CEOs: When a VC Calls, Keep an Open Mind
Even though I connect with a long list of startups on a weekly basis, there are always those that stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, in many cases it is not because said companies are growing like a weed and looking to raise money from OpenView. While these interactions get the team excited and kick off a diligence process on our end, some of the conversations I remember most do not result in an investment and instead leave a rather sour taste in my mouth.
My colleagues and I completely understand that being on the management team of an expansion stage company can be stressful to say the least. You are consumed with growing your company into something special, and at any given moment you can have 10 people tugging at your shirtsleeves vying for your attention, if only for a few minutes … there is budget work to be done here, we have key positions that need to be filled, there is a big client in the pipeline that we need to lock up…..the list goes on and on. With all of these tasks building up, I understand that fielding calls or meetings from potential investors can be a big distraction from what matters most to the business at a certain point in time. Furthermore, in many cases these CEOs have been burned by VC funds in the past, thus leaving a sour taste in their mouth. Other funds have perfected the art of not following up with prospects after that initial interaction as well, another sure fire way to give the venture industry a bad rap.
That being said, let me stress to you that we are not all the same, and I am here to explain why OpenView strays from the norm in so many ways!
As it is often said, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Therefore, I am quite surprised when these individuals’ responses to our queries are filled with nothing but harsh words mixed with a little spite. While I completely respect that your time is precious, a courteous “thanks but the timing is off” will certainly do. Also, in many instances I have referred prospect companies to other funds that may be a better fit given their particular stage, or even potential clients or partners that could prove beneficial to one another.
My point is, if you go into a meeting with the right attitude and mentality, there is plenty to be gained if you keep an open mind.