We all know there is a bit of hype in the start-up world and it's something Berlin can honestly say it's on par with in regards to Silicon Valley. At times I think the hype is even worse when it comes to Berlin start-ups and all that's supposedly going on there. Hence, I stare with wonder when I see all these start-ups "paying it forward". First, let me get it out: I hate the term "paying it forward". It's dumb and it's a bullshit term to just basically say "helping out" or "offering assistance". We need buzzwords and terms to repackage the same crap. Ok, now that we have that over with!
You can definitely OVERPAY when paying it forward. I don't know about you but I have trouble listing any billion dollar, VC-backed exits in Germany. I have difficulty naming more than 10 exits out of Germany which were over €200 million. I'm sure you can all correct me and tell me of 11. The point is, the track record in Germany is OK but nothing spectacular. Further, we've had a wave of cash injections in the past two to three years, specifically in Berlin. Hence we have a ton of start-ups and founders running around yet the exits remain few and far between. The homeruns are basically non-existent.
Now, to the point. Don't misunderstand me when I say there's too much "sharing", "giving back", "paying it forward" and so forth going on. This is a good thing. I 'm just choosing to think aloud how helpful it really is to the community. Parties are great and Barcamps, Startup Camps, meet-ups, etc. support founders and let serendipity take its course. At the same time, this can all be a HUGE distraction.....overpaying wildly! I wonder if many of these founders and their respective start-ups wouldn't be better served working a bit more. Go heads-down and build your product. Speak with your customers and make them love you. Hire the best team available and support them. Build partnerships with companies that effect your bottom line. Just basically do more for your company instead of the community. There is a point where it's probably more beneficial to the community to have more exits than meet-ups. A ton of homeruns attracts money, which attracts engineers, which attracts large companies, etc. etc. and a community evolves.
If you catch yourself at another "camp" or "event" or are mentoring the 50th newly arrived founder in Berlin or wherever, do the math. Am I "paying it forward" at the expense of my own companies performance or would I do more for the community by just having an amazing exit (which thereafter allows for a ton of opportunities to pay it forward)????