The Second Time Around

I just answered an interesting question on Quora.  I think it may be interesting to readers of this blog, as well, so I’ll copy it here, too.

If a VC did intense due diligence on my seed round but ultimately passed, should that impact my decision to consider him for a Series A?

Our experience is that by the time we decide to invest in a startup, we have usually interacted with them over a period of time, sometimes at different milestones. There have been instances, where we’d passed at an early point and then decided to invest in a subsequent round.

We pass for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s about fundamentals – the chemistry with the team is just not there for us, or maybe the market size is too small. If we are passing for fundamental reasons, it’s unlikely that we’d ever look to invest later in that company.

However, many times, the pass decision is because we’re just not “quite there” with our investment thesis. In these situations, we try to make sure that the team is getting some value out of their interaction with us. And, we encourage them to stay in touch, come to us with questions, or if there are ways we can be helpful, we try to bring those to bear. Our hope is that we stay close to the company, see if we can get more comfortable with their business along the way – perhaps observe the team as they overcome their challenges, and if at any point along the way, we can come up with an investment model we can feel comfortable with, then make an offer for an investment.

From the company’s standpoint, the decision whether to accept that offer should be a rational one.

They would also have had the opportunity to get to know us along the way. They may have seen us demonstrate the characteristics they would want to see in their investors: whether we “get” them, whether we are smart, hard-working and ethical. Ultimately, the founders’ goal should be to maximize the probability of success for their startup.

In short, the answer to the question should not feel difficult at the point where an offer is on the table from the VC.


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