David Pakman co-created Apple’s Music Group and worked for three digital music start-ups before finding his real calling as a venture capitalist.
Now he’s a partner at Venrock and has invested in companies like Klout, Dstillery and even Apple. But his early entrepreneur experiences shaped those ventures and help him stand out as a star investor in a competitive field.
Pakman sat down with OneWire CEO Skiddy von Stade and gave these three tips on how to best to source deals as a VC based on all he’s seen in his career (so quite a bit):
(1) Develop an area of expertise
These days investors are chomping at the bit to fund start-up digital media companies — “and everyone’s money’s just as green,” Pakman said.
So Venrock capitalists strive to add more than just capital to their ventures.
“Venrock’s been around for more than 40 years and has invested in many of the world’s most incredible companies,” Pakman said. “The belief is that we’ve seen this show before and we can offer some guidance to an entrepreneur.”
(2) Get some experience as an entrepreneur
Not only does Venrock have that kind of expertise, but Pakman does too.
“I’ve started and ran companies, so I’ve seen that grind,” he said.
Pakman said new entrepreneurs tend to be short-sighted and focused on the next few weeks or months ahead. So he aims to provide longer-term wisdom to his partners.
“I try to help entrepreneurs see around corners,” he said.
(3) Understand and share your partners’ vision — because you’re going in for the long haul
Pakman said entrepreneurs must feel that you see eye to eye with them, sense the same macro trends taking place, and share a long-term vision.
It can take years to get a start-up company where you want it to go.
“So you have to be aligned with the same super long-term vision as an entrepreneur, and I think that’s another way to differentiate,” he said.
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