Do investors require a mangement team? What if there isn't one?


From an investor point of view, the cliche is "investor prefers type A management team with a type B product rather than the reverse".

A startup cannot afford CFO, CEO. Founder has to roll up the sleeves and do as much as he/she can both on product development related technical/engineering issues as well as on sales and business issues.

I researched the market, did the sales strategies, developed the product, talked to potential clients, did the R&D, got sales started, etc.

When facing investor, if such question about who are my management team. I can't really say none. So what is the best way to answer this question?

How do I entice the investor to question me all the product development, sales & marketing issues since I really am a one man army. I know the investor will if he is interested. But I want to make sure he will not throw my business plan in the garbage when he sees there is a lack of management team.

Management Investors Team

asked Dec 2 '09 at 14:11
46 points
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5 Answers


There are plenty of investors that would rather go for a 2-person engineer team with no seasoned management as long as the engineers are good, the implementation is solid and the business model is good. The VCs can bring in the seasoned management and help you assemble a team.

A VC, who'd also been a CEO for 35 years, told me just that. Hope that helps. Back yourself.

answered Dec 2 '09 at 18:37
Raj Raman
66 points


Congratulations on puncturing the conventional wisdom. You're right, you can't afford a CFO nor do you necessarily need one pre-funding. In my experience, the team VCs want to fund upfront are the Founder/CEO, the key technical team, and maybe a VP Bus Dev. Beyond that, it may actually be a negative to have a fully rounded team. Why?

  1. In many cases, the VCs may want to a say on who the CFO will be. And being financial guys, their assessment of the CFO's skill level is going to be much more rigorous than yours. This could leave you with the unpleasant situation of having to part ways with your equity holding co-founder CFO.
  2. By not having a fully fleshed out management team on the business side, there is less dilution of the management equity leaving more available for key future hires.

Instead of being a negative, you should point out the positives of your lean approach, namely:

  1. You recognize that marketing and business development at seed stage is not something that can be delegated away; you as CEO must be intimately immersed in the process. This will immediately make you stand out amongst the technical founders who think of customer development as secondary to product development. VCs know that more startups die for lack of customer traction than for lack of product development.
  2. You have demonstrated that you know how to run a cash efficient operation and focus on the mission critical. G&A is not mission critical and can be outsourced relatively inexpensively without giving up equity.

Having said all this, one thing you should be doing, if you aren't already, is assessing who would be the next member of the management team to hire based on what skill sets you think would move the business forward (typically an area where you feel less strong). Then start looking, networking, and lining up potential high caliber candidates. This demonstrates to a VC that you understand where you think you have strength vs. where you could use help, that you are thinking TEAM in the future, and gives them a feel for the quality of potential hires (i.e. your ability to hire A-players).

answered Dec 3 '09 at 03:58
696 points


I don't thing investor like managers better than developers, I think what they like is a solid business model that tells them how are they going to get there money back and how long they will have to wait for this to happens.

Clearly if you get the money from the investor it would be easier to get a good developer team than a good management team.

So my suggestion is before doing something think what is your business model, your market, how are you going to reach them and how are you going to profit from them. Then ask the investor for money.

answered Dec 2 '09 at 14:50
Giancarlo Corzo
41 points


I believe it really depends on the VC, their target market and their approach.

The classic VC model is 2-5 million in, company has prototype & early market traction, management team, etc. That is their interpretation of early stage. Given the investments they do and the number of partners, they don't have the time to deal with smaller investments.

Others, like Y combinator, take a different approach: they are focused on seed capital (not first stage) and provide more business direction to the microISV type organization.

Between these two posts are firms like Stage1Ventures, VC's who focuses on software / service seed / early stage companies.

Targeting the correct firm will help tremendously with your search. Also be prepared to discuss what your mid term & exit plans are - example: do you intend on growing beyond 1? Why and when? What milestone would cause this to occur?

answered Feb 8 '10 at 03:22
Jim Galley
9,952 points


First of all I wish you all the best in your venture.

Secondly, you are forgetting something that investors are desperate to find in an entrepreneur: PASSION. You have to show them that when the tough gets going (and believe me, it will), you will do WHATEVER it takes to keep the business afloat and protect their money. You simply have to convince them that you are the best investing option they have in the current market.

Now, venture capitalists are not for everybody. You need to show a proven record of revenue generation and you have to be very familiar with your industry.

As for your "management team", even if you are a one man army (I admire you for that), you can try to set up your own boards of directors with volunteers. Yes, that´s right. There are lots of retired people that love volunteering in small start ups as external advisors for free. Talk to people in your industry, associations, chambers of commerce, and ask for advice.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

answered Dec 3 '09 at 03:19
A. Garcia
1,601 points
  • +1 for your general comments, but I disagree that "passion" is lacking in founders. Almost every founder has "passion." Too often the ONLY thing the found has is "passion...." – Jason 14 years ago
  • You are right. I meant to say that sometimes they do not show that passion when dealing with VC. – A. Garcia 14 years ago

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