By David Beisel, Cofounder and Partner at NextView Ventures, a dedicated seed-stage venture capital firm making investments in internet-enabled startups.
It always feels anachronistic these days to exchange business cards when you usually have someone’s contact information anyway in an electronic format before (via email introduction) or just after (via LinkedIn connection) you meet. Many people, though, take the opportunity with a physical card to make an impression with a unique spin on their card (size, vertical orientation, etc.). But the one thing I find which also makes a subtle impression on me when I meet a founder of a startup is the convention of the company’s email address. I started mentally noting a few sort-of-funny-because-they’re-true cases, so I thought I’d brainstorm a quick list of what founders’ email addresses say about their startups:
firstname.lastname@example.org <– The first-name convention projects that the company values the individual in a truly personal manner. Or, it wants to ascribe internal prestige to the early employees (i.e. “I was the first John”) that will not whither as the company grows.
email@example.com <– This convention conveys the importance of scalability in the organization, even from the founding stage… most likely stemming from a technical founder.
firstname.lastname@example.org <– Precision trumps brevity in this startup.
email@example.com <– The founder’s last name is too long or hard to spell, and so nobody else at the company will list theirs either.
firstname.lastname@example.org <– It’s a casual, yet hip atmosphere… the office eschews chairs for beanbags, shared tables for offices & cubes, and there’s not a Windows PC to be found.
email@example.com <– The founding team is all from Microsoft and can’t shake it if they tried.
firstname.lastname@example.org <– The founding team is alumni from one of the Techstars programs.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org <– The founder over-communicates in a somewhat conventional manner that he wants to defy all conventions.
email@example.com <– The team is running in stealth-mode to look inconspicuous, but really wants people to ask.
firstname.lastname@example.org <– The founders can’t even figure out how to buy their own domain name.
email@example.com <– The founders are so convinced that they’re taking over the world that they want to leave the option of issuing @startup.com email addresses to their consumer users.
firstname.lastname@example.org <– The founder is a Lean Startup disciple who wanted to put out a Minimum Viable email address.