Seed Deal Flow Tsunami And The Quick Kill

If you read yesterday’s post, you can see just how insane the proliferation of seed financings have been. As a result, I personally cannot keep up with all the deal flow. This a common refrain among many seed investors in private. When I started investing and no one knew me, I would just invest in folks I knew well. There wasn’t a lot of noise for me. In the last five years, we’ve seen the number of micro-funds balloon from over 100 to over 500.

When I started back in 2013, I would try to respond to all the cold and “lukewarm” intros and investor referrals I received as a matter of courtesy. There is simply no way I could do that today (kids, other funds, commuting, etc), and I do not feel bad about this. Surely, some will read this as unfair, and I understand that — so I wanted to write this post about how I sort through all the inbound deal flow and how my brain has been trained to fixate on certain threads and ignore others. To keep sane, my brain has developed what I refer to as “The Quick Kill” trigger.

I wanted to share this post with others who are trying to connect with me with the following disclaimers: 1/ I do not proclaim to get every investment decision right; 2/ I am sure to miss a terrific opportunity because something is in The Quick Kill zone unfairly; 3/ I do not want to share what I think is best because I am just one person — this is just what I have concluded doesn’t work *for me* personally; and 4/ my hope in writing this is that it will help some folks better fine-tune what they want to highlight in their outreach.

There are four things my eyes scan for when reviewing emails and attachments — to be extra clear, this is for cold emails, lukewarm intros, and investor referrals from VCs I don’t know well. Here’s what triggers The Quick Kill:

1/ When I can’t tell who is on the core founding team, and why they are special. Early-stage funding is often all about the people and groups they form. Yet, I get decks where there is no team slide, or worse, there is just a circle with a face that says “Betty / CTO” or “Dan / Business.” –> Archive.

2/ When I can’t tell what the usage of the product or service is. In some cases, people don’t have any stats, but when I have to hunt and dig around for basic info, it becomes a chore and I just –> Archive.

3/ When I can’t tell why the team, the product, or the service is different or exceptional in some way. This is sort of a reinforcement of 1/ and 2/ above –> Archive.

4/ When the information is presented in a challenging format. There are links, epic poem emails, copy and paste emails, and on and on. In a way, the crispness required in business email is a test in and of itself, so if things don’t make it –> Archive.

To underline, this is for cold flow or lukewarm intros. I know I will miss something because of this. That’s Ok. I’m writing this so that it helps folks who are pinging me. And, I do not expect perfection in communications, but when someone I don’t know is in front of me, I need to be able to quickly process the opportunity without losing the flow. As a result, my brain has developed this Quick Kill trigger. [For detailed recommendations from folks I have already done business with and know well (“warm”), the way in which I go through deal flow is totally different — and I’ll write on that someday later this year.]