Does a VC’s brand matter?

Suppose you are in the enviable position of choosing between offers from multiple VC firms.  How much should you weigh the brand of the VCs when making your decision?  I think the answer is:  a little, but a lot less than most people assume.

First, let me say the quality of the individual partner making the offer matters a lot.  However, in my experience, there is a only rough correlation between a VC’s brand and the quality of the individual partners there.  There are toxic partners at brand name firms, and great partners at lesser known firms.

There are only two situations I can think of where the firm’s brand really matters.   First, if you manage to raise money from a particular set of the top 5 or so firms, you are almost guaranteed to be able to raise money later at a higher valuation from other firms. In fact, there are VC firms whose explicit business model is simply to follow those top firms.

The other way a VC firm’s brand can help is by giving you credibility when recruiting employees.  This matters especially if you are a first-time entrepreneur whose company is at an early stage.  It matters a lot less if you’re a proven entrepreneur or your company already has traction.

In my opinion that’s about it in terms of the importance of the VC’s brand.  Too many entrepreneurs get seduced into thinking they’ve accomplished something significant by raising money from a name brand VC.  Also, remember that if you are raising a seed round, the better the firm is, the worse it can actually be for you if that firm decides not to participate in follow on rounds.

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