Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Lost Love, "Bad Jews" and Getting Funded
People have been buzzing about the Washington Post article “I am tired of being the Jewish Men’s Rebellion” about a lovelorn Southern gal twice left at the altar by Jewish guys for women of their own tribe.
Since we often liken the task of finding Angel Investors to dating, I thought it might be interesting to review this from the Entrepreneur/Investors point of view. In that regard, Carey Purcell’s cri de coeur is not that different from heartfelt complaints of seeming "outsiders" who pitch and never get funded while some kind of “chosen entrepreneur’s tribe” seem to be the lucky ones who do.
Granted, this broaches a uniquely Jewish issue – that fear of becoming an endangered species. This is something few other racial groups – particularly WASPS have ever had to worry about. No one marched the Smiths and Jones to death camps and so it is especially easy for a well-intended Southerner who rarely met a Jew, to step on a cultural landmine. Not even step, just set off a buried tripwire.
What's in a Sandwich?
I have a Christian friend who was once about to marry a young Jewish doctor until his mother visited and my friend offered her a ham sandwich. Years later, she still never got it – even when I tried to explain. Sure, that Jewish mother was known to have eaten bacon but you, prospective tribemember, are not supposed to offer it.
So it is when it comes to people with money, to whom the potential of Startups to incinerate their fortunes has a similarly chilling effect. Just like Carey Purcell, you can say the wrong thing to them and just never realize it.
A Heimishe Rumspringa?
Let it be said that not every investor is a wary, nay-saying tire-kicker - people do in fact get funded. Likewise, not all Jews are on a Heimishe Rumspringa at some poor Shiksa’s expense. Both may be more open than she thinks but just not in the way she realizes.
You need to read between the lines and that, after all, is why the Jews came up with Freud…..
The Tale of Two Tells
In Carey’s case there were two giveaways. One was her passing statement that she got along so well with the Jewish guys, who weren't religios at all, that they even helped decorate her Christmas tree. That sounded good to because Christmas is so….everywhere. But not so much to Jews, to whom it sounds more like the Pharoah’s wife saying she gets long with Jews so well she had a couple of their lads over from the camps to decorate the pyramids. This article ran over Passover when Jews remember their bondage. In any event, it comes across as cultural smothering.
What she should have said is, she got along so well, she helped light their menorahs.
A startup would run into a similar problem with Investors if they said their business was so good it’s growing by 10% annually. And yes, I’m even giving myself a raise! To most people that’s sounds laudable but investors are deathly afraid of something called a “lifestyle business” which, from their perspective means a low-growth plateauing business that affords a not very ambitious entrepreneur a nice lifestyle while the investor winds up getting absolutely nothing – not even their money back! In that context, low growth and founder payouts are actually trigger words that will send Investors similarly fleeing.
Calling Robert De Niro in the InLaws!
The other standout incident was the certain fellow’s overbearing mother who somehow got Carey’s cellphone and called to find her son’s whereabouts. This made Carey uncomfortable. Potential in-laws are supposed to make suitors uncomfortable at some level. They are being tested to determine family suitability. So, it’s how you respond that matters. Prospective Moms-in-law wants to know if you will be a good steward of their sons and whether you will fit in with the tribe. Clearly, she did not do well with that. But once she complained, the answer became a really big No.
Likewise, Investors will want to know if you are coachable and wonder how you will fit within their portfolios. Can you take advice, guidance and will you give accurate accounting? Do you match their investment outlooks? Their annoying phone calls will not be about errant sons but about the fate of their investments. They are going to want to know early in the relationship and whether or not you can handle that call may well be one of their little “tests.”
Numbers Don't Equal Market Share
The best part about this article is that Carey cites numbers. The 44% of Jews, according to a Pew study, marry outside their faith. At some level her lament sounds a lot like the standard Entrepreneurs business cry: if we just got 10% of Amzon/Google/Facebook’s market we would be a great success! Likewise, Carey felt she deserved to be part of that 44% of disengaging Jews.
In reality, the answer is the same in the both cases: no one gives you a piece of their market - no matter how big - any more than they give you their hand in matrimony. You have to earn it - by understanding and winning over their love and trust. Love may be the wrong word in business, but the idea still applies.
The bottom line in both love and business is that, if you really want to be in the game you have to adapt…..and persevere.
And then you win.