I sold my startup just before it went bankrupt, mostly a talent deal. Investors lost half their money. How do I talk about this with future investors?
Just tell them why you “almost” got there last time, and why you will kill it this time.
If you are a great founder, learned the right lessons on how to build a Unicorn this time, and didn’t blow too much money or do the wrong thing … it’s OK.
The “soft landing” to a Big Company is a positive, believe it or not. It shows you can hustle and make something happen, even if you didn’t personally profit. And the investors getting half their money back, with you getting nothing, is a LOT different as than investors getting zero and you making something (an acqui-hire scenario that doesn’t endear you to investors), and a LOT different than everyone losing everything. It is something. You made a graceful save and you built something at least worth acquiring, even if for $0.50 on the $1.00. 99% of start-ups are worth $0.00 on the $1.00.
And especially if you at least got 10, 100 customers the first time … even if you didn’t make any money on that one … it shows you know how to will something from the ether.
If you can do it 10-100x better this time, and can demonstrate that from your learnings, where you still had a partial save to a BigCo for your last investors … new investors will want in.