Today, Foundry Group, a venture capital firm investing in seed and early stage US-based technology companies, premiered a documentary film illustrating through complex metaphors and stunning montages the secret lives of venture capitalists which has been rarely seen or understood, until now. Set amidst a backdrop of a highly competitive investment environment, the film follows four venture capitalists as they explore the intense relationships between themselves and the entrepreneurs in which they invest. While these relationships are critical to the long-term health of the start-up ecosystem, the VCs chose to communicate only through song and interpretative dance.
The film, entitled “I’m a VC”, is an in-depth, hard-hitting, and emotionally charged look into the human struggle of four venture capitalists trying to make the world a better place. Starring Foundry Group Managing Directors Seth Levine, Ryan McIntyre, Brad Feld, and Jason Mendelson, the film gives insight into the difficult issues venture capitalists face every day, making decisions that impact the lives of many, but perhaps most importantly, their own. The film leaves no stone unturned and delves into topics that few understand, such as determining lunch selections, competing with friends and family for deal flow, and feeling insecure about their choice of college education.
In speaking about the challenges of getting into character, Seth Levine struggled to find his words, “It was particularly hard for me to admit on camera that I had not attended Stanford, Harvard or MIT,” says Levine. “It has always made me feel a bit inadequate as a venture capitalist. But I’m working through it. Playing this role and spending three months growing a beard for it really shouts to the world that I can do anything!”
The film is incredibly timely, as it provides a transparent look into how early-stage VCs are dealing with increasing valuations and intense competition that comes with investing in new startups. McIntyre noted “Seeing my seven year old son pitch his company at a $20 million pre-money valuation to me was tough to take. I thought I would at least get a family discount.” Ultimately, Foundry Group lost the deal to a west coast-based VC firm who offered a much higher price and allowed McIntyre’s son to take some money off the table in the financing, enabling him to purchase the entire Lego Star Wars product line and a 64GB 3G iPad 2.
The film was sponsored by the new book “Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist” written by Feld and Mendelson.
“I am honored to have our book associated with such an important piece of American film making,” said Feld. “I was thrilled that I could find time to play this role between all my other speaking engagements and marathons. And don’t forget to buy my other book – Do More Faster.”
When Mendelson (who wrote and directed the film) was asked why the video was produced, he initially refused to comment, citing attorney / client privilege, but then had a change of heart and offered the following: “It’s been a decade since the balance of power shifted permanently from VCs to entrepreneurs and few people noticed. This film is a wake up call to the start-up ecosystem. VCs have real problems. We have feelings, too.”
The film was shot on location over a two day period in downtown Boulder in June of 2011. The vision came together after months of writing, composing, and choreography in Mendelson’s home studio, but remarkably with no rehearsals whatsoever. The cast was just that talented.
***** No entrepreneurs were harmed in the making of this film.*****