These days, there are a ton of options for you if you're a startup seeking guidence. Every single topic about running a company has been written about ad nauseum, there are incubators, accelorators, mentoring programs, events, talks, etc. We've done a lot to make sure startups get all the help we can get--and it's leading to higher companies getting off the ground.
But what about investors? How are we supposed to get better?
Not every potentially good VC previously worked for Fred Wilson and Josh Kopelman. Not every VC used to get pitched by VC funds for a living and has seen hundreds and hundreds of VC pitch decks. Yet, even I wished I had more guidance when I was first starting out.
Venture capitalists play an important role in burgeoning ecosystems. They cross pollinate ideas--meeting with lots of different types of stakeholders. They're the only ones whose job it is to meet with the founders, lawyers, technologists, corp dev folks, media, professors, and talent all at the some time, not just to look for deal flow but to improve the quality of the ecosystem these companies are going into. Their guidance and network can also make these companies better. So if you want to make better ecosystems, and better startups, doesn't it stand to reason that you could help the situation by making better VCs?
So what about a Techstars-like program for new VCs? I'd love to be able to have Jim Breyer as my accelorator mentor now that has stepped away from the Accel day to day. In fact, there are lots of VC partners that are winding down their roles that have had very successful careers--where is their knowledge going? How can we leverage them to help create the next generation of VCs?
I'd love to be part of a program where the best VCs come in and share their knowledge on how they did their jobs and lessons learned. In particular, I'm always trying to improve as a board member, but their aren't any programs or classes for that.
Just like a startup accelorator, a VC program would also really help on the fundraising side. There are lots of people who like working with VCs when they're small and still hungry to build up a name for themselves. Aggregating these types of fund investors would make fundraising a lot easier. Maybe the program could even have a funding basket--they'll get you your first million bucks in your first $7mm fund. In all liklihood, if you doled out a few million to first time funds that were being mentored by the best in the business, I'd venture to say your return might be pretty darn good. You certainly wouldn't lose too much of your money, since these are diversified pools.
A program like these could help you work on your strategy and help get you up and running quickly on shared backend tools as well.
I certainly would have signed up for it. I still would. There are a few programs out there like Kaufmann and InSite that get you exposure to the VC world through mentorship, but you join those programs and go work for other people. What I'm talking about is how to get mentorship to launch and run my own fund.
All of these people in my inbox who want to get into VC need to go raise $10mm of institutional capital to fund 10 VCs over the next two years in a VC accelorator program. It would be a great platform to get to know everyone in the business and learn the trade.