Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson sees a high correlation between companies that are ‘mocked and misunderstood’ and those that go on to become breakout successes.
Fred Wilson is one of the most well-respected and vocal VentureCapitalst’s I know. He helps people start and build technology companies. He has a wife, Gotham Gal, who does the same. He is the father of two daughters who blog also.
So in a week when most people would agree that The Good Men Project has been “mocked and misunderstood”, I was glad to see that Fred’s instincts mirror my own. “So when your company and services gets mocked and is misunderstood by most everyone, just smile and keep doing what you are doing. You are on to something big.”
In fact, Fred writes, in his experience as a Venture Capitalist, companies that are mocked and misunderstood are those that correlate highly with the biggest breakout successes.
He explains on his blog:
When people ask me, “how do you know which companies and services are going to be the biggest successes?”, I usually tell them to look for the companies and services that are mocked and misunderstood. For some reason, that correlates highly with the biggest breakout successes.
Twitter is a great example of this. For years, every post, column, or article written about Twitter would have comment after comment making fun of a service where people “told the world what they had for lunch.” Of course, people were doing that on Twitter and people still do that on Twitter. But what those mocking Twitter were missing is that in between the tweets about pizza and pita were posts about politics and poetry. There was substance in the midst of nonsense.
And all the while that those mocking Twitter were obsessing about the nonsense, the substance was increasing and the usage was growing. Comscore has Twitter’s monthly users at ~170mm people worldwide, up >60% in the past year. That makes Twitter one of the top twenty websites in the world and it is growing faster than most of those twenty websites. That is what I call “breakout success.”
Fred goes on to explain how one of his portfolio companies, Kickstarter, was described as such: “so this is like the guy on the street asking for a handout?”.
Kickstarter couldn’t be farther from the “guy on the street asking for a handout” and yet that was [the] takeaway…he mocked Kickstarter and misunderstands it. And that is fine with me. Because its a signal that Kickstarter is on to something big.
I knew that already, but situations like this are reinforcing for me. They are the “tell”. So when your company and services gets mocked and is misunderstood by most everyone, particularly the mainstream press and media, just smile and keep doing what you are doing. You are on to something big.
When we launched The Good Men Project, we specifically set out to disrupt the status quo. We are doing something different here. We are doing something important. We are changing the way that community and media collides to talk about important issues. We are changing the conversation around men and masculinity. We had no doubt when we started that we would create a few waves. That’s what we set out to do.