A Day in the Life: Chris Smart, technology venture capitalist

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6.30am: I switch off the alarm before it goes off. The household has

already come to life with the cat wandering around noisily, looking for its


7.00am: Head to the station and board the 7.15. The journey from Cambridge to Kings Cross in London takes about an hour.

Fifteen minutes into the trip the newspaper is discarded and

I take out my notepad and contemplate the day

ahead. The rest of the time serves to read one of the

ever present business plans of which I keep a small stock in my briefcase. It

looks like a good one and I make a mental note to ring the team and arrange a

full pitch.

8.45am: At my desk at our offices on Cavendish Square in the West End. I pick up

telephone messages left late yesterday and early this morning (with

continental Europe an hour ahead, invariably the early messages come from

our activities there).

I return the call to venture capitalists in Paris

with whom we are completing a French deal. Discuss the latest progress

in the due diligence on the company and agree to send interview notes to

each other with references about different aspects of the

transaction. A time is set to have discussions on the latest version of the

legal documentation.

The other two calls result from press coverage on the official launch of the fund

contacts from the past who spotted the articles and want a run down of our interests (TMT), the

typical stage and deal size (first round and $3m) and the source of the $100m investment in us (IDG). Both agree to send in details of prospects with which they are involved.

9.15am: Tackle the mail and e-mail and field more calls for feedback on

plans under consideration. Set meetings in the days ahead with various

management teams to progress opportunities of interest.

10.00am: Meet with management from a company establishing a platform

enabling applications on mobile phones to integrate with the operator's

infrastructure. Three partners (Kit Gould, Ajay Chowdhury and I) take

part in this second meeting to consolidate our views on the

opportunity and management.

After the team leaves a quick de-briefing

takes place and each individual is in a position to rank our interest

level. This crucial step allows us to focus our efforts on the

opportunities that have highest priority for the fund.

11.30am: Work on documents being produced with our advisers to ensure

that we are jumping through the appropriate regulatory hoops.

12.15pm: We are still recruiting to build our team and a candidate

associate is interviewed. The balance of skills and fit with the small

team is crucial and the conclusion is that we should see more candidates

before drawing up a shortlist for final interviews.

1.00pm: Stroll with a colleague to Nani's, the local sandwich shop, and

return to the office read a few articles in the FT while munching. Make

a phone call to book tickets to a show for Friday evening.

1.30pm: Another company arrives for a pitch the discussion after is

conclusive - the team just does not show that they can deliver on the

plan they presented and we rapidly agree not to proceed with this one.

2.45pm: A conference call is scheduled with two senior analysts from IDC

(part of the IDG group, like ourselves). They have had briefing papers on one of the

investment opportunities on which we are doing due diligence. Their sector

knowledge enables them to provide focussed commentary on the

positioning of the company in the sector, competitors, comparable

companies in the sector and in others and the general state of the


3.30pm: The next couple of hours are welcome space to catch up on the

correspondence and paperwork following the meetings of the day, to make

a few calls organising more meetings and to skim plans that arrived during

the day.

5.30pm: Taxi to a networking event - drinks followed by a

presentation by Mike Lynch of the software group Autonomy and then more networking

exchange notes with VC colleagues and meet a number of

entrepreneurs with interesting stories.

8.45pm: Leave Kings Cross on the train home, arriving in time for

dinner and to watch Newsnight. I'm pleased that I quite often get home

earlier in the evening, in which case I go to the gym, play a game of squash or

tennis or spend time with my growing children before they turn in.

11.15pm: Ten minutes reading my latest novel and lights out!