It’s been my honor to have spent the past 5 years as a Principal at Founder Collective, investing in extraordinary companies and helping to build new ones. My next move into uncharted territory compels me to write, not only to commemorate a significant chapter in my investing career but also to share what I’ve learned and ask for your collective ideas and support.

Investing, even more than operating is full of nuance. We are in the business of outliers, which means that the exceptions, rather than the mean, make the rules. …

Because there’s no user manual for venture capital.

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I’m old enough to remember when VC firms did not compete to see who is the most founder friendly. The firm where I work, Founder Collective was explicitly started with the mission of being a founder-aligned VC because this didn’t always exist. Overall, this has been a very welcome development for founders. Luckily, these days there are fewer trap doors for founders and slow-release poison pills in term sheets. …

Software ate the world, right? So now what?

We’ve come a long way. Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

From the first time I fell in love with writing software (like many technologists, I can happily say that I wrote my first BASIC program in elementary school) through today, when I am gleefully swimming in SaaS products in every part of my life — I am thrilled to have gotten a front-row seat as software companies have increasingly touched every part of American life. Along the way, they have hired the majority of my grad school classmates, brought prosperity to a great many founders, and built tremendous enterprise value.

As we head into this strange new decade, now is…

Why Shouldn’t Startupping be as Safe as The Appalachian Trail?

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My retired mom took up hiking a few years ago. She’s actually in great shape and does these daily four hour hikes with ten pound weights in her pockets, just to up the ante. But she’s closer to 70 than 40, and I got a little nervous when she started talking about hiking the Appalachian trail or going for multi-day hikes in Canada. Luckily, she knows the ground rules of hiking safely: don’t go it alone, be prepared, turn back under certain conditions, etc.

Founding a company, like hiking, has gotten a lot more popular in the last twenty years…

Will 2020 be the year VC goes “back to basics”? I hope so.

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I started this post decades ago — in February to be precise — and at the time remember thinking, folks will laugh if I share my prediction that 2020 will be the year VC goes “old school.”

Back then, we were all naively musing about the likelihood of a recession and bemoaning the ever-rising valuations (mostly unjustifiable) in very early-stage companies. Three months later and from the depth of a scary global health crisis, I regret to say it no longer seems far-fetched.

For so long, “profit” has been a joke in the land of venture-funded startups. If you’re cash…

What are the characteristics of companies which are uniquely suited to tough times?

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A tough economy is a great time to build a slow burn company.

  • This may be a side hustle…
  • An open source project
  • Or a slow burn startup 🔥

Slow burn companies may grow slowly, but can amass tremendous value, and sometimes without giving up much external equity.

Some of my faves: @mailchimp, @airtable, @github, @glossier

All of them took years to succeed, have small teams with outsized impact, and eventually dominated the space that they’re in. How do you build a slow burn company? Some characteristics:

  • Single, simple use case
  • Small (often developer-led) team
  • User acquisition is cheap, simple…

The 1992 engineering technique we use to tell whether a new technology is valuable or not.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

“What’s your take on blockchain now?”

A founder asked me in a meeting.

The quick answer:

We are still waiting for the tidal wave of blockchain startups.

The honest explanation?

Beyond developers and crypto-nerds, blockchain certainly hasn’t scaled beyond the population of early-early adopter customers — and we are starting to see the post-mortems already. But I argue those are unwarranted.

Why? Blockchain hasn’t yet lived up to its early hype. But most early technologies don’t.

Before I explain my thinking, let me first walk through some context:

When is technology “too early”?

There are several known perils when founding companies in new tech areas:

VCs invest in less than 1% of the companies they meet. Here’s how to beat the odds.

Photo by MUILLU on Unsplash
Photo by MUILLU on Unsplash

I originally wrote this list as a checklist for a friend who is raising her first seed round. Fundraising is not easy, and I don’t want to give the impression the process can be gamed. But the fundraising process is also very constrained — the speed dating version of relationship building — for a business relationship that can last years, if not a decade.

Most VCs I know meet hundreds of founders each year, but only end up making 4–8 investments per year…

Your startup has customers? Turns out, that’s not enough.

Seed funded? Check.

Product-market fit? Check.

Core team? Check.

No early startup hiccups (from payroll to cofounders)? Check.

Seed-funded, pre-Series A startups are off to the races — for the above four reasons, and more.

But, as we at Founder Collective watch our seed companies grow and progress towards their Series A / B / C fundraise, several challenging new realities quickly start to sink in for the founding team:

  • You grow, or you die. Sensationalistic? Maybe. But it’s true: just ask any post-A founder). If they don’t continue to grow…

6 important questions every entrepreneur should answer to prepare for your pitch, whether you’re pre-product, or bootstrapped and profitable.

How do you find the right investors for your startup?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have asked yourself this question more than once.

In fact, that’s the #1 question entrepreneurs ask me. I’m an investor at Founder Collective, a seed-stage VC fund that has backed hundreds of startups over the last 9 years — including Buzzfeed, the Trade Desk, Pillpack, and Uber.

The answer is not as straightforward as it seems. I have seen first-hand how seed funding for startups…

Parul Singh

forever founder, early stage VC @fcollective. proud investor @pillpack @embarkvet @asklorem @adhawk @smallsforsmalls. lover of startups, UX+ product management

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