He spoke with BusinessWeek.com to offer his advice to entrepreneurs looking to raise venture capital. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow.
What is the biggest mistake you see among the entrepreneurs seeking funding today?"
"Peter Fenton is only 34. Yet not only has he already led three investments that have sold for substantial amounts of money, he also was in the rare position of being fought over last year by two of the valley's most prominent venture firms. Benchmark Capital raided Accel Partners specifically to pull Fenton, who had joined Accel in 1999, over to their ranks.
Why did Benchmark bother? It could be the endurance-obsessed nature of Fenton, a committed triathlete who has completed four Half Ironman competitions and is training up to 20 hours a week for another.
"Bailing on a company is just something you don't do," he said, crediting several mentors, along with his venture capitalist father, Noel Fenton of Trinity Ventures, for the lesson. In his view, a VC's commitment should be personal and enduring.
If you doubt that Fenton lives that philosophy, just ask John Lilly, chief operating officer of Mozilla and founder of Reactivity, a 9-year-old company bought by Cisco for $135 million in February, and whose board Fenton joined in 2000, when he convinced Accel to invest."