(Founder Stories) SoftTech VC’s Clavier: An Investor’s Role Isn’t To Give Orders

SoftTech VC’sJeff Clavier has edged his way from a true Silicon Valley outsider (born and raised in France) to the ultimate insider. Since moving to the valley a decade ago, Clavier has launched three funds and invested in more than 100 companies, the likes of which include Mint, FitBit, and Fab.

Not bad for a guy who claims to have jumped “into venture by accident.”

Having just raised $55 million for his third fund, which will invest on average “$400,000” per startup, Clavier sat down with Founder Stories host, Chris Dixon to discuss how he built his business.

Clavier tells Dixon by 2004 it had become financially feasible to back “customer internet companies.” He says what used to cost $5-million had been reduced to half-a-million. So, “for three-and-a-half-years I sort of built my dealflow, and sort of my footprint in Silicon Valley by doing angel investments.”

While not a major player at the time, he notes, “I was still a VC and I could help entrepreneurs with the financing and figure out how to structure an investment, how to look at term sheets, how to pitch and so on and so forth, and so slowly but surely I sort of built that initial presence in the valley.”

Having helped guide the growth of scores companies and learning just as many lessons along the way, Clavier tells Dixon “you can’t have any pride as an investor because you need to be able to help in anything you can.” He concludes, “you are not running the company, you are just supporting it, the point of view is you don’t give orders.”

Episode II of this interview is coming up. Past Founder Stories episodes featuring leaders of ZocDoc, TripAdvisor, Charity: Water, Turntable.fm, Bump and many other startups are here.