May 21, 2008

Doing Due Diligence on VCs

These days, there is a lot of good advice online – see examples here and here – on raising Venture Capital in the Indian context.

A lot of knowledgeable persons advice entrepreneurs to do due diligence on a VC firm before accepting their money. For instance, here’s US-based investor Bill Burnham on his blog:
One of the more unfair aspects of VC fundraising process is that VCs are allowed to take months probing every orifice of your company, but entrepreneurs are expected to make one of the most important decisions of their life in a week or two and often with little or no information. There’s no good reason for this and all entrepreneurs would be well served by taking some time to do some basic due diligence on any investor who has offered them a term sheet.

I suggest, at a minimum, talking to at least two entrepreneurs that the VC has funded and then talking through with the VC (about) A) all the deals they have done and what happened to them (and) B) the current status of their fund and partnership.

Doing your own due diligence has 4 main benefits
1) it may help you avoid making a bad decision
2) it will create the perception of a competitive process
3) it will make you appear more savvy and diligent to the VC
4) it can come in handy when you are trying to stall while you get your second term sheet.

But how does an entrepreneur go about locating a list of VCs who might be interested in investing in his/her sector and also learn the list of companies they might have already invested in? Thus far in India, there has been no single place entrepreneurs could turn to for researching VCs and their existing investments. Which is why Venture Intelligence has come out with The India Venture Capital Directory providing an exhaustive view of VC firms actively investing in India.

The Directory helps entrepreneurs get a clear understanding of the VC landscape by providing a brief profile of the VC Firms, their focus areas, names of key executives along with the contact details in an easy-to-use spreadsheet format. Also, it includes a list of investments by each VC firm – so that entrepreneurs can avoid obvious conflicts-of-interest and select other entrepreneurs to reach out to for checking out the VCs.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the Private Equity and Venture Capital ecosystem in India. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.