Christian MacLean: Thoughts from an Entrepreneur

Christian MacLean wrote this guest post for Techvibes.

A little bit about Christian – he was lucky enough to discover technology at a young age, and after a few false starts (I hear he was a pro Snowboarder at one point!) he found a career in IT consulting.  Fast-forward 13 years, and after working with clients in forestry, energy, retail, cable, and telecommunications, Christian gathered a talented team together to form Association.

Part IT consultancy, part start-up, Association likes to work with smart clients and clever consultants on interesting projects.  Christian is currently an active consultant, is responsible for business development for Association, on the Board of Advisers for Chaordix, and leads the development of Associations social music sharing platform Cardinal.

I asked him what he was looking for in a VC and this letter sums it up:

Hello Mr  VC.  My name is Christian.

I know you meet a dozen new startups a week and even though you’re not in the elevator, everyone has an elevator pitch for you.  I realize that you’re busy, and that and that for every 1 great idea there’s 100 (or maybe it’s more like 1000?) bad ideas but can I ask, what do you think we could improve on, and do you have any advice?

Here’s the deal – I’m not 20. I have a home, and a family, and to be honest, I’ve had my share of Ramen, so everything I read about being in a startup seems to not quite apply to me.  I have a 9-5 that I use to fund us. Yes – that does take a ton of work, but I believe in my vision so much that I’m willing to put in the serious hours.  I also have maturity, years of experience, and I’ve managed to build an amazing team.  We’re pouring ourselves into this, and in our hearts we believe that we’re making something really, really special.

So I gathered the guts and cut in line to talk to you because I’ve read a bit about you and your really successful last project. I admire what you built, and I’d like to get to know you a bit.  I think it would be helpful to build a relationship with someone who understands what we’re trying to accomplish and can give us advice on how to not make the same mistakes you did, or who we should talk to or get to know.  You always say you invest in people, not ideas. Well, I’d like you to invest in me.

I’m not asking for help with nothing in return. I really do want to talk to you and see if you could help us get over at the big cash hurdles we’ll face in the future.  But I’m proud of what we’ve built and want to make sure you’re a good fit for what we’re doing.  The idea of coming to you with my hand out for anything more then a handshake right now seems… weird. So here’s my card.  Can I buy you a beer?