What It's Really Like Being A Venture Capitalist

Ross Fubini

Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider

A lot of people think venture capitalists have it easy.All they have to do is meet with startups and hand out thousands (or millions) of dollars.

Ross Fubini, an investor at Kapor Capital, told us what it’s really like to be a venture capitalist.

He meets with hundreds of startups every year, fends off other investors, and help his companies constantly by making connections and offering advice.

Before becoming a venture capitalist, Fubini was a founder himself. He sold his company CubeTree to SuccessFactors in 2010.

Fubini started down the investment path with the intention of joining another company.

He had so much fun working with portfolio companies like Palantir, Causes, and Life360, that he decided to stay a venture capitalist. 

“I want my companies to be successful. I want them to hire the right people, hire the right venture partners, and get the right customers. I work hard to make companies happy and accomplish their goals,” he said.

To do this, Fubini spends a lot of time with his portfolio companies. Life360 co-founder Chris Hulls says Fubini is a guy who will meet one on one.

“We go over operations and finance. He reaches out to his network to see who will be helpful. I can bring in part of my team and talk through issues. He’s quite helpful. We are trying to become a very product and design driven company. Fubini isn’t a designer, but he introduced us to Elliot Loh, who was a designer at Yammer and a former VP of product at Geni. Fubini brought him on as an advisor,” Hulls said.

That’s half the job.

The other part of the job is scouting for other companies to invest in. We often bump into him at startup parties, including the Founders Den demo day.

Since he invests in early stage startups, he looks for a good team, which Fubini says is more important that the product. He’s interested in health startups and education.

One of his concerns about the Valley is how easy it is to start a company and raise money. Sometimes companies go through startup accelerators like Y Combinator and come out with significant seed financing. After the program is over, the companies continue to exist when there’s no real business, Fubini says.

“The most exciting thing about a businesses ending are what will come after it,” Fubini says. He used Odeo shutting down as an example. It freed up Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams so they could create Twitter.

Another part of Fubini’s job is to help a company get acquired if things aren’t going well. 

Fubini’s extensive background as a founder who has scaled a company has made him a particularly good mentor to startups.

“He’s been a great mentor to me over the past year,” Matt Mahan of the app Causes tells us. “He’s been willing to meet with me on a regular basis to think strategically how to build our business. He’s been generous with his time, helping mentor someone younger than him, who has never had the experience of scaling a company before. He knows that — more important than money — is the advice and introductions VCs can make.”

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