How early do you want a founder thinking about exit path? During a recent email exchange I advised a founder to remove the “potential exits” slide from the main section of his deck. He thanked me for the feedback but also noted I was the only investor to recommend that change and in fact, at least one other had suggested its addition. [For clarity, I’m not an investor in this company, nor is Homebrew evaluating for investment].
Why don’t I like to see “exit” slides in seed decks:
- Narrows Thinking: Usually conceived based on what company is today, not what it can be
- Speak of the Devil & He
WillWon’t Appear: Often talks of different acquirers and market comps. Companies don’t get sold, they get bought so just go and build a big business. By ID’ing potential acquirers too early one may obsess over their market moves, etc.
- Tell Me How You’ll Create Value, Not Just Realize It: Build a big profitable business. If you can do that (which is hard enough), I guarantee you there will be exit opportunities. Don’t try to reverse engineer.
- Suggests Risk Aversion: Makes me wonder whether entrepreneur is looking for quick cash out rather than wanting a venture partner for a longterm company.
What are some of the potential reasons to include this type of slide? The only one I can think of is Pragmatism: Shows founders want to build something of value and will be a good investment.
Now, I DO want founders to tell me about their ideas for a business model (if it’s not clear from Day One), but I want hypotheses they think they’ll test during the seed phase, NOT a laundry list of various ways to monetize. I sometimes come across slides that just list 10 or so bullets with things like “Ad Monetization,” “Per User Charges,” “Sell Data,” etc. That means nothing to me. It’s lazy.
Am I missing reasons why exit landscape should be a thoughtful piece of seed stage funding decks?