How to raise your first VC fund

As a founding member of TI Platform Management, I have quarterbacked more than $200 million in investments into first-time fund managers around the world. That portfolio includes being one of the first institutional checks into Atomic Labs ($170+ million), SaaStr ($160+ million) and Entrepreneur First ($140+ million), among many others.

Having seen successful returns as a fund manager and an early-stage VC (as well as recently raising my own angel fund), I’ve formulated several best practices and strategies for investing in fund managers. If you want to raise your first fund, here’s how.

Understand the mentality of an LP

Just as VCs bucket startup founders into categories, limited partners (the investors in your venture fund, also known as “LPs”) have an unwritten way of categorizing venture managers. The vast majority fit one of three archetypes:

  • Former founder/operator turned VC
  • Spin-off manager from a mega fund
  • Angel investor with a strong track record

Here’s how each is perceived by institutional LPs and the unique blockers they have to overcome:

Former founder/operator turned VC

Having been through the journey of starting a company, former founders/operators often have strong intuition in identifying founders and an empathy/rapport that raises their win-rate on deals. Additionally, having built an innovative company, they can bring special insights in where the market is headed. Building a company, however, requires different skills from founding a fund.

If you’re a former founder/operator turned VC, expect LPs to ask questions that suss out: