TheFunded tries matchmaking, with a catch

John Shinal · June 16, 2008 · Short URL: founder Adeo Ressi has said that the venture capital industry is broken.

To help fix it, his site has been dedicated so far to letting entrepreneurs critique, rate or rant about their experiences trying to raise money.

Now, Ressi is trying to jump start the process for those same entrepreneurs who want an introduction to their desired VC firms.

Today the site is rolling out a new feature called TheFunded Connect that lets its members post a pitch to the site to have it rated by other members, 95% of whom are CEOs, Ressi says.

But there's one catch: members who use the service will lose the one thing that has so far enabled them to be brutally honest in their critiiques.

"People who post a pitch lose their anonymity," Ressi told us, because the pitch will include an email address which can be linked to the reviews that CEO has posted.

To maintain their anonymity, members will have to create a second account "that won't be associated with their reviews," Ressi says.

As of today, TheFunded has 8,000 members, up from 6,000 in February. We'll have to watch if that number spikes due to members who want to pitch creating multiple accounts, as contributor David Howard pointed out in his comment to our story.

Those who want to use the new feature post their pitch to a draft section to have it critiqued by their peers. Once they get feedback and update it, they can move it to a "live" pitch section and can name up to 30 funds that they'd like an introduction to. 

Other members who like the pitch and know someone at the target firms can recommend it to any VCs they know there by filling out a form.

The form has the email address of the partners at the desired firm already filled in (see screen shot below).

"You can introduce a company to a VC firm in seconds," says Ressi of the new feature. He is encouraging those using it not to post confidential information.

Since most VCs prefer to look at deals referred by someone they know, the theory behind the new feature makes sense.

But a big part of succeeding at VC investing is getting to a quality deal before rival firms. So getting a referral about a startup that is in the process of being referred to up to 30 other VC firms may take some of the punch out of that recommendation. And experienced entrepreneurs with good VC contacts are still more likely to use their own networks.

I also have a hunch that partners at top-tier VC firms may look down their noses at a referral from TheFunded, which has shaken up the balance of power in their industry.

Still, by allowing startups to pitch a lot of funds at once, it might help further shift that balance in favor of entrepreneurs -- especially inexperienced ones without a fat Rolodex. All this depends, of course, on how many of the companies using TheFunded Connect do indeed get funding.

If none or few do, the feature could have trouble gaining momentum. 

Ressi is starting with five companies and taking a wait-and-see approach as to how it will work. He's thinking that a company should be rotated out of the pitch room once they get an introduction to all the funds they've asked for referrals to, but he plans to use feedback from his community to refine the process. 

"Let's see how the members react. I'll adapt the process to that rather than... have a preconceived notion."

UPDATE: One of our community members, Clupedia CEO David Saad, who is also a member of TheFunded, raised a good point in his comment on this story. Until now, TheFunded attracted members who felt strongly enough about a VC funding experience to post a comment, good or bad. Now, the site may start to attract a different sort of member, one that is coming to the site to get funding and is not so motivated to post opinionated reviews of VC firms. Could that eventually water down the tone of the site? We'll see.


Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes