So who the heck are our clients?
Recently, a family member asked my permission to analyze Glilot Capital for an assignment for her MBA degree. I was more than willing to do so. We had just started when something strange happened — we were unable to answer one simple question: who are the clients of Glilot (or any VC, for that matter)? For most businesses, this issue is clear-cut. Regardless of whether you are a local grocery store or a global tech behemoth, it doesn’t require an MBA degree to determine who a company’s clients are. Yet, we were struggling to find an answer.
Maybe our clients are the investors (aka our Limited Partners). We serve them by generating superior returns for them. They chose us for our returns on investment and, hopefully, if we consistently provide good results, they will continue investing in our future funds.
But there is another way to approach this question: any company that raises funds aims to provide good results to investors; however, those investors are not necessarily its ‘clients’. Thus, we consider that maybe our clients are actually the entrepreneurs we invest in. They chose us for various reasons and rely on us to help them build a viable business. They want us to provide them with a wide range of services from financial backing to business support, and everything in between.
This turned into an interesting internal debate about who our clients truly are. It may seem like a superfluous discussion to some, but it wasn’t to me. It is inherently strange to not know who your clients are, because this simple question defines the way you drive your business. I believe that in good organizations clients have top priority in getting the products, services, and resources they need. Their happiness is the main growth driver in any healthy organization.
So whose happiness are we most aligned with? To whom do we allocate most of our resources? Since we founded Glilot, we have always been proud of the fact that most of our resources have been allocated to help the entrepreneurs — which means no investor relations shindigs or fancy schmancy LP meetings (we actually ran our first LP meeting around six years after establishing the fund).
Does this mean that our limited partners are not considered our clients? Not quite — at the end of the day, we strongly believe in putting forth huge efforts into our portfolio companies, which, in turn, makes our investors happy in the long run. In this sense, we’re almost like a platform. Most platforms have more than one single group of clients: Google needs both advertisers and consumers to be happy; eBay needs both buyers and sellers to be happy; Youtube needs both producers and viewers to be happy. Glilot and VC’s are no different — there is no single client; we need both investors and entrepreneurs to be happy.
What do you think?