The VC’s conceit

Inspired by reading @Pv double post on Engineer’s conceit and Marketer’s conceit, I tweeted

This is the venture capitalist’s conceit. We often throw up an array of stats, facts, and extrapolations of founder statements in order to coax ourselves out of our quicksand trough of conviction and manufacture courage where there is none to move to a funding decision.

Our conceit is not asking founders to bend the future to their will, it is asking them to handcuff that conviction with certainty.

In all honesty (and thanks to @Om for clarifying it), the only things we need to be moved by is:

  • Is the idea big enough that it will change how adjacent technologies/products/markets behave?
  • Is the market big enough that it will contort itself to pay for it?
  • Is the founder’s conviction big enough that they must do this or the idea will die, and  that they can and will recruit the very best team possible to deliver on the idea?

Beyond these realizations, we can argue financial projections, models, and hiring plans forever and will not get a shred of certainty. Yet we ask for it…. and more. And most founders partake in this ritual habitual by supplying ‘data’ riding on powerpoint in response. This is the founder’s conceit.

This kabuki back and forth produces incremental decisions, incremental innovation, and incremental startups. Condemned to inconsequential creation of moribund value, a change of pockets for some dollars, and more than a flesh wound from time’s arrow.

I thought I was better than this.