Dam Venture
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Dam Venture

Flake it ‘Til You Make It: 3 Real Reasons VCs Keep Rescheduling Your Meetings

I’ll be the first to admit it. I’ve been procrastinating on writing. And because of that, I’m going to start this post with a prelude, and an anecdote about the importance mental health, something that I plan to talk about more personally in a later post. Jim Kim (our founding GP) is working on a detailed article on this right now, but oftentimes as an industry, VC, and tech as a whole, tend to ignore mental health in favor of an almighty altruistic form of suffering for profit.

That’s not OK. And that’s something that I’d love to see change in the time of my career. I’ve personally always valued my mental health, and I feel privileged to be an early investor in Kintsugi, an ML-driven platform to detect signs of clinical depression and anxiety. Tech certainly cares more about mental wellbeing now than we ever used to, but we’re still a long way from anything close to ideal.

So that’s the #1, and very valid reason that a VC will flake on you: mental health, and taking time to balance work and life. Many VCs have families, and that should always take priority over work. For me personally, I took the time off from content creation that I needed to. For the first time in my career, I also took an actual mental health day (and the first real vacation day I’ve taken since starting in VC).

But honestly, if we dig deeper, the main reason I haven’t been posting is that my priorities aren’t set up quite right.

Let’s talk about it.

I’m as guilty as the rest of us here. As much as I hate doing it, almost every week I end up sending an email that looks something like this:

“Hey ___,

So, for the late notice but I’ve had something urgent come up during the time we had booked today. Any chance we can shift an hour later or to the coming week?

Andrew”

Why is this though? I personally hate cancelling or rescheduling meetings. I live by a mantra in my personal life that I will never cancel plans for better plans. And I hold by that. No matter how compelling of a networking event I get invited to, or which celebrity is showing up, I will never cancel the plans I had to go to a food truck and play Smash Ultimate with my roommate from college. Unless there’s an emergency. Not all VCs live by a similar code. That’s a terrible thing to do, and it devalues the time of an entrepreneur, or anyone who the VC is speaking to.

That’s reason #2 a VC will cancel your meeting, and the reason I hate the most: something better came up.

For me though, the problem in VC is prioritization, and that oftentimes, everything is an emergency. Reason #3:

It’s extremely easy to get distracted in venture. But it’s even more common to have urgent emergencies. For me personally, my portfolio companies are my first priority. Maybe a little bit too much.

I’m on a date and there’s a question about a fund following on into a round? Mini golf can wait.

I’m eating a greasy pizza and I need to discuss a cap table? Looks like my phone is getting an oil bath.

I’m at fencing practice and someone needs a deck review? So stab me.

You get the point.

Similar levels of emergency apply to LP relationships, internal calls, and basically anything else that needs to be done now. We’re not trying to be bad people, but the culture of VC has an ingrained hierarchy, and new company founder calls, networking calls, demo days, events, brunches, etc. always fall at the bottom of that.

Hopefully this can change. #3 is the most fixable problem — yes, our portfolio companies and our LPs should be our priority. However, as VCs we should be conscientious and value others’ time. Be better about treating founders as equals, and coming off our high horse of pretension and exclusivity.

There’s obviously more reasons, but in summary: #1 is an OK reason to flake. #3 is acceptable socially, but something we should fix. And #2, well, it’s both literally and metaphorically shit.

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Andrew Chan

Andrew Chan

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Senior Associate at Builders VC (https://www.builders.vc/) obsessed with transforming pen and paper industries through advanced technology.