If you want to work on your startup idea, the bar for starting a company should always be very high. VCs have a diversified portfolio and most of their investments die; you don’t have a diverse portfolio and so you’re taking far more risk than the VCs.
Some ideas to improve your search process:
- Join a specialized community for founders in transition, e.g., Versatile VC’s own Founders’ Next Move. Many generalist online communities also have verticals focused on entrepreneurship, e.g., LunchClub or Meetup. See How to find the right online communities.
- Talk with VCs in your space. Many VCs keep a list of ideas they think have high potential. Versatile VC posts publicly our list of startup ideas we want to fund.
- Join a “Talent Investor”. Antler and Entrepreneur First both pay people a small stipend (~$2K/month) to iterate on and develop a fundable startup idea, and invest in the most promising ones. According to Vegard Medbo of Antler, “60% of those that join Antler are second-time or serial entrepreneurs, and many of the rest have been early employees at successful startups. They are looking for strong, like-minded people to join them.”
- Engage with a VC which has a formal program to support individuals who have not yet founded a company, but likely will in the future. See our list of Completely Free Tech Accelerators: No equity, no cash cost.
- Pay a small fee to a neutral company like Day One, OnDeck, or TackleBox to help you refine and validate your startup idea. Feedback.vc is a panel of VCs who will give you feedback.
- Partner with a venture studio. See The 300* Startups Studios Taking on the World. Marco Franzoni, Managing Partner, Disruptive Labs, observes: “If you are an early stage founder looking to build a product or scale faster, Venture Studios can be a great option. For pre-seed companies, we invest and act as co-founders while for post-seed companies, we act as early-employees and specifically focus on company growth. That ensures you bring in experienced partners, with vested interest and a huge network of mentors and investors that can help along the way.”
- Partner with an impact foundry. For example, 10.10.10, a project of Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, “hosts programs that bring 10 successful entrepreneurs together for 10 days to confront 10 Wicked Problems, with the goal of inspiring new ventures based on new products or services that can solve one or more of the Wicked Problems.”
- Consider partnering with a software development shop. To get yourself off the ground, consider working with some of the software development shops which are willing to take equity as payment; see Should you co-found your company with a software development shop?
Whatever path you pursue, even if it’s raising VC, it’s critical you fill out your Linkedin profile in detail. If you worked as a product manager at Google, you don’t need details; the job is widely understood. But as CEO of an unknown company, it’s hard for outsiders to evaluate what you actually did. It doesn’t matter if your startup sold for billions; most people won’t know what it did.
Michael Adler, Senior Managing Partner, AC Lion / ACLVP, emphasizes that in the text box under your name, you should be as descriptive as possible, as it is the first thing people see when they look at your profile. People make quick decisions on who you are based on how you describe yourself.