14 ways to assess seed stage investors

I believe our workforce needs to be normalised to reflect wider society.

My goal is to create pathways for exceptional people from lower income communities to succeed in tech. I believe founders and investors from low income communities are undervalued.

I realised more than ever that I need to focus more and more on mission-aligned work:

  1. Helping founders from low-income communities grow and scale startups (capital, network, recruiting, customer intros).
  2. Increasing participation from people from low-income communities to invest in tech startups. Especially black people.

I empathise and understand this audience deeply as well as the privilege in the network I continue to develop in VCs and startups at the core of it. At its core this is about wealth redistribution leading to generational wealth and legacy. That is why it is important to share important information like this!

Advice to first time founders seeking investors:

  1. Seek investors who are not passive financiers.
  2. A partner who focuses on investing in very few companies (vs spread betting).
  3. A partner who rolls up their sleeves and get to work helping on strategy, recruiting, and customer intros.
  4. Speak to their portfolio companies and do your research before selecting who you partner with.
  5. Angels over VC’s because they are more flexible in their financing options e.g. revenue-split, negotiate on equity, debt options etc.
  6. Bootstrap for as long as possible and develop a good traction story, spend as much time understanding your customers and sharing their stories with investors and other customers.
  7. Understand what customers are telling other customers and prospective customers. This leads to virality through word of mouth.
  8. Solve problems manually at first in unscalable ways if you have to. It is a great problem to have once you have traction and demand outstrips supply and automation becomes the answer.
  9. Get early employees on the same page so they can make decisions based on shared principles when you are not there (as you can’t make every decision as you scale).
  10. You have to build a product that is: 
    a) Viable: Can it make money? 
    b) Feasible: Can it be done? 
    c) Desirable: Does anyone want it? 
    d) Frequent & Big: A lot of people frequently suffer from this problem
  11. Don’t be afraid to say no
  12. Burn rate is important, better to hear a “Yes or a No” rather than a “Maybe message” from investors that stings you along.
  13. Recognise whether you just need a new job, “being your own boss” may not be the answer for you.
  14. If you truly care about solving a problem, you shouldn’t be romantic about starting a business if the option is there to join someone already solving the problem (it’s insulting to your staff to go on about how much it sucks to have a boss)

Originally posted as a Tweet storm: