the one that got away

imgresI was at a dinner this past week with a group of angel investors.  A really great group of people.  Most of them were entrepreneurs before they became investors so their outlook is interesting.

We went around the table and introduced ourselves, talked a bit about what we are interested in and then were to talk about the one that got away.  The investment that we should not have passed on.

I am not one to dwell on the past.  I have been asked in interviews the classic question which is “if you could change something about your past or have done something differently what would that be?”  I am so not a fan of this question because who knows where my head was at then.  Why I made the decision I did.  I just know that at that time it made sense.  Just like investments that I choose not to participate in or opt not to meet with there is a reason for it.  Timing is everything.

What I talked about instead was the investment that was a huge failure and how much I learned from the experience.  That is significant.  You learn a lot more about your failures than you do about your successes.  I think about those failures much more than the successes.  Successes tend to be the perfect storm.  A great entrepreneur, a great idea, a great group of investors, a great team and perfect timing.  I know of many companies who have had incredible success and I am not sure how some of them actually succeeded.

When companies fail there is tons to learn.  I learn so much each time I make a mistake.  I get better from those missteps.  I can look back and think about why I made that investment, what I missed, why I chose to ignore the red flag, what could have been done to perhaps help the company go in a different direction.  More than likely it is about recognizing more and that brings value to me and hopefully my investments.