A Founder’s Guide to Silicon Valley Investor Expectations

Over the last 24-months, I have experienced the same exact conversation with really smart early-stage start-up founders over and over who are just getting prepped to go out and raise their first funding for their company. In each and every one of these cases, the founders had all bootstrapped, worked nights and weekends, cajoled friends to help code and generally struggled and scrimped to get some initial product together and working and in some cases… even had initial customers using and paying for the product (amazing).

The conversation would go something like…

( Ignore this amazing list of useful resources for Start-up Founders at your own peril)

  1. [Book] Zero-to-One, by Peter Thiel
  • “Monopoly is the condition of every successful business.”
  • “Competition is for Suckers”
  • “Customers won’t care about any particular technology unless it solves a particular problem in a superior way. And if you can’t monopolize a unique solution for a small market, you’ll be stuck with vicious competition.”

2. [VIDEO] The Full YC Start-up School Curriculum on Video (YouTube). **This should be mandatory watching for literally anybody who endeavors to build a start-up (thanks Paul Graham)

3. [Book] The Lean Start-up…

The Slide by Slide Template & Explainer To Get Funded

I have enclosed here a Dropbox link to a freely downloadable PowerPoint template (will do a KeyNote also for you hipsters) I have laid out actual slides (around a fake company idea of rocket launching software 🚀) , but more importantly there are NOTES for each slide (see under the slide) that detail the key questions you need to ask yourself upon completing each slide. …

(TACTICAL PRELUDE) Before You Set Out to Create Your Pitch Deck

Items to cover before the Deck creation process even starts:

1) Get a real/credible tech start-up law firm before you set-out to raise funding: make life easier on yourself by using a law firm that works with Silicon Valley tech start-ups, it will make everything else go smoother and investors want to see law firms they have worked with before, linked here is a list of some of the attorneys at known firms who are experienced taking on start-ups. Common mistakes made by non-Silicon Valley start-ups is having “their cousin Larry “ be their lawyer — don’t be that…

(AKA It’s Not About the Deck)


The goal of this series of posts and the accompanying resource-lists and wireframe deck template, is pretty simple — whether we like it or not, in the world of Silicon Valley and tech start-ups… we have, over the years developed a certain and specific language, terminology and nuanced way of communicating concepts that is table stakes in order to successfully raise funding from the community of angels, seed funds and VC’s. …

It’s been 29 years since I started my first software company while a sophomore at University of California, Davis — kinda feels like last month… that is until I think about the trials and tribulations of the 6 different software start-ups that I co-founded in the years following. Then I feel pretty old and beat-up.

After all these years, I continue to believe that the entrepreneurial journey and specifically the technology start-up ecosystem that has flourished since then can be an incredible power for good (for everybody).

For the last 3 years I have personally shifted from building/running companies to…

Michael Downing

Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur - Gravity Ranch Venture Fund - Co-founder 6 software companies| 4 rock-bands| 2 children| 3 acquisitions| 1 IPO

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