Paul Kedrosky has a great article up on PE Week Wire about Venture Capital Best Practices. His conclusion – “There are no best practices in venture capital. You’ve either got it, or you don’t.”
Interesting article… yet, how EASY would it be to list venture capital WORST practices — all the things you’ve seen VCs do that make it harder rather than easier for the companies to be successful, the things they do that complicate deals without making it any more likely that they will make money? My list would be lengthy and I’m sure it just scratches the surface of yours.
So if you have no best practices but you do have worst practices, what does that say? It says that VCs are a hygiene factor – they can’t really make things successful directly; all they can do is avoid action (or inaction on basic things) that get in the way of the entrepreneur.
Then, as far as picking companies/teams/technologies goes, I completely agree that VCs either have it or they don’t. But gut instinct is not an un-analyzable force that people are born with. Instead, it comes from a complex synthesis of a large number of examples and outcomes. An analogy is radiology: radiologists learn to identify conditions (such as cancer) by looking at tens of thousands of x-ray examples and getting feedback on the right answer. It’s not about “there’s a circular thing over here” or “there’s a dark line over there.” The synthesis is not expressible in language because the various factors weigh together in highly complex ways. But when you’re done, you know it when you see it.
Similarly, a good VC is *likely* to be one who has seen or studied many examples and has paid attention to the details and the outcomes, and further has worked hard to analyze what factors mattered in each case.
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