This month’s Wired Magazine (yes, I read and subscribe) had this great article on a fella and a site I knew nothing about. As usual, thanks to the great writing, I closed my magazine learning something new, useful, and interesting.
The story details the mastermind behind TheFunded.com, a guy who, until the publishing of this months article, was anonymous. An entrepreneur for many years, this man, unveiled as NYC resident Adeo Ressi (see photo below), faced many difficulties with the Venture Capitalists (henceforth VC’s) who funded his businesses. Taking his frustration, the Christmas holiday last year, and probably some egg-nog Ressi created the website/forum/blog TheFunded.com.
Initially to provide a way for himself and his close entrepreneurial friends to vent their frustrations with VC’s, TheFunded soon began booming into the 4,000+ member strong internet force it is today. Note that those 4000 members are the ones who passed the application process whereby only seasoned, serious, and legitimate entrepreneurs are accepted.
I think Ressi’s site is a great idea. It provides an anonymous platform for entrepreneurs, who work with VC’s all of the time, to voice their frustrations or extol the virtues of various VC’s groups.
“TheFunded is (not) exactly beloved by the venture capital community, which is more accustomed to CEOs kissing its butt than kicking its ass. …It may seem odd that venture capitalists should care what a gaggle of lowly entrepreneurs have to say about them. After all, for the past couple of decades VCs have been the kingmakers of Silicon Valley, rendering judgment on an endless stream of CEOs who beg and scrape for their approval. But in recent years, that dynamic has begun to shift.”
Apparently, but not surprisingly, the VC community is very angry at this website and its creator, because, in my opinion, it keeps them honest. Some VC’s were angry because the contributors to TheFunded said they were conceited or hard to work with and that it was a way for the peasants to revolt because they had ax’s to grind. It’s actually these inane responses that inspired me to write this post.
The VC community seems to be upset that there is finally a checks and balances system in the entrepreneurial world. CEO’s of emerging companies used to beg at the feet of their investors, grappling for whatever they were given. TheFunded has allowed a place for these CEO’s to go and share their experiences working with various VC’s. I’m sure some of them are conceited and hard to work with, but I’m equally sure that some are great as well. TheFunded is not limited to negative criticism, in fact, many folks go there to give positive reviews. Often times CEO’s shop for investors. It is important that they find and work with groups that they know are honest. TheFunded provides a lens from which VC firms can be evaluated by those who have worked with them before. It’s like an online list of references and reviews.
As far as ax’s to grind, which is what many VC firms feel the members of TheFunded are doing, I have to respectfully disagree. If someone does indeed have an “ax to grind” perhaps there is a very good reason for it. Rather than chocking off their issues as the unimportant rantings of an angry co-worker, why not listen to their words, find truth where it exists, and make any according changes.
I think that every industry would benefit from a resource like TheFunded. We all should be held accountable for our actions. If we want people to work with us then we need to have honest intentions and follow through on our word. Reviews by those who worked with us would provide an excellent tool for examining how others perceive our work and the experiences they had. Like a good film, one bad review is not going to kill it in the box office if that lone reviewer was wrong. So to here. Plus, how are we ever going to improve ourselves and our work unless we get honest feedback?