As we plan for 2016, our team took a deep dive into our 2015 results. Here’s a glimpse into what our pipeline and deal pace looked like last year for our seed stage VC fund, and how we got to the 7 investments we made:
Top of the funnel: We saw about 2,900 companies in total. We have an open call on AngelList, which received about 2,000 applications in 2015. We also meet the bulk of our companies through our network, and we take meetings with between one half and one third of those companies that are referred to us. Plus, we speak with tons of startups through demo days and events, so we conservatively estimate these deal sources at about 900 companies.
Initial screening: From the 2,900 companies we screened from applications, referrals, demo days, and other sourcing, we met or had a phone call with at least 300 companies.
Investments: From those 300 companies, we made 7 investments in 2015. We met with lots of companies multiple times, and conducted diligence on many, to arrive at these investment decisions. The top referral sources of our 7 investments were: our founder network (2 companies), universities/ campus programs (2 companies), our co-investor network (1 company), and AngelList (1 company), with one company we pursued because we loved using the product!
We invested in roughly 2% of the companies we met with (and less than half a percent of those who came in the top of the funnel). So with every “yes,” we said “no” to 50 more. This investment analysis brought about three key insights. First, we strive for “nice nos.” With the bulk of our interactions not resulting in an investment, we hope that we’re able to share some helpful feedback with most companies we meet so that neither party feels their time was wasted. Several times, we passed on investing in a great startup that was doing well, but that just wasn’t a good fit for our Maven investment strategy. Second, to continue to be successful consumer seed stage investors we need to continue to cultivate a variety of deal sources. From AngelList to trusted co-investors, our money went to companies that came through a number of different channels. And third, in order to keep our quality high we have to keep our pace high. To invest at a similar rate this year, we plan to meet at least 1-2 new companies per day– and for each company we meet, we need to review and screen about 10 more. In addition to supporting our existing portfolio companies to help them succeed and grow, sourcing new deals in 2016 is a top priority.