At the time, I did not have a strong opinion either way. Having raised over $10 million in venture capital in my career, I have seen both channels work. Sometimes, an associate becomes an internal advocate for your start-up and convinces the partners to invest. Other times, associates were either too young or inexperienced to make a good assessment of a start-ups value.
I asked several other entrepreneurs what their experiences were during fund raising and most of them said that it’s much better to go directly to the top and talk with a partner as opposed to working from the bottom up. Here are the top three reasons why:
Time: The fund raising process can take a long time for many start-ups. The best way for an entrepreneur to raise funds is to get several VC firms competing for the term sheet around the same time. If you end up first working with an associate, he or she will have to convince the partners to meet you or learn more about your start-up. I have heard from entrepreneurs who said that associates kept them dragging along for weeks saying that the firm was interested and needed time to evaluate the deal. In the end, nothing happened.