The Rabbi Test

September 24, 2019

At Assembler Labs we believe that many things can be taught, but some things can’t. One of the things that can’t be taught is drive. And we believe drive is a critical and necessary attribute for a startup founder.

So when we’re thinking about working with a founder, we evaluate their drive. As we’ve been doing this more and more over the past year, we’ve stumbled our way into something I like to call “The Rabbi Test.”

Judaism, as compared with many other religions, does not proselytize. And, more than that, if one tries to convert, they’ll be turned away. Typically multiple times. One must show their dedication to conversion before a Rabbi will proceed with the conversion process. The Rabbi is searching for drive to become Jewish.

For us at Assembler Labs, we hear many interesting pitches from great potential founders. We give our honest feedback and try to give a productive first step: “if we were in your shoes, the first thing we’d do is talk to 50 potential customers and learn about whether X or Y is more important.”

Our goal is twofold: (1) give valuable feedback and advice to help their business move forward; and (2) test their drive on their own.

Around 80% of founders never come back after this first step. That’s okay. It’s super helpful for us, hopefully likewise for them, and maybe they’ll come back in the future.

The 20% of founders that do come back almost invariably come back with progress and an indication of drive. We chat through the progress and try to be helpful again, giving them another piece of advice on how we’d move forward and send them on their way.

Again, around 80% of the founders don’t come back after the second meeting, leaving just 4% of the original founders coming back. At this point, we’ve seen their drive, we’ve seen their work progress, and we’ve shown them how we think about problems.

In this way, it’s like a Rabbi turning away potential converts to Judaism. Like many things in Judaism, the traditions hold a valuable lesson for life. The Rabbi Test is a great way for us to evaluate drive and provide value at the same time.