Jason Calacanis isn’t particularly well-known for being unwilling or unable to speak his mind. The entrepreneur and angel investor is better known for his glib demeanor and characteristic bluntness — and to hear him tell it, that’s why founders seek him out when they’re looking for early-stage investors.
“When you’re honest or blunt as I have been in my writing, or sometimes when I’m talking to folks, I think eventually they know at least they’re gonna get it straight from me,” Calacanis said during our PandoMonthly Los Angeles event on Thursday. “What you see is what you get; it’s going to be very honest and out there.”
A quick glance at his AngelList profile, which features short reviews from the founders of several companies in which he has invested, confirms Calacanis’ theory. Being someone who isn’t going to varnish the truth or offer a bullshit opinion simply because they’re afraid of offending anyone seems to have left an impression on at least a few entrepreneurs. And the spiel he offers every potential investment, as recounted below, probably doesn’t hurt:
I tell the entrepreneur, listen, I’m not your venture capitalist and I’m not one of your team members. I’m a fellow entrepreneur. I know how hard this is, I know that any minute it could come off the rails, I know you might be faking it at times. The only time you should call me is when you can’t call the VCs and you can’t tell your team when it’s really fucking bad. That’s when I want you to call me. I don’t care if it’s 1 AM, I don’t care if it’s the weekend. When you think this is going to go off the rails, when you think this is really a problem, when you’re stuck, that’s when you should call me.
That approach could lend itself well to early-stage companies, which often require different skills from their investors than mature companies, as First Round Capital partner Josh Kopelman (an investor in PandoDaily) said in February:
Our view is that there is a different skillset that is needed to be a baby nurse – to help someone find the rhythm of life and figure that out – versus the skillset required to be a babysitter. And there are hundreds or thousands of firms that we believe are better at being babysitters than we are.
First Round Capital’s skillset might involve networking and public relations; Calacanis’ involves an sometimes-brutal sense of honesty and a willingness to commiserate with other entrepreneurs. Who knew that having a cantankerous-yet-committed “night nurse” would be so appealing to people working on early-stage companies?
[Photo by Rebecca Aranda for Pandodaily]