Advice for Tech Startups from Angels and VCs

  • Sharon Wienbar, Scale Ventures
  • Steve Kann, Bridgewater
  • Brian Cohen, angel investor
  • Howard Morgan, First Round

What do they look for in an investment?

Everyone wants a thoughtful numbers, even if you are wrong. Lots of patents in a field make them wary. At an event, meeting, or otherwise, don’t forget the value of energy and hand-to-hand sales tactics. But — with extra stress — you need to be very upfront about what your product does.

That advice may seem overly simple, but our panelists see these mistakes all the time. Entrepreneurs get too excited about the number of product fans or market potential and forget to make it clear what the product is.

More food for thought: Lower capital costs mean software is more appealing than hardware products (which will probably soon be replaced by software anyway). Also, can your product be extended? E.g. you sell a medical device, so now you can create a timer to remind people to use it?

Wienbar and Kann echoed sentiments of our previous capital panel, saying they want to see the market is ready before investing. In happy news: size of market and money needed aren’t as big of deals as you may think. People buying into a free service signals nothing — “who’s voted with their wallet?” Kann asked.

Angels are looking for a flexible team (since the product is sure to change). Can you see a consumer problem before the consumer? Perfect. Finally, if it’s a good product idea, there’s a solid chance other startups are working on the same thing.

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