The complete guide to your first seed-stage investment: Part 4, What is TheVentureCity looking for in a potential startup investment?

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Securing investment isn't about being a perfect startup - that doesn't exist. Instead, it's about having the right elements: a strong team that executes quickly, a considerable market opportunity, a data-driven mindset, and proof that you're solving a real problem. And much like baking a cake, the best results depend on the method used to combine the ingredients. At TheVentureCity, we're confident we've cracked some of the best founder recipes. Here's what pleases our palates in the First Ticket Product-Led Growth Program.

Strong product-market fit

For us, revenue isn't everything in a startup; it can be a good indicator of progress but we're more concerned with user retention and engagement. We look for evidence that your startup creates genuine value for people, and that comes from data showing that more people use your product or service from month to month, and that they repeatedly do so. We don't just want to see that people try your product, we want to see that they stick with it. 

Product-led foundations

TheVentureCity is product-led, meaning that we're interested in companies that use their product as the main driving force to acquire users. As a result, we invest in startups that have passed the MVP stage and have an iterated, optimized product. Founders that are comfortably in this phase will be able to demonstrate a strong product market fit (see above).

Solid technical team

Your team are the mechanics of your business engine, and we want to be reassured that your startup has the right people to build, repair, and review your product. We expect at least three full-time team members in product or tech roles, including a combination of a CTO, developers, UX or UI specialist, and Product Manager. We take a "fail fast and learn" approach to experimentation, so these roles are necessary to iterate in an agile way. 

Coachable, data-driven founders

Our program demands a level of openness from founders. We work best with entrepreneurs who are humble, self-aware, and ready to learn. Our team of investors consider themselves an extension of your team so it's important that there is genuine chemistry in the relationship.

At the same time, founders need to be data-driven, making decisions based on figures and both quantitative and qualitative information. We especially like founders who can showcase how they've pivoted or taken strategic steps because of their data insights. We also appreciate founders that leverage tools to more deeply understand their data. 

From a fundraising perspective, our founders know how to take a long-term approach to capital, maintain enough runway to develop their product, and secure funding from a diverse number of places. They run a lean ship and have strong networks, with a keen eye for connections with new investors and leads. 

A strong cap table

TheVentureCity is best suited to founders who are well versed in the VC game and understand how to keep hold of their equity. A strong cap table means you have a large equity sum (ideally 80% or more at the First Ticket level) and that you're well poised for Series A funding. For founders that don't yet have such holding, we strongly recommend you read Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson for guidance.

Future market radar

Investment is about seeking big returns, and if your startup is a niche area, no matter the usership or retention, it'll be a hard sell to VCs. Ask yourself as the founder, "is this going to be a billion dollar business?" "Does the market provide enough room for this to grow into a unicorn?" (or iguanacorns as we call them at TheVentureCity). Remember, the scale of your company doesn't depend on what the market looks like today, but what it'll look like five to ten years down the line.

As investors, we know that startups are still experimenting with their products, customer segments, and business model. We're not looking for a polished final version of your company, but the components that make up the wheel to get rolling.

Listen to your customers, your data, your team, and your investment instincts. Then, come and speak with us!