On Saturday Semil Shah, early stage investor through Haystack Fund took to Twitter to solicit feedback for his “Pilot Checklist” – the boxes he needs to check and the factors he likes to consider before making an early stage investment.
Feedback Request: Drafted “pilot’s checklist” for myself when evaluating seed opps. What would you add/subtract? pic.twitter.com/c6m6U4r8dE
— Semil (@semil) May 16, 2015
The tweet started a conversation with hundreds of replies from investors and operators all over the world, including Shai Goldman of Silicon Valley Bank who touted the importance of evaluating communication skills…
@semil would evaluate communication skills via backchannel and/or via process of getting to know the person
— Shai Goldman (@shaig) May 16, 2015
…and Susa Venture’s Leo Polovets who included two considerations about the potential dynamic of the next funding round and the long term moat the company is creating.
@semil 2) Long-term moat? Ideally something like data or network effects that can’t be solved with money by bigger players.
— Leo Polovets (@lpolovets) May 16, 2015
As anyone who has spent time working with and investing in early stage companies can attest to, no decision tree can account for every important factor involved in every deal – different team dynamics, market opportunities and deal structures – but a well thought out thesis can help make your personal investment process more efficient by focusing time and energy on companies that are investible based on your specific view of the market as well as your sectors and business models of interest.
What we learned this week
1. One of Silicon Valley’s top VC firms – a16z – models itself after CAA, the Hollywood talent agency.
In a wide ranging profile, a16z Founder and General Partner Marc Andreessen goes deep on topics like startups, venture capital and how he views the future.
2. In venture deals, it is important to focus on deal terms, not just valuation.
Heidi Roizen of DFJ walks founders through the fundraising process of a mythical company and its mythical founder in an exercise that is equally instructive for investors looking to gain a deeper understanding of how funding rounds unfold and what points are most important to focus on.
3. Provide your startups with more than just capital.
After three months as a VC, Ben Kosinski shares his key learnings (36 of them) to help other with the transition to investing in early stage companies.