What A Crock Of Startup Bullshit

I can’t take it anymore. I can no longer continue ignoring Paul Singh’s startup bullshit disguised as wisdom. Folks in the know keep forwarding to me ridiculous articles, stupid investments, and silly tweets of Paul’s. One of his latest gems, a blog post titled, “You (probably) don’t need a MVP, You need a list”  forwared to me with the subject line, Do You Believe This Shit? Yes, I sure as shit do because I consider the source. It’s Paul Singh, the “prestigious,” prestidigitating street performer from the traveling medicine show of startup bullshit. The man who packed up all his earthly possessions into an Airstream trailer, left DC and his Family behind in a cloud of dust. Just in time to beat the crowd of investors and entrepreneurs armed with pitchforks who showed up at his castle (see actual photo below)!

Actual Photo Of DCTech Investors on the way to Paul’s House Before They Found Out He Skipped Town

Since then, he’s been traveling to other startup boonies posing as the one-eyed man of startup bullshit in the land of the startup blind. He’s the guru of getting it done in startup backwaters like Utica, Kitchenoo, Port Huron, Tallahassee, Fort Wayne, Tulsa, Fargo, Wichita and Helena… you know the places that as far as startup ecosystems are concerned, if they were countries, the current “President” of these here United States would call them Shit Hole Countries (no offense Helena).

I am not surprised that Singh, a startup street performer who has publically produced nothing but junkie results ironically pens a column with the juxtaposed words, Results Junkie. Somehow he’s qualified to be spewing his particular brand of, “wisdom.” This recent article, “You (probably) don’t need a MVP. You need a list.” is simply stated, startup malpractice, masquerading as an advice column. It was the straw that broke the cranky old farting camels back. I will be silent no more.

Paul Singh, a man with no documented history of success (if you’re not counting his self-aggrandizing, self-published documents). A man who left 500 Startups with no reasonable explanation in the days that 500 was still a high-flier. The guy who was fired by his investors in his own “Venture Fund,” the Crystal Tech Fund. A man whose investors had less confidence in him than they had in Evan Burfield, so they fired him and gave his fund to a different clown (yes this Evan Burfield), Yes, the same Paul Singh who founded Disruption Corp, a company that disrupted nothing but its investor’s wallets.

The same Paul Singh who famously gave early advanced warning that Disruption was failing in enough time for the investors to jump in help him turn everything around… hahahaha, I’m only kidding, he was all smiles and everything is going great until he sent the email which said, “stick a fork in us we’re done,” the day before the company closed it’s door leaving investors saying, “but two weeks ago Paul was killing it,” as a disgruntled investor reported in his blog post.

“Yeah, you read that right! Oops. we’re running out of cash tomorrow!! Oh well, we failed…This was with no advanced warning and only bullish statements on the company’s progress. It’s one thing to be an optimistic entrepreneur but another to be delusional and reckless! Apparently, the entrepreneur (can’t tell you who it is but his name rhymes with Saul Pingh) was too embarrassed or arrogant to respond to my requests for answers and more info. Another investor had to threaten to have his lawyer make the next request before getting a call.” — Steve Bennet, a former investor in Disruption and blogger at ProfessorVC.com (see Bennet’s full blog post).

Yes that Paul Singh is sharing his patented recipe for success. Paul is advising entrepreneurs to do what made Paul the man he is today…  he is espousing fake it until you make it. Well, Paul’s still faking it and still waiting to make it.

Startup Bullshit Blogging Advice

In his most recent blog post, Paul preaches starting up the sales and marketing engine before you fire up the engineering engine… because it worked so well for him.

Some of the gems from Paul’s startup bullshit article:

“But consider this: some of the most successful companies originally started as email lists before any code was ever written.” — Paul Singh

I guess Jonathon Perrelli took this to heart, it’s the entire strategy behind his successful award-winning company, LifeFuels, which has burned through $5 million dollars in 4.5 years and all the investors have to show for it is a t-shirt and a mailing list… still no product.

“What if we encouraged more startups to see themselves as media companies that might make a product in the future?” — Paul Singh

Huh?  “What if we encouraged more startups to think of themselves as butterflies and then told them butterflies are free?” here’s better advice, “What if we encouraged more startups do validate market fit and then quietly take what you learned into a cave and don’t come out until you have a product?”

I think Paul must have been a mentor to Elizabeth Holmes at Theranos? Or did he just steal this idea from the book, Bad Blood? Because she not only got press before she had a product, she started selling a product she didn’t have.

Thanks to Paul, I’m inspired to start collecting a mailing list for my Global Transporter. I’m going to write all kinds of blog posts about it. Pay CES to award me a CES innovation award. I’m going on an investor-sponsored press tour to the south of France, and then I’m going to gather mailing lists for people who want to be Transported, using the same technology found in Star Trek, to transport humans anywhere in the world and back for $60. I’m even going to place Transporter Booths in Walgreens because Walgreens was selling Theranos’s non-working crap. Then I’m going to raise more money, rent a great office with DCInno Office Envy-worthy accouterments. Using a word like accouterments should add about $10 million to the company valuation.

“What if we encouraged more startups to see themselves as email marketing companies that happen to have a product?” — Paul Singh

I guess Paul Singh doesn’t have email… because if he did he would know that there are already a ton of these kinds of companies… they are called spammers.

“a startup’s ability to acquire attention is just as important — if not more important — than their ability to build a product.” — Paul Singh

I wonder if this was the strategy that made Disruption so successful?

Folks, this post of Paul’s may be one of his stupidest posts ever and yet it’s not as dumb as the concept of Paul’s Money ball. Money Ball was a slick, presentation device for a guy who thought of his company as a media company instead of an institutional investment fund. He was creating buzz by piggybacking on the popularity of the Michael Lewis Book and Movie, Money Ball to market himself as a guru. Paul’s version of Money Ball was to apply the law of big numbers that worked so well in baseball to the small number world of startups.

Here’s the problem, flip a coin one million times it will come up heads 50% of the time. One million coin flips is a pretty good indicator of the odds of flipping a coin. Stats in baseball have been tracked for a hundred years and there are thousands of baseball players. Money ball works for baseball because there is a large number of sampling data, therefore, the law of large numbers.

However, if you flip a coin and it comes up heads and flipped it again and it came up heads and then made the decision that everytime you flip a coin it is going to come up heads, that would be a bonehead decision driven by the rule of small numbers. Small numbers are not reliable indicators. Flip a coin a million times and you will have a reliable predictor. Flip it twice, and use that data to base your decisions and you wind up with a Crystal Tech Fund. That’s the rule of small numbers. Small numbers are likely to produce the kind of junkie results that lead to your investors kicking you out of town.

Startups are so different, and so few that Startup Money Ball didn’t work. I can’t tell you how many actual, professional, real institutional VCs confided in me that they believed Paul was full of shit and his shambolic investment thesis was laughable (but I bet you can guess which local VC’s vocabulary includes a word like shambolic).

It would have been wiser for Singh’s investors follow the strategy in Michael Lewis’s book, The Big Short as opposed to Money Ball.

T-shirts are so 15 minutes ago. Paul’s new affectation is the mandatory startup Patagonia vest.

This is the same guy who was making fun of people in the startup world because they didn’t wear t-shirts and sneakers. Because t-shirts are better predictors of success than a historical performance, wisdom, and intelligence. Paul is the guy who pissed so many of his fellow Nextgen Partners off when he would dominate meetings like he was the smartest guy in the room while other, actual successful entrepreneurs snickered at his hubris.  Fellow Nextgeners were embarrassed to be in meetings with Singh when he would frequently abuse and humiliate founding presenters. Worse yet, would then turn around and invest other people’s money in some of the companies he mocked.

This junkie results, advice column, is written by the same Paul Singh who bragged that he would make a bad investment decision using his Money Ball startup bullshit methodology in two hours while other real accomplished VCs took weeks to pull the trigger. Because wearing a t-shirt and sneakers and making a bad investment decision makes you a successful VC as opposed to those amateurs who raise $100+ million funds and proceed to invest that money creating a valuable investment portfolio. Because bombast beats results… in a junkie results, Results Junkie world.

Startup Bullshit Summary

Here’s some advice for people looking to take advice. Paul’s advice hasn’t helped him much. It is pure unadulterated startup bullshit. He presented his performance art theatre speaking about Money Ball for startup bullshit investing. Got a lot of press. Raised some money for a fund and got fired for not delivering… he faked it and didn’t make it with the Crystal Tech Fund. He faked it with Disruption and didn’t make it. He piggybacked alongside Dave McClure at 500 startups and left… didn’t make it. Faking it until you make it, is bullshit, especially if you never make it.

It hasn’t worked for Paul Singh, Jonathon Perrelli, Evan Burfield, Matthew Pugsley, Jason Feimster, Danny Boice… I could keep going. This startup bullshit didn’t work for them. Why would startup bullshit work for you?

Starting a company is hard. Every ounce of energy should be spent on doing the next important thing that leads to success… faking it isn’t that thing. Surveying the market and verifying market fit is a thing, finding enough money to build to the customer need is a thing, promoting the product once you have built a product is a thing, raising enough money once you have proven your model is a thing and making it without faking it is a thing.


Afternoon Update 8/30: A VC just emailed me this picture. His note, “this guy doesn’t even hide that he’s a hustler.”  The startup bullshit just keeps coming.

What is a hustler? According to Dictionary.com.
hustler

[huhs-ler]

See more synonyms for hustler on Thesaurus.com

noun

  1. an enterprising person determined to succeed; go-getter.
  2. Slangperson who employs fraudulent or unscrupulous methods to obtain money; swindler.
  3. Informalan expert gambler or game player who seeks out challengers, especially unsuspecting amateur ones, in order to win money from them:
    • “He earned his living as a pool hustler.”

How about in Thesaurus.com?

hustler

Synonyms for hustler
noun con artist; prostitute

call girl, swindler, whore, cheater, floozy, grifter, hooker, streetwalker. fast talker. rip-off artist, scam artist

Startup Bullshit… out.