Book Review: “Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs” by William H. Draper

The author went through the entire history of venture capital as his dad practically started the industry. It’s almost like a family business as his son, Tim, is also involved in the venture capital business. The book is thick with good stories and anecdotes of successes and failures. It’s not a how-to book to start your business but it did have a good explanations for each role of the players (funders, team, the pitch/product/market, deal and relationship) involved in funding a start up.

The top ten avoidable mistakes of entrepreneurs serve as good lessons:
1. creating only optimistic projections about market size and customer acquisitions.
2. Underestimating timelines.
3. Trying to do everything yourself.
4. Failing to master the elevator pitch.
5. Not downsizing when necessary.
6. Being inflexible.
7. Not developing a clear marketing plan.
8. Building a board that consists of only friends.
9. Not taking action in a recession.
10. Not knowing the right way to approach venture capitalists.

What it takes to succeed: brains and education, energy and passion, expertise, vision, and integrity, and a sense of humor.

I’ve learned that venture capitalists add value to providing the advises and industry contacts, and even needed leadership talents to guide the startup to a profitable end. The end game may not always be IPO as the IPO has gotten harder due to the recent law change to merge banking with investment banking. Being bought up by a big company seems to be the norm nowadays.

I envy the author’s experiences from private venture capital investors to service public role like the Ex-Im bank, and even to fund socially-serving non-profit organizations. Very interesting journey the author has traveled – a real treat for the readers.