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June 23, 2005

How VCs can become better board members

Fred Wilson has a great post on how self-proclaimed "hands on" VCs can really add value to their portfolio companies and become better investor and board members.
I guess Jordan and Ron didn't like the idea of some wet behind the ear VC trying to tell them how to run their business.

I quickly recognized that I had to earn the right to tell them what I thought they should do. So a couple weeks later, I cleared my calendar for 2-3 days and flew to Buffalo. Jordan had arranged for me to spend time in every part of the business, from help desk to finance to sales and everything else.

I rolled up my sleeves and got my hands dirty.

I met almost every employee and learned what each job entailed. I even did some of the jobs. By the end of my stay in Buffalo that week, I had a much better idea of what the business was all about. And it made me a much better Board member.

..And if you think about it like you are working for the CEO, not the other way around, it generally is appreciated. Then when things aren't going so well, you can start making suggestions and you'll be heard. And the suggestions you make wil be good ones.

So I think rolling up your sleeves is the best thing you can do as a VC, but its work and it requires a committment that not all VCs have.

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.