Despite how large and spread out the venture capital world seems, Rothenberg advises to not forget it’s actually a cul-de-sac of investing, a world in which pretty much everyone knows each other. “I think people forget how small the venture capital world is so a lot of us talk to each other and chat, whether it’s work specific or socially,” says Rothenberg, noting one common mistake made by founders is exaggerating a pitch or story. “It’s easy to get caught in a lie.”
SELLING A ‘VISION’ MORE THAN AN ‘ACCOMPLISHMENT’
Rothenberg also advises using the unique time in business school to form strong teams, which is also a plus when pitching BoxGroup on a venture. “Having a strong team shows us they can inspire others to join and understand how to hire people,” he says.
Other plusses for founders with outstretched hands: Rothenberg says it’s important to have an intriguing professional past that demonstrates you can handle leading your own company. A previous relationship with the fund doesn’t hurt, either. “They’re selling us more on a vision rather than anything they’ve accomplished,” explains Rothenberg. “The more they’ve done in their past and the better we know them, we’re able to draw a line on our graph of where we think it’s going.”
Finally, while being the “cool” thing to do, Rothenberg cautions that starting and running a successful business is a tough road. “Startups are pretty cool to start and people think it’s a path that they should go down, but it’s not easy,” he says. It’s incredibly hard to start a company. We make sure we’re talking to MBAs that can really execute.”
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