How To Tip Me: 7 Investors Discuss What They’re Looking For In March 2023


It’s too early. Whether SVB’s failure heralds a new era for venture capital is hard to come by, but based on anecdotal evidence, off-the-record conversations, and discussions with colleagues, it seems we’re back to business as usual in pre-revenue startup fundraising. He is concerned.

It’s not a scientific sample, but several investors have indicated on Twitter this week that they’re interested in talking to founders in the idea stage. My Fresh Take: The contagious VC community feels good about writing small checks to pre-revenue startups, but Series A and beyond? more or less.

As long as this recession continues, this investor Q&A will be a monthly TC+ column. Whether you’re a recently laid-off worker thinking of striking out on your own, a seasoned H-1B worker, or just looking for tips and advice to help you connect with early-stage investors, please read and share. .

A big thank you to all investors who took the time to answer these questions in detail! If you’re an early stage investor interested in being featured in future columns, email with “How can you pitch me” in the subject line?

Here are the participants:

  • Brian Backeen, General Partner, Lightship Capital
  • Masha Butcher, Founder and General Partner, Day One Ventures
  • Rebecca Liu-Doyle, Managing Director, Insight
  • Celia Warburg Peters, Managing Partner, Era Ventures
  • Nick Adams, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Differential Ventures
  • Lisa Lambert, Founder and President, National Grid Partners
  • Elizabeth Yin, Co-Founder and General Partner, Hustle Fund

Brian Backeen, General Partner, Lightship Capital

What investment opportunities are you looking for in March 2023?

Like many investors, we are bullish on AI. We made two AI-related investments in April and continue to look for opportunities in that space.

How would a founder prefer to be approached in their first pitch, cold email, warm intro or another method?

We have an online portal at that founders use to apply for investment. We do that to prevent a problem called “network bias” with VC investors. Founders must apply and follow up on our portal Twitter.

What’s one traditional fundraising tactic that founders should remove from their toolkit—one that no longer works but is still common practice?

Asking for warm introductions and trying to “build a relationship” with investors. Spend your time building a big business and you will get investment. I don’t need new friends.

Tell us about the best voice you received recently. When did you realize you were investing during their presentation?

I was recently assigned to a company called Muse Tax. Great founders, subject matter experts, the real deal. They made me want to invest in the first 10 minutes. They are hard at work now.

Can you share a tip that can help a first-time founder stand out?

Don’t focus on investment; Focus on design. Don’t let your engineers build an ugly product with great password reset functionality but poor user experience.

Don’t let the engineers tell you it’s not ready; is it. Push it and learn.

Design well and users or investors will follow. Engineer the first version poorly and you end up with a lot of engineering bills and no progress.

What are you reading/watching/listening to now?

I continue to watch the 1st season of “Billions”. You know, before it got weird 🙂 Great show.

Masha Butcher, Founder and General Partner, Day One Ventures

What investment opportunities are you looking for in March 2023?

In a healthy fundraising environment, founders who do well often rely on their storytelling skills and can convince investors of their talent. They are good communicators and articulate by nature.

There is a second type of founder with a different background. They are often down-headed, clumsy and resource-oriented. I call them “survivors”. Survivors are often immigrant founders, people of color, women, or other underrepresented groups.

I believe that the survivors are the types of founders back during the fall. They are driven to survive all their lives. They are especially equipped to handle the needs of the present. They are good at making something out of nothing and are extremely cost effective.

I look for ways to monetize, business models and profitability. Investors are paying more attention to numbers, business models and how founders manage their finances. Expect many more questions challenging the business model.

I am looking at how much revenue is generated from product quality and marketing. Based on the quality of the product, the founders who generate the virus show that they can make money with little marketing cost.

We like companies with high EBITDA. We love companies like Quinn, who grew to millions in revenue in a year, with viral, zero-cost marketing on TikTok.

How would a founder prefer to be approached in their first pitch, cold email, warm intro or another method?

Cold email is great, but it’s surprising how few people actually do it. In a cold email, every single sentence has to convince me to take a meeting. With every word and every sentence, you need to make an investor want to meet you in person. You have to show them a clear reason why they need to contact you, not next month.


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