The period of easy money when VC funding broke records in 2021, growing to $621 billion, appears to be over—at least for now. Most VC investors are scaling back their investments, and experts anticipate a further contraction in 2023 as speculation on recession grows. What does this have to do with your role as head of platform?
The VC platform role has grown in popularity over the past five years. But many VCs viewed it as a "nice to have" when they needed a differentiation factor.
But times are changing.
Your role as VC head of platforms is becoming critical to both the VC’s desirability and the success of the founders within the fund’s portfolio.
At GetProven, we see a golden opportunity for heads of platforms to demonstrate that their role is more integral to the fund's success and portfolio companies than previously anticipated.
In this article, we will stir up your natural creativity and show you how you can establish your role as a game-changer for founders during economic hardships.
A common expectation for the VC platform role is that the individual in charge should be a strong people person capable of building community and a strong network within the VC firm and among the portfolio founders.
But what if we amplify that intention? What would that translate into during a season of less fundraising and massive economic uncertainty?
Well, here's a thought.
Most VCs have warned that increased interest rates and a decline in global economic growth mean founders should plan for the worst.
Your positioning at your VC firm should be - to become the guide that enables existing portfolios to find the highest and best use of their resources, creativity, and capital.
For founders, taking on the challenge of operating and possibly growing their startups in a challenging environment and getting into a bootstrapping mindset can be highly beneficial.
That requires a lot of strategic thinking, strategic partnerships, mentoring, and unconventional marketing. That's where your role shines. As head of the platform, there are countless ways you can help founders resolve pain points and streamline their operations regardless of the economic temperature. Let's cover five main ones.
Your access to existing investors and co-investors within the VC firm can unlock doors for building strategic partnerships.
The data from CB (https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/venture-trends-q3-2022/ ) Insights indicates a decline in fundraising in 2022, but it doesn't mean all spigots are completely dry.
More likely than not, investors are simply more cautious about where to invest their money in 2023. By leveraging your existing relationships with co-investors, startups can still have access to funding opportunities.
Over and beyond investor connections, you can build inter-collaborations with other startups.
This can prove especially valuable in 2023 because building strategic partnerships with other startups may empower your portfolio companies' user acquisition marketing strategy.
Consider creating referral programs, cross-promotional campaigns, integration into partner's content marketing efforts, e.g., newsletters, podcasts, etc., and much more.
As long as there's a win-win-win experience for the founders and the firm, it should be easy to get buy-in for your strategic collaborations. Your imagination is your only limitation here.
For an early-stage startup with a founder who may not have experienced a recession before this year, getting access to advise from more experienced founders and investors could be the difference between failure and success.
Receiving nuggets of wisdom on the best ways to navigate murky economic environments from investors who have dozens of companies across various industries carries more value than any book a founder could read.
Create a support structure around the founders of people in your portfolio or firm who've made mistakes and learned from their past.
Encouraging an entrepreneur can go a long way in keeping their business on track. The VC platform role is sometimes about getting the best resources to support the founder and other times offering more intangible support.
This year, we'll see a strong need for both because many founders may feel vulnerable, uncertain, and even afraid of the looming recession. Something threatening a dream they are working so hard to materialize can quickly evoke fear and poor decision-making.
It's an excellent time to think about initiatives within the platform that can offer mentoring support, education, or coaching on keeping their mindset strong and healthy.
As money gets tighter, founders must focus on saving as much as possible. This season, the best value you can bring to the table is to proactively assemble only the best suppliers and vendors to your platform.
Sometimes, you may want to help renegotiate contracts with existing vendors if it serves the startup. We also encourage you to invest time in educating the founders on the essential and non-essential vendors their startup requires depending on identified needs.
Ensuring the startup is cost-efficient while also getting them the best available solutions in the market could greatly aid their customer acquisition strategy and drive revenue.
Founders don't always know where to go or how to get what they need. Make it your duty to become that go-to resource, the "fixer" of your VC firm, and watch how that can-do attitude will positively impact and influence your startups to keep pushing hard no matter what 2023 brings.
In spite of these challenges, and regardless of what the 2024 economic temperature and marketplace volatility have in store for the business world, your firm can take proactive steps to address them and greatly improve the overall efficiency, compliance, and cost-effectiveness of the vendor relationships your firm and portfolio companies deal with.
There are many ways your private equity firm can improve vendor relationships. From setting clear KPIs to implementing vendor management software, the right strategies can help you make informed decisions and rise above the competition in a changing market.