Want To Be A VC? Start A Company.
Steve Blank has a great post up on his blog suggesting that VCs should require startup CEO experience in their partners' resumes. He quotes from me in that post but I'm not going to state which one came from me. You can guess if you want.
You might be surprised to know that I agree with Steve. I have never run a startup company. By Steve's measure, that is a weakness in my background and experience. And I agree that it is. I've managed to overcome that weakness, but it is a weakness nevertheless.
I particularly like this paragraph in Steve's post:
What running a company would do is give early-stage VC’s a benchmark for reality, something most newly-minted partners sorely lack. They would learn how a founding CEO turns their money into a company which becomes a learning, execution and delivery engine. They would learn that a CEO does it through the people – the day-to-day of who is going to do what, how you hold people accountable, how teams communicate, and more importantly, who you hire, how you motivate and get people to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Further, they’d experience first hand how, in a startup, the devil is in the details of execution and deliverables.
Newly-minted partners are a big problem for entrepreneurs (and VCs too). And Steve's suggestion that they get a dose of reality before opining on stuff in board rooms is great. If a super talented young person in our firm shows an interest in a partner track, I would strongly consider Steve's approach.
John Doerr famously said that it takes $30mm of losses to train a VC. I am proof of that theory. But as Steve points out, you can start a company and operate it for a year for less than $500k these days. That sure sounds like a less expensive way to learn how to be a VC.