Your VCs Aren't Your Parents

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.

Once in a blue moon an entrepreneur will try to play partners at a venture firm against each other — much like a child plays his mum against his dad. That might have worked when you were a kid, but it won’t work with VCs — because VCs are more disciplined than your parents.

The common parenting wisdom suggests that parents always offer the same answer, either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Partners at a venture fund actually follow this wisdom. You should assume that whatever response you get from one partner reflects the will of the entire firm.

One of the most valuable aspects of a partnership is that it allows VCs with different viewpoints to talk through many of the difficult decisions they confront. As a result, VCs spend a lot of time talking about companies with their partners. And even in a case where a VC acts autonomously, the partnership will likely support that viewpoint. As a result, you should always assume that each VC has the whole firm behind him.

Want to roll the dice and try anyway? Don’t. Partners frequently have casual conversations about their deals throughout the week and most firms review a pipeline document every Monday at their partner meeting. As a result, they will uncover your tactics very early in the process. When they figure it, you’ll look like… a child.

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