More On Seed Rounds

There was a good discussion in the comment threads to yesterday’s post. This comment from Rick made me think a follow-up post would be helpful.

Seed, Later Stage, etc. all mean different things to different people. That’s where the confusion comes from.

I wrote a post explaining how we think about seed last June. Here’s the important part from that:

The first step you need to climb is building a product, getting it into the market, and finding product market fit. I think that’s what seed financing should be used for.

The second step you need to climb is to hire a small team that can help you operate and grow the business you have now birthed by virtue of finding product market fit. That is what Series A money is for.

The third step you need to climb is to scale that team and ramp revenues and take the market. That is what Series B money is for.

The fourth step you need to climb is to get to profitability so that your cash flow after all expenses can sustain and grow the business. That is what Series C is for.

The fifth step is generating liquidity for you, your team, and your investors. That is what the IPO or the Secondary is for.

At USV, we like to invest in a company once they have launched a product and we think that they have either found product market fit or they are well on their way. If you think about the “five steps” that leads us most often to invest in the Series A stage.

But occasionally one or two people, working nights or weekends, or working in an accelerator, or working for themselves and bootstrapping, are able to get a product into the market, get adoption, and get to or close to product market fit. They don’t need $3mm or $5mm, they need $500k to $1.5mm to finish off the search for product market fit, allow them to work full time on their project, and hire a few people to help them improve the product. That is the kind of seeds we like to do at USV.

Here are some examples:

Delicious – Joshua Schachter had built Delicious working nights and weekends, launched it, got traction, and needed $1mm to leave his day job, start a company, hire some people, and scale the product.

Tumblr – David Karp and Marco Arment built Tumblr while doing consulting to others. Tumblr took off and they needed to stop doing consulting work so the two of them could focus 100% of their time on Tumblr. Spark and USV each invested $300k to help them do that.

Etsy – Rob, Haim, and Chris built Etsy themselves, launched it, and were scaling the business. They had raised a little money from two local entrepreneurs but they needed more to keep Etsy growing. We participated in a $600k seed round to help them do that.

MongoDB – Dwight, Eliot, and Kevin had invested their own money and time getting the 10gen “stack” into the market. They wanted a financial partner to help them continue to fund the effort to find product market fit. USV provided seed capital so they could do that. They ended up finding product market fit for the database, MongoDB, but not the rest of the 10gen stack and they refocused the business entirely on the database and then were able to demonstrate product market fit and get to a Series A.

Foursquare – Dennis and Naveen built the initial version of Foursquare themselves. They launched the product and started to get users who liked the product, including a bunch of folks at USV. We liked what they were up to and thought they were close to nailing product market fit. We led a seed round that allowed them to hire a bunch more engineers who essentially rebuilt the product so it could scale.

Kickstarter – Perry, Yancey, Charles, Luke and maybe a couple others got the initial Kickstarter service launched and struck a chord with it. They had raised some capital from friends who helped them get the product into the market. USV led a seed round so they could hire a team and scale into the market.

Amino – Ben and Yin built Amino, went through Techstars, got their iOS product into the market, and proved that there was a market for native mobile communities. We led a seed round to enable them to hire a few more people, get an android app into the market, and nail product market fit.

OneName – Ryan and Muneeb built and launched OneName while they were in Y Combinator. We saw what they were doing and liked it a lot. We led a seed round to enable them to flesh out the product and build out the initial use cases.

Those are not the only seed investments we’ve made at USV. We’ve made over twenty seed investments over the life of USV. But these are good examples and I think they do a good job of explaining what it is we like to fund at the seed stage at USV.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. falicon

    Examples go a long way. These are all great and give people A LOT more direction I think.

    1. Rick

      You’ve just come off an “If you build it they will come” project that didn’t pan out. Do you think if you had funding and was able to spend more time with the market, instead of coding, you would have been able to change your product to provide better market fit?

      1. falicon

        I don’t think of anything I build as “if you build it they will come”…the world is too crowded a place and people are too busy to think that way…building is important of course, but so is marketing, sales, and all the other parts that go into creating a ‘real’ business.Coach Wizard hasn’t found product/market fit (yet)…but funding hasn’t really been the issue/problem…in fact had I raised money, it would likely have killed the project by now (because once you raise, you have a specific timeline and constraints you must execute within)…instead, and since it’s on my own dime, I can take as much time as needed to figure out the ‘right’ product that I want to build and that will connect with my target…then figure out how to market it…once all those things are out of the way *maybe* it would be time to raise outside money (but only if I needed it to scale/grow quickly so as to own the space before the copy cats woke up to the market).build, market, sell, grow…outside funding is really just about helping with that 4th thing (grow)…use it for any other part and you are setting yourself up for a world of grief, frustration, and disappointment.

  2. JimHirshfield

    I’d love to see those 5 Steps from the June 2014 post made into a graphic…not because they’re hard to grok as written, but because they’re so well-suited to industry doctrine.Who’s up for making a picture book of Fred’s best posts?#ijustdiscoveredasideproject

    1. Anne Libby

      Ask Jason Li. I think he’s cartoonified at least one of Fred’s posts in the past?http://addoilcomics.tumblr….

      1. JimHirshfield

        AVC, A Graphic Novel (???)

        1. Anne Libby

          Heh heh. Posts in Volume I, Comments in Volume II.

  3. Brandon Burns

    You’ve used the term product market fit so much that you’d / we’d probably benefit from another follow up post tomorrow to define that, too. Its definition is far from universal.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Good point BB

    2. Brad Lindenberg

      You just know when you have PMF. Customers sign insertion orders quickly without much convincing because your product solves a problem, or online sign ups start growing quickly because they like your service and you start getting lots of feedback on how you should iterate to improve the product to be even better…

      1. Brandon Burns

        Because there are multiple opinions on the definition of / signals that you have PMF (…, you can only “just know” when you have PMF according to one source’s definition of it, which is hardly absolute.Thanks for your definition of PMF. Hopefully we’ll hear some other definitions, too.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Brad Feld wrote a great post last week or so about The Illusion of PMF…albeit for SaaS companies. Very enlightening in any event:

          1. Brandon Burns

            Yeah, my comment was written with Brad’s post in the back of my head.As Brad pointed out, it seems no one agrees on the specifics of PMF. Which means that people go around saying they have it, and some believe them, and others often don’t.Which makes it more interesting, at least to me, to hear all the varying points of view.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Yeah…we’re on the same page. I think some people view PMF as opinion; others as fact. And therein lies a wide spectrum of what can define PMF.

          3. Jordan Thaeler

            Cash flow positive, growing 30% MoM, with market opportunity > $20B. That is PMF.

          4. Brandon Burns

            Cash growing 30% MoM = PMF? Not 20%? Not 50%?Or wait, you have to have cash? Fred wrote a post two years ago titled “Revenue Traction Doesn’t Mean Product Market Fit.”…I’m not poking at you or saying you’re wrong. Just pointing out (and laughing, really) at how the definitions are all over the place.Fred should host a Hackpad for everyone to put in their PMF definitions. That would be super interesting.

          5. Jordan Thaeler

            It’s going to be different for every partner. Some partners will check the PMF box if your name is Elon Musk and you’ve got a piece of paper with a drawing; or more specifically how Homebrew invested in Reserve when they previously, and specifically, said they don’t do restaurant investments (Garrett Camp is Reserve co-founder). Others are going to want 50% MoM with profitability, or 100% MoM for B2C plays. There is no firm number that details PMF, but the trend is very, very much lower middle market growth equity for Seed/Series A.

          6. Scott Barnett

            Yup – I immediately thought of Brad’s post too when I read this. At the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all try so hard to turn this all into “metrics” that can give you the 0 or 1 as to whether you are fundable or not, seed or A, etc. It all comes down to whether the VC sees and agrees with your vision and is willing to partner with you. Until you get repeatable traction, it’s all about the vision.

          7. Twain Twain

            It’s true for consumer product-market fit too. Myopic’s the company that believes PMF is a single discrete event.See what happened to the MySpaces and others that thought they had PMF.That’s why even at product design phase, it’s vital to think of PMF as being polymorphic.

          8. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. JamesHRH

        I used to agree with you.But, I now think that PMF can be demonstrated:- this VISION- has this ADOPTION path- that requires THESE PEOPLE- to have THIS USAGEPretty demonstrable & measurable, while not being definitive.

        1. Brad Lindenberg

          Totally disagree – the PMF is demonstrated by the market wanting/buying/using your product not the founder telling a story.

          1. JamesHRH

            Well, no nice way to put it. You are wrong.You described product fit. Market is the story side of the fit.Lots of large companies lose track of their story. The reason is that they lose track of why they exist and why customers should do business with them. Its not a startup only issue – read Lew Gerstner’s book on turning around IBM. Listen to any coach (hockey in particular is big on this theme) talk about building an identity.Business is about attracting people. If you do not know why they should come to you, you are making them do all the work. Not a good plan.The lean startup folks have your issue – if you do not know why you exist, then you can not lay out a vision for your future. Neither can you accurately describe the nature of the business you are building, (its long term product portfolio boundaries, geographic / demographic footprint, etc.) nor can you describe the parameters or qualities of your path to market.You are a scattering seed in a field you think is fertile and watching to see what sprouts.When you are looking to find product market fit, you are planting roots and telling people what type of plant is going to come out of the ground (i.e., big frigging tree, not grass). When what you said would grow starts to come out of the ground, you have initial PMF.If your seed turns into a forest of big frigging red Oaks, not the big frigging Blue Spruce you predicted, you adjust course, harvest the oak and head for the pay window.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Rick

            That is the problem. People pick the start up method first. They figure lean is all the rage so it must be best..If more people planned properly less start ups would happen. Less people would fail and less investor dollars would be lost.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Blake

            Speaking of relevant listening to sports coaches, advice can be gleaned from Belichick explaining his methods of getting players to see & do things “the Patriots way”:…(Thanks to Brad Feld for the link)

      1. Brandon Burns


  4. William Mougayar

    That’s a great Part II to yesterday’s post. Can you comment on the typical monthly burn rates you see as these companies get into these seed rounds, and are these raises typically for 18 months runways or a bit less?

    1. awaldstein

      18 months is a really long runway in my opinion for seed.And honestly if your business requires human capital (think Instacart) in any way, the idea of over a year runway in seed unless it is a significant round becomes a stretch as you need a big bundle of capital.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I don’t think it is. I am encouraging startups to raise more earlier rather than less. It’s hard and distracting to raise money. It also takes time to raise money. With an 18 mo runway, the company can start thinking about the next round in month 11, and try to have it raised by month 18. I also am beginning to detest convertible debt. The convert debt rounds never seem to end. I’d prefer a priced round, with a priced discounted option round at 12mos. The math works out the same as a discount/interest rate.

        1. awaldstein

          I’m sure you are correct.My own experience investing and raising–doing both now a bit–is that with seed you have clear objectives that are tangible outside of revenue and invariably they are used as proof points for the raise.So hell yes, raising is a bear, but it seems to be the way of life.Re: convertible rounds. For early seed, they are just easier and cheaper for the startup. That’s just reality.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Yup, but economic incentives for investors and founders don’t necessarily align-and the lack of structure caused by the note (board, shareholders etc) can create a lot of complications down the road.

          2. awaldstein

            Yup–you are right.Founders have no choice but to need capital. Investors have a choice of how to structure themselves within reason.The best investors bridge the gap is all I can really say.

          3. LE

            Investors have a choice of how to structure themselves within reason.Along the lines of my other comment investors also I’m guessing have the pitches come to them and get to do the yah or nay. Not that they don’t put effort in for what they consider the “must do” the competitive rounds. But it’s a different process being the buyer rather than the seller I would imagine.

          4. Rick

            The best investors find whats gonna’ make the big bucks. Then they find a *strong* company that can get them there!

          5. Guest

            Only reading about it I hear so much (for lack of a better way to put it) “whining”

          6. LE

            So hell yes, raising is a bearI hear this a lot, and for lack of a better way to put it “whining” about the process of raising capital. Does this have to do with the fact that it involves knocking on many doors, getting rejected, and time consuming travel which obviously distracts from doing the day job? Or is it more than that? From what I read it seems almost like a full time job until it is done.

          7. Rick

            It’s very important to bring up failings on any and all processes. Are you gonna’ tell the person who comes to work late everyday and does their job wrong that it’s OK they do that? No you’re gonna’ bring up the failings and try to change it for the better.

        2. Rick

          ” I am encouraging startups to raise more earlier rather than less.”.I agree with this form the standpoint of creating a better biz. I don’t know how that plays out in the investment numbers. But it sure does help build better companies.

        3. Twain Twain

          A CTO friend who’s known me 10+ years told me to raise 4x what I’d modeled in my cap table so there are no distractions with raising and all the focus is on team building and product scaling.Part of me has thoughts about, “Too much capital => encourages cash burn and arrogance.”Yet I know that there are 4-month old startups in the Machine Intelligence space that have closed $8 million in seed round.And Khosla has filed to raise a $400 million seed fund whilst True Ventures is raising $250 million seed. That sends a signal that the aftermath of 2008/9 when investors migrated to later stage and more established ROI is over.Some startups need more capital than others, especially in the AI space where the technical talent and expertise needed commands a premium.

          1. ShanaC

            What company is this

      2. Scott Barnett

        18 months is (oddly enough) a ridiculously short amount of time. IMHO, you should always try to raise for 18 months – in the Seed stage that amount will be less because you have less burn – but you’ll need that time to prove out several assumptions.

        1. awaldstein

          of course.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        18 months feels okay to me. 6 months to get core product figured out/cleaned up and 6-15 months to test growth and make changes – to ready for scaling.

        1. awaldstein

          of course.i didn’t say 18 months was incorrect, i said that it is challenging to get it at an early stage.

  5. leigh

    I go back and forth about funding. We have self-funded a social data intelligence engine in the background of what we do day to day. it makes us better/smarter but needs more love and care (meaning stop being off the side of our desks but on top). As well, the investment makes our core business, less profitable. We’ve been talking about breaking it off and making it a thing on it’s own. To take seed funding or not to take seed funding? That is the question!!!

    1. pointsnfigures

      all depends on how fast you think you can scale the business being bootstrapped, and what the over all market potential is. not everyone should take money. Braintree took no money from 2007 to 2011. Their first VC round was from NEA then. In 2013 they sold out to Paypal.

      1. leigh

        The thing that weighs on me is speed to market. we are doing things that we see Facebook and Twitter doing (vs other competitors). We are mostly focused on big brand clients however (while they are focused on ad targeting). Even though we’ve had people proactively “say” they want to invest (which is like night and day from my last startup where i had to beg meetings) I worry about the time commitment to the process itself only to end up arguing over valuation etc. It feels daunting (and i’m already in the working 24/7 situation)

        1. pointsnfigures

          In that case, model out all the future rounds you think you might need up until exit. It’s not going to be correct, but at least it gives you a guide. Figure out how you much capital you will need in each round to scale up, and a potential range of valuations you will be raising money at. It’s voodoo finance, but at least then you can have a general gut feel of where you might want to raise at the first round, with how much you should raise. Then I’d raise a round at some valuation with an option for investors to invest 50% of original investment 12 months later at the initial valuation.

  6. pointsnfigures

    The steps you outline are very helpful. I might add a step before the first step for some companies. For many device type companies, it’s useful to use a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to get the money to build out the device. In invested in when they had a prototype back in 2008. Crowdfunding wasn’t well developed then. My guess is today seeing the same business plan I would have pointed them to a crowd platform to finish out the prototype. Oculus did that to great success.

  7. Lucky

    Does USV ever invest in an idea stage company or do you always want to see the founders create a mvp and show proof of concept and little traction before investing?

    1. fredwilson

      We have done it. It has worked But it has also not worked. We don’t like doing it The one notable exception is with entrepreneurs we’ve invested with before and know well

      1. LE

        Hmm sounds like Schachter.

    2. Rick

      Many investors advertise that they do. But I haven’t been able to find any. Many have examples of doing it in the past but say they don’t do it anymore.

  8. pointsnfigures

    seemingly on cue, the Wall Street Journal publishes and article:… How to Start a Business With Very Little Money. The trick: finance the business with customer money. I know a business that did that,

    1. LE

      As they say nice work if you can find it. I guess if you want to use that model to narrow down the ideas that you are “trying to invent” that is fine. However if you believe that more successful ideas come from inspiration or because an entrepreneur has an advantage, or knows something that gives them an edge, then you would see the drawback of putting yourself in a box like that. As an example it would be terrible for someone who works in the security field and has an inspiration and inside track to creating a hardware security firewall to pass on that opportunity because he might need to get outside financing or some type. So he thinks “why don’t I create xyz (less optimal subscription service) because I can self finance. The general idea is to be inspired with a great idea. Not to think up an idea because you are a wantrepreneur. Of course if the subscription is the better idea (after removing the “no need to finance” halo) then that is fine.

      1. pointsnfigures

        it’s not the only way, but it’s one avenue. I have seen companies do it successfully.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Yessss. These details are exactly what someone like me craves. I echo what @falicon says, examples go a long way.

  10. Jess Bachman

    This is good to hear, as I often hear the criticism that “You are not serious about this if you are not working full time on it” … and as the sole earner in a family with small children, I want to punch them out.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Sounds like you want to punch your kids. Please don’t.

      1. leigh


      2. Rick

        The way kids act today it might be best to move forward on that.

    2. Brandon Burns

      I had a convo with a VC who put situations like this into brutally harsh perspective.He said VC is all about unfair advantage. A team no one else can get. Margins no one else can get. Technology, partners, user habits — whatever defines success, a VC wants it at a level where no competitor can catch up to you.In the early stages of building a company, one of the key things that defines success is time. Those with more time to put into their business have an unfair advantage over those who don’t.And by default, that’s unfair to you. I hear you and sympathize, but that’s just how that cookie crumbles unfortunately.

      1. JimHirshfield

        But the catch-22 is that with their funding, you’re free to spend 24 hours a day working on the new venture, and therefore competitive advantage.Another angle/point, is that perhaps conversations/pitches should not be had with VCs at this stage, but investors that self-identify as Angels or Seed Investors….because they understand and appreciate this point better than traditional (i.e. later-stage) VCs.

        1. Jordan Thaeler

          All VC = later stage VC. If they can stereotype, so should founders. It’s a massive time savings.

        2. Rick

          No only can you spend more time. You can look at what’s *best* for the biz. You can get things done professionally. You can hire and have better historical data to grow with.

      2. JamesHRH

        The VC who told you this is absolutely, 100% telling the truth. A VC’s customer is the LP, not the founders. A VC is in the financial services sector, which is about returns ( and lots of other things, but returns are the first thing).Unfair advantage generates returns.The unfair advantage hiding underneath Fred’s post today is that Fred knows what you have before you do or anyone else does. At that point, he can come in, act reasonably and still great a deal.The time maxim here holds, but only if what you are doing is at the front edge of a wave of exploration or opportunity. Smart people with time are the right people for that situation.Lots of tech deals – hard sciences, say – have no founders in their 20’s, because they do not have the experience to be a team no one else can get.If you are experienced, find a situation where your experience makes you a team no one else can get.

        1. Brandon Burns

          It was Charlie O’Donnell, FYI.

          1. JimHirshfield

            He’s a mensch.

          2. Brandon Burns

            But he’s not jewish!Lol. He doesn’t bullshit, though. That’s for sure.

          3. LE

            Jews have a category of non-jews who are awarded honorary jewish status. Call it “jewish style”.

          4. Brandon Burns

            I’ve never been awarded honorary jewish status, which I was pretty down about when I realized that I’ve never been invited to a Seder (in NYC of all places!) while I was watching this Seder-centric (and hilarious) episode of High Maintenance this weekend:<iframe src=”//…” width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen=”” mozallowfullscreen=”” allowfullscreen=””></iframe>

          5. LE

            You have just hatched a great viral idea and publicity stunt (remember I have done them getting on the front page of the WSJ). You create a site geared toward getting someone “honorary jew status” by finding people willing to give them a seat at the passover, rosh hashanah or yom kippur (break the fast) table. Later expansion would involve other similar matches to different ethnic groups. (I am not joking about this..)

          6. Brandon Burns

            Maybe take it one step further?I like the idea of an AirBnB (or for a seat at the table. Seder, Thanksgiving, Ramadan, or even birthdays, trips to the beach, etc. If the focus is on cultural exchange, it could be like a travel experience, but local, convenient and cheap.How does it get to PMF?!

          7. JimHirshfield

            Build it @Brandon_Burns:disqus CultureBnB

          8. Brandon Burns

            Haha. I’m building something else at the moment. Your old colleague Ro Gupta was very helpful with it, by the way.I’ll share soon. Quite soon, in fact.

          9. JimHirshfield

            @Ro:disqus is a good man. So, you’re building something different than what you and I spoke about?

          10. Brandon Burns

            Yep.I tackled ecomm because it “made sense” since I had previously worked on so many ecomm products. “Do what you know,” people say.Not that I’m not doing what I know now. At its core, the product I’m currently building (and coding myself, by the way) is a design challenge.The product is also intrinsically more interesting to me (as opposed to putting a spin on something to make it interesting to me) and it’s hopefully much more manageable for me than trying to start a service-heavy ecomm company from scratch, which is incredibly resource intensive.

          11. JimHirshfield

            Got it. Best of luck.

          12. LE

            Start with the jews for sure. After the initial publicity spike (and while you are being interviewed) then you mention the expansion plans. I think starting with all those groups at first clouds the viral traditional media impact. Need to focus on just one thing. Besides maybe someone is already doing that so it won’t be news.Airbnb might be good only as an option: “sleepovers”. Think it’s important that there is no social obligation to “become friends”. If that happens fine. But should be baked into the concept to start. Will scare off some people. Might want to leave that out actually on launch.Passover is in a few months. That’s long enough. You launch prior to passover in the window when the media would be hot for a story to run. [1]If you just want to just go publicity stunt route you have my permission to call it “”. (See logo on )[1] That’s exactly what I did (pat on the back here for sure) with my publicity stunt idea. [1] Was related to tax day and the IRS. Fed right into the news cycle. Got lots of national publicity (also local film crew did a story as well) once it hit the WSJ front page. [2] Local paper full story (Philly). Was mentioned offhand by an employee as a joke. I thought “yep this can work”.[2] Everyone follows the leader.

          13. Brandon Burns

            I love the way you think about these things. I might want to pick your brain in the near future.

          14. LE

            Ok let me know.

          15. Drew Meyers

            With respect to to cultural exchange… would love your thoughts on Horizon (private hospitality exchange networks).

          16. JimHirshfield

            Diversity FTW!

          17. ShanaC

            If I host one by myself in the next two years, I’ll drag you in. Would that help?Be warned, I have a traditional bent and am still upset over losing a $1000 aramaic dictionary set about a decade ago. You may get homework…

          18. JimHirshfield

            What @domainregistry:disqus said.Don’t need to be Jewish to fit the definition. 😉

          19. ShanaC

            So :p

          20. Joah Spearman

            He’s a truth teller.

      3. LE

        And by default, that’s unfair to you. I hear you and sympathize, but that’s just how that cookie crumbles unfortunately.I’m don’t think I agree that “unfair” is the right way to put it. First of course life is unfair that is the default state. And if you decide (key “you”) to have children then that is the bed that you choose. The investor didn’t chose that bed for you. And your competition (part of what you are saying) is not going to work less hard and cut you a break. And the customer won’t care if their product or service isn’t right because you had to take care of your kids. There is no crying in baseball and all of that. So I don’t get where “unfair” enters into the discussion. At all.Now look there are perhaps some people who are super special and can truly be effective and work less than optimal hours. But the truth is most people aren’t super special.Back when I had to hire a lawyer many years ago I remember that he told me he was perhaps 40 and not married and had no kids. At the time I thought “oh this is great he will be available any time which is what I want”. And you know I was right about that. He was available all the time at the drop of a hat. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have hired him if he had kids. But it was a nice bonus and if you are buying on features and benefits things like that are important.In the end if I was going to invest (I don’t) what I would want to hear is that the business is the most important thing and it is a priority above all else. And that if someone is married that their spouse shares the dream [1] and considers it a priority as well. And that they have a system worked out to take care of children and won’t be distracted having to deal with those situations. Unless of course someone is super special I don’t think that’s to much to ask.[1] Old school talk to the spouse not just take someone’s word for it.

        1. Brandon Burns

          That last bit is a good example of how someone like Jess can neutralize the “unfair” advantage.

          1. LE

            Exactly (if I may say so myself). It’s all about selling and overcoming objections. So the idea is not to whine it’s to show why you are not only as good as other guy or girl because of the perceived “handicap” but actually better. Selling is not whining about life being unfair.

          2. Rick

            It’s not about whining. That’s another trick people fall for. It’s about discussing how to build a strong business that can grow steadily and without coming close to bankruptcy every two years.

      4. DJL

        I have heard the same many times from VCs. As a 50 year old Dad, I am not going to live under a desk and eat Ramen noodles for 3 months. However, I believe that real-worl experience and some level of maturity can make up for this supposed disadvantage. Go kick some 20-something butt.

        1. Rick

          Here’s the issue. The 20-something is getting investment dollars from their parents or school loans or lost salary or whatever. They just don’t view it as such. It comes by way of food, shelter, and clothing. Maybe a computer or a car or some money from a friend for web hosting or whatever. Those investments don’t show up on the company docs!

          1. DJL

            I am also encouraged by the fact that “senior” startup folks might have a greater appreciation for the money they do raise, and for capital in general. Spending Daddy’s money is always easy. It is much different when you have scraped it together yourself over the years and still need to feed your family.

          2. Rick

            I think you’re right. I saw from Brad’s (feld dot com) posts that he’s managed to single-handedly totally destroy Boulder, CO. It appears all the techies are spending big causing undulations in the economy that have ruined everything. I think oldsters, experienced business people, would have had an eye on that to prevent such carnage..I have to remember to drop Brad a not letting him know if an angry mod shows up at his house with pitch forks and torches yelling “Kill the beast!” I can come help get him out of town before they have at him!

          3. ShanaC

            What exactly is going on in Boulder, I know a few people who grew up there…

          4. Rick

            Sorry Shana I Don’t know all the details. I just saw him post that people are wanting him to leave Boulder stating he has ruined everything. You could ask Brad.

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          6. Rick

            lol.For all we know it could be an inside joke among the Boulderites.

          7. Kimberley

            hi grim

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. LE

            Otoh young and foolish can take the “big dive” and the downside of something not working while the older may not be able to do so.I think there is the presumption in all of this that trying to do a startup is a smart thing “generally”. It may very well be a gamble worth taking if you are young and have little to lose and many years ahead of you. It may not be if you are older and don’t want to surface at middle (to later age) with a failure. (Once again, similar to dating and relationships.. you can make more mistakes if you are in your early 20’s then if you are in your late 40’s.)

          2. Rick

            Another reason to fund start ups properly. Hope is not a strategy. Hoping that youngsters have the skills of experienced business people is foolish. Fund the experience so it can hire and delegate to the young energy. It worked to build this country. It can work to re-build it!!!

          3. Vasudev Ram

            >”Hope is not a strategy”Good one. I’ve heard that that’s told to Nooglers (*) when they join (Google). I think I saw a Google video about it a while ago.(*) Nooglers = New Googlers.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Dave Stagner

            That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m solving a problem in the enterprise, a problem kids fresh out of college don’t even know exists. I know the problem because I’ve fought it for twenty years, and I’ve watched businesses waste millions of dollars because of it.And unlike some kid fresh out of college, I’m staking my whole future on it. I don’t get to kick the ashes and walk away.Ah, the joy of being an older founder.

      5. Jess Bachman

        I understand that. Been battling unfair advantages all my life, why stop now?

        1. Brandon Burns


        2. Rick

          It’s best to eliminate them not battle them. Think about it this way. If you could get all the funding you need. Would you do things differently? If so then you’re probably doing things improperly now out of necessity. I say improperly but “not the best way” is probably a better phrase.

        1. Jess Bachman

          And for a more indepth view, Nassim Taleb’s latest book talks mostly about the benefits of stressors. “Exercising your anti-fragility” and what not.

        2. LE

          First, nice clip. I love (where “love” means I am making fun of) all of the pep talks, motivation talks and so on such as this. The fact is it is absolutely true that you have to bust your ass pretty much 24×7 especially is you are young in order to make up for all the mistakes that you will make and all the things that you don’t know about. This entire idea that you can live some kind of dream and do what DHH says is really an outlier. DHH is highly talented of course and a full tilt high achiever and all of that. But the truth is he also got lucky. He could have been any number of schmucks who is a nobody who are very talented and intelligent and didn’t get lucky. (We all get lucky in varying degrees obviously). So what he is saying is from his own good luck and experience. Similar in a way to Peter Thiel who went to Stanford but doesn’t think it’s necessary for anyone else to do so. Remove Stanford, Musk and the third musketeer and go wonder what would happen to Thiel. I hate to use Gates, Jobs and so on as examples but if I must I will. Gates didn’t even fucking shower. I don’t think that Jobs did either. I am by no means claiming to be a super success in any way however when I started my first business I didn’t surface for maybe 5 or 6 years didn’t know what holiday it was and didn’t even know one day weather wise from the next. All the time and it was necessary actually. I was doing something that I didn’t know anything about up against competition that knew what they were doing in an established market. And I’m glad I did put in the effort very clear to me that if I didn’t I wouldn’t have had the same outcome.

        3. Rick

          I think the important point in the video is he’s describing that you should not go head-to-head with the giant. He said he picked a different offering. It just so happens the offering didn’t take many man hours per week..I think it’s a testimony to not making your biz your baby. Or as I like to view things… Don’t be afraid to pivot. You can stay with the same legal entity. But if something isn’t working and you have had multiple sets of eyes on it and still can’t see why it’s not working then move on to something new!.Again the important point in that video was be in the right place at the right time. Find something that has blow your hair back growth potential and drop the other crap in the dumpster.



      7. Rick

        Right because so many people do start ups in a half-assed manner. They build weak companies by doing everything their self. Investors lose money that way! Lots of money. Because the company not only needs cash it has lots of weaknesses from being started for an adrenaline rush instead of building a good business foundation.

        1. ShanaC

          This is true. While tiny works, diy unless you are a god is unlikely to build something useful

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    3. LE

      So are you saying that you are a single parent or are you saying that you can’t devote as much time as a single person with no obligations (but you have a spouse)?

      1. Jess Bachman

        I am saying my wife and kids would not be pleased with ramen noodles 7 nights a week. I am a designer, and am currently taking on extra work to pay developers for my startup.

        1. Rick

          Ahhh…!!!.Now you’re talking. You made it sound like you were doing all the work in your biz instead of hiring people who know their chosen profession..Your situation is one that needs more attention in the media. What you’re doing is *funding* the biz yourself. You have a jump on others because you’re seeing the biz as a biz and not your hobby or your baby, etc..I think that approach is closer to professional biz start up. More corporate like. I think it eliminates many of the failing of the lean/DIY approach..Do you have a blog that you discuss what you’re doing and how it’s working out?

          1. Jess Bachman

            Yes, I am funding it myself. We have a site, and we are posting some medium articles about the state of things, but not so much about how we are doing internally, which might be a good idea. It’s still super early for us though.

          2. Rick

            A blog about how you’re approaching things internally something people should and would read. People constantly buy a job in the start up world and then later run into problems they have to fix..I think going full-funded or doing the funding yourself right from the beginning is best. Don’t be greedy hire people. They are probably better at doing what they’re hired to do than the founder(s) will ever be!!!

          3. Rick

            One problem with the site is I don’t use email. I would send you my phone number and would be glad to provide some lazy help. In other words you need a contact page where I can enter a phone number.

          4. Jess Bachman

            Sure, give me a call, happy to chat about it 415-390-6808.

    4. Eric Snyder

      Agree 100%. I’ve heard lots of stories about things hacked together during ‘magic’ time (nights & weekends), gaining some product/market, and only then raising a bit of outside capital so that the founder(s) can quit their day job.I think this shows not a lack of commitment, but a) an incredibly strong work ethic (balancing building with the 9-5, plus family etc), b) smartness about being frugal that will benefit the company in their early days post-raise.

      1. Rick

        But! Ask yourself this. If they had hired people to do the work they were doing would they have been better off? What are the tax breaks for owning and investing in a biz? Could they have borrowed money from the bank because they had jobs instead of scraping by while putting in long hours?.I can assure you they would have been much better at delegation had they hired instead of doing the work in their biz.

        1. Blake

          Quit your day job before you’ve put together a working PoC? I don’t think so.I don’t know of many banks that will give you a business loan without showing at least two years of company tax returns. Getting a personal loan big enough to fund your startup to “do the work in their biz” AND living expenses? I don’t even want to think about what the interest rate on that would be, and you risk personal bankruptcy if your startup fails. Funding your startup with a home equity loan instead of working on it evenings & weekends to get it ready for angel investors? Well, maybe, but you’re effectively betting your house on your business. I’m not sure how happy your initial investors would be to see a good chunk of their capital go to paying back the bank.However, having a like-minded partner that can help you out as a co-founder is really great if you can find someone you trust. But that’s not at all the same as hiring an employee without a working product.Now, what DOES make sense for startups is to use a platform like Work Market to find some contractors & consultants in your area that can take care of the more mundane tasks of business & IT administration so that you can concentrate on getting your PoC built.

          1. Rick

            You’re backwards. I asked the question of wouldn’t it be better for the founder(s) to keep their job and invest in their biz and hire people to do the work. Instead of putting their life on the line by quitting their job(s)..I don’t know if it would be. I think Fred would know or an accountant. Fred and other VCs have programming experience. I just wonder why they choose the VC field instead of doing a shoe string start up using their programming skills.

          2. Lucky

            Rick I like this concept. Now a days you find programmersoverseas who are just a competent as a programmer here. The difference $8/hrand $80/hr. I truly believe the UI is so important even more than coding whatdo you think? I feel I can communicate a lot better with a click through of what I want . With that being said if whateveryou have scales quickly with little effort then it would be time to reconsiderthe job. With regards to the loan I stay as lean as possible as theremany competitions you can enter to validate the concept before going that route. I am currently following these ideals :).

          3. Rick

            I was a software developer, lots of programming, for 15 years and I’m certain you can find talented programmers all over this planet..You are correct “features” are much more important than the code. In fact I left software development, wouldn’t mind a small project every now and then, because I was doing advanced code generation. But most people were still wanting to do hand coding..In some cases you can eliminate half the programming staff by using code generating techniques. One of the most important techniques is visual development. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s worth even more in programming code!.What we are, more or less, discussing here is building strong companies. I think proper methods for company building alleviates many of the failings of lean, shoestring, etc. I use the term “phat vs lean”. Because phat is where it’s at!.I think most of these small start ups are just software projects not businesses. They are great for flipping. But sustainability is a major problem. As is fixing all the issues that arise from people doing things in a half-assed manner because they don’t have the funds to do things right.

    5. Rick

      Well… They are right. The problem is they are using poor terminology. You might be serious but it’s still just a hobby. It’s like saying, for 20 years, that the garage needs cleaned out and you’re gonna’ get on it ASAP. You might be serious that the garage needs cleaning but your not serious about *you* cleaning it..The fact is you’re in a situation where your project is still just a hobby. Not by choice but necessity. This is where the slippery slope gets people into trouble. As time goes on they begin to get used to doing things half-assed. Let’s take an example of how easy it is to lose sight of the truth: OK you have four people who are gonna’ do a start up. It’s a service biz and they all have experience so they are gonna’ boot strap it. Each has a computer, equipment, a car, and tools. They all put in 60 hours per week. The biz grows and they need to put in 80 hours per week. So they do this for a year and figure out everything is great and they are making money. But they realize they have done nothing more than buy their self a job! That’s when they think “Hey we’ll hire people.” The emps can do the work and they can get some sleep. What they don’t realize is for that year they had invested $150K each into the biz. $100K in forgone salary from not having a job. And $50K on equipment, tools, cars, etc. They hire the emps and buy everything each emp needs to work. Soon the founders realize they aren’t making any money and are actually losing money because now they have to pay more taxes on the emps and insurance and equipment payments and etc. Sooner rather than later the company is bankrupt..Now that is an easy to see example of some of the bad habits Fred mentions that end up needing fixed later. They creep into a biz that is not acting professional (serious). The numbers were all off because the founders were not taking into consideration that they were spending and investing their own time and money into the start up..When you’re serious about a biz you plan a way to profitability. You get funding and hire people to do the work while you plan and run the strategy. You observe how things are going and you constantly review the plan making adjustments along the way to ensure you reach your goal. It’s 60 hours a week of work doing planning and strategy and managing the emps..Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to bootstrap some idea. But it’s best to call it what it is: a hobby, inventing, R&D, messing about, or whatever. Until you have emps and are selling it’s not really a biz. It might just be the job you bought for yourself.

    6. Assaf Koren

      Amen to that

  11. Michael Pratt

    Fred. Very pertinent post to me as this is exactly the view that we at Select Venture Partners take with respect to all of our investments. We’re a small seed fund that invests not only our money but our time to help our entrepreneurs get from “post friends and family” to a Series A round (sidebar – we’ve actually invested in a portfolio company in which Gotham Gal is an investor).I would appreciate your thoughts on something that I and my partners are discussing regarding IP in early-stage companies as as a barrier to entry. I noticed that you made no comment on IP in your blog, and in my experience of over 15+ years in early-stage technology companies with five exits, none of them were acquired for their IP. My view is that unless you found the cure for cancer or have invented a pill that you can take once a day and maintain your perfect body weight, that rather than focusing on IP, the best barrier to entry is selling the heck out of the product and capturing a large part of the market, particularly in light of how almost impossible it would be for a small, thinly capitalized “seed” company to engage in an IP infringement battle. Obviously, it’s hard to generalize, but I would be very interested in hearing how much value or weight you place on IP in USVs seed investments. Thank you very much Fred. I really enjoy reading your daily blog.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Great point about IP…or more accurately, the little value IP actually plays in many successful ventures.In other news, I have invented a pill that will help you lose weight and stay healthy. In addition to taking this pill once a day, however, you will need to attend the gym daily and eat a healthy diet. I do not intend to patent the formula for this pill, as it’s virtual and effectively open source.

      1. Twain Twain

        Fred on patents:*… — don’t think I’d started reading AVC yet.*…I see the IP issue differently and through eyes of David Bowie:”A special purpose vehicle (SPV) was created to contain a portion of the Bowie catalog. Mr. Bowie contributed his catalog ownership rights (including the rights to future royalties) to the SPV. Borrowing against future royalty income, the SPV raised $55 million in debt from Prudential and bought the catalog rights from Mr. Bowie. The SPV then collected future royalties and used them to pay Prudential a contractually stipulated return (principal plus 7.9% interest per year).

        1. JimHirshfield

          I don’t think the “Bowie Bonds” is really applicable to the conversation here re startups, IP, and defensible positioning. Yes, Bowie’s artistic rights are IP, and the securitization of those rights is a very interesting use case of leveraging IP. But it’s what tech startups are doing.

          1. Twain Twain

            Oh I agree with Fred’s points and it is the case that:(1.) Big corporate patent trolls hold back scrappy teams in bedrooms and garages from innovating.(2.) The resources available to defend IP between big corp and scrappy startup are hugely different.Elsewhere there are comments about investors liking startups to have “moats”. Some happily finance their startups to defend their IP, some prefer the startup to stand out without having any IP and some think IP is more pain than gain.It’s just that my reference frames for IP include Bowie Bonds and it makes me wonder about cross-applicability to tech startups.

          2. JimHirshfield


    2. Jordan Thaeler

      I talked about this on a different blog. VCs love nonexistent moats that must be built with pure scale from venture dollars. Great way to wrestle ownership from founders and put material portions of oversized funds to work

  12. Jordan Thaeler

    Isn’t this really just financial engineering? If there’s already PMF, institutional investors are just debating how large/fast the market will develop. There was an amazingly astute comment made by a gentleman on Calacanis’ post (… observing that this sort of thinking results in easy, non-differentiated companies – primarily software – being funded. Investors want to preserve all optionality so it’s foolish to expect investors to be upfront about the types of the deals they won’t look at, but it would be substantially better for innovation if those founders working on legitimately transformative businesses would be told that venture/seed/angels require PMF proof with revenue. Then entrepreneurs looking to cure cancer can spend their time seeking backing from corporate spinouts, or through corporate balance sheets.

  13. feta

    Unfortunately, for hardware products the road is more complex.What milestones/traction would you consider before investing to hw startup?

    1. feta

      (in a hardware startup)

      1. JimHirshfield

        @feta – Cheese is hardware, I guess?

    2. Jordan Thaeler

      Same metrics as software, which is why very few hardware companies can make it to institutional money. You must be willing/have means to work for 3 years on your company with no pay, until you’ve mitigated all the risk in the business. You can build a piece of B2C software over a weekend and scale it part time for 12 months. If you have 1M monthly users by then, you can look for money, quit your day job, and focus on the startup.

  14. Emily Merkle

    immensely helpful.

  15. LE

    Tumblr took off and they needed to stop doing consulting work so the two of them could focus 100% of their time on Tumblr. Spark and USV each invested $300k to help them do that.This is an example of why people who are young with little to no obligations and minor expenses (may be living at home or with roommates) have a big advantage in gaining investment in the internet scheme of things. In a sense being established with a family and overhead means $600k is not going to give much runway for two people leaving 250k per year jobs. (Because the 600k has to cover more than salaries of the founders obviously.) What’s more interesting about this is that it flys against traditional business. You typically pay the market rate and choose the person that has the most experience and is best capable to “do the job” all else equal. So you aren’t going to hire a manager for your supermarket just because they can live off $500 per week while they learn as they go along. The system is fine and seems to work good enough the only question is how many people are being overlooked because they can’t operate on a ramen shoestring?

    1. Ben Kinnard

      A good example of why a basic income would help 🙂

      1. LE

        Wasn’t really my point. My point was illustrating people who are established and already earning a living with serious expenses. No one is suggesting basic income to help those people take a gamble on a startup. The question is whether or not (I don’t know the answer) investors are passing up opportunities by missing non ramen entrepreneurs. (Question, not a statement).

        1. David Clarke

          Second or third time out doing a startup you’re likely going to have a bit of capital to play with, which helps address both the seed issue and the ramen issue (incidentally, shame that Soylent is on 4-month backorder). And obviously these -likely older- folks are that much more appealing to investors, and more in a position to be selective around terms.

    2. Twain Twain

      Yes, it’s paradoxical and dichotomous, right? Maybe that’s what makes it more fun when the people with 10+ years experience who command $250+ K salaries decide to ramen anyway and beat the odds of making their vision a reality.

  16. Richard

    Again and again I see that the it’s the source of your funding that dictates what type of round it is. Raise 5 million from a billionaire, need 5 more, your next round is still an A. Raise 2 million from two VC funds, need 5 more your next round is probably a B.

  17. Scott Barnett

    Fred, it would be interesting to also hear how most of these Seed companies and USV came together.

  18. DJL

    Extremely helpful – as always, Fred. Defiing the fundraising process based on product maturity makes a lot of sense. I wonder – does this imply that if we already have a product and paying customers that we SHOULD go for Series-A levels of funding? (Rather than a smaller seed round.)

  19. Stefano Bellasio

    Great post Fred. We are exactly in this situation with Cloud Academy – we have revenue, cash flow positive and a team of 12 and we now need to raise a seed-fund right after our Demo Day at 500Startups to accelerate our growth and produce more content.

  20. Rick

    “The first step you need to climb is building a product, getting it into the market, and finding product market fit. I think that’s what seed financing should be used for.”.Nice. I see that you state seed is for building a product and finding market fit. But then you give examples of start ups that all had the product built and were in the market. So do you invest in companies that need money to build the product and find market fit? ..Most VCs who ‘advertise’ that they do actually don’t. They say you have to go to friends and family or angels for that. That appears to be the first step on the road to financial or physical suicide. That initial phase when funding is needed MOST to help build a strong foundation is the wrong time to be lean etc. That’s when the bad habits form that have to be fixed later. Like the founder thinking they know enough to wear all the hats. Or learning to write code that is complete trash. Or not even knowing how to do an analysis to see if the idea has the ability to reach profitability.



    1. Rick

      The problem with that is large companies who get funding can stomp you into the ground. They can reduce prices and wait you out. Or hire better people. Or advertise you into oblivion.



        1. Rick

          You’re falling for yet another trick. Large companies have proven they can be nimble with new divisions. They purposefully wait to see if new things are going to become hot because they know they can get the funding to buy the company that paved the way. Or they can just mimic and out spend the smaller company..There was a particular retailer that came along and didn’t invent anything but they instead put smaller retailers out of business with low prices.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. Rick

            lol.You’re not tiny brained. Many people just don’t see what goes on. I see large corporations that are slow overcome that in various ways. The problem comes about when some fool tries to cannibalize the division and make it fit into the large corp world..They’ll take a small organization making a great product and without much effort destroy the organization and the product.

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          4. Dr. Coca Cola

            stop acting like a caveman you idiot!!!!

          5. Rick

            Hey wait… That’s his character. That’s how he adds entertainment. We like that!

          6. Dr. Coca Cola

            oh sorry…

          7. ShanaC

            Yup. And can overpay for talent and give really good benefits

    2. ShanaC

      Depends on what you are doing. I know of a few companies in NY who would need seed money in large amounts to exist because of the types of businesses they run. They build nondinky things from the start for certain types of enterprise clients that solve certain types of expensive problems, and they have to work a certain type of good in the getting to product market fit category

  22. PatrickABrowne

    This is really interesting to me. We’re getting ready to try and raise a “seed” round within the next 1-3 months and this helps clear things up ..On another note, which is slightly off-topic, can anyone help shed some light for me as to what type of “back up” investors typically look or ask for to a pitch deck?We’ve been working on our pitch deck, which I think we are getting comfortable with, but, we want to make sure that we have a detailed back-up (business plan?) document with more figures & numbers for investors should they ask.Do investors ask for this type of back up? If so, anyone have tips, recommendations, or resources / examples for me to check out?Thanks in advance and sorry if this is out of place… I’ll do my best in the future!

  23. Guest

    Here’s a little info I threw together on the the rounds usv lists as seed on their site.

  24. Sebastien Latapie

    What an excellent post, so helpful to provide such intimate examples – makes the point come to life.

  25. Joah Spearman

    Fred, This way of thinking is right in line with how I’m approaching our funding for Localeur. We’d raised less than $800k over 2 years building Localeur without even one full-time engineer, and now we just took on a little more money from some early Facebook executives to help us get over the hump on product-market fit.

  26. Twain Twain

    Ok so seed is somewhere between $ 250K and $41 million……….and it can be pre/post launch.

    1. Rick

      Ouch! And I couldn’t get funding for a working EMR system that was five years ahead of the competition. Forget if you build it they will come! There’s some other secret.

  27. Twain Twain

    $25 million seed with no working prototype and an inexperienced first-time founder.

    1. ShanaC




        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    3. Rick

      I’m wondering if some of these start up stories are a before and after sales pitch on the world wide web of deceit..Before I stopped using email I received a message from a Nigerian princess who can use magic to unlock 100’s of millions of dollars in funds. All she needs is me to send her $5K cash and since she loves me if I send the $5K she’ll share all those millions with me. Then I can have Willy Wonka build me a castle made out of chocolate.

  28. Twain Twain

    Jeff Bezos is, famously, a sole founder like Pierre Omidyar of eBay and Gabriel Weinberg of Duck Duck Go.Bezos had to take 60 meetings to raise $1 million for Amazon, giving up 20% to early investors.He started with $200K from his parents and about $100K of his own savings.

  29. Twain Twain

    There is, of course, “bootstrapping” your startup and funding it purely from organic revenues.The developers and product people in AVC community will get the joke in the graphic about PMF.

    1. Rick

      What graphic?

      1. Twain Twain

        The statistic of interest and bootstrap replication graphic above.

        1. Rick

          Oh it didn’t show up at first. Must be web lag.

    2. ShanaC

      The better question is can you estimate a probility model well anyway, and if you can, in many cases is it bootstrappable because it would appear to me that most people have way off estimates

      1. Twain Twain

        So……..99% in my Probability & Statistics exam, a 1st (summa cum laude) for my Econometrics paper on the Tiger Economies and the first job after my maths degree involved proofing Black-Scholes probability equations for derivatives prior to publication in ‘Risk’, the trade journal for finance. Black-Scholes won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Economics.Since then there’s been lots more probability — as applied in AI and “Big Data”.Before I coded my little system I went to see my former Head of Maths at university, now an Emeritus Professor. His speciality is……….Probability & Stats.My opening gambit: “Sir, probability doesn’t work so it’s time to invent a different system.”He gave me that look he did when I was a teenager. The “Twain, what mischief / provocation are you up to now?!” look. The “Why can’t you think like everyone else?!” look.So we discussed the problem set and I keep him in the loop as I progress. Then I show him my little system and….He agrees there are things quant tools like probability can’t do.

        1. ShanaC

          I think you’d like Duncan Watt’s comments on the subject:…These things are just difficult

  30. Supratim Dasgupta

    Phew the weather! I could have launched a crowd sourced snow shoveling startup yesterday. Got enough traction($$$$$$$$) today and tomorrow and raised few million seed money by Friday. Damn! Missed the opportunity this time!.

    1. ShanaC


      1. Supratim Dasgupta

        Yep..probably would have IPO’ed by March. Its a startup right..

  31. Mike Porath

    I’ve read a lot of seed vs. series A posts. This is the best one by far because it uses real examples. Thanks.

  32. george

    Thanks for classifications…As a VC, do you have an investment criteria? For example, is there a minimum dollar amount that you assign to establish your investment as a Series-A round? It get’s a little hazy sometimes between seed and series A financing.


    i went the later route, and your description is spot on. solo, night and day, building out a national network with etc and / , its been hard. but, small wins… it works, it fits and moving hi fred, @simondodson (an old original reader reader from way back.