VC’s talk about being value-added partners all the time. It’s a vague way to articulate the kinds of things that VC board members might do, often with fairly indirect or immeasurable impact. Some firms have specific initiatives that are more directly impactful to a founder and their company, especially stuff around recruiting or sales/BD. We tend to like these and have been developing a few of them at NextView.
But I was struck by a comment that a friend of mine had made to me a while back. He is a repeat founder/CEO with a strong track record. He commented to me that the one thing he wished he got more from his investors was investment in him personally to be the best CEO and leader he could be.
That struck me. As an investor, I am often thinking about what’s best for a company, and what kinds of things we can do to make a company better or stronger. I also see my job as a sounding board for the founding team, and sometimes as a counselor, shrink, or referee.
But I don’t always wake up every morning thinking to myself “how do I help this founder develop into a great CEO?” I think a lot about their company and how to make it better, but less about how to help him or her be better.
I want to change that next year. It’s a shift in mindset for me, but I think it will be a good one. But I need some feedback from folks who read this. If you are willing, please share in the comments ways that an investor really helped you improve as a CEO or startup exec in the past. And if you are really generous, please let me know if you can think of systematic ways to repeat that impact if you were in my shoes working with a number of founders over time. I want to be better too, so I appreciate your help very much 🙂