Company: RockPort Capital
An MIT Enterprise Forum probed three local founder-investor partnerships.
VC-founder relationships: They’re complicated. Not unlike real marriages, these partnerships come with a host of ups and downs—and through sickness and health, these parties are expected to stay committed. One would expect that for these marriages to be fruitful, VCs would need to have a firm grasp on the intricacies of the startups they invest, and vice versa. But of course, like any other relationship, each is different.
An MIT Enterprise Forum event Tuesday night—modeled after The Newlywed Game—put Boston venture capitalists and startup founders to the test to determine just how well they know each other. Not unlike on the popular TV show, the moderator—HubSpot manager Dan Sally—asked them questions about their “marriage” to see if they were on the same page. The three couples were: Jeff Fagnan, partner at Atlas Venture, and Fred Shilmover, founder of InsightSquared; Maia Heymann, senior managing director at CommonAngels, and Matt Lauzon, founder of Dunwello; and Dhiraj Malkani, partner at RockPort Capital Partners, and Swap Shah, co-founder of FirstFuel.
Here are some key takeaways from the event:
The first question was for Shah and Malkani. Sally asked how many hours of due diligence the founder thought his VC did before the deal was done. Shah said 20 hours, but Malkani revealed it was actually 50. Sally eventually opened the topic up to the panel, asking VCs whether they prefer entrepreneurs to exclusively pitch to them. After discussing the subject further, the VCs agreed it’s a better sign when founders “shop around” and consider all their options. Fagnan later admitted that he did zero due diligence on Shilmover and InsightSquared.