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投资理财

你在凌晨三点给投资人打过电话吗?

Polina Marinova 2017年12月05日

一位新创企业高管介绍她的运营经验。


Courtesy of 8VC 

吉米斯科蒂是8VC公司的创始合伙人,8VC是一家专注医疗领域科技创业的风投公司。她领投的创业公司有uBiome、Blink Health和Honor Elder Care等。在专职从事风投前,她曾经创办过一家直接面对消费者的医疗公司Script Relief,和一家女性医疗健康公司Monthly Gift。

在最近接受《财富》采访过程中,斯科蒂谈到了她的运营经验给她的投资策略带来了哪些帮助,为什么她不介意创业者半夜给她打电话,以及“悄悄话网络”都在硅谷做了哪些事。

《财富》:你的个人职业发展历程很有意思,首先是入职时尚行业,然后是自己创业,现在又进入了投资行业。你的运营经验对你现在的投资决策有哪些影响?

斯科蒂:我很幸运曾经拥有17年的运营经验。我可以花很多时间跟创业蹲在同一个战壕里,帮助他们解决一些常见的问题。他们跟我谈的理念和挑战都不是纯理论上的,而是具有一定可行性的,因为很多都是基于我自己的实际经验。这让我对很多事很容易上手,而且我对创业者所处的情形也更容易感同身受,这种优势是很多其他投资者不具备的。

你告诉创业者们可以凌晨三点打给话给你,为什么?

斯科蒂:这个问题我称之为“凌晨三点原则”。在研究一笔我打算领投的投资时,我经常会选择在凌晨三点做思考。换句话说,如果现在就是凌晨三点钟,如果这个创业者给我打来电话,我到底想不想接?如果在我困得不行的时候,这个创业者的电话还能让我从床上跳下来,说明我真的非常看好他。如果我在凌晨三点没有起床接你的电话的兴趣,那我就不应该继续投资你的公司。

我之所以经常提到“凌晨三点”原则,是因为我有一半时间待在旧金山,另一半时间待在纽约,因此大家经常不知道我在哪。如果你在半夜三点还在工作,这时候你给我打电话,我很有可能会接的。我的电话经常在半夜响起,经常是遇到问题的创业者打来的。我希望投资者如果遇到问题不要瞒着我,希望他们能没有心理负担地给我打电话请求帮助。

你认为你的同事们也会在半夜三点接电话吗?

斯科蒂:如果能就这个问题做个非正式调查那就太有意思了。我认为我遇见这种情况的概率要比我的男同事多。这有两个原因;第一,作为一个女人,我天生显得比较柔和。我是一个待人温和的人,这能在很大程度上改变你和一个人的关系。另外我还是意大利裔,这也给了你一种热情感——我不光会接你的电话,说不定还会给你做个宵夜。第二,由于我自己也有创业的经验,所以他们知道我或许也经历过类似的情形。

你以前曾说过,你喜欢成为全是男人的环境中的唯一的女人,你能说详细点吗?

斯科蒂:很多人都提到过作为这个行业中的少数女性之一所面临的挑战。然而我认为,很多时候这种身份也是有好处的。首先,你很容易给别人留下印象,因为你是屋子里唯一的一个女人。在这个行业,要想让创业者源源不断地来找你,首先要让他们记住你这个人,让他们知道你是他们要找的人,知道你是一个很好的合作伙伴。要在几百个男人里记住一个女人是很容易的。另外,作为女人,我们的消费观也跟男人不一样。很多人为男人才是消费主力的东西其实是被女人买走了,比如汽车。作为消费者,女人的消费观是很独特的。作为从事消费业务的投资人,这也是一个很大的优点。

另一方面,你认为风投业需要更多的女性风投资本家吗?

斯科蒂:是的,我们绝对需要更多的女性风投资本家,我也一直致力于为行业培养更多的女性风投。我经常半开玩笑地说,所有聪明的女孩应该团结起来。我也一直在寻找与女性创业者和投资者合作的方法。我们公司的投资组合里就很幸运地拥有几位极其优秀的女性创业者,她们致力于解决一些大问题,我对此感到非常骄傲。

去年,女性创业者只获得了融资总额的2%。怎样才能改变这种局面?

斯科蒂:坦率地说,要做的有很多。我认为,随着一批女性创业者功成身退,她们也会成为投资人,希望她们也能投资多元化的创业者群体,尤其是面向其他女性创业者。在8VC公司,我们投资的创业者有男有女,都很优秀,因为我们只想投资那些杰出的创业人,不过我认为多样化的团队往往意味着更优秀的公司。

女性创业者创办的企业应该能够解决女性的问题。我认为在很长一段时间里,很多男性创办的公司自认为他们也能解决女性的问题。比如你可以看看50多年来快消行业的广告话术。有的卫生棉条包装盒上印着一个女人在打排球,她还穿着一条白裤子。这给人造成了一种对女性居高临下的感觉,完全跟不上今天的时代。我认为,这个广告的策划显然不是一个女人做的。

请你再解释一下,为什么一个女人穿白裤子打排球,就会让人觉得对女性居高临下?

斯科蒂:因为你知道,第一,这不是你来月经时的感受;第二,这不是你来月经时会做的活动。这广告实在有点愚蠢。这种产品和广告的话术实际上是蛊惑你隐藏自己来月经这件事儿,根本不注重女性的感受。

让我用Monthly Gift举个例子。Monthly Gift这家公司将科技(一款月经追踪器和一款生殖健康应用)和一款女性快消产品有机结合了起来,但它是让人愉悦的,而不是让人感觉居高临下的。Monthly Gift的话术会给女性以力量感和诚实感,我认为这就是为什么人们这么喜欢我们的产品。

从2017年你听说过的所有这些创业计划看,哪些新兴趋势让你最注目?

斯科蒂:有很多计划都着眼于解决便利性的问题,但我认为便利性在医疗行业不是个问题。我们的投资组合中有一个很好的例子就是Blink Health,这家公司正在降低处方药的价格。我认为处方药市场是个完全碎片化的市场,我从2011年左右就开始关注并参与这个领域。而Blink Health为市场带来了某种透明性,它正在以一种前所未见的方式重振这个行业。很多药品销售平台和主打便利性的创业公司的创业者都只看到了片面的问题。如果你深入研究这个领域,你很快就会发现,便利性在医疗保健行业并不是一个真正的问题,成本才是。

风投界最近发生了一些性骚扰丑闻。人们应该如何应对和解决这个问题?

斯科蒂:这个问题显然很长时间以来都是一个大问题,我觉得现在它受到关注是一件好事,而且女性朋友们也有了一个平台去讨论她们遭遇的问题。

很多女性现在都在这个所谓的“悄悄话网络”上传递信息,告诉其他女性可以跟谁共事,又要尽量避开哪个人。坦率地说,很长时间以来,女人都是靠八卦活着的。我们会悄悄互相提醒:“不要跟这个男的共事”,或者“跟那个男的共事没关系,他是安全的”。

现在对这些问题有了更强大的举报工具,我们也能更好地举报自身遭遇的性骚扰和虐待等问题了。显然,举报这些问题的义务仍然要由女性来承担。从我个人经验看,举报这种事让很多女性感到恐惧。但我觉得现在要比过去30多年好了一些,因为你不用直面这些恐惧,而是可以把它隐藏在一个悄悄话网络里进行传播。随着风投界和创业界的女性越来越多,我认为这也是打破“男性俱乐部”的唯一方法。

在你们公司前身还是Formation 8的时候,你曾担任过它的顾问。那时候,创始人乔·朗斯代尔也遭到了性骚扰的指控。(不过所有相关指控最后都撤销了。)有了这种教训,你和你的公司现在采取了什么不一样的做法吗?

斯科蒂:这些指控很快就撤销了,它们是极恶劣且不真实的。虽然在Formation 8时代我只是一个顾问,但是无论当时还是现在,我们对所有找到我们的创业者都报以同样的尊重。这一点对我们非常重要,我们并不因为创业者的性别而对他们区别对待。对我们来说,战场是公平的。

说到性骚扰,我认为如果你遇到了这种事,还是有办法可以举报的。如果一个女性创业者遇到了这种问题,比如很多女性创业者可能不在我们公司,但是却是我的朋友或同事,她们就会找我来帮忙。我既是女人,也是一个风投合伙人,我觉得这样的话,就会使问题有一个软着路。

你获得的最好的商业建议是什么?

斯特蒂:别人给我的最好的一个建议,就是不要让别人决定我能带来什么价值。我的背景既不是金融也不是投资,所以当我创办8VC、第一次与创业者开会、第一次做尽职调查的时候,我认为我肯定要在金融和投资上克服很多困难。

不过在遇到困难时,不要让别人对你和你的能力的预期局限了你,要相信你的能力。除了少数人真正支持你,大多数人只想把你局限在一个盒子里,让你为他们创造价值。幸运的是,虽然我的背景不是投资专业,但我的合伙人却很信任我。你也不应该让其他人决定你的价值。(财富中文网)

译者:贾政景

Kimmy Scotti, a founding partner at 8VC, specializes in technology companies with a focus on healthcare. She led investments in uBiome, Blink Health, and Honor Elder Care. Before professionally investing, Scotti co-founded Script Relief, a direct-to-consumer healthcare company, and Monthly Gift, a women’s health and wellness company.

In a conversation with Fortune, Scotti discusses how her operating experience has helped her investment strategy, why she tells founders to call her in the middle of the night, and what “whisper networks” have done in the Valley.

FORTUNE: You’ve had an interesting career path starting in fashion, then building companies, and now investing. How has your operating experience affected your investment decisions?

SCOTTI: I feel lucky to have had experience as an operator for the past 17 years. I can spend a lot of time in the trenches with entrepreneurs helping them solve day-to-day problems. The ideas and challenges they talk about with me are not theoretical, but they are more actionable as they are based on my own experiences. It allows me to be very hands-on and have empathy for founders’ situations in a way that a lot of other investors can’t.

You tell founders they can call you at 3 a.m. Why then?

SCOTTI: I call it “The 3 a.m. Principle.” When we’re looking at an investment that I’m planning on leading internally, I try to think about it at 3 a.m. In other words, if this founder was to call me in the middle of the night right now, do I want to pick up the phone for them? If it’s something I’m jumping out of bed for when I’m most exhausted, it passes the 3 a.m. gut check. If I’m not going to wake up for you at 3 a.m. then I really shouldn’t be working on your business.

The reason I think about this so much is that I spend half the time in San Francisco and the other half in New York. That means no one ever really knows where I am. So if you call me at midnight when you are still working or you call me at 6 a.m. when you get up, there’s a pretty good chance you’re getting me at 3 a.m. My phone is constantly ringing in the middle of the night with entrepreneurs who want to throw the ball around on a challenge they’re having that they’re really worried about. I want to be that investor that when they’re having a problem, they’re not hiding from me. I want them to be comfortable enough to call for help.

Do you think your colleagues get the same calls?

SCOTTI: It’d be really funny to do an informal survey of this. I think I get more of these than my male counterparts for two reasons. One, as a woman, I’m a bit of a softer landing. I’m a warm person, and that changes your relationship with people a lot. I’m also Italian, and I think that kind of gives you a general warmth — I’ll take your call and I’ll probably make you a meatball or something. And two, because of my experience as an entrepreneur, they know that I’ve probably been in that situation before.

You’ve previously said that you actually like being the only woman in all-male rooms. Can you elaborate?

SCOTTI: People talk about the challenge of being one of very few women in this industry. I actually think that a lot of the time it’s a great benefit. For one, you’re highly memorable as the only woman in the room. In this industry, so much deal flow comes from the fact that founders remember you’re a person they should be reaching out to and that you’d be a good partner. It’s very easy to remember one of very few women in a sea of hundreds of men. Additionally, as women, we have a very different view on being consumers than men. We consume much of what you would think of as male-dominated purchases, like automobiles for instance. We have a unique perspective as purchasers, which is a huge benefit as investors in consumer businesses.

On the flip side though, do you think venture capital needs more female VCs?

SCOTTI: Oh, yes. We definitely need more female VCs, and I’m always trying to bring up other women in this industry. I always say, half in jest, that all the smart girls need to stick together. I look for ways to partner and work with other female entrepreneurs and investors. I’m very lucky to have incredible female entrepreneurs in our portfolio solving huge problems and I’m really proud of that.

Female founders received 2% of all venture funding last year. What needs to happen for this stat to change?

SCOTTI: A lot, honestly. I think that as as female entrepreneurs start to exit their companies, they will become investors and hopefully invest in diverse entrepreneurs, many of which will be female. At 8VC, we invest in great entrepreneurs — male and female. We really just want to invest in great founders, but I think more diverse teams mean better companies.

Women need to build companies that solve our problems. I think for a long time, men have been building companies they believe solve the problems of women. Look at the way CPG companies have been speaking to women for 50+ years. You look at a tampon box, and it’s got a woman playing volleyball in white pants on it — this tone is condescending and off the mark for where we are today. It’s very obvious to me that a woman didn’t make that ad.

Explain the difference in tone. Why is it condescending to see an ad of women playing volleyball in white pants?

SCOTTI: Because you know that’s A) not how you feel on your period and B) that’s not what you’d be doing on your period. It’s just a little bit silly. The tone of these commercials and products is very much about hiding your period versus feeling empowered.

I’ll use Monthly Gift as an example. It’s a company that marries technology (a period tracker and fertility app) to a CPG product (tampons and liners) that we all use every month in a way that is uplifting rather than condescending. The way Monthly Gift speaks to women is empowering and honest, and I think that’s why people are drawn to our product.

Based on every pitch you heard in 2017, which emerging trends have stuck out to you?

SCOTTI: I see a lot of pitches that address the convenience problem, or “non-problem” as I say, in healthcare. I focus on issues that are more cost-based. A good example of that in our portfolio is Blink Health, which is lowering the price of prescriptions. I think the prescription marketplace is totally broken and an area that I’ve been focused on and involved in since about 2011. Blink Health is creating transparency and rocking an industry in a way that hasn’t been done before. A lot of these drug delivery platforms and convenience-focused startups really exemplify privileged, young entrepreneurs focusing on issues that they see. If you study the space, you’ll quickly see that convenience is not really a problem in healthcare. It’s really about cost.

Sexual harassment allegations have recently come to the forefront in the venture community. How can people address and solve this problem?

SCOTTI: Obviously this has been a huge problem for a long time, and I think it’s great that it’s more front and center right now and that women have more of a platform to talk about the issues they are encountering.

Women have been passing along information about who to work with and who to avoid via this so-called “whisper network.” For a long time, women survived on gossip, frankly. We warned each other in a hushed tone — “don’t work with that guy” or “work with this guy because he’s safe.”

Now, with stronger reporting structures for these issues, we’re able to better report sexual harassment and abuse as we encounter it. Obviously, the onus is still on the women to report these issues, and from my own experience, that can be really scary. But I think it’s a better time now than it has been in the last 30+ years to push your challenge out in the real world instead of hiding it in a whisper network. As we have more women in venture and more female founders, I think that’s the only way we’ll see the break-up of the boys club.

You were an adviser to the firm back when it was Formation 8. During that time, founder Joe Lonsdale ran into allegations of his own. (All accompanying legal claims against Lonsdale have since been dropped.) Is there anything you and the firm do differently in your process as a result of that experience?

SCOTTI: Those allegations were pretty quickly dismissed. They were egregious and untrue. I was just an adviser during the F8 days, but the same was true then as it is now — we treat all founders that come in and pitch us with the same respect. That’s a point that is really important to us. We don’t treat our founders differently based on gender. For us, the playing field is level.

In terms of sexual harassment, I think there’s a clear way to report issues if you’re having them. If a female founder was having a challenge, like many other female founders that aren’t in our firm but are friends and colleagues of mine, they would reach out to me for help. I’m a woman and a partner, and I have to believe that would make reporting an issue a softer landing.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

SCOTTI: The best advice anybody’s ever given me is to not let someone else determine what value I’m capable of adding. Because my background is not in finance or as an investor, I think that going into launching 8VC and walking into my first pitch meeting, or doing my first diligence, I thought I was going to have to overcome a real hurdle in the finance end of investing.

Rather than let other’s expectations of you and your abilities define what you see as your struggles, it’s up to you to believe in the power of your own ability. With the exception of a few rare people who really support you, most people will try to keep you in a box that creates value for them. I’m lucky to have partners who believed that I could do this despite my unconventional background. You shouldn’t let other people determine your value.

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