Days of our Lives

A peek into 24 hours of a VC’s life and why this is important for you. Sorry, it’s not a script of Joey Tribbiani’s show.

A peek into 24 hours of a VC’s life and why this is important for you. Sorry, it’s not a script of Joey Tribbiani’s show.

At the outset, please accept my apologies if this post seems pretentitious. The key takeaways from this post are not “how I live my life” nor “how busy I am”. The key takeaways are summarised at the bottom of the post. With that off my chest and plate, let’s begin.

When entering into a partnership/professional relationship with some one (customer, investor, employee, etc), I feel it is essential to understand the other person properly. This is even more important if you are a founder trying to pitch to an investor. You should know how they lead their lives every day. Hence it seemed sensible for me to recount what 24 hours look like in the life of a VC. And unlike popular misconceptions, this is not what we end up doing every day >>>

Here’s a minute by minute account of what tomorrow really looks like for me:

7:30 AM Wake up. First thing I end up doing is check my emails. I know that’s bad, I am trying to get rid of this habit

9:00 AM Off to work, reading emails, newsletters, deal news, TechInAsia, Fred Wilson, Crunchbase, CBInsights, etc etc on my way to work

9:30 AM Reach office, coffee in hand, plug in laptop, crunch out a few emails

10:00 AM First startup meeting of the day. Grabbing coffee with an eCommerce stealthmode startup. Pre-product. I would already have read the deck by then

11:00 AM Monthly update call with a portfolio company. Taking feedback on their current fundraising situation, making sure KPIs are growing. If things look bad, brainstorming on possible solutions

12:00 PM Meeting Albert for lunch. As some of you might know, he just moved on to another firm, this is our proper team get together :)

1:00 PM Second startup meeting of the day. Grabbing coffee with a data analytics company. Seed stage. Again, would have read the deck before

2:00 PM Third startup meeting of the day. Still at the coffee shop, no more coffee now. Meeting a Construction Tech company. Seed stage

3:00 PM Probably a quick pee break and then fourth startup meeting of the day. eCommerce enabler. Seed stage

4:00 PM Interview for a summer intern. Still at the coffee shop. Trying to shoo away the waiters breathing down my neck asking “something else for you, Sir?”

4:30 PM Half an hour break. Phew, finally. Quick, send some emails, reply to any WhatsApp messages, read the deck for the next meeting, read TechCrunch/TechInAsia/Medium

5:00 PM Fifth startup meeting of the day via Skype call. Construction tech again (what’s up suddenly with the construction industry?). Seed stage

6:00 PM Cab it to an event

6:30 PM Tech event on Deep Learning. Gotta stay updated with what the geeks are talking about. AI/ML I get. Deep Learning and Neural Networks have me bamboozled

8:00 PM Meet a fellow VC for dinner, chat about anything and everything startups

10:00 PM Reach home. Time to get some work done. 2 hours of non stop work, reading legal docs, replying to any urgent emails, finishing a few pending analyses on startups that pitched a week ago, any urgent portfolio work, etc

12:00 AM Shut down. Talk to girlfriend. Read a book.

1:00 AM Night night!

Next day. Rinse. Repeat.

So what does this mean for you? Why bore you with the sordid details of what my day looks like? There are a few take aways you should have from this, especially before you walk into that meeting with an investor.

  1. VCs have very low attention span.
    Try as I must, if you don’t excite me in the first 15 minutes, my attention is likely to drift to: “What’s on my calendar next?”, “I should have read that pitch for the next meeting already”, “Wasn’t there something similar I heard 2 months ago in India that this guy is talking about”, “Damn I forgot to reply to my partner’s email”, “God I need another coffee”, “That croissant on the next table looks nice, maybe I should order one”. Ok I am exaggerating, I do try to listen hard, but I have my failures sometimes, and it’s only human. Also, out of the 5 meetings I take, I am likely to pick maximum 2 or 3 ideas as worth pursuing further, you need to be one of them. Make sure you catch the investor’s attention within the first 5 minutes and make sure it’s a two-way conversation, not a monologue pitch.
  2. VCs make quick decisions.
    At least good (read fair) VCs do. I spend time to mull over my concerns later but by the end of first meeting, as we shake hands, I have usually already decided on whether I want to bring this up in our pipeline meeting for a discussion or not. Make sure you have addressed their current queries/concerns, otherwise they are unlikely to take this further.
  3. You are one of many, make your pitch deck count.
    As you are up against 5 startups I am meeting on the same day and probably 20 other pitch decks I am going to read this week make sure your pitch deck is short, to-the-point, and complete. Here are some good resources from DocSend and Guy Kawasaki.
  4. Send your deck in advance. Again.
    What you don’t want to have is me walking in without having read your deck, and you explaining for the first 15 minutes what your company does. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, send a meeting reminder with your pdf deck attached one day before the meeting. Also, personal preference here, but please don’t send docsend, google docs, ppt, pps, etc. PDF only. I want to be able to read your deck on the go on my mobile, without entering freakishly long passwords and being tracked on how much time I spent on which page.
  5. Do not SPAM on LinkedIn
    If you message me on LinkedIn, you are the least of my priorities. I might end up taking a look at what you send on LinkedIn when I find some time but it usually will be 1 or 2 weeks later, and I’ll only reply if I am interested (1 out of 100 cases). Your best way to connect with an investor is through a referral or sometimes through an event, but not LinkedIn and never cold emails.
  6. Loyalty discounts.
    The coffee shop guys know me very well by now, obviously. Ask me about discounts next time you are at Tiong Bahru Bakery, Raffles City.

Keep these things in mind, and do your research before you go into that meeting. All the best and drop me a note below in case you struggle with these or any other issues.