You have authored two bestselling books explaining why certain companies will “Last” and how others have gone from “Good to Great” and subsequently a majority of the companies falter and some completely fail. What do you do?
Do you introspectively evaluate your research methodologies and assess your failed assertions? Do you admit that you may have mistakenly analyzed the data?
If you are Jim Collins, you ignore the fact that your underlying assumptions and interpretation of the data were flawed. To further enhance your state of denial, you write a new book entitled How the Mighty Fall and blame the previously vaunted companies for subsequently faltering.
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
Imagine how difficult it would be to score in hockey if you were required to rely on someone who is not your teammate to convince another third-party, whom you have not met, to take a shot on your behalf.
As crazy as this scenario sounds, it is very similar to the “scoring process” companies engage in when they track Net Promoter Scores.
In the early 1970s, the Seven-Up Company devised an ingenious plan to market its flagship soda. The campaign was so successful it eventually catapulted 7-Up’s sales to rival that of both Coke and Pepsi, making it the third most popular soft drink in the US.
The company hired the Dominican actor Geoffrey Holder, who delivered the commercial’s signature tagline with memorable panache, “Maaarvelous, absolutely maaarvelous.” Overnight, “maaarvelous,” spoken in an exaggerated Caribbean accent, became a national catchphrase.
What made the commercials noteworthy was not their charismatic pitchman. It was the fact that the Seven-Up Company defined its product by describing what it was not, via the “UnCola” label. When evaluating a potential Institutional Investor, entrepreneurs should consider what they are not, as much as what they are. Entrepreneurs in search of startup capital are well served to seek an UnVentureCapitalist (UnVC), an investor who understands and appreciates the unique benefits of capital efficiency.
In 1998, a new type of game show was aired in the United Kingdom. Rather than a panel of contestants competing to answer rapid-fire questions, the new show involved a single contestant who was often given a seemingly unlimited amount of time to ponder each question. In fact, contestants were even given a chance to call a friend and poll the audience for help.
The payout was also unique. Rather than walking away with cheap, garish prizes and a diminutive handful of cash, contestants had a legitimate opportunity to win £1,000,000.
Entrepreneurs who experience promising initial success also play a similar game. Would-be suitors often swoop in and make unsolicited offers that would result in the Founders becoming paper “Millionaires.” Although such offers are always flattering and provide meaningful validation that the adVenture is pursuing an exciting opportunity, they bear careful consideration.
Reginald Martinez Jackson was a perennial major league baseball all-star throughout most of his 21-year career. Reggie earned the nickname “Mr. October” because of his consistent ability to hit home runs during clutch situations in playoff and World Series games, which contributed to his teams winning five Championships.
He was also often referred to as a “hotdog” for his self-promotional antics and lackadaisical on-field play. When teammate Darold Knowles was asked about Reggie’s hotdog status, he replied, "There isn’t enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie Jackson.”
In addition to his reputation as a showoff, Reggie was renowned for deriding his teammates in the press and initiating clubhouse fights. While it is not uncommon for losing teams to squabble, Mr. Jackson fought his teammates in good times as well as bad.
Rick Cerone, the New York Yankees’ catcher during the early 1980s recalled a fight between Mr. Jackson and teammate Graig Nettles, which occurred at a celebratory dinner following the Yankees’ American League pennant victory.
“We are going to the World Series and we’re celebrating. But Reggie and Nettles are fighting. Nettles punches Reggie in the face and Steinbrenner is rolling in the middle of the floor trying to break up the fight. And I’m saying to myself, ‘Didn’t we just win the ACLS? We’re going to the World Series right?’”
Although the plot was obviously devised for comic effect, it serves to illustrate that non-conventional methods of infiltrating Big Dumb Companies (BDCs) are often effective. The key is to avoid the adverse fate suffered by Kramer at the conclusion of this particular episode.
Question: How do I identify a great adVenture opportunity?
Answer: (Passion + Solvable) * Sufficient Reward = Great adVenture
Venture Ideas are like hobbies. You do not discover a hobby, hobbies discover you. Hobbies arise from activities that you initially engage in casually and you eventually fall in love with.
Thus, adVenture opportunities will generally arise from your proclivities and interests. In the normal course of pursuing areas that naturally interest you, if identify a problem that you are passionate about solving and the resulting reward is sufficient to satisfy your desires, you will eventually realize that you have stumbled upon a great adVenture.
Below is a talk on New Venture Investing from the University of California Santa Barbara’s Technology Management Program, by Jim Andelman.
In this video Jim Andelman explores venture capital investing and the emergence of capital efficient businesses.
Jim Andelman, co-founder and General Partner of Rincon Venture Partner
Jim is a co-founder and General Partner of Rincon Venture Partners. In this capacity, he is responsible for driving the fund’s investment activities, as well as the firm’s operations. Jim has more than fifteen years of experience in venture capital investing, technology investment banking and advisory services and strategic business consulting.
Previously, Jim led software investing at Broadview Capital Partners, a $250 million expansion-stage venture capital firm. Jim was responsible for developing investment themes, sourcing investment opportunities, performing company assessments, negotiating and executing transactions, and advising portfolio companies. Jim led the assessment of over 300 investment opportunities, participated in the deployment of $78 million across five portfolio companies, four of which exited via acquisition despite a challenging macroeconomic environment.
Americans are the most generous people on the planet. Arthur Brooks, a public administration Professor at Syracuse University and author of, Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide, cites the following facts: “Americans per capita individually give about three and a half times more money per year, than the French per capita. Seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians. The fact is that Americans give more than the citizens of any other country.”
Several factors account for Americans’ generosity, including its citizens’ spirituality and their belief that individuals, not governments should assist those in need. Another significant, yet non-altruistic factor is America’s tax system, which incentivizes charitable giving.
As Founder and CEO of Motown Records, Berry Gordy devised an effective methodology to objectively evaluate and critique the label’s music.
Gordy created a unique culture which deemphasized cronyism and encouraged open and honest debate regarding the subjective quality of the company’s creative output. During the 1960’s, Motown’s artistic success was unprecedented. From 1960 through 1971, Motown released 111 singles which entered Billboard’s top-ten ranking, of which 28 rose all the way to #1.
Startups consistently identify more ideas and opportunities than they have the time or resources to pursue, such as potential partnerships, new products, entering emerging markets, etc. Motown’s disciplined quality control techniques can be mimicked by startups to objectively evaluate which initiatives should be pursued in the near-term, which should be considered in the future and which should be dismissed entirely.