Last night I was on a conference call meeting with the core team of a startup that could be a huge winner.
We did Skype voice and IM to communicate interactively as we analyzed the next step in the creation of this startup.
The core team is lead by an outstanding leader and innovator. The team is composed of "heavies", the kind you immediately respect after they first speak.
In this working session, we worked at a late hour because the startup is in its preseed stage, in stealth mode, and people are still working day jobs. It is a moonlight startup.
The focus for the meeting was how the team would advance the demo and prepare it for the second presentation to a world-class VC next week.
The meeting was fast paced, out of the box thinking oriented, and its conclusions were advanced under the founder's able guidance. In less than one hour the key decisions were agreed to about who would do what by when (nine days of time to the investor meeting).
In this investor meeting (for a seed round VC lead) the founder will be openly discussing a major shift in the original business model, an alteration that is based on the investor's special domain savvy, in particular the special knowledge about the power plays that are at work (bloggers are having a lot of fun with related rumors) in the new domain this startup is entering. That knowledge could lead to a strategic move that would get this startup around a high gate, avoiding a must-do effort to get launched.
Such a combination of startup people and investor are ideal. Together they can continue to shape this startup well before its fast-paced tech team has run out of time to significantly modify the basic design of what they are building. The investor can add clever insights to the clever design and connect the startup with the power players in the new space, the ones to be envied as strategic partners. That working chemistry is what fuels great startups.
BOTTOM LINE: Great startups shape and re-shape their bplans swiftly and boldly during the earliest stages of enterprise. The pre-seed phase is before money is in the bank and it is when the serial entrepreneurs are most open to radical shifting of their original idea. Adding competent core team members leads to more changes and the startup is swiftly morphing to something else, something better, more able to become the gorilla of a new category. Add a savvy investor (not a dictator with money nor a micromanaging board member) and you have the combination that has made serial entrepreneurs so successful. Learning the art of making rapid, wise changes in the predawn phase will be a skill that leads you to building a powerful competitive advantage, one that is truly unfair. You can do it.