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After closing your seed round, you’re likely going to be faced with a new challenge: board meetings. It’s easy to think of board meetings as a judging panel for your quarterly performance, but this mindset only leads to worry for founders. Here’s a better way to handle your first board meeting:

The Board Works for You

  1. Ensure each board member leaves the meeting with a task list. Outside of the important help they can provide, this helps focus board member attention on what they can do to help, versus what you might be doing wrong. …

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Today, we’re talking about Adding to your company roadmap. My advice is not to think about additions to the roadmap but instead focus on reprioritizing it.

Every founder has been in this situation — you agree on a roadmap with your team and then a customer comes along with a new and potentially very valuable request. If you ask your product team to add this request to the existing roadmap, you can expect lots of pushback and usually a good helping of pressure to hire more people.

Of course, we only need more people here because we’re asking for more…

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Today, we’re talking about making your own conference. The pandemic has shut down most conferences and thus a large sales channel for lots of startups. If you can’t find a good virtual conference to attend for lead generation — now is the time to make your own. It’s a lot easier than it might sound.

The lack of conferences available at present and the ease of access — clicking a link — mean you can generate a lot of interest, which means lots of attendees.

You don’t need much to get started — Budget marketing materials, via Upwork or Fiverr, distributed for free on social media, an upgraded zoom account and enlisting the help of your friends and investors to be speakers and panelists. That’s most of it and it’s within reach for many startups.

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Today we’re talking about timing when fundraising from VCs. When a larger VC ($2m+ checks) — when they get interested it’s usually very obvious based on their behavior. They will want to talk a lot, in a short space of time, and introduce you to their team. When this happens, you need to make sure you have other VCs interested too. Don’t let one VC get way ahead of everyone else in their process.

We need competition on that term sheet, even if your first choice VC wants to invest. So be strategic with your scheduling — when raising a…

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Today, we’re talking about CEOs doing their various jobs consecutively and not trying to do them all at once.

As CEO, you’re expected to be the driving force of the business on multiple fronts — the vision, fundraising, sales, hiring, HR — the list goes on and on. Being a generalist and so doing a pretty good job across a wide variety of tasks like that, is already incredibly difficult. If you add in trying to do multiple things at the same time, it’s almost impossible to do it all well.

For example, don’t try ramp up hiring while you’re fundraising or don’t try to update your marketing materials when you’re launching your first deployments.

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Today, we’re talking about Founder behavior with investors. I know there are many real life stories of founders doing absurd things induring investor meetings that ultimately resulted in great outcomes. However, I would argue there’s a lot of survivorship bias in those stories and unless you have really exciting traction, from customers or fundraising, almost everybody has to play the game. with investors

Startup investors work on long timelines and have lots of opportunities — unfortunately, this means most founders have to do most of the legwork to build a relationship — doing background research, making small talk, following up first, and expressing gratitude for their deep and off the cuff insights.

Yes, Zuckerberg deliberately bombed a mtg w/ Sequoia in his pyajamas but it’s probably not a good strategy for most. Make people feel special and you might just get special treatment.

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Today, we’re talking about your inbox and fundraising leads. Don’t let your inbound leads govern your entire fundraising process.

For most startups, The investors hitting your inbox are not alway the best fit. For example, if you’re raising a pre-seed round and Series A VCs are reaching out, you shouldn’t prioritize scheduling those meetings.

Instead, Prioritize the meetings for investors that fit with your fundraising plan. For a pre seed round you’d look for angels and micro vcs. Finding those investors will likely involve doing a lot of outreach to fill in the gaps — both introductions and cold emails.

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Today, we’re talking about short term sales contracts. They are bad news for your company but potential customers will often ask for a short term contract on the premise that there’s a bigger, juicier, long term contract coming very soon.

When a customer asks for a short term contract — let’s say 3 months — you should respond with an offer for a 15 month contract. 3 months + 1 year. …

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Today, we’re talking about your market size.

Many startups begin in a small market — $4b or less — either naturally or by focusing on a niche. But remember when talking to investors, you must paint a clear path from your current small market to a much larger market.

Plenty of founders will be comfortable pitching their small market’s virtues and a plan to monopolize it. Investors rarely buy this. They’d rather you be a smaller player in a bigger market.

Some common things you can suggest as your access points to those larger markets: distributing your product globally, adding more services — taking you to different, larger markets, or charging customers more because you’re underpriced now or you move to a customer profile that can pay more.

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Today, we’re talking about when to start hiring.

When you’re receiving lots of inbound demand from potential customers or investors, it’s tempting to think you need to immediately increase your team’s size. I would urge you to wait until that demand becomes real cash.

Lots of potential customers joining your waitlist or asking for your product is very exciting but it’s not the same as them offering to paying for a year of service upfront. VCs hitting your inbox with tales of how excited they are about your vision is not the same as a closed investment.

Be patient.

Wait until you have the cash in the bank and then you can make the hires.

Ash Rust

Pre-seed Investor. Email: ash@sterlingroad.com. B2B, US only. I work with founders for 3 months before investing. More info: http://SterlingRoad.com/process

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