A venture capital firm’s reputation and by extension its brand is shaped and defined by a few critical components including: (i) The Entrepreneurs (the stature and profile of the entrepreneurs that the firm has backed); (ii) The Companies (the successful companies in which the firm has invested); and (iii) the Partners (their industry and entrepreneurial experience along with their knowledge and value add they bring to portfolio companies). Strong venture capital brands attract the best entrepreneurs who then build the best companies which creates a virtuous cycle for the venture capital firm and it’s brand.
Today, these defining characteristics are conveyed to the entrepreneurial community through two primary channels: (i) word of mouth reputation in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in which a venture firm primarily participates and (ii) globally to any person who has access to the Internet and lands on the firm’s URL. The care and feeding of a firm’s brand on the Internet has never been more important.
I recently read about a company called Heardable that is applying data analytics to a number of online brands (including a ranking of Venture Capital brands) to measure the relative leadership of online brands by examining 6 categories of a venture capital firm’s Internet presence. These 6 areas are: (i) Actionable; (ii) Measurable; (iii) Portable; (iv) Searchable; (v) Shareable; and (vi) Sociable. We were fortunate to rank amongst the top 5 in Boston and amongst the top 50 firms nationally along side some exceptional firms such as Union Square, Andreesen Horowitz, First Round Capital, True Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Battery and others.
Fred Wilson at Union Square has made a science of building his firms’ brand and has become the luminary when VCs think about how to convey their views, personality, and strength of their network while simultaneously being accessible over various Internet channels. It is no wonder that Fred, individually, was ranked as the number 1 VC brand.
While Heardable’s ranking methodology is a proprietary algorithm and so its accuracy is unknown, the notion that a Venture Capital firm’s brand is critically tied to its Internet presence seems beyond question. Entrepreneurs raising venture capital have access to an unprecedented amount of information flow and it is incumbent on venture capitalists to provide these entrepreneurs an Internet presence that offers an experience that conveys a brand that highlights the critical components of the (i) The Entrepreneurs; (ii) The Companies; and (iii) the Partners.