Why Entrepreneurs Should Not Ignore VC Associates

January 9, 2014


While VC Associates might not possess a “Partner” title, they are still a wealth of information for entrepreneurs of expansion-stage companies.

A recent WSJ blog post by Ed Zimmerman has sparked a lot of internal discussion in the venture world. In the post, Zimmerman refutes a claim by Paul Graham that entrepreneurs should deprioritize, or in some cases ignore, associates at venture funds. Obviously, my stance may be just slightly biased given my role as Research Associate ata OpenView. However, I could not disagree with Graham’s stance more.

3 Reasons Why VC Associates Shouldn’t Be Ignored

1) Even if you’re not ready to raise capital, they can help you be better prepared for when you are

I spend a bulk of my time at OpenView networking and building relationships throughout the B2B software community. In many cases, I am the firm’s first touch point with the startups that we eventually consider for investing purposes. Therefore, it is in my best interest to both leave a favorable opinion of OpenView and educate entrepreneurs on who we are, why we are different, and how we can bring help their company attack a particular market. Having these data points as a founder helps in the fund selection process once you are ready to embark on a capital raise.

2) They are great people to network with

Furthermore, given that Associates tend to be most active individuals on the outreach front, they are the ones then facilitating partner introductions on the back-end.

3) They can be fantastic sounding boards

Associates have their fingers on the pulse of the entrepreneur community and will often surprise you with the depth of their knowledge and insights into particular markets, verticals, etc. In plenty of cases, Associates can be a great sounding board for entrepreneurs. For example, they may present an opportunity to trade notes on market trends.

Don’t Miss Out on Opportunities

The bottom-line is that individuals would be foolhardy to over-look an individual simply because they do not have the partner title. Furthermore, the venture and start-up world is a small community — as a founder or CEO your focus should be on building long lasting relationships with individuals you will most likely cross paths with many times over the years ahead.


Brian is a Partner at OpenView where he is responsible for identifying and evaluating investment opportunities for the firm. He particularly enjoys assessing new markets/technologies and connecting with passionate founders.