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October 09, 2007


Brian P Halligan

I couldn't agree more. After sitting on the vc for a bit, I saw that there was very little incentive for a venture capitalist to say no. "Maybe" or "interesting" were a lot less likely to draw a violent reaction than "no." "Maybe" or "interesting" were also gave the potential the investor to bide his time to see if another investor or expert "got it" in a different way that would later come to light and which would motivate them to move.

Good points in this article.

Gordon R. Vaughan

Yeah, when you're given a "maybe" as an answer, or worse yet a shaky "yes", if you're not real careful you will have effectively given the other party an option, without any commitment on their part.

This is something that also applies to other sorts of deals, of course. The current real estate bubble immediately comes to mind.

Having been there before in the 80s Texas real estate bust, I can tell you that the best thing that could happen to a lot of sellers would be to get told a flat "no" several times. Then they'd probably figure out they need to lower their price.

Instead, many will probably find a buyer that'll just drag things out without being able to close. When they finally disappear, prices will likely have dropped some more.


Yes, but this is very hard decision to say no

Qian Wang

Good points, Don. Failing fast is of course one of the key principles in programming and it's good to see it used in this context. It's also applicable in many other aspects of a startup, from planning new features to hiring employees. But I'm not sure that using it to evaluate an idea on a "hot" or "not" basis is always the right thing to do. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of time for a new product to be absorbed by the market. Not everything can be an overnight sensation and some overnight sensations are many years in the making.


This is very practical advice. Any startup should have goals. There's nothing wrong with believing in an idea, but knowing when to quit is also extremely important, not only for investors but for yourself and for society. In my last two ventures, we kept things going as long as we achieved our goals. And since they were both self-funded, as we exceeded those goals, we continued to invest additional funds into the companies. If you continually miss goals, getting to no quickly is confirmation maybe you should try something else.


That is a great article an some great advice for new or small businesses.


It is really a great advice, I said NO too slow to my first startup in the past and wasted more time and effort than what it was. Thanks.

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