“I am a VC and I’m 40 years old” – or how some investors are revealing the Mac side of their doings
Cute campaign for Microsoft. Yes, the world is not just revolving around Macs. We get it. In the VC world, the last five years in specific, have seen the emergence of the “new VC”, the “I Am a VC” without the b@ast*rd connotations that I had to bear years ago when you said the word and people hated your guts.
The New VCs are people that are doing it for themselves. Even when living under the brand of some prestigious well-known houses, the new VC guys are creating their own individual brand when liaising and investing in entrepreneurs. They write blogs, they twitter and they post comments to controversial articles. They go to conferences that are somewhat grassroots, not just the cool ones that everyone wants to attend. They care – “I invest in startups, not companies!”, Fred Destin voiced last week, or today, the other Fred, Mr Wilson of New York City, “I do my job better when I get off my arse and spend time with my portfolio companies face to face!” (my own words but his message all in all).
I have seen Nick Brisbourne speak to a reduced number of iPhone developers – there was just about 45 people at the very niche gathering, on a Spring evening when he should have been in his garden enjoying a nice beer or throwing some bangers on the BBQ, enjoying his family after a long working day. And I mention this because the weather in London is so temperamental that when an evening like that befalls upon us all we all defect to the pubs and parks and throw ourselves on the grass like it’s Woodstock. No, Mr B was in that room with the rest of us – yes, I am also a masochist.
When entrepreneurs tell you that they left jobs or didn’t take jobs for the love of their new venture, do you think you are the only ones loving this industry? We have all been bitten by the bug of loving innovation, change, challenges, disruption, creativity, good-hearted people that give it their best,… We are ALL in this together, my friends. Mike Butcher clocked more miles last year touring his TechCrunch Europe around the Old Continent than a London blackcab picking up bankers on bonus day in Canary Warf (an East to West ride is about £40-£50 if there is no traffic on the Embankment). Or people like Bindi Karia of Microsoft Bizspark, “I have 17 startups in my depth portfolio and over 1000 signed up to BizSpark”, she let me know couple of days ago. Holy Cow! I know how hard she works so, madre mia, what a portfolio.
SeedCamp is coming. Some lucky entrepreneurs are going to undergo the startup training programme of their lives. It’s a bit like pledging to the Greek houses (Fraternities and Sororities, get your Animal House video out, you Brits). Yes, you have to go up to the stage and nervously pitch your tiny pre-seed company, and take criticism, and absorb the wisdom that will be imparted in the 5-days at record speed. Stressful moments, long days listening to people but also great chances to meet awesome individuals that are there to give money but wisdom as well.
The New Wave, the New Romantics, the music industry has some simple ways to announce that some great past sounds are back again, improved and reversioned, better. This post is to make you aware, now that the summer is almost over and things will kick-off soon: the New VCs are growing by numbers (and Twitter posts). Make your mission to follow them, befriend them, learn from them. Send appreciation-Friday lists to your mates. As Fred Destin said the other day: “The times ahead are still tough” and you’ll need the support of the best.