Plenty of veteran venture capitalists publish observations about the state of the funding universe. Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, and Mark Suster, for example, all have blogs that reveal their day-to-day musings. But what do new VCs have to say about the 2014 landscape? Rookie VC Semil Shah recently shared his insights.
Shah started a VC fund called Haystack about one year ago. So far, he's made 17 investments. In a fascinating post, he shared nine personal observations which, he disclaims, are "based off my limited experience and [are] only a reflection of my personal experience."
Which is exactly why they're fascinating. Here are three of them:
1. Soft skills matter. In other words, you must behave with a professional temperament. Divas need not apply. "How a founder emails, talks on the phone, interacts with everyone in an office, etc. is noticed," he writes. "That's not to say the founder needs to be a pillar example of manners, but much of this is a people business and inevitably, during a negotiation or somewhere down the line, some awkward or uncomfortable scenarios will arise."
2. Adversarial gestures will only hurt you. There's an idea, floating around the world of VC-advice, that it's "OK or necessary to take on an adversarial stance against investors, that it's founders fighting a good fight against the detached gatekeepers who call themselves investors." Shah strongly disputes this idea. For one thing, VCs are potentially going to be working with founders for several years. In such a long-term relationship, adversarial behavior is only going to "short-circuit any potential chemistry" and harm what's supposed to be a mutually beneficial and enjoyable partnership.
3. Nothing happens overnight. "These things may seem like shotgun weddings, but in reality, Big VCs 'track' potential investments and founders that catch their eyes for months and months," he writes. Moreover, as the previous observations have hinted at, there's more to dealmaking than finding an exponentially scalable startup in a burgeoning market. There's the soft side. "They usually hang out, often socially, and develop a relationship," he adds. "Both sides are sizing each other up, and the little things matter."