Founders and venture capitalists may be meh on the value of a college education. But surely they have to appreciate the organization that goes into organized crime. After running his own crew as a Gambino family associate–and an eight-year stint in prison–Louis Ferrante turned from mafioso to motivational speaker. Now that his latest book, Mob Rules, has been released, peHUB’s Connie Loizos asked Mr. Ferrante how the advice therein might apply to start-up founders and VCs.
Is your partner at a VC constantly trying to one-up you? Mr. Ferrante suggests spending more time with them and trusting your instincts to figure if they’re going to rat you out. “You can also ask his neighbors, if you really want to know somebody,” he added with a laugh.
Mr. Ferrante advised VCs to only fund people that have been vouched. On the flipside, entrepreneurs seeking funding should “appeal to people’s specific interests.” For example, he told peHUB:
If you want to open a nightclub and you know someone who wants to be Don Cheech and he’s dating 25-year-olds, chances are he’s going to listen to you.
Sounds just like going to John Doerr with a “social commerce” idea to us. But what about the optics of founder’s placing a mole at competing start-ups?
It looks underhanded, but it’s not. Look, it’s a competitive world, and the best tips I had came from inside guys . . .
If you’re just willing to listen to people, you can glean a lot of information without having to pointedly ask: ‘Give me the dirt.’ Just go hang out with somebody and listen. Everyone is willing to talk if you’re friendly, especially if you’re in a similar business. They want to be your friend, and they’ll tell you stuff, and that inside information can be crucial, like: ‘This is the rock-bottom number our company will take.’
Every company would do it back to you if they could.