What is the role of a VC association, like NVCA? Can they help me raise funds?

There are dozens of VC associations around the world (Stern Fisher has prepared a list of them, which you can view online), and most of them provide the following services: advocacy on behalf of the industry (e.g. with respect to government regulations), promulgation of professional standards, training, conferences and research. While VC associations do not typically provide direct assistance to entrepreneurs, the work they do in the areas of training, conferences and research can indirectly help entrepreneurs raise funds.

The training programs organized by VC associations typically cover issues such as term sheets, shareholders agreements and instruments (e.g. redeemable convertible preferred stock). Understanding these topics can help an entrepreneur negotiate with a VC firm, and during the training program the entrepreneur can meet investment professionals of all ages – including both junior associates and senior professionals that are part of the faculty.

Conferences sponsored by VC associations are another good way to meet investment professionals, who otherwise can be somewhat elusive. While you may not have time to have a meaningful discussion, you should be able to at least exchange contact details and set up a time to meet.

Research conducted by VC associations can also be very useful as you plan your fund raising efforts. For example, the directory of members usually contains not only contact information, but also the sectors and stages preferred by each VC firm. Knowing this can save an entrepreneur considerable time and money.

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