Davis: Why You Should Suck Up to Those VC Peons


SAI contributor Mark Davis is a venture capitalist at DFJ Gotham.  He writes Get Venture, a blog aimed at helping entrepreneurs trying to raise money from VCs.  Many more of Mark’s contributions here. 

One secret to efficient business communication is figuring out who you can ignore.  For most first-time  entrepreneurs in a VC pitch meeting, the safe bet usually seems to be that possibly-prepubescent guy with the notepad in the corner of the room.

Most VCs have analysts, associates and principals working below their partners and managing directors. These junior staffers can be as young as 22. While it is true that the younger they are the less influence they typically have on investment decisions, you should never write them off.
Junior members of the investment team play a significant role in shaping the partnership’s view of your company. Not only do they voice opinions that influence the collective viewpoint, they lead diligence efforts and synthesize findings, which are critical to the whole team’s decision making.  Also, importantly, they’re often the only people in the firm who would ever consider using your fascinating new technology.

Statisticians have identified a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias describes people’s innate tendency to interpret and shade research to support their initial hypothesis. While investment professionals strive to be independent of this bias, when one member of the VC team likes you and your company, the others will be more inclined to draw conclusions in your favour.

In sum, it’s worth your time to engage, befriend and sell those VC peons.

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