Written by Clairine Runtung
Though many startup founders have experience dealing with VCs, I can imagine that most have never been on the buy side and are probably unfamiliar with what actually happens behind the scenes.
In order to give you some idea of how we operate, I want to share with you what a typical day in the life of an investor really looks like. Hopefully, this will give you more ways to relate to your potential investors rather than simply see them as a source of capital.
The most delightful thing about my job is meeting inspiring entrepreneurs. However, that probably only makes up 10 to 20 percent of my working hours. Surprised? The vast majority of my day goes into delving into various research, analyzing due diligence data, reporting and presenting to my partners and LPs, and attending board meetings, while making some room for coffee and networking events.
Get to work and respond to important emails while looking at global and local news. This usually happens while I get the kettle boiling for my first cup of coffee.
Every Monday morning, we do an all-hands meeting at our firm. Leaders of the investment, business development, human resources, and venture operation teams go through what their teams will be focusing on for the week and discuss how we can help each other.
The investment team proceeds with our weekly meetings, where we review the new startups we found and entrepreneurs we met the week prior. This weekly meeting is an opportunity for us to exchange ideas, brainstorm, sharpen our investment rationale, and decide where to allocate more of our resources.
With so many early-stage investment opportunities, we have to be diligent at deciding which company we need to keep an eye on. At the end of the day, most venture capital firms are also startups size-wise!
Have a quick bite with some colleagues or sometimes with a fellow VC from another firm. Many early-stage VCs co-invest with other VCs, so establishing good rapport and relationships is vital. I usually catch up with other investors regarding market/industry/sector knowledge-sharing, portfolio companies, and about their personal lives outside of work. We always expect a mutual understanding regarding any sensitive or confidential information.
Based off the results of our earlier investment review, we get into a final huddle where we discuss current and upcoming initial reviews (potential summaries) and deep dive research pieces (investment memos). Our three-strong team can have anywhere between two and eight of these reports to go through on a weekly basis. (This is when the second cup of coffee usually comes in.)
We will delegate work among ourselves, start crunching numbers, and develop segments of the reports. At this time, I also send out emails and arrange meetings for the week.
I have my first pitch meeting with an entrepreneur (sometimes it’s back to back). We discuss the sector and the problems their team is trying to solve. I usually ask for preliminary data points and mention that I’ll bring his company up for discussion in our next weekly meeting (which is up to five working days away).
Time for me to dial in for a conference call with one of our founders who is about to fundraise again. (We advise founders these days to have, at the very least, six months to complete fundraising.) During the call, we discuss the company’s milestones in the past year, where the founder envisions the company to be in the next 24 months, and the overall fundraising strategy.
In the past, I’ve helped portfolio founders with their fundraising decks and concepts as well as introduction to other VCs and strategic partners. We find this essential to the growth of our portfolio companies, so we try to actively leverage our network for them when we can.
Before leaving for my dinner appointment, I spare an hour to get some work done. I check emails (the founder I met earlier today has sent me his preliminary data; I love it when they’re on the ball!) and prepare for a board meeting I have to attend tomorrow morning at 9 am.
Due to the fact that we have 30 portfolio companies to date, it can be challenging to be on top of each of them. So, it’s imperative to prepare in advance so that I know what’s going on with the company and can report back to the partners effectively.
My dinner mate, a SheVC member from Hong Kong who is visiting Jakarta, has asked for our dinner to be pushed back to 8 pm, as she’s stuck in traffic. I have an hour to kill. I look at the data room of a deal we’re working on and crunch some numbers.
I’m home. I spend a bit more time continuing the data room analysis that I started working on before dinner. After getting comfortable with the new learning (e.g. healthy financials or, oops, weak unit economics), I turn off my laptop and pick up my Kindle to continue reading a book before I go to bed at around midnight.
For the rest of the week, the plans include catching up with my firm’s talent director, attending a tech conference where I get to be a judge of a pitching competition, scouting for new investments, reading emails, networking with other VCs, getting on monthly calls with portfolio companies, and writing this post. I could also squeeze in a workout or listen to a podcast in between.
There you have it! Albeit only a day, I think a glimpse into a tech investment firm’s perspective can go a long way in helping you develop relationships with investors. I hope this debunks any glamorous perception of us VCs—just handing out money and celebrating deals. Although our job might not be as glamorous, being able to support entrepreneurs as they materialize their ideas is extremely rewarding.
Photo Credit: Pixabay