According to OpenVC’s Stéphan Nasser, “VCs aren’t your friends” – In other news, water is wet

Stéphan Nasser writing at the OpenVC Blog does his best to enlighten founders (especially first time founders) on what at first seems obvious: VCs aren’t your friends

We don’t really focus as much on funding here, more on product – but I wanted to call this out because I meet so many founders that are so focused on their product and vision, that they fail to see how their pitch appears to the person on the other side of the table – and that’s an issue that doesn’t just show up in outreach and pitch decks, but in product design and business models as well. Its a life skill I am always trying to install in my kids:

Before you say or do anything to another person, stop and think to yourself “How would I feel if I were the other person?” Really put yourself in their shoes, understand them the best you can. If you can do that, you’ll be amazed how often things go better for you.

~ Me, to my kids ALL THE TIME 😩 – I keep praying this soaks in by osmosis

The article was kicked off by a tweet from Jason Lemkin where he says he decided not to take a meeting because the pitch deck in the cold email was 2 months old (dated March, not May)

Many online thought this was shallow and impulsive, but as Stéphan points out, VCs get 10 – 50 cold emails a week, and they can’t take meetings with all of them. If your pitch is not a no-brainer, then you are being run through a checklist of heuristics where the VC is looking for a reason to say “no thanks.” If you’re wondering if you’re pitch is a no-brainer or not – that means its not. No-brainers don’t need to send cold emails – they’re too busy saying “No thanks” themselves.

Despite their friendly demeanor and offers of help – a VC isn’t a friend, therapist, or advisor – they’re an investor. An investor that is first and foremost making sure they aren’t going to lose money. That’s what those heuristics are all about.

Founders however, especially first-time founders, rarely get that nuance. They want to believe that there’s a bunch of nice people who will support their journey with advice, cheers, and yes, money.

This is partly true. Most VCs I’ve met – and I’ve met 100+ at this point – are good human beings and diligent professionals.

But they remain money allocators. …As much as they want to be your friends, the fund comes first (as it should).

~ Stéphan Nasser

Being able to look at your situation from the outside and understand how other people view what you’re doing is a valuable life skill. You shouldn’t always be worried about what people think of you. But if you want to ask someone for a bunch of money, you need to make it your job to know how they value you and your company.

Stéphan at OpenVC has a lot of great resources so you can avoid making mistakes like that, including a pitch deck tutorial a pitch deck template (exclusively for their Premium Members) and an inspiration board of slides from pitch decks: Get inspiration from 1,500+ startup slides. Their blog is on my regular reading list!

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