The Theranos scandal demonstrates how quickly investors will fall over themselves to seize a golden egg deal. When investors pay so much attention to only the (supposed) big tickets, they leave smaller companies in their portfolios behind.
The investment space is in the midst of a mental health crisis and skyrocketing burnout rates. Founders of companies of all sizes and returns need dedicated support, and an unhealthy business relationship can have a heavy toll on your mental health. Ultimately, every founder needs to know their investors are playing with them.
Drawing from my time as a professional NBA player and as a seasoned investor, here are a few warning signs that a VC may be leaving you on the sidelines:
Your check-ins are a recurring calendar event
Most VCs have packed agendas, and they have an unspoken practice of allotting founders a weekly or monthly time slot to touch base. Not only is this too little time to really catch up with founders and also hear about their life outside of work (which ultimately impacts their work), it sets the precedent that communication has to be regimented.
Founders and investors should want to spend time with each other outside of the boardroom and Zoom calls. When there is genuine trust, discussions about hobbies, family, and vacations will arise naturally and break down the formal barriers that stop investors and founders from talking about their well-being. These subjects won’t come up organically if founders are only given an appointment-like meeting with investors.
The right investor won’t close a deal and then take themselves out of the equation.
That’s not to say that investors shouldn’t have scheduled meetings with founders. Rather, investors should make it clear founders have the freedom to call them when they need to — whether for business guidance or personal support, there has to be an open line of communication. Of course, investors can set boundaries and say they’re not available after certain hours or on specific days.