5 crucial questions that will help you choose your VC dream team



When you’re out saving the world, it sometimes helps to imagine that you’re a superhero. The startup world is bright and exciting — full of “Pow!” and “Wham!” — but you can’t do everything on your own.

In this bright and crazy comic-strip world, your investors are part of your dream team, popping up at just the right moment and kicking butt on your behalf.

Finding the right venture capital fund to support your startup is like holding auditions for a loyal sidekick. You need to find a balance between brains and brawn, size and skill. You need investors who offer what your startup lacks and understand how to help you succeed.

Here are five questions you should ask as you put together your dream team:

1. What’s the VC firm’s average cheque size?

This is important to help you determine if the firm can lead your round, co-invest, or if it’s not going to be a fit at all. It’s also important to pay attention to the cheque size that the firm is writing you, relative to the rest of the investments. This seems like a no-brainer, but if you’re receiving a cheque from the venture firm that’s larger than its usual size, you can expect the venture fund to be more involved and vice versa.

Some firms will have this information on their website, along with other details to help you make your choice. Public databases like CrunchBase and AngelList can also tell you plenty about VCs, their habits, and how they’ve invested in the past.

2. What kind of support can it offer?

Look at the firm’s background to gain some insight into its areas of expertise. Will the firm’s expertise help supplement your startup’s shortcomings? For instance, if you need help in the tech department, look for a VC firm that has experience scaling tech teams.

You can find a lot of this information online, but talking to VC’s portfolio companies can also be incredibly illuminating. These companies will have firsthand experience and can tell you what type of support you can expect.

3. Which of its partners would you be working with?

Your experience working with a venture capital fund will vary greatly depending on which partner is assigned to your business. If you hit it off with that partner and he or she understands what you’re trying to do, you’re more likely to have a good working relationship with the firm as a whole.

As a first step, explore blog posts and social media posts written by different partners to uncover their different styles, tastes, and areas of expertise. LinkedIn is another tool for helping you understand your potential partner’s network.

4. What is its working style?

If you know you prefer a hands-on investor — one who is willing to check in with you on a weekly, or even daily, basis — don’t waste your time looking at VC firms with an approach to monitoring and motivating their investments.

The firm’s working style should be an important deciding factor when choosing your dream team. One of our portfolio companies was overwhelmed with interest from investors during its seed round. We weren’t very well known at the time, but when we encouraged the company to speak to our existing portfolio companies about our working style, the founders realised we would be a much better fit for them than other better-known VC firms.

5. Will it help you secure follow-up funding?

Whichever venture capital fund you choose and whatever it may be offering during this round of funding, it’s unlikely to support you forever. Choose a firm that has credibility among later-stage investors so your partnership will help you gain additional funding down the road.

To get an idea of the credibility the firm can give you for future rounds, check out the VC firm’s current co-investors and later-stage investors who have subsequently funded their deals.

By asking plenty of questions and doing a bit of detective work up front, it’s possible to build a team of investors who will not only offer monetary support, but also motivation and future opportunities for your startup. These are superpowers your dream team shouldn’t be without.

5 Enterprise Startups to Watch in 2015

Many moments in life are defined as game-changing: an interception in a football game, the debut of a new technology, or a new leader taking the helm. The rise of enterprise-focused startups may be one of them.

While enterprise startups aren’t as captivating as consumer-facing businesses, enterprise opportunities are powerful. They enable startups to reach profitability more quickly, they provide a platform to create groundbreaking solutions on a large scale, and they can transform the way an entire industry does business.

In this Tech Cocktail article, TX Zhuo shares five enterprise startups to watch in 2015 and explains what makes them stand out from the crowd.

5 Key Growth Metrics Every Enterprise Startup Should Track

For most startups, one of the most exciting and frustrating phases is deciding how to price their offering for their first paying customer.

Pricing is especially tricky for enterprise startups because there’s very little data available, and new entrepreneurs often price their product or service way below its value.

Being able to charge more for a product is great, but along with higher prices come longer sales and payment cycles. Because of these nuances, startups selling to enterprise customers must be even more diligent in tracking the right growth metrics.

Here are a few metrics your startup should be watching

6 Tools Entrepreneurs Should Use to Increase Customer Retention


It’s easy to rest on your laurels when your company is growing, but many entrepreneurs don’t know exactly what’s driving or hindering their growth in the first place. There are often dozens of factors at play, but no matter what industry you’re in, understanding your existing customer base is key.

According to Bain & Company, a 5 percent increase in customer retention could increase profits by 125 percent. There’s a strong correlation between how long a customer has been on your platform and how strong of a brand advocate he is. A satisfied customer is likely to give you positive word of mouth, while a dissatisfied customer could be deterring others from doing business with you.

No matter how quickly you’re adding to your customer base, you can’t afford to neglect the customers you already have. The good news is that you can use these tools to gain new insights into your customers and keep them engaged for years to come.


Most startups can’t fix all their problems at once, but the suite of tools by RJMetrics helps you prioritize your biggest areas of concern and home in on where your customer churn is happening (e.g., within a specific customer demographic or customer cohort).

These tools give you immediate insight into what’s going on in your business without complicated spreadsheets or database queries, allowing you to maximize your company’s value and identify problem areas before you send your customers running to your competitors.


Preact collects and analyzes information from different customer systems like Mixpanel, Braintree, and Salesforce to identify trends and patterns on an individual user basis. Then it predicts which customers will renew, expand, or cancel their services with you.

This tool allows you to give your front-line staff clear direction on how to engage with your customer base to optimize customer satisfaction, drive retention, and increase revenue.

Even RJMetrics uses Preact to analyze its data, which is a huge endorsement. According to CEO Robert Moore, RJMetrics’ churn rate has dropped by more than 50 percent since it began using Preact, and the entire team has become more productive and increased upsells.

Sprout Social and Respondly

RJMetrics and Preact help collect and analyze customer data, but social media data is another matter. A combination of tools like Sprout Social and Respondly allow social media managers to triage support questions that come through social media and assign them to relevant customer success agents.

These tools make it easy for companies to respond to questions promptly and personally through both email and social media channels. Such a personalized experience goes a long way toward preventing customer churn and encouraging your customers to recommend your company to others.

Retention Science

The name says it all. Retention Science is a must-have for any company in the e-commerce space. It analyzes behavioral, transactional, and demographic data to predict customer behavior and multi-channel marketing campaigns that engage and convert. It’s also one of the keys to the success of The Honest Company.

For brick-and-mortar business owners, tools like Bridg and Main Street Hub automate marketing efforts to keep customers happy. The happier customers are with your brand, the more loyal they become.


I came across Button a couple weeks ago and love both its simplicity and its mobile-first focus. Button provides a simple software development kit with customizable reward and loyalty modules that mitigate churn and allow you to reengage with customers who have left your platform. While companies like Dropbox and Uber are famous for their referrals, neither platform is robust enough to allow for that yet.

Button gives any mobile marketplace a deep referral and engagement program. In addition, it allows mobile marketplaces to collaborate and increase engagement. For instance, Lyft could offer a free $5 Postmates credit on a customer’s next ride to boost loyalty.

All other things being equal, a customer who has been with you a long time is much more likely to be attached to your brand and tell others about you. Keeping those customers happy is like having a marketing team that pays you.

With the right tools, you can access a wealth of data on your current and former customers, including their sentiments toward your company, their likelihood to make a purchase or leave, and their triggers. Using this data to your advantage will boost your company’s revenue and position you as a leader in your industry.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering an Accelerator Program

Many startups see accelerator programs as the fast lane to success. Some think that additional funds and resources are just there for the taking.

If you have a great idea with solid support, an accelerator could be the supercharger that powers your idea even further. This isn’t always the case, though. For every Y Combinator darling like Dropbox, there’s a business that didn’t realize what it was stepping into.

In this Citizen Tekk article, TX Zhou discusses how accelerator programs can benefit your business and outlines five essential questions you must ask yourself before forming a partnership with these programs.