Why VCs Should Think Like Entrepreneurs
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Overheard at the wine bar at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif.: A dude, probably 23, annoyingly tanned and unwrinkled, sandal-wearing and talking loudly on his iPhone (while messing around on his iPad)."We're starting this, and we're starting it next week. No, no.
No seed money. The word I've gotten is no seed money. We want to go big. We want VC. This is too big for my dad. This is the big one and it will change ... the world of video game consoles."
A few things here: First of all, talk less at wine bars and, if you must do so, please speak quietly. (You never know who is sitting next to you.) Second, don't poo-poo seed money. Sheesh. Third (bonus round), if you want VC, let's talk for a sec about your idea.
Big ideas have the power to change the world, even if it's in a small way. Your fancy, non-dad-funded video game console might just be the next big hoo-ha. In other words, you don't have to be Steve Jobs to create a sensation. But your idea must make some sort of impact. (Also--and here comes the crass part -- it must make money.)
Think of it this way: If you have an idea that will change the way someone does something, experiences something, buys something or (and this is the granddaddy of them all) thinks about something, you have a Big Idea. You will recognize it when it hits you because you will lose sleep, forget things and have an eye for nothing else. Your spouse will find you annoying.
As an entrepreneur, you see things in your ideas that other people don't see, which makes the communicating of such ideas a tad tricky -- especially when attempting to raise money. What you see and what a VC sees are likely very different things. While you may easily get lost in the possibilities of your video game console, what a VC sees is the last page of your deck, where the financials reside. VCs start at the end and move backward. It's like a reverse presentation.
Perhaps what the world needs now is a VC who thinks more like an entrepreneur and less like a VC. Enter Steve Case. He is the tireless godfather of innovation, disruption and entrepreneurial thinking. His Revolution fund is investing in companies whose big ideas range from analytics to luxury spas. If your idea can truly make an impact, he'll spot it. What's more, he's lobbying tirelessly on your behalf for legislation that will help ease your fundraising pain. If ever there was an evangelist for entrepreneurs, he is it.
So, wine-bar denizens, stop talking about VC and read Case's story. Your dad will thank you. But meanwhile, don't forget: Seed money is not a bad option.
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy