As an active angel investor, former angel group leader, and the co-founder of MergeLane, an accelerator and fund for high-growth startups with at least one woman in leadership, I’ve heard thousands of investors ask tens of thousands of questions. I’ve also learned that startups’ answers to these questions can be far more insightful than a rehearsed pitch. I’ve written previously about the Key Metrics Every Startup Should Know by Heart. This is an additional list of the most frequently asked investor questions.
What holes do you have in your team and how do you plan to fill them?
What do you envision your role(s) to be going forward?
Why are you the right CEO (or other role you hold)? Do you plan to continue in that role in the future?
If you could write your own job description, what would it say? What key job functions are you most passionate about?
What makes you and your co-founder(s) good partners? Are there common themes or topics around which you tend to disagree?
How do you balance your personal and working relationship with your co-founder(s)?
Passion and Commitment:
Why do you care about this?
Have you invested your own money? If not, why not?
How much have you been paying yourself and what is your projected salary?
Are you working full-time on this?
Finance and Operations:
Do you have a lead investor?
Can you tell me what other investors have committed or expressed interest?
What affects your margins and how do you expect this to change over time?
What is your exit strategy?
If it is acquisition, who are likely acquirers? What acquisitions have they made recently? Of what kinds of companies? At what multiples?
What kind of a return should I expect on my investment?
If money and resources were not barriers, what are three improvements you would make to your business?
If money and resources were not barriers, what team members would you add?
How do you plan to manage the shift from a small business to a scalable company?
How much demand can you currently handle and what would it take to scale up?
If you raised more money, could you grow faster? Why? How?
Market and Competition:
How big is your addressable market and how did you determine that?
What prevents others from copying you?
Your current competitors have more money and resources. What prevents your current or potential competitors from pivoting and doing the same thing?
Other Frequently Asked Questions:
What questions should I be asking?
If you were an investor considering an investment in your company, what is the biggest hesitation you would need to overcome?
If you were your own mentor, what’s the most important advice you’d give yourself?
What questions do you have for me?
What do you enjoy most about the day-to-day management of the business? What do you enjoy least?
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What keeps you up at night?
I invited Evan Walden of Getro to share his thoughts on recruiting top talent in the current environment and the role VCs can play to help their portfolio companies address this ongoing issue.
My colleagues Sue Heilbronner and Leah Pearlman Iaunched their Marco Polo Channel, Inside Coaching, this week. Here’s why and how I’m making the channel a part of my weekly routine.
A few of our portfolio companies considered whether to reopen their previous round or open a new round with a higher valuation. If you are considering the same question, here are the thoughts I shared with one of those companies.
Somewhere in my childhood, I learned to hide and feel guilty for my success. It wasn't until recently that I realized how much that inhibited my ability to actually achieve success.
I thought I had overcome my fear of peer pressure when I was 16, but this coronavirus experience has proved me wrong. I broke my commitment to tell the truth at a time when candor could have been of service.
Over the past few months, I've seen an increasing number of pitches from startups tackling the world’s biggest environmental and social problems like climate change, gun violence, and the mental health crisis. I'm also finding that I’m becoming more determined to invest in world-changing startups.
Kim Smith, executive director of the League of Innovative Schools, shares her thought-provoking insights to help drive racial equality in our venture capital industry, and makes a powerful call for white co-conspirators who are ready, willing, and able to fight.
I am grateful for the clarity and inspiration this emotional time has afforded me. I am more driven to do work that matters than ever before. Because we still have a long road ahead, I'm going to take an emotional breather.
I find that I have to expend three times more energy to feel productive during the holidays. This pattern tends to persist not only during the week of July 4th, but for the entire month of July.
We sourced five startups from our Fund81 VC forum members to present for our June forum. Check out this episode to hear pitches from these incredibly tenacious entrepreneurs.