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Seeing pitches as a former founder

2 min read

I've been seeing a lot of presentations lately as part of the run-up to Matter Eight, and thinking a lot about my experience as an investor vs as a founder. I think there's a longer piece on this that I should write.

I actually applied to Matter twice (once with Known, and once with Wavelist, a social network for podcasts) and got to the finalist round in both cases. Known was, of course, funded, and I've been a part of the community ever since.

The result of that experience - and the other two startups I either co-founded or had a core part in running - is that I can't help but put myself in the shoes of anyone who's pitching me. It's hard. It's nerve-wracking. It can feel really awful. And the truth is that if you don't get funded, it's not a value judgment on your project; it just might not be a fit.

It might also be that the investor, or one of their partners, is wrong about something core about the venture - not because you described it badly (although storytelling skills are vital), but because of assumptions they have. We've started running mini bias training sessions before each day of pitches to try and prevent this. But declaring your core assumptions and justifying them is a really smart thing to do - at least then you can have an informed conversation about them.

Anyway. Seeing pitches is the best part of my job, but making decisions is the hardest - I ideally would love to support everyone. In most cases I can see the potential, and I can definitely empathize with what the founder is going through.