If VCs can ever be helpful (debatable) it's at the earliest stages
For the past 18 months I've been focusing more and more on pre-seed, often spending 6-12 months with folks while they’re still in their job before making an investment (of their time and our money).
Here’s why we at Slow are excited about and committed to backing pre-seed companies.
Lower prices and higher returns if it works. Duh/obvious but too important to be left unsaid. Moving on.
The earliest companies have the most opportunity to get it right and the least baggage making it hard to do so. Pre-seed companies haven’t already committed to strategies, hires, products, etc. They haven’t raised overpriced rounds from annoying board members.
VCs don’t add anything to execution (running the biz, shipping, etc) but can be helpful in preplanning and conception (problem selection, formulating hypotheses, etc). So if we ever have anything to contribute, it’s going to be at pre-seed.
We want to help really good people underwrite their time the same way we underwrite our capital. The earliest founders can think more clearly and have the freedom to say no rather than fighting every day to make it to tomorrow.
The earlier you go, the more it looks like “true venture”: card flips and big bets versus sustaining execution of things which already work/are known. That’s where we think our risk capital is most important/productive
More insulated from capital markets whiplash. The milestones to more capital are clearer and we can more precisely define what “winning” looks like, even if that threshold is qualitative
At pre-seed can put all/most of your efforts toward wayfinding, the idea maze, and seeking truth vs cleaning up messes. There’s no path dependence at that stage.