Open Letter to Seed Investors

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Dear seed investors, let me give you a little tip that you wouldn’t ever arrive at if you haven’t been a seed-backed entrepreneur.  When one of you portfolio companies sends you an email update with what’s been going on at the company…respond.  It doesn’t have to be anything earth shattering, in fact it can even be two words, but some acknowledgement that you have, in fact, read the update, would be more appreciated than you know.

We are invested in almost 40 companies at Lerer Ventures, and I read every single word of every single update that every single founder sends to me.  I always make a point of writing back, sometimes with ideas and questions, other times just a “great update, thanks,” but something to let the founder know that we are reading and listening.  I think I developed this practice out of my own experience, sending out updates to a syndicate of 5-8 investors, and than anxiously awaiting feedback.  The strange thing is, it is not uncommon to send out an update and then….crickets….nobody writes back.

One of our founders sent me a note a few months ago, thanking me for my attention and saying “you’re the only one who ever writes back to our updates, I really appreciate it.”  I told her, it’s not that the others aren’t reading, it’s just that they are detatched enough from the vulnerabilities of being an early stage founder that they either never knew or have forgotten what it’s like to send out an update and not hear anything back.  90% of seed investors probably do read what’s going on, ingest it, make decisions and give advice going forward based on the content of the update, but they just don’t think to take the extra 60 seconds to 5 minutes to close the feedback loop with their founders.

So investors: we write you updates because we want to make sure you know what’s going on, but also because we want to get feedback on our thinking and progress.  I know we interact in person and on the phone in between updates, but take a second to respond to what we’ve sent you.  It means a lot to us to know you’re engaged.

And entrepreneurs: it’s not that your investors aren’t listening or don’t care, they are just viewing your update as information and not a request for response.  If you hear crickets…don’t sweat it.

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3 Responses to “Open Letter to Seed Investors”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

I think it’s these types of insights and understandings that make former entrepreneurs some of the best VCs. It’s the things that cannot be taught but only learned through experience which make you understand this is not just about managing money. There more subtle skills required to really help entrepreneurs launch and grow their companies. Simple things like responding to an update go a really long way when an entrepreneur is in the middle of the crazy roller coaster that is stating a company. A little encouragement or acknowledgment from someone you admire and respect can really boost your spirits.

Good advice. Thanks

Funny I read this right after looking at the stats from our last update email to investors/advisors in which 66% of the list opened it, 27% clicked on something, and 11% emailed us back a response.

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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