An open letter to the numerous VC firms and their many many analysts, hired right out from top B-schools with no experience of dealing with startups & their founders.
1. Sign up
If I was a VC analyst, the first thing I would do before I email a founder for the deck and the 10 year projection is to SIGN UP FOR HIS PRODUCT OR SERVICE. God knows how annoying it is to email you about our startup a week before the meeting, only for you to start the meeting with – ” I know nothing about your product, why don’t you start with telling me what it does?”. I swear I will recommend your firm to all my startup friends if you start with “Hey I have been playing around with your website for a couple of days now..”
2. Be passionate
I don’t think this is the your fault, I think the wrong kind of people are being hired as analysts, half the people I have met have been former consulting fellows, IIM grads who just wanted the highest pay package and finance guys who have no love for tech, I have nothing against any of them, but I think any VC firms would be better off if they hire guys who can relate to founders in some way or the other, it’s not hard to find these guys, these are the guys who would have been running their college entrepreneurship clubs, they would have tried their hand at running small side projects and can talk about trying something audacious and failing. Hire these guys VC firms!
I have been advised to turn TunePatrol into a ringtone business, a Youtube channel, an event management company, and someone once even tried to convince me to move into the fertilizer business (don’t ask), all this is still fine, IF YOU FIRST LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I WANT TO DO, if you call a founder to pitch, let him first do that! You would have been thinking about the business for the past 10 mins, while that guy would have spent all his waking hours (and sometimes even sleeping hours) thinking about his business, so give him the benefit of the doubt and let him tell you things before you ask him to use big data.
Why aren’t you guys blogging? Why aren’t you tweeting? Why aren’t you randomly making useful intros to founders? What is stopping you from giving great feedbacks to products? Why do I not know you from HackerStreet? Why aren’t you volunteering at Hackathons and meetups? WHY? If you email me and I already don’t know you from somewhere as a knowledgeable and overall nice fellow, then you are doing something very wrong.
5. Be honest
Okay, so I know what you can and cannot do, and I am still open to having a coffee with you, so please don’t wonder why I didn’t dress up in my business suit to meet you, and also not making false promises about possible funding helps along with replying to founders when they ask you what happened after they sent you that TAM analysis you asked for.
6. Remember this
As Paul Graham wonderfully put it in his latest post (Go read it here) – “Founders are your customers, and the things they complain about are unsatisfied demand.” I would make this my desktop wallpaper.
This is a guest post by Brijesh Bharadwaj an undergrad student at BITS Pilani and the CEO of TunePatrol.com, a social music discovery platform which aims to built the biggest community for musicians to connect with the ecosystem. Checkout his blog here.
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