Q:  Who are the key personnel in the VC organization and how can they help in the company connect with funding?

Anyone that’s an investing professional, one way or another, can help you get funded:

  • An “associate” or “analyst” doesn’t have check-writing powers … but … their job is to find and socialize deals. So don’t discount their importance. Many, if not most, unicorns at bigger VC funds were really sourced by more junior investment professionals.
  • A “VP” or “principal” also usually doesn’t have check-writing powers but can often advocate a deal directly and get it done. They can’t get a deal done as quickly as someone that runs the fund, but if they are respected, they can push a deal through one way or another. They generally have to recruit a true partner to sponsor the deal or lead it.
  • A non-managing partner generally has a deal quota of sorts but doesn’t make the final, final call. As a founder, it may not make a huge difference, but a general partner that isn’t a managing partner does deals directly, but still may not run the place.
  • “Venture partners” often have no direct check-writing abilities but often are tasked with finding 1–2 great deals and can have large influence. But still, they need a full-time partner to really lead the deal in most cases.
  • Managing general partners (or similar titles) run the place but sometimes get so senior that don’t really source and do deals themselves as much. So going directly to the very top doesn’t always work better than engaging with other investment professionals.

So engage where you best can engage at a VC fund.  While it can seem fastest and simplest to come in at the top, that doesn’t mean it’s the winning strategy.

Most important is not spending too much time on folks at VC funds that can’t write checks. They sometimes can connect you with those that do, but it’s a relatively weak entry point.

A related post here:

I Was Wrong. Associates at VC Firms Are a Great Way to Get Funded.

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