4 years ago I interviewed over 20 investors to find out what would make them kick out the founders from their own startups. Here are the top 3 reasons:


1. You act like you know everything all the time.

Signs you do this:

You believe you would appear incompetent if you admit you don’t know something or if you take someone’s feedback on board or admit you had it wrong.

You never say to others: “I don’t know the answer to that question but I will look into it”, “I was wrong”, “I am not sure if I am right”, “You are right, I was mistaken”, “You are the expert in this field, so we’ll go with your suggestion”. You think you have to have all the answers all of the time (or at least you should pretend you do) and not admit you don’t know or haven’t thought of something.

2. You act like getting investment equals: “I have achieved commercial success”.

Signs you are doing this:

In client meetings you feel that you have to talk a lot to show them how amazing your technology is. You think just because your tech is faster/cheaper/bigger the customer should buy it. You never ask yourself questions like: “what problem does my tech solve for this customer?”. When someone asks what you do, you answer by giving them a list of technical capabilities your product has.

You only contact investors when you need more money but not throughout the ups and downs of your journey. You think technology (not people!) is the most valuable thing in your company and you spend your time making this more “innovative” without checking if customers actually need all this “innovation”. You don’t like meeting customers and prefer being in the office working on the tech. 80% of your time is spent looking at ironing out glitches in the technology yet you have not spoken to the customer if these would even come up when they use the product.

3. You fail to create a culture where people work well with each other and achieve the milestones you agreed with the board and investors.

Signs you do this:

People you manage do not contradict or challenge you or even anyone else in the C Suite. You find out late when things go wrong (like just before the release) or that they won’t be done on time (because your staff are scared to speak up as they worry about your reaction so they leave it as late as possible until it is too late). You only broadcast decisions to staff but don’t ask their input and you don’t seek their buy-in before making a decision. You are the bottleneck; people must wait for your response on the smallest decisions as without you saying “yes” they will be reprimanded. You avoid having difficult conversations altogether or if you have difficult conversations you don’t know how to carry them out tactfully and people leave steamrollered or humiliated. You are frustrated your teams don’t seem to take ownership of their work or you feel they are passive and don’t actively contribute to moving the technology forward.

What else would make #investors kick you out?



Adelina Chalmers a.k.a The Geek Whisperer

Helps Engineers who are Leaders (CEO/ CTO/ VP) get buy-in from their peers/teams/investors by transforming Communication techniques into Algorithms