Did You Get Screwed in Business

This is a true story. I was there. The details are possibly not exact, and the quotes are paraphrased, but the essentials are true.  A startup founder was pitching to 22 local investors. The group had asked him to pitch because we liked his summary materials. He was local to us and had an interesting product. But he got screwed. I got screwed

This is what happened

  • Two minutes into the pitch, he said he had been screwed by a partner in a previous venture.
  • Ten minutes into the pitch, he said that he had been screwed by attorneys in a previous business deal.
  • Fifteen minutes into the pitch, he said he’d been screwed by an employee he had to fire.

Normally, after every pitch, after the founder has left and we’re alone, the group takes time to discuss what we saw and heard. In this case, the room was quiet for a few seconds. Then one of us said:

“One thing we know for sure … if we invest in that guy, he’ll be blaming us for it later.”

Everybody laughed.

He didn’t get the investment from us. Do you know why not?

This is what reminded me

This morning I saw this question in Quora, the world’s best question and answer site.

Every time I’ve gone into business, I’ve gotten screwed badly, either by partners or by customers. How do I avoid this the next time around?”

I’m answering here first.


  • Blaine says:

    I understand the point, I think? But I think however I was actually screwed, in one business the majority shareholder took in 3.5 million and lied to investors, was fined by securities commision and before shutting down the business sold himself all the patents that were owned by the business for $1 then declared personal bankruptcy.

    The other business I’m involved in the CEO who was also majority shareholder was recently indicted on multiple charges of illegal wire transfers of over 30 million dollars, his case has not come to court yet. Wouldn’t you call that screwed?

    Did I screw myself by getting involved in the first place, perhaps.

    • Tim Berry says:

      @Blaine, thanks for the addition. I get your point too. It’s tough. There is no due process in making first impressions. Right? You can be telling the absolute truth but still tarnished by how it looks, superficially, to people who aren’t interested in investigating the details.

  • 10 Things I Hated About Your Business Pitch – Quick File says:

    […] Investors are looking for businesses they want to join and support. Most investors assume that people who deflect and blame others are not likely to be working well with a team. I suggest you read this personal account, a true story: Did You Get Screwed in Business? […]

  • Keith Gormezano says:

    He didn’t get screwed. He screwed himself.

    • Tim Berry says:

      Thanks Keith. Yes, exactly my point. It’s a lot like what happens when somebody interviewing for a new job bad mouths past jobs. They don’t realize the effect they have on the listener. IMO.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *