Whether it’s just a thought, pre-seed, finding the first LOIs, friends and family, angel-talk or looking for Series A, seed or anything in-between. No idea is too early.
It’s never too early to reach out, but it can be too late. We don’t see divisions between angel, seed and pre-seed — we’re interested across the board and find that founders’ needs are the same early on. In fact, most of our companies came to us when they were a couple people and an idea, having raised no capital before they met us. So, even if you don’t think you’re ready, we’d still like to get to know you. Maybe we can even help in the meantime.
Of course not. While we’re usually the first money in, we’ve worked with a number of teams that raised a small friends and family round before coming to us. That said, if you’ve already raised more than a few million dollars, we’re probably not a fit.
Unfortunately, we’re named First Round for a reason. If you’re raising your second, third or fourth round, consider one of the great VCs on this list of peer-ranked firms.
No. We don’t think VCs predict the future — founders do. And we look to founders to teach us what’s next. All of our companies have one thing in common — we met the founders when they were just starting out.
Yes, our investments tend to cluster around enterprise, consumer, hardware and healthcare. That’s not where our curiosity ends. If you’re building something different, we still want to hear from you and learn about the vision of the future you have in mind.
The biggest factor in our decision-making is always the founding team. How innovative, resourceful and resilient are you? What’s your superpower? Why are you going to be the ones to prevail where others won’t? What in your history shows that you thrive off the beaten path? Of course, we evaluate product and market too, but to be honest, we mostly look at that to evaluate the strength of founders too. Looking at what you’ve done already for this company — and before in your career — gives us a record of hundreds if not thousands of decisions you’ve made to get you where you are today. And that’s what success lives or dies on in this industry: the ability for founders to make really quick, good decisions. We want to understand how you do it, and we give that a lot of weight.
Above all, we look for compelling and contrarian insight into how the world works. What do you understand about a market or a need that no one else does — that other companies in the space get wrong? And why is your company the most likely to win at addressing this gap?
Second, if you have a product in market, a small group of passionate early customers is a strong indicator for us. Several years ago, we heard a handful of our founders raving about a new business intelligence tool called Looker. We reached out to the company and invested. If there are people using your product or service who wouldn’t know what to do without you, we want to hear about it. That’s one of the strongest data points you can offer. As an extension of this, we want to see creative thinking around go-to-market strategy as well as product. The best startups take both seriously.
Third, we take a close look at the market you’re going after. Let’s say you win the whole thing. Is the prize worth winning? The game is long and hard, and some markets are more rewarding than others. SaaS companies have a different range of opportunities than on-premise software makers. First-party retailers are valued very differently from third-party ecommerce sites. To mix our metaphors, before a founder starts building their castle, they have to make sure they’ve picked the right piece of land.
Building an enduring company is ridiculously hard. You have to overcome inertia, have an unbelievable amount of conviction, and be willing to drive through brick walls. You can’t wait for someone to hand you a roadmap. You can’t even wait for a roadmap to come into focus. You have to be able to draw it yourself and execute at the same time. This is an exceedingly rare set of skills — and it’s what we seek to find in every founder conversation we have.
That’s number one. Then there’s all the typical stuff: integrity, credibility, market understanding, learning ability, etc. But there are a few other things we haven’t seen written about or discussed to death that end up mattering a lot:
Yes! While we have large concentrations of investments in Europe, we are interested in companies in Israel, Colombia, US and Canada.