Interview with the Great Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin

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No one has been more supportive of than Rand Fishkin, the SEOmoz CEO who has more Twitter followers than the populations of the capital cities of Alaska, Maryland and Vermont (combined).  When I started blogging, Rand Fishkin wrote a post about the 14 ideas he wanted me to write about in my blog.  We decided it might be fun to hit them all in a video interview format.  It’s no Skyfall, but I think Rand does an excellent job of posing the questions that entrepreneurs really want to ask VCs. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to Rand for hosting and Nick Sayers for shooting the video!

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  • Adam Lieb

    It is all about trust. It is surprising how little this gets talked about. Entrepreneurs are always counseled to pick investors based on the tangible things like track record, deal terms, domain experience, and network. Investors are advised to pick entrepreneurs based on team, market, and traction. Trust is rarely mentioned on either side. Having investors that trust you and have your back is far more important than any of the tangible attributes folks talk about.

    • greggottesman

      Great comment. The hard thing is trying to figure out the right way to gauge for trust in a tight time window. That’s why I think it is important for both sides to try to build a relationship over time (if you can) before the investment.

      • Adam Lieb

        One of my all time favorite blog posts is Mark Suster’s “invest in lines not dots.” The same rings true on the other side of the table. Trust goes both ways.

  • Liam Scanlan

    Good one. Love it.

  • Red Russak

    Awesome interview. I give it a “10 out of 10″. BEST QUOTE: “Just like a good marriage [your wife will say], ‘you’re coming to the in laws and you’re going to stay there for a few hours’ and I’m like ‘I don’t feel like doing that right now, but I’m going’.”

  • bfeld

    Awesome job guys! Love it.

  • Monet Diamante

    Awesome interview all around! Question: You talk about how it’s smart to have a relationship up front with the investors, it’s easier and better for both parties. What would you say the success rate is in situations where it’s more of a blind meeting versus a relationship that has been built over time. (My assumption is the latter is more successful, but I’m new to this entire industry and trying to gauge where the opportunities are.) Thanks for your time, and again great interview both of you!

    • greggottesman

      You are right. To begin with, it’s very hard to get a meeting if there is no prior relationship. Assuming you get a meeting (meaning there is something that the investor likes about you or the business), I still think it is less than 1% that it ends up in an investment. With a prior relationship, depending on the strength of it, it is a lot higher. That said, most VCs will make one or maybe two investments a year, so the math is stîll hard.

      • Monet Diamante

        Greg, I appreciate the quick reply, thank you. I didn’t realize that only a couple of investments are made each year/ probably been watching too much Shark Tank, thinking several deals are made a week :) . Thank you, again.

  • Doc Sheldon

    Excellent interview, guys! Greg, you shared some points that make a lot of sense, but I think the two that resonated the most with me are the trust aspect, going both ways, and the willingness to both challenge and defer to someone. I think the latter applies well in virtually any relationship. Looking forward to seeing more of your blog posts, as well.

    • greggottesman

      Thanks. The defer part also applies to a good CEO-VC relationship. If you are going to hold the CEO responsible for achieving year-end results, you have to be deferential to the CEO on choosing his/her team and the day-to-day decisions required to get there.

  • Markus Allen

    I’m always tough on Rand about stuff, but this was top notch. Interviewing is Rand’s calling. I’m eating dinner without my family right now, because I can’t turn off this interview.

  • Thea Few

    Fantastic informative interview. I would recommend this interview to all entrepreneurs whether they need to raise money or not. Thanks for your candid comments.

  • David Rosenthal

    Seriously great interview! May even top the snowman for best VC exposé on the internet… :)

  • Ryan Kent

    Exceptional interview. Rand, you asked all the questions I would have wanted asked if I was there. Furthermore, you pressed for greater transparency when the answers were not immediately forthcoming. Appreciate all the information shared by Greg as well.