For a very long time, venture capitalists reveled in their exclusivity. They took meetings with those they knew, or those who came personally recommended. Then they went golfing, and let inexperienced entrepreneurs fend for themselves.
Over the past year, however, the venture capital market has undergone something of an accessibility revolution. Office hours, institutional incubators, socially-networked superangels, no-cost elevator pitch events and more.
The latest step in the right direction comes tomorrow morning, when Bain Capital Ventures launches an online “Innovation Center” for early-stage entrepreneurs. [Update: Site now live here]
“Quite a number of us helped start companies before we became venture capitalists,” says Jeff Glass, a managing director with BCV and winner of E&Y’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in 2006 for his work with M-Qube (acquired by VeriSign). “And when we talk to current entrepreneurs, particularly in the Northeast, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback saying that they wished there were some packaged resources that startup folks could take advantage of.”
The real jewel of BVC’s Innovation Center is an intermediated Rolodex of superangels, law firms, executive recruiters, accountants and venture-friendly banks. Users can select the investor or service provider whom they would like to contact, upload some information and BCV makes the connection. Kind of like its own little LinkedIn (which just happens to be a BCV portfolio company).
BCV also offers the ability to sign up for office hours at the firm’s Boston headquarters, which will begin taking place every Friday afternoon.
Finally, the site provides a variety of entrepreneur resources, including case studies, data and how-to information (hiring, creating a biz plan, etc.). This last part is where BCV’s Innovation Center — or at least the demo site I saw today — still seems to be a bit lacking. Hopefully they’ll add more info about sample term sheets, including VC traps that sometimes snare first-time CEOs.
“It’s a work in progress, and we hope it works as part of the larger startup ecosystem,” Glass says. “As VCs, we put people and resources together, so this is kind of just adding structure to what we already do.”