Yes, VCs and Angels Should Use Every Single Product They're Investing In

Posted by Boris Wertz

PayPal President David Marcus recently stirred up the hornet’s nest with a memo scolding employees for not installing and using the PayPal app.

In part, the email read: “Everyone at PayPal should use our products where available. That’s the only way we can make them better, and better.” (You can read the complete text of the email here). While Marcus’ memo touches on numerous high-level debates like passion vs. paycheck, there’s one important message for startups, managers, employees, and investors alike: eat your own dog food.

Investors, really? Should an investor really be expected to use the 10, 15, or 20 products in his or her portfolio? I say absolutely. After all, a great product is the basis for a successful company and an investor who doesn’t understand, know, or use the product is most likely a sub-optimal sparring partner and advisor.

A PayPal spokesperson further clarified the message of the memo: “We really want to be driving the best customer experiences that are possible. And part of that is having every employee be the customer and utilize our services wherever you can, and if you see a problem, highlight it and tell people to get it fixed.”

As an investor, using a portfolio company is easier when dealing with consumer apps and companies. For example, I’m a regular, sometimes heavy, user of Frank & Oak, Indiegogo, Indochino, Escapio, Clarity, Smore, tindie, and Twenty20. My wife uses Julep and Chloe & Isabel.

It’s naturally tougher to be a user for business apps, particularly vertically-focused apps. For example, Figure 1 is a photo-sharing app for medical professionals and Clio offers practice management software for lawyers. And I’m neither a doctor nor a lawyer.

In these cases, the investor should at least sign up for the service to get a high level impression of the workflow and user experience. As a startup founder, you should make it a priority to include product presentations in board meetings or schedule separate sessions to go through the product demos.

At the end of the day, the more hands that touch your product, the greater the opportunity to improve the user experience. And you don’t necessarily want to trust the opinion of advisors who have never used or tried your product.

This article first appeared on the blog of Verson One Ventures.

Company:
Version One Ventures
Website:
http://www.versiononeventures.com
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Above everything else we invest in entrepreneurs, not businesses. We love passionate entrepreneurs with deep domain knowledge. Entrepreneurs with great product and design instincts. Entrepreneurs who want to change the world but know that in order to do so, they need help. And yes, we love to help, when and where ever we can. Besides the founder team we look for a few more things when evaluating an investment... more


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Boris Wertz

Boris Wertz

Boris Wertz is one of the top tech early-stage investors in North-America and the founding partner of version one ventures. His portfolio encompasses over 40 early-stage consumer internet and enterprise companies, including Edmodo, Flurry, Frank & Oak, Indiegogo, Julep, Top Hat, and Wattpad. He sits on the boards ofClio and Indochino among others. Boris is a venture partner of Munich-based... more



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