Team CRV
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Team CRV


Oct 2, 2018

3 min read

When in Doubt, Accelerate!

Startup Lessons from Rally Driving and A Day At Team O’Neil’s

I’m proud to be a part of the CRV team, who has supported entrepreneurs for almost 50 years. We invest in people before ideas and are inspired by working with authentic founders who are the best at what they do.

As a way to give back to the incredible founders we work with, we invited some of our portfolio companies to spend a couple of days with fellow entrepreneurs. We asked them to spend time away from their demanding daily duties and do something completely new, different and utterly fun, at Team O’Neil’s Rally School.

You might ask, what does rally driving have to do with running a startup? More than you think.

Not Everything Is In Your Control: What you immediately notice when driving on a loose surface, is that you are not 100% in control. Events develop fast and you need to respond quickly, but eventually physics takes over and you just need to trust your training and judgment and hope for the best. That’s pretty much the exact job experience of a startup CEO.

Look Ahead With Conviction: The instructors will tell you to keep your eyes fixed on your goal on the horizon, even if the car you’re driving is slipping sideways. You will be surprised that this act alone, of looking ahead and sticking to it, puts the car back on the right track. Sound familiar?

Accept Mistakes And Learn From Them: Rally driving is also something new and different for most, and we’re all bound to stumble when taking a leap into the unknown. You improve on the course when you take those mistakes and apply what you learned from them. Recognizing where we went wrong, learning from our errors and constantly improving is something that is always helpful in startups, too.

Jessica Kim, Co Founder of Iana Care, described her takeaways from this experience perfectly. “First, look where you want to go — and the rest will follow. As we slid sideways or lost control, the instructors would yell ‘look at the next cone!’ Don’t look at what you want to avoid — look where you want to go. Second, the answer is often ‘it depends’. The only constant is change. Conditions are never the same. Your instincts will kick in — and if they don’t, your team is there to yell at you. Life is meant to be a team sport. Lastly, Say YES and press on the gas. I had no idea what to expect. But, I said yes and discovered my inner donkey-kicking self. Always go ALL IN!”

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the course this past week. As leaders of companies changing the way we work, live and play, remember to relax, enjoy the ride, and as the folks at Team O’Neil say, “when in doubt, accelerate!”

— Izhar Armony

Check out a video from our day at Team O’Neil’s

CRV is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage enterprise and consumer startups. Since 1970, the firm has invested in more than 400 companies at their most crucial stages, including DoorDash, Airtable, Patreon, Drift and Iterable.