Transferable Skills? Founders as Venture Capitalists
49 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2022 Last revised: 14 Apr 2023
Date Written: April 2022
In this paper we explore whether or not the experience as a founder of a venture capital-backed startup influences the performance of founders who become venture capitalists (VCs). We find that nearly 7% of VCs were previously founders of a venture-backed startup. Having a successful exit and being male and white increase the probability that a founder transitions into a venture capital career. Successful founder-VCs have investment success rates that are 6.5 percentage points higher than professional VCs while unsuccessful founder-VCs have investment success rates that are 4 percentage points lower than professional VCs. While successful founder-VCs do get higher quality deal flow than professional or unsuccessful founder-VCs, observably higher deal quality does not explain the entire difference in performance. Using an instrumental variables approach to separate unobservable deal quality from value-add, we find that the outperformance of successful founder-VCs is consistent with them adding more value post-investment.
Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation