"When you’re coming to a hill, most everyone slows down," said Jim Kollegger, NY-based venture capitalist at Genesys Partners. "Don’t slow down, maintain your pace. In fact, speed up. When you get to the top of the hill, you will have left them in the dust and you’ll have a big chance of beating your competitors."
For anyone who's a runner or biker, you'll understand this strategy well. It's during the uphills that you have to push extra hard. And, often, when you muscle past someone going uphill, you know they typically get exasperated due to being psychologically beaten down.
This same strategy applies to downtimes or uphill battles for a startup. I'm talking about today's excruciating environment, where it feels like no one is willing to take risks or part with their money.
While in New York this week, I caught up with Kollegger, who is an avid runner and apparently a fan of Jim Fixx, who popularized running, according to Wikipedia, and is the author of The Complete Book of Running.
Jim is one of those guys who's very plugged into the New York media establishment. If you're one of the lucky ones invited to his annual dinner, you can find yourself sitting next to author and columnist Ken Auletta, to Alan Patricof, founder of VC firm Greycroft, to Dow Jones Executive Vice President Clare Hart.
In this interview, I asked Kollegger to give startups advice on how to take be upbeat and find opportunity during these times. We all know that startups need to be lean, I said. But what else can they do? I asked.
One thing they shouldn't do is to "crawl back into caves," said Kollegger.
"There may be an opportunity to eat your competitor’s lunch," he said. "Somebody else is weakened, maybe there’s a chance to do a deal with them." It's a "gaining-from-adversity" philosophy, according to Kollegger.
I fully agree. And, like the running metaphor - it's not going to be easy trying to get the energy and courage to work extra hard. But if you run fast, you'll just get to the top faster. Then, it's a nice easy downhill, at least for a period of time.