Thursday, June 13, 2013

Startup CEO levels with investors: "I can control the day-to-day, but I don't know what's going to happen in the future"

From Adam Bryant's New York Times interview with Houzz CEO Adi Tatarko. She did not try to dazzle investors with 5-year financial projections that are sure to be misleading. Rather, Tatarko shared the uncertainty of her venture with prospective investors - asking them to embrace her energy, assurance, and love for her work. If I were a VC, her command of the realities of startup life would give me a lot of confidence:

I love what I’m doing, and if somebody wants to join us as investors, they need to understand it without me making a standard pitch. So we would just have coffee with people in an informal environment and talk about what we are doing. We figured they’ll get it, and if they don’t, then they shouldn’t be our investors. This was the way we did it. It was very informal....

It was important for me to say: “Look, I’m not going to try to package it in the way that you are used to. I’m not going to make up numbers for a PowerPoint and show you that the company is going to be worth X and make Y. I don’t have a crystal ball.” Even today, I keep saying to investors that I don’t have a crystal ball and I have no idea what’s going to happen in five years. I know who I am, I know what the company is, I know where we’re going. I have the power to control the day-to-day and what we are doing, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.

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