February 16th, 2015
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Because I have posted my cell phone number on my website, random strangers often reach out to me for advice about their startup ideas. 99% of the time they are very innocent and inexperienced, so I have no desire to work with them, but I am usually happy to give advice. Some of them seem reasonably smart, and others seem utterly clueless.
Last night at 2:30 AM someone started to text me. This was our conversation:
THEM: Hi there. I found your number on your website
THEM: I want to offer you a chance to potentially work with me on the next facebook. Laugh now but you won’t be later
ME: That’s a bad way to start
THEM: Text me back if you would like to discuss further.
ME: Half threat but half weirdly boastful
THEM: No threat at all
ME: Social networks have been stable for awhile
ME: Friendster gave way to MySpace and then MySpace to Facebook
THEM: How good are you at programming?
ME: But Facebook has been steady for over 6 years
THEM: I have something that has been brewing for quite some time
THEM: But at this point it’s only in my mind
THEM: I need someone who can make this a reality
ME: I’ve done all kinds of programming. Read my blog, which is at smashcompany.com
THEM: I am not here to waste your time or mine
ME: You should talk to someone else
THEM: I am not here to waste your time or mine
THEM: Are you willing to hear me out some time?
ME: Do you realize how often people approach me and use all of the words that you are using now?
THEM: If you are good as advertised I am willing to have you be my partner
THEM: Are you sure about that?
ME: “But at this point it’s only in my mind” I hear this 5 or 6 times a year. People like you contact me often
THEM: You are not willing to even hear me out?
ME: Go ahead, talk. But you are off to a bad start
ME: Tell me your background
THEM: To be honest. I know nothing about programming
ME: I know
THEM: But I am probably the most creative person you will ever meet
THEM: I work in the investment field
THEM: I own real estate in the city
ME: Back in 2008 I wrote an essay for people like you. It is on my blog. It is called “How much do websites cost?” It makes the point that creativity does not matter.
ME: You might want to read what I’ve already written about websites and real estate
THEM: I want you to help make it breathe
ME: When it comes to a startup, what matters is execution
THEM: I could care less about real estate at this particular time
ME: Not creativity , but execution
THEM: That is why I am reaching out to people like you
ME: Have you ever done a startup before?
THEM: I am willing to offer a partnership
THEM: I am the creativity and you can help execute it
THEM: To be quite honest no.
THEM: I have bought and sold many domain names
ME: Do you realize that you are using words that raise a big red flag?
THEM: I buy domain names for godaddy prices and have sold at an average price of 800 per domain
ME: Are you aware that the words “I am the creativity and you can help execute it” have become something of an industry joke?
ME: Ah, okay
THEM: Well, I’m no expert in talking
ME: So you have experience trading domains?
THEM: But, my mind is constantly turning
ME: So what is the idea for your startup?
THEM: I am just trying to say that I am a hustler
ME: That is a good quality for startups
THEM: Why dont you give me a few minutes of your time
ME: Yes, okay
ME: Can you summarize this idea?
THEM: I would like to discuss this in person
THEM: I just want to protect my ideas
THEM: No offense to you
THEM: Again, I am not here to waste your time or mine
THEM: I can meet you anywhere in the city
ME: Trust me; your ideas are worthless. The only thing that matters is execution. Not ideas.
THEM: All I ask is that you really hear me out
ME: I have time on Thursday
THEM: If at any point you think it’s not for you just say the word
THEM: And I totally agree
ME: But you need to give a summary of what this is about
THEM: I have told a lot of my friends about my ideas
THEM: And also some unbiased people
THEM: They all have really given me positive feedback
THEM: Ok summary
THEM: Before I tell you
THEM: I have bought the domain names
ME: That doesn’t mean anything
THEM: Whether you realize it or not
ME: How old are you? What is your profession and what is your idea?
THEM: This one I’m going to have to disagree with you
ME: Okay, I’m sure you know the value of a domain
THEM: Domain names is more important than you think
THEM: Let’s not talk background
THEM: I am college educated
THEM: No criminal background
THEM: Just a normal guy
THEM: I love sports esp basketball
THEM: I am Asian American
ME: I am not willing to meet you unless I know your background. If you have no business experience then you are wasting my time.
THEM: Ok what kind of summary would you like?
ME: Sell it to me as if I was one of your customers
THEM: I do have some business experience
ME: What is your business experience?
THEM: But my expertise are my ideas
THEM: I graduated with a BA
ME: Your expertise is not ideas. Everyone has ideas
THEM: Why do you say that one would be wasting your time if one does not have any business experience?
ME: In a normal startup people come up with 3 great business ideas every week
THEM: But my ideas are worthy of execution
THEM: Like I said, just hear me out one time and if it’s not for you then you can just leave
THEM: No hard feelings
THEM: What is 30 min to you?
ME: I have done a lot of startups. They are difficult. You have to bring something to the table: either money, or technical skills, or business skills.
THEM: Pretend its one of your long lost buddies you haven’t seen in a while
ME: Forget it
THEM: I can help out with that
ME: When you write “But my ideas are worthy of execution” you sound either very innocent or very crazy
THEM: I am neither of that
THEM: I am a hustler
THEM: I am constantly grinding
ME: My email is Lawrence@krubner.com. Feel free to send me your pitch.
THEM: I just need someone who can work on programming
ME: You sound a lot like my ex business partner. We worked together from 2002 to 2008
THEM: Sorry, I like to meet people in discussing these ideas
THEM: How about a phone convo?
ME: He could hustle but he made bad decisions
ME: He was a good talker, but he couldn’t execute
ME: We burned through $2 million while he experimented with ideas
THEM: Did you have a 50/50 partnership with him?
ME: I did the programming, he did the hustling and he put up some money
THEM: No VC’s?
THEM: No kickstarters?
ME: In 2002?
THEM: I am at smashcompany.com
ME: We raised $1 million and he spent $1 million of his own, that he had inherited
THEM: What was the business?
ME: please read http://smashcompany.com/business/how-much-do-websites-cost
ME: We built many sites over 6 years. We experimented with a lot of ideas. Our only surviving success is https://www.ihanuman.com/
THEM: Very good info
THEM: How funny you show me this website
THEM: I just went to Dharma Yoga today for the first time
ME: My business partner had a girlfriend who was a yoga instructor, so we started selling yoga videos through that site.
THEM: Do you know any Angels?
ME: Sure, everyone who invested in us
THEM: It’s funny you say that ideas/creativity is worthless when it is that very thing is needed to create a successful business
ME: You are wrong
THEM: Ideas – execution – investment
THEM: Every business starts with an idea
ME: Boring ideas, when executed well, can make money, and the same is true of non boring ideas. Everything depends on execution
THEM: Sure, it doesn’t cost anything to formulate an idea but it is what creates people like angles and VC’s to come on board
THEM: Boring ideas eventually die
ME: No angel or VC will invest in an idea
ME: Collecting garbage from people’s homes is a boring idea. It is also a huge business and it will never die
ME: Growing wheat is a boring idea. It is also a huge business and it will never die
THEM: I am very confident that my “ideas” will amass a lot of audiences
THEM: That is a bad example
THEM: That is not a boring idea- it’s a necessity
ME: Awesome. Go get that audience. Then I will believe you
ME: It is not a creative idea, since it is several thousand years old
THEM: I’m never said it was a creative idea
ME: Did you read this paragraph
THEM: You are putting words in my mouth
ME: please read my essay. did you see the paragraph “In some ways the web is a revolutionary new medium with new potentials and new dynamics, but in many other ways running a website is exactly like running any other kind of business. You must have clarity about what you hope to achieve, and then you must have the discipline to stick to your plan. You should be able to describe the goal of your website in one sentence (and if you can’t, then how will your visitors ever understand what the site is for?). If you are unable to sum up your goals when you are speaking with us, there is a good possibility that you haven’t yet achieved clarity.”
THEM: It’s simply a necessity
THEM: Garbage needs to be collected
THEM: Why don’t we work together in creating a little site and see what happens
THEM: If what I think will happen happens
ME: You did say that your ideas were creative. I am pointing out that many non creative ideas are big businesses, and investors invest in them
THEM: Then we can go from there
ME: No thanks. Good luck
THEM: We can have quotas
THEM: If they are met then we proceed
THEM: If not then we stop
ME: You have managed to convince me that you are going to fail
THEM: Again, I’m not big on words. I am big on action
ME: You are innocent. You have no idea what you are trying to do
THEM: Remember this conversation
ME: I get offers like yours constantly.
THEM: Thank you for motivating me even more
THEM: One day I will thank you
ME: Okay. Good luck.
End Of Conversation
Since he never gave his name, nor any clue about his idea, I don’t think I’m violating his privacy by posting the whole conversation here.
Mind you, when I say he is going to fail, I mean he is going to fail for the next 2 years. He might learn very important life lessons during those 2 years. I am not suggesting that he is going to fail at life. I am not saying that 50 years from now he will be cold and lonely and sad and poor. I only mean he is at an early stage of his own education, and he will fail for the next 2 years. He might succeed 10 years from now, but he has a lot to learn.Source