This post is part of the Hacker Noon Shareholder Series, where we interview some of the super-investors who made the site you're on right now possible.
Mark Tung is the Managing Partner of Change VC—a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on big ideas that generate positive social or environment impact, alongside financial returns.
"Guidance, experience, resources, relationships are what early stage and first-time entrepreneurs really need."
As an founder and entrepreneur turned VC, we asked Tung for his advice to those batting for either and/or both of those teams.
I started off as an entrepreneur and realized money was just one facet of what’s needed to create a successful profitable company. Guidance, experience, resources, relationships are what early stage and first-time entrepreneurs really need. I wanted to offer something that I needed when I first started.
Wake up every morning to TechCrunch, Hacker Noon, WSJ, and WWD. Meetings, meetings and more meetings throughout the day and brainstorm sessions/recaps of the industries at night. Everyone has money or access to money so maintaining and building new relationships is the most important variable in this industry. Luckily, my first company was in the hospitality business, so eating and drinking is in my DNA.
Don’t do it unless you have a competitive advantage or relationships that the bigger VCs don’t have. You need a very specific niche. My specialty was access to athletes/celebrities from being the best in nightlife marketing and branding, which gets me heavy deal flow—especially from consumer product startups.
If you don’t have money, raise money immediately—I’ve never met a CEO that can properly start a business when they still have to worry about how they are going to pay their bills next month.
When you don’t need money, always only take money from the best people. People will always contribute more when they have money invested.
Always the people. Smart people with bad ideas can figure it out and pivot to be successful. Not so smart people, even with a great idea, will probably still fail.
Best pitch came from this company called Jason Markk. They came in with great packaging, an engaging before and after demonstration, and left behind samples for us to try. The best pitches will be the ones that stand out, good or bad.
Do not follow up unless you have a major update to share. If a VC wants to invest, they will chase you.
Always ask the VC for the list of their investments and then reach out to the founders of those companies.
Since we are the earliest stage possible and the pitch is usually just an idea, team composition and team experience is the most important factor in our final decision.
No experience in the industry that founding team wants to enter.