Things you learn in the army. Information is king, don’t give it away

I’m a loyal reader of Fred Wilson blog AVC.com, and today I read his follow-post on Chris Dixon post.

I don’t fully disagree with what Fred and Chris have to say about maintaining relationship with VCs overtime so that when the time is right there is a already a certain level of comfort and trust to start working together.

However, I’m partially disagreeing and I think it is a risk, at least to some entrepreneurs. This is why “catching up” with VCs is risky.

If entrepreneurs were to be encouraged to meet VCs all the time, by nature, some information had to be transferred. A good VC will actually focus on listening, and an even better VC will know if what they hear makes sense, and how it evolves over time, getting an idea of the founder capability to execute, build, succeed, etc.

Example:

– You started a company in Jan, and you are building a team and let’s say you’re funded (no need for more).

– You met a VC in Feb to “catch up”. And you chose to say that you are building a team these days, and you are targeting to hire 3 people. On paper, harmless piece of info, you didn’t even discuss what is the product about.

– In May you met again to catch up, and let’s say you hired one person. Why? For all the reasons things not always go as you want. VC asks – “so how is the recruiting going”. You have to say something, and explains what happened.

This information doesn’t have to be “make or break”, and I’m not suggesting that this VC will not work with you because you might have a problem recruiting. If that is the only reason, maybe this is not a VC you want to work with in anycase.

It’s just that it is an unnecessary piece of information that if you’ve met the VC when you actually wanted to meet, let’s say 7 months before money is out, you might be more ready, controlling the information going out.

Casual talks don’t really exist (one of you is not taking it casually), and any piece of information that was transferred unintentionally is a piece in the puzzle. That puzzle is your company, and it is your image.

Not everything needs to be said, and unless you will meet a VC and will be silent, everything you say >= 0 (0 would be not to take the meeting if you don’t need it). I don’t suggest you ever lie, as trust is key but controlling information is important.

I think that Fred is very right that whenever you start meeting VCs, make sure there is enough time for both of you to get to know each other. But ‘continuous’ sounds to me like it should happen in a continuous way with no specific reason. That’s risky.

Now, when things are exploding, or if you are super hyped to begin with – none of this matters.

My recommendation is build in iteration, and do what is needed in your mind. If it is not needed, don’t do it.

When a girl in a bar tells you – “you look really cute”, you thank her, you feel nice about yourself, and when you go home there is no reason to tell your wife in a casual way that a sexy girl gave you a compliment. Your wife knows you look good, and reminding her that using a 3rd party reference is redundant, not needed and can only make you feel good. Not her (someone is always not taking these casual talks casually)

When you build a company or scheduling your day, every meeting, every call, every hire, every statement needs to be logical and with some goal.

If you’re not sure – don’t do it.

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