2016 and beyond is so crazy for technology based startups. I will tell you why this is interesting for you now, because we have seen one of the biggest moves a government can do. The Public Fund in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is investing in UBER, and this was not anticipated by industry experts at all. After this move many initiatives and ideas are popping up to follow through and start looking at the modern startups scene with a big appetite ( don’t take my words keep watching for new VC firms in the next 6 months)
Venture Capital firms ( AKA VC ) are starting to rise abruptly, while this is an interesting and encouraging thing for entrepreneurs, yet it is challenging. Because there is no clear rule on how to play. Many will improvise, still there are simple and clear basics to be covered. Family businesses, wealthy individuals and other forms of wealth funds are formulating VCs in the region and the world! The challenge for VCs is always about the VC as a brand and what people (founders & CEOs) should know about it.
VC branding is a new thing and it is not easy to tackle, but is strategically important for VCs to take note. In a simple scenario of an early relationship between a founder and a VC firm, there is a background check and reputation analysis. Are you covered as a VC? Your VC brand needs to speak up your WHY and what you do clearly. Today founders of startups will need to have a strategic partner that can drive value beyond money (smart money as some like to call it), this might be relations, expertise and other perspectives of business. So you need to be on their radar when they search, not wait for ( someone who knows someone that knows someone that knows you). Although you will always feel you are really needed, but most of the times the case is you will miss opportunities, because you are not appearing in the founders’ search cycles.
Founders are humans and usually humans go to google as the first thing to find stuff. So are you visible to Google? your website needs to be clearly visible and has the right content to draw the founders’ attention and admirations about your achievements and track record, if you have one. Personal branding is important for you and your partners in the firm. Founders usually take an emotional decision when they want to “get married to a VC firm” it is literally like marriage, as they let go some of their company shares to you, the same is applied in marriage, allocating part of their life to their partners.
“You are what you publish”, thought leadership in your domain has to be shown by publishing more on what you know, do, like and showing off your portfolio of investments. Examples of good VC profiles that take care of their online presence and put that heavily in their brand management and communication strategy are Wamda Capital and 500 Startup. They publish relevant content to founders and the startups scene in the region, and they lead the way for local initiatives. By doing this they put themselves in front of founders. This also lessens the hassle for the VC firm business development efforts to find good ideas to invest in. See! It works, then why not make it easier for them to take this step with confidence, by providing a compelling online profile for your firm, your partners and yourself.
In a research done by DeSantis Breindel, brand impacts the deal flow.
The aspirations and dream environment about founders and VC marriage is about the support and belief in entrepreneurial and startup friendly. Part of the founder search for VCs is the reputation check and this usually is shared either on public or through Word of Mouth. So it is key to monitor your reputation online and track that to make sure you are what you really say, because the truth is always gonna” be in the hands of others and your targeted audience on line, not you. That is why you need to make sure you are as transparent as you can and more open to improve and admit your pitfalls if needed.
As marriage is doomed to be geographically concerned, check if you need to have more offices for your firm in other locations, because it makes a difference. Now the big takeaways I see could help you as a VC are :
1- Build your VC brand and show your WHY.
2- Publish online and make sure your visible smartly enough for your target audience. This can be coupled with roadshows and webinars showing your achievements and portfolio of investments.
3- WOM is the deal breaker so manage and monitor your reputation very well.
4- CEOs/founders have some aspirations about entrepreneurial friendly VC mindset, so test yourself if you are ready for that before you go to the public.
5- Personal branding is key for your partners so get the right training to build up partner brands.
6- Building a kickass VC brand means a clear, transparent and consistent communications strategy for the partners, the firm and internally.