Top Considerations at this Stage:
Questions to Consider
- Who's the team? What sets them apart? Why did you pick them? What relevant experience do they bring to the table? Why are they the best people in the world to be working on this problem? Are they capable of putting together a working version of the solution? How do you know each other? Do you know you can work together effectively? How long have you known each other and/or worked together?
- How are you dividing work and responsibilities? How does the division of labour match your expertise? What gaps does your team have? Who will you need to bring on board to fill those gaps? When will those gaps need to be filled? How will you fill them?
- What challenges does your team dynamic have? Have you had any disagreements before? On what? How did you resolve them? Who gets final say if there's an issue? What areas do you continue to disagree on? How are you addressing these lasting disagreements?
- Why do you want to run a tech company? Why is now the best time in your career for you to start a tech company (for you and your cofounder)? What motivates you to start this specific company?
- What was the last important skill you learned? How did you learn it?
- What was the last thing you were wrong about? How did you find out you were wrong; how did your thinking change?
- What values are important enough for you to sacrifice making more money? Have you ever sacrificed financially to live by a principle?
- How will you build a diverse and inclusive team? What culture issues do you think are most likely to arise at the company given your personalities?
Questions to Consider
- What is your vision for the company? How will it "change the world"? How does your vision set you apart?
- Are there any plans you'd really like to pursue that you don't discuss with investors because you've been told they're bad ideas?
POA for 12 Months
Did the pitch keep the counterparty's attention? (note if attention lapsed at any point)
Were the product, vision, and business model clearly understood by the counterparty? (note questions they asked; specifically ask how they understand the business)
Did the core message resonate with the counterparty? (note which aspects resonated most deeply)
What was the counterparty's core takeaway from the pitch? What stuck with them?
Was the counterparty compelled to move the conversation forward?
- What is the problem you're solving? Why is this a problem? Who is it a problem for?
- What does the typical user journey look like right now with this problem?
- How did you find out this was a problem? How did you validate your understanding of the problem? Have you engaged with prospective customers? How many? What have you learned? How has it changed your hypothesis and understanding of the problem? Has it changed your idea of the solution? How so? What unique insights do you have about the problem?
- Do the people who face this problem see it as a big enough problem they'd be willing to pay for it? How much are they willing to pay? What evidence do you have that they're willing to pay that much?
- What are they doing right now to address this problem? Is their current solution working? How much pain is the current solution causing them? How much time does the current solution take? How much is it costing them? What's the headcount allocation for the current solution?
- How does solving this problem make your customer's life better? Are there broader market or network effects from solving this problem?
- Why hasn't the problem been solved already?
- How big is the market for this problem? How does the pricing affect your market size? How many people does it affect? How much money are people spending to solve this? Is this amount predicted to increase, decrease, or stay stagnant over the next ten years?
- Out of all the groups this is a problem for, who are you going after first? Why are you going after your specific target customer group? What does the customer persona look like? Is the end user different from the buyer?
- Where do you plan to expand once you've locked the target group in? How will you expand to reach that group? Do you have pipeline access to them right now? Why or why not?
- What problem will you solve once you've successfully solved this problem? Why that problem? How does it naturally follow from your current problem? Does it share users, a similar solution?
- Is the number of people who face this problem growing, shrinking, or staying stagnant over the next ten years?
- Why is now the right time to develop a solution for this problem? What shift in market / industry / technological conditions has made this company possible now versus before? What still needs to change for the company to be a wild success? Have people tried to solve this problem in the past; why did they fail / why was their success constrained? What will you do differently from them, if anything?
- Who else is solving this problem? What strategies are they using? How much success are they seeing? What sets you apart from them? How much are they charging? How much market penetration do they have? Who's your principal competitor right now; why?
- If a dozen other companies all pop up creating a company with this exact idea, how can you still succeed?
- What is the broader issue your problem is a symptom of? Are other solutions to the broader issue competitive with you? Why are you choosing this particular attack surface against the broader issue?
- What is your unfair advantage?
- Do you have any patents?
- What happens if a tech giant (e.g. Google) does what you're doing?
- Who are the current major players in the space?
- What is your moat?
- How are you solving the problem? Why is your solution the best way to solve the problem? What is unique about your solution?
- What exists today that's similar to your solution; why is that your reference point?
- What are the technical and process specifications, how will the user interact with the system, how will the user know how to use the solution?
- Who will use the solution?
- How does your solution solve the problem for the user? How will you assess that your solution actually solves the problem effectively — what is your north star metric for success?
- What does the user journey look like with your solution? How is it different from before?
- Which features are you prioritizing and why?
- What goes into a successful MVP?
- What's your product roadmap for the next 6-12 months?
- Are there any unsolved technical or scientific problems you need to address as part of developing your solution? How are you planning to solve them? How long will it take?
- Has the product team interfaced with your current and potential users? In what capacity? How has this shaped the development of the solution?
- How will you distribute the solution to users? How are you measuring whether your distribution strategy works; what will you do if it doesn't?
- How much time + effort will it take for people to switch from their current solution to yours? What are the switching costs? What makes your solution worth the activation energy?
- What are your plans to grow the company? How will you get there? How much money will it cost to get there? Have you planned for contingencies? What are your slow, normal, and fast growth projections? What are the resource requirements, and what is the timeline for each projection?
- What's your current pipeline of customers? How will you expand it? Are they committed? Excited? How invested are they in your solution versus what else is available on the market?
- What is your current customer acquisition strategy? Do you know how long it takes to close a customer for your sector? What does the sales cycle look like? Who makes the final decision to purchase; is that the same or different from your user? How do you get access to the decision-makers? How have they responded to your solution so far; what pushback have you received?
- How much does it cost you to get a user through your existing channels? How is that different across the channels you're considering?
- What does your current sales cycle look like?
- How did you pick your first customers? Who are they; why them?
- Who was the last potential customer you talked to?
- How close are you to product-market fit?
- How will your business make money? How are you selling the product, how much are you selling it for, what's the business model? How will you get users to pay?
- How much does producing the solution cost you (cost of goods sold)? How will this price change as the company grows?
- How will this become a billion dollar business?
- When did you start the company?
- What traction do you have? Are people currently using the product? How many active users; how many users on the waitlist? What's been their experience so far, what feedback do they have? How has that helped you improve the product?
- Do you have paying customers; how many? Why or why not?
- How many contracts have been signed? When did those contracts or pilots start? What are the contingencies of those agreements? Are there letters of intent signed? How many? What do they look like?
- How much revenue have you generated so far? Is that product revenue or consulting/services revenue? What do your margins look like?
- Do you have any notable customers? Who are they? Any enterprise customers paying substantial amounts?
- What are your engagement metrics? Have you managed to upsell any customers?
- When will you break even in terms of profitability and cashflow?
- Why do people want to use your solution? Why do people stick with your solution?
- What current challenges are you facing? Why are they challenges for you? How are you working to resolve them?
- What is the most likely reason the company will fail? What have you seen fail in your industry or amongst similar companies? Why did it fail? What would you do differently?
- What shift in market / industry / technological conditions would kill your company? How likely is it and why? What would you do if that happened?
- If the company dissolves in the next 18 months, what's the core reason it failed? What are you doing today to avert that outcome?
- What potential harms might your business cause; what will you do about that? What has been the most difficult ethical dilemma you've had at work so far?
- Why are you raising money?
- How much are you raising? Why that amount? On what terms?
- What are you planning on doing with that money? How far will that capital take you? What are the core milestones for this raise? What traction do you expect from the investment?
- What does the cap table look like right now? Do you have any other investors? How much have you raised so far? Have you tried to seek additional investment? Why or why not?
- Where are you in your current round? Have any terms been set; if so, what are they? Do you have a lead investor?
- What do you want out of your investors other than capital; how can they be most helpful? What sets the investors you're speaking to out from the rest?
- What is your current burn rate? What are your capital costs?
- What is your one core goal for the next 3-6 months?