The trouble isn’t so much that the associates don’t know what actually constitutes a good business, it’s that they believe that they are uniquely qualified to make that determination. Further, they actually believe that their few years of business school entitles them to an opinion as to whether or not a leadership team is going to get the job done. This is particularly pronounced and troubling when the management team has 20+ years of experience, but the associate doesn’t think is “cool.” If the associate doesn’t like you, you don’t get through them as a gate keeper.
When working to raise venture money, your path to meeting with the partnership must and will run through the associates. They are primarily concerned with their ability to remain employed, which means minimizing their risk. They are not going to push hard for anything, for that would entail taking on risk. They don’t score points for being risky, and they certainly don’t score points for pushing for a deal which doesn’t get done. They score points by not wasting the partners’ time, and showing the partner what the partner thinks they want to see. As such, they are even more risk averse than the partners will seem.
Sad but very true. Beware the rookie associate who asks for your b-plan!
As for their future:
There will be a great number of unskilled (except in the art of “doing deals”) blue shirt and khaki pant wearing MBAs walking around Silicon Valley looking for biz dev jobs.