February 14, 2023

Dispatches from a London VC: with no deals in sight, VCs finally have time to date

When in doubt, just insult their portfolio. They'll instantly love you

Rosie Wood

4 min read

Rosie Wood is a (fictional) associate at the VC firm Mild Conviction. It’s a generalist, multistage fund with offices in London, Paris and Verbier. It's not like normal VCs — it doesn't need to do a tonne of due diligence to decide on an investment. Instead, it simply looks for companies and founders that are pretty good. Because pretty good is usually good enough. Catch up on her other dispatches here. 

For the first time since I joined a VC fund, I feel like I actually have a personal life. 

Though the partners make us come into the office five days a week, everyone goes home at 6. We aren’t doing any deals, so I spend most of my time making market maps of GenAI companies in smaller European hubs we probably won’t visit, or replying to pitch emails to tell founders we’re looking for profitability so aren't interested. Some of my colleagues are even going to pilates classes at lunch. 

My project for the slow days? Getting myself a date for Valentine’s Day. Time to load up Bumble again. 


Luckily, I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to talking to tech founders and men in finance — the only people I seem to match with on the app — so I don’t immediately throw my phone across the room when I get messages like the ones Tom Blomfield sends his SF honeys. 

I couldn’t believe my luck when I matched with the one and only Harold Steblings, the famous podcaster-turned-VC. Sure he’s a few years younger than me (he still has a chance at dating Leonardo DiCaprio), and he does seem to spend a lot of time tweeting, and his Bumble profile pic is the same as the one on Crunchbase…  but it felt like fate was playing me a good hand.

Our first date was at The Pelican in Notting Hill. He apologised in advance because he wasn’t drinking and was also doing a January fast so he wouldn’t be having any food either, but I was just happy for the chance to actually meet him. 

Any chance of having anything close to a 20-minute conversation, however, was quickly spoiled. At the pub, we immediately ran into the 19-year-old German edtech founder everyone is talking about, who was having dinner with Margot Robbie and a few other semi-famous people. And like any good VC, Harold abides by the rule that one should always be closing a deal, so we ended up having dinner with them. But I got the edtech founder’s WhatsApp so I guess a win for me? 

I took an Uber home and texted Harold to thank him for the great night. I got a reply the next morning. 

“Thanks so much for a great night. Hear you guys are having trouble fundraising so probably not going to work out. But let me know if I can be helpful!”

The feedback I got through a friend who also knows Harold is that he’s looking for a girl at Series A who can follow-on in his seed-stage rounds. I guess it wasn't meant to be.  I respect a man who wants to stay on strategy — there certainly weren’t many of those out there last year. 

For my next date, I decided to try something different. I thought going for a growth-stage crossover investor would mean they’d have some more time — growth is dead right now, right? — but it turns out they're kind of PE bros disguising themselves with Allbirds, and they’re doing a lot of due diligence on deals that may or may not get done, which makes scheduling a date kinda hard. After two weeks of diary back-and-forth, we got there: drinks at 6pm in Mayfair on a Tuesday (he was flying to France the next day to check out a fintech deal). 

He was super cute — and even wore an actual button-down shirt (though he had a gilet on top). We had the same interests: cooking (though he never has time to do it) and the outdoors (though he never has time to go). But somehow, he wasn’t into the conversation. He kept checking his phone and even took a quick founder call halfway through our date (I caught up on emails). 

When he came back, we started talking about his firm’s portfolio. It might have been the fancy cocktail but I accidentally played the honesty card and blurted out what I really thought. 


“I don’t know why you’re so busy. None of your portcos is actually doing that well, right? Most have done layoffs and I heard that the pet tech one is blowing through cash…” 

It was like a light had gone off in his brain. He was instantly obsessed with me — the person who had dared to say it like it is. He’s already sent me flowers ahead of Valentine’s Day and we’re going to Soho House Paris this weekend. 

Until next time, let me know how I can be helpful,