NPS for Venture Capital: Measuring Customer Feedback (Part 1)

Tyrion Lannister, (Episode 3, Season 7)

At C4 Ventures, we’d obviously like to believe we’re great investors and are very good in our relationship with entrepreneurs. But we listen to Tyrion (and probably watch too much Game of Thrones) and we decided to measure it properly.

In the team, we all have an operational background: we’ve managed P&L, hired many people, launched new products and also talked to many customers, going as far as the Orange mantra “always behave as if the customer was in the room” so measuring our customer satisfaction seemed obvious to me.

Measuring customer feedback

For an investment fund, customers mean both the fund’s investors but also the entrepreneurs we meet every day. We see C4 Ventures as a firm more than a fund and consider ourselves entrepreneur as much as investor. Measuring our customers’ satisfaction means working on the feedback to be even better….

We thought really hard about the proper way to do it. E.g most companies track their “Net Promoter Score” (NPS): it’s measured by asking consumers to rate how likely they are to recommend a given product or service to a friend on a scale of zero to ten. Zero to six marks denote a detractor, while nines and tens are promoters. The NPS is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors so it can vary between -100 and 100.

Going beyond NPS

We wanted to measure more than just NPS but at the same time, keep the survey short. We were looking for an approach which delivers enough volume of answers to be meaningful, offers consistency between answers and allows entrepreneurs to provide an honest and direct feedback, ie not being afraid that it would drive our decision to pursue.

We initially thought of an anonymous survey, but we quickly realised that to provide an honest and comprehensive feedback, the entrepreneur would very likely “reveal” elements that would identify him/her.

To circumvent that, we decided to use an “escrow” concept: the survey request is sent right after the initial discussion, but answers are locked and can’t be viewed for 6 weeks. Beyond this period, we would either have already declined the opportunity or be so advanced in our Due Diligence that the result of the feedback from the first meeting wouldn’t influence us anymore.

There wasn’t any off the shelves system that supported the escrow principle. So we built a whole platform with our friends at NodeLondon (who designed and implemented our website). In short, the platform allows us to create a new entry in less than a minute and generates a survey made of about 20 questions. Most of the questions are multiple-choice and some of them vary depending on the type of meeting (video or face to face typically) or its location.

Node London now oversee foundersfeedback.com which is run separately from C4 Ventures investment activity.

Foundersfeedback.com has been in place for about a year now and lots of amazing founders have kindly submitted feedbacks (THANKS!!). In a subsequent post, I’ll share some of the learnings. The survey allows us to measure the feedback by sector (spoiler for people who know us well for our hardware investments: we don’t just get high ratings for hardware), allows us to compare metrics between team members or see if we’re better when the meeting is face-to-face or over conference call. More importantly, it gives us ideas on how to improve.

“A VC fund taking an ISO9001 approach ! This is a new world! I’m happy to answer” (Bruno, Entrepreneur in Sophia-Antipolis)

This is one of the replies I received when explaining to a founder that we would ask for his feedback following our first discussion. This type of comment is one of the elements that tells me we’re doing the right thing.

You can read the first insights we gained from this exercise in Part 2. Feel free to reach out to send us a deck at http://pitch.c4v.com. We look at every single proposition we receive and meet many teams every week and we’ll be happy to give YOU feedback too!

Olivier

Note 1: I’m very proud that we inspired Oxford Capital to do a similar exercise. They measure only NPS but Nadim implemented it with a very smart tech stack.

Note 2: Kindred Capital also followed an interesting strategy: they only ask founders once Kindred declines the investment opportunity.