Being friendly has become a competitive advantage in VC

Over the last decade or two, the supply of venture capital dollars has increased dramatically at the same time as the cost of building tech startups has sharply decreased.  As a result, the balance of power between capital and startups has shifted dramatically.

Some VCs understand this. The ones that do try to stand out by, among other things, 1) going out and finding companies instead of expecting them to come to them, 2) working hard on behalf of existing investments to establish a good reputation, and 3) just being friendly, decent people.  Believe it or not, until recently, #3 was pretty rare.

As a seed investor in about 30 companies, I’ve been part of many discussions with entrepreneurs about which VC’s they want to pitch for their next financing round.  More and more, I’ve heard entrepreneurs say something like “I don’t want to talk to that firm because they are such jerks.” In almost all cases these are well-known, older firms who come from the era when capital was scarce.

Every experienced entrepreneur I know has a list of “toxic” VCs they won’t deal with. (Often because of horror stories like the “partner ambush“). There are so many VCs out there that you can do this and still have plenty of VCs to pitch to get a fair price for your company and only deal with decent, helpful investors. It sounds kind of crazy, but being a reasonably nice person has become a competitive advantage in venture capital.

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