In today’s brutal funding environment startups need every advantage they can get as they chase that first term sheet. Silicon Valley’s latest hot startup, Team Makeover, is on a mission to help other startups increase their odds by focusing on the team itself. Team M will work with founding teams to modify their online image and personal style in order to maximize their chances with incubators, angels, and VCs. We had a chance to get together with Team M founder and CEO Jake at their impossibly cool office just down the street from Square and Twitter.
TechMockery: “So tell us why you started Team M.”
Jake: “Our founding team worked at incubators and for a variety of angel groups, and VCs, and what we kept seeing was that teams were getting funded at least as often on image as on experience or the potential of the idea. Really more so, it often comes down to simply how cool the team is. Now, I don’t just mean do they look and act cool in person, though that is a huge focus for us, but also how hip their online image is. Social network profile, mainstream and niche, needs to be just right.”
TechMockery: “Is there data for this? I mean can you quantify how cool a team is and show that it helps them?”
Jake: “Yes. Absolutely. We aren’t going to share our specific data on how we build profiles. But it’s very clear. We can take two teams, the first with a bigger market, more traction, more relevant industry experience, the second with zero traction, unclear market, minimal experience, but they are really cool. Just the right hair, right clothes, right mix of types on the team, awesome vague site, killer stuff on GitHub, nothing on LinkedIn. Cool. Every time the second team will get into the incubator, get the VC meeting.”
TechMockery: “So tell us how it works, and what results you’ve seen so far.”
Jake: “This is all data driven. We’re building up detailed profiles for teams that get meetings, fundings, spots at incubators. For each person we record in-person data, how they talk, dress, etcetera, and online profile, which social media, funding/startup, and other sites they post on and what they post. The scoring and data fields are proprietary of course, but when we meet with a new team we score them against a database of successful teams that achieved their specific goal, and then we recommend how they can change. We can stop there, with the recommendations, but where we’re really focused, and effective, is when we can work with the team to make all the necessary changes. When that happens we produce really, really cool teams.”
TechMockery: “..And those teams do well? Get meetings, get funded?”
Jake: “Absolutely. So far we have about a 90% success ate getting teams into Y Combinator, even better for TechStars. For venture Series A term sheets we’re at like 60%, and this is far better than teams would do on the basis of experience and traction alone. Investors are people, they like to associate with cool people, we make the teams cool. It works.”
TechMockery: “Do you know why it works? Can you give us more on what makes a team cool?”
Jake: “Successful companies are run by people that fall into a pretty narrow range most of the time. They are attractive. Charismatic. Media ready. Cool. We believe investors are rationally funding teams they can see succeeding. But what that often boils down to is how cool they are, and truth is investors don’t know how to be straightforward with this screen. It’s a subtle thing, we ideally work with teams 4-6 months before they want to get funded or accepted to an incubator.”
Team M currently has a backlog of 3-4 months, but they are working to add team members, as well as release a set of online tools to move teams through the basics of being cool.