Yes, there’s just four. No, they’re not easy to achieve. But here they are.

I spend most of my consulting days with founders and teams ranging from idea stage to minimum viable product (MVP) to early commercialisation, so I get asked one question a lot, “What will angel or venture capital investors want to see from us before we’re good candidates for investment?”

It’s just four things, and you only need to achieve one of them to qualify for consideration by venture investors.

The long answer is: every investor is different

Every investor is motivated by a different risk/reward ratio, interested in different markets, business models and technologies, likes to lead other investors or likes to follow other investors, can only write a cheque smaller than X or no bigger than Y.

The short answer is: every investor is the same

If they know what they’re doing, they’re looking for startups…

A SAFE may feel safer to founders but will feel less safe to Aussie investors. Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

A common question from Aussie tech startup founders is whether they should raise their investment with a convertible note, priced equity, or a SAFE note.

The short answer is that you can raise investment with a SAFE note or convertible note in Australia, but you may find it harder to raise your round.

Here’s the longer answer (nothing that this advice pertains to Australian tech start- ups in 2020, that the future may be different and that other markets—like San Francisco—definitely are different).

Priced equity rounds

In a priced equity round, you and the investors must first agree on a dollar figure amount for the value of the company (called “the pre-money valuation” or sometimes just “the pre-money” or “the pre”).

You and the investors must then agree…

One thing Sydney lockdowns didn’t stop is the dedication and generosity of the 10 good people who collaborate as Awesome Foundation Sydney to contribute $100 each, towards a monthly $1,000 no-strings-attached micro-grant, to the best idea for making life in Sydney more awesome.

Since 2011 they’ve done it 100 times. That’s $100,000 from the people of Sydney to the people of Sydney. How bloody awesome is that?

Nobody gets a tax deduction for this, no corporate brand is green-washing anybody with this, no government or politician is trying to buy votes or feather their own beds. …

This is Tabo, in Himachal Pradesh. A tiny strip of arable land alongside the surging Spiti River and a 1,000 year old monastery and school. The mountain peaks overshadowing the valley rise to 6,000M either side. Once lived here for a month. I miss it very much.

1. Write a brief draft blog post as a series of 3–4 tweets, one paragraph per tweet.

2. If it gets interest on Twitter, copy the content to a Medium blog post, add more detail and graphics, if required. I’ve read that people are more likely click on a blog post if it has a photo or an image but I’m not sure that’s the case any longer.

3. Send the draft blog post to a tech startup news outlet editor and invite them to run it as an opinion editorial before it’s published on Medium.

4. Publish it on…

Early-stage startup founder? I wouldn’t worry too much about the content of your deck.

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

The decision to invest is much more about the quality of the individuals building the company than the quality of the deck.

Keep these four things in mind, to be the best quality version of yourself:

  • Be yourself!
  • Know your metrics;
  • Make it clear that you really care about solving this customer’s problem in a better way; and
  • Make it clear that nailing it will create a huge new market opportunity.

Then allow them to make up their own minds about whether you’re the right person…

If you’re not on a mission to solve a specific problem, how do you choose the best customer problem for your startup to work on solving?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Update: you can now watch this TV interview on the topics covered in this blog post, interviewed by Simon Thomsen of StartupDaily on his regular startup show on (registration required).

Solve customer problems that arise often, every day

We have to help our customers develop new habits — to use our product/service to solve that problem, rather than their old habitual solution. Habits form more effectively with less time between repetitions.

Another variable in that equation is the real or perceived value created. If the real (or perceived) value created is sufficiently high (eg selling a house for $200k more than the traditional means of sale) then…

Have something to say, publish the first draft, and relax about publishing unfinished work

Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

It’s important to communicate regularly with potential customers, employees, investors and all the other audiences out there, because no matter how hard you work as an individual or as a founding team, these groups ultimately determine whether or not your startup will succeed.

Among all the startup founders I get to meet and work with, it’s rare to find someone who’s already communicating often enough with these audiences.

I think this is because creating content is always going to be an ‘important-but-not-urgent’ task, and when your task list for the day is over-stuffed with ‘important-and-urgent’ or even ‘not-important-but-still-urgent’ tasks, it…

Me in 2009, working on my own startup in the offices of 3eep. Photo Pierre Sauvignon © 2009

Choosing to become a startup founder is hard. The disincentives are so many — and the rewards so few and unlikely—that many startup founders I know tell me they consider it ‘a calling’ rather than a career choice, to make it seem more like a decision that was made for them, or hard-wired into them; that they were motivated by some higher purpose rather than material or creative rewards.

Looking back on the startup founder part of my career, what strikes me most about those 15 years was how rapidly it flashed past; how little of it I remember in…

Women deserve to share a fairer world with better men.

It’s #IWD2021 . I’m angry and sad (but mostly angry) about the injustice, inequity and violence Australian women suffer and the roles Australian men play in perpetuating it, whether through action or inaction.

Me (right) in 1983, a younger, dumber man.

I’ll try to be a better ally. I will try harder not to walk past it and I’ll be more determined to call it out when I see it.

I’ll sign the petition, attend the march and I’ll donate to help organise it.

If, when trying to be an ally, I make mistakes, I will try not to be defensive if someone calls me out on it…

Alan Jones

I’m Alan Jones, coach for accelerators, partner at M8 Ventures, angel investor. Earlier: founder, early Yahoo product manager, tech reporter.

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