Why it is so hard to raise 1st-time fund

Some say it's 10X more difficult to raise 1st-time fund than raising for a startup. I tend to agree based on our experiences.

The main reason is investors in VC funds (LPs) usually need to see track records of the fund managers. This makes launching 1st-time funds extremely hard as most LPs just flat-out don't do 1st-time funds. 1st-time fund GPs have to fight through the chicken-and-egg conundrum to get their Fund I done.

When it comes to startups, most founders are first-time founders so no one bothers to ask about "track records" as a founder. For the relatively minority of serial entrepreneurs, if they have done exits north of $500M, every VC will be scrambling to get into the deal so no question about track record will be raised.

For the rest of the serial entrepreneurs, a series of failures, i.e. bad track record, is actually mostly seen as a positive as founders are assumed to have learned a lot (why they're still not old). Hence the "track record" narrative doesn't stand.

I've run into many founders who aspired to become VCs (while pitching me for their startups -- always a bad idea). Most of the time I'd tell them if you can't raise $1M for your current startup round, you probably can't raise $100k for a VC fund so don't bother.

 

QZ.com's quote of me on the subject of Xiaomi valuation

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