Pitch Advice from Jerry Bruckheimer

2010 has been a busy year for me.  We launched Moonshoot in Japan, and that’s going well.  I’ve done a few talks at the Founders Institute, some friends of mine and I built Smackdaddy for the IPhone, and I’ve begun helping out part-time at BlueRun Ventures.  All in all, a busy 3 quarters so far, which has led to a dearth of blogging.

To re-enter the blogosphere, I’m planning on spending several posts sharing learning I’ve had in the fund-raising process–both as an entrepreneur (by day) and as a vc (by night).   This first one is a story I’ve told analogue about 5 times in the past 2 weeks, so I figured I should probably post it to the blog and share it potentially more broadly.  It has to do with a key reality in pitches or startups that you need to think about when you are getting started or pitching.  Namely, is the business one that’s going to emotionally draw someone in?

My inspiration for this emotional connection is uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, whom Wikipedia credits with over 40 feature film productions.  His movies rock, I love them.  Years ago, I recall reading an interview of his, which I sadly can’t find, in which he was asked how he knew what was good or not good.  He graciously claimed that he had no idea what would catch on and be a hit and what wouldn’t.  What he did know, though was emotionally what connected with him–and he had some funny quote about how he felt a tingle in his chair when a movie really grabbed him.  This ‘a**-grab’ was the thing that told him whether the movie was good or not.  A totally emotional, non-scientific approach.

In the startup world, there is an element of this that’s important.  Sadly, this is sometimes overlooked.  VCs are looking for massive returns and low friction, etc.  Entrepreneurs are looking to make meaning or build something people want, etc., etc.  And while both of these points are useful to think about, at some point, you had better look at a business and be emotionally drawn to it.  At the end of the day, whether you are an investor of money (a VC) or an investor of time (a founder or employee), its important to contemplate whether you think the business has any emotional draw to you (or anyone else).

If you don’t feel the pull, that’s fine, the business may still be a monster, but I’d say stay away.  The work is too hard, the days too long, the competition too fierce for you to be ambivalent on the emotional draw of a business.

More often than I’d like to, I see businesses where teams have built a solution to a problem that does not grab me (or often, their founders) emotionally.  If you love your business, and I don’t, that’s fine–s*** happens, and that’s fine.  If you don’t love your business, trust that others will know.  In that scenario, why do that.  Let it go, don’t settle.  Find the business that gets your spine tingling and give your all to that.

Welcome back to blogging.


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