1. Get more efficient talks
VCs focus on one point: the fact that the business model needs to be profitable. „Is it scalable?“ Everybody has heard this question before and seen how it quashes interesting discussions. The point is clear and understood well. Repeating it on a panel is not efficient or productive to discussions.
2. Preserve the sophistication of debates
„I don’t invest in good ideas. I invest when there’s a chance on the market.“ Umm. Yes. VCs frequently offend founders by interrupting sophisticated conversations and by imposing a more “realistic” lens. But: This is not how ideas are created. If you enter a conversation with a fixed view (which is the case for VCs since profit is a rule and not a principle that can be balanced with other principles), then you are wrong in a debate.
3. Avoid submission of founders
Have you ever seen a group of young founders submissively listening to a VC? It’s a little bit like the Stanford prison experiment. Whenever a person is given power over people, they’ll use it. But VCs hide an important truth that gets lost with their façade: it’s not you applying for their money. It’s them applying for your shares. Investing is a (pretty old) business model. Every investor needs good figures on his own balance sheet too. That is why they need to find good founders. Speaking of startups as “targets” implies, the VC is the powerful bird of prey seeking a little grey mouse. But it is the other way around: founders should see themselves as Juliets while VCs are the Romeos that should not say too much stupid stuff under the balcony.
Get connected nevertheless!
Making panel discussions better without VCs doesn’t mean founders shouldn’t talk to VCs at all. Founders don’t get money because they send a perfectly designed pitch deck to some email@vc-address. I haven’t met anybody yet who received funding without more or less having been part of the investors network before. That is the No. 1 step before showing figures. Getting to know someone works best at eye level. Founders should focus on that. It’s beneficial for both. Founders and VCs.