Over nearly two years in venture, I’ve had nearly a thousand first meetings or calls with entrepreneurs. In virtually every one, I share some background on Deep Fork, myself, and how I spend time with founders to help give them meaningful context for our conversation and potential relationship working together.
Below, I outline my personal code / principles / standards that I communicate in these conversations and strive to follow before and after an investment I source / lead for us, and how I do my best to achieve this task. Some may seem basic and table stakes, and to be frank, much of it is. But I’ve heard far too many stories about VCs not doing these little things for me to take them for granted. By publicly putting this on “paper,” I hope to accomplish a couple objectives: 1) enable founders with whom I meet to know what to expect from me prior to meeting, thereby allowing them to ask more specific (e.g. helpful) questions when we chat and 2) enable founders and other investors to hold me to this list and call me out if I’m slipping — I’m always seeking to improve.
- Reply to / acknowledge / engage with every single inbound email — have a first meeting or call when appropriate; we’ve invested in one company that came to me via a personalized cold email
- Be as transparent and communicative as possible during the pre-investment process
- Immerse myself in a company’s app / product / service as much as possible; always meet at their office when doable
- Reply to every email relating to a process with a founder—never leave any loose ends
- Do my absolute best to facilitate a seamless evaluation process (i.e. a quick pass if that ends up being the result)
- When passing on an investment, provide a clear reason why, suggest the founder continues to provide updates if she’d like, and offer to help in other ways, if possible
- Offer to make intros to other investors when appropriate
- Always make intros to potential partners, customers, and other “strategics” when I have relevant relationships that could be helpful for a company
- I’m most appreciative of intros to startups that come from founders I previously passed on
- Be “on call” for founders—no problem is too big or too small to justify pinging me via text, email, DM, phone call, snap, etc.
- Be proactive about continuing to make the relevant intros outlined above
- Continue to be transparent and communicative; my best relationships with founders have these traits going both ways
- Send an email during the first week of every month (I missed by 2 days this month as I was out of the country but I was still 100% available and even took a call on the bullet train between Kyoto and Tokyo) asking founders of companies I’ve sourced for us (i.e. ones I work most closely with) what I can do to be immediately helpful; I encourage founders to give me “homework”
- Outside of one-offs, allocate an entire day every week to nothing but portfolio-related work: standing calls / meetings with portfolio founders, ad hoc calls / meetings with portfolio founders, calls / meetings with relevant partners for portfolio companies, calls / meetings with other VCs who may be a good fit to invest in our portfolio companies
I would love to hear any feedback on this code, and for anyone who’s ever worked with me, please let me know if this rings true and if there’s anything I’m missing.