5 Things VCs Look For in Startup Founders

When venture capitalists (VCs) evaluate founders of very early startups, they typically consider several key factors. While the specific criteria may vary between VCs, here are five common things that VCs often look for in founders:

  1. Vision and Passion: VCs seek founders who have a compelling vision for their startup and are deeply passionate about solving a particular problem or pursuing an opportunity. They want to see that founders are driven and have a clear understanding of the market they are entering.
  2. Domain Expertise: VCs value founders who possess relevant domain expertise or industry knowledge. They look for founders who understand the nuances of their market, can identify potential challenges, and have a solid grasp of the technology or industry they are operating in. Expertise can help build credibility and navigate the complexities of the startup journey.
  3. Execution Ability: VCs want to invest in founders who can execute on their vision effectively. They look for evidence of past accomplishments, such as successful projects, entrepreneurial experience, or leadership roles in previous ventures. Demonstrating the ability to turn ideas into tangible results is crucial for gaining VC interest.
  4. Team Building Skills: Startups often require a strong team to succeed. VCs assess founders’ ability to attract and build a talented team around them. This includes evaluating their leadership skills, ability to inspire and motivate others, and their capacity to make smart hiring decisions.
  5. Coachability and Adaptability: VCs value founders who are open to feedback, receptive to learning, and adaptable in the face of challenges. Building a successful startup requires constant iteration and adjustment. Founders who can pivot, learn from failures, and make informed decisions based on feedback are more likely to win the trust and support of VCs.

It’s important to note that these criteria are not exhaustive, and VCs may consider additional factors based on their specific investment thesis or industry focus. Additionally, the relative importance of these factors may vary depending on the stage of the startup and the nature of the investment being considered.



Trace Cohen Angel Investor / Family Office/ VC

Angel in 60+ pre-seed/seed startups via New York Venture Partners (NYVP.com). Comms/PR/Strategy