Venture Capitalists Don’t Invest In Startups. They Invest in Founders

Divad Sanders
4 min readApr 29, 2019
Illustration by vals _

How do venture capitalists (VC) assess a potential startup?

Well, first things first, I am not a venture capitalist, but as a brand strategist and designer who works with entrepreneurs and startup companies, my goals are aligned with my clients: build an identity around the product that fosters a culture, creates their community and attracts loyal consumers.

Every initial strategy session with my client begins with direct research and insights into who the CEO and founders are. What’s their “why” for even starting the business. The visual identity of a brand is small potatoes compared to the understanding of who the leadership is. Everything the business is and is not, starts with the people on the front lines.

Venture capitalists are no different. A competent CEO is important in the overall impression of a company. More important than what idea you are presenting is how you present your idea. Don’t fool yourself. Any investor can look through a pitch deck or do a Google search to see an opportunity for profit and in the end withhold funding after meeting the CEO or founder.

At the end of the day, startup companies go through highs, lows and major pivots. VCs want to make sure they are betting on a horse that can make it to the finish line, let alone win the race. The personality of the founder(s) and their team is a very important factor when investors are considering a startup company to bet on. The risk is huge and they want to know you’re worth it.

Do I want to invest in this founder?

Venture capitalists invest in people. When they meet with you during a pitch or anytime before investing, it’s not because they want more information about the company. A printout can tell them numbers and profitability. Investors seek this time with their prospective investment because they want to know who they are working with.

Does the founder know their business?

While every situation requires a specific approach, there are characteristics a VC looks for in a founder during a pitch.

Do you know your business model? Competitive advantage? Size of the market opportunity…

Divad Sanders

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