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The Strategy to Build Thriving VC Ecosystem Partners

Venture capital involves luck. Not everybody is willing to admit that.

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Iโ€™ve learned a lot about luck since working in venture capital, but one thing stands out more than the rest: the luckiest people are the ones with the largest surface area.

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I’ve applied this to a venture capital career, and it has served me well.

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Here’s how I’ve gone about increasing surface area, trading value with other members of the VC ecosystem, and creating more luck for myself.

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The Strategy to Build Thriving VC Ecosystem Partners

Table of Contents

Background

I’ve already written about this in previous blog posts, but my path to where I am today is not linear.

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TL;DR:

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  • Started at a small seed fintech fund
  • Switched to a larger generalist software fund
  • Forced to learn how to be a good VC due to resource constraints
  • Started a resource library to share the best things I had found in that process
  • Shared resource library with other VCs
  • Built a community around the VCs using the resource library
  • Turned that idea into a business
  • Expanded business to include other offers relevant to customers
  • Parlayed that experience into LP investing into top venture funds + directs

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Most of the roles I’ve worked have been focused on either working directly with investors or startups founders, but I’d be leaving money on the table if those were the only people I did business with.

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Strategies Used to Identify and Connect with VC Ecosystem Partners

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When we were building Confluence, we quickly realized that other people wanted to do business with us to increase their visibility to our audience of investors. Here are a few examples of how we’ve worked with those types of businesses.

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Software companies

Software has already eaten the world, and every business is modernizing their approach. As this continues to take place, the software opportunity continues to grow.

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We are in a position to recommend different software products to both our members and their portfolio companies. We work with different vendors interested in selling to venture fund and startups, and we find ways to partner through discounts, affiliate deals, and paid media.

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As a word of caution, if you’re going to recommend products to your audience, make sure you have some experience using the product yourself. The last thing you want to do is recommend a bad business and lose the trust you’ve worked so hard to build.

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Pro tip: Check out our list of 22 tools we use to run our business + our favorite tools for VC-backed startups

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Service companies

Service companies love working with startups because they realize these companies have a million things they need help with. Similar to software companies, these companies saw value in partnering with us to recommend services to those that follow us.

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Ask for service recommendations is one of the most popular types of questions asked in our private Slack group, so it makes sense for us to form partnerships and do business with these people.

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We haven’t done this yet, but we are in the process of creating a recommended service provider list that makes it easier for our members to find different folks based on the type of service they are looking for.

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Venues

Venues love working with group organizers.

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We’re seeing more and more investors rely on in-person events to build brand. If you’re doing this (or expect to in the future), it makes sense to find a few spots in town that you can rent out to host happy hours, dinners, or small group gatherings.

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You’ll find that you have more pricing flexibility the more often you rent at a given spot.

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Pro tip: Use Peerspace to find venues near you

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Online communities

We’re huge advocates for online communities (obviously). We believe that majority of value exchanged on the internet happens in small groups; it’s up to each of us to find those groups based on what’s valuable.

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You can find online communities for pretty much everything. The Hive Index does a good job categorizing some of these, and we recommend this to anybody looking to find the right group of people online.

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Pro tip: If you’re looking to build your own online community, check out the Community Builder Playbook.

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Ecosystem Partnership Advantages

The more I interact with different players in the VC ecosystem, the more luck seems to find me.

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It’s helped me make the right types of recommendations to other investors or portfolio companies.

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It has increased visibility for myself, Confluence, and the fund.

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Finally, I believe that these types of ecosystem partnerships will make me a better investor and create better returns. We’re still early on this front, but I’ve already seen some of the benefits play out.

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Conclusion

VC is a the ultimate networking game, and building VC ecosystem partners is part of that game.

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I’ve taken the approach that you help most people you interact with. We’ve built Confluence on this principle, and now we have loads of ways to work with all of the different members of the VC ecosystem.

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Hopefully something in this article was interesting and helpful to you. If you’re looking to learn more about what we do, check out website and full list of offerings here.

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