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Monthly Archives

February 2021

VC Minute: Being Too Early

By Startups

Let’s talk about being too early. 

I talked to a founder the other day who was frustrated by being continually told he was too early. It’s especially frustrating when you know the people you’re hearing this from actively invest in companies at your stage. But an investor saying, “you’re too early” is not the whole story. 

There are of course cases where you are actually too early. You can vet this quickly with an investor by asking direct questions early in the meeting, such as “Do you invest pre-revenue?” “Do you invest at my stage?” And, “what do you look for in companies at my level?” With those questions you’ll know if you are actually too early, and even better you’ll know what you need to talk to in your presentation. 

When you are talking to an investor that writes checks at your level and they’re telling you that you’re too early, here’s the real problem: you haven’t sold them on your vision

Mike Maples from Floodgate says that great founders are time travelers. I love this. I’m going to paraphrase his explanation and riff on it a bit: You need to come from the future and tell the present day investor what the world is like with your product at full scale. How have you changed people’s lives? And as importantly, what are the inflection points that bring your future into existence. 

When you sell the vision you’ll have an investor who wants to bring that world into existence with you. Even if you are technically too early, you’ll have a strong lead for your next round. The earlier you are, the stronger you need to sell the vision. Even with traction, you still need to sell the vision.

Take a minute, time travel to the future, look at the world and tell me what it’s like. 

Listen to the whole episode here:
Startup of the Year Podcast Episode #0047 – Suneel Gupta Explains How To Be “BACKABLE”

On this episode of the Startup of the Year Podcast, Frank Gruber talked with Suneel Gupta at the Startup of the Year Summit in the fall of 2020. Suneel teaches innovation at Harvard University and is the author of the upcoming book, “BACKABLE,” which just came out on February 23rd. The book is rooted in Suneel’s journey from first-time entrepreneur to being named “The New Face of Innovation” by the New York Stock Exchange, and explores how to get people to believe in your ideas.

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VC Minute: One More Word You Should Never Say

By Startups

Let’s talk about one more word you should never say while fundraising: bridge.

Saying you’re raising a bridge round immediately conjures this question in investors’ minds: “is it a bridge to nowhere?” Investors will ask this of themselves or of their colleagues. It’s gone from being a joke, to an old joke, to simply an expected next question. 

If you say this while fundraising it immediately puts you in a defensive position, having to explain why this is not a bridge to nowhere. 

If you never want to call your funding round a bridge, what do you call it? 

The beauty of the current seed fundraising environment is that it’s a phase. You may raise a Pre-Seed, Seed, a Seed 2, a Seed Extension all before you raise a Series A. None of those is a “bridge” and none should ever be labeled as such. It may seem minor, but investors can no more stop themselves from picturing “a bridge to nowhere” than you can prevent yourself from thinking about a pink elephant no matter how emphatically I tell you not to think about a pink elephant. 

Good luck raising your Seed 2 round!

Listen to the whole episode here:
Startup of the Year Podcast Episode #0046 – Zvi Band Talks About Scaling a Company

On this episode of the Startup of the Year Podcast, Frank Gruber talks with Zvi Band, the co-founder CEO of Contactually, a top CRM which empowers professionals in real estate, consulting, and other professional industries to build authentic relationships. He is also the author of the book Success is in Your Sphere.

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