Zvi Band Coder & Founder. Co-Founder & CEO of Contactually. Organizer of DC Tech Meetup & ProudlyMadeInDC. Always in search of the best breakfast burrito.

Charlatans

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I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, as it’s something I’ve often stewed about (when in truth I shouldn’t).

There are a lot of charlatans in the startup journey.

Charlatans that claim to be angel investors, but haven’t written a check in years, if ever.

Charlatans that claim to be working on their startup.

Charlatans that will happily advise your startup, because they know The Way.

Charlatans that say their startup will beat yours.

Charlatans that go on stage, beat their chest, and it turns out there’s nothing behind the curtains.

Charlatans with “tons of contacts” that want to do business development.

Charlatans in VC firms, that have no fund to make new investments out of.

Charlatans will waste your time. Charlatans will get your hopes up. Charlatans will give you bad data. 

I wish it were socially acceptable to call these people out in anything more public than a 1-1 conversation or reference check. Sometimes it’s not their fault, they don’t realize it.

But as soon as your BS meter starts going up, run. Charlatans are everywhere.

About the author

Zvi

Coder & Founder. Co-Founder & CEO of Contactually. Organizer of DC Tech Meetup & ProudlyMadeInDC. Always in search of the best breakfast burrito.

5 comments

  • Did Glen Hellman just comment on this??!! He is THE charlatan of DC Tech. The amount of startups he mislead with his advice, connections, & useless mentorship is beyond count.

    Sorry to call him out on your great post Zvi, just thought the delusion of his comment had to be addressed.

  • Zvi, yes, a thousand times yes. Sometimes i also do wish I could call these people out on their BS but alas it never really feels safe or productive to do so. When we first started Veenome I was more willing to let water flow under the bridge but as time went on I realized the cumulative body of problems this creates for a startup in terms of time and money wasted. For me the more problematic bucket has been on the advisor/investment side where the transparency in an entrepreneur/investor exchange does not always flow both ways. Whether it’s posing for egoism or actual nefarious “advisor/investor” trying to grab some juice, it starts to take up a ton of time to sort it all out. On the founder side, the chest beaters just soak up a lot of cash and burn out small angels which can be frustrating but less so then people that actually take up a founder’s time. I’ve found Startups Anonymous to be a nice catharsis but, like you, i fantasize about one day posting my actual shit list somewhere. Glen will also take confidential tips and suggestions 🙂

By Zvi
Zvi Band Coder & Founder. Co-Founder & CEO of Contactually. Organizer of DC Tech Meetup & ProudlyMadeInDC. Always in search of the best breakfast burrito.

Zvi Band

Founder of Contactually.
I'm also passionate about growing the DC startup community, and I've founded Proudly Made in DC and the DC Tech Meetup.