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创业

当投资者拿创业者不当回事时

Mick Hagen 2011年03月08日

创业者把整个身家性命都压在了公司的命运上。但是,在某些投资者眼里,我们不过是牌桌上的筹码。

    上上周我在发布会(Launch Conference)上待了几天,认识了一些创业者。他们眼下在做的事非常有意思,其热情和干劲也颇具感染力,他们是默默无名的小人物。我喜欢小人物。

    大会上到处都能见到早期投资者和风险投资家。我私下里也与几位投资者聊过,但是我主要还是聆听和旁观,看他们如何参加小组讨论,听他们如何为上台发言的初创公司提供反馈意见。

投资者

    对于某些投资者在发言时论及初创公司的样子,我很不以为然。有时我会听到这样的话:“不错,我参与了那桩交易。”这些用词本身没什么不对,只是那种表达方式令人不舒服。他们传递出的是一种漠不关心的态度。那不过是一桩“交易”。就好像他们在玩大富翁游戏,或者梦幻棒球游戏或者扑克牌,而我们这些创业者不过是他们手中那小小的筹码而已。

    我懂,投资一大堆公司就是他们的工作。我明白,他们要做的不过就是先大把撒钱然后再默默祈求上帝。诸如此类。但是,无论如何,他们对自己投资的初创公司漠不关心,没有任何借口可找。

创业者

    为了自己的初创公司,我们将整个生活和生计都押上了。我们别无选择,没有其他经济来源,这家公司必须成功。为了实现这项事业的价值,我们日以继夜地辛勤操劳,可谓呕心沥血。我们放弃了多少好工作,好学校,好机会,就是为了建立自己的初创公司,尽管它很可能以失败而告终。但是,我们不离不弃。

    诚然,我们中有些人已经进入后经济生活状态(我们卖掉了公司),但是多数人都远非如此。我们的业绩乏善可陈,银行存款寥寥无几,我们有的只是一腔热血和不灭的梦想。

    我自己就浑身伤痕累累。我曾经负债好几万美元;我曾经睡在客厅的沙发上,亦曾与朋友同睡一室;我曾经乞求家里人借钱给我……这一切无不令人备感屈辱。更糟的是,我也经历过丧失抵押品赎回权后的狼狈。不错,你没听错:我已无家可归。你知道这有多艰难并且尴尬吗?我的信用糟得一塌糊涂,需花费数年时间才能偿清。生活充满艰辛。

    但是,对那么多投资者来说,我们不过是笔“交易”,不过沧海之一粟,不过是牌桌上小小的筹码。当这些投资者苦苦思索,决定下回要加入哪家乡村俱乐部,或者情人节时为娇妻买哪款进口车时,我们这些创业者正在竭尽全力,牺牲一切,只求让公司有所起色。

例外

    当然,并非所有投资者都是这副嘴脸。许多投资者以前也当过创业者,并且对于创业的滋味依然记忆犹新。他们清楚我们的处境,他们理解日子艰难时深夜泪湿巾的苦衷,他们也明白回家对心爱的人说:“亲爱的,我们这个月的房租还没着落。”时心中满含的愧疚。他们没忘。

    还有许多投资者没做过创业者。但是,看看他们如何谈论自己所投资的初创公司及其创始人,你就能断定他们是哪类投资者;听听他们怎么表达对这些人及其家庭和处境的关心和同情,你就能判断。如果他们对创业者充满了同情之心,那会溢于言表。你能听到,也能感觉到。

结论

    如果你是投资者,请务必拿我们当回事。别忘了,我们每天挥洒心血、汗水和眼泪,为的就是有朝一日公司能够成功。对你而言,我们不过是笔投资而已,但对我们来说,它是一切。

    而如果你是创业者,别接受那些眼里根本不拿你当回事的投资者的资金。你不是供他们玩耍的玩具。公司是你的整个世界——千真万确。他们得学会尊重并欣赏这一点。

    本文作者Mick Hagen是Zinch公司的联合创始人。Zinch是家在线社交网络,它将在校学生与大学、奖学金、留学项目以及研究生院等联系起来。

    译者:大海

    I spent a few days at Launch Conference last week, and met some entrepreneurs doing really interesting things. Their passion and energy is contagious. They are underdogs. And I love underdogs.

    The conference was also filled with early-stage investors and VCs. I interacted with a few personally but mainly I listened and observed as they participated on panels and as they gave feedback to the presenting startups.

The Investor

    I don't appreciate the way some investors talk about the startups in their portfolio. I'll sometimes hear, "Yea, i'm in on that deal." The words themselves aren't that bad… but it's the way they say it. They convey an attitude of not really caring. It's just a "deal." It's like they're playing a game of monopoly or doing some fantasy baseball trade or playing a game of poker and us entrepreneurs are just the Skittles they're playing with.

    I get it. It's often their job to invest in a bunch of companies. I understand. Spray and pray. Yadda yadda yadda. But it's no excuse for not caring.

The Entrepreneur

    We put our entire life and livelihood at risk for the startup. We have no alternative. No portfolio to lean on. It must work. All day every day, we are consumed in building value in the enterprise. We forgo great jobs, great schools, and great opportunities to be building a startup — a startup that will most likely fail. But we continue.

    Some of us are post-economic (we've sold a company), but most of us aren't. We've got no track record. Little money in the bank. Just hustle in our veins and a dream that won't die.

    I've had my share of battle wounds. I've gone through tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I've slept on couches and bunked up with friends. I've begged family members for loans… as humiliating as that is. I've gone through a nasty foreclosure. Yes, you heard that right: I've lost a home. Do you know how hard and embarrassing that is? My credit is a complete disaster and will take years to recover. This hasn't been easy.

    Yet to so many investors, we're just a "deal." Just a drop in the bucket. Just a Skittle on the poker table. And while these investors are worried about what country club they're gonna join next or what imported car they'll get their wife for V-day, we entrepreneurs are busting our butts and sacrificing everything trying to get the company off the ground.

The Exception

    Not all investors are like that. Many investors are former entrepreneurs and they still remember what it's like. They know what we're going through. They understand how wet the pillow gets at night when times get tough. They understand what it's like to come home and tell your loved one, "honey… i don't know how we're gonna pay rent this month." They remember.

    Many investors aren't former entrepreneurs. But you'll know what kind of investor they are by how they talk about their startups and founders. You'll know by how they express concern and empathy for them, their family, their situation. If they are truly founder-friendly, they'll care. You'll hear it and you'll feel it.

The Conclusion

    If you're an investor, care. Really care. Don't forget the blood, sweat and tears that we shed every day to make this happen. To you we're just one investment. To us, this is everything.

    If you're an entrepreneur, don't take money from investors who treat you like a pawn. You aren't a toy for them to play with. This means the world to you — literally. They need to respect and appreciate that.

    Mick Hagen is co-founder of Zinch, an online social network that connects students with colleges, scholarships, study abroad programs and graduate schools.

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