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How do I improve feedback to entrepreneurs? It’s a question that I roll around in my head often.

I’ve always regarded sitting at the table with an entrepreneur to be a great privilege. Almost every day, I sit down with a founder who has dedicated months if not years to achieving a vision. We chat and talk about the strengths of the business and the foreseeable challenges. We exchange data points on industries and the landscape. Having been on the other side of the table, I know the feeling. Pitching requires baring your soul a bit: your passion, dreams and ambition.

As a VC, the very least I can do is to provide timely feedback. When I worked in customer support, we were assigned 24 hour turn-around-times. Every email had to be returned in 24 hours. I’ve set myself the same goal at Redpoint.

The most important thing I can do is to provide honest, candid feedback. Finding the most productive form of that feedback is tough. Last week, I asked a few friends who are entrepreneurs and one told me, “Frame the feedback as a hypothesis I need to prove before you’ll consider an investment.” Simple, effective and brilliant. So I’ve adopted this line of thinking when responding to entrepreneurs.

Let me know how a VC might improve feedback to entrepreneurs. Am I missing some key things?

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6 thoughts on “How to improve VC’s feedback to entrepreneurs

  1. Hey Tom! I’ve liked your recent posts, nice to hear from you again. WRT to this, what you really want to do is influence the entrepreneurs. Giving them feedback is just a way for you to influence them since you are in a position of power. However, no matter how you frame it, some people will always reject this form of influence. This is a highly complex and fascinating subject, and two books that have helped me a lot are:
    http://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Business-Essentials/dp/006124189X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1296091184&sr=8-2

    http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Reason-Using-Emotions-Negotiate/dp/0143037781/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296091372&sr=1-1

    Let me know if you read them!

    • Hi Raul, great to hear from you. Thanks for the book recommendations. I’ll check them out. Influence and rapport are the key things I’m looking to build with entrepreneurs.

    • I think it’s a question of framing objections as challenges. Entrepreneurs live to overcome challenges and if a VC presents a series of hypotheses that must be proven before considering an investment, entrepreneurs can internalize them as goals. In the end it’s more constructive. That was how my friend framed it for me.

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