Heidi Roizen Calls Me a Cockroach

A few weeks ago, Heidi Roizen, a well known venture capitalist with DFJ and longtime entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, called me a cockroach.

Usually, it would be offensive to be branded as a cockroach. But in this case, it was awesome. Heidi's exact quote was this:

I really believe this company. Part of the reason is because I believe in Daniel and his team. I’ve been able to watch him for couple of years, now. And I know that he has willed this company to survive through bad times, and landed customers. I have so much respect for entrepreneurs who are just like cockroaches. They just do not die.

So there you have it. Great entrepreneurs are like cockroaches, doing whatever they have to do to survive.

Heidi is one of those rare VCs that has spent a lot of time on both sides of the table, first as an entrepreneur, and then as a VC. She's so good at networking that Harvard Business Review did a case study on "the steps she's taken to build and cultivate a network that is both broad and deep". She also takes the time to share her hard-earned lessons from each side to those who care to learn. She teaches a Stanford class on entrepreneurism. And on this day, she and I were doing a joint breakout session on entrepreneurism at a Stanford Graduate School of Business event keynoted by Vinod Khosla.

The purpose of the breakout session was to dissect my startup, Socialize, from my perspective as the founder as well as Heidi's perspective as the VC (she was an advisor to Socialize, so she had a more in-depth perspective than a typical VC would, especially since DFJ was not an investor in Socialize).

If you're interested in getting a behind-the-scenes peek of what the less glamorous aspects of a startup are like, as well as what VC's are really thinking when entrepreneurs come in to pitch them, then watch the videos below.

I broke the session up into two videos -- the first one features me primarily speaking to the Stanford GSB class from the entrepreneur's perspective, and the second one features Heidi primarily from the VC's perspective.

We also talk about Socialize's successes and challenges in detail in these videos. When I did this breakout session, I was actually deep in the process of selling Socialize to ShareThis, but the deal wasn't public so I couldn't talk about it. Due to that, I couldn't give total in-depth answers to the class like I usually like to do. So when you watch the videos, use that additional piece of intel as a guide.

Lastly, here's to finding and cultivating your own inner cockroach. May we all do whatever it takes to survive. As Paul Graham has said, the key to running a startup is often surviving long enough to become successful.

Video #1: Daniel speaking to Stanford GSB Breakout group, with Heidi contributing:

Video #2: Heidi speaking to Stanford GSB Breakout group, with Daniel contributing:

Thanks to Nicholas Hinrichsen, a Stanford GSB student, for putting this breakout session together. He did quite a bit of work to ensure it was a great experience for all involved.