Only trusting operator-first VCs is wrong
Here’s the most popular new belief in Silicon Valley: VCs have to have been founders in order for you to want to work with them.
Effectively, people are suggesting that entrepreneurs use this as a first-pass filter. It’s terrible advice, please don’t follow it.
Here’s why: Experience != Empathy.
What you’re actually trying to solve for by working with a former founder turned VC is finding someone who understands the problems you’re facing. You’re hoping that this experience will lead to them having empathy for the challenges you have to face down and beat.
The problem is, these two things aren’t the same. Worse, you can develop an incredible amount of empathy without having any meaningful operating experience.
Pick a better first pass filter (here are some suggestions: past success, klout in the firm, intelligence and reputation). Then, when you’re doing your diligence on an interested partner, find the founders they backed where the company failed. Call those founders, and ask them, what was it like working with X in the dark days?
Postscript: You may be saying that operator’s have more experience and can act as mentors to you. There’s probably a higher correlation between ability to mentor and having been there, but it’s still not a perfect correlation. If you cut out all non-operator VCs from the start, you’re approaching this in a sub-optimal way.