I saw this post on the Get Venture blog with a top 10 list for "VC best practices in dealing with entrepreneurs." It reminds me of that movie What Women Want. While it’s directionally correct, Mark misses the point (from an entrepreneur’s perspective). You could argue that VC best practice doesn’t take that into account, but I’ll leave that to someone else.
Anyway, I thought I’d take a crack at redoing the list and write it from the entrepreneur’s perspective:
- Be respectful of entrepreneurs and their efforts – remember that they are changing the world.
- Handle sensitive information carefully.
- Be forthcoming if you are evaluating competitive opportunities.
- Be honest about your intentions.
- Respond as promptly as possible.
- Help entrepreneurs when possible regardless of whether or not you intend to invest.
- Ensure that entrepreneurs share in the upside.
- Be an active board member.
- Pursue the exits that are best for everyone around the table.
- Support the entrepreneurial community.
- Be respectful. Remember the rules from Mrs. Wentworth, your 1st grade teacher? Say "please," "thank you" and be nice? Yup. Same rules.
- Don’t steal. Handle "carefully"? Like what, don’t drop it?
- Don’t lie. That means directly or by omission.
- Be honest. About everything (including intentions).
- Respond promptly. You don’t have to wait a week to make it look like you thought about it. Just say no.
- Help entrepreneurs. It’s like charity…if nothing else, you get good karma.
- Compensate entrepreneurs fairly. "Fairness" is a tough thing to define but is a good goal.
- Add value beyond money. No one cares how active you are (I take that back…less activity is better).
- Meet your fiduciary responsibilities. Put yourself in all constituent’s shoes and act accordingly.
- Do something (unexpected) to support entrepreneurs.
Of course, the problem is that there are a lot of wack-job entrepreneurs out there that harass VCs and so a natural protective measure is for VCs to treat entrepreneurs as guilty-until-proven-innocent. You don’t see it as an entrepreneur but when I was pretending to be a VC (as EIR) I saw some crazy stuff (like a guy who snuck into the office and was wandering around trying to pitch folks on his plan!). Who knows…maybe Mark is right…