August is for Building
It’s August and my inbox is full of auto-responders from my VC peers that describe vacations with varying degrees of creativity.
As an entrepreneur, I always found August to be a great time to focus on building product with no distractions. Now, as an investor, it took 5 years, but I have come to believe that the August recess is further proof that VCs just operate on an academic calendar — working in the fall and spring semesters with time off for holidays and then disappearing for the summer.
I am not sure why this is, but maybe it stems from the reality that most VCs are in the middle stages of their professional lives and have families with children who, like all the children before them, operate on the academic calendar. VC’s are people too and want to do things with their families — so the industry moves according to the calendar set by the best private elementary schools in Palo Alto. Alternatively, like nuclear powers in the late 20th century, the August exodus is proof that VC’s are primarily driven by fear and specifically, the fear of missing out. When you are driven by FOMO, you can never take vacation unless EVERYONE takes vacation…so maybe one summer a long time ago, the grandfathers of the industry all got together and agreed to a blood oath armistice around vacation time…and it stuck. It could also be that people who deliver client service to make a living are at the mercy of their customer’s calendar and when your clients work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you have to be on, always — or you fail. People who have the fortitude to work like this, non-stop all year with tremendous passion and no vacation are more likely founders than VCs and thus the VCs need august to catch their collective breath before diving into an autumn of chasing entrepreneurs like so many brightly colored leaves flying on the first crisp breeze of the season.
The take away for founders is don’t try to raise in August — no one is in the office and even if one partner is, her partners are likely to be out so decisions don’t get made. BUT…don’t try to raise in July because everyone else is trying to get the VC’s attention before they go on vacation. AND…Don’t count on a fast process in September because the VC’s are “digging out” of their inbox and have calendars “fully booked” until October after being on vacation in August. THEN…layer in the holidays (Jewish and Christian calendars please) and don’t forget a week for “ski week” in March or April and you have the VC year.
The positive side for those of you building companies is you can focus on building product with no investors around to lend their opinions for much of the summer. Happy August and happy building. See you around Halloween.