One more thing became clear to me during Techdirt Greenhouse: There is perhaps no better way to find out how an entrepreneur thinks than to get them to talk about what they'd do with someone else's business. Anyone should be able to pitch and defend their own startup, but ask them to parse something they've spent five minutes getting to know, and you really do get a fair picture of how fair and nimble an entrepreneurial intelligence they possess.
In the bricks and mortar world, business people sort each other out by playing golf--I'm not making excuses for them; they really do deserve the write-off, because golf is a very, very difficult game to play, let alone be good at, and four hours on the links can tell you a lot about how a person will handle stress, embarrassment, failure and frustration.
The unexpected fun yesterday was to see how entrepreneurs performed when called upon to parse the complexities of other people's companies. It is one thing to listen to someone pitch you something they care about and have lived and breathed for months. It's another thing altogether to see how they field entrepreneurial challenges, well, in the field.
All entrepreneurs, and doubtless all investors, have had the experience of being very keen on someone they've vetted with duly and diligently, only to find that under pressure--sometimes just the pressure of day-to-day ops--there's no one home, or worse, Mr. Hyde answers the bell. Finding out how robust an intellect you're dealing with is really very difficult. But I had the spooky feeling, walking out of these forty minute sessions, that I'd met people I'd like to work with, and also people I'd probably have made the mistake of working with if I hadn't seen them in action.
The upshot: If I were a VC (or a founder looking for partners, or a startup looking for key staff), I'd be pretty excited about seeing Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike and Dennis turn this into a regular event, so that I could avail myself of this forum to gauge my potential investment's performance, not just in a pitch meeting or interview, but on the "green."
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