This question originally appeared on Quora: What makes a VC "entrepreneur-friendly" or "founder-friendly"?
If I were to do this again, I would look for two primary ingredients in my investors:
1. Operating experience--especially in early stage companies
When it comes to empathy, there is no substitute for direct experience. Unless an investor has been in the trenches, it's very hard for them to understand the plight of the entrepreneur and to know how to support them accordingly.
2. Confidence that emanates from a successful track record
Seasoned investors don't get hysterical when things go wrong. They trust their judgement, and can fend off antsy partners or insecure board members who might otherwise interfere and do more harm than good.
A founder-friendly VC is one that recognizes that happy founders = productive founders.
A founder-friendly VC is one that chooses teams they trust to kick ass without hand holding.
A founder-friendly VC is one that lends a hand while keeping out of a startup's way.
A founder-friendly VC is one that actually adds value to the startup. This is easy to find out--just ask the founders of a VC's portfolio companies.
A founder-friendly VC works for the entrepreneur, not the other way around.
A founder-friendly VC fights for their entrepreneurs, in public and in private, through good times and bad.
Read Ben Horowitz's posts linked to from
What Ben wrote gives you insight into what entrepreneur-friendly means.
It means working together instead of taking an adversarial position as an investor.
It means being active instead of passive aggressive.
It means being part of the solution instead of just pointing out problems.
It means doing what's best for the company and not just what's best for the VC fund.
What surprises me is how many VCs are NOT entrepreneur-friendly. It's like they don't care that we all talk to each other and trade notes at places like 106 Miles:
VCs currently enjoy a lot of power in Silicon Valley, so maybe that is why many do not care if they are entrepreneur friendly. They're hoping the power in Silicon Valley doesn't shift.
If it does shift, the ones unfriendly to entrepreneurs will be unable to find a chair when the music stops.
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