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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Execution - Perception gap between investor and founders?

This article is triggered by recent exchanges i had where i realize that there is a gap in perception between founders and the investors who fund them. On one hand, i have the hardworking founder telling me that they dont think they executed badly and in fact executed well given the situation but from my point of view , they did not execute well. So who is right? After some reflection i realize both are right!

Founder point of view :

I have so much shit happening all the time. Traction takes longer to achieve. Staff are hard to hire and quit on me. Sales takes so much longer to happen and when it happens, clients buy less than projected.

And worst of all, market keeps evolving and changing!. So of course i cannot hit my projections. They are just projections. Surely the investors can see i am working crazy hours and obssessing about it all and trying my best!

Investor point of view :

You only execute well if you have achieved the metrics which you pitched and plan annually in terms of revenue, EDITDA, product development plan, marketing plan and HR hire plan. Anything less means execution could have been better.

Sounds harsh? Actually not really. After all the investment as made based on the premise founders will deliver. And don't forget i also need to make sure the investments realize a profit at the end.

Yes, i know startup is difficult. Marketing is hard. Hiring and retaining is hard so is growing revenues. So most investors discount what you pitch somewhat. But it does not mean we agree execution is good when founders fall short.

For me, i will only feel execution has been good if we meet all annual projected metrics and also feel the founder has the right attitude and mindset. Execution is great if we beat of course!

My comment?

Both sides are right. I do both right now and in the past. A little empathy and regular communication will go a long way. So the investor needs to express the worry they have that business not going to deliver on promised returns, founders need to agree they are not executing well and appreciate the other party's stress. And both sides meet. But who should do more in the communication department? I think the founder. Simply because you probably have more to lose and you own more of the company.

No simple solution right?

1 comment:

  1. Hi DS,

    Just sharing my personal opinion with you,

    IMO: JC was a rising star among the portals but the pressure from investors to produce actual results causes JC to tunnel vision onto those targets. Which causes JC to forget about the fundamental issues that bring JC to where is it.