Allan Isfan is a co-founder of FaveQuest, a young start-up. This blog covers start-up topics.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The chicken and the pig

Before I get into my my blog, it is impossible not to mention the iPhone. Holy wicked cool phone thingy batman! As expected, the thing is amazing! I'm going to get one as soon as it is available! That might be mid 2008 in Canada, probably through Rogers ... no way I can wait that long. Why is Steve Jobs the only guy in the world that can come up with stuff like this! The Microsoft Zune looks cold in comparison ... it has no soul (sorry ... don't mean to be so hard on it but that's the truth ... you could do so much better with all you money). I strongly recommend you go the apple website and check out the demos ... way cool.

Ok ... back to my little world.

There are so many things to keep track of when you start a serious company ... it gets crazy. I've been compiling a list of major milestones, assumptions and actions being delegated. Priorities are assigned to each item since the list is getting long. Priority 1 turns red automatically in my spreadsheet and it looks like a blood bath. Tons and tons of work to do but unfortunately important items that were being delegated were just not getting done to my satisfaction. It was time to shake things up, create a sense of urgency and see where the commitment really is.

Doing a start-up is brutally hard ... it is stressful, exhausting, you get rejected by investors and potential partners and customers. In addition, you are trying to build something amazing while having to learn a huge number of new things at the same time and you need to do things on a complete shoestring. You beg, borrow and steal. You call in favors that may not actually be owed to you. And it can certainly be scary. You need the absolute best and everyone on the team has to work their fingers to the bone.

On the positive side though, the people that have been invited into our inner circle get to have an impact like they never have in their entire life. If this thing gets as huge as we think it is, the people on the inside will do very well. Not just financially but by getting involved very early on and living through the creation and eventual growth of a new company. When this thing takes off and people eventually move on to new things in the future, the credibility and experience will be insanely valuable.

It is not an opportunity to squander, especially when you really really believe in something. This is basically what I communicated with the team as a whole and through one on one sessions that are ongoing. Things are coming to a head and you have to decide where you want to end up. The pen is being divided into the chickens and the pigs. As one of the GPs at Skypoint likes to say regarding the role the chicken and the pig play in a great bacon and eggs breakfast ... the chicken is involved and the pig is committed. The litmus test I tossed to the team is "if your spouse hasn't complained that you are working too hard on this ... you're not working hard enough". If you're not working hard, I assume you're not committed.

I'm also asking the following questions:

-do you really, truly believe in what we are doing and why
-how many hours a week can you commit to the cause (I've set an aggressive target)
-what role do you see yourself playing in this company and what are you looking to achieve
-when we close on the seed round and have 6 to 9 months of runway, are you going to quit your job and join at likely lower pay (at least temporarily)

Although I have not spoken one-on-one with everyone, I've been surprised to find people clearly on one side or the other. Either they are in all the way .... work every moment possible and will quit their job at the appropriate time (some of us don't have other jobs which makes it easier) or they are able to work a limited 4-8 hrs a week and are only willing to come in after an A round. That is perfectly fine ... everyone has different goals in life and risk aversion but this is the time to be finding this out. VCs fund teams, not individuals, and without a team, there is no funding. There are many things that scare investors and teams with unclear commitment is one of them. Money is often conditional on key people joining so as the CEO, you need to really and truly know who is behind you.

We are still months away from being in a position to close a seed round which means the core team needs to be nailed down in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, we'll have lots pigs and not too many chickens. And then we'll have a great greasy breakfast of bacon and eggs.


Allan Isfan


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home