Founders are like pilots. Where pilots steer the lives of their trusting passengers, founders carry with them their employees and users, bringing them through wind and turbulence. Whether it be fueling for the journey, recruiting the right crew, or navigating to the destination, the difference between success and failure at each of these points is often the difference between life and death.
If you’ve ever been a pilot, then you are familiar with the Pilot’s Checklist — a collection of essential commandments that guide each flight. The Pilot’s Checklist helps pilots run through their operational mechanics: are my ailerons ready? Is my fuel gauge reading correct for this particular flight? Are my speed and altitude meters working?
If only such a thing existed for founders.
The questions founders face at the earliest stages of company building are recurring in nature — where should I look to hire great talent? What third party tools should we use? Who should we raise our next round of financing from? Where should our office be located? Founders tell us they feel like they’re reinventing the wheel as they solve these problems that are critical for running a company, but aren’t central to product/market fit.
What we do
KPCB Edge is a team of builders, investing in seed stage founders working on emerging areas of technology. We spend two days each week investing in seed stage companies, using the rest of our time to build tools and products for the founders we invest in, toward the ultimate Pilot’s Checklist for founders. We all write software and have backed, built, or managed products used by thousands of people.
At Edge, we focus on solving specific problems that founders across our portfolio face — recruiting, third party tools, financing, operations, or just connecting with fellow founders. We believe that at the earliest stages of company building, founders can be helped as much by great software as by great people. That’s why we’re taking a software defined approach to venture capital.
How does Edge invest?
We built Edge to answer the question, “What would we want from our seed investors if we were raising a round right now?” Our investments follow a simple pattern:
- The most founder friendly terms — We are often the first outside capital a founding team may raise. At this stage, it doesn’t make sense to us to speculate about valuations or exits. We believe that conviction at this stage is binary — you either believe in a team or not. We use Edge SAFEs — straightforward, uncapped convertible securities (which we’ve open sourced here). We don’t request information rights, pro rata clauses, or board seats.
- 72 Hour SLAs — A founder’s time is expensive, and any spent away from shipping product and selling to customers is, often, time wasted. We aim to be respectful of our founders’ schedules — in general, Edge investment decisions are made within 72 hours of our meetings with founders.
- Teams working on emerging areas of technology — While we’re excited to work with exceptional teams working on any problem, we spend the bulk of our time in the following areas:
- Virtual reality
- Computer vision
- Digital health
- Mobile marketplaces
In the coming weeks, we’ll write more about each of these areas, explaining why we believe these are important problem areas that we want to help founders tackle.
Like the companies we back, Edge is in its earliest stages, and we’d love to hear from you if you believe there’s something in our own Pilot Checklist we should be thinking about.