Monday, September 30, 2013

Entrepreneurs Need To Take The Initiative In The Investor Relationship

I enjoyed Bilal Zuberi's post on avoiding a lazy VC/CEO relationship":

Bilal's point is that entrepreneurs are just as much to blame for the fact that many VCs don't add that much value to their investments.

I think it's useful to introduce an analogy that might resonate with young entrepreneurs, so that they can have an intuitive understanding of the need to be proactive with VCs.

Investors are like college professors--the value you get out depends on the effort you put in.

When you were a college student, you could simply show up to class, take notes, and turn in your papers and exams, or you could make the effort to really engage your professor.

It is possible to garner straight As without ever showing up to office hours, but developing a real relationship can pay off in ways that go far beyond a simple grade.

A typical investor has more than 10 active investments at a time (some may have orders of magnitude more).  Do you think that investor is going to carefully take the time to allocate equal attention to every startup?  Heck no.  Investors help the entrepreneurs who engage with them, just like professors help the students who engage with them.

Board meetings are like midterms--they are required, but you shouldn't rely on them to develop your relationship.  If you go above and beyond (without making yourself a pest), your investors will go above and beyond for you.

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