Tim Tebow & Startups

What Startups Can Learn from Tim Tebow

I spent most of last Sunday standing in my living room, watching NFL football, screaming at the television. The past 13 weeks this has been a Sunday ritual. Sundays with me are so intolerable that my girlfriend Sarah now chooses to go shopping for the day, leaving me alone to yell and scream while our dog Parker looks on, somewhat scared.

‘Why Bart, why?’, you ask?

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few months, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow has made headlines with his miraculous fourth-quarter comebacks and his sometimes-awful, sometimes-great play. As a Broncos fan, it’s been a special kind of torture.

Bloody tebow

Last week, Tim Tebow led the Denver Broncos past the Pittsburgh Steelers in one of the biggest upsets in Playoff history. Judging from my twitter stream during the game, I think I nearly suffered a heart attack.

Tomorrow night, Tebow and the Broncos take on 3-time Superbowl champ Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in what will surely be an epic playoff matchup. I have yet to decide if I’m going to watch the game from home or head to the Lazy Dog in Boulder. It’ll be a game time decision.

But I digress.

Tim Tebow’s prowess as a role model has been well documented. He’s a good kid that doesn’t drink or do drugs, is “saving himself” for marriage, has unbelievable work ethic and isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in. He’s also a 2-time BCS champion and the only true college sophomore to ever win the Heisman.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about Tebow through the the lens of my role as “startup founder.”

Tim Tebow is facing the same challenges most startups face. Let me elaborate.

Unorthodox Technique

Tebow has been widely panned by critics for his awkward, unconventional throwing motion. His motion is elongated and does not have the traditional quick-release of Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. In addition, Tebow runs the ball like a fullback. Brian Urlacher, the future Hall-of-Fame Chicago Bears middle linebacker, called him a “good running back.”

But Tebow gets the job done. He wins football games and he makes fans happy.

Like Tebow, startups don’t have picture perfect form. They are not well-oiled machines. Startups are scrappy. They are unorthodox. They don’t do things the “normal” way. And that’s fine.

Fred Wilson recently wrote that he knows a startup is onto something when it is Mocked and Misunderstood.

Well, Tim Tebow has been mocked mercilessly – there’s even an SNL parody out there.

So don’t worry about your startup’s unorthodox technique. All that matters is that you get the job done and keep customers happy. Like Tebow, worry about perfecting your form later.

Ranks of Non-Believers

Former NFL Players relentlessly criticize Tim Tebow. Merril Hoge called him an “Awful Quarterback.” Trent Dilfer said “Tebow couldn’t play in the NFL.” The list goes on.

What does Tebow do in response? He simply uses it as fuel for motivation.

Startups face this every day. When I tell people that we’re trying to solve the world’s contact information problem – I can’t count how many times I’ve seen doubt in their eyes. But it doesn’t deter me – it fuels me and it fuels our entire team.

As a startup, don’t let the non-believers, detractors and the naysayers get you down. Use it as motivational fuel instead.

Vanity Metrics? Or Metrics that Matter?

The NFL establishment continue to judge Tebow based on traditional metrics like passing completion percentage, yards, touchdowns and QB rating. But the only real stat that matters in football is “games won.”

Tebow is at the bottom of the league in traditional passing metrics, but for an 8 game stretch he was 7-1. The only other QB who had more wins during that time was Aaron Rodgers.

Startups often report vanity metrics – “X number of PageViews” or “Y number of Users.” But that doesn’t mean startups are actually solving real problems and providing real value.

Like Tebow, startups should focus on metrics that matter.

It’s All About The Team

Tim Tebow understands that it’s all about the team. Most investors in startups would agree. It’s about 1) The Team 2) The Team and 3) The Team.

Building am effective team during the early stages of a startup is difficult. One bad apple can spoil the bunch. That’s why Brandon Lloyd was traded to the St. Louis Rams when Tebow got the starting nod. Lloyd was a bad apple that didn’t want to play with Tebow. He finished the season with the Rams. Needless to say, the Rams didn’t make the playoffs. Tebow and the Broncos did.

Tebow recently said: “If you believe, unbelievable things can sometimes be possible. I think that’s pretty special that we have a team that constantly believes and believes in each other.”

At a startup, you need to believe in one another. Unwavering faith in your teammates, your mission and the belief that together, you will achieve your common goals is unbelievably important.

I’ll close by letting you watch this video, created after Tim Tebow’s days as a Florida Gator. It gives me chills.

Go Broncos.

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