As I take part in panel discussions on the investor’s perspective on startup financing and growth, it strikes me how formulaic these events tend to be. A group of investors provides insight to a room full of rapt entrepreneur attendees. Sometimes the entrepreneurs get to ask questions, and sometimes they don’t.
The power dynamic is fascinating: We the investors share our knowledge and the audience is there to listen, and, if they are able, to pitch investors on the panel for a brief moment. But, only if we let them.
Investors are in the driver’s seat, and that is the accepted norm. The person with the gold makes the rules, indeed. Yet I see this very same dynamic when entrepreneurs are the experts; they are on panels because they are “successful.” Success generally being defined as someone who has grown a large business and sold it — often for a very high, life-changing amount and using investor capital. Again, those with the most money are respected.
It makes me wonder. How have we ended up with an entrepreneurial ecosystem where the center of the discussions are gatekeepers with the money?
My own experience in the venture industry might…
Read entire column at WashingtonPost.com.