Founders: Beware of Happy Ears



David Cohen, co-founder of Techstars, has a ton of amazing advice for founders. One of my favorite bits from him is about Happy Ears.

What’s that you ask? It’s what most founders have when they talk to investors.Instead of hearing what investors say, founders hear what they want to hear. Instead of NO, they hear MAYBE, or they hear YES!

For example, when an angel investor says they’re interested, it doesn’t mean they’re in.

So how do you get from an interest to commitment? First, you need to explicitly ask for investment and clarify the conditions. That is, you ask the investor what conditions need to be in place for them to commit.

Secondly, you need to confirm that you heard the investor correctly. David Cohen teaches founders to do so called reflective listening. This is a simple communication technique where the founder says/writes back to the investor what they understood was agreed on.

Reflective listening avoids misunderstandings.Being on the same page with the investors and having clarity is better than running around with happy ears and ending up disappointed in the end.


Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by PuppiesAreProzac

About the author: Alex Iskold

Alex Iskold is the Managing Director of Techstars in New York City.

Previously Alex was Founder/CEO of GetGlue (acquired by i.tv),  founder/CEO of Information Laboratory (acquired by IBM), and Chief Architect DataSynapse (acquired by TIBCO).

Alex routinely writes about entrepreneurship and startups at Alex Iskold.

You are seconds away from signing up for the hottest list in New York Tech!

Join the millions and keep up with the stories shaping entrepreneurship. Sign up today.