How do you respond to an unfriendly VC?


I contacted a VC after being introduced by a mutual friend. A couple of days ago I received an email with an arrogant & a little too proud attitude.

My options:

  1. Ignore him (I'm not dependent on him at all anyways)
  2. Write an email back, exactly his writing style.

Option 1 is obviously the safe one, option two will spread probably an image which could workout extremely positively, or extremely negatively.

He will either:

  1. Get the message & be ashamed of himself, apologize & invite; highly unlikely.
  2. Spread the good worth; balls, proactive etc.
  3. Spread the bad worth; basically mirroring his personality.

Small detail: I'm meeting a couple other VC's in his city the next couple of weeks.
Highly unlikely that he doesn't at least know a couple of them.

I think it's obvious but I don't care about him/his money, its just an enormous opportunity image/social proof wise.

Equity Venture Capital Personality Investors

asked Sep 1 '11 at 06:29
16 points
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6 Answers


Outside of a brief moment of happiness from writing what may be a satisfyingly nasty/angry/sarcastic reply, nothing positive will come of it.

If he is a professional, he will do none of the options you list above, but you on the other hand will have succeeded in burning a bridge or possibly making an enemy.

Bottom-line, if you didn't care about what he could offer you, you wouldn't be meeting with VCs. This is business. Treat it as such and move on.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 06:43
1,156 points


Alex is absolutely correct in his answer to you. But he didn't cover one other possibility.

Let's suppose you have come up with a way to burn water instead of gas in cars. You have a friend who knows the President of a major car company and he introduces you to him. You tell the President your idea and later he writes you a letter and you don't like his attitude. What are the possible reasons for this:

  1. Your idea is impossible
  2. You angered the President of the car company
  3. You completely misinterpreted the letter the President wrote you
  4. You have pestered the President into replying to you, and he is doing so in consideration of your mutal friend.

In other words, how do you know the problem isn't you?

answered Sep 1 '11 at 07:24
Gary E
12,510 points


I don't know exactly what it is he said to you, but if his attitude and tone was what got under your skin then you are in for a rough trip in the world of VC. Most venture capitalists share similar personality traits which have led to their career decisions:They're typically very direct, possibly egotistical and confident enough to tell it how it is.

Don't burn bridges with a snarky riposte. If you are really that bothered by his behavior and don't want to feel utterly powerless, I'd encourage you to join The Funded and post about your experiences there so that other entrepreneurs can learn from it.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 06:56
J Sstartup
106 points


You need to understand that VCs get pummeled with a dozen (or more) pitches a day from people like you who think they have the world by the short hairs. His reply to you is partially due to fatigue from listening to all of these business owners offering them one "enormous opportunity" after another. 99% of them turn out to be flawed, idiotic, delusional or all of the above.

From your perspective, your idea is the most wonderful, important thing in the world. From his, the odds are that it is simply another wasted hour of his life he'll never get back. Like JSstartup said, get used to it because pretty much every seasoned VC is going to give you the same attitude.

I would highly recommend you read Guy Kawasaki's book, Reality Check before you contact another potential investor.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 07:54
Jon Di Pietro
1,697 points


Your best option is to not take it personally. You will get ignored by every VC you meet early on, not just this one. That is unless you have some very special traction, or some rockstar proverbial rocket scientist on your team. Or if your last name is Zuckerberg, Levchin, or Page - you get the idea. Every VC Iv'e ran into is the same.

  1. They demand that you execute on the things you promise them.
  2. Then they raise the bar higher then it was the last time you talked
    to them.
If you can show a pattern of success in this standard then you will begin to have their ear.

These kinds of reactions are part of how VC's weed out the bad from the good investments.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 16:47
353 points


"I received an email with an arrogant & a little too proud attitude."

If you say's email... it's your voice being heard, not his/her.

I'd frankly just assume it's a test to vet your ability to stay in the pocket under pressure.

Take your emotions out of the equation...put them in a box on the side... ask yourself "what is the most powerful, mature, sophisticated way I can reply?" (The answer is to leave the emotions in the box and stick to your goal of getting face time. 100% don't presume any feelings on his/her part. Until that person says "I like/don't like when you do this" then it's your job to not care because in these kind of conversations whomever cares less usually has a leg up.

answered Sep 4 '11 at 06:59
249 points

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