What Excites Us

Every fund has their own ideas of what makes for an exciting opportunity.  We typically invest in pre-seed rounds and may follow with future investments.  We think of pre-seed as being what comes after  individual friends/family/angel investors, and before institutional ‘seed’.  Timing is everything.  

Typical Pre-seed Profile:

  • Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) between $0 - $500K

  • Valuation cap is less than $8M

  • Round size is <$1.5M

  • Prior capital raised is <$500K

We prefer investing in founder teams.  Solo founders can succeed, but they face a long and difficult path.  Founder teams benefit from creative collaboration, moral support, and additive skills and resources.  If you don't have a co-founder, it's worth thinking long and hard about whether you should be recruiting one (or more).

We are generalists, but focus on software, mobile, tech enablement, and scalable products.  These types of opportunities are likely better aligned to achieve the rapid growth and scale necessary to support venture capital investments and successful exits.

We invest to do well, but also to do good.  As a result, we strongly consider Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) factors that benefit: social equity, sustainability, and regenerative local economic impact.   We're proud that over 60% of our invested capital has gone to companies with diverse founders and women lead teams.

Red Flags:

Geography not aligned - We invest in companies in and around the Hudson Valley of NY. If you aren't in some way connected to the region (founders, operations, supply chain, investors, etc.), we will not consider the investment.

Exploding rounds - Exploding rounds come with a caveat like “Seed round in ground-breaking tech startup closing in 1 week!” We need time to assess the opportunity.

Founders who are overly focused on the product/invention - We seek to invest in founders who want to build and scale businesses.  This includes inventing a product but also means: recruiting and developing a team; finding scalable product market fit, creating a repeatable and profitable business model;  formulating go-to-market strategies, and growing the startup to achieve venture scale outcomes.  If you aren't in this to build a scalable business with an eye towards an exit, we're not the right investor.

 

 

How We Assess Opportunities

It's a complex and time consuming endeavor understand an opportunity.  We work with a structured framework to ensure a holistic evaluation using a common evaluative considerations.  We do not use these questions to qualify/disqualify opportunities and due diligence will undoubtedly go beyond these considerations, but they provide a good indication of stage of progress and readiness to accelerate growth using capital investment.  We do not expect any company to satisfy every question on this page.

Founder Team:

  1. Solo vs. Team. Founder team has at least 2 founders with differentiated skills.

  2. Visionary. Founder team includes a visionary with the ability to clearly and compellingly communicate their vision.

  3. Technical Lead. Founder team has technical expertise and experience adequate to the stage and demands of the opportunity.

  4. Business Lead. Founder team has demonstrated the requisite business expertise and experience for the next stage of the business (analysis, strategy, finance, ops, etc.).

  5. Domain Expertise. Founder team includes one or more founders with significant domain expertise and understanding of the target customer's problem.

  6. Founder Stability. Founder team is financially and personally stable enough to commit to a FT early stage venture.

  7. Market Access. Team has history with the target market and has relevant contacts (client, partner, and recruit).

  8. Management Track Record. Team has proven sales, product, and management track record and ability to scale the company.

Problem and Vision:

  1. Problem. Team has identified a specific, important, and large problem/opportunity.

  2. Product Vision. The team can solve the problem, articulate how it will scale, and has a vision of what the world looks like if they succeed.

  3. Right to Win. Founders can articulate why they are best to solve the problem.

  4. Industry Vision. Team can articulate what systemic change looks like and how the industry would be impacted.

  5. Evidence of Impact. Team can present data demonstrating that growing the business will solve the problem.

  6. Sales Validation. Team can demonstrate customer validation of success (B2C >100 customers, B2B > 5). Customers affirm that the product solves their problem.

Value Proposition:

  1. Customer Cohorts. Team has identified their hypothesis of target customer cohorts (who's problems are they solving).

  2. Customer Interest. Team has identified potential customers who can validate that the solution appears to solve the intended problem.

  3. Price Validation. Team has evidence that customers are willing to pay the target price.

  4. Customer Validation. Customers have provided feedback that the solution solves their problem better/differently than the competition.

  5. Customer Affirmation. Customers love the product and want to keep using it.

  6. Customer Promotion. Customers other than the early adopters love the product and are referring new customers.

Product

  1. Prototype. Team has built a working prototype that solves the stated problem.

  2. Product Roadmap. Team has a product roadmap and understands the costs to bridge from the prototype to an MVP for commercial launch.

  3. MVP. An MVP has been deployed and validated through early customer adoption and feedback.

  4. Scalability. Team has proven scalability of the product for general release (manufacturing, load testing, supply chain, etc.).

  5. Product in Market. Product is deployed in market and available for purchase / prompt fulfillment for any interested customer.

Market

  1. Addressable Market. Team can identify and substantiate total addressable market, what they aspire to capture with their product/solution/reach, and their initial goals.

  2. Market Access Hurdles. Team understands and is accounting for industry and regulatory hurdles to market access.

  3. Sales Traction. Team has demonstrated initial evidence of ability to sell into the target market and capture stated market share goals.

  4. Big Market. Through sales traction and pricing validation (including from existing competitive market offerings), team has evidence of a $500M addressable market.

  5. Strategic Conversations. Team has active conversations with strategic/channel partners to accelerate market share capture.

  6. Strategic Partners. Reputable strategic partners are on board and see their interests as aligned.

Business Model

  1. Revenue Model. Team has produced an outline of a revenue model.

  2. Comparable Revenue Models. Team can identify similar products in related industry that demonstrate the viability of the revenue model.

  3. Cost Structure. Team can articulate costs within the product and business to show positive unit economics.

  4. Financial Projections. Team has produced a 3-5 year financial model with both costs and price projections as well as a plan to meet them.

  5. Financial Plan. Team has established and is following a financial plan factoring evidence based application of costs and revenue drivers.

  6. Financial Validation. Demonstrated ability to hit sales goals and manage costs. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) decreasing with customer base growing at target prices.

Scale

  1. Aspiration to Scale. Team has identified possible markets or customer segments and has aspiration to scale the business.

  2. Expansion Markets. Team can point to initial evidence that multiple markets experience the problem they are solving.

  3. Expansion Strategy. Team has a clear strategy to expand into multiple markets.

  4. Value to Expansion Markets. Team has evidence, with data points, that multiple markets or customer cohorts find value and want to use the solution.

  5. Validated Expansion Markets. Initial evidence of positive unit economics in multiple markets or customer segments.

  6. Regulatory/IP Success. Company has cleared regulatory hurdles and has a strong Intellectual Property (IP) strategy.

Exit

  1. Understands Exit. Founder team understands what an exit is and has a vision for how they will provide a return to investors.

  2. Understands Patience. Founder team understands the scale of opportunity and aims to maximize the value of the enterprise rather than seek an early exit.

  3. Growth Timeline. Vision for growth will solve a large piece of the problem in 5-10 years.

  4. Evidence of Solution. Initial evidence that the solution solves the problem better than competitors.

  5. Evidence of Trajectory. Early evidence that planned growth trajectory is viable.