The state of venture capital (VC) is hotter than ever before; global funding for 2021 broke $600 billion in comparison to the $334 billion deployed in 2020. However, being “VC-backed” means more than getting capital.
When your startup joins a VC firm as a portfolio company, you are also joining a community of people who want to support you. This plethora of expertise comes from Limited Partners, angel investors, the GP and team, and other portfolio companies. Take time to understand and build relationships within this network, as it is ripe with people who want to see you reach your goals.
Track & Communicate Your Progress & Setbacks
The most proactive startups track their key performance indicators, successes, and setbacks. Moreover, they regularly report this information to their investors and key stakeholders—especially the challenges and setbacks. Too often founders skim over the items that are holding them up, but doing so prevents you from leveraging the expertise from the invaluable network you are part of.
Equally important is learning to use the power of social media to build a narrative and platform to informally share your company’s progress. Get comfortable sharing your achievements (big and small) and asking those around you to help you celebrate.
As a founder, especially first-time founders, it can feel overwhelming to constantly be reporting and sharing updates. In effort to establish a healthy working relationship with investors, take time to map out a cadence that works best, and communicate that to your investors. Be sure to let them know how frequently, and in what form, they can expect to receive updates from you.
Give & Take
As with all relationships, the founder and VC relationship is a two-way street; give and take. You can add value to a VC in a variety of ways, beyond crushing your own company’s growth. For example:
- Introduce other founders or investors to the VC
- Introduce investors on your cap table (or in your network) to other founders in the VC’s portfolio who are raising capital
- Offer to have brainstorming sessions for companies operating in a similar industry who might be earlier in their journey
- Be engaged and amplify the VC’s messaging through events and social media
Conversely, don’t be shy about asking for introductions, referrals, and other resources that can help you and your startup. These “asks” can be as straightforward as an introduction to other investors to fill out a funding round; finding key talent; or a coffee meeting to simply decompress. Keep in mind your success is your VC’s success.