About 4.5 years ago Todd, Santo and Paul told me about their plan to start a new venture capital firm. They didn’t have a name yet (actually they did but it was horrible.) They asked me to join and by july 2005 we raised our first fund, Spark 1.
Before Spark, I had worked at a number of great companies and some amazing startups. Some worked out much better than others. And some changed my life. But this was my first position as a venture capitalist.
So now, roughly four years later, I thought I would jot down my observations about my VC life.
It’s all about the people. There is a well regarded entrepreneur saying “it’s about the partner, not the firm”. I get the logic and I’ve said it before as well. But this is not an individual sport. The partners at a VC firm need to be in sync otherwise investment decisions can become frustrating or worse. I am grateful about the team we have built at Spark and how we make decisions. We aren’t always right of course but I’m proud about our culture, respect and process.
Stereotypes don’t work. They don’t work in life and they sure as heck don’t work in the world of VC. We have entrepreneurs with and without experience. With and without technical degrees. East coast and west coast. I co-invest with some seasoned VCs and some younger guys. Some have operating experience and others have zero. No correlation.
Picking your co-investor is absolutely critical. I can’t say enough about how important this is.
The learning process is never ending. New markets, new technology, new models. Humbling and thrilling at the same time.
It’s is frustrating to lose a deal.
It’s hurts like hell when a company doesn’t work out.
Before becoming a vc, I read bill gurley’s “Above the Crowd”, Fred Wilson’s blog (avc.com), Brad Feld (Feld.com) and David Hornik (ventureblog.com). I started blogging because of those guys.
I know how hard entrpreneurs work. I try my best to balance being helpful and direct and at the same time letting Mgmt do their job. When I first started as a VC this was a real challenge for me. It still is but i think I’m getting better at it. I often (always?) want to help our companies with biz dev and product issues. And sometimes they let me do that :)
Connecting our entrpreneurs with great hires or partners or investors is extremely satisfying.
Four years ago, I didn’t really know about the world of firms and foundations that invest in venture capital funds (our limited partners). I do now. It’s very interesting.
It is absolutely an honor and a pleasure to work with entrepreneurs that are trying to change the world. That’s the best part about this job. No doubt.
(I wrote this post on an iPhone. Pls excuse any typos)