VCs don’t provide Value?

VCs don’t provide Value?

In the fast-paced and uncertain world of startups, Venture Capital (VC) stands as a cornerstone of support and growth.

Despite recent criticisms and comparisons with the influence of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), the role of VC in the startup ecosystem remains integral and multifaceted.

This article delves into the nuances of Venture Capital, exploring its critical role in nurturing startups and explore the relation between unicorns and VCs.

Understanding Venture Capital

Venture Capital is a subset of private equity, characterised by its focus on investing in startups and small businesses with high growth potential. Unlike traditional financing methods, VC funding is not limited to monetary investment.

It encompasses a broad spectrum of resources, including managerial expertise, strategic guidance, and access to an expansive network of industry contacts.

The Lifeline for Startups

Startups often grapple with the challenges of limited resources and the need for rapid growth. VC provides these emerging businesses with the essential capital they need to scale operations, develop products, and penetrate markets.

Without this capital, many innovative ideas might never progress beyond the concept stage. The availability of VC funding has been a catalyst for the growth of numerous startups, turning them into successful and sustainable businesses.

The Multi-faceted Role of VCs

Venture Capitalists bring to the table more than just funding. They offer a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the market dynamics. This expertise is invaluable for startups that are still learning to navigate the complex business landscape.

Through mentorship and strategic advice, VCs help startups in refining their business models, operational strategies, and go-to-market plans.

Additionally, VCs provide startups with access to their vast network of industry contacts, including potential customers, partners, and future investors.

VCs are known for their willingness to invest in high-risk ventures, a characteristic that sets them apart from traditional investors. By choosing to invest in a startup, VCs signal their belief in the company's potential for high growth.

This endorsement often serves to attract additional investment, talent, and customers, thereby enhancing the startup's prospects for success.

Summarising The Advantages of Venture Capital for Startups

  • Access to Capital: VCs often invest significant sums that are not attainable through other means like angel investing or loans. This capital is crucial for scaling operations and accelerating growth.

  • Knowledge and Experience: VCs provide startups with insights and guidance drawn from their experience in nurturing multiple businesses.

  • Network of Contacts: Startups benefit from the VC’s network, which can include industry experts, potential customers, and additional investors.

  • Validation and Credibility: The involvement of a reputable VC can enhance a startup's credibility in the market, making it easier to secure further funding and partnerships.

  • Motivation and Direction: The presence of VC investors can drive startups to set and achieve higher performance targets, keeping the momentum of growth.

The Role of VCs in Unicorn Creation

VCs play a pivotal role in the transition of industries from emerging to mainstream. By investing in disruptive technologies and innovative business models, VCs help in shaping market trends and consumer behaviours.

Furthermore, VCs are instrumental in the creation of 'unicorns' – startups valued at over $1 billion. These investments often involve taking calculated risks in sectors with high disruption potential, thereby paving the way for substantial economic and technological advancements.

In 2021, 340 startup businesses reached unicorn status. According to recent research, that's more unicorns than in the previous five years combined.

Two main factors—increased venture capital activity and the pandemic—have contributed to this growth in unicorns.

As of January 2024, there are around 2,500 unicorns, of which only about 45+ are bootstrapped.

It’s Not All Sunshine

Whilst the difficulty of reaching Unicorn status without funding cannot be misconstrued, it is clear that VCs don’t always get it right, in fact, increased VC activity has inflated the amount of unicorns in an artificial manner resulting in some potentially damming stats for the number of unicorns.

Out of the 2,500:

  • A whopping 93% are “papercorns”: privately valued companies.

  • Around 40% are trading at less than $1 billion in the secondary markets.

  • 60% are “ZIRPicorns”: Their last valuations were from 2020–2022, when interest rates were near zero, and many of these are running out of runway.

  • Around 20% of unicorns are on the cusp, valued at just about $1 billion.

  • There have been very few exits. Only 7% (35 companies) versus 66% a decade ago.

The decrease in valuations is paired with many investors freezing their investments (around 40% of VCs stopped dealmaking in 2023) because money is no longer cheap.

Addressing the Criticism - VC vs. KOLs

Recent debates have compared the value of VCs with that of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). While KOLs can offer significant marketing leverage and public engagement, VCs provide a more comprehensive package of support essential for long-term business growth.

The strategic, operational, and financial backing from VCs is a critical component that KOLs, focusing mainly on public relations and brand awareness, cannot offer.

A key caveat to note within crypto is that many KOLs masquerade as VCs. Venture Capital firms in the traditional world have raised funds from LPs to invest, and this is typically only possible if the founders have exited or are well connected.

Meanwhile, in crypto many VCs are early investors of Bitcoin, who got rich of good investment decisions, as opposed to assisting projects. This is the main caveat which leads to VCs being undervalued within crypto.


Venture Capital remains a critical element in the startup ecosystem, offering a unique combination of financial support, expertise, and market insight. Its role extends beyond mere capital provision, encompassing mentorship, network access, and strategic guidance that are indispensable for the growth and success of startups.

Despite the critiques and the evolving landscape of startup financing, the value and impact of Venture Capital are undeniable.

Venture Capitalists are not just investors; they are partners in the truest sense, committed to nurturing and growing startups into successful, market-leading enterprises. For entrepreneurs and innovators, understanding and leveraging the multifaceted support offered by VCs could well be the defining factor in their journey towards success.