“The most important thing for a young man is to establish credit – a reputation and character.” -John D. Rockefeller
Theoretically, one can logically conclude that being the son of a tech industry veteran provides tremendous networking advantages. Now living it, I disagree.
For a little background, those close to me know that I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for my Dad, Bob Lozano. It’s not merely because he built and exited a tech venture in the Midwest – which folks on both coasts will argue is virtually impossible – or because he’s founded and persevered through 3 deals. It’s largely because he ventured out on his own with 8 kids, no money in the bank account, and a fiery determination to simply make it work. Yes, my Mom is a saint for all she’s put up with .
When I dove headfirst into my first real startup, my network was still budding. So as expected, many early introductions came through my Dad. The results were less than stellar.
How bad did these introductions turn out?
Well, fortunately some of these folks are charitable people, but it’s safe to say that my top 5 worst pitches/meetings ever were all in the presence of people that are strongly tied to my Dad. Some things I noticed:
- I try too hard with these connections. One of my core strengths is letting my natural passion, confidence, and industry knowledge take the reigns of a conversation. When I’m trying too hard, all of that is absent. For you baseball fans, it’s similar to gripping the bat too hard in effort to hit a home run. Instead of a majestic Albert Pujols style bomb, you end up with a dinky, infield bleeder.
- A large portion of my Dad’s colleagues still remember me as the pimply faced kid running around the office, drinking the company’s Slurpees. Those impressions stick.
- I receive an extra layer of scrutiny simply to make sure our deal is legit. This is understandable, because as we know, parents always think their own kids are the best!
What did I learn?
Bluntly speaking, I learned to go out and build my own network. I learned that if I create my own success, that alone will speak for itself. The difference became dramatic. Some now noticeable changes:
- Our deal is primarily judged on the merit of the team, product, & market opportunity. Not much else matters.
- The connection to my Dad plays a negligible role. After getting to know me, it’s common that someone connects the dots; however, at this point the blood ties either slightly reinforces a positive opinion or momentarily contradicts a negative one. Regardless, it’s not a dominating factor either way.
You can still benefit
So for those in the same boat as me, what’s the point of a having a dad who’s built something? That’s easy, he’ll be your #1 mentor. The benefits are priceless:
- You’ll receive a realistic, firsthand education of the tech startup scene. Understanding before you work on your first deal that missed paychecks, 18 hour workdays, and intense emotional roller coasters are just part of the process will keep you sane and keep you going.
- He’ll be brutally honest; providing the type of geniune, unfiltered feedback that a startup needs in order to be successful
- You’ll learn from his unscripted, unedited versions of mistakes and successes; as opposed to pulling lessons from the public, highly edited versions of other entrepreneurs’ wins and losses
- Even though, like you, he just finished his own 18 hour workday and can’t see straight because he’s so tired, you can still convince him to perform an impromptu 1am Starbucks brainstorming session
- You can get bs-free, firsthand insight on those in your industry
- You can intellectually debate the marketplace for hours; and when you’re both pissed off because ‘you’re obviously both right’, you can walk away from the conversation knowing that no bridges were burned in the process