Venture capital dos and don'ts: seasoned VC veterans talk about early lessons learned.

Author:Stewart, Heather
Position:SILICON SLOPES
 
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A session called "IPOs, Bubbles and Billion Dollar Valuations" drew a standing-room only crowd at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. The panelists, seasoned veterans in the VC community, traded war stories about major deals won and lost and offered advice for entrepreneurs.

The panel was moderated by David Hornik, general partner with August Capital. Hornik has focused his investments in software companies; some of his investments include Splunk, Evite, WePay and Bill.com. Despite those great successes, he bemoaned some of the great ones that got away--like Uber, which he passed on in its early days.

Those ups and downs notwithstanding, Hornik said entrepreneurship is a much harder gig than venture capital. "Venture is a piece of cake compared to entrepreneurship. The fact that entrepreneurship ever works is completely miraculous," he said. "One of the things that's such a joy about this job is that you get to experience this magic where you have a few people, something interesting, and through a bunch of alchemy it turns into ... companies that are hiring thousands of people, that are making lots of money, that are building things that are transforming the world. I think that's amazing, but it's also impossible. It's an incredibly hard thing to do."

For entrepreneurs, obtaining financial backing can seem like the hardest of all tasks. But Ben Dahl, partner at Pelion Capital, said the key to success is perseverance for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike. Part of being successful, he said, is not seeing a closed door or a declined meeting request as something that can't be overcome. "You have to think of them as obstacles that you can get over. I think people who are successful, both as entrepreneurs or as venture capitalists, are people who see those obstacles and figure out a way to get over them or around them," he said.

Dafina Toncheva, partner with USVP, suggested that venture capital funding is just not for everyone. "Not all businesses are venture backable businesses, and that's OK," she said. "Venture capital is only a very small portion of the type of investors that back businesses that grow into successful companies.... So before you launch your fundraising, think about who are the right types of investors and who your business will appeal to so you can have more productive conversations and so you can find the right partners who can help you build the type of business that you want."

Rejection can also be an opportunity to...

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