- Mark Suster
"Don't come to a VC when you need money," says Suster. After all, you need to get to know the person you're going to marry before you get engaged. "It's too hard for them to assess your character in a short period of time (and vice versa) and it's too hard for them to see how your thinking, product & traction develop over time."
Another point Suster makes is that you want to build a relationship with a VC that is not "a yes man." Just as with relationships of the heart, being continually told what you want to hear does not a healthy bond make. VCs should be constructively skeptical and constantly challenging and questioning your every move - pushing your startup to grow.
While a startup is prone to spend much of its early time worrying about its product and its customers (as it should), Suster says that "spending (small amounts) of time now will pay dividends later when (if) you actually do need money." He advises newborn startups to make sure the VCs they engage are aware they aren't looking for funding at the moment, and to keep things casual - no formal pitches.
Communication at the onset of a VC/startup relationship is just as important as it is with a romantic relationship. Each party needs to know what they are getting into, and that they're on the same page. It may be more efficient to build up that relationship slowly through a series of small casual coffee dates rather than jumping in head-first with a full-blown steak-dinner-carriage-ride-through-Central-Park date.
"Once you've pitched and been turned down it is incredibly hard to re-engage that VC," says Suster.