Things you shouldn’t do as a startup founder: Hack potential investors’ voicemail

Things you shouldn’t do as a startup founder: Hack potential investors’ voicemail

To most, it would seem like common sense: if you want someone to back your business, you probably shouldn’t start by annoying them.

However, Avi Zolty, Y Combinator alumni and founder of Skurt car rentals, seemed to bypass this usual thought process when trying to get the attention of angel investor Jason Calacanis. Instead, he decided to hack his voicemail and change the message to promote Skurt.

Zolty also posted on Medium about the stunt (since deleted) and the audio file is available for all to hear on Soundcloud. He also posted his article to Hacker News, but it was swiftly removed from there too.

Naturally, Calacanis was a bit taken aback initially.

A stroke of luck

Clearly Zolty wasn’t following the phone hacking scandal in the UK, which involved people hacking into voicemail, and resulted in custodial sentences for some people. However, luckily for him, Calanacis was in an understanding mood, and after corresponding with Zolty, he forgave him and sent some friendly advice.

Zolty got off lightly this time, and did indeed succeed in drawing attention to his business – but at the cost of letting the world know that he was willing to break the law to promote his business, which isn’t necessarily attractive to potential investors. To his credit, he did also take to Twitter to issue a public apology to Calanacis.

For Zolty, this is probably one to file under ‘a lesson learned’ – and for other keen startup founders, it’s a warning of what not to do to get attention for your fledgling business. 

➤ Jason Calacanis [Twitter via VentureBeat]

Image credit: Shutterstock

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