What Do You Look For In Startups?

I’ve been getting this question a lot recently. I think everyone who asks the question isn’t really expecting that unique of an answer, but find it helpful to ask anyway in hopes of gleaning something specific to me or the firm.

All investors pretty much look at team, product, and market, in various ways.  We are no different.  But in a nutshell, here’s our take on what we look for that mirrors pretty closely to these three.

1. Golazo Potential. The #2 reason why VC’s pass aside from strength of team is “it’s too small“.  It’s because of fund return economics, but also because of personal interest and ambition.  Golazo is a spanish slang for a “beautiful goal” in soccer, and we are most excited about opportunities that have the potential to be uniquely spectacular. My partner Lee has shared more about this here.

2. Capital Efficient Beginnings. Although a company might have a spectacular goal, we focus on companies that have the potential for capital efficient beginnings.  This is a fit for our own investment strategy as seed stage specialists, but also because we notice many of the best entrepreneurs take a capital efficient approach to starting and testing their businesses.  Extraordinarily few internet based businesses started out by raising $10+M before ever launching a product.  Our model works when a company is able to prove a lot with modest capital, and then leverage that early validation and market knowledge to really lean in and start growing their business.  Some of these companies may raise quite a bit of capital to grow, but we look for opportunities where significant, value-creating milestones can be achieved with modest capital up front.

3. Excellent, authentic teams. We look for high-potential founding teams with some unique insight into the market they are going after due to authentic and deep prior experiences.  This is in contrast to some companies that are hatched through a more academic approach of “what’s an opportunity that fits X, Y, or Z attributes”.  Some great companies have been birthed through a more academic approach, but we tend to get excited about authentic founding stories, and feel like on the margins, authentic entrepreneurs have better intuition and determination in the early stages of building a business.

Rob Go

Thanks for checking out my blog!  Here’s a quick background on who I am: 1. My name is Rob, I live in Lexington, MA 2. I’m married and have two young daughters. My wife and I met in college at Duke University - Go Blue Devils! 3. We really love our church in Arlington, MA. It’s called Highrock and it’s a wonderful and vibrant community.  Email me if you want to visit! 4. I grew up in the Philippines (ages 0-9) and Hong Kong (ages 9-17). 5. I am a cofounder of NextView Ventures, a seed stage investment firm focused on internet enabled innovation. I try to spend as much time as possible working with entrepreneurs and investing in businesses that are trying to solve important problems for everyday people.   6. The best way to reach me is by email: rob at nextviewventures dot com

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