Etiquette

FD Message Etiquette

Sati Hillyer Looking to Hire a Ruby Engineer to join OneMob - 2015 Gartner Cool Vendor for CRM Sales

September 15th, 2013

Evening Folks,

When trying to connect with potential cofounders, how many messages do you normally send before giving up? I typically filter for those who are currently looking, willing to start immediately and do NOT have an idea. Yet, more often than not, I won't get a reply. Or many have come back and said they thought they had froze their account, or are now engaged in an idea (or new job) and didn't update their profile, etc. I'm curious what etiquette others have come up with or try to follow when on the hunt?

It would be great if we could add phone numbers (optional of course!), so I could quickly call to see if someone's interested or not. I find that would save all parties a ton of time.

Thanks in advance,
Sati

Eric Sexton Game Desginer at Crate Entertainment

September 15th, 2013

Interesting.  Maybe FD should have an automated system that checks how long it has been since someone has logged in.  If it has been a long time then FD will put their profile into an inactive state.  Then people looking to connect will have a clear idea of what they are walking into when they contact them.

Of course if they have a large majority of their clients inactive, that might not be too good for them in the long run.  Better to let everyone think they have thousands of potential contacts.

Stefan Broda Partner Program Manager at Atlassian

September 15th, 2013

something like OKCupid's last time logged in and the replies often/selectively indicator ;)

Candice Hughes, PhD, MBA

September 16th, 2013

I like the concept of indicating inactive profiles. This could either be done via a public activity counter (as someone suggested show date last active on the site). Or privately, FounderDating could send out a message after not seeing any activity on the site for a certain time (say 2 months). The person is then asked to respond to the message- yes, I want to continue on the site or no, remove my profile (maybe third choice of mark me inactive). If the person doesn't reply to any of these messages, the site marks their profile inactive after 6 months (while notifying in advance). The person must then actively request to have the account reactivated.

I have also noticed that at least 25-35% of my messages are not answered. Then you don't know if that means the person isn't interested or that are inactive. It would be a time saver if I knew ahead of time the profile was inactive so I wouldn't spend time posting the messages.

I guess a proactive step we could take is to search for forum posts from the person. If they have no posts there is a greater chance they are inactive.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

September 16th, 2013

Sati, here's what the other person reads (extremely exaggerated for effect):

"Hi {{firstName}}. Me, me, me... I have a me-too idea that I won't actually disclose to you because I don't trust you. I don't really know much about the space so I found someone who does and he/she said she might join if I can get a technical co-founder to create the thing. So all I need is for you to stop whatever you were interested in (and I could really care less what you are working on because I'm 100% focus on my own thing) and do all the work to turn my vague idea into a real company. Oh, btw, my investor interest is a passing conversation I had with a dude who knows an angel investor in Arkansas that is big into medical equipment and poultry processing innovation. Your background looks like a good fit... actually, I really don't know much about technology so if you can type real fast in a terminal window and make a bunch of stuff scroll then that's what we need!"

I have both sent these types of messages and have received them. And this ties into the other thread of disappearing messages. Look, we all have our own ideas which we think are the greatest ever and want other people to work on them. If we didn't, then we shouldn't be doing this. But there's a high probability that the other person has their own ideas and dreams. At a *minimum* you should let people know you're interested in their thoughts on the topic instead of just setting their expectations that they're going to get a hard sell. If you can offer some feedback on what they're doing then you'll probably get a response.

Personally, I *like* product-centric messages from people who are super-passionate about what they're doing. But if they're one way, then you can pretty much see how the long-term relationship will go.



Rob G

September 16th, 2013

Sati, those with no current project are the ones who are here on FD that are open to finding projects/startups to get involved with...or they wouldn't be here.  re "how/where can I find a good tech person to build my product for equity only, but that still sounds too me me me" is precisely my point - it is too "me, me" and those are the either an opportunity for an eye opener or you walk away because they are too me, me, me.  My point was then you will know how it sounds from the other end.  If they seem like they are open to ideas then it's an opportunity for an eye opener, i.e. "OK, let's dissect your plan....".  Maybe you dissect their idea and it turns out to be a good opportunity and maybe you dump your 'not so good idea' and work with them.   it's organic, don't try to force a round peg into a square hole.  At the end of that dissection process is often the point where they can sit back and say "hmmm, this guy seems to know what he's talking about,  maybe i should spend some time listening to his idea....maybe i'm better off helping him build his good idea rather than wasting more time building my not so good idea".  believe me, it happens. I'm involved with a group in Seattle that is sort of a mashup of Startup Weekend meets FD - started by a developer friend of mine who loves startups.  It's very early stage, but as part of the process (ala startup weekend) people throw ideas at the wall and the group votes them up or down to coalesce teams (or not).  No surprise that many of the "ideas" that people have been pouring months of effort, $$ and sweat into and are clearly married to (one guy had spent months building / paying for a website and lots of SEO and biz dev efforts) suddenly realize that perhaps they need to rethink things - in the universe of ideas perhaps their's is not so great after all.   The founder of this group is a strong technical guy.  He knew i had hired 2 full time sales people on commission only to start selling our SaaS product before our MVP was even done (rev 1.0 actually).  As a result we had a solid hand full of paying customers committed before we could even show a beta.  He wanted to know where to find such sales people.  I spent a few hours with him helping him dissect his business which, he was very passionate about, to see if he could in fact attract a professional sales person to help him get some customers on board - he had a working rev 1.0 and a large beta customer.  He had spent several months full time building a working on rev 1.0 (more than MVP). He had a co-founder (sort of) who was "a marketing guy" who had not quit his day job.  In about 3 hours on a white board we dissected his business model and determined that what he thought was his ideal customer was in fact not his deal customer because he could never make a profit from them and he couldn't afford to do direct sales and without direct sales he would have to spend WAY too much on SEO and social media to sell to his SMB market.  we completely reworked his pricing and sales and distribution model - his key competitive differentiator required a pretty significant up front cost component so he had to find larger customers who could write bigger checks which meant professional sales reps which meant large commission checks (or he wouldn't attract a good commission sales person) which meant enterprise sales, not SMB.  Then after some sole searching he has realized that even with that re-work, his revenue opportunities were still a VERY steep slope.  He's now pretty much tabled his idea (he want's someone to take it over and run with it) and he's looking for something new to work on.   

Mohamed Alborno Director / Producer @ The New Country Film Project

September 16th, 2013

Very interesting Sati. Count me in. I'm interested in drafting a script that can help getting a good reply. -- Crowdsway, Inc. Create inspiring videos by aspiring filmmakers. crowdsway.com | @crowdsway | www.youtube.com/thecrowdsway | facebook.com/crowdsway +1-438-869-6777 Montreal, QC +1-415-95-CROWD (7693) San Francisco, CA

Marc Dewalle

September 16th, 2013

I just reach out once with a short message just to see if the person is even interested.  If I hear nothing back I move on.  I think you need to focus on working with people that are eager.  If you need to stir them up first, I might not be a good fit anyway.

- marc

Kobus Marneweck Founder and CEO at Cingo

September 16th, 2013

I really don't understand Founder Dating's policy on reaching out to co-founders via a post. I have sent out several requests to co-founders but had few replies. 

I did a quick survey of people that responded to follow up requests and found that most people did not even read the first request. 

Founder Dating is not working as dating dating site with it's current policy.

Kobus

Sati Hillyer Looking to Hire a Ruby Engineer to join OneMob - 2015 Gartner Cool Vendor for CRM Sales

September 16th, 2013

Thanks Michael, you're right, I got too drunk on my idea and that's not very welcoming. Appreciate the honest and frank feedback.

Rob G

September 16th, 2013

speed is important (most here are in the tech startup world), but you are ultimately looking for a long-term partner (marriage) and relationships take time.  Most people don't like to be "sold"...engineers especially.  I think FD would do well to put effort into attracting members to this site who are not necessarily "founders", but who are curious about the startup world and want to be involved.  Most "founders" have their own passions and are pursuing them.  i've helped a number of tech founders with market validation, pricing, distribution models, etc. simply because i liked what they were working on and i could see they needed help. no quid pro quo.  After some time together you can find out pretty quickly whether you might be compatible or not and you've not asked them for a thing.  Often i will get the same 'hard sell' your are giving - "my idea is cool and if you just give up what you are interested in and work with me i can realize my dreams..".   End of conversation for me.  The good tech co-founders/partners, the ones you might consider 'marrying' are the ones who take time to get to know what you are about.  If there is mutual trust then frequently they will ask "hey, can you help me figure out how to get some customers"? or "hey, how do i price this"? or "how/where do i find a good sales guy who can sell my product for commission only"?  - that's the most common one and if you replace the words "sales guy" with "tech guy" and "sell" with "build" you can walk a mile in their shoes.  That's when you can have the "here's reality" conversation.  If you find someone who has complimentary skills to yours and their project is something in which you might be genuinely interested, then you might first consider offering "how can i help you"?  I second Michael B's comments. less take, more give. my $0.02 worth.