the next big companies. But it’s probably just a wonky side-project that no one—not even the entrepreneur himself—realizes is the next big thing. That’s who we need to drag on stage next year.
I agree, if it’s an obvious opportunity, someone’s already on it. We need more crazy people working on crazy ideas.
Vinod Khosla on problem solving: You don’t solve all problems before you jump into a new situation. You just believe in yourself, and say, “I’ll figure it out, one way or another”. Vinod had no idea how he was going to pay for fees and rent when he got accepted to the Stanford GSB. To me, this is the “leap of faith” advice entrepreneurs talk about. You just got to jump.