There has been multiple studies suggesting that more and more businesses are relying on bootstrapping / angel money to start their business and are not too keen on the venture capital, at least in the initial days. A part of this is because of the decreased cost of starting a company and lower development costs because of the open source tools AND the other part is because of the keenness of entrepreneurs to have more control of the company – for as long as possible.
The question to be asked here is: Why are entrepreneurs worried about VC investments, when the VCs truly bring in much more value than just the money?
Guy Kawasaki has a great post on The Venture Capital Aptitude Test (VCAT) that created quite a buzz in the blogosphere. He writes his thoughts on the right time for a person to become a venture capitalist and points to a test that can help you figure out your VCAT. He stresses on the fact that one should become a venture capitalist after they have had the shiitake kicked out of them.
I agree. It is very hard for an entrepreneur to trust a VC who doesn’t have the necessary background in the activities that the entrepreneur is carrying out and the experience in having run (or be a part of) a startup. Somebody who has never answered the board from a management team’s position almost always never understand how is it to run a company. So, while it is important to have people in your board who are independent Directors and aren’t involved in the day-to-day running of company, it is also important for the management team to be able to respect them. The respect comes automatically when the entrepreneur knows that the board member can (and does) empathize with the issues / challenges faced in a company and yet can give open and critical feedback.
Generally speaking – I am quite neutral about my impressions about Venture Capitalists. In fact, it’s been much more on the positive side than the negative side, based on my interaction. But it’s baffling to know that most companies (funded and not-funded) I have talked to have not-so-good things to say about the VCs. On the other hand – everybody have good things to say about angel investors.
Am I just plain lucky (and I have interacted with VCs who would clearly fail the VCAT)? Or is it that Guy Kawasaki has over-generalized his test? India has its own unique problems. On one hand – we need serial entrepreneurs who have been ‘successful’ in the past and not just the 1st generation entrepreneurs AND on the other hand, we need Venture Capitalists who have been entrepreneurs before.
Unfortunately, I can not think of more than just a few names when it comes to people who have successfully build even a USD 50 million plus business in the last many years. There are people who have successfully exited on a valuation of less than USD 10 million dollar business but I am not sure if I can term them as being ‘really successful’ or not. But this is a never-ending process where more entrepreneurs will exit out of their venture in case of acquisition – what will be interesting is how many of them chooses to start again and how many becomes VCs? Of course – there are other options as well, based upon the interest and the exit valuation.