The blog post is motivated by an article by knowledge@wharton business school with the title “The Next Generation of Investor-Startup Ecosystem“. I have written a lot about the need for Investors to be empathetic to Startup Founders and how value gets destroyed when that does not happen. I have seen it too often that Investors arbitrarily change the dynamics of a discussion with the Entrepreneur especially when it is time to commit on the amount of investment and value of the investment. There was also a blog post on Wall Street Journal based on a Twitter burst by Marc Andreessen about investors coming into Silicon Valley and get ahead of the other local investors by initially suggesting a very high value to the Entrepreneur only to use the Due Diligence phase to negotiate the value down and also to box out the Entrepreneur. A lot of dirty tricks to watch out for especially if you are an Entrepreneur and new to the game. These discussions also show an ominous sign that things are starting to get too frothy in the Startup Universe especially in Silicon Valley. A number of startups are taking in more money than they ever will need for the next 3 to 5 years.
Macro trends matter, the time of cheap money will end and then the cost of funding will go up and then this froth will dry up, taking that into account many large startups like Quora, Uber, Fab etc have taken in multiple Tens of millions of dollars. Here is the article that outlines this trend. All this being said, the important thing that remaining is the struggle of the entrepreneur and those investors who stand on the side of the entrepreneur to say be strong as I am on your side. I see so little of that with the investor community. I struggle a lot with the same challenges that I write about. My dream is that we are able to create a vibrant Startup Community in Iceland. I am happy to see that entrepreneurs have more options now with accelerators and the flurry of discussion arounds money flowing into the entrepreneurial companies, however ventures follow a power law where the top 1% take majority of the funds. Despite all these challenges if entrepreneurs have bargaining power to demand that Investors bring more than money into the game, that would be a great win. Here are some excerpts from the article by Wharton which I thought was great:
As investors ask for proof of sustainability, startups in turn want backers to help them grow instead of just writing a check. The explosion of incubators and accelerators like Y-Combinator, 500 Startups, RocketSpace, Rock Health, Plug and Play and others is in large part attributable to this need. Even many institutional VC firms, such as Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and Sequoia, are selling more than money. “Other things like the operational metrics, recruiting capability, marketing and industry expertise and connections, these things have become hugely important,” says Chaudhuri.
Did I mention that I am big believer in Accelerators? I think creating more accelerators that are focused on specific industries is another way to create better Investor-Startup Ecosystem, for example there was a suggestion to create an accelerator in Iceland focused on Tourism and Hospitality. I think that is awesome, creates so many tangents of value that it solves big challenges for Investors and Entrepreneurs. I love the following video that shows the relationship between the some of the Entrepreneurs and Venture Investors. I would build the same relationship with every entrepreneur that I will back. That is a promise.