The VCs Most Likely to Read Your Pitch
When casting about for funding, why not start with the low-hanging fruit — VCs who are willing to reply to your emails, take your calls and generally just be approachable? Although there’s no guarantee that these folks will fund your startup, at least you have a better chance of getting your foot in the door.
So, who are these VCs? AngelList provides some valuable hints. Here’s the top eight, based on their set of U.S. VCs with at least 2,000 followers and five or more references.
Inside the Mind of an Approachable VC
George Zachary, a partner of Charles River Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif., is among the VCs who find it useful to list his email address on the website. It’s a move that other approachable VCs will take as well, such as Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group in Boulder, Colo., or Adam D’Augelli, associate at True Ventures in San Francisco.
For Zachary, unsolicited emails can yield big hits. When he was at venture firm Mohr Davidow in the late 1990s, one of his portfolio companies, Critical Path, went public, raising $108 million. It got its start with an unsolicited email requesting an investment from Zachary.
Zachary says the reason he makes himself accessible isn’t so much tied to increasing his deal flow, but rather from his personal background and his appetite for knowledge. The 48-year-old says his parents came to the U.S. from Greece with little money, but his father received breaks along the way. He feels that funding startups is a way to give back and honor his father. Before becoming a venture capitalist, Zachary founded several companies, including Shutterfly. In other words, he knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.
Being so accessible also sharpens Zachary’s intuition and curiosity, he says. “As more people approach me and tell me what they’re doing, it gives me more ideas,” Zachary explains. “I’m a fact-finding machine.”
Zachary estimates that approximately 10 percent of the deals he funds come from random emails. The majority of funded deals, about 80 percent, come from referrals from other VCs, founders or limited partners. The last 10 percent are derived from referrals from partners.
In sizing up the industry, Zachary, who has been on Forbes’ Midas Touch list three times for his investments in companies like Yammer and Twitter, says, “In general, VCs are difficult to get a meeting with. They are easy to email, but to meet with one is difficult.”
Older VCs, those in their 50s and 60s, tend to want targeted introductions to entrepreneurs who are in their specific area of investment interest, he adds. They tend to avoid attending conferences where they would be inundated by founders.
“I’m guessing that VCs may not want to include their email or phone on their websites because they just want to focus on a couple things at a time,” Zachary says. “I never understood why VCs wouldn’t want to make themselves more available, other than the times when they’re going on vacation.”