When we started brainstorming what we considered our core principles, we produced truisms: “Hard work”, “Teamwork”, “Ownership”, “Delight the customer”, “Integrity”, “Excellence”, “Creativity”. But since virtually every business would say they agree on those principles, we thought they were obvious and not worth highlighting.
We articulate here the values we think most distinguish the firm we are building:
Working with Founders
- The founders are the stars; we’re the support staff. When we invest, we commit to the development of both the business and the founders personally.
- We have an “obligation to dissent” to founders and to our colleagues. But once we have consensus, we “disagree and commit.”
- Trust but verify. Most people are honest, but we protect our ecosystem against those who are not.
How We Manage Versatile VC
- Writing is more efficient than verbal communication for most situations.
- Try standard operating procedures first, and then experiment if the results are not satisfactory. We run Versatile by Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and encourage our founders to build more efficiently by taking advantage of others’ SOPs. Simultaneously, we love working with founders who are innovating new SOPs.
- Respect time — get leverage. You shouldn’t do a repetitive or mundane task more than a few times before working on outsourcing through engineering, selecting a vendor, etc. We should spend over 75% of our time doing things that are really hard and that only they can do. If tech investors eat our own dog food, and use technology and analytics in our investment process, we’ll get better results. For more on our vision of how we can evolve VC, see our VC syllabus and Venture capitalists eating our own dog food: Using technology and analytics to make better investments.
- Close the loop. If we are responsible for something, we’ll do it, delegate it, or revert and say we are not able to do it for unforeseen reasons.
- We invest the calories to get value from diversity. We acknowledge it sometimes takes more work to start collaborating with people from different intellectual perspectives and personal backgrounds than our own, but that effort is worthwhile.
- Self-awareness. We self-monitor for our biases, good and bad habits, and other patterns that can impact our decision-making.