I have met entrepreneurs all over the world who told me they visit tech blogs for one major reason: to read stories about other founders in order to infer advice about a problem they themselves were having. Maybe it was finding a technical co-founder. Maybe it was getting out of that terminal whiteboarding phase. Maybe it was knowing when they should take the leap and quit a job to pursue their dreams. Or maybe it was knowing what angel investors they could trust.
At TechCrunch, I launched a show called Ask a VC with the aim of creating a more direct channel for that advice. The only problem is, when a VC is on camera, they tend to want to be polite and you don’t always get the unvarnished truth. The tough love. The straight advice of “Listen, this is not going to work and here’s why…” Also, the number of questions we received meant the videos could be very long, and few people actually trying to start companies have the time to sit through those.
So we’re trying it a different way at PandoDaily. As regular readers know we’re not afraid of embracing old media staples — witness our hiring of a dedicated copy editor and on-staff illustrator, and the creation of our book publishing division. Today we’re launching a homage to great advice columns like “The Ethicist” or “Dear Prudence.” We’re calling ours “Dear Startup Genius.”
Who’s writing it? Well that’s part of the fun. (For me.) You don’t know. Our investors don’t know. Our board doesn’t know. Even our staff (except me) doesn’t know. We want this person to feel free to be utterly blunt (and funny), so this person is doing the column under a pseudonym. Maybe one day we’ll reveal it. Maybe.
All I will say for now is this: Trust me, this is someone who most entrepreneurs in the world would give most anything to have a meeting with. This person has been incredibly successful as both an entrepreneur and an investor. This person is highly opinionated — and, while you may not agree with him or her, in my experience, Startup Genius is usually right. You have heard of this person.
We are going to launch the column this Friday, and I can’t wait to read this person’s responses so please send your problems, your moral quandaries, your valuation questions, your worries to dearstartupgenius(at)pandodaily(dot)com right now.
(Weird-maybe-maybe-not-disclosure: we obviously can’t say whether Startup Genius is an investor in PandoDaily, or may become one in the future.)
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]