Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

Category Archives: How To Fundraise

Is it possible for an idea to be funded by a VC?

While anything is technically possible, the reality is that venture capital firms do not fund “ideas”. There are many wonderful ideas, and even many people having the same idea in the market at any given time. So what VCs fund is execution. Indeed, VCs only invest in one out of every 400 fully-formed companies that approach them for funding…let alone someone with a

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What are five tough questions that every founder should be prepared to answer in a pitch to VC’s?

How will you make money (and no, advertising is not the answer)? Who, specifically, is your first customer? Second? Third? What is your contingency plan for when this seed round is exhausted, and you are unable to raise any more? What is your API/platform/partnership strategy? How are you going to sell the company, and to whom, within six years?

 

As an investor, what are the most important items that a startup must have for you to invest?

Large and growing market Real domain expertise Provable product need Scalable business model Competitive advantage Platform/partnership/bizdev/API strategy External validation (ideally traction and/or passionate customers) Viable business structure and cap table Reasonable valuation Proven team (tech/product/design/marketing/sales/domain/etc.)

But most important of all, it must have an entrepreneur on whom I’m willing to bet. And the attributes I look for in that entrepreneur are:

As an investor, what is the worst presentation that you have seen?

I’ve written on this topic previously, including David S. Rose’s answer to Startups: What is the worst startup pitch ever?. While I’ve never laughed outright during a pitch, I’ve certainly had quite a few occasions where I had to work hard not to wince. The problems with bad pitches tend to fall into the following major categories:

A Valid Business Model Requires Real Customer Sales

“Will the dogs eat the dog food?” This rather crude expression weighs heavily on the mind of all good startup founders, no matter how confident they appear. We all know the products they give away, and the ones purchased by family and friends don’t count. The real milestone, proving the business model, is that first product sold for full price

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Ten minute-pitch: What to I include in my slide deck since it’s not really an “elevator pitch”?

What is the maximum amount of money a pre-revenue mobile Internet startup can expect to raise from the VCs?

To start with, a pre-revenue mobile company cannot expect to raise anything from “the VCs”. Venture capital funds invest in only one out of every 400 companies seeking funding, so the odds of your particular startup getting funded are astronomically against you.

Next, venture capital funds invest primarily in later stage companies that have already shown significant indications of success (known in the industry as “traction”.) 

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8 Key Questions To Expect In Investor Due Diligence

If you really want to impress a startup founder as a potential employee, or you want to be a smart investor, you need to know the right questions to ask. These are the questions that get past the hype of a founder “vision to change the world,” and into the realm of real business strengths, weaknesses, and current health.

Some

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What are some good ways to get to meet with VC’s without introductions?

Actively build, maintain and make use of the amazing social networking tools that are available. Right now, there are over 11 million people who can provide an introduction to me through LinkedIn (and I am far from an open networker.)

If you can’t figure out how to get one of those eleven MILLION people to recommend you to me, that’s

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Up-to-date Investors Want Social Proof from Startups

I just read Social Proof Is the New Currency on the Social Media Today blog. Author Daniel Lay writes: 

Whether you like Mark Zuckerberg’s mug or not, the social web is here to stay, and businesses that can integrate social proof into their marketing efforts seamlessly will join this new “socially rich” class. We mean richness in fans and followers, not number

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