Being Able to Say No to VCs
Paul O'Brien

I believe that the general partners at Venture Capital firms are generally interested in seeing businesses do well: no matter if they invest in them or not. What I love most of all when meeting with them is being challenged on my business model by smart folks

Their questions are often really well thought out. It doesn’t mean that they are always right. Two cases in point:

Recently we had two different general partners at two different firms (one in Austin and one in San Francisco) challenge our thesis about who the right customer was for our company. It turns out that both of them didn’t understand our business model and by asking very similar questions, they were telling us that we were not doing a good job explaining it to them. Our bad.

The first one held on to their belief that we were wrong — even after we pointing out that we asked some of the largest companies in the group they wanted us to go after and their answers to the question were all the same: a resounding “heck no with an emphatic ‘never!’.”

The second VC got it after further explanation although they wished that the answers from those companies were different.

In the end a venture capitalist cannot be an expert in every industry and vertical. They apply their proven approaches to various areas of the business. They have a recipe, but good cooks know that sometimes you need to ditch the recipe to cook a new dish.

Your business model should be new and exciting. Otherwise you are just a boring old copy-cat of a previous dish and most VC’s don’t like eating what appears to be leftovers.