Ever sat through a startup pitch and heard terms like "skyrocketing viral growth potential" or "enormous projected market reach"? Yeah, me too, especially now, after Slush.
As a pre-seed venture capitalist, I've often come across startup pitches that use creative metric gymnastics. Let's chat about why this trend isn't just misleading – it's a missed opportunity for genuine connection and growth.
Creative metrics vs. industry standards
The allure of 'creative' metrics:
- The regular offenders:
- Projected market reach: A wild guess, often ungrounded in reality.
- Engagement scores: A mysterious mix of every interaction under the sun, lacking clear significance.
- Viral growth potential: Wishful thinking packaged as a strategy.
- The sneaky twist: founder's past glories:
- Here's a sneaky one: touting the past success of founding team members as a predictor of the startup's future. Sure, a founder's track record in previous ventures is important, but it's not a crystal ball. Just because someone hit a home run once doesn't guarantee another. It's about the here and now, not just the yesteryears.
Old-school metrics still rock:
The trusty trio:
- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): It's like your startup's heartbeat – steady, reliable, and telling you how healthy the business is.
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This one's all about efficiency. How much are you spending to get each customer? It's a reality check for any business.
- Lifetime Value (LTV) & Churn Rate: LTV shows how much you can expect to earn from a customer. The churn rate tells you how many are waving goodbye. Both are crucial for understanding if your customers love you for a fling or a long-term relationship.
MRR, CAC, LTV, Churn Rate: These aren't just acronyms; they're the real deal in evaluating a startup's health and potential.
Why creative metrics can backfire?
Okay, here's the deal: using these ‘out there’ metrics might seem like a clever way to dazzle investors, but it’s a bit like using a filter on a first date. Sure, you might get a second date (or meeting), but eventually, the real picture emerges. And trust me, investors talk. You don't want to be the one known for 'embellishing the truth.'
Embrace transparency! I'm not saying you need to have all the answers or perfect metrics. Startups are about growth and learning. But being transparent about where you are and where you're going is like building a bridge of trust with your investors. It’s about the journey, not just the destination.
Metrics are more than just figures; they're the heartbeat of your startup's story. Stick to the real ones, and let your genuine progress shine. That’s the kind of story investors want to be part of.
Ever encountered creative metrics that made you raise an eyebrow? Or are you a startup championing transparency? Let me know your stories and thoughts!