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Branding and Venture Capital:
Key Findings from BIG:VC
Page 2
BIG: VC
The Brand Influence Guide:
Page 3
The BIG Question
Does branding matter for venture capital firms?
Page 4
Like it or not, you already have a brand.
Are you controlling your brand?
Does your brand accurately represent who you are?
Does it represent who you WANT to be?
Is it connecting with your key audiences?
Page 5
Overarching questions we set out to answer.
§  What are the challenges in building an authentic and differentiated
reputation in the VC industry?
§  What do VCs believe are the effective brand behaviors to attract
entrepreneurs and LPs?
§  What key attributes and behaviors are entrepreneurs and LPs looking
for when considering partnership with a VC firm?
§  How can VC firms close respective gaps between where they are
today and where they want to be in the future, from a brand
perspective?
Page 6
Our 360 Degree Approach
Compare and contrast views across stakeholders
Communicate
findings to
members
CEOs
Venture
Capital Firms
Limited
Partners
Survey
Page 7
The Players
§  DeSantis Breindel
§  Rooney & Associates
§  National Venture Capital Association
NVCA Advisory Board
–  Heather Hunter, Safeguard Scientifics
–  Jennifer Jones, Jennifer Jones and Partners
–  Kate Barrett/Suzanne King, NEA
–  Liz Mansfield, True Ventures
–  Marta Bulaich, Canaan Partners
–  Kelly Mayes, Lightspeed Venture Partners
§  Dow Jones VentureSource Database
Page 8
Methodology
Online quantitative surveys sent out through Qualtrics
Qualitative interviews with select LPs
Page 9
Who Responded
Page 10
Who Responded
Page 11
Who Responded
Page 12
The 6 BIG Findings
The 6 BIG Findings
Page 13
1
/
Brand Impacts Deal Flow1
/
Page 14
CEOs believe a strong brand can help VCs attract entrepreneurs.
Page 15
AWAY
TAKE
/
For CEOs, picking a VC firm is about
more than money – it’s an emotional
decision.
Your ability to tell a rich and
compelling story will get you in the
mix of more and better deals.
Page 16
2
/ The VC-CEO Brand Gap
Page 17
There is a disconnect between those attributes that CEOs deem
most important – and the attributes that VC firms emphasize.
Page 18
LPs understand what CEOs are looking for.
“Trust and collaboration are critical.
Entrepreneurs are looking for someone
to help them build their business – not
just partners, but the whole firm.”
Page 19
VC firms underestimate the importance of gender.
Page 20
2/3 of female CEOs say gender make-up matters.
Page 21
Proximity matters more than reach.
Page 22
AWAY
TAKE
/
VC mindsets are not always aligned with CEO
expectations.
CEOs want to work with VC firms that are
entrepreneur-friendly and collaborative…
BUT they are wary of firms that are too hands-
on.
Gender mix matters more than VCs realize,
especially to female CEOs.
CEOs are more interested in proximity than any
other geographical factor.
Page 23
3
/The Entrepreneur-Friendly Firm
Page 24
CEOs want to work with entrepreneur-friendly firms.
Page 25
The value that a VC firm adds beyond funding is almost as
important to CEOs as the firm’s reputation.
Page 26
Creating a community of portfolio executives trumps all else.
Page 27
BIG Takeaway
AWAY
TAKE
/
It’s not enough to say you’re entrepreneur-
friendly…you have to show it.
Build a brand around what you do, not just
what you’ve achieved (performance)...and align
behaviors to deliver on that brand promise.
•  What are you doing today that supports an
entrepreneur-friendly brand?
•  What are you doing today that is inconsistent
with an entrepreneur-friendly brand?
•  What could you be doing to amplify your
entrepreneurial-friendly behaviors?
Page 28
Channels of Influence4
/4. Channels of Influence
Page 29
WOM rules.
Page 30
LP and VC recommendations are less influential than peers
recommendations.
Page 31
Don’t underestimate others in the ecosystem…
Page 32
There’s a disparity between the channels CEOs find influential and
the channels you believe best deliver your messages.
Page 33
BIG Takeaway
AWAY
TAKE
/
Your brand runs deeper than what you say…
it’s what your most important audiences say
about you.
Understanding – and shaping – your reputation
among key influencer audiences in the CEO’s
world is critical for creating positive word of
mouth and driving CEO perceptions of your firm.
Page 34
The Individual Reputation vs.
the Firm Brand.
5
/
Page 35
VC firms believe the reputation of their partners and portfolio
companies are equal drivers of brand.
Page 36
CEOs feel strongly: Your brand is driven mostly by your partners.
Page 37
LPs focus on reputation of the overall firm.
“We have a bias against firms with a person’s name on the door.”
“A VC firm may have great individuals that achieved great
performance, but will the firm be able to bring in a strong team to
perpetuate those results? They need a strong brand to attract that
next generation of partners.”
Page 38
BIG Takeaway
AWAY
TAKE
/
Venture investing is a personal business –
but it can’t be too personal.
CEOs care more about partners than the overall
firm and even less about the reputation of a
firm’s portfolio companies.
LPs are concerned about succession and the
strength of the overall firm.
The challenge: find the right balance, leveraging
your partners’ reputation to build a brand that is
bigger and more enduring than any one
individual.
Page 39
What CEOs want:
Life Science vs. IT
6
/
Page 40
IT and life science CEOs vary in the qualities they value when
evaluating VC firms.
Page 41
When they have a preference, IT prefer smaller VC firms.
Life science has no preference.
Page 42
Age of VC partners matters more to life science CEOs.
Page 43
Compared to life science CEOs, partner reputation matters more
to IT CEOs.
Page 44
Compared to life science CEOs, IT CEOs are more influenced by
digital media.
Page 45
Life science CEOs are more influenced by third parties.
Page 46
BIG Takeaway
AWAY
TAKE
/
VC brands must resonate with their target
market.
VC brands for life sciences should emphasize
experience and trustworthiness, while IT
brands can emphasize entrepreneur-friendliness
and supportiveness.
For VC firms that focus on multiple industries,
the brand must straddle all segments. An
effective message map is a critical tool.
Page 47
The 6 Findings Summarized
1.  Brand impacts a firm’s ability to attract deal flow.
2.  There is a gap between what CEOs are looking for in a VC firm and
what VC firms believe CEOs want.
3.  CEOs want to work with entrepreneur-friendly firms. But it’s not
enough to say you’re entrepreneur-friendly…you have to show it,
through behaviors that resonate with CEOs.
4.  Individual partner brands remain paramount, especially within IT
investing. But firms also need to communicate that their success is
not predicated on a few key individuals.
5.  CEOs place great weight on what their peers and third parties say
and think about your firm.
6.  Life science CEOs look for slightly different things in VC firms than
their counterparts in IT.
Page 48
How can you leverage what we’ve learned
to build your firm’s brand?
Page 49
A brand isn’t what YOU say.
It’s what THEY say.
Page 50
WHERE TO START
/
Page 51
Conduct a reputation audit, through internal and external interviews
to find the gaps in perception
Compare your brand with your peers’ to understand your firm’s
point of difference
Create a positioning platform that reflects your research and can be
expressed firm-wide, not just by partners
Build a messaging strategy to ensure you are communicating the right
message to each audience with consistency at every touchpoint
Define behaviors that will embody your brand and empower internal
stakeholders to live that brand
Page 52
Learn more at:
BIG-VC.com

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VC Branding Impacts Deal Flow & There's a CEO-VC Brand Expectation Gap

  • 1. Branding and Venture Capital: Key Findings from BIG:VC
  • 2. Page 2 BIG: VC The Brand Influence Guide:
  • 3. Page 3 The BIG Question Does branding matter for venture capital firms?
  • 4. Page 4 Like it or not, you already have a brand. Are you controlling your brand? Does your brand accurately represent who you are? Does it represent who you WANT to be? Is it connecting with your key audiences?
  • 5. Page 5 Overarching questions we set out to answer. §  What are the challenges in building an authentic and differentiated reputation in the VC industry? §  What do VCs believe are the effective brand behaviors to attract entrepreneurs and LPs? §  What key attributes and behaviors are entrepreneurs and LPs looking for when considering partnership with a VC firm? §  How can VC firms close respective gaps between where they are today and where they want to be in the future, from a brand perspective?
  • 6. Page 6 Our 360 Degree Approach Compare and contrast views across stakeholders Communicate findings to members CEOs Venture Capital Firms Limited Partners Survey
  • 7. Page 7 The Players §  DeSantis Breindel §  Rooney & Associates §  National Venture Capital Association NVCA Advisory Board –  Heather Hunter, Safeguard Scientifics –  Jennifer Jones, Jennifer Jones and Partners –  Kate Barrett/Suzanne King, NEA –  Liz Mansfield, True Ventures –  Marta Bulaich, Canaan Partners –  Kelly Mayes, Lightspeed Venture Partners §  Dow Jones VentureSource Database
  • 8. Page 8 Methodology Online quantitative surveys sent out through Qualtrics Qualitative interviews with select LPs
  • 12. Page 12 The 6 BIG Findings The 6 BIG Findings
  • 14. Page 14 CEOs believe a strong brand can help VCs attract entrepreneurs.
  • 15. Page 15 AWAY TAKE / For CEOs, picking a VC firm is about more than money – it’s an emotional decision. Your ability to tell a rich and compelling story will get you in the mix of more and better deals.
  • 16. Page 16 2 / The VC-CEO Brand Gap
  • 17. Page 17 There is a disconnect between those attributes that CEOs deem most important – and the attributes that VC firms emphasize.
  • 18. Page 18 LPs understand what CEOs are looking for. “Trust and collaboration are critical. Entrepreneurs are looking for someone to help them build their business – not just partners, but the whole firm.”
  • 19. Page 19 VC firms underestimate the importance of gender.
  • 20. Page 20 2/3 of female CEOs say gender make-up matters.
  • 21. Page 21 Proximity matters more than reach.
  • 22. Page 22 AWAY TAKE / VC mindsets are not always aligned with CEO expectations. CEOs want to work with VC firms that are entrepreneur-friendly and collaborative… BUT they are wary of firms that are too hands- on. Gender mix matters more than VCs realize, especially to female CEOs. CEOs are more interested in proximity than any other geographical factor.
  • 24. Page 24 CEOs want to work with entrepreneur-friendly firms.
  • 25. Page 25 The value that a VC firm adds beyond funding is almost as important to CEOs as the firm’s reputation.
  • 26. Page 26 Creating a community of portfolio executives trumps all else.
  • 27. Page 27 BIG Takeaway AWAY TAKE / It’s not enough to say you’re entrepreneur- friendly…you have to show it. Build a brand around what you do, not just what you’ve achieved (performance)...and align behaviors to deliver on that brand promise. •  What are you doing today that supports an entrepreneur-friendly brand? •  What are you doing today that is inconsistent with an entrepreneur-friendly brand? •  What could you be doing to amplify your entrepreneurial-friendly behaviors?
  • 28. Page 28 Channels of Influence4 /4. Channels of Influence
  • 30. Page 30 LP and VC recommendations are less influential than peers recommendations.
  • 31. Page 31 Don’t underestimate others in the ecosystem…
  • 32. Page 32 There’s a disparity between the channels CEOs find influential and the channels you believe best deliver your messages.
  • 33. Page 33 BIG Takeaway AWAY TAKE / Your brand runs deeper than what you say… it’s what your most important audiences say about you. Understanding – and shaping – your reputation among key influencer audiences in the CEO’s world is critical for creating positive word of mouth and driving CEO perceptions of your firm.
  • 34. Page 34 The Individual Reputation vs. the Firm Brand. 5 /
  • 35. Page 35 VC firms believe the reputation of their partners and portfolio companies are equal drivers of brand.
  • 36. Page 36 CEOs feel strongly: Your brand is driven mostly by your partners.
  • 37. Page 37 LPs focus on reputation of the overall firm. “We have a bias against firms with a person’s name on the door.” “A VC firm may have great individuals that achieved great performance, but will the firm be able to bring in a strong team to perpetuate those results? They need a strong brand to attract that next generation of partners.”
  • 38. Page 38 BIG Takeaway AWAY TAKE / Venture investing is a personal business – but it can’t be too personal. CEOs care more about partners than the overall firm and even less about the reputation of a firm’s portfolio companies. LPs are concerned about succession and the strength of the overall firm. The challenge: find the right balance, leveraging your partners’ reputation to build a brand that is bigger and more enduring than any one individual.
  • 39. Page 39 What CEOs want: Life Science vs. IT 6 /
  • 40. Page 40 IT and life science CEOs vary in the qualities they value when evaluating VC firms.
  • 41. Page 41 When they have a preference, IT prefer smaller VC firms. Life science has no preference.
  • 42. Page 42 Age of VC partners matters more to life science CEOs.
  • 43. Page 43 Compared to life science CEOs, partner reputation matters more to IT CEOs.
  • 44. Page 44 Compared to life science CEOs, IT CEOs are more influenced by digital media.
  • 45. Page 45 Life science CEOs are more influenced by third parties.
  • 46. Page 46 BIG Takeaway AWAY TAKE / VC brands must resonate with their target market. VC brands for life sciences should emphasize experience and trustworthiness, while IT brands can emphasize entrepreneur-friendliness and supportiveness. For VC firms that focus on multiple industries, the brand must straddle all segments. An effective message map is a critical tool.
  • 47. Page 47 The 6 Findings Summarized 1.  Brand impacts a firm’s ability to attract deal flow. 2.  There is a gap between what CEOs are looking for in a VC firm and what VC firms believe CEOs want. 3.  CEOs want to work with entrepreneur-friendly firms. But it’s not enough to say you’re entrepreneur-friendly…you have to show it, through behaviors that resonate with CEOs. 4.  Individual partner brands remain paramount, especially within IT investing. But firms also need to communicate that their success is not predicated on a few key individuals. 5.  CEOs place great weight on what their peers and third parties say and think about your firm. 6.  Life science CEOs look for slightly different things in VC firms than their counterparts in IT.
  • 48. Page 48 How can you leverage what we’ve learned to build your firm’s brand?
  • 49. Page 49 A brand isn’t what YOU say. It’s what THEY say.
  • 50. Page 50 WHERE TO START /
  • 51. Page 51 Conduct a reputation audit, through internal and external interviews to find the gaps in perception Compare your brand with your peers’ to understand your firm’s point of difference Create a positioning platform that reflects your research and can be expressed firm-wide, not just by partners Build a messaging strategy to ensure you are communicating the right message to each audience with consistency at every touchpoint Define behaviors that will embody your brand and empower internal stakeholders to live that brand
  • 52. Page 52 Learn more at: BIG-VC.com