In partnership with the National Venture Capital Association, the Brand Influence Guide for Venture Capital (BIG:VC) explores the importance of brand management in the VC industry. They surveyed venture capitalists, startup CEOs and limited partners from the NVCA and the Dow Jones Venture Source database, collecting more than 370 responses around questions pertaining to VC brand perceptions and behaviors.
The research uncovered the messages and channels that can empower venture investors to better connect with their most important audiences. It also revealed significant gaps between which messages VC firms believe resonates versus what perceptions venture-backed CEOs embrace.Some key highlights from the research include:
- Brand impacts deal flow. For CEOs, picking a VC is more than money, it is an emotional decision.Your ability to tell a rich and compelling story will get you in the mix of more and better deals.
- The VC-CEO Gap: VC mindsets are not always aligned with CEO expectations.
- CEOs want to work with VCs that are entrepreneur friendly and collaborative BUT they are wary of funds that are too hands-on
- Gender-mix matters more than VCs realize, especially to female CEOs
- CEOs are more interested in proximity than any other geographical factor
- The Entrepreneur-Friendly Firm: It is not enough to say you’re entrepreneur-friendly…you have to show it. Build a brand around what you do, not just what you’ve achieved (performance)…and align behaviors to deliver on brand promise.
- What are you doing today that supports an entrepreneur-friendly brand?
- What are you doing today that is inconsistent with an entrepreneur -friendly brand?
- What could you be doing to amplify your entrepreneurial-friendly behaviors?
- Channels of Influence: Your brand runs deeper than what you say…..it’s what your most important audiences say about you.
- Understanding – and shaping – your reputation among key influencer audiences in the CEO’s world is critical for creating positive word of mouth and driving CEO perceptions of your firm.
- The Individual Reputation Vs. Firm Brand: Venture investing is a personal business – but it can’t be too personal.
- CEOs care more about partners than the overall firm and even less about the reputation of a firm’s portfolio businesses.
- LPs are concerned about succession and the strength of the overall firm
- The challenge: Find the right balance, leveraging your partners’ reputation to build a brand that is bigger and more enduring than any one individual.
- What CEOs want: Life Science vs IT
- Life sciences CEOs look for slightly different things in VC firms than their counterparts in IT