That being said, there have been instances where some VCs have used unscrupulous techniques to take advantage of startups, let's showcase a few:
Overvaluing StartupsInflating the value of a startup can help a VC get more equity for their investment.
This can be done through a higher pre-money valuation, which increases the size of the company's total equity and reduces the amount of equity that the startup founders retain.
A higher valuation can also give a VC more leverage to negotiate better terms, such as a larger board seat or a stronger say in the company's decision-making.
This can hurt the startup in the long run by setting unrealistic expectations and making it harder for the company to raise additional capital in the future. Additionally, it can also lead to legal issues if the valuation is based on false information or if it violates securities laws.
Insider tradingVenture capitalists may take advantage of privileged information to make investments that are not open to the general public. This could mean that a VC with insider knowledge about your or your competitors' startups may use that information to make investment choices only is his/her advantage.
Before accepting investment from a VC, or even going into talks, you should conduct thorough due diligence to make sure the VC has a clean track record and adheres to ethical standards.
This can be harmful to the startup, as insider info gives the VC an unfair advantage. It will also potentially harm your startup's ability to raise capital or achieve your goals.
Conflicts of interestSome VCs may have conflicts of interest that could affect the well-being of a startup. For example, they may invest in a competitor or hold an ownership stake in a company that provides services to the startup.
Insider trading and conflict of interest are coming often together. Some VC's (and I experienced it myself) pretend to be interested. They go into the numbers, they ask about your vision etc...
This information gives them an advantage for their other investments
This can be harmful to the startup, as the startup wasted a lot of time and resources and gave away probably "secrets"
Pressure tacticsSome VCs may pressure startups to accept less favourable terms or give up more equity than they would otherwise have to.
By using pressure tactics, they may want to exert greater control over the direction and decision-making of the startup, particularly if they have concerns about its future prospects.
This can be harmful to the startup, as when the VC exerts too much control over the direction and decision-making of the startup, it can lead to a loss of independence and creativity, potentially hurting the startup's long-term prospects.
Intellectual property theftIn some cases, VCs may steal a startup's intellectual property and use it to benefit their own investments.
Before accepting investment from a VC, conduct thorough research on their investment history and track record, including any incidents of IP theft. This can help you identify potential red flags and make an informed decision about whether to work with them.
This can be harmful to the startup, as when the VC steal your intellectual property, it can kill your startup
Maybe one day I will write about my experiences, when I know I will not be sued