What I learned from investing in 138 early-stage startups

Such a 🤓
  • it’s not about the idea
  • it’s about the market
  • it’s about the teamit’s about momentum
  • don’t get bushwacked by flashy videos
  • revenue curves are king
  • there are always bulls
  • there are always hawks
  • make up your own mind
  • know and balance your bias
  • co-invest with institutions
  • follow-on and double down
  • don’t double down on your losers
  • early-stage valuations are what you can justify
  • funds are likely to invest in the really early-stage of the spectrum
  • do your own research, don’t follow the crowd
  • learn how early-stage startups work, what makes them succeed or fail
  • understand the type of shares you’re buying
  • focusing on unicorns is for VCs and the press
  • only invest what you’re happy to lose 100% of (take into account tax relief)
  • expect to get nothing back
  • talk to your investments, help them
  • forecasts are fairy dust, look at fundamentals
  • place bets, don’t try to pick winners
  • just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s bad
  • EIS and SEIS are awesome
  • SEIS stage is a quantum higher risk than EIS
  • money is just numbers, don’t be emotional
  • miracles are for fairy tales
  • spray and pray can be an almost strategy
  • making decisions will contain conscious/unconscious bias (be aware)
  • investing in something that fails doesn’t make you the dumb money
  • being a founder is one of the hardest jobs there is, be nice but balanced

What’s a good investment?

What is risk?

  • reaching idea validation through experiments that have (at least) some directional evidence or resulting insight
  • gained early traction with a sub-segment of customers
  • who are their first hires and what do they bring
  • found a scalable channel with appropriate unit economics
  • have they built a product that people love
  • found strategic partners, or an advantage through partnerships
  • tested and expanded into new channels
  • have they leveraged network effects successfully
  • how have they grown revenue and reinvested it
  • what roles they’ve hired for, in what order
  • launched in adjacent markets or new products to expand their range






I help build and grow things on the internet. Product + People + Growth. Together we can go further. “chief climate officer” @ Zopeful.com

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Adam Oskwarek

Adam Oskwarek

I help build and grow things on the internet. Product + People + Growth. Together we can go further. “chief climate officer” @ Zopeful.com

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