Friday, March 18, 2011

Venture Capital is more than Money

The U.S. venture industry provides the capital to create some of the most innovative and successful companies. But venture capital is more than money.

Venture capital partners become actively engaged with a company, typically taking a board seat. With each startup, daily interaction with the management team is common. This limits the number of startups in which any one fund can invest.

Few entrepreneurs approaching venture capital firms for money are aware that they essentially are asking for 1/6 of a person! Yet that active engagement is critical to the success of the fledgling company. Many one- and two-person companies have received funding but no one- or two person company has ever gone public!

Along the way, talent must be recruited and the company scaled up. Ask any venture capitalist who has had an ultra-successful investment and he or she will tell you that the company that broke through the gravity evolved from the original business plan concept with the careful input of an experienced hand.

Venture capital firms are professional, institutional managers of risk capital that enables and supports the most innovative and promising companies. This money funds new ideas that could not be financed with traditional bank financing, that threaten established products and services in a corporation, and that typically require five to eight years to be launched.

For every 100 business plans that come to a venture capital firm for funding, usually only 10 or so get a serious look, and only one ends up being funded. The venture capital firm looks at the management team, the concept, the marketplace, fit to the fund’s objectives, the value-added potential for the firm, and the capital needed to build a successful business.

A busy venture capital professional’s most precious asset is time. These days, a business concept needs to address world markets, have superb scalability, be made successful in a reasonable timeframe, and be truly innovative. A concept that promises a 10 or 20 percent improvement on something that already exists is not likely to get a close look.

Thanks to the Research Team at the National Venture Capital Association for an outstanding job they are doing for us in the venture community!