Midnight Text: How do I Prep for a Second (or Third) Partner Meeting?
At Forum Ventures, we pride ourselves on really getting to know the founders we invest in, and creating (what sometimes is the only) space for them to drop their front and be vulnerable. As a result, we often get texts or calls in the middle of the night from our portfolio founders with urgent, confidential, and sometimes “embarrassing” questions. This series chronicles example founder texts and how we answer them.
First, this is a good thing. When a VC brings in more partners to meet you, it means they’re leaning in. They already believe in the market opportunity, your vision, and you as a founder. This next meeting is about deeply understanding your business before (hopefully) offering a term sheet.
In this meeting, they are likely going to ask you about your team, the competition, and your go-to market strategy. Here’s what you need to walk in with:
When VCs invest at the early stages, they are taking a bet on your team as much as the market opportunity. A good opportunity without the right founder(s) will not succeed. With that in mind, they will want to know about a few things:
Do you and your co-founders work well together? Show this through the story of how you met and how long you have worked together.
Do you have the right skills / background? They’ll likely want to know about product, engineering, and sales talent coming from you and your co-founders. If you don’t have a certain set of expertise on the team, then you’ll need to show your plan for sourcing that.
Do you have the ability to hire an A+ team? This is going to be about your ability to sell your vision to others - that’s how you get talented people to take risks on an early stage startup.
Competition can kill companies of all sizes, but can especially young, cash-strapped companies. If you’re a category creator / disruptor, there are likely several others trying to do the same thing at the same time, racing to be first to market. Alternatively, there could be large incumbents looking to build this same thing in house. VCs will want to know more about:
The competitive landscape: Who the current winner is and your differentiator that will attract new customers. If there is no current winner, what will keep a large corporation from building this faster/better, or if they do, what your differentiator will be.
Customer considerations: Your customers’ true alternative to your platform (including pen and paper or simply doing nothing) then your plan to overcome other-solution inertia.
Your moat: As you scale, what can you put in place that keeps customers coming back, makes it sticky for them, and keeps competitors at bay?
Go-to market (GTM)
Be prepared with information around:
Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): The subset of ideal customers who want your solution as it stands now and have the budget to buy today.
Customer validation to-date: What work have you done and what insights did it uncover?
Your value proposition: What outcomes or solutions you provide to customers (and how that helps them save time, improve their image, or make money).
Your GTM plan: The steps you will take to connect with customers and get them to buy.
Pricing: How you’re currently pricing and what levers you have to scale pricing as your customers get more value.
Oh, and one last thing: Don’t pull an answer out of thin air. If you don’t know the answer to a question on the spot, tell them you want to verify and follow up instead of possibly giving them an incorrect answer immediately. Then make sure you follow up as soon as possible.
Any other questions? Ask away.
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