tale of two VCs

so, even though we’re not raising money right now, we’re getting a lot of calls and emails from VCs at Rapleaf. we got 6 unsolicited emails this week. we got 8 last week. these are mainly from VCs i don’t know.

the typical email is “I love Rapleaf … great service … you have a brilliant idea … let’s meet”. but … but … i check and they are not even Rapleaf members. maybe they signed up under a different email address … maybe …

before a VC approaches a consumer Internet company, they should first become a member and use the product. invite a few friends. and give input to the company on how they can improve. that way, the company management team sees some value from the VC.

i had lunch today with a great VC. a guy i never met before … we went to a cheap chinese place for lunch (my favorite) and he gave me THREE great ideas. THREE! he obviously spent a lot of time thinking about Rapleaf. i felt bad when he paid for lunch because i really owed him. guess what?? when he calls me again i’m going to rush to answer him. and i am going to refer other entrepreneurs to him. and i really look forward to seeing him again.

then, after lunch, i got another email from a VC. Here is the email:

Hello . My name is [first last] — I am part of the [removed] investment team at [very large VC firm], a global venture capital fund with over [a lot of money] under management.

I have read a little bit about Rapleaf and, while I only have very basic information at this point, am interested in connecting with you for a few minutes to learn more and to assess whether there might be an opportunity for [very large VC firm] to be helpful to your firm as a potential investor. To the extent that you may be interested in a venture partner, could you please tell me a little bit about the company’s vision, and financing history / status. If you would prefer speaking directly, please let me know when you could be available for a brief phone call over the next few days and we can arrange.

while this email is very nice and professional, it shows that this VC did little homework on the site. i did not see that he is a Rapleaf member (and he made no mention of it). if i was in his shoes, i would have sent a different email:

Rapleafers — I love what you guys are doing. if you are successful, you will actually make it “more profitable to be ethical” (i love your tagline!). I signed up and rated a few people. and they rated me back (my Rapleaf score is X at the moment). of course, i don’t fully understand what you are doing but have some ideas on marketing and I know the CEOs of CommerceSite1 and BarterSite2 I can introduce you to (if you don’t already know them). i’ll be in SF on Aug 11 — want to grab coffee?

[and added his Rapleaf score to the bottom signature of his email]

(this is someone I would cancel meetings for). can you feel the energy and enthusiasm? the willingness to help? this fictional VC would win every deal.

oh, it is a tale of two VCs…

8 thoughts on “tale of two VCs

  1. SortiPreneur

    Thoughts on Private Capital

    There’s an interesting conversation looking at capital availability in private markets, the returns in VC and PE funds, and whether there’s a current asset inflation. Peter Rip offers:I think VC valuations have historically lagged and not led the publi…

  2. Ken Berger

    Reminds me of the meme as described in Pink Floyd’s song “Have a Cigar”:
    “The band is just fantastic that is really what I think, oh by the way, which one’s Pink?”
    When you’re hot many folks want to follow you, or get the chance to attach to you, without even caring about knowing you. “They call it riding the gravy train”.

  3. TJ

    great post!
    Know we know how to talk you into a deal 🙂
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Larry Chiang

    Registering as a user might be hard for a VC to do as it would require putting on the consumer hat. The thinking there is I invest in china telecom, but I don’t use a chinese cell phone (oh wait that’s a bad example b/c they do)
    VCs are doing the wooing of entrepreneurs at events like Stirr and SV NewTech Meetup. VCs also woo privately with meals, mocha and even a concert or two.
    Auren, I think you’re right and I think there’s a shift in power towards entrePs. Maybe someday there’ll be a VC pitch where five VCs stand in front of a crowd and beg to get deal flow.

  5. Ted Rheingold

    I know I’m late to this entry and all but …
    An investor that does not understand the product without having to be walked through it will likely never be a good investor of that product. If such an investor does come on board, later they will believe they can actually give sound advice and road map directions. It’s funny how they rarely see that just having the money isn’t enough. Such investors are just trying to put their money somewhere they can validate to their board. They think a 1 in 5 success rate is great and often forget the new company founders are working their tails off for a 1 in 1 success rate.

  6. Owen Cunningham

    love the post Auren. I actually forwarded it on to the company that does our sales training.


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