I sometimes browse the user comments below Webrazzi‘s coverage of our investments. There’s a lot of praise and even more criticism. This is because it’s easier to point out flaws than to show why something will work despite the flaws.
Several years ago, people complained that there wasn’t enough capital going to tech startups in Turkey. In addition to our investments, funds like Earlybird, Revo Capital, and 212 are now actively investing in Turkish startups. However, the complaints remain. They’ve simply changed their disguise. Now, rather than complaining that no one is investing in tech startups in Turkey, people are criticizing the specific investments which are being made.
At times like this, I like to remember an excerpt from an Esquire interview with writer and director Woody Allen. I’m a big fan of many of Woody Allen’s tragicomedies like You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Midnight in Paris, and Magic in the Moonlight. Here’s the excerpt from the interview.
“Back when I started, when I opened Take the Money and Run, the guys at United Artists accumulated the nation’s criticisms into a pile this big and I read them all. Texas, Oklahoma, California, New England… That’s when I realized that it’s ridiculous. I mean, the guy in Tulsa thinks the picture’s a masterpiece, and the guy in Vermont thinks it’s the dumbest thing he’s ever seen. Each guy writes intelligently. The whole thing was so pointless. So I abandoned ever, ever reading any criticisms again. Thanks to my mother, I haven’t wasted any time dwelling on whether I’m brilliant or a fool. It’s completely unprofitable to think about it.”
As Woody Allen points out, no matter what you do there will be people who respect what you’re doing and others who criticize it. This is true in all walks of life, personal and professional. In the specific case of investing in startups, you’re damned if you invest, and damned if you don’t.
What matters is not what others think, but what you believe. Listening to others in order to inform your own decisions is valuable. But listening to them to see what they think of you, or worse yet to seek approval for what you’re doing, isn’t meaningful.
As long as you believe in your inner compass, just do what you know to be right. The rest will take care of itself.