Worth the Price You Pay?

If your search for venture capital feels like it's getting out of hand, maybe you don't need their money after all.

"If I can prevent one person from getting involved with venture capitalists, then I have done a good deed," says Raj Goel. "The fact is, entrepreneurs and VCs don't mix."

If, at the tender age of 30, Raj Goel sounds like he's a scarred veteran of the entrepreneurial battlefield, that's because he is. Goel has been in the IT consulting business since he was 16 years old, and he formally established his current company, New York City-based Brainlink International, in 1994. "We were here long before the dotcoms," he says.

$40 Billion:
Estimated amount of venture capital invested in 2001. $104 billion was invested in 2000
SOURCE: National Venture Capital Association

As the IT world morphed during the late 1990s, so, too, did Brainlink. It wasn't surprising, then, that in late 1999, when the company was positioning itself as a "broadband provider of DSL services," that Goel, like everyone else with the word "broadband" in their corporate curriculum vitae, started to hunt around for institutional venture capital so he could capture what was certain to be an expanding market.

What makes Goel's tale such an instructive one for capital-hungry entrepreneurs is not that he succeeded or failed-or even how he succeeded or failed-but, more important, why he decided to stop the process before it was completed. Goel's gut told him he wasn't going to succeed in his quest and that even if he did, the time and energy he would have to spend on it before he found success would far exceed the benefits he would ultimately derive from institutional venture capital.

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This article was originally published in the December 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Worth the Price You Pay?.

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