Build Magnets (advice for a college senior)
+ the 5 new podcast episodes on fundraising and finding your co-founder
As a reminder, Multitudes is the connecting thread across everything I do — from media, to investing, to leading a company (ICYMI I took the baton as CEO of On Deck earlier this year. ODF21 is coming up in April — apply if you’re exploring starting a startup!).
Here are some of the latest things I’ve published that you might have missed:
Check Size Doesn't Matter — Forget minimum amounts and optimize for quality people
Handling Investor Inbound — Avoid distractions and keep potential investors warm
VCs that Ghost — Dealing with investors that drag out the process
Deep Dive: Find the right co-founder and idea with Mo El Mahallawy, CTO and co-founder of Shepherd
Deep Dive: Shutting down a startup, doing right by your team, and founder identity with Stevie Cline, VC at Vol. 1 Ventures
📝 New posts from Texts with Founders
Lead with the numbers, end with the narrative — and how investors know when a company is struggling
Participating funds asking for lead investor rights — How to push back on unreasonable asks from follow-on funds.
Let the waitlist wait — Focus on “center of the bullseye” customers.
“Should I take small checks from large funds?” — Understand the benefits and avoid signaling risk.
Build Magnets (advice for a college senior)
I often get cold emails from college students pursuing entrepreneurship.
Today, I got one from a college senior asking about how to set themselves up for success after graduation. They were specifically interested in how to become a magnet for talent. Below is my response (edited for clarity)
1. How have you approached becoming a magnet for talent?
By building magnets. Some magnets I’ve built are ODF (program for people exploring starting something), Texts With Founders (newsletter and podcast sharing tested tactics with other founders), The Deep End podcast (deep dives on topics and sectors), and being an investor (the weakest of the magnets — strengthened by being helpful/responsive — most investors aren't).
Your magnets gain or lose strength. They start weak, but can increase in strength over time. Lack of use can weaken them.
2. At what point did you know it was feasible to turn connecting people into a company?
We did dinners and happy hours for a long time (I did them for about a year) focused on people exploring what was next before feeling the "pull" to do more.
ODF wasn't a big leap—it was clear people wanted ongoing engagement with others exploring starting startups.
How did you (or would you if you could go back in time) put yourself in a position with your network to increase the odds of On Deck's success? Basically, I plan to start companies in the future and want to figure out how to increase the odds of success now by investing in my network.
Be the organizer.
There's a saying that 90% of success is showing up.
That's true, but what are you showing up to? Who creates it?
You can be the person who creates the thing people show up for.
It can be an event, software, or any experience. It can be 3 people meeting weekly online, 1,000 meeting yearly offline, or any other permutation. It doesn’t have to be a meetup — it can be media that people engage with.
95% of people who want to create something desire the outcome but have no interest in doing the work.
Before ODF became a company, dozens asked to host recurring meetups in their cities. We said yes to everyone, but only a few hosted a single meetup. I don't think anyone hosted three or more meetups.
3. What's one simple system you use that helps you maintain genuine connections with people at scale?
I call this a "school" or "q&a" question because it's not relevant to you, but it seems like a smart question.
A similar question that often gets asked is "Are we in a bubble? It seems like we're in one."
Or "Is it true that it's harder than ever to raise series B rounds?"
It's not important to think about any of these things at the start of your journey.
"At scale" is a problem you'll only encounter…at scale - at that point, the tools and tactics might change dramatically from today. Ask me then!
It doesn't matter if we're in a bubble if you build a real business that solves a real problem for real customers. If you're solving a significant problem (vs a luxury one), you'll be in a good place.
It takes 2-4 years from seed to series B. Current market commentary might be entertaining but it’s useless for those not approaching their series B. Worth giving thought after seed but before your A. Any earlier is premature.
I'll answer your question indirectly, but hopefully in a more helpful way: everything is a moving target.
Adopt the mindset of “what got you here won't get you there.” The method I used to manage 20 investments (no method — it was easy) broke at 100. The method for 100 will likely break at 500, etc.
This is also a common failure mode at a fast-growing startup. The team can't acknowledge that the old way of doing things no longer works and new techniques are needed.
My email (and some of my investments) can be discovered on weisser.io