Seattle has long been in need of good VC bloggers. What Mark Suster has done for LA, Brad Feld has done for Boulder, and Fred Wilson has done for NYC just through writing high quality blogs (nevermind all the other great stuff they do for those ecosystems) is remarkable and game-changing and we need it.
So you can imagine that a lot of Seattle founders and entrepreneurs are excited to see Stark Raving VC from Greg Gottesman of Madrona Venture Group, one of only two big, software-focused VCs in Seattle (the other being SEOmoz investor, Ignition Partners). And Greg’s first few posts have been solid, in particular his recent one on asking for less to raise more in angel rounds.
But every blogger stumbles sometimes when it comes to topics, and I want to make sure Greg’s not struggling for material 🙂 Thus, I figured I’d put out a few ideas here, and ask for more in the comments. Hopefully Greg won’t take offense (I’m on a panel with him tonight, so I’ll probably find out pretty quickly).
#1: Why Does Seattle Only Have Two Major VCs
Looking down the list of startups in the region, we sure look a lot like Boston in quantity and quality, yet we have ~10% of their venture capital investors (specifically in software/web/mobile tech). What’s up with that?
#2: What Does a Partner Meeting Really Look Like
If I were a fly on the wall at Madrona’s partner meetings, what would I hear? How political is it? Do senior partners have all the sway? Is there a lot of disagreement? Does it ever get contentious? What gets discussed? Anything that shocked you the first few times you attended them?
#3: How Do You Folks Come Up with Themes & Theses?
VCs always talk to founders about the theme they fit into or the thesis they have around a market and how the startup/idea fits in. Where do those come from? Who creates them? Are they research backed or gut-check backed or do they come from something else?
#4: Knowing What You Know About VCs, How Would You Raise a Round?
I’m interested in both early stage and later stage here, so I’d love to know the angle/strategy you’d take for each. Do you make a list of relevant folks, find ways to get intros, and pitch them all simultaneously to create rapid demand? Do you choose just a couple of your favorites? Are there red flags you’d know to watch out for that the rest of us could benefit from?
#5: When is a Maybe Really Just a No?
There must be some subtle signals that founders can pick up on that mean “I’m saying keep in touch but really I just mean, no.” I’ve had so many investors string me along in the three fundraising attempts I made over the last 5 years – maybe there’s tips you can provide that will save a lot of people from spinning each others wheels.
#6: What Companies Did You Pass On that You Wish You’d Invested In?
I’m sure it’s hard to share this info, but summon your inner TAGFEE and do it dude! We’ll go crazy for that 🙂 Oh, and please tell us all why, too.
#7: What are the Biggest Reasons You Say No After the Partner Meeting?
It feels like there’s a million reasons an investor might not put a company in front of their partners for a final yes/no, but I’m really curious about what makes the team say no after the legwork process.
#8: How Do You Raise a Fund?
What’s the process like? Who do you have to talk to? What are the types of sources and what are they seeking? What makes the process easier or harder?
#9: What are the Most Unlikely Success Stories You’ve Ever Seen?
The ones that baffle the mind and don’t fit the stereotypes, but have turned into remarkable successes.
#10: Taking Talent from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe, Facebook & the Rest of the Big Guys
How have you seen Seattle startups effectively compete with BigCos for hard-to-find talent, particularly on the engineering, design, marketing, and senior leadership sides? Any tips or advice you can give to those of us in the Seattle scene for making the case, particularly if raw cash compensation can’t be in that mix?
#11: When to Raise in Seattle vs. Outside
I love this town, and I want to keep Moz here long term, but we needed to go out of the city to find financing for our growth stage. When do you think that need arises? What makes a startup a “Seattle VC” target vs. not?
#12: The Next Generation of Features (not companies, but features)
What do you think makes for a killer “feature” of product in 2012 and beyond? What are you advising your portfolio companies to build (besides mobile obviously)?
#13: Break Down the Seattle Advantages
It can’t just be us entrepreneurs raving about the city – the (slightly) easier-to-find talent vs. the Valley, the lower costs, the better taxation and employment laws, etc. Give us the big list, maybe even compare against the other startup capitals in the US. I bet it would make it on Hacker News.
#14: Warning Signs for Founders
What makes you run not walk from a founder, even if you like the company/idea/market? What should founders be conscious of that might be affecting their potential for investment that has to do with themselves?
Hopefully, the comments here will have even more great ideas for you. Welcome to the blogging world Greg – it really is great to have you.