Our commitment to investing in startups

Our success is inextricably tied to the success of the technology community, and in particular to the opportunities being created by new startups. While a slim majority of our revenue comes from Fortune 500 companies, those companies invest and acquire startups for talent or technology, are part of a healthy ecosystem, and individuals from those companies occasionally ask our thoughts on the people or potential making up those startups. Much of our revenue does come from small and medium-sized companies, and we’re well aware of their careful need to manage their spend on a weekly and monthly basis. We also spend a fair amount of time either supporting entrepreneurial events or just providing free advice on recruiting (both for employers and employees).

That stuff’s all good, but I wanted us to do something more directly beneficial to the community, so we have a new plan. Starting with 2011’s results,¬†we’ll be investing at least 10% of our net income in technology startups. That is, >=10% of our income that we make in a year will be invested either directly in individual startups (as angel investments) or in angel or venture funds. We’ve already committed the 2011 investment: I’ll write about that in the next few days.

This is not a charitable donation: it’s a high-risk investment strategy which I believe will pay off. It’s also not a behind-the-scenes play for business. I know of some local angels who are also service providers, and deliberately conflate the two when talking to entrepreneurs: that makes me squirm, and we’ll go out of our way to avoid these conflicts. (We don’t ever pitch our services to startups: 100% of our startup clients are inbound, and we turn down many more than we have time to work with.) Today’s post about angepreneurs was timely: the plan is for these investment decisions to be made quickly and decisively, so that my business focus remains obsessively and single-mindedly on Rooster Park.