I Was Robbed

Posted by on June 28, 2006 at 1:12 pm.

I was robbed Saturday night…

Coming off the weekend of my 20 year high school reunion I realized I could have won the door prize for “Most Unusual Profession”. Amid a roomful of attorneys, accountants, teachers and a dentist, my old buddy Jarrett Seal won for being part of the Tampa Police Bomb Squad. I’m proud of Jarrett and glad he does the dangerous stuff instead of me, but that’s not too unusual — every city must have a bomb squad nowadays, right? Everybody applauded when they heard the job “Bomb Squad”, but had they announced “Venture Capitalist” the room would have fallen silent, puzzled (with one guy in the back clapping until he realized he was alone).

This post isn’t about the prize (OK, it is a little bit) and it’s not about whether my high school pumps out the digerati, it’s about realizing what a small group of knuckleheads play in this sandbox we call venture-backed technology startups. Google is a monster VC success and a household word, yet they only have about 6,000 employees, or .002% of the US population. You say that’s just one company, OK, consider that the NVCA reports 700 venture capital firms in the US. Assuming most of those are small with maybe an average of 4-5 VCs each, we’re talking an entire industry of 3000 VCs — half the size of Google. That means you’d have to attend a lot of high school class reunions before finding a pair of VCs squaring off for an old-school breakdance battle.

It’s also a pretty insulated sandbox — we (tech entrepreneurs and VCs) spend much of our non-customer time chatting with other tech startup folks, advisors, board members or investors. There is nothing profound about this weekend’s experience, but it does remind me that we continue charting unknown territory and spending time where few others go.

Entrepreneurs, by their nature, are typically pioneers choosing the path less trodden. VCs, either as entrepreneurs themselves or of a like-mind, actively look for spaces and opportunities others don’t see or appreciate. For those of you who have chosen the startup life, you have my appreciation and respect — it’s not an easy path. However, if you want a trophy, you’ll have to wait for your next high school reunion and raise your hand when the door prizes start!

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