Posted: 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013
By Chris Heivly
Not everyone is going to like your idea, but don't be a jerk. In the entrepreneurial world, only a fool burns bridges.
At the heart of our accelerator program lies a pure capitalist-driven investment vehicle.
You see, we take money from investors and reallocate it to 10 to 14 companies per year as a seed investment. We then wrap a three-month mentorship program around that investment. This program hopefully facilitates great company growth and thus increases our chances of a return.
In addition to our investment/mentoring role, we also serve as a community catalyst, developing and participating in many events that engage in the local, regional, and national start-up scene. Startup Weekend, university pitch competitions, an open-office-hours block, and our own reverse job fair, Tech Jobs Under the Big Top, are just a few of the ways we get to meet entrepreneurs, lots of entrepreneurs.
Commensurate with this many investments and all of these events is the opportunity to sit and discuss and sometimes advise founders on their ideas. It is a tricky proposition to honestly and openly question various aspects of the vision. And, I have to share that I am getting bolder and more honest about my views. To set this up, I always ask what they want from me. If they want advice--here it comes.
This week we let 150-plus founding teams know that they would not be accepted into our program. Some of the teams we have gotten to know over the past months, and to fulfill my half of our relationship, I offered to sit down and explain our thoughts.
I saw three reactions:
Don’t get me wrong-- I may not be the best investor and I may also be haunted, but I am an active investor. In fact, through our accelerator fund, we may be the most active investor in the southeast. Most important, the startup journey twists and turns and you never know where or when you might engage with me or my current fund or my new fund or my new partner.
With that knowledge, do you really want to burn this bridge?