Dear SaaStr: What Happens and Changes After You Raise Venture Capital for the First Time?

A few thoughts if you haven’t raised venture capital before:

1. Remember you have to prove yourself, still.

Yes, you got the $$$, and they really can’t get it back, and probably they can’t fire you if they don’t control the board. But your VCs barely know you. You still have to prove yourself as (x) a great visionary, (y) able to recruit and retain a great team, and (z) a careful custodian of the investors’ funds. It will probably take you 6-9 months to prove yourself, longer if there are bumps along the way.

2. Remember the Board meetings are as much or more about your team as they are about you.

If your Board just wanted to hear your thoughts, they could just meet with you 1-on-1. Make sure each VP/functional head presents at the board meeting, and give them time, and don’t talk over them. And help them prep. Your VCs will learn a lot about the company, and about you as a leader, listening to them, not you.

3. Be extremely transparent and data-driven.

And get them detailed Board packs and metrics at least 3 days before each Board meeting. Initially, your VCs won’t really know how transparent you are — or if you are hiding things. Share everything, at least, share all metrics and data. And provide very clear zero-cash data projections (see Knowing — and Sharing — Your Zero Cash Date).

4. But don’t share all your fears.

Highlight risks for your VCs, but even with them, don’t let them see you sweat. If they see you sweat, they’ll get scared/nervous too, and it will spiral downward.

5. Take all the VCs’ feedback, but be careful what you implement.

Listen respectfully, and don’t openly disagree. But if you don’t think their advice is worth acting on, let them know later 1-on-1 why. Don’t blindly implement a VC suggestion that takes a lot of work that you don’t believe in.

6.  Remember, You Don’t Have to Spend It All.  Maybe Just Spend Half, In Fact

Too many founders immediately get on the loss-making bandwagon after they raise venture capital.  The point of VC capital is to let you invest — but only up to a point.  Spending it all can be risky.  Maybe plan on spending … half.

7.  Until You Know Where the Next Round Is Coming From — Assume It Isn’t.

This isn’t 2021.  You can’t just assume any more capital is coming.  In fact, assume the next round won’t come when you need it, or want it.  And plan accordingly.  Once you get a firm offer to invest again, for the next round, well then maybe that’s different.

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