Do VCs bring any value beyond cash?

by on April 11, 2013

readyaimfireLet’s face it! Cash is the first and last reason entrepreneurs connect with VCs. And the VC model is based on returns. So how do investors differentiate from each other and attract entrepreneurs that can generate the best returns? By going beyond being a cash-dispenser to create value through knowledge sharing and connections. Getting portfolio companies to leverage each other’s learning is a challenge worth the rewards when done right.

The recent iNovia CEO Summit brought more than sixty of our CEOs, Founders and Partners together in New York, where we got the conversation started (here’s proof!).

I distilled some of the key learnings from each speaker:

Dan Martel,, Flowtown (Demandforce)

  • “Be uncomfortably narrow in the problem you solve” has particular significance for me because I’ve seen so many folks fail by trying to be all things to all people.
  • “Take 52 shots on goal”, where Dan helped us think practically about rapid – one week long – learning cycles.
  • “Get the Measure-Try-Test” cycle going as quickly as possible, use Mixpanel or Kiss Metrics

Alistair Croll, coauthor of “Lean Analytics”.

  • “Metrics are like a stress ball: the metric you squeeze bulges the related metrics.”
  • “Don’t establish metrics unless you’re prepared to act on the results!”

Yona Shtern, CEO of Beyond the Rack

  • While we all instinctually focus on people’s aptitude when hiring, it’s attitude that gets people fired thus he advised to turn that around and make attitude a key hiring criteria.

Kipp Bodnar, Director of Marketing for HubSpot

  • Inbound marketing is a key topic for all our startups, Kipp challenged us to think about, “Renting rather than owning your market’s attention”.

Denis Grosz, SEO Yoda

  • “SEO should augment your customer acquisition strategy, not BE it. Budget a year to build your rank and don’t bother unless (a) your vertical has meaningful query volume, (b) competition isn’t extreme, and (c) Google is unlikely to compete.”

Michael Litt, CEO Vidyard

  • “Video and Social are like peanut butter and jelly”

Rahul Sood, GM & Partner, Startups at Microsoft

  • “Think Big, act small.”

Ray Muzkya, Threshold Impact

  • “Humility is internal honesty. Integrity is honesty demonstrated externally”