Brad Spirrison has a nice article in the Chicago Sun-Times titled Feedburner’s investors have its technology at their fingertips. Among other things, he highlights that three of the FeedBurner investors – me, Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures, and Matt McCall at Portage Ventures are active bloggers that use FeedBurner’s services regularly.
While the notion of your investors using your product is a tricky one for some companies (say an ERP software company or an optical switch company) , it should be a no brainer for a consumer or Internet company. I just did a quick check and I’m an active user of all but two of the companies I sit on boards of. I’m also a user of many of the other Mobius companies products – even when I potentially have other choices – so that I can provide deep and regular product feedback. While my role isn’t “product manager” or “beta tester”, I can provide much more comprehensive feedback, better understand the product cycle, really have a perspective on competitive products (since presumably I can use them also), and provide insight into other things that I’m seeing that directly relate to the company’s products. Plus – it’s a lot of fun for my inner nerd.
If you have a product that normal humans can use, ask your investor (or potential investor) if they’ve used your product, how they use it, and how frequently they use it the next time you talk to them. At the minimum, the answer will help you frame their level of understanding of what you are creating.