I know I may be dating myself here, but over the past few weeks I couldn’t help but think about the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High and one of the standout characters, Jeff Spicoli. When asked by Mr. Hand, his teacher, why he keeps coming late and wasting his time, Spicoli answers, “I don’t know.”
In several meetings with founders during the past few weeks, they would have been better off answering like Spicoli rather than giving me some hollow answer. I want to make it very clear that I don’t expect founders to have all of the answers questions, especially in the early days as startups are a series of hypotheses that need to be tested. In fact, many questions I have may not have an answer today so “I don’t know” will be the best answer. My one caveat is that the “I don’t know” is followed by a how might you figure out the answer or a when might you figure it out. This line of questioning is really just another way to test how you think and determine how our working relationship might be were I to invest. I would rather have the honest “I don’t know but I’ll figure it out” then a made-up answer that will never allow you or your investors to really understand what is driving your business.