“We’re early stage” doesn’t really mean much because it can be stretched to mean a whole range of phases as a company grows up. And that’s OK – VC firms come in all shapes and sizes and folks are successful with all kinds of models. We could have a long debate about what “early stage” is and we’d have to agree to disagree because there is no right and wrong. But what we can agree on is that saying you are “early stage” is great because it implies you are an early risk taker.
But if you are a founder raising a Seed or Series A round – and you’re looking for an investor laser focused on that (you may not be and that is fine); this is a way to find out how “early stage” a VC firm really is – ask them the following questions:
- What is their average and median first cheque size in to a company
- In what % of their investments were they the first institutional money / VC to invest in the company
- In what % of cases did they lead (the first / early) rounds
That’ll tell you a lot about the character and focus of the firm, no matter what the claim is.
There’s a lot more you can be asking a VC of course.