Keep Me In The Loop

Over the past couple years there have been a number of startup companies which I have consulted to, mentored, advised, etc.  As someone who is committing time to these companies, I always find it a drag if I have to proactively reach out to find out what is new with the company.

It’s not that I can’t be bothered – because I actually do reach out.  It’s more to do with 1) if a person is committing their time (and actually providing value), then management should do their best to maximize the value they are getting; 2) if the company is losing an opportunity to communicate with someone who is actually helping then they are absolutely missing an opportunity to communicate with others that may end up being customers, partners, investors, introducers or just plain interested.

Often times I will casually tell an entrepreneur to ‘keep me in the loop’.  Today I got an email from a (Brooklyn) company that did this request one better.  It started out “If you are receiving this weekly recap you have helped the team in someway and you have our thanks”.  Nice! It went on to say that this was the first weekly update of the companies progress which will range from (now) the time that the wireframe is completed until the company gets funding and starts to bring the business into steady state. The entrepreneur was quick to say that if the recipient doesn’t want these updates to create a spam filter or email him back.  Totally non-intrusive.

The update was broken up into the following sections:

  • Quick summary
  • Wins/achievements/cool stuff
  • Concerns/risks/warnings
  • Metrics (with a subset of 7 or 8 metrics)
  • Top goals for the coming week
  • Product
  • Customer Acquisition
  • Customer Engagement
  • Financial and Budget
  • Outstanding issues

What is this entrepreneur accomplishing with this email?  A lot.  He is keeping his team honest by driving transparency.  He is forcing himself to think, at least weekly, about where he has been and where he wants to go.  He is communicating tactically about his company’s progress.  He is communicating strategically by letting those interested know that he is thoughtful, thorough, engaged, hardworking, etc.  All of this will likely pay off as the company is being built.

From my perspective it is great.  It cuts down on repetitive individual communications.  It lets me incorporate the latest news on the company if I happen to mention them to another investor (which happens from time-to-time).  It helps me walk into any consulting or mentoring situations fully up to date. It inspires my confidence in the team.  It lets me make comments and suggestions on the fly that 1) could be helpful and 2) potentially before too much unproductive time or effort has been expended.

And oh, by the way, this is not bad practice for when an entrepreneur has a real board to update and answer to.

The point: if someone asks you to “keep them in the loop”, don’t miss out on the opportunity to do so.

p.s. thank you to the CEO of the “recap” for inspiring this blog post!