Connect the Dots for Your VCs and Board

Posted by on March 31, 2008 at 7:20 pm.

connect the dotsI’ve been lucky in my venture career to typically lead deals as the local VC. This has allowed me to be very close and active with the entrepreneurs I back — some may even suggest ‘too active’.

There are many benefits from such a relationship, but one I particular appreciate is the opportunity to see both sides of typical entrepreneur/VC misunderstandings. The large majority of misunderstandings are about communication and little more. In particular, remote VCs/Directors either specifically yearn for more communication or, more often, they take issue with key business decisions that they don’t completely understand because of poor entrepreneur communication.

Here’s why it happens:
1) Entrepreneur lives their business 24/7, developing an intuitive sense for their market, customers, products and competitors — and blindspots to what others don’t already understand about their business;
2) Remote VC/Director focuses on the business at best one week per month, and more likely 2-3 days per month.

Now, if I’m right about this, think about how easy it is for an entrepreneur to forget to communicate 90% of what he/she has learned to inform their decisions. Likewise, think about how skewed/narrow a remote VC’s perspective can be on the details — some of which are critical to significant strategic decisions.

Given the realities of startups and funds, you’re not going to change the typical time commitment of a remote VC board member. A couple things you can do is:
1) Make sure you have a local VC who can help you and remote VCs see the same things; and
2) Over-communicate by ‘Connecting the Dots’ for your VCs. Don’t just share your vision, but share why it’s your vision, how you plan to reach that vision and how you plan to track your progress/forks on the plan.

There are reasons you make the big decisions you do, and you need to share those reasons with your VCs. They may not agree with your conclusions, but at least everyone will have the same key datapoints in front of them. If you’ve done this well, your VCs will be happier, your VCs will provide better guidance and you’ll have even greater trust in the guidance you receive.

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