I was speaking with a founder the other day who asked me what I like and don’t like about my job. Fortunately he’s not one of our founders. Otherwise I would have suspected that he’s considering becoming an investor and I wouldn’t want this, at least not right now. We need our founders to run their companies.
I’ve been asked this question many times before so my answer was ready.
The best part of my job is that I report to a single person. Most VC’s have a wide range of LP’s that each need to be managed. In addition, some anchor LP’s demand more attention than others. So agreeing upfront on what you can and can’t invest in, updating LP’s about the performance of your portfolio, and comforting them when they see a competitor to a company you invested in emerge on TechCrunch takes a lot of time. Since we invest only Hasan’s money, he’s the only person I need to keep up to date. This is pretty easy.
Hasan is also much more optimistic than I am. How this plays out in practice is that it’s very rare for me to recommend making an investment and for him to refuse. The reverse has taken place a few times. As a result, I’m effectively managing a single LP and reporting to a senior GP who agrees with the vast majority of my recommendations. This is fun.
The toughest part of my job is the number of companies we’re managing. We have over 60 investments across Turkey and the US. We’re passive investors in our 30 US companies which means that we read about their updates and make decisions about follow-on investments when they have secured a lead for their new round. We don’t try to influence the course of the company so this doesn’t take too much time.
However, this still leaves over 30 companies in Turkey. Ideally I’d like to spend 2-3 hours with each company every other week. This includes meeting with them, thinking about how we can help out, and performing the necessary outreaches. Assuming I spend half of my day working with existing companies and half researching new companies, I would need to work with 10 companies to keep up this pace. Clearly, something has to give.
I spend less time researching new companies by only looking at those with an existing lead investor. I also spend less time working with each of our companies than I’d ideally like to. Even with these two approaches, time is a very scarce resource.
I wouldn’t be able to keep up if I didn’t love what I’m doing.
Also published on Medium.