What VCs listen to in meetings
…and what they don’t
Basic human psychology tells us that humans are unable to fully concentrate for more than 20 minutes in a row
What does that mean when your day as a VC is typically a series of 1 hour, back-to-back meetings?
No VC would like to admit it, but inevitably they are not always paying 100% attention. I am not always paying 100% attention. No matter how much coffee I drink, I just can’t do it.
The brain’s coping mechanism is to filter out some content. I thought it might be helpful (for me, and maybe for others) to work out what I filter out, and what I do always pay 100% attention to, in a typical first pitch.
What I filter out:
- Biographies of team members, beyond their single most impressive achievement to date
- Advisory board
- Top down market size/growth stats
- Discussion of exit options or valuations in sector
- ‘Motherhood & apple pie’ comments e.g. “We use agile”; “we are fully in the cloud”; “we are a lean startup”; “we can move more quickly than Google because we are small”
- Detailed description of the tech stack (will want to cover this, but not in first meeting)
- Any discussion of competition before I understand the product
- Everything said by people who are not operational in the company (advisors, non-execs)
What I listen to closely:
- Pain point being solved
- Product demo
- Pricing — why it is disruptive, why it is great value for clients
- Bottom-up addressable market
- What the founders each do & how they work together
- Balanced discussion of closest startup competitor(s)
Would love comments / questions.
Any VC’s ability to pay attention is reduced dramatically if they are checking their phone in meetings. Politely ask them if they are taking notes, and if not to put phone away — most will be embarrassed & comply immediately. Those that don’t aren’t worth working with…