Questions & Answers

Posted by Cheryl on 2013-11-18 18:13:51
Title: What are the 3 top things investors look at in the first 2 years of a start up business?...
Category: Money

What are the 3 top things investors look at in the first 2 years of a start up business?


Yung Wu
2013-11-25 15:40:16

Different classes of investors have different perspectives, but let me share the framework that I use in my venture platform (NFQ Ventures). Note that as an early stage "micro-VC", we have a slightly different perspective from prototypical Angels or later stage institutional venture capital funds (for more, see blog post on "Parsing the Venture landscape").

So, what do I look for when I am considering an investment?

As a venture investor, I want to know that the founder and the business can drive a +10x return on my investment, and that NFQ can materially help to achieve a vision of global thought and market-share leadership. Because we work very closely with any founder that we back, we look for chemistry, trust, candor and an absolute commitment to winning and to having each other's backs. Simply put, once we close the financing, we instantly convert from being investors into being business partners with our founders. Right away, that should tell you that venture financing is not for every business, and taking on venture money with a business that is ill suited for it can turn out to be a very painful affair for all involved - but that is a topic for another post :-).

Here's a couple of things that we look for, when considering taking a position in an investee company:

  • Market Definition (what problem is the technology and business trying to solve? Where is the market in the overall adoption life cycle? Is this market a "rising tide" or a saturated, competitive category?)
  • Added value (can NFQ accelerate value creation through our contacts, access to talent, business infrastructure, strategic partners & next stage investors that we are able to orchestrate for the company?);
  • Stage of Company (is this an idea, technology, product, solution or a business? How is the business cash flowed? Is the business pre-revenue or pre-profit?)
  • Track record of the Founder(s) and experience of the Leadership Team;
  • Evidence (customer and partner traction, referral rate? win ratio? repeat business ratio? growth rate?)
  • Referred from a trusted source;
  • Investment structure - Does the post-money allocation of equity between founders and new investors remain balanced and motivating in fully diluted cap table?;
  • NFQ factor (we prefer founders who have demonstrated an ability to fight through challenges and thrive during tough times);
  • Growth potential (we look for investments that can generate +10x in return, given the time that we spend with our investee companies. So high growth potential is "table stakes" for our involvement);
Are we a typical venture outfit? Probably not. But I think that you might find some of these same elements in the evaluation criteria of most venture investors that you may be seeking. In most cases, they will not be as active as NFQ in your business, but that just means that they will be seeking even more evidence that the Market, Momentum and Management is on their side, before considering the investment.

Oh ... and in case you were wondering, NFQ stands for Never Fu@#ing Quit :-).

Good luck with taking your company to the next stage Cheryl.

Yung Wu, Executive Chairman, Fuse Powered, Inc.

Ayan Abdi
2014-04-05 14:54:14
Followup question:
This question is Yung Wu, I have really GREAT app that will make people lives way easier and also will save alot of money. I've spoken with couple app developers and I got couple contracts to look over before signing it. My question to you is since you're a successful business man, and I have absolutely no experience when it comes to business. I would like to know what I would need to do to before signing anything, I would like to get some help.

2014-06-03 10:13:40
Followup question:
I loved your answer thank you for that made me laugh as well.