What We Like

 

Passion and Energy


Passion is essential to the success of any growing business. We partner with confident leaders who enjoy clarity of vision and strong executional drive. Entrepreneurial life is challenging; founders with emotional resilience, lucidity of thought, and a strong work ethic are those who overcome adversity and triumph commercially.




Intellectual Honesty


Although passion and drive are indispensable, the best founders are realistic about risks and willing to admit unknowns. Startups will encounter dozens of curveballs. Being forthright about risks and opportunities enables careful planning and is the only way to quickly pivot a business as needs evolve. We work with flexible founders who adapt to changing conditions, are unremittingly trying to learn more about their business and industry, and who are vigilant and honest about uncertainty.




Analytical Thinking


Although passion and charisma drive sales and recruit commercial partners, we look for leaders who take an analytical approach to planning and running their business. Startups encounter challenges every day, particularly when the business is young and rapidly growing. Some issues are unforeseeable, but many can be anticipated through careful planning and research. There is nothing more disappointing than squandering an incredible business opportunity because of an “unforced error” resulting from lack of preparation for an otherwise mitigatable risk. We look for teams that think deeply about the advantages they enjoy and the risks they face. We want forward thinkers—not just about their products and business, but also about future competitors and changing market dynamics: customers, competitors, and commerce never stand still. Although hunches and gut-feeling are important adjuncts to careful planning and analytical frameworks, there is no substitute for good research and a contingency plan. We partner with successful leaders who hope for the best, but still plan for the worst. That’s how you consistently out-maneuver competitors, and masterfully navigate shifting markets. No one person is everything to everyone—we care about a team’s holistic capabilities. Often, co-founders have complementary strengths and diversification of skills is an asset. It never has to all fall on one leader’s shoulders.




Accountability


We want leaders who are goal-oriented and establish clear milestones for evaluating progress. Pre-determined, near-term performance metrics which track how various strategies, marketing approaches, or product decisions are performing drive much higher success rates, and meaningfully reduce wasteful, inefficient cash burn. More broadly, longer-term business milestones allow the founding team to introspect and more readily evaluate tradeoffs of competing strategic alternatives. Often, several approaches achieve the same goal. Using a repeatable evaluation and decision-making framework helps reveal which approaches are most efficient and likely to succeed and can identify burgeoning issues before they balloon into commercial problems. Having a clear understanding of the cost to execute one strategy over another, and an objective way to track internal performance, is indispensable; it is often the difference between early failure and rapid success.




Execution Speed


Startups must move quickly to succeed. Over the course of engaging with entrepreneurs, we pay close attention to what they have accomplished. What milestones have been achieved in that time? What demonstrable progress has occurred? Rapid, visible, forward-momentum is a strong positive





Strong Founders

Good Pitches

Generally, we like concise business plans or investment pitches containing about four to six pages of text content (which often becomes 20-40 slides in presentation format, with accompanying figures).

Understanding the Commercial Opportunity, Competitive Landscape, and your Value-Add


  • What is the market opportunity? What problem are you solving? How many people have this problem? How big is this market now, and how big is it likely to be in five years?
  • What is your solution? How exactly does your product/service solve this problem or improve on pain points compared to existing solutions?
  • How is your solution superior to the status quo? What is the history of attempts to address/solve this problem? What has been tried, and critically why have other approaches failed to succeed? What are you doing differently than others?
  • What are customers willing to pay for your solution, and importantly why are they willing to pay this? Do you save them money? Do you enable new commercial opportunities for your customers? Do you improve convenience?




Execution Plan, Key Milestones, Cost of Execution and Cash Needs


  • How much capital are your raising? How much capital have you already raised, if any?
  • Are you looking for valuation feedback or a lead investor for the round, or is it already priced with no valuation or structuring flexibility?
  • What are the key commercial milestones you need to achieve in the next 3, 6, and 12 months?
  • What is your longer-term execution plan, and what are metrics that can be used to assess progress and success?
  • What is the cost and/or what are the cash needs to hit each of these milestones?
  • Is cash primarily being used for payroll or new hires? Or is it being spent on inventory, capital equipment, marketing, or something else?
  • What is the cash runway for the company post completion of the raise in your base/central case?”




Alternative Execution Plans, Risk Mitigation and Planning


  • Have you thought through alternative strategies for growth? Why did you choose one approach over another? Is the cash cost and cash burn comparable across the various strategies to achieve similar end goals, or do some approaches have higher capital/cash needs?
  • What are the most salient risks in the next 3, 6 and 12 months?
  • What are the longer-term risks over the next 1-3 years? Over the next five years?
  • What strategies have you prepared to mitigate or overcome these foreseeable risks?
  • If the current execution plan is struggling, how will you identify that early-on, and what would be your contingency plans?
  • If you were forced to execute your plan with one-half of the capital you are hoping to raise, what would change in your business plan and key milestones?