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June 10, 2013

Inbound Interest from (an Associate at) a VC firm...its meaning and worth for Entrepreneurs

Vijay Anand of accelerator The Startup Centre has an interesting post on how entrepreneurs often end up wasting precious time by getting all excited about the research expeditions of associates at VC firms.
When you get an email or a call from a VC Firm, the first question to ask is to get them to introduce themselves. If its an associate – or if you are getting an email, check up on the site of the firm and see if their name or picture is listed anywhere – just ignore them. They are timesinks and just doing their homework for the monday meeting where they have to present a list of companies.
...It takes us (at the startup centre) atleast three weeks to get a team back and focused on the product and business, once they get one of these stupid emails. The team thinks they are already fundable, and someone from a VC firm reached out to THEM! OMG.
...I came across another startup earlier this week which is chasing a fund that does typically series B rounds, and the individuals have no intentions of letting these poor founders know of it, when they are trying to raise 100K. I told them that they are a later stage fund, but you know that line investors use “if its a great team and idea, we dont mind writing a 100K cheque?”, well thats been used and they are dragging this team around. Teams do over-estimate themselves, cause they are neither a complete team, nor is the product market validated and they are losing precious time chasing a wild goose, instead of doing what is critical for the startup.

Vijay also has an update with advise for VC associates on how they can actually add value to startups and, in the process, to their own career in the profession.

Think twice, thrice before asking teams to work on a document
I have met startups who sit and slog making market projections and research – well, thats kinda your job, isnt it? – and in trying to make business plans with five year projections.

...Add Meaningful Value.

You know that there are only four layers in a VC firm, and you are at a dead end job if you are not an entrepreneur because its not easy becoming a partner, climbing up the associate route. You know what will put you up there? Proving that you can work with entrepreneurs, can be a second head, and have a mind to do that. So be selfish. I have been blown away by the value add some of the associates and principals like Anshoo of Lightspeed, Anand Daniel of Accel do for companies – so much so that I ask teams to talk to them. See, how it works?

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