GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

March 20, 2012

It always feels anachronistic these days to exchange business cards when you usually have someone’s contact information anyway in an electronic format before (via email introduction) or just after (via LinkedIn connection) you meet.  Many people, though, take the opportunity with a physical card to make an impression with a unique spin on their card (size, vertical orientation, etc.).  But the one thing I find which also makes a subtle impression on me when I meet a founder of a startup is the convention of the company’s email address.  I started mentally noting a few sort-of-funny-because-they’re-true cases, so I thought I’d brainstorm a quick list of what founders’ email addresses say about their startups:

  • john@startup.com <– The first-name convention projects that the company values the individual in a truly personal manner.  Or, it wants to ascribe internal prestige to the early employees (i.e. “I was the first John”) that will not whither as the company grows .
  • jsmith@startup.com <– This convention conveys the importance of scalability in the organization, even from the founding stage… most likely stemming from a technical founder.
  • johnsmith@startup.com <– Precision trumps brevity in this startup.
  • johns@startup.com <– The founder’s last name is too long or hard to spell, and so nobody else at the company will list theirs either.
  • johnny@startup.com <– It’s a casual, yet hip atmosphere… the office eschews chairs for beanbags, shared tables for offices & cubes, and there’s not a Windows PC to be found.
  • john.smith@startup.com <– The founding team is all from Microsoft and can’t shake it if they tried.
  • founders@startup.com <– The founding team is alumni from one of the Techstars programs.
  • chiefninja@startup.com or chiefcrazytitle@startup.com <– The founder over-communicates in a somewhat conventional manner that he wants to defy all conventions.
  • info@startup.com <– The team is running in stealth-mode to look inconspicuous, but really wants people to ask.
  • john-smith114@gmail.com <– The founders can’t even figure out how to buy their own domain name.
  • jsmith@startup-inc.com <– The founders are so convinced that they’re taking over the world that they want to leave the option of issuing @startup.com email addresses to their consumer users.
  • js@startup.com <– The founder is a Lean Startup disciple who wanted to put out a Minimum Viable email address.

What else am I missing?

  • Mark Littlewood

    Entertaining post. Others I see…

    j.smith@startup.comboringjsmith1980@startup.com – echoing a gmail adddress for some bizarre reason
    johsmi@startup.com – inappropriately worried their biggest problem as a startup is people guessing their email address
    JOHNSMITH@STARTUP.COM – loud, obnoxious.

  • http://accountalent.com/ Joe Faris, CPA

    john-and-debbie@startup.com – previous marital problems.

  • http://csertoglu.typepad.com csertoglu

    There’s also the non-ironic, non-stealth startup with the info@startup.com.  Signals distance to the customer and a call-center mentality.

  • http://twitter.com/vinaeco Vincent Turner

    My ‘business card’ now is primarily a branding tool, that contains name, email (vt@) and twitter handle only – in 1/2 size format. 

  • http://twitter.com/piersadrian Piers A Mainwaring

    johsmi@startup.com: “we instantly outsourced our tech needs to an offshore IT department with ridiculous email policies”.

  • http://www.twitter.com/stevenkane Steven Kane

    johnsmith8256@aol.com <– the founder is either incredibly hip, or over 65 years of age

  • http://twitter.com/JoshMarti Josh Marti

    john.a.smith@startup.com <- Founders come from Lowe's or some other 100K+ employee company and plan on solving the jobs crisis.

  • Anonymous

    ceoooohhhhhh@ oh hai Zuck

  • http://www.facebook.com/nataly.kogan Nataly Kogan

    This is awesome:)

  • http://www.startupleadership.com/ Joshua @ SLP

    How about only using a Twitter handle as contact information.  Founder saying, “I am too cool and popular to put my real email out in the world.”

  • http://www.aaronklein.com/ Aaron Klein

    Really glad I dodged the bullet of aaron.klein and chose aklein. Could have been disastrous.

  • http://twitter.com/clemcaza Clement Cazalot

    Hey I love that :-)

  • http://chris.finne.us/ chrisfinne

    johnsmith@myoldcompany.com – I’m not serious (or crazy) enough about this to quit yet.

  • John Lewis

    John_smith@me.com – I had one of the first .mac accounts (many years ago) before apple became cool.

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  • Lee Hower
     - 18 hours ago
    @vcparty that statement is true. FRC's LP base looks pretty similar to Sequoia's though
  • Lee Hower
     - 18 hours ago
    @vcparty agree. some LPs have to bend their model, though best LPs don't care much about concentration - they focus on accessing best funds
  • Lee Hower
     - 18 hours ago
    @vcparty thx - would slightly disagree trad'l LPs & smaller funds are misfit… best seed funds have trad'l LP base (albeit concentrated)
  • David Beisel
     - 23 hours ago
    .@andypalmer shares solid thoughts on mission, values, & social accountability for millennials in the workplace: http://t.co/wsAz5Gj7K6
  • David Beisel
     - 23 hours ago
    RT @fabricegrinda: Correlation is not causation! http://t.co/LkDLKq6F6Z

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