What the heck does a VC do all week anyway?

I have no idea.

I just know what I do--and what I saw partners at other firms I've worked at do.

That's one thing you have to realize about venture capital.  Every single firm is different.  How a partner at a firm spends their time is a function of the number of deals they do, the stage of the company, and their own personal style.  

As a single GP (a firm with one investment decision making professional), I get asked a lot of questions about how I manage my time considering the number of investments I make.  

So, I decided to actually take a look at past data and construct some average days and weekends to figure out where all the time went.  I'm going to go more in depth in future posts, but here's a little bit about what I came up with.

First off, here's what a normal four week period looks like for me:

I seem to lead a colorful life.

I seem to lead a colorful life.

There's some weirdness around seasonality.  I don't kayak in the winter, nor do I do long bike rides.  Actually, I don't do as many of these bike rides as I put down here.  It's more aspirational.  Running races and kayaking usually gets in the way.

And yes, I take every other Monday off.  I realized that I judge a lot of hackathons, pitch competitions and other various things on the weekends, and felt like I was losing at least 2 out of my 8 weekend days--so I gave myself back those days.  I usual get random chores done, or find that one friend who also has weird working hours.  

And here are the big takeaways I came up with:

I don't have a lot of dead time, mostly because I really really like what I do... so instead of watching TV, or doing not much of anything, I'm usually doing something.

There's a ton of times when I'm doing several things at once.  For example, adding in "softball" as something different than "friends" is silly because I've been on the same softball team for 10 years.  By now, we've got couples in and around the team, team babies, and we hangout when we're not playing softball, too.   Softball is also networking, though, because we have some entrepreneurs, another investor, and a left-handed female infielder who works at a venture bank and turns a double play as well as anyone in the league.

E-mail is networking, deal work, due diligence.  It's ever present and always on.  

One thing you won't find is a half day partner meeting--because I don't have partners.  There's a huge time advantage to being able to make decisions without scheduling your partners to come see a deal over multiple meetings.

In case you're curious what the deal funnel means for my time, I did that, too:

Seeing an opportunity could mean an e-mail, a calendar request, a pitch at a demo day, a news item, a LinkedIn position change--really anything that makes me conscious that a new startup might exist.

Out of those, I take about 150 new pitches a year--about 3 a week.  I think that's probably less than most early stage VCs take, but I think I've gotten pretty good at being decisive about what I'm *not* likely to invest in.

I can't think of any company where I made a mistake by not taking the meeting where I think if I had, I would have done the deal.  

Still, despite that harsh filter, roughly 80% of the meetings are pretty automatic turndowns, and I usually do it right there in the meeting.

Of the 30 or so I actually do some extended work on post the pitch, I'll probably wind up doing a little less than a third of those investments--or roughly 9 per year.

In two-thirds of those investments I'm in enough of a lead position where I'm acting as a board member, officially or otherwise.  

When you take into consideration how long I stay in that role (anywhere from 12-18 months) and the mortality rate of the companies, I usually have about 8 of those at any given time.  That also means that about 25-30 of my companies are alive at any given time, but on a steady state basis, I've handed off the bulk of that oversight work to larger investors down the line on the majority of them.

Back to the non-deal part of this, there's a serious advantage to being bald and able to wear a t-shirt and jeans to work.  I probably spend less time in front of a mirror than anyone I know.  

And if I wasn't spending so much time taking care of my physical self, I wouldn't be able to work and live the way I do.  I probably should have started with that.  Your body is the platform by which you build everything else on.

So how much time does all this actually equate to?  I took a stab at that, too, and suggest you do the same.  It's an interesting exercise.  There are weird parts, like board meetings being an hour a day.  They don't work that way--they're much more lumpy.  I try to stagger them to be one on Wednesday, one on Thursday.  That's the nice thing about leading most of these deals.  The board schedules revolve around you when you're the only one that actually asks for regular meetings.

Also, a note on sleep.  I'm a better sleeper than most people I know.  They say you're supposed to get 8 hours, but my time in bed is probably about 99% actual sleep.  I think a lot of people are awake for big parts of that 8 hours.  I don't really wake up at all, according to my Fitbit, usually falling asleep within minutes.  I feel great right up until the point when I'm ready for bed, too--so I feel like I've figured out what really works for me and try hard not to get less than that.  

Oh and you know what else I don't do.  I don't drink alcohol.  It's not a moral thing or any kind of problem.  It's just not something I'm interested in.  (I also seem to be very sensitive to the taste of it, too, so maybe it's kind of cheating.)  That means not a lot of time penciled in for hangovers or slowness the next day.

Here's what I came up with on actual times:

The nice thing about being a bike commuter is that carting myself around from meeting to meeting when I'm outside the office is also exercise.

And, try as I may, I couldn't figure out a way to get more than 24 hours in a day, no matter what formulas I used in the spreadsheet.