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Why You’re Not Even Getting In The Door

What I learned screening 991 funded startups.

Mike Troiano
Nov 19, 2018 · 7 min read

97.5% of deals that meet our basic fund criteria for category, geography, and stage never get to the level of a deeper review and discussion.

That’s higher than you might expect, especially when you consider it’s for startups that already secured at least one round of funding. It struck me it might be worth sharing the most common reasons we decide not to look at a company, in hopes of helping startups who want to get looked at more.

1. Doesn’t fit our fund / not interesting to me

The number one, most common reason we don’t dig in on something is that it doesn’t look like a fit for our fund strategy, which is right on our home page:

2. No fucking clue what it is

The second most common reason we screen a company is that we can’t figure out what they do, or why it matters. Honest-to-god.

3. Solution in search of a problem / Weak business value proposition

The third most often reason we don’t look at a company is it feels more like a science fair project than a revenue-generating enterprise. Too many companies that put the “How” before the “Why” in their communication, explaining over and over how revolutionary their robust, patented blockchain-open-containerized-AI-serverless-self-driving-AR platform is, but not what it does for the people who are supposed to buy it.

4. Unlikely a venture scale opportunity

Speaking of which… next on the list of why we pull a company from our prospect list is that the market they’re serving just doesn’t seem big enough to deliver a venture-scale return.

5. Weak Founder/Market Fit

Finally, coming off that idea… How well do the people leading this venture understand this problem from the perspective of the customer?

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