Advising Startups in 2012

One of the favorite things I do is provide advice to startups. Most of the assistance I give to other peoples’ companies is done through my consulting firm, but I’ve done the advisor-for-equity thing once so far (back in 2008, when Twilio was a three-person company) . In 2012 I will have room in my schedule to do it again for one or two new companies.

Stuff I’m good at:

  • Supporting businesses that create products that target software developers. My experience in this area is world-class, and there are not too many people in Silicon Valley who have done it longer than I have.
  • Providing polish to consumer Web-based applications and workflows, coming up with ideas for making them better, and coming up with ideas for aligning new products and features to the business.
  • Introductions. I’ve been around the block for quite a while, I’ve worked at/for several established companies, and I know a lot of people.
  • Helping with the kind of stuff that falls in the scary grey zone between “engineering” and “business” (also known as “talk to the English majors, talk to the MBAs, talk to the software engineers, then talk to the customers”). These are the kind of roles that two- and three-person startups hate to staff because they frequently don’t represent full-time jobs, which is one reason why it makes sense to have advisor help here.

The profile for the kind of company this would probably work for:

  • It would probably make sense for you to be located in San Francisco, since that’s where I am.
  • Your company should have a Web or mobile product in development, or at least a prototype. (If you’re at the “idea stage” an advisor engagement might work, but the idea would have to be pretty compelling.)
  • Your company should have at least one technical cofounder (or a non-technical cofounder who is becoming a technical cofounder).
  • You are not competitive with the stuff we’re working on (professional technical education).
  • In terms of funding and revenue, you fall into one of these categories: you are currently pursuing seed funding, you have completed a seed round, you have decided to never pursue venture funding, or you’re bootstrapping. (If your company has already raised a significant investment round, you probably don’t need an equity advisor, a consulting engagement would probably make more sense.)
  • You should be prepared to swing for the fences. Look at the trajectory of Twilio from 2008 to the present for a sense of what this means.
  • You should be prepared to do a standard deal for equity advisors.

Knowing me personally (or getting a strong introduction from a friend) goes a long way here, because if I’m going to advise you effectively it’s important that we are able to communicate well. The best way to contact me regarding advisor engagements is at @jeffreymcmanus on Twitter.