Tl;dr: If you are interested to know why venture capital firms invested in startups, fortunately, many VCs write blogs I term “Why we invested” since that’s often the title they use. This is a mega-collection of VCs sharing these thoughts that I spent a few days collecting. The value for investors is to gather learnings for your own decision-making process. The benefit to startups is to understand what VCs look for so you can get funded too. I have collated 93 firms and 826 blogs. You’re welcome.
Blog is split into two parts
I have split the blog into two parts:
- Some pointers: I got annoyed looking for all these blogs and wondered why the heck write them if they are so hard to find? So I started writing, and well I ended up on a rant. This is likely to be of very little interest to founders. It’s actionable for VCs.
- The mega list of “why we invested”: I’ve split up all of the VCs’ blogs by firm and chucked in the logo to make things a little more pretty. There are 826 blogs from 93 VC firms. I couldn’t be bothered to build filters. Didn’t see how it was valuable.
Note on who was included:
- If blogs from a firm looked rubbish I didn’t include any. Maybe they might have a few good ones, but life’s too short…
- If their blogs looked like a press release, they didn’t have a snowball’s chance of being included
- Quality does vary a lot! As one might expect, some of the large funds do a consistently solid job, but smaller firms actually can often deep dive into far more detail. Don’t ignore smaller firms just because they aren’t a big brand. a16z aren’t terribly interesting, but because I know everyone will be interested, I included them anyway
Tips on writing your “why we invested” blogs
Here are some observations having done a massive amount of dull as balls research and copy/paste.
Understand your audience / DO NOT write press releases
One weird thing I find is that some firms write PR statements. I mean the full-on normal press release with the about sections, quotes etc. No one gives a shite about a press release. If you’re a VC reading this, don’t be that dude.
Always think about why you are writing these blogs. There are only two audiences:
- Prospective LPs: They check up to see how smart you are, especially if you tell them that your content gets you deal flow
- Prospective founders to invest in: Your other audience is founders who are getting to know you before you know they are interested. The best founders will probably check up on you. If you write genuinely quality content, you can demonstrate you are a thought leader so you are more than a checkbook (allegedly). We will talk more about being interesting in other points
Write content worth reading
This is the single best piece of advice I can give you. Write awesome content. Or maybe don’t bother at all?
It doesn’t have to be crazy long, it needs to be “worth reading”.
If you are going to make your partners/principals/analysts and god forbid, paying some content monkey to do it for you (Don’t bother- it’s a waste of money as the content isn’t worth reading) the content needs to lead to the specific outcomes you are looking for.
I’ve learned that if you write awesome content worth reading it gets read. Shareable content is shared. The best sites are remembered.
Eh sites are eh. They do not break through the noise.
For example, I’ve been reading and making content for a long time. There are some VCs I know I will enjoy reading. I won’t go so far as to feel “I know them”. I like Rob Go at NextView because he typically writes what I would. Mark Suster at Upfront always does a great job. You likely have your own examples. Think why you like their blog, come back to it, and copy them shamelessly till you know better and have your own style.
Know why you’re writing, be personable, and show up
The entire point of writing is to build a relationship with founders so they come to you for money when they are fundable to you.
Jason Kan is a little annoying to me, but the dude keeps making content fricking everywhere (he’s not an investor). It’s not that great, but he just keeps turning up and he even admits when he is wrong (i.e. tweet about product vs distribution… cough, Atrium??). I know “I can make better content” but the thing is “done is better than perfect”- whilst I’m thinking about being better, he has posted 10x more. He just puts out content which is good enough and that’s how you win (with the “be everywhere” strategy).
Gary V is Gary V.
I’m a nobody, but you know exactly what you are getting with me. I swear, I say what I think to help you, I make the most complete content, I whatever else I am to you.
Who are you to your target audience?
My advice is:
- Write to your audience: Founders do not care that you’re excited to invest. The only people who do are the founders you invested in, but they would rather that you do your pro-rata… New founders want to learn from you and how to get money from you asap so they can focus on, you know, actually doing their fricking job which is building 10x value to customers
- Keep showing up: I don’t mean get on Tik Tok (Turner Novak is funny though). Keep consistently churning out your “why we invested” blogs. I excluded VCs from the list if they had one or two blogs, so no backlinks for the ones that didn’t write enough
- Have a personality: Corporate-style blogs are boring and exhausting. Be you. You might lose some people, but the ones you want will love you.
Structure your blogs (easier to write)
The best blogs have a consistent structure.
Map out the sections you want to address, make a template, stick to it, fill it in.
If you have many people in your firm, share the template structure. If you have bags of management fees, have a content person be the boss and improve things before they go live.
Bowery Capital are basic, they go with:
That’s fine, but I don’t think that’s super directive to you to write quality content.
What content to include / how to structure your blog
The structure of a “why we invested” blog is very similar (IMHO) to how I structure a pitch deck for a startup (vc, hedge fund, property fund etc).
- Industry setup
- Changes in dynamics enabling the opportunity
- The problems customers in the industry face
- Why the competition don’t solve this niche
- That this company is solving it the correct way and why
- How they think about things different (think: contrarian and right)
- Why you like the team (founder/market fit)
- What they have achieved to justify the investment
- The market size and the opportunity
- Your investment thesis
- Who else invested and your usual humble brag bla bla about being excited
I wrote that stream of consciousness in one go so don’t assume this is the perfect structure.
Now, yes… that is a shite load of work, but to be honest, you should have done the work on it all already. And if you didn’t you should start doing so (in my humble opinion).
If you are like “Alexander, FML, I can’t write, I have kids, I’m on 15 boards bla..” then my advice is to focus on the why.
Focus on the why and cut the BS if you are short of time
Everyone writes guff content. Think people who write press releases if you don’t know what I mean. I do it too, but purposefully to “attempt” to inject humor and a personable feeling. That’s all good and well if you are trying to build a brand, which… ironically is exactly what you are trying to do! I can be brutalistic in content, but I choose not to. I write structured outlines and fill in content. I want you to enjoy your time with me learning so you get to know me. But I could make this blog a fricking lot shorter if I just gave you core knowledge bullet points. I don’t think you want that. And my real goal is to help you to learn to think for yourself. That’s hard to achieve with skeleton text.
But sure, if you are short of time, then you can just cut the shite and “write a short letter” (“sorry I didn’t have time to write a long one”) if you are intellectually capable.
Case study: I mentor some GPs. One changed their LP update email structure. It was data points rather than a “hedge fund letter”. My point to her was 1/ this will save you so much time, but 2/ you’re losing the opportunity to build relationships with the LPs by showing how smart you are. So when it comes to being the principal of running your own fund, did you earn their trust quarterly so they will write you a check? Short term, consistent pain = long term gain
Be absolutely brutal about only writing smart stuff and the bits people are genuinely interested in reading. But you need to know what to write.
- Define your audience: is it startup founders for deal flow, or is it LPs for investment?
- Define their interest: Understand what your audience is interested in
- Write what they want to know: No shite Sherlock…
A short, quality “why we invested” might ideally look like:
- Industry explainer
- How this aligns with our investment thesis
- How we met the founder (how they got in contact as for some founders this is scary)
- Why we invested (money shot for founders)
- [What we didn’t like] – delicate, but other founders would love the learnings… (this is a cultural thing for you and founders- think Buffer)
- How long the process took in detail from meet to wire (meetings, what info we needed, what we focused on…)
- Other similar kinds of startups you want “so reach out if you match”
Eh, I wrote that in 3 minutes. I could write something smarter in an hour, which I’m not going to do (yes, you can hire me to help). If you understand how the fundraising process works in detail, you can deconstruct the parts and explain to them so that prospective founders know how deals get done with you which is super baller!
Think how many founders google for how “YC applications work” if they want to get in? Believe me, they want to know your コナミコマンド code (nerd drop).
Actually, this is a pretty cool idea (I’m thinking and writing) you could double down on.
Founders are super busy and have no idea about raising. Even successful ones know they don’t do the basics well. You explaining how a raise goes down with you can help you on so many levels. Again, I should write (yet another) a blog on this.
Finally, just because there are 7 points there, doesn’t mean this has to be a huge ass blog. You just need to give very concise, action-orientated points.
Write the blog once the deal is done and the investment memo is written
You wrote an investment memo, right?
You had to go through the crap of getting your deal through the Monday Morning Meeting.
You know why you invested in the deal.
The knowledge is in your head. It is fresh.
Now is the time to write your “why we invested blog”.
The longer time goes on, the harder it will take, the longer it will take, and the lower the quality the deal will be.
Do yourself a favor and make writing this blog a normal priority. Do it within a week. Perhaps set a “two days and it needs to be done” limit.
Add your investment thesis
You ‘hopefully’ wrote an investment thesis before you wrote a check. Why not share it?
If there is something particularly delicate, then redact it. But what do you really have to hide here? Probably that you wrote a rubbish thesis. The fact you know you are going to share one publicly will force you to put in more effort and to learn.
I wrote a blog called “Ask dumb questions. It’s the smartest thing you can do“. The core premise is you can only be ignorant once if you ask someone to explain it. So along this thread, my point is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Everyone is as clueless as you are, the difference is some put in the effort to improve.
There aren’t many investment thesis’ public, but I’ve tried to collate them here: Investment Thesis Collection from Venture Capital Firms
Add your investment memo
Now, here is the exact moment when you are going to balk and have a mini panic attack. Share your investment memo. Yes, it can be a redacted version when you talk about the team, concerns etc.
Very few firms share theirs (BVP shares the most). And all the little guys who do always share how vulnerable they feel sharing theirs.
Now, if you are a larger firm, you may have to put this through legal and your partners. But, if you guys are so smart, what do you have to hide?
This is an amazing way to repurpose work and show how smart you think you are.
I can explain all the reasons why you should share and mitigate your concerns, but you should be able to figure that out yourself. If you want me to do a blog on this, ask in the comments.
Here are all the investment memos I’ve been able to find: Venture Capital Investment Memo Collection
Yes, you can write nerdy articles
In one blog I added, the Partner said that “writing doesn’t come normally to me, so I needed a reason to write” bla bla.
I know for a fact that so many people who could teach others don’t, because they have an inferiority complex, an unreasonable standard to attain, etc. Fill in the psychological issue holding you back.
You’re a VC. You likely got good grades. You talk and do research for a living.
Think about the calls you do with founders (where you try to sound smart), the conversations with peers, chats at Philz Coffee… That is interesting to your audience.
Just write what you think. I guarantee you there is an audience for it and your content is better than you think.
I have this huge ass blog. I don’t know how to write. I just started writing when I was hungover on a Saturday. I didn’t give a shite, I had no expectation, and I learned to write (hopefully). And if it isn’t obvious, this is my stream of consciousness. I just add headers to make my thoughts structured. If someone with a checklist of learning disabilities like mwe can make content, so can you.
Ok, I’m getting bored now. I’ll add some small detail stuff so people actually read your content!
Write consistent titles
The larger firms are consistent. My preferred title is “Why we invested in [STARTUP]”. If founders are looking for your blogs, it makes them obvious. Of course, the best solution is to also categorize so they come up in a feed.
Many firms switcharoo titles as the person who wrote it decided.
A few firms just write the name of the startup. That’s the older firms. That’s also crappy SEO and discovery.
Make discovery easy
Most sites do a dog shite attempt at site discovery for their blogs. Only a few firms made “why we invested” blogs easy to find in any shape or form. 97% of VCs write random-ass titles. Some well-known firms (well the ones who blog a lot anyway) are very Paul Graham about it. They just write the name of the company and bury it in a time-based archive. It’s not ideal, but at least it is consistent.
- Blog title: As above, have a consistent title
- Filter: Make all your blogs come out of a filter button
- Filter title: Make it “Why we invested”
- Location: Make your blog link in the menu obvious. I like “blog”. Many want to be fancy pants and write “insights” or something. Just make things obvious
I don’t want to keep writing about this as it feels like stuff you will delegate anyway. The issue is that 95% of VC blog structures suck, so passing off the buck is not working. This is ironic since if you spend time writing, it needs to be found. Think about bears shitting in the woods
You want your blogs to be read, and text blocks are dull (feck, I need to do better myself!). Use images where you can. The standard is an image of the team. And yes, most look smug and are wearing Patagonia.
If you want to be a boss, then add in some fancy flow charts graphics. Think a competitive landscape image. People love this stuff.
I hate stock imagery. I mean smart images which yes, take time.
Cut the humble brags
It’s exhausting how everyone adds how humbled and excited they are. It’s cliche. It adds no value. I guarantee you that the last paragraph is about “how excited we are to partner with this startup”. I know you will do it anyway, just know it is annoying ;).
If you are a baller, people know it.
Ask me questions in the comments. I can keep writing.
“Why we invested in” the collection
Note: Changed their website and permalink structure. I’ll add back in future. (https://www.100x.vc/portfolio)
Why we invested in Jasper Health
Why we invested in Clarify Medical
Why we invested in Detect Technologies
Why we invested in Gravitee.io
Why we invested in Mountaintop
Why we invested in Quality Clouds
Why we invested in InteleXVision
Why we invested in Metaphor Data
Why we invested in PicnicHealth
Why we invested in InterVenn BioSciences
They write some great research but their blogs on this topic are little more than press statements most of the time.
Why we invested in Gitguardian
Why we invested in Traefik Labs
Bessemer Venture Partners
Why we invested in MicroAcquire
Why we invested in LaunchDarkly
Why we invested in Shift Technology
Why we invested in Phantom Auto
Why we invested in Cortical Labs
Why we invested in Gilmour Space
Why we invested in Dandelion Energy
Why we invested in GoContractor
Why we invested in Smartvid.io
Why we invested in Join Digital
Why we invested in Built Robotics
Why we invested in Select Star
Why we invested in Plus One Robotics
Why we invested in Boston Metal
Why we invested in Prometheus Fuels
Why we invested in Natural Fiber Welding
Why we invested in Yellowbrick
Why we invested in Blackmore Sensors and Analytics
Why we invested in Optimize Health
Why we invested in Cube Software
Why we invested in Beautiful Mysteries
Why we invested in GamerzClass
Why we invested in LatticeFlow
Why we invested in Memberspace
Why we invested in Sounding Board
Why we invested in Kepler Communications
Why we invested in Edge Impulse
Why we invested in Nocion Therapeutics
Why we invested in ScaleFactor
Why we invested in Darwin Homes
Why we invested in Boost Ghana
Clean Energy Ventures
Why we invested in RapidDeploy
Why we invested in Decoded Health
Why we invested in Banjo Health
Why we invested in Gro Intelligence
Why we invested in SoundCommerce
Why we invested in East Africa Fruits
Why we invested in MDaaS Global
Why we invested in Eneza Education
Why we invested in Good Nature Agro
Why we invested in Amped Innovation
Why we invested Cambridge Blockchain
Why we invested in QuanticMind
Why we invested in Avid Ventures
Why we invested in Starting Line VC
Why we invested in Moxxie Ventures
Why we invested in Costanoa Opportunity Fund
Why we invested in Matchstick Ventures
Why we invested in PSL Ventures
Why we invested in Arthur Ventures
Why we invested in Golden Ventures
Why we invested in AvidXchange
Why we invested in Resolute Ventures
Future Positive Capital
Why we invested in Sweetch Energy
Why we invested in Dendra Systems
Why we invested in RAZE Network
Why we invested in Beyond Finance
Why we invested in Alphr Finance
Why we invested in Formation Finance
Why we invested in Linkedin – Interesting because there are some excerpts from the investment memo (It is not shared in full)
Why we invested in Lyra Health
Why we invested in Abnormal Security
Why we invested in Awake Security
Why we invested in Chronosphere
Why we invested in Obsidian Security
Why we invested in Cato Networks
Why we invested in Fiddler Labs
Why we invested in Tempo Automation
Why we invested in LinkedField
Why we invested in Third Wave Automation
Why we invested in Soil Connect
Why we invested in StrongArm Technologies
Why we invested in Brightcore Energy
Why we invested in SupplyShift
Why we invested in Insight + Regroup
Why we invested in Digital Motors
Why we invested in Fast Radius
Why we invested in GoContractor
Why we invested in Antec Biogas
Why we invested in Grafana Labs
Why we invested in Common Room
Why we invested in OthersideAI
Why we invested in Strike Graph
Why we invested in Nautilus Biotechnology
Why we invested in TwinStrand Biosciences
Why we invested in Player Tokens
Why we invested in Envisagenics
Why we invested in Abnormal Security
Why we invested in Riva Health
Why we invested in FireHydrant
Why we invested in Charm Industrial
Why we invested in LevelTen Energy
Why we invested in AMP Robotics
Why we invested in Cloud to Street
Not super detailed, but to the point.
Why we invested in Entrepreneur First
National Grid Partners
Their blog is solid. The content is always pretty solid.
Why we invested in Expressable
Why we invested in Impact Biosystems
Why we invested in Forum Brands
Why we invested in C2i Genomics
Why we invested in Let’s Do This
Why we invested in Court Buddy
Nine Four Ventures
Why we invested in Bowery Valuation
Why we invested in Claimsforce
Why we invested in Currencycloud
Why we invested in Collectiv Food
Why we invested in Unique Network
Why we invested in Orbital Witness
Why we invested in Creative Fabrica
Why we invested in Open Social
Why we invested in Hello Customer
Why we invested in Axiom Cloud
Why we invested in Pearl Street Technologies
Why we invested in Raptor Maps
Why we invested in Energetic Insurance
Why we invested in Carl Finance
Why we invested in Trade Republic
Why we invested in Crowd Data Systems
Why we invested in Condense Reality
Why we invested in Catchpoint Systems
Scale Venture Partners
Why we invested in Cognitive Future
Why we invested in Airspace Technologies
Why we invested in Root Insurance
Why we invested in KeepTruckin
Why we invested in Crittercism
Why we invested in PeopleMatter
Why we invested in Zoom and a video
Worth a read: 12 Deals In 12 Months. Year One Of SMOK Ventures In Review
Why we invested in Vue Storefront
Why we invested in Selma Finance
Why we invested in Centaur Labs
Why we invested in SEEVA Technologies
Why we invested in Xona Space Systems
Why we invested in Universal Hydrogen
Why we invested in Aurora Labs
Why we invested in Bear Flag Robotics
Two Sigma Ventures
Why we invested in Hexagon Bio
Union Square Ventures
Why we invested in Bright Moments
Why we invested in Dune Analytics
Why we invested in Marley Spoon
Why we invested in Modern Fertility
Why we invested in Protocol Labs
Why we invested in La Ruche qui dit Oui
Why we invested in Dynamic Yield
Wildcat Venture Partners
Why we invested in SmartContract
Why we invested in TetraScience
Vintage Investment Partners
Why we invested in MoringaConnect
Why we invested in Beacon Power Services
Why we invested in Dynamic Yield
Why we invested in Medly Pharmacy
Why we invested in ButterflyMX
What if ventures
Why we invested in Mindstrong Health
Why we invested in Foresight Mental Health
Something to add?
I blew a few days making this fricking collection. If you have something to add, let me know.
Also, comment which article was your favorite and I’ll make a “Reader favorite section”.
Get in the game
Free tools and resources like this shipped to you as they happen.
Want to connect with more detail
Send me a message on linkedin. Don’t understand the question.