This VC Firm is Experimenting with a New Open Application Process

April 23, 2015

9:00 pm

A 2014 ranking of venture capital firms lists the Philadelphia, PA-based VC firm First Round Capital as one of the top VC firms in the country. Indeed, in fourth place – behind Andreessen Horowitz and ahead of Google Ventures – it’s arguably one of the best among even those at the top. And, I mean, it’s got plenty of reasons for being one of the best VC firms – with 81 deals conducted just in 2014, and investments in companies like Birchbox, Square, Uber, and Warby Parker. Well, now, the seed-stage VC firm hopes to push itself further to the top through the introduction of a new Open Application feature for startups.

According to First Round Capital, ideas are pretty easy to describe on paper; however, the issue remains that there’s simply no adequate way to portray a person through paper. Traditionally, VCs rely on referrals from people within or close to their networks to convey whether any one particular person or set of people can serve as great founders. This trust on referrals is founded on the fact that more can be learned from a person through real-world, engaging interactions than through written word; because a person referring a founder has had real-life interactions with that founder, he or she can provide a more accurate representation of that founder than a mere paper application.

“We wanted to find a way to replicate an in-person pitch, so we’ve chosen to make the Open Application a video interview through HireVue,” reads the description on First Round Capital’s website. “Think of it as a virtual pitch. After signing in to HireVue, you will be asked to record your answers to a series of questions asked in real-time on video. They are designed to mimic what you’d be asked during a standard pitch, and all you need to prepare is what you’d bring to any venture meeting.”

Hoping to move away from this traditional VC approach and reliance, First Round has launched Open Application for Startups, a method through which startups submit video interviews as a way for First Round to learn more about the teams behind any particular startup idea. The first 100 interviews submitted each month will be selected for review by the partners at First Round. From there, startups simply have to wait seven to ten days after the monthly deadline for a response.

In spite of this new offering, however, First Round Capital adds that it’s not moving away from traditional referrals; rather, they request that startups continue to reach out to them through that traditional method. The new Open App initiative is simply a way to provide an opportunity for those startups that can’t find land themselves with a referral opportunity.

If you’re interested in applying through First Round Capital’s Open App initiative, the next Open App deadline is May 31. Submit your application now.



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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.