I went through the last 100 startups I said no to and have compiled the top 10 key reasons for rejection when approached for investment. There may be some themes here to help.

Number 1 was the highest scoring at over 40%. The others are often in combination but you’ll get the gist.

I thought it would be useful to see why we say no. I’m sure there are themes for other investors in here too, so I hope useful to founders.

I joke that as a VC I say no for a living, but I actually take it really seriously and it’s my personal mission to see as many smart founders succeed as possible.

Any thoughts or questions add a comment and I’ll explain the process. (The more you know the less time you’ll waste dealing with people like me :)


What’s your thing?

What’s top of your list when you look at your startup and think, hey we got this — this is the magic sauce, this is the thing, this is the differentiator.

If you don’t have a thing, put some time aside with the team (and clients /…


How should we think about posting on social media?

A friend of mine Don Packett did a talk some years ago about why we should post things online. The message was a simple one:

Just. Add. Value.

Help people think differently, positively challenge their views, inspire, motivate — and if…


It’s not about me. It’s about you. Or is it?

Would social media be better, smarter, more useful if we were banned from talking about ourselves?

Pondering on a topic I’ve covered before but it keeps me ruminating. How much weight is there behind content if it’s in the 1st…


Should you expose more of the inner workings?

The future success of any business is driven by continually disrupting itself. Or end up being disrupted by others. Most get and do this by continually changing the way they do things on micro and macro levels. Great. Tick.

But is there…


Every Friday I talk to a random stranger from startup land, on LinkedIn to discuss whatever is on their mind — product, pitching, raising, conflict, hiring — any founder challenge.

I *try and help, create conversation, and bring in interesting people. …


Does it matter how good or bad an investor pitch deck is?
Does a ‘bad’ deck put me off investing?

A founder asked me this over the weekend. I can only answer this one for me but there are probably some themes in here for other investors.

For context —…


I don’t care what you think.
I don’t care what I think.
I only care what customers think.

This is my pocket phrase when I get into the detail with founders around their go-to-market strategies, PAM/TAM/SAM/SOMs, ICPs, how they pitch, and anything to do with sales.

It only truly matters…


How do you hire the right people for early stage startups?

Having got this hideously wrong a number of times I’m now trying to steer the founders I work with from making the same mistakes.

Hiring is hard.

Expectations are high when you make your first hires and getting the…


Are you in the right work rhythm?
This week I accidentally found a new kind of holiday.

I took a week off which, when it’s your company, is always hit and miss. This week was a miss. With several fires I ended up working all week.

BUT. I had no…

Dan Bowyer

Exited Entrepreneur, now a VC. Investing in business automation tech startups at seed stage. I write from both sides of the desk.

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