Try Fishing Out of a Different Pond

I spent time today talking with a friend and fellow investor. We talked about similarities in various venture capital firms. Many firms are fishing in the same pond, we agreed—they recruit people from the same network and use similar strategies to source and evaluate founders. He said something that resonated with me:

“If everybody follows the same playbook, the returns will reflect this.”

My buddy makes a great point. If a venture firm is making investments similar to those of other firms and generally doing what other firms do, that’s consensus investing. They’re likely investing in consensus founders solving obvious problems. That’s a recipe not for outsize returns but for average or below-average returns.

This truth was masked by the rising market over the last few years since a rising tide lifts all boats. The tide seems to be going out now, and I’m curious to see what changes early-stage firms make to their playbooks.