The tree versus the shadow
Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. —Abraham Lincoln
When I was looking for investors for my startup in 1997, I was a lot more interested in the values and character of my potential investors than in the name of the firm on the door. My first investors were not from Sand Hill Road or Palo Alto, but were people I knew would support my company (and me) in the ways we most needed help.
As an entrepreneur, you want to know if your investors will be there for you, help you do the right things, and encourage you to persist and evolve when things seem dark. Perhaps most of all, you want to know they’ve been there before, and that they’ll be calm and confident when things go wrong — when giving up sounds like a pretty good option.
At Google Ventures, we try to be the kind of hands-on investors that quietly help to build companies. We try to be the kind of investors we sought as entrepreneurs ourselves. Starting a company can be a lonely business, and it helps to know you’ve got someone on your side who has been through it before.
Today, we launch this blog as an experiment, hoping it will help you get to know the people and companies at Google Ventures a little better. We’ll share how we think about things and why, if you’re an entrepreneur, you might want to talk to Joe, Rich, Kevin and the rest of the team.