I’ve had a few founders over the years think I was upset or frustrated with them.  That’s on me — I can be direct at times.  Maybe, often 🙂

But no great investor wants anything other than for their founders to succeed. Wildly. Every founder I’ve invested in, I want it far more for them than for me. I want them to not just win, but be truly great.

No, where I might seemed “upset”, it was more worried for them.

Worried about mistakes that can be averted now.  Mistakes that are both clear and hard to see.  Mistakes that are truly actionable, and important.

Mistakes that are hard to see for founders, but easier to see for investors, top mentors and advisors:

🛑 You are burning too much. Founders sometimes try to use capital to brute force through issues. Maybe even oftentimes if they’ve raised a lot.

🛑 That VP that checks a box on the org chart but just isn’t good enough. Sometimes, founders just want to stick with a VPE that can’t get more stuff shipped, or a VPS that can’t increase sales, too long.  Often, because they don’t want to deal with finding a replacement.  A little of this stalling is OK. Too long, though, and you lose a year. And often millions.

🛑 You are glossing over a tough metric or two. Great or even just decent revenue growth can obscure low NRR, high churn, low gross margins, and more — for a while. Maybe a year, maybe even two. But never forever. Hiding from tough issues in the product and retention during the early growth phase leads to tougher decisions later.

🛑 You’re giving up on something too quickly. Sure, kill a feature or product that isn’t working. But sometimes, founders aren’t patient enough. Sometimes, they can’t see it actually is working. Just slowly at first.

🛑 The competition is catching you, or worse. This is so easy to hide from, and bury your head in the sand a bit about. But in SaaS, even if you fall behind a bit, you almost always have time to bounce back and get more competitive. If you want it badly enough.

Today, everyone wants to just deliver good news. Even VCs. Everyone.

Sometimes, I have to be the one to be honest here. The only one. The best founders get it. At least, after a beat or two.

(hear me image from here)

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