Tech’s growth story shifted this year. How has that impacted transparency?
When Vijay Chattha was building a startup, his competitor was what some would call a media darling. Investor interest was generated by the competition’s compelling story. This interest led to key customers. The cycle was repeated. Chattha eventually sold that company in a lukewarm exit and took with him an important lesson: Earned media has the power to be a kingmaker.
Chattha is now the founder and CEO of VSC, a public relations firm that has helped launch over 600 companies. The firm works with startups across all stages and recently introduced a $21 million venture firm to back the companies that it advises. Chattha calls it “to put some skin in this game.”
Now, 20 years in, Chattha has thoughts regarding how tech’s cyclical nature has impacted its relationship with media, the power of sharing real numbers and whether founders should prepare to fall on their sword in the name of transparency.
“I believe it’s dangerous. It’s almost like water. You can become dehydrated if you don’t have enough publicity. But if you have too much you can drown.” Vijay Chattha
Below, we have extracted key excerpts from the interview.
What’s your temperature reading on how vulnerable founders are right now when it comes to sharing hardships publicly?
Vijay Chattha : It all depends on the founder. It depends on whether it is their first, second, or third startup. My experience is that the more successful you are and the more you have wisdom, the more transparent and perhaps even cynical you become over time. First-time founders are under a lot pressure to do what the VCs and hired people around them tell them to do. They have to do it. They are very concerned about the fact that their competitors may be reading this information.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.