If you're results oriented, can you learn from failure?
I'd argue you can't. At least not as efficiently as if you were process oriented.
KinoSol had made it to the final 6 companies of an elevator pitch competition while in Texas, and we had a 50% chance at a larger payday. Mikayla delivered the pitch just as planned, with poise.
We didn't make it into the top 3. When we had the time to sit down as a team and reflect, the first question asked was, "what should we have changed in the pitch?"
It's easy to assume we did something wrong, because we didn't win. And while it's much easier to remember when the pitch didn't work, we had cashed in multiple other competitions, with that exact pitch.
Each semester, I help students work on and launch their ventures through Iowa State University's Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative Business Incubator.
One semester, a cohort member sat out to complete their early customer discovery. Their hypotheses were well thought out, and they had a strong starting point for who to interview. After a 1-week sprint, their customer discovery was not going according to planned, and they were beginning to become discouraged.
We sat down to talk about it, and I quickly realized they had only interviewed 3 of their 10 target contacts. We reviewed their questions. Their process was above average for this stage. I nudged them to "get out of the building" for those final 7 interviews on the week.
By semester's end, and having stuck with their process, they had interviewed over 70 people. 45 had validated their hypotheses. They're still building their company today, because they didn't let the 0-3 start stop them.
While at the final table of a larger online poker tournament, I found myself to be 5 of 9 in chip stacks, of the remaining players. If the tournament had ended right then, I would have taken about $4,000 for 5th place. But 9th place was only a little over $1,000, and 1st place was over $20,000. A common scenario for a tournament.
The player to my immediate right was someone who I had played against before; a fellow professional. He barely had me covered in chips, and currently sat in 4th place. It folded around to him in the small blind, me in the big blind; just the 2 of us. He shoved all in with a little over 20 big blinds to my 16. With Ace Ten, I quickly called. He had Ace Three, and he hit a three on the turn. I was out in 9th place.
In that moment, my correct play was not rewarded. It's easy to feel as if I had missed out on at least $3,000, maybe more. But it was the correct play, mathematically, and that would be just one of millions of hands of poker I'd play in my career.
While it's disappointing to work hard, only to see something pay off with failure, what does it mean to "fail fast," "fail and learn," or my personal favorite phrase, from mentor and AgEI Director, Kevin Kimle; "fail successfully?"
Maybe it's simple. Maybe we as founders should stop beating ourselves up over the results and trust the process more often.
The first time I brought on investment was 2009.
I was 22 and playing online poker Sit-and-Gos (SNGs) full time. I had a large enough sample size of games played with an okay ROI. Investors covered buyins and played an active coaching role. Negotiations were simple. Risk was higher, but the games and stakes I played were beatable to the tune of ~18% ROI (before receiving coaching, structure, and accountability).
The ROI investors in startups look for is obviously very different from online poker SNGs. But similarities do exist between the early questions and communication.
Here are some questions (bullet points are personal reactions and opinions) I've been asked, as Nebullam goes through its seed round of funding this year. Please note that these questions often fall more on the seed stage and angel investor side for startups--I can only speak on what I've experienced.
1. Are you coachable?
I'll leave it at those 6 for now.
1 common ending question I've found myself asking to investors lately is, how will you react when I call with bad news?
I'm trying to set a stoic tone early on, and bad news is inevitable. Why not hear about how a shareholder may respond, or has responded with past bad news?
What are your thoughts or criticisms?Tweet me @MooneyMillions
“Hey, have you heard about bitcoin?” a friend asked me.
I had, but only through online poker, where peers had mentioned the Seals with Clubs site; an online poker room which popped up after Black Friday, transacting in this new digital currency called bitcoin.
I responded with little thought, but quickly became intrigued by his story of how this new digital currency would take away power from banks. Neither of us understood even 10 seconds worth of information for the platform it was built upon. I didn’t even know how any of it worked.
It was early March, 2013.
My friend said he was about to spend $500 to pick up a dozen bitcoins, to which he said he expected each bitcoin to hit $500, “within the next couple years.”
I went home from the DISH office that evening, and spent a little over an hour reading about bitcoin—there wasn’t much out there that I could understand. But I decided that risking $200 wasn’t a problem. Later that week, he bought his and mine. Almost overnight, the price doubled.
I had him buy more bitcoins for me as he bought more himself, and by the end of April 2014, I had almost a dozen bitcoins.
I thought I was a hot early adopter when the price kept soaring (big gains at the time were 4-6x), but sold a few here and there with some smaller jumps in price.
By 2016, I had 0 bitcoins left.
No longer having skin in the game, I lost touch from cryptocurrency and 99% of the news surrounding it. The 1% represents the thousands of Dogecoin I had, now sitting in a black hole on a crashed hard drive.
And then, as my 30th birthday approached in July, some year-and-a-half after being cryptocurrency free, I noticed more and more people on my Twitter feed were talking about bitcoin. They kept mentioning an upcoming “fork” which would cause bitcoin to soar in price.
1 Bitcoin was already much higher than what I had sold mine for, but hindsight is 20/20.
I once again became intrigued, and while talking with friends who were early adopters of other cryptocurrencies, I jumped back in. But only after I began educating myself on the technologies these cryptocurrencies were being built on.
After reading about the potential upsides (there are many) of blockchain, I took these stances.
But I didn’t want another heavy, hands-on venture, having to worry about revenue and scalability. Instead, it would be an educational platform of sorts to help put Iowa on the map for embracing a newer technology, via community. A true passion project, like Entrepreneurs of Ames (which is relaunching in January 2018 - https://web.facebook.com/EOAmes/?timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=1373992505&pnref=lhc).
I pitched the idea to some friends, included that I would play a somewhat passive role in this project once it was launched, and ended up with 2 friends saying yes. The perfect 2. Andrew Zalasky has been a business partner with Young Entrepreneur Convention since its beginning, and is a very talented creative writer with an early adopter mind set. Nate Rippke is a true community builder in Ames, and being one half of the Rippke Design founding team (shout out to Ashley Rippke for being the amazing other half), he brings the clear and professional look to any new venture’s branding and design.
With a writer and designer, Blockchain Gospel was born.
Blockchain Gospel’s mission is to educate the masses on blockchain technology, capabilities, and products.
We’re absolute beginners, and if you’re looking for expertise or technical know-how, we’re not the platform for you. But we hope to bring the basics to as many people as possible, beginning in Ames, Iowa.
I suggest you check out the first article, at https://blockchaingospel.com/education/what-is-internet-anyway/.
If you like it, you’ll have to create an account to access the others. There will be 5 posts a week for now. And before you worry about the cost, don’t. We’re trying a pay-what-you-want approach. If you want your subscription to be $0, no problem. We appreciate your support and are happy to see another person learning about blockchain. Thank you.
Here’s your chance to be an early adopter. To embrace the next revolutionary platform and its potential, before the other 98% of the world jumps in.
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