Darius Cheung
Darius Cheung
9:07 am on Jan 28, 2013

ashton kutcher

What should startups want in an investor?

Money, smarts, rolodex – sure. But that’s not enough anymore.

I want my VC to do marketing for me too.

Pimp my startup

Ron Conway is certainly no lesser investor than Dave McClure.

But there are 100x more startup people and early adopters in Asia who know 500 Startup from his many tours of duty. (that is certainly true in Croatia too).

More importantly, amongst those are hackers and hustlers I want to hire – people who may never have heard of Ron or SVAngels.

VCs like First Round Capital routinely pimp their startups out, such as through their Holiday Video which has more than 100,000 views.

(FRC Partner Josh Kopelman, the genius who spent $100k to get Halfway, Oregon to rename itself to Half.com and later selling the company for 300M, makes a pretty cool Psy)

Credibility gone wild

VCs lend you their credibility, which is incredibly important.

It used to be about whether the investor is a smart investor with proven good bets. It used to mean Doer, Moritz and Valentine.

No longer. Today, in the world of fans, followers and Klout scores, credibility takes on a whole new meaning.

The fact that Ashton Kutcher can get into deals that even top tier investors can’t (like AirBnB or Fab) says something about the value of investor-as-marketer.

As startups become faster and leaner in a flatter more competitive world, a plug by Ashton on Two and a Half Men, or to his 13.5 million twitter followers could easily be worth as much as the network of a Silicon Valley kingmaker (especially for a consumer company like Foursquare).

You might argue – what credibility could a Hollywood actor command? Well, the fact is, in the eyes of the 20-year-old college kid who is my target user, Ashton’s got way more credibility than Eric Schmidt. Besides, it turns out Ashton Kutcher is a really smart investor too!

If I had to pick between Ashton and Doer, I’d have to admit it could be a hard choice today. (I’ll pick Charlie Sheen over them both though, just saying)

Moral of the story – as a startup, my problem nowadays is a lot less about money or contacts, and a lot more about distribution and adoption. So VCs, please build your brand and learn how to pimp your startups out.

  • Bominkia

    Sounds good. Looks like u also investor right. So how you help your startups with marketing? Also viral video?

  • http://www.madeiracloud.com/ Dan

    If our investor asked us to be in one of those videos I think we would have to politely decline. I find them very painful to watch and the only marketing they get you is to other entrepreneurs, not necessarily your target market.

  • http://blog.billpin.com/ Darius Cheung

    @Bominkia – haha no, sorry.

    I am running my own startup at BillPin . I wish I could do more for my investees but I don’t have time for that.

    But if i were to look for investor, this will start to become a consideration.

  • Virgil “Buzz’ Archer

    Good point Darius,

    500 Startups runs a solid set of conferences (WarmGun, InboxLove, etc.) to help market their companies and become thought leaders in the process…plus their Geeks on a Plane brand intentionally targets entrepreneurial ecosystems outside of the US.

    Andreesen Horowitz has also picked up on this by signing on Margit Wennmachers as a partner and Kiersten Hollars as a “PR partner” (not partner status but reporting) , both of whom come from tech PR backgrounds.

  • http://www.ekita.co Efraim

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawesome entry man.
    spot on!

    (ashton is impressive I must admit. no I’m not following him on Twitter.)

  • Ted

    Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it

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