TheUnFunded.com: A Conversation Starter?

I’ve always known that Josh Kopelman is smart, but his April Fools’ prank, TheUnFunded.com, is brilliant.

Had he wanted to open a dialog on the deteriorating relationship between Venture Capitalist and Entrepreneurs he could not have found a better catalyst. While the site was intended as a joke, its coverage and commentary on TechCrunch speaks volumes about the way in which entrepreneurs and investors view one another.

In admitting to the gag, Josh acknowledges the growing divide:

The fact that so many smart people actually believed that such an outlandish site could be legitimate speaks volumes about the state of the relationship between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. . . . while I don’t want to read too much into a silly April Fool’s Day joke, I think it does shine a little light on the level of mistrust and ignorance within the VC/entrepreneur ecosystem.

If the commentary and controversy stirred by TheUnFunded.com is to be believed, entrepreneurs believe most VCs are a waste of skin and VCs believe most entrepreneurs are a waste of time.

Hyperbole to be sure. Still, the dialog does suggest that the co-dependent relationship between entrepreneur and investor is shrouded in misunderstanding and misrepresentation. As much as these firms position themselves as partners and catalysts for great ideas, VCs really aren’t in the business of building companies, except as a vehicle for making money. And there really are only one or two “next Googles” in any given fund life; most startups will be lucky to survive beyond their first 3 years and those that do will be luckier still to provide a respectable exit to their investors. Most of the vituperative commentary, I expect, comes from first-time fund-raisers who believe that because investors have money, they should invest it in their firms. And those who don’t are blindingly stupid for missing the golden opportunity which, frankly, may not be as golden as the next guy and certainly is not likely as golden as the entrepreneur believes.

While Josh intends to take down TheUnFunded at the end of the week, I’d love to see it stay, but as an open, transparent platform for an honest and constructive dialog between investors and entrepreneurs. Because if ever there were an industry that needed more transparency and a lot more trust, it’s this one.

1 Comment »

  1. I’d disagree. I think that a good portion of the anti-VC rhetoric comes from people who’ve worked for funded companies and actually experienced some of the things that VCs do in the name of furthering a company that actually increases burn and tanks it in the long run.

    Additionally, if you happen to have a start-up that isn’t in or near the Valley (or Valley II: The Pacific Northwest), you are often faced with the “well, if HQ isn’t here, you’ll never make it” mentality.

    There are a lot of people out there who survived the 1.0 bust who view taking VC as an evil to be avoided. Then again, they wouldn’t have been discussed on a real or imagined Unfunded simply because they wouldn’t have gone near them. But yes, that was one of two sites that “got” me on 4/1. I think there is a lot of bad blood there.

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