Decade-long Commitment a Turnoff?

It’s often seven or more years before a start-up has a material liquidity event such as an IPO or acquisition. Founders should be comfortable with a journey of that length if they want to pursue entrepreneurship.

I recently had a chat with a venture investor who considered starting his own venture capital firm. One of the main reasons he hasn’t is the realization that it will commit him long-term. It will likely take twelve to twenty-four months to raise the fund. Funds usually have a ten-year life cycle, so once he begins investing that capital into start-ups, he’s committed to managing the fund for a minimum of ten years. That’s an eleven-year-plus commitment he’s not willing to make. Instead of writing larger checks from a VC fund, he plans to write small angel checks. He’s putting more of his own capital at risk, but he wants to preserve flexibility over the next decade.

This investor has deep domain experience and a strong network in a particular sector. Any early-stage founder he works with will get a tremendous amount of help and is more likely to achieve product–market fit.

Listening to this got me thinking. I wonder how many seed-stage venture investors (current or aspiring) who could help companies find product-market fit avoid starting a venture capital fund because of the decade-long commitment.