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’ve spent most of my life learning how to turn off my passion for just long enough to eat and sleep. I’ve never had to learn how to turn it on. After a recent long stretch without that passion, here's my hypothesis as to why I think it is coming back.Read more ➞
I tried for many years to maintain a jam-packed schedule with zero margin for error, but life never seems to fit into perfectly scheduled boxes. After a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back moment, I’m learning to live off of the brink of disaster.Read more ➞
I've spent more time than necessary on our fund administration and reporting, in part because of some of the easily avoidable administrative mistakes I’ve made over my 10-year journey as a startup investor.Read more ➞
Over these past two months and throughout all of 2020, I've learned something that I want to record to make sure that I remember: My anxiety about the potential outcomes is almost always worse than the actual outcome.Read more ➞