There is no word more sacred and yet over-used than “term sheet” in the entrepreneurial circle. The pursuit of the mythical VC term sheet has blinded entrepreneurs from the real goal of building a business: revenue, customers, users, engagement and retention. Securing a term sheet is about more than money — more than survival. It’s validation. It’s the exact moment when the entrepreneur, the beggar, turns into the auctioneer of precious equity. It is, in the immortal words of Mark Zuckerberg, when a struggling entrepreneur gets to turn the table and declare to the world, “I’m the CEO, bitch.”

It turns out there is a big difference between the technical “terms” of a term sheet and the complicated dance of actually receiving/procuring/pillaring a term sheet. From what I’ve learned over the years as an entrepreneur and now as a VC, the mating dance of term sheets can be put into a few genotypes.

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