I meet lots of entrepreneurs all of the time who are working on startups that are really cool, but after getting to know the individual I sometimes realize that their talents are being wasted or at least under utilized. It is almost impossible to find an appropriate way to tell someone that you think they should be doing something else. When you start a company you need to realize you’re going have to spend the next three to five years completely engrossed in the development of the company. Entrepreneurs only have time to start three or four companies during their careers if they are lucky – you better be spending your time on the ones where you can make the biggest impact. Real estate investors call it a property’s ‘highest and best use’.
More than six years ago Dan Owen and I began talking about how Dallas needed an early stage accelerator like TechStars or YCombinator. Our first discussion centered around who would run the accelerator. Dan suggested I should do it, but truthfully I knew we needed someone else – someone better suited to the task. I immediately thought of Gabriella Draney. My father had introduced us a while back when she was in graduate school and more recently she was working a boutique investment fund. I knew right away she would be the best candidate and I suspected her skills were being wasted at the small boutique investment fund. We invited Gabriella out to dinner, pitched the idea and she picked up the ball and ran right past us (literally) and created Tech Wildcatters. Fast forward to today and I think everyone will agree we were right.
When I heard that Gabriella was looking to step down as executive director of Tech Wildcatters I realized I knew the perfect candidate my business partner, Molly Cain. Slightly more than a year ago I had convinced Molly to leave her VP position at a Fortune 500 bank to join my latest startup, ViewMarket (formerly Haul). I was a little reluctant to recommend her for the position since we had just executed two important contracts with major broadcasting companies. We needed her expertise to get these deals across the finish line not to mention all of the other projects she was responsible for. But at the end of the day few of us are in the position to nudge a friend, colleague or partner in a direction that could have as important an impact as I believe Molly could have on Tech Wildcatters and the Dallas startup ecosystem. I knew Gabriella would NEVER attempt to poach Molly so I reached out to her and gave her the green light to recruit Molly.
Initially, Molly was reluctant to even consider leaving ViewMarket given all of the good stuff we have going on but after thinking about it she realized I was right – Tech Wildcatters would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for her. It is a rare opportunity to be in a position to help someone find their true calling – their highest and best use – in this case I really believe taking the helm at Tech Wildcatters is Molly’s highest and best use today. We’re REALLY going to miss her at ViewMarket and, of course she’s still our co-founder and partner. Oh, by the way, if you are a bad ass like Molly we’re hiring.
P.S. Since I’ve recommended BOTH of Tech Wildcatters Executive Directors shouldn’t I get a referral fee?