Top 8 Things That Make #Entrepreneurs Cringe – @lilibalfour, #startups

Lili, I took the liberty of taking your piece and turning it on its head, but from an entrepreneur’s perspective. In good humor, of course.

Have you ever left a pitch and wondered what entrepreneurs really thought about you? I decided to roll up my sleeves and conduct a planet-wide, sector and stage agnostic survey of entrepreneurs. I ensured that I included entrepreneurs that represented all stages, sectors and continents.

Naah, I just made this sh*t up, because I have been an entrepreneur before and feel the pain.

The survey includes input from entrepreneurs in San Jose, Big data entrepreneurs in Singapore, clean teach entrepreneurs in Mumbai, enterprise software entrepreneurs in Berlin, and entrepreneurs who focus on mobile gaming startups.

Without further ado, I offer you the top eight things that make entrepreneurs cringe:

#8: Liars. Hey, who knew? Investors lie as well. Actually a lot more than entrepreneurs do. “We are really interested in big data”, when all their investments have been in retail. “Our partners really like your company”, when they have never even visited our website.

Tip: Honesty is the best policy. It is best to brag about the fact that you can invest, only if you truly can, else pass. If you are a associate or principal, its okay to say you are not the decision maker.

#7. Monkey time: 100% of entrepreneurs said that they hated investors who were late to their meetings. Really Lili, I don’t need to do any survey to get this result. Why do investors think their time is  more important than an entrepreneurs? Making us wait at your reception area for 15 minutes past the time to meet is not cool.

Tip: Be on time. If you are running late, come by and let us know. Provide something of value for the 15 minutes (or more normal 30 minutes)  of our time you wasted. And no, a coke does not cut it.

#6 Drama Queens: 100% of entrepreneurs are turned off by investors who came across as “higher than thou”. Dont give us the “I have 3 back to back board meetings, 3 deals to close and I have not eaten lunch in 10 days spiel”. You chose to do that, its your job.

Tip: Check the drama at the partner meeting in the morning, and keep it real.

#5: Know-it-alls: 150% of entrepreneurs (this % includes those that are not entrepreneurs and not also from Ivy league schools) stated that investors who claim to know every industry, every segment and market just because they went to Harvard or Yale were lame.

Tip: Listen with an open mind, be willing to learn.

#4. Ramblers: 99.9% of entrepreneurs I surveyed stated that investors who went on and on about the one company they had invested in, which made the returns on their previous fund, turned them off.

Tip: Stop. Listen. Think. Question. Pay attention.

#3: Clueless: 100% of the entrepreneurs I spoke to were p*ssed off that the investors did not bother to visit their website or try the product before their meeting. That’s why you have associates and principals. Make them do some work for the ridiculous amounts you pay them.

Tip: If you expect us to do homework, do yours as well. Spend a few minutes looking at our website, product and offer us a tip or two on what you saw, what you liked and what you did not.

#2: Distracted: 50% of entrepreneurs I surveyed, responded that they hated investors who constantly checked their phones, emails, responded to twitter messages and facebook pokes, when we were pitching. The remaining 50% of entrepreneurs will never talk to investors again.

Tip: We came there because we want to work with you. If you’d rather check your email, do it after we leave.

#1: Unethical: 90% of entrepreneurs felt it was unethical to share our pitch with competitors or your portfolio companies. Really, guys it is not ethical, lacks judgment and really gets us bothered. The remaining 10% of entrepreneurs did not know that some of you did this.

Tip: Respect the confidentiality of our information and the intellectual property we have created.

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know what makes you cringe.

7 thoughts on “Top 8 Things That Make #Entrepreneurs Cringe – @lilibalfour, #startups”

  1. great article – as usual; most VCs acted the way they are well know for when I pitched my earlier company and guess who went laughing all the way to the bank 🙂

  2. This is good, none are perfect for sure … its about respect for each other … I sometimes feel there should be an intermediary layer between Idea+team+passion and funding to generate the right respect for both.

  3. This is great. There are some bad VCs out there. I think there are a lot of good ones, as well.

    The lesson here is that we all need to get honest and let people know when their bad behavior is getting in the way of their success.

    For VCs and entrepreneurs, performance is the only thing that matters. If they are picking and building great companies, they will succeed. Unfortunately, bad behavior gets in the way of building the relationships that make building (and selling) great companies possible.

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