November 28, 2004

Getting VC funding without a MBA

# Unless your best friend in the world -- whom you happen to have embarrassing pictures of -- is a VC partner, please do not contact any VC. It makes no sense.

# Passion, experience, real-world results are not qualifiers for introduction to VCs. An MBA from some elite school with 20 board members who know Jack Welch personally, with an extremely complicated idea that has never been built, are preferred.

-- E-mail from a Dallas-based CEO to Jerry Colonna, a former VC with JPMorgan Chase, Flatiron Partners and CMG@Ventures.

Here's an extract from Colona's response to the e-mail in his column for Inc.com:

Yes, I'll admit, having compromising pictures of a VC may help get a meeting or even a term sheet, but the larger point speaks to the network effect. Implicit in his frustration is a question I often got when I was on the speaking circuit while an active investor: What's the best way to get the attention of a VC?

Unfortunately he's right about the business school mafia that exists out there. Perhaps the single most important reason for getting an MBA is the network of alumni that comes along with it. I detest that fact. As a graduate of a public college in New York City, as someone without an MBA, I sympathize greatly with his frustration.

But he's missing the larger point; the point is that you MUST get connected. You know that business relies on people connecting with other people and that few great ideas are truly great enough to break through and emerge as successful companies without the founder/entrepreneur/CEO going out and pressing the flesh. So you don't have an MBA. So what? Go out and find a network you can join. If there's none in your area, start a chapter of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) or Young Entrepreneurs' Organization (YEO). Go to you nearest university and meet with the professors there.