Is it acceptable for VCs to “ghost” founders who have invested so much time and effort with them? How should founders respond to this?

I understand the frustration, and it’s annoying, but you have to change your thinking.

Working with VCs is sales. It’s a founder trying to sell shares to a VC. And sometimes, it’s a VC trying to sell her / himself to the founder as well.

I know it’s a lot of work and risk engaging with a VC. I know it doesn’t feel that it’s reciprocal, or that VCs value all that time, effort and risk you put in. I know it’s especially annoying when you let a VC do customer diligence, take up a lot of favors with your customers … and nothing ends up happening.

Ghosting is frustrating and not cool in any sales process. I’m not perfect here myself.

But it’s most common when a prospect (i.e., VC) has some genuine, real initial interest … and then the product (i.e., startup) doesn’t end up quite being what she wanted during a multi-step learning and diligence process.

VCs should follow up better, and sometimes, it’s exacerbated by the fact that you are an “almost”. Probably won’t say Yes, but interesting enough to not want to say No yet.

But if a prospect (VC) won’t take another meeting you try to schedule … doesn’t re-engage … and you’ve asked nicely 2–3 times … you have to just move on.

You didn’t close the deal. It happens. Don’t take it personally or read any more into it than that. Move on.

Most deals don’t close in sales.


Let me tell you just 1.5 insights / hacks to slightly de-frustrate the process. Most VCs don’t have enough (x) great deals that (y) they really want to do. They meet 1000 startups a year, but they are lucky to meet 10 a year that they really want to invest in that also meets their investment criteria.

So when they finally find one, they hone in on it. Often like a heat-seeking missile. It won’t be unclear to you. You’ll know. So if you’ve followed back up 1–2 times and not heard back … you got a No. You’ll hear back quickly if it’s a Potential Yes.

But sometimes, it really is a Not Yet. You may really be just 3–6–12 months too early for that VC. (For example, I generally don’t invest at less than $8k-$10k in MRR myself.) If that’s the case, just ask if she wants to be updated in 6 months. She’ll tell you quickly. If she does.

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Published on January 7, 2018

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