The Accelerated Entrepreneur – Putting It Out There

The inaugural VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurial Summit offers an opportunity for businesses to pitch before a panel of angel investors through CVG’s LiveFire!™.

I've written that I said, "I gotta do that," that I used Angelsoft's Sample Deal .pdf to create a mock application (to compete to be one of the 5 companies pitching at CVG’s LiveFire!™ on April 2, 2009) in a Word document, and that I sent the mock application via e-mail to about twenty people and asked for feedback.

Since the days of my youth are gone and, at fifty, I have now reached the age of punditry, I can look back on a half century of life and see a pattern.

I am known for “putting it out there.”

What few know is the cost of “putting it out there.”

People say, “It’s the idea that’s put out there, not the person.”

Maybe in an ideal world where we’re all enlightened, balanced beings.  But, nope, the vast majority of people who put ideas out there are either still holding on a little or are standing very, very close.

So “putting it out there” is a personal risk.  It makes one vulnerable.

Ah, risk.  Ah, entrepreneurship.

When I look back on "putting it out there," this pattern holds true:

  • The response from many is underwhelming, i.e. non-existent.
  • The response from a few is negatively directive, “You shouldn’t!”
  • The response from a few is positively directive, “You should do this and this and this!”
  • The response from the proverbial count-‘em-on-one-hand is supportive.

Because of the vulnerability inherent in “putting it out there,” the person doing the “putting” is unprotected, if briefly, from attack.  Therefore, in a knee-jerk fashion, the person who “puts it out there” feels disappointed by those who don’t respond, hurt by those who are negative, defensive against those who give advice – albeit solicited – and wary of support given the context of the other reactions.

People who “put it out there” take it on the chin, in the gut, on the shins.

It’s much safer to “keep it in here.”

That said, when I look back on a half century of life, after the knee-jerk part of “putting it out there,” I either did it anyway, or I abandoned it.

Regardless of the response, regardless of the views of the many or the view, I am the one who lives my life and lives with the choices I make.

When I did it anyway, it was because of relentless conviction.  No risk was too high.  I was undaunted by "No one's feelings are spared and no question is out of line." 

When I abandoned it, I had assessed that the risk of public humiliation to be endured through failing in public was greater than the public humiliation I would feel from giving up in public. 

"Better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all."  Ha.  Once it’s “put out there,” whether one succeeds, fails, or quits is all public.

To quote the incomparable Virginia Tech economics professor Al Mandelstam, “What to do, kiddies?  What to do?”

For a local company to get a chance to pitch in front of angel investors through CVG’s LiveFire!™ in this economy?  That is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What if, wildly, I filled out the online funding application, were one of the five selected to pitch my company, and were selected for funding?

Angel investor funding is formulaic.  For angel investors, a 500% return in year five is expected to occur by selling the company.

Is that what I want?

The deadline for submitting an online funding application to CVG’s LiveFire!™ is March 1, 2009.

For me, the way does not seem clear.

Do "I gotta do it" or not?

Perhaps that’s a consequence of achieving the age of punditry.  No more clarity on those either-ors. 

The presence of both, the presence of ambivalence:  Not doing it seems a mistake, yet for doing it I cannot summon relentless conviction.

The age of punditry does give me this insight:

Ah, look at The Accelerated Entrepreneur in her pattern.  She's "putting it out there" again.

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